The Memorandum 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 Act 1, Scene 3 trying to illustrate about Gross?

2. What does Gross offer during his argument with Ballas?

3. What do Stroll and Savant remark about Maria?

4. What is very interesting about the intentional way Havel presents the office?

5. What does George, the Staff Watcher, do that upsets Gross and causes him to leave the room?

Short Essay Questions

1. What is important about Maria's gesture to Gross at the end of Act 1, Scene 6, and what is the irony in it?

2. What is the game that Helena plays with Gross and what does it symbolize?

3. What are some examples of the familiarity of Ballas' morning as Managing Director and what is it similar to?

4. Where does Gross pass through in Act 2, Scene 8, what is he carrying, and what does that represent?

5. The "wrong cause" that Stroll, Savant, and Helena are upset about dedicating their lives to is really a symbol for what larger "wrong cause?"

6. What is ironic about the way the conversation between Gross and Ballas starts and the way it concludes, specifically concerning Gross' job?

7. What subliminal warning does the character of Thumb bring from the author?

8. What is the reason Lear gives for a need of the new language, Ptydepe?

9. What do the cigars symbolize and how are they used to introduce the Staff Watcher's place in the play?

10. What is Lear lecturing about during Act 2, Scene 11, and why does it cause Gross to stop and listen?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

A recurring theme that Havel uses through his characters is the "spin" that they provide in order to justify their actions and in some cases, hide their motives.

1) Describe in detail how Lear uses spin to legitimatize Ptydepe. Why does he use this technique when introducing and explaining the new language? What is the overall purpose for his deception?

2) Besides the example of Lear's lectures, what other time in the play was spin used to justify something or as a means to an end? Which character used it? Again, why was this tactic chosen for that specific situation?

Essay Topic 2

One of the characters that display Havel's satire the most is Hana. Describe her actions throughout the play and how they become a part of the humor that accompanies satire. Also, what is her place within the bureaucracy and what do her daily activities say about it in a larger sense?

Essay Topic 3

At a few key times in the play, sparks of hope present themselves. This is what keeps the audience hoping that Gross can turn things around, and it is also what makes them believe it may be possible.

1) Describe some examples of hope that Gross does not see or recognize at the time they are presented to him. What is the irony of this? What does it say about Gross' character?

2) The character of Maria is consistently a main source of hope for Gross. Why do you think Gross is inclined to receive positive messages from her more than from other characters? What is it about Maria's personality that allows her to break through the bureaucracy and provide the hope Gross desperately needs?

(see the answer keys)

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