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GRE Reading Comprehension: Practice Question of the Week #38 Answer

Here’s the answer to yesterday’s practice question, thanks for sending in all of your answers! 🙂


The resurgence of the women’s movement in the late 1960s led to the reevaluation of many authors by feminist literary critics. During the early phase of the resurgence, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s works received considerable attention from feminist critics, but that attention had waned by 1976.

Ironically, prefeminist criticism of Hawthorne demonstrated little of what we would now call feminist consciousness, yet prefeminist criticism strove to uncover antifeminist bias in Hawthorne’s works and may have precluded feminist critics from breaking any new ground. Prefeminist criticism argued that Hawthorne’s female characters did not portray the lives of real women of their era but were symbols of Hawthorne’s religious and moral values and projections of his sexual psychology.

Thus, prefeminist criticism foreshadowed the stance of feminist criticism that “women” in literature are usually not reliable descriptions of women in the real world but rather images that reflect the values of their creators.

The author’s primary purpose in the passage is:

  1. to compare and contrast prefeminist and feminist criticism of Hawthorne
  2. to describe the resurgence of interest by feminist critics in Hawthorne
  3. to describe prefeminist criticism of Hawthorne
  4. to describe feminist criticism of Hawthorne
  5. to describe the relationship of prefeminist and feminist criticism of Hawthorne

(E) is the credited response.

(E) is the best response because, neither too narrow nor too broad, it accurately captures the main purpose of the passage.

(A) is incorrect. The passage does briefly compare and contrast prefeminist and feminist criticism of Hawthorne. But the main purpose of the passage is to place feminist criticism of Hawthorne
within the context of the resurgence of feminism in the 1960s and to suggest that feminist critics stopped writing about Hawthorne because prefeminist critics had, ironically, already demonstrated that his portrayals of women did not accurately
reflect the women of his era.

(B) is incorrect. Although the passage does reference the resurgence of interest by feminist critics in Hawthorne, its main purpose is broader than a description of this resurgence.

(C) is incorrect. The passage does briefly describe prefeminist criticism of Hawthorne, but (C) is too narrow.

(D) is incorrect. (D) is similar to (C). The passage does briefly describe feminist criticism of Hawthorne, but (D) is too narrow.


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4 Responses to GRE Reading Comprehension: Practice Question of the Week #38 Answer

  1. mohsen July 6, 2016 at 10:33 am #

    Hi Chris
    Thanks for the good posts.
    Excuse me, I wanted to have access to other posts(exercises) about GRE reading comprehension. Can you please tell me how.
    Now just I was able to see some of them such as 38,22,….

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert July 13, 2016 at 4:43 am #

      Hi Mohsen!

      First, on Chris’s behalf, you’re very welcome 🙂

      You can find all of our blog posts on Reading Comprehension here. If you scroll down to the bottom of the article, after the “Takeaway,” you’ll find a section called “Blog posts about Reading Comprehension.” 🙂

      As a note, we don’t have RC posts for every week #1 – #38. That’s because on the “missing” weeks, a post was written that focused on a different verbal or math topic.

      I hope this helps!

  2. Shubham July 3, 2012 at 11:37 am #

    Hi Margarette,

    I was confused between option A and E and could not narrow down to the best fit option.

    Could you please explain how to eliminate between two close options?

    I am facing a lot of problem in such cases when there are two close options.

    • Chris Lele
      Chris July 3, 2012 at 3:53 pm #

      Hi Shubham,

      In this case, (A) and (E) are close. Also (A) is supported by some of the passage. However, this is a main idea question, which asks you to look at the entire passage and derive what the author is trying to say.

      He is not simply comparing prefeminist critics to feminist ones in how they interpreted Hawthorne. Rather the passage is describing how prefeminist critics of Hawthorne analyzed the author under a feminist lens. Therefore, there was not much work for feminist critics to do as for as Hawthorne was concerned.

      Hope that helps!

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