Abe Lincoln in Illinois 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. Why does Lincoln return to New Salem in Act 1, Scene 3?

2. One of Lincoln's clients can't pay her bill; why does Lincoln think she is right not to pay?

3. What is Lincoln studying in the opening scene?

4. What happens at the end of Act 2, Scene 4 that proves Lincoln's claim that he is a social success?

5. What is Lincoln's response to a poem he reads regarding life and death?

Short Essay Questions

1. In Act 2, Scene 7, it has been two years since Lincoln broke off his engagement. He has been drifting since then, but has returned to New Salem in time to meet his old friend, Seth Gale. The Gale family is heading west, to Oregon. Gale has had a hard journey and now his young son is suffering from swamp fever. What does he want from Lincoln at this time?

2. A few days after meeting Seth Gale, Abe Lincoln arrives at the home of Mary Todd. She is still single and Abe plans to ask her, again, to marry him. Does the fact that Mary is still single, two years after the broken engagement to Lincoln, indicate anything about her character? Support your answer with your interpretation of the text, both from Act 2, Scene 8 and from earlier episodes in the play.

3. In Act 2, Scene 5, Elizabeth Edwards and her sister, Mary Todd, have a spirited discussion about Abraham Lincoln and whether he would be a good match for Mary Todd. What does their argument tell the audience about the sisters' personalities?

4. Josh Speed arrives to visit with Abe at the Greens' house. When Lincoln isn't there, Speed fills them in on Lincoln's activities in the State Assembly. What has Lincoln accomplished in the year since he's been elected?

5. In Act 2, Scene 4, Lincoln has a law clerk who is something of a firebrand--he believes deeply in abolition and tries to get Lincoln involved in the public debate. What is Lincoln's response?

6. How does Mary Todd characterize the man her sister married and the life they have together? And what is wrong with that life, according to Mary Todd?

7. What sentiment does Daniel Webster express in the speech that Lincoln reads in Act 1, Scene 1?

8. The informal committee that came to recruit Lincoln to run for State Assembly in Act 1, Scene 2 has a larger political purpose in mind. What is it?

9. What does Lincoln tell his friends in Act 2, Scene 4, in the discussion about his lack of political ambition and his unwillingness to speak publicly against slavery?

10. Stephen Douglas takes the position that "each state should mind its own business," says Lincoln in the debate. It might seem like the safer course, he argues, but there is a danger to following that advice. What is the danger that Lincoln foresees?

Essay Topics

Essay Topic 1

Based on the scene in the tavern with Ann Rutledge and later scenes with Mary Todd Lincoln, compare and contrast the personalities of the two women. In your opinion, which woman would have been the best wife for Lincoln? Base your reasons on aspects of their personalities as described in the play. Would Lincoln have become President if he had been married to Ann Rutledge rather than Mary Todd?

Essay Topic 2

How does the John Keats poem, "On Death," which Lincoln reads at the end of Scene 1, reflect his personality or philosophy? What does the poem say about life and why does Lincoln seem to agree with it? Does his reaction to Ann Rutledge--later, when she says she can envision falling in love with him--signal a change in his outlook from his initial reaction to the poem?

Essay Topic 3

This play, Abe Lincoln in Illinois, can be viewed as the opening scene of the larger drama of Lincoln's presidency. Many of its themes--his preoccupation with an early death, his sense of duty, his melancholy and self-doubt--will continue through the rest of his life. What new or little-known information about Lincoln, or insights about well-known facts, does the play present that might affect a person's perception of the Civil War President?

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