Great Short Works of Herman Melville 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 makes Moby Dick an unusual whale?

2. What does Steelkilt threaten to do if he is flogged by the captain?

3. What benefit does the narrator get from his indulgence of Bartleby's eccentricities?

4. What do Steelkilt and his men demand in return for obeying orders?

5. How does the narrator describe life on the sea as compared to farming or working the Erie Canal?

Short Essay Questions

1. What is Nippers's shortcoming as a scrivener?

2. Why did the two remaining followers of Steelkilt each hope to be the first out of the hold?

3. What stylistic devices does Melville use to give the reader the feeling of the rooster's crow in "Cock-a-Doodle-Doo"?

4. In "The Happy Failure," what is the uncle's great invention?

5. Why did the first seven of Steelkilt's men come out of their imprisonment?

6. What verb tenses does Melville use in "The Two Temples" to bring immediacy to the story?

7. What was disrespectful about Radney asking Steelkilt to sweep the deck?

8. Why does the narrator continue to accept Bartleby's refusals?

9. How does the poet Blandmour feel about poverty in "Poor Man's Pudding"?

10. How does the narrator respond the first time Bartleby answers a request with, "I would prefer not to"?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Melville was capable of a wide range of diction, or word choice, ranging from the staccato exclamations of "Cock-a-Doodle-Doo" to the alliterations of "The Encantadas," (an archipelago of aridities), to biblical allusions ("A virtue went out of him . . ." "I became a pillar of salt . . ."). Select one form of diction that impressed you about these stories, show examples of its use, and analyze its effectiveness.

Essay Topic 2

A recurring theme in Melville's stories is the difference between appearance and reality. Choose a character such as Claggart, who appears to have only sterling qualities but is evil in his heart or a setting such as the mountain home in "The Piazza," which seems at first to be like a fairyland, to analyze the point Melville is making.

Essay Topic 3

An allegory is a story that is in itself a symbol or represents an idea. Select one of Melville's allegories, such as "The Piazza" or "The Bell Tower" to analyze in terms of its symbolic significance.

(see the answer keys)

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