Abe Lincoln in Illinois Test | Final 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. After 18 years of marriage to Lincoln, what is it that Mary Todd is bitter about?

2. Why has Lincoln come to see Mary Todd in Act 2, Scene 8?

3. In the debate, Douglas says Lincoln appears innocent but is very good at doing something dangerous with his words. What is it?

4. What is Lincoln doing as he waits for the voting results?

5. What causes Lincoln to change his mind about his future?

Short Essay Questions

1. The cheering crowd chants for Lincoln to make a speech from the back of the railroad car. He begins by naming the problems facing the nation. But he finishes on a note of hope. What outcome is Lincoln hoping to achieve?

2. Josh Speed is awaiting Lincoln's visitors, too. He is clearly aware of the tensions between Mary and Abe. How does Speed respond when Mary suggests that Speed, among others, probably thinks of her as a bitter, nagging woman?

3. 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?

4. Almost at the moment he learns of his election, Lincoln's life changes in a way he doesn't like. In the play, who or want is the sign of this change? And which of the play's themes does this change fit into?

5. As he waits for the election results, Lincoln calls the evening a "death watch." What are Lincoln's feelings about winning the election?

6. On Election Day, as the Lincolns wait for voting results, Mary becomes increasingly anxious. Finally, Lincoln suggests she go home to wait. She responds with a surprising outburst. What does she say and why does she feel so strongly?

7. Until he was elected, Lincoln was clean-shaven. But, as he heads to Washington to take office, he is bearded. Why did he grow a beard?

8. In Act 2, Scene 8, Lincoln apologizes for being a coward. He says he shrank from the marriage because he didn't want or believe in the destiny Mary envisions for him. Now, though, he says he wants to "strive to deserve" her faith. Does the way that Lincoln again asks her to marry him indicate that he loves her or has some other reason for marrying her?

9. 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.

10. Lincoln, says Douglas in the debate, is stirring up rebellion against authority. What is the danger that Douglas foresees? And what is the solution he proposes?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Early on, Lincoln tells his backers that--if he does decide to seek elected office--they won't find him arguing for change or progress or revolution. He continues to hold to this conservatism now that he is a lawyer--he describes himself as someone who "keeps his mouth shut and abides by the Constitution." How does Lincoln explain his aversion to getting involved and arguing for change in which he believes?

Essay Topic 2

The opening scene of the play features just two characters, Mentor Graham and Abe Lincoln. The scene ranges across a number of topics, touching on national politics, Lincoln's feeling that death might be imminent, and his career prospects.

Using examples from the scene, what does the audience (or reader) learn about Lincoln's personality? Is he outgoing or introverted? Is he optimistic or pessimistic? Does he look at the world from a vantage point of confidence? Does the audience get a sense of his political views? If so, how are they conveyed?

Essay Topic 3

From the opening scene, Lincoln is preoccupied with the specter of premature death. Even as he bids farewell to the people of Springfield, he seems melancholy and doubtful that he will ever return to the town. Trace the line of Lincoln's fatalism through the play. Explain its origins and describe what effect, if any, it had on Lincoln's initial reluctance to take a step onto the national stage.

(see the answer keys)

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