A Mencken Chrestomathy Test | Mid-Book Test - Hard

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This test consists of 5 short answer questions, 10 short essay questions, and 1 (of 3) essay topics.

Short Answer Questions

1. What does democracy ruin, according to Mencken?

2. What is the proper function of punishment for crimes?

3. What does Mencken believe about the universality of morality?

4. What is Mencken's assessment of Abraham Lincoln?

5. What aspect of President Grant does Mencken admire?

Short Essay Questions

1. What is the degree of women's "civility" according to Mencken? How does emotion factor in to civility?

2. What is Mencken's view of romantic love?

3. What is Mencken's take on the universality of morality? Can morality grow and change, or is it static?

4. Summarize Mencken's appraisal of Abraham Lincoln.

5. Discuss Mencken's history of democracy. Before it arrived, what did people think of democracy? How was it conceived? How did it evolve?

6. What is Mencken's view of punishment for crime? What is the function of punishment?

7. What does Mencken have to say about politicians? What kind of people are they? How do they operate?

8. Describe Mencken's contention that democracy is a "self-limiting disease." What does he mean by that? Is there any good aspects to democracy?

9. What does Mencken feel about the relationship between science and religion?

10. In Chapter 1, what comparison does Mencken make between man and animal? Who is "superior"?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Discuss the Chapter 29 "buffoonery" in which Mencken portrays a dialogue involving Pharoah Cheops.

1) Summarize the "plot" and premise of the story.

2) Discuss how the story relates to contemporary concerns.

3) Speculate as to why Mencken may have used Pharaoh Cheops and his world to comment on contemporary issues. What does Mencken accomplish by commentary designed in this fashion?

Essay Topic 2

Summarize Mencken's views on government, especially the democratic form of government. Include:

a) The average man's conception of government

b) The history and evolution of democracy as Mencken sees it

c) Why democracy is inherently flawed

d) The effects of democracy -- what it harms, what kind of people it produces

e) Mencken's prescription for an ideal form of government/leadership for the United States

Essay Topic 3

1) Discuss Mencken's historical involvement in the Scopes Monkey Trial.

2) Summarize Mencken's own account of his attendance of the trial.

3) What was Mencken's impression of the townspeople? Of Clarence Darrow? Of William Jennings Bryan?

4) How does the conflict at the heart of the trial reflect upon Mencken's own values and convictions? Why was the trial so important to Mencken?

(see the answer keys)

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