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 does Gross do with the letter?

2. What do Ballas and Gross argue about?

3. How does Stroll exit in Act 1, Scene 3?

4. What does Gross' lack of Ptydepe knowledge signal, according to Lear?

5. The parallels Havel draws in Act 1, Scene 4 are between Ballas and what?

Short Essay Questions

1. What are the noticeable habits of Hana, the secretary, that are displayed in the beginning of the play?

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

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

4. What is it about Gross' personality that makes him susceptible to Ballas' manipulation?

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

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

7. What are some more examples of Ballas' parallel experience to Gross' time as Managing Director that are given in the first part of Act 2, Scene 9?

8. After all of the speculation throughout the play, what are the contents of Gross' memo revealed to be, and what effect does this have on him?

9. In the final scene of the play, what theme is brought to the forefront and what is the message Havel delivers?

10. What is it about the letter Gross receives that gets his attention, why is it significant to the play, and how does Gross react to it?

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

Manipulation is one of the main weapons used against Gross throughout the entire play. Using several examples from the play, describe in detail how Gross is manipulated on a variety of different levels. What is the objective of the manipulation? Why is it effective? Overall, why is manipulation necessary to the way a bureaucratic system functions? How does the play illustrate the way manipulation can lead to control over someone?

Essay Topic 3

Havel introduces many forms of symbolism by using objects to illustrate his point.

1) Choose three different objects that are a form of symbolism and describe in detail what they represent. Include how they are used in the storyline and why they are effective. What is Havel trying to tell the audience with each of them?

2) Out of the examples you chose in the first section, are there any that are more important to the plot? What makes them more important? How do they fit into the overall theme and main point of the play?

(see the answer keys)

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