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. What is the purpose of Edwards' visit to New Salem in Act 1, Scene 2?

2. In Act 2, Scene 6, Lincoln sits at his desk on the day he is to be married. What day of the year is it?

3. What is Billy Herndon's flaw?

4. What does Lincoln see on the boat from Quincy to Alton that shocks him?

5. Lincoln tells Josh Speed to give his letter for Mary Todd to Herndon to deliver. How does Josh respond?

Short Essay Questions

1. As Lincoln contemplates breaking his engagement, Josh Speeds urges him to wait until he, Lincoln, is feeling calmer. Lincoln responds that he is desperate to have the matter settled. What is Josh Speed's larger concern about Lincoln under the circumstances?

2. Ninian Edwards, Lincoln's friend and brother-in-law of Mary Todd, enters with a gift and a wedding day message to Lincoln. What do the gift and the message tell the audience about Mary Todd?

3. Act 1, Scene 2 portrays Lincoln's first step toward a political destiny. The audience (or reader) knows that Lincoln will become one of the country's great Presidents. What symbols does the author use in this scene to heighten that feeling of political destiny?

4. Does Lincoln appear to be emotionally stable just after he announces the death of Ann Rutledge?

5. Lincoln is reluctant to consider running for State Assembly. What is his main objection?

6. Is Lincoln liked or disliked in the community of New Salem, according to his teacher in Act 1, Scene 1?

7. 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?

8. Act 2, Scene 5 is fairly brief, with a heated discussion between Mary Todd and her sister and brother-in-law. While the characters talk about the possibility of Mary Todd marrying Lincoln, the proposal doesn't actually take place. What purpose does the scene serve?

9. Josh Speed and Bowling Green are longtime friends of Lincoln's; they have urged him for years to seek higher political office. In Act 2, Scene 4, what is their attitude toward Lincoln's reluctance to run for an important elected position?

10. 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?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

In their debate, both Lincoln and Stephen Douglas use elaborate metaphors to describe one another--Douglas says Lincoln is adept at inserting a dagger into his opponent's ribs, while Lincoln parries that Douglas keeps 10 daggers in the air at once. Douglas says Lincoln slyly diverts a listener's attention from the real problems of free workers, while Lincoln says Douglas tells an audience whatever it wants to hear. Which man is the more effective speaker, judging from the debate in this play? Support your opinion with examples of both strengths and weaknesses.

Essay Topic 2

Shortly after meeting with Seth Gale and discussing the future of the country with Gale, Lincoln visits Mary Todd at home and they agree to marry. What role did Mary Todd play in Lincoln's successes? Would he have been elected President without her? Support your thesis with examples from the play.

Essay Topic 3

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?

(see the answer keys)

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