Deconstruction of 2007 Multiple Choice Exam
Paul Stevenson, Edison Preparatory School
The 2007 Multiple Choice Exam was published by the College Board in the AP English Language and Composition Workshop Handbook, 2009-10.
This essay is from Section Two of “Bentham” by John Stewart Mills, published in the Westminster Review in 1838. Mills was a proponent of Utilitarianism, an ethical theory developed by Jeremy Bentham, the subject of the essay, although Mills’ conception of utilitarianism was very different from Bentham's. Utilitarianism holds that the moral worth of an action is determined by its outcome, and is often described by the phrase "the greatest good for the greatest number of people." This passage focuses on what Mills perceives as Bentham’s lack of empathy, the ability to emotional identify with other people. Mills ascribes this lack of emotional depth to Bentham’s life which was without the hardships or challenges most people experience.
1.In the passage, the author's overall attitude toward
Bentham can best be described as
A) grudgingly appreciative
B) cleverly nonjudgmental
C) bitterly disillusioned
D) viciously sarcastic
1. Answer: E
This passage focuses on Bentham’s limited vision and is thus essentially negative (E), although it is neither vicious nor sarcastic (D). It is neither bitter nor disillusioned (C). Since it focuses on Bentham’s limitations, it is judgmental (B).
2.Which of the following best describes the function
of the second sentence (lines 3-9) in the first
A) It qualifies and expands the opening sentence.
B) It focuses on qualities Bentham's language
(C)It compares Bentham's skills to those of
(D)It provides an example of a brief digression.
(E)It signals a transition in thought from the
2. Answer: A
The function of the sentence is to qualify “the certain degree” of Bentham’s endowments and to expand on the idea of these endowments (A). Although it does refer to the qualities Bentham’s language lacked, that was not its primary function (B), nor is its primary function to compare him with other writers (C). It is not a digression nor is it a transition of thought from the opening sentence since it does not lead to a new topic (D).
3.The author's discussion of Bentham's ability to
use imagery (lines 1-9) is best described as one of
A) dispassionate advice
B) contemptuous dismissal
C) witty defense
D) profuse commendation
3. Answer: E
The author’s discussion of Bentham’s ability to use imagery is best described as qualified (less than complete) appreciation since he also notes Bentham’s limitations (E). He is not giving advice (A) and is not contemptuous nor does he dismiss Bentham’s gifts (B). It is not a defense nor does it use wit, a type of dry humor (C). It is not a condemnation since he appreciates aspects of Bentham’s style (D).
4."This power" (line 17) refers to
A) "command of imagery" (lines 1-2)
B) "poetical culture" (line 4)
C) "declamatory eloquence" (line 8)
D) "Imagination" (line 9)
(E)"voluntary effort" (line 12)
4. Answer: D
“This power” refers to the power of Imagination in line 9 (D). Bentham’s command of imagery is an aspect of Imagination (A). The lack of “poetical culture” (emotion/empathy) is a deficiency rather than his power (B). “Declamatory eloquence” is an attribute of his ability, but not the power of it (C). The “voluntary effort “refers to the use of Imagination, not Imagination itself (E).
5.The author indicates that a writer's ability to work
with metaphor and imagery is less important than
A) a high sense of morality
B) intellectual brilliance
C) awareness of the artist's role in society
D) the power to empathize with others