Notes

This printable supports Common Core ELA Standards ELA-Literacy.RI.11-12.2, ELA-Literacy.RI.11-12.3, ELA-Literacy.RI.11-12.4, and ELA-Literacy.RI.11-12.6

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Analyzing an Essay (Grades 11-12)

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Analyzing an Essay

An excerpt from "Laughter: On the Meaning of Comic" by Henri Bergson

Here I would point out, as a symptom equally worthy of notice, the ABSENCE OF FEELING which usually accompanies laughter. It seems as though the comic could not produce its disturbing effect unless it fell, so to say, on the surface of a soul that is thoroughly calm and unruffled. Indifference is its natural environment, for laughter has no greater foe than emotion. I do not mean that we could not laugh at a person who inspires us with pity, for instance, or even with affection, but in such a case we must, for the moment, put our affection out of court and impose silence upon our pity. In a society composed of pure intelligences there would probably be no more tears, though perhaps there would still be laughter; whereas highly emotional souls, in tune and unison with life, in whom every event would be sentimentally prolonged and re-echoed, would neither know nor understand laughter. Try, for a moment, to become interested in everything that is being said and done; act, in imagination, with those who act, and feel with those who feel; in a word, give your sympathy its widest expansion: as though at the touch of a fairy wand you will see the flimsiest of objects assume importance, and a gloomy hue spread over everything. Now step aside, look upon life as a disinterested spectator: many a drama will turn into a comedy. It is enough for us to stop our ears to the sound of music, in a room where dancing is going on, for the dancers at once to appear ridiculous. How many human actions would stand a similar test? Should we not see many of them suddenly pass from grave to gay, on isolating them from the accompanying music of sentiment? To produce the whole of its effect, then, the comic demands something like a momentary anesthesia of the heart. Its appeal is to intelligence, pure and simple.
1. 
Which choice best summarizes the author's main argument in the passage?
  1. Laughter involves no emotion whatsoever.
  2. Most things, when looked at objectively, are comical.
  3. Most things are not funny.
  4. Laughter involves using negative emotions and making fun of people.
2. 
Which statement would the author of the passage most likely support?
  1. Humans take themselves too seriously.
  2. There's no place for laughter in a human's life.
  3. Most drama in life is justified.
  4. Avoid drama at all cost.
3. 
Near the end of the passage, the author says, "To produce the whole of its effect, then, the comic demands something like a momentary anesthesia of the heart."

The prefix "an" in the word anesthesia most likely means...
  1. with
  2. fullness
  3. without
  4. study of
4. 
"Try, for a moment, to become interested in everything that is being said and done; act, in imagination, with those who act, and feel with those who feel; in a word, give your sympathy its widest expansion: as though at the touch of a fairy wand you will see the flimsiest of objects assume importance, and a gloomy hue spread over everything."

In the part of the passage about, the word sympathy most likely means...
  1. an understanding between people
  2. feelings of pity and sorrow for the misfortunes of others
  3. relating harmoniously with one another
  4. agreement or approval
5. 
How does the author use the following passage to prove his point?

"Try, for a moment, to become interested in everything that is being said and done; act, in imagination, with those who act, and feel with those who feel; in a word, give your sympathy its widest expansion: as though at the touch of a fairy wand you will see the flimsiest of objects assume importance, and a gloomy hue spread over everything."



6. 
The author identifies intelligence as the opposite of emotion.
  1. True
  2. False
7. 
Does the author make a convincing argument about laughter being the absence of feeling and emotion? Explain.



8. 
Which quote about laughter would the author be most likely to agree with?
  1. "In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed." - Khalil Gibran
  2. "If love is the treasure, laughter is the key." - Yakov Smirnoff
  3. "Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion." - Kurt Vonnegut
  4. "It is impossible for you to be angry and laugh at the same time. Anger and laughter are mutually exclusive and you have the power to choose either." - Wayne Dyer
9. 
How could the author best strengthen the effectiveness of his argument?
  1. Include a few jokes in the paragraph
  2. Describe a particular situation that becomes funny when emotion is removed
  3. Add a quote from a psychologist who has studied the benefits of laughter
  4. Explain ways to remove yourself from the emotions of a situation
10. 
Does the author's argument hold true in your own life? Explain and include a quote from the passage.



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