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Analyzing and Interpreting Literature

The following sample questions do not appear on an actual CLEP examination. They are intended to give potential test-takers an indication of the format and difficulty level of the examination and provide content for practice and review. For more sample questions and information about the test, see the CLEP Official Study Guide.

Question 4 of 10

    O Vanity! how little is thy force acknowledged, or thy operations 
discerned! How wantonly dost thou deceive mankind under different 
disguises! Sometimes thou dost wear the face of pity, sometimes of 
generosity: nay, thou hast the assurance even to put on those gloriousLine
ornaments which belong only to heroic virtue. Thou odious, deformed5
 
monster! whom priests have railed at, philosophers despised, and poets 
ridiculed: is there a wretch so abandoned as to own thee for an acquaintance 
in public? yet, how few will refuse to enjoy thee in private? nay, thou art the pursuit 
of most men through their lives. The greatest villainies are daily 
practised to please thee; nor is the meanest thief below, or the greatest hero10
 
above, thy notice. Thy embraces are often the sole aim and sole reward of 
the private robbery and the plundered province. It is to pamper up thee, thou harlot, 
that we attempt to withdraw from others what we do not want, or to withhold from 
them what they do. All our passions are thy slaves. Avarice 
itself is often no more than thy handmaid, and even Lust thy pimp. The bully15
 
Fear, like a coward, flies before thee, and Joy and Grief hide their heads in 
thy presence. 
I know thou wilt think that, whilst I abuse thee, I court thee, and that thy 
love hath inspired me to write this sarcastical panegyric on thee; but thou art 
  deceived: I value thee not of a farthing; nor will it give me any pain if thou20
 
shouldst prevail on the reader to censure this digression as arrant nonsense; 
for know, to thy confusion, that I have introduced thee for no other purpose 
than to lengthen out a short chapter; and so I return to my history. 

Which of the following best reflects the ideas in the first sentence?

  • A.

    People do not sufficiently recognize the power of vanity in action.

  • B.

    Only discerning people recognize vanity when they come upon it.

  • C.

    Vain actions are usually forceful and can therefore be recognized.

  • D.

    Vanity often causes people to use force against others.

  • E.

    The operations of vanity are difficult to detect because they are not usually forceful.

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