This printable supports Common Core ELA Standard ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.3, ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.4, ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.5 and ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.6

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Analyzing Text Elements (Grades 11-12)

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Analyzing Text Elements

An excerpt from the Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde


Morning-room in Algernon’s flat in Half-Moon Street. The room is luxuriously and artistically furnished. The sound of a piano is heard in the adjoining room.

[Lane is arranging afternoon tea on the table, and after the music has ceased, Algernon enters.]

Algernon. Did you hear what I was playing, Lane?

Lane. I didn’t think it polite to listen, sir.

Algernon. I’m sorry for that, for your sake. I don’t play accurately—any one can play accurately—but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life.

Lane. Yes, sir.

Algernon. And, speaking of the science of Life, have you got the cucumber sandwiches cut for Lady Bracknell?

Lane. Yes, sir. [Hands them on a salver.]

Algernon. [Inspects them, takes two, and sits down on the sofa.] Oh! . . . by the way, Lane, I see from your book that on Thursday night, when Lord Shoreman and Mr. Worthing were dining with me, eight bottles of champagne are entered as having been consumed.

Lane. Yes, sir; eight bottles and a pint.

Algernon. Why is it that at a bachelor’s establishment the servants invariably drink the champagne? I ask merely for information.

Lane. I attribute it to the superior quality of the wine, sir. I have often observed that in married households the champagne is rarely of a first-rate brand.

Algernon. Good heavens! Is marriage so demoralising as that?

Lane. I believe it is a very pleasant state, sir. I have had very little experience of it myself up to the present. I have only been married once. That was in consequence of a misunderstanding between myself and a young person.

Algernon. [Languidly.] I don’t know that I am much interested in your family life, Lane.

Lane. No, sir; it is not a very interesting subject. I never think of it myself.

Algernon. Very natural, I am sure. That will do, Lane, thank you.

Lane. Thank you, sir. [Lane goes out.]

Algernon. Lane’s views on marriage seem somewhat lax. Really, if the lower orders don’t set us a good example, what on earth is the use of them? They seem, as a class, to have absolutely no sense of moral responsibility.
What role do the parts of the text in brackets play?
  1. They show character movement to help the actors performing the play.
  2. They add additional emotions to the play that may be lost when it is performed.
  3. They provide insight into some of the character's actions and emotions.
  4. They contain asides to help clue the audience in to hidden details.
Algernon's take on Lane's opinion after Lane leaves the room could be considered a(n)...
  1. Soliloquy
  2. Characterization
  3. Aside
  4. Comic relief
How does the author use humor in this passage?

How does the author use irony in the last line of dialogue in the passage?

Before any dialogue in the scene, the author describes the setting.
  1. True
  2. False
Richard Frethorne's Letter to His Parents (1623)

Loveing and kind father and mother my most humble duty remembered to you hopeing in God of your good health, as I my selfe am at the makeing hereof, this is to let you understand that I your Child am in a most heavie Case by reason of the nature of the Country is such that it Causeth much sicknes [including scurvy and "the bloody flux"] . . . and when wee are sicke there is nothing to comfort us; for since I came out of the ship, I never at anie thing but pease, and loblollie (that is water gruell)[.] as for deare or venison I never saw anie since I came into this land there is indeed some foule, but Wee are not allowed to goe, and get yt, but must Worke hard both earelie, and late for a messe of water gruell, and a mouthfull of bread, and beife[.] a mouthfull of bread for a pennie loafe must serve for 4 men which is most pitifull if you did knowe as much as I, when people crie out day, and night, Oh that they were in England without their lymbes and would not care to loose anie lymbe to bee in England againe, yea though they beg from doore to doore. . . .

But I have nothing at all, no not a shirt to my backe, but two Ragges nor no Clothes, but one poore suite, nor but one paire of shooes, but one paire of stockins, but one Capp, but two bands, my Cloke is stollen by one of my owne fellowes, and to his dying hower would not tell mee what he did with it [although some friends saw the "fellowe" buy butter and beef from a ship, probably purchased with Frethorne's cloak] . . . but I am not halfe a quarter so strong as I was in England, and all is for want of victualls, for I doe protest unto you, that I have eaten more in a day at home than I have allowed me here for a Weeke. . . .
O that you did see may daylie and hourelie sighes, grones, and teares, and thumpes that I afford mine owne brest, and rue and Curse the time of my birth with holy Job. I thought no head had beene able to hold so much water as hath and doth dailie flow from mine eyes.
Richard Frethorne obviously does not like his new home. What is the most likely reason for his staying?
  1. He is an indentured servant in the New World.
  2. He won't leave his friends in their time of need.
  3. He is shipwrecked on an unknown deserted island.
  4. He wants to get rich in America and won't give up.
What do all of the misspelled words indicate?
  1. Richard's rush to write
  2. The time period
  3. A lack of education
  4. Dialect
How does the format of the letter allow Richard Frethorne to share information about the time period that more formal texts from the time would not share?

What does Richard Frethorne want more than anything else at the moment?
  1. Clothes
  2. Sleep
  3. Companionship
  4. Food
Why are ellipses and brackets largely used in the text?
  1. To make the reader pause
  2. To hide key information
  3. To show missing or added information
  4. To add emotion

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