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WASL Sample Questions : Reading

Passage 8

Certain scraps of evidence bear out those who hold a very high opinion of the average level of culture among the Athenians of the great age.Pericles's funeral speech is undoubtedly the most famous evidence from Athenian literature, that its level was indeed high.However, Pericles was a politician, and it is possible that he was flattering his audience.We know that thousands of Athenians sat hour after hour in the theater listening to the plays of the great Greek dramatists.The Greek plays, particularly the tragedies, maintained an extremely high intellectual level throughout, with no letdowns, no concessions to the lowbrows or to the demands of ''realism'', like the gravediggers scene in Shakespeare's Hamlet.The music and dancing seen in these plays were also of an equally high level.The best modern parallel can be seen in the restrained, difficult opera of the 18th century.The comparison is no doubt dangerous, but can you imagine almost the entire population of an American city (in suitable installments, of course) sitting through performances of Mozart's Don Giovanni or Gluck's Orpheus? Perhaps the Athenian masses went to these plays because of a lack of other amusements.They could at least understand something of what went on, since the subjects were part of their folklore.Undoubtedly the theme of grand opera is not part of the folklore of the American people.

Following are some WASL sample questions on this passage:

  1. From the passage it is evident that the author seems to question the sincerity of

    1. politicians
    2. playwrights
    3. opera goers
    4. ''low brows''
    5. gravediggers.

    Answer: A

  2. According to the author the average American

    1. Enjoys Hamlet
    2. Loves folklore
    3. Is not able to understand grand opera
    4. Seeks a high cultural level
    5. Lacks entertainment.

    Answer: C

  3. From the passage, we can say that the author's attitude toward Greek plays is one of

    1. Qualified approval
    2. Grudging admiration
    3. Studied indifference
    4. Partial hostility
    5. Great respect.

    Answer: E

  4. The author makes a suggestion that Greek plays

    1. Were demanding on the WASLors
    2. Flattered their audiences
    3. Were focussed on a limited audience
    4. Were dominated by music and dancing
    5. Stimulated their audiences.

    Answer: E

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