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' lack of Ptydepe knowledge signal, according to Lear?

2. What overall theme does the author use the office to illustrate?

3. What does Ballas manipulate Gross into admitting in Act 1, Scene 6?

4. What does Helena ask Maria to do with the bag of limes she is carrying?

5. What is the goal of the higher-ups in explaining the necessity for Ptydepe?

Short Essay Questions

1. What events lead Gross to speak out against the technological advances that are affecting humanity?

2. As illustrated in Scene 8, what is necessary for a bureaucracy to have power over its workers, and what is this an analogy for?

3. Explain the symbolic meanings behind some of the characters introduced in Act 1, Scene 3.

4. What explanation does Ballas offer to Gross and what position does he offer him?

5. What does the number of students in Lear's class in Act 2, Scene 11 say about his lecture topic, and the state of the company in general?

6. How does Lear explain the complexities of Ptydepe to the class?

7. What subtle things does Ballas do to maintain his power?

8. What does Maria's locating a new job for Gross say about her as a character, and what does Gross' reason for staying with the company say about him as a character?

9. What possibility does Lear's empty classroom at the end of Act 2, Scene 8 symbolize?

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

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Maria's new independence provides an optimistic ending of the play for the audience. What does it symbolize, not just for the character, but also for the main theme of the entire play? How does her departure symbolize hope? What does it say about freedom in general as it relates to independence?

Essay Topic 2

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 3

In the beginning of the play, Ptydepe is introduced as the new language of the office. This starts the chain of events that lead to many discoveries for the characters and the audience.

1) What does Ptydepe represent within the context of the play? What is it a symbol for in the bureaucracy and why does it cause Gross to become so frustrated?

2) How does Ptydepe tie in with the larger theme of the play, specifically as it relates to the dangers of a socialist/communist system of government? Why do you think Havel chose a language to illustrate his point?

(see the answer keys)

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