Sample Final Exam

European Literature I

Your answers must be legible; if you want to cross out lines and mark replacements (e.g., with stars or arrows), feel free to do so, but your intentions must be clear to me. Be sure you answer the question; irrelevant information is worth zero/zip /nil.

Answer two of the following questions in 4-5 sentences:

1. Explain the idea of decorum as it applies to literature.

2. Explain the use Dante makes of the emotion of pity in the Inferno.

3. Explain three fundamental differences between the Old Testament (the book of the Jews) and the New Testament (the book of the Christians).

4. Explain the concept of intertextuality and give at least one example.

Part III (25 points each; half an hour per question)
THINK before you write: take a few minutes to plan your essays, write coherent paragraphs (not lists), and make your answers as detailed and specific as possible. The best answers are those that show me that you know and can use the terminology appropriate to the subject and that draw in as much relevant material (from all the relevant texts) as possible. BE SPECIFIC. BE CONCISE. Do not write an introduction or conclusion; just answer the question. Write the best English prose you can.

Answer two of the following questions, one from the first section and one from the second (read all the questions carefully before you choose):

Section 1 (answer ONE):

1. Dante wrote his Comedy in 100 cantos, divided into three books; Boccaccio wrote his Decameron in 100 tales in a double frame. (He also wrote a biography of Dante.) Though both are carefully constructed, they serve very different purposes. Discuss the ways in which the structures of the works relate to the purposes for which they were written. (Feel free to speculate.)

2. Discuss Dante's Comedy as an epic.

3. Literature from the Greeks through the Augustan Age was expected to provide its readers with "use and enjoyment." Discuss the use and the enjoyment that might be had from Ovid's Metamorphoses and Boccaccio's Decameron.

Section 2 (answer ONE):

4. Many people have called Don Quixote a parody of a romance. (Don Quixote is certainly a knight-errant, just as Yvain is.) Contrast Cervantes' work with Chretien's, with an eye to clarifying the nature of romance and showing how Cervantes goes beyond romance to create a new kind of (Renaissance) work.

5. Compare the roles of three women--Lunette, Christine, and Beatrice--in their respective works. Consider especially their status, intellect, and power as it leads each one to victory or defeat.

6. "All you need is love," sang the Beatles. St. Augustine (a little earlier) said, "Love, and do what you will [want]." We've seen all kinds of love this semester: courtly love, heavenly love, married love, lust, love of home, of country, of freedom and adventure, of an ideal. Choose any two works (Roman, Medieval, or Renaissance) EXCEPT DANTE, and compare or contrast the authors' treatments of love.

Now, take a deep breath. Go back and re-read both the questions and your answers, correcting grammar, punctuation, and matters of fact. Be sure that every answer is preceded by a number or letter; add any information that you may have omitted; make sure you have identified authors and characters correctly and spelled their names right. I do not expect the elegance of the prose you write at home, but I do take the competence of your presentation of material into account when I grade your exams. Do not recopy your answers. You may keep the exam questions.

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Rev 12/96