The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary Test | Mid-Book Test - Hard

Simon Winchester
This set of Lesson Plans consists of approximately 137 pages of tests, essay questions, lessons, and other teaching materials.
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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. For what purpose was Murray asked to go to Oxford?

2. Who wrote A Dictionary of the English Language?

3. Who killed Merrett?

4. What would the definitive quotes show in the Oxford English Dictionary?

5. How were Minor's and Murray's families similar?

Short Essay Questions

1. What is the effect of the author's choice to define the word "murder" on the audience?

2. Why does the author take time to note the sheer volume of words and weight of the Oxford English Dictionary? What parallels can be drawn between this and the dictionary's makers?

3. Why might Minor's father have fallen so easily in love with Judith?

4. In what way was Trench's appeal to the masses who would be needed to help compile the Oxford English Dictionary democratic?

5. What seemed uncanny about the killer's cool, calm demeanor?

6. In regards to Trench's speech, what did he view each word as having? What must be charted for each word?

7. Given the information that the reader gleans from the nature of the Philological Society, as well as people speaking in the London Library, what characteristics of the London Library in Minor's day show it to be different from a public library of this day and age?

8. What can be surmised about the author's intention by naming his first chapter, " The Dead of Night in Lambeth Marsh"?

9. How did Minor's branding of a deserting Irish soldier become connected to his excessive guilt about his own perceived "wrongs"?

10. What can be appreciated about the Oxford English Dictionary being called "The Big Dictionary"?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Does the author associate much stigma with mental illness in the text? Give examples in your answer and explore what effects, in the author's view, mental illness might have had on the production of The Oxford English Dictionary.

Essay Topic 2

Much of Chapter 3, The Madness of War, is taken up with Charles Minor's exploits around and during wartime. From this chapter, how do you think the author feels about war? Give examples to back up your answer.

Essay Topic 3

"The English-speaking world is better off for the death of Charles Merrett." How could this statement be considered to be true? Do you think the author agrees? Why or why not?

(see the answer keys)

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