English 200 Handouts

Midterm Exam Review Sheet

The midterm exam will include two parts:
(1) An in-class section to be taken on Monday, Oct. 2, 1995, and
(2) An out-of-class essay to be turned in at the beginning of class on Wednesday, Oct. 4, 1995

Literary Works on the Midterm Exam

Poe, "The Tell-Tale Heart"
Melville, "Bartleby, the Scrivener"
Porter, "The Jilting of Granny Weatherall"
Gilman, "The Yellow Wallpaper"
Plath, "Cut"
Haas, "Heroic Simile," "Meditation at Lagunitas"
Eliot, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"
Robinson, "Richard Cory," "Miniver Cheevy"
Clifton, "The Lost Baby Poem"
Olds, "Sex Without Love"
Shakespeare, Hamlet


The in-class exam will include a section on identification, short answer questions, and multiple choice questions.

(1) IDENTIFICATION: this is a catch-all category in which you can demonstrate your knowledge about the works you read. You will be given a list of terms, each of which is something from one of the works read: for example, an image, an object, a character, a bit of dialogue. Your task will be to identify the author and work in which the term is found and then to explain the thematic significance of the term to its work.

Examples of potential terms:

"a pair of ragged claws"
"yellow smoke" ("The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock")
"blackberry" ("Meditation at Lagunitas")
"...like a cart in a bad road" ("The Jilting of Granny Weatherall")
"a play-within-a-play"
"Fortinbras" (Hamlet)
When explaining how a term is significant to its work, you should focus more upon the term than upon the work; in other words, don't waste time summarizing the entire work, but rather explain in a few concise sentences how the term operates in the work. For example, assume the term you are dealing with is "blackberry." A good answer might be the following:

Haas, "Meditation at Lagunitas." The speaker uses the word "blackberry," the word itself, to suggest the inability of words to convey the exact meaning of the things they (words) are supposed to represent. As an image, it is a good metaphor for this problem of precision in communication because it grows on a jumbled vine that is never exactly the same among different blackberry vines. At the end of the poem, the speaker repeats the word "blackberry" as a sort of chant, as if to assert the power of words--that maybe what is called a "lack" earlier may in fact be the opposite, a larger set of possibilities for meaning.
This answer--three sentences--is about as much as I'm looking for in the identification section of the midterm. Note also that I allow partial credit, so if you answer something correctly about a given term, you will receive at least several points. Finally, you will have some choice--to answer 10 out of 12 terms, for instance.

(2) SHORT ANSWER: These will be short questions about content (i.e., What happens in ...?) designed to show your understanding of what you've read. Two or three sentences, nothing more. To prepare for these, you should know the plots and characters of the works as well as any other significant themes discussed in class.

(3) MULTIPLE CHOICE: As the name suggests, you'll have a question with five possible answers. You'll have to choose the best answer. Again, this will be mostly straight content, as with the Short Answer section, but you may also have questions dealing with matters of form and technique. (E.g., what is a quatrain? What is a lyric poem? What is a simile?)


The essay question will be done outside of class. It must be typed, doubled-spaced, and must be turned in on Wednesday during class for you to receive credit. You should pick up your copy of essay topics after you turn in your exam on Monday.

In general, what you'll be required to do on the essay question is to synthesize your understanding of several works into a single essay.

If you have more specific questions about any aspect of the midterm, you should send me email or call me.

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