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Angela Jong

AP Practice Test 1
April 24, 2009
Question 1: Lit Analysis Essay

The passages that follow were published shortly after the appearance of Mary Shelley's
Frankenstein in 1818. At that time, very few people knew the identity of author. The first
passage has been extracted from an anonymous peiece from the Quarterly Review. The
second part is of Sir Walter Scott's review in the Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine.

In a period where superstitions were still believed in, some authors


employed their imaginations to create fantastical works of fiction. Mary
Shelley’s Frankenstein, created a dichotomy of reactions represented by a
piece from The Quarterly Review and Sir Walter Scott’s review. The Quarterly
Review piece sees the novel as adeptly written with crazy, insane ideas that
question the author’s sanity. On the other hand, Scott presents an objective
and warranted critique of Shelley’s style that display true and legitimate
admiration for her piece.
The key differences between the Quarterly Review piece and Scott can
be observed through their plot summaries. The Quarterly Review begins with a
cursory description of the scene that is followed by a brutal verbiage against
the piece, calling it a “horrible and disgusting absurdity”. This creates the
impression that the author is narrow-minded in his taste of literature because
he attacks the piece without any textual support to prove his point. At this
point, the anonymous writer loses credibility and differs from Scott’s piece,
which contains several lines of Frankenstein to characterize the characters
within the story using dialogue. By incorporating textual support, Scott allows
the reader to gain specific insight as to the style of Shelley’s writing which
creates a sense of balance of both sides, while the Quarterly Review merely
employs general phrases such as “passages which appall the mind” without
proof. Additionally, the Quarterly Review piece embraces a vindicate tone that
creates doubt as to the author’s credibility. Ultimately the author failed to
convince the readers other than the opinion that the author dislikes fantasy.
Yet with the differing styles and opinions of the two lay one similarity.
While differing on the opinions of the content of the piece, both the
Quarterly Review and Scott agreed upon the skilled composition of the author.
The Quarterly Review piece claims that the author “has powers of both of
conception and language” and Scott argues that the “author’s idea are clearly
as well as forcibly expressed”. However once again, the Quarterly Piece fails
to explain how so and only brings the compliment up in order to rebuke it and
give an underhanded blow by claiming better employment of the author’s
skills in a “happier direction” and compares the “fits of expression” to that of
mad men who occasionally find genius. Thus, maintaining a vindictive tone
against the content of the piece. Conversley Scott continues his objective
tone to explain as to why the piece was good. He explains that the “plain and
forceful English” and cites the descriptive imagery that sets it apart from
formulaic and typical fantasy pieces giving it an air of freshness and
originality.
Overall, Scott’s piece was much more persuasive because of his
incorporation of quotes and clear, unbiased words instead of generalizations
employed by the Quarterly Review. If the purpose of the Quarterly Review
piece was to attack the novel in vindictive and unconvincing tone, the author
achieved just that, but the review itself was unwarranted and could have done
better with more clear and thoughtful analysis and evidence to support the
claims he made.