The (i)_____ nature of classical tragedy in Athens belies the modern image of tragedy: in the modern view tragedy is austere and stripped down, its representations of ideological and emotional conflicts so superbly compressed that there’s nothing (ii) _____ for time to erode.
So, you were trying to be a good test taker and practice for the GRE with PowerPrep online. Buuuut then you had some questions about the verbal section—specifically the second Verbal section of Practice Test 1. Those Text completion questions can be kind of tricky, even if they’re only one blank questions—but never fear, PrepScholar has got your back!
Hmm. Ok this sentence is a bit long and maybe tricky. Still, we shouldn’t be intimidated, we start small by looking for clues as to how our blanks relate to one another as well as the rest of our sentence. For one thing, we should note that we have a colon after the first clause. A colon signals an explanation, elaboration, or example, so it’s pretty likely that the second part of our sentence will hold a clue to the first blank.
The second part of the sentence, however, elaborates by describing “modern tragedy.” This part of the sentence doesn’t really seem to require information from the first part, and it contains a lot more information. Therefore, it’s pretty likely that the clue for the second blank is in this part of the sentence, as well. Let’s go ahead and tackle this second blank first. We should take note of the “so… that” construction of this second clause. In other words, the idea that these tragedies a “so superbly compressed” should provide a reason of sorts for the second part of our sentence. To be “superbly compressed” implies that the aspects of tragedy that the sentence mentions are completely condensed or shortened. We might guess then that there would be nothing “extra” for anyone to cut, or, as our sentence puts it, for “time to erode.” Let’s see if any of our answers match this prediction.
This word may seem vaguely familiar—something about unalienable rights. But wait, that’s a different word—is it not? Not really. English is a crazy language, and somewhere along the way “inalienable” became more common than “unalienable,” but they both describe something that cannot be separated. Well, this is pretty much the opposite of our prediction, a common GRE trap, and time couldn’t erode something that couldn’t be separated. We can eliminate D.
Hmm. This word looks like something that could be similar to “extra.” So that means we should probably just pick it, right? Nope. We have to remember that the GRE likes to use words with misleading roots or that seem like they could be related to what we want. In fact, “exigent” describes something that requires immediate action or much attention. This doesn’t really fit our context at all, so E is not the correct answer.
This time, we have permission to pick the thing that looks like our prediction because “extraneous” means not essential. This means that it does, indeed, match our prediction.
Now, looking back at the first part of our sentence, we know that modern tragedy has been shortened, or “compressed.” But the first blank should describe “classical tragedy in Athens,” so, back in the day. A big clue comes from our verb: we’re told that this ____ nature “belies” or contradicts our modern impression of tragedy. So, since we know that modern tragedy is cut-down and missing anything “extraneous,” we can infer that Athenian tragedy was not compressed. Maybe something like “expanded” would work in our blank? This seems a little wonky, but that’s ok—our predictions need to be serviceable, but not perfect.
This answer makes it sound as though there’s nothing extra in Athenian tragedy, which is the opposite of what we’re looking for—that might describe modern tragedy, but our verb “belies” tells us that we want something dissimilar. We can eliminate A.
While “harmonious” implies that something has many parts working together in a way that is pleasing, it doesn’t necessarily mean that all of these parts aren’t vital. This answer is just a bit off from what we predicted, so let’s check C.
Aha! This answer is a little bit more clear that Athenian tragedy was something with many parts that may not all have worked towards the same purpose. This fits our prediction better than B, so C seems like a good answer. Let’s plug our answers into the sentence to check them.
“The (i) multifaceted nature of classical tragedy in Athens belies the modern image of tragedy: in the modern view tragedy is austere and stripped down, its representations of ideological and emotional conflicts so superbly compressed that there’s nothing (ii) extraneous for time to erode.”
Yes! Now the sentence tells us that unlike the Athenian tragedies that had many parts, modern tragedy has been paired town to only the most essential points. C and F are correct.
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