Possession: A Romance Test | Mid-Book Test - Hard

A.S. Byatt
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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 herb does the apparition offer the child?

2. What is the library at Seal Court like?

3. What does Roland do with the letters?

4. What poem does Roland think shows Christabel was in Yorkshire?

5. What does Cropper think about writing while he drives away from Daisy Wapshott's house?

Short Essay Questions

1. What does Sir George plan to do at the end of the chapter?

2. What is the weather like on Roland and Maud's day trip away from Ash and Christabel?

3. What is Roland researching at the library?

4. How do the three apparitions describe themselves to the child?

5. What does Roland like about the library?

6. What is Swammerdam's situation at the end of his life?

7. How does Roland react to Maud's idea of how to go about reading the letters?

8. How does Roland compare Maud to Christabel?

9. Who are Ask and Embla?

10. How do Christabel and Ash feel about meeting secretly?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

In the novel, reading is an active experience, which is greatly influenced by not only the writer's perspective but the reader's perspective. Discuss the role of the reader's bias in the novel.

1) How does Roland's life influence how he interprets Ash? How does this dynamic cause Blackadder, Roland, and Cropper to all have distinctive experiences of Ash?

2) How do the characters' readings of Ash and LaMotte change over the course of the novel, not because of what they learn about the poets, but because of changes in themselves? How do the characters' personal experiences and biases prevent objective understandings of the authors' intentions?

3) How do formal perspectives, like feminism, create a group bias in the reading of LaMotte? What other examples of this dynamic are there in the novel?

Essay Topic 2

The novel deals with perceptions of women, and women's relationships with men. Discuss perceptions of women in the novel.

1) Why is Christabel unwilling to enter into a relationship with Ash? Why does she perceive a relationship with a man as infringing on her identity and independence?

2) How is Maud perceived as a woman, and how does this affect her life? How do women's appearances in the novel affect their relationships and identities?

3) How is Beatrice Nest perceived, and how are perceptions of her related to gender?

Essay Topic 3

Discuss understanding a text through an intermediary, such as Cropper's biography of Ash.

1) How does Cropper create a different reality of Ash, by imposing himself in Ash's story?

2) How does Maud interpret The Great Ventriloquist? How does she separate Cropper from Ash in what she reads? What meanings does the title The Great Ventriloquist take on in this context?

3) How do Blackadder's writings on Ash differ from Croppers? How does Blackadder try to keep his personal self out of his interpretive readings, and is this possible?

(see the answer keys)

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