English Materials for SBI Clerk Mains 2020
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Direction (1-5): Read the passage carefully and answer the questions given below it.
A Streetcar Named Desire is a classic of the American theater. Tennessee Williams’ landmark work was a tour de force in its original stage production in 1947 and continues to resonate with audiences and readers today despite—or perhaps because of—its simplistic though layered story. A faded Southern belle, Blanche DuBois, arrives at her sister’s seedy New Orleans apartment where she is tortured by her brutish brother-in-law, Stanley Kowalski. Blanche puts on airs of class and happiness throughout the play, though internally she is miserable and haunted by her tragic and scandalous past. Stanley forces Blanche to face her dolorous reality with his vitriol and, finally, his act of sexual aggression, and in doing so, he causes her to lose her tenuous grip on sanity. Most have argued (correctly) that the play is about the ways the past haunts our present or (again correctly) that it is about the ways class and sexuality impact our lives. However, few have seen the play for what it is: an allegory for the theater itself.
Before Williams wrote Streetcar, the theater had been dominated by melodrama. A brief interlude in the 1930s brought political theater to center stage (pardon the pun), but by the 1940s, its principal playwright, Clifford Odets, had left New York for Hollywood, and the sensationalized and maudlin form of melodrama once again flourished. The theater was in limbo, and Williams had a desire to bring something new to the world. It would bring the realism of the political theater of the 1930s but without the political (read: socialist) underpinnings. To that end, he created lifelike characters who spoke in realistic dialect.
But to make his point that melodrama was flawed, he added an equally unrealistic character. Blanche, unlike the other characters, speaks theatrically, acts larger than life on stage, and uses floral language and heightened mannerisms. Blanche is a character not to be trusted. She lies about everything, and the only thing that finally exposes her lies is reality itself: Stanley. He finally forces her off the stage and into the insane asylum by forcing himself on her sexually. And with that, realism forcibly removed melodrama from the stage.
It is not possible to imagine A Streetcar Named Desire without the influence of Marlon Brando, the actor who rose to fame playing Stanley Kowalski. On the page, the part is fairly simplistic. Stanley is a monster and a beast without any redeeming qualities. But Brando and the play’s original director, Elia Kazan, imagined the character as having a soft underbelly, rooted in his own sorrow, insecurities, and soulful complexity. Brando’s Stanley is a brute, yes, but he is a brute who hates the fact that he is so awful. He is also unable to control himself and his passions, and this lack of control is equally embarrassing to him, even as it is also threatening to Blanche and alluring to her sister Stella.
For instance, after he hits Stella, he comes back to her, famously begging for forgiveness by shouting “Stella” outside their apartment. But in Brando’s depiction on the stage and later on the screen, he is soaked from the rain and looks completely desperate, as though he needs Stella to live. He looks and seems totally helpless and weak, the exact opposite of the brute he appears later when he forces himself onto Blanche.
The play is excellent and memorable, even when read. But it is Brando’s interpretation of the male lead role that makes the play indelible. Without Brando, the play would still have a deep meaning, but with Brando’s interpretation, the play becomes even more profound.
1) Paragraph 1 of Passage 1 provides each of the following EXCEPT?
A) a critical interpretation of A Streetcar Named Desire
B) an explanation of why modern audiences connect with A Streetcar Named Desire
C) a brief plot synopsis of A Streetcar Named Desire
D) background information on the times that produced A Streetcar Named Desire
E) the author’s main argument concerning A Streetcar Named Desire
2) It can be inferred from Passage 1 that A Streetcar Named Desire?
A) was Tennessee Williams’ first play
B) is better on stage than in print
C) did not have socialist leanings
D) was not melodramatic
E) would not have been successful without Marlon Brando
3) According to Passage 1, the character of Blanche DuBois?
A) is intentionally overdramatic and theatrical
B) has never been to the city of New Orleans before
C) is recently married to Stanley Kowalski
D) is brutally honest and frank during the play
E) is firmly rooted in realism and sanity
4) Passage 2 argues that Marlon Brando’s portrayal of Stanley Kowalski?
earned the actor great fame
is more nuanced than the part that is written
III. is what really made A Streetcar Named Desire a classic
A) I only
B) II only
C) I and II only
D) II and III only
E) I, II, and III
5) Both Passage 1 and Passage 2 argue that?
A) the New York theater scene was blown away by A Streetcar Named Desire
B) Tennessee Williams wrote A Streetcar Named Desire to end melodrama
C) A Streetcar Named Desire has more than one true meaning
D) A Streetcar Named Desire only has power when performed on the stage
E) the character of Stanley Kowalski is simply a brute monster
Direction (6-10): Choose the word that is most nearly opposite in meaning to the word in capital letters.
1) Answer: D
In the first paragraph, the author mentions that A Streetcar Named Desire debuted in 1947, but it does not provide any additional information about the era. That information does not come until the second paragraph of Passage 1. As such, choice(D) is correct.
2) Answer: C
In paragraph 2 of Passage 1, the author argues that Tennessee Williams sought to “bring the realism of the political theater of the 1930s but without the political (read: socialist) underpinnings” when he wrote A Streetcar Named Desire. This implies that Streetcar did not have socialist leanings, as Williams would not attempt to write a play without political leanings and then make sure the play did have socialist leanings. As such, choice (C) is correct.
3) Answer: A
To answer this detail question, look for the part of Passage 1 that describes Blanche as she appears on stage. This occurs in paragraph 3. There, the author states that Blanche “speak theatrically, acts arger than life on stage, and uses floral language and heightened mannerisms.” This makes it clear that she is overdramatic and theatrical. The paragraph also states that Williams added her “to make his point that melodrama was flawed.” This makes it clear that Blanche is intentionally overdramatic and theatrical, making choice (A) correct.
4) Answer: E
In Passage 2, the author introduces Marlon Brando as “the actor who rose to fame playing Stanley Kowalski.” This suggests that the role earned Marlon Brando great fame and supports option (I). In Passage 2, the author also writes that the role of Stanley in print“ is a monster and a beast without any redeeming qualities” but that Brando “imagined the character as having a soft underbelly, rooted in his own sorrow, insecurities, and soulful complexity.” All of this suggests that Brando added nuance and complexity to the part, supporting option (II). At the end of Passage 2, the author writes that A Streetcar Named Desire is “excellent and memorable” but that “it is Brando’s interpretation of [Stanley] that makes the play indelible,” or completely unforgettable. Thus, he or she argues that Brando makes the play a classic, supporting option (III). Therefore (E) is correct.
5) Answer: C
The first passage presents three interpretations of the play: one from critics who have focused on the play’s theme of past and present, one from those who have instead focused on sex and class in the play, and one from the author himself or herself that the play is “an allegory for the theater itself.” The second passage presents two other interpretations, one based on reading the play and one based on Marlon Brando’s interpretation of the male lead. The author of Passage 2 argues that Brando made the play more complex, and states that the play “would still have a deep meaning” without Brando but “becomes even more profound” with his interpretation. Thus, both authors agree that the play really has more than one true meaning, making choice (C) correct.
6) Answer: C
The word enfranchise means to set free or grant citizenship. The opposite of enfranchise is to enslave or make not free. Because subjugate means to conquer or enslave, choice (C) is correct.
(A) is incorrect because quell means to subdue or crush. This is not the opposite of enfranchise.
(B) is incorrect because suppress means to end, inhibit, or subdue. This is not the opposite of enfranchise.
(D) is incorrect because liberate means to free or emancipate. This is synonymous with enfranchise, not the opposite of it.
(E) is incorrect because resuscitate means to bring back to life or revive. This is not the opposite of enfranchise.
7) Answer: A
The word torpor means lethargic indifference or apathy. When one procrastinates or works slowly and carelessly, he or she is demonstrating torpor. The opposite of torpor is showing excitement and eagerness. Because alacrity is a cheerful willingness, choice (A) is correct.
(B) is incorrect because sloth is laziness. This is practically synonymous with torpor, not the opposite of it.
(C) is incorrect because dormancy is inactivity. This is practically synonymous with torpor, not the opposite of it.
(D) is incorrect because chagrin is a feeling of vexation. This is not the opposite of torpor.
(E) is incorrect because anguish is excruciating pain. This is not the opposite of torpor.
8) Answer: C
The word effervescent means lively. The opposite of effervescent is slow or not spirited. Because phlegmatic means sluggish, choice (C) is correct.
(A) is incorrect because cadent means having a rhythmic beat. This is not the opposite of effervescent.
(B) is incorrect because nuptial means relating to marriage. This is not the opposite of effervescent.
(D) is incorrect because mettlesome means courageous. This is not the opposite of effervescent.
(E) is incorrect because zippy means lively. This is synonymous with effervescent, not the opposite of it.
9) Answer: D
The word acrid means harsh or bitter. Dark, leafy vegetables such as kale are acrid in taste, while a hurtful and blunt comment could be acrid in tone. The opposite of acrid is sweet. Because saccharine means very sweet, choice (D) is correct.
(A) is incorrect because poignant means emotionally moving. This is not the opposite of acrid.
(B) is incorrect because astringent means harsh or severe. This is practically synonymous with acrid, not the opposite of it.
(C) is incorrect because emollient means having soothing qualities. This is not the opposite of acrid.
(E) is incorrect because placid means calm or still. This is not the opposite of acrid.
10) Answer: E
The word cheerful means happy. The opposite of cheerful is upset. Because livid means extremely angry, choice (E) is correct.
(A) is incorrect because winsome means charming. This is not the opposite of cheerful.
(B) is incorrect because exultant means extremely happy. This is practically synonymous with cheerful, not the opposite of it.
(C) is incorrect because mordant means sarcastic. This is not the opposite of cheerful.
(D) is incorrect because doctrinaire means rigidly devoted to theories. This is not the opposite of cheerful.
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