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. What does Jack Armstrong tell Seth Gale about Lincoln while they wait for Lincoln's arrival in Act 2, Scene 7?

2. When Lincoln leaves the parlor for a moment, how does one of his visitors in Act 3, Scene 9 describe him?

3. After 18 years of marriage to Lincoln, what is it that Mary Todd is bitter about?

4. To which of Shakespeare's characters does Douglas compare Lincoln?

5. How many states are there on Election Day, 1860?

Short Essay Questions

1. 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.

2. Lincoln has an outburst of his own, in response to Mary. What are his complaints against her?

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. Lincoln tells Mary Todd that his encounter with Seth Gale a few days earlier was the spur that brought him to her door. What was the decision Lincoln made while visiting with Gale and how does the playwright convey Lincoln's ambivalence about that decision?

5. In Act 3, Scene 10, which takes place in the Lincolns' home, it is clear that the Lincolns' marriage is not happy, or at the least, has problems. Thus far, the play has made clear Mary's part in creating problems. In this scene, the playwright uses a cigar to show that Lincoln isn't an innocent victim in the matter of the marriage. How does the cigar reveal one of Lincoln's faults?

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. 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?

8. In his prayer for Seth Gale's son, Lincoln also prays for something else. What is it?

9. 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?

10. What is the effect on Lincoln of Gale's idealism, his vow to denounce his American citizenship if the government doesn't ban slavery?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Before the scene in which Lincoln debates Stephen Douglas, there has been talk about Lincoln's duty to the nation. But most descriptions of that perceived duty came from other characters, not Lincoln. Yet, in the debate with Douglas, Lincoln is very specific about not only his duty, but the duty of all citizens to do what's right for the country. At what point in the play does the audience sense that Lincoln has begun to see the exact shape of his duty? How does he come to define his responsibility? Does the audience (or reader) see his thinking evolve?

Essay Topic 2

The basic form of drama is often defined as a character with a goal, faced with an obstacle to achieving that goal, followed by efforts by the character--helped or hindered by others--to overcome the obstacles and achieve the goal. In the process, the main character often undergoes an emotional or mental change of some sort, or has an insight that allows him/her to succeed. How does the play, Abe Lincoln in Illinois, fit into that skeleton of a dramatic work?

Essay Topic 3

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?

(see the answer keys)

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