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 are the two failings the narrator sees in his middle-aged scrivener?

2. Why is the narrator not pleased with Bartleby's industriousness?

3. How does the narrator get into the London theater presentation?

4. To what sight in the city does Melville compare the islands of the Encantadas?

5. What do Steelkilt's three remaining conspirators decide to do to save themselves?

Short Essay Questions

1. Why does Melville believe that American poor suffer more than European poor?

2. Why does the owner of the paper factory in "The Tartarus of Maids" tell the narrator that all of his workers are called "girls"?

3. What does the narrator of "The Piazza" think when he first sees a single bright spot in the northwestern hills?

4. What differences does Melville claim exist between the archetypal handsome sailor and Billy Budd?

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

6. What does Jimmy Rose retain after he has lost his fortune?

7. Why did the Spanish naval board of inquiry at first reject parts of Benito Cereno's deposition?

8. What purpose does the circle of listeners serve in "The Town-Ho's Story"?

9. Why does Melville refer to Oberlus as "a creature whom it is religion to detest?"

10. What does the narrator of "The Fiddler" first admire about Hautboy?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Melville employs a wide variety of stylistic techniques in his writing, including a poetic use of repetition. In "I and My Chimney," for example, he writes of " . . . a mysterious door, entering to a mysterious closet; and here I keep mysterious cordials of a choice, mysterious flavor." In your essay, analyze this and other examples of artful repetition you find in these stories.

Essay Topic 2

Melville states that Moby Dick operates to do the work of God by killing Radney. A Deus ex Machina (god out of the machine), where an outside source ends the conflict between characters, is a literary device often disparaged. In your essay, consider its effectiveness in this instance and in other Melville short stories where this method is employed.

Essay Topic 3

Melville, as a product of his time and place, has opinions that are strongly racist, in the sense of making generalizations about groups of people. For example, "Spaniards are all an odd set; the very word Spaniard has a curious, conspirator, Guy-Fawkish twang to it." or "The 'Gee has a great appetite, but little imagination; a large eyeball, but small insight." or "When a mulatto has a regular European face, look out for him; he is a devil." In your essay, analyze these opinions and others like them.

(see the answer keys)

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