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GRE Reading Comprehension: Practice Question of the Week #38

Here’s this week’s practice question– good luck, we’ll be posting the answer and explanation tomorrow!

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

Update: Answer/explanation post!

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