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Clara from Next Step Test Prep joins us once again to drill into Passage 4 of CARS. This is a fun passage as it talks about playwriting – something different from the previous ones.
[02:12] Passage 4
You ask me how one can write an excellent play. I must tell you that it’s not as easy as it seems. That is, what is truly difficult is to write a play that the public will appreciate to be excellent. I do not intend to deny the value of talent, skill, and experience. But in what proportions do they contribute to the result? With study, patience, memory, and energy, a man can gain a reputation as a painter, or a sculptor, or a musician. And those arts, they’re a material in mechanical procedures that he can make his own. This man can gain talent. ability, and can attain success. The public, to whom that these works are submitted, have none of the technical knowledge involved. Thus, from the beginning, they regard the makers of this works as their superiors. They feel that the artist can always reply to any criticism. Have you learned painting, sculpture, music? No? Then don’t talk so vainly. You cannot judge. You must be of the craft to understand the beauties and so on. It is thus that the good-natured public is frequently imposed on in painting and sculpture and music by certain schools and celebrities. it does not dare to protest. But with regard to drama and comedy, the situation is altered. The public is an interested party to proceedings and it appears, so to speak, for the prosecution in the case.
The language that we use in our plays is the language used by the spectators everyday. The sentiments that we depict are theirs. The persons whom we set to acting are the spectators themselves and instantly recognize passions and familiar situations. No preparatory studies are necessary. No initiation in a studio or school is indispensable. Eyes to see, ears to hear. That’s all they need. The moment we depart, I will not say from the truth, but from what they think is the truth, they stop listening. For in the theater, as in life, of which the theater is the reflection, there are two kinds of truth. First, the absolute truth, which always in the end prevails. And secondly, if not the false, at least the superficial truth, which consists of customs, manners, social conventions, the uncompromising truth which revolts and the pliant truth which yields to human weakness. It is only by making every kind of concession to the second that we can succeed in ending with the first.
The spectators like all sovereigns, like kings and nations, do not like to be told the truth, all the truth. Let me add quickly that they have an excuse, which is that they do not know the truth, they have rarely been told it. They, therefore, wish they flattered, pitied, consoled, take it away from their preoccupations and their worries, which are nearly all due to ignorance. But which I consider the greatest and the most unmerited to be found anywhere because their own.
[05:00] Question 19
The central goal of this passage is to:
- (A) Propose that it is virtually impossible to write an excellent play
- (B) Argue that painters, sculptors, and musicians are overly revered and playwrights underappreciated.
- (C) Plead that spectators learn to distinguish between absolute and superficial truths.
- (D) Explain the challenges facing the playwright as they relate to the predilections of the spectators.
The answer here is D. A is so extreme so crash this out. B and C have some basis in the passage but instead of just spending a minute or two trying to figure out if they’re true, you can actually just get rid of them since they’re not the main idea here. B was only just talked about that first paragraph. And C was only later discussed in the passage. So D fits a lot better here because the whole passage is explaining the challenges facing the playwright in writing this play that the public will accept.
[08:30] Question 20
What does the author most likely mean when he says that the public “appears for the prosecution in the case”?
- (A) The public expects playwrights to be knowledgeable about music, painting, and sculpture.
- (B) Spectators consider themselves knowledgeable about drama and feel free to criticize playwrights.
- (C) The public prefers dramas and encourages their neighbors to confront uncompromising truths.
- (D) The drama of the courtroom is a metaphor for the conflicts that individuals face in everyday life.
The correct answer is B. D can be tempting for students to pick since of course, it is a metaphor. But then the rest of D isn’t just right because it talks about individual facing challenges in everyday life. But the passage is talking about the challenges of the playwright in making this excellent play. B makes sense since the passage is about the struggle of the playwright to write a play that the public will accept. And this metaphor is a comparison to painting, sculpture, and music. The public thinks they can understand plays so they feel more open to criticize them. Whereas a sculptor or a musician can always say you don’t understand sculpture or music so you can’t criticize.
[12:04] Question 21
According to the passage, which of the following words best describes the attitude that a typical individual might hold toward a concert violinist?
- (A) Reverent
- (B) Skeptical
- (C) Sentimental
- (D) Judgmental
The right answer here is A. Just think about the attitude that was conveyed in that part of the passage. And reverent is a positive word whereas judgmental is negative. That said, you can always go back to the passage as this is a very specific part. The part about musicians, in general, is that first paragraph. There is a sentence there saying, “Thus, from the beginning, they regard the makers of this works as their superiors.” So the public regards the makers of these musical or sculpture as their superiors, so this fits in with reverent. It’s the idea that they revere them and think they’re superior.
Clara recommends that if you’re confused between two choices, you can just look outside the window. The MCAT is a very direct test so if you’re looking at one specific part of the passage and you’re not sure, try looking at the sentence before and the sentence after that. There might be more clear phrase pointing towards the correct answer there.
[16:07] Question 23
Which of the statements below might provide the author’s answer to his friend’s question regarding how one can write a play that audiences will regard as excellent?
- (A) I wish I knew. Audiences think they know but shy away from what’s real and true.
- (B) The key is speaking your truth. If you know what you write is important, they will hear you.
- (C) Knowledge of the beauty is all. School yourself in paintings, sculpture, and music.
- (D) I’m not sure. But if you avoid the superficial truth, the audience will heed your message.
This is the common dilemma for these two-part answer choices since the first part may look great and then you’re unsure about the second part or vice versa. SO be sure to look at all the other answer choices to make sure A isn’t the best option but here, it was. So A is the right answer here.
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