Dramatic literature often ___ the history of a culture in that it takes

Dramatic literature often         the history of a culture in that it takes as its subject matter the important events that have shaped and guided the culture.

  1. confounds
  2. repudiates
  3. recapitulates
  4. anticipates
  5. polarizes

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 question 1 of the first Verbal section on 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!

Taking a look at our sentence, we want to search for any clues that might relate our blank to our keywords. Here, our blank should be a verb that describes a relationship between “dramatic literature” and “history of a culture.” We’ll probably notice that our sentence contains the phrase “in that,” which is a signal that the second part of the sentence is supposed to elaborate on the ideas found in the first (where our blanik is located). Let’s take a look there to look for any clues about the relationship between literature and history that might help us define the word in our blank.

Hmm. This second part of the sentence tells us that history, or “important events that shaped and guided the culture” is often the subject of literature (which is the antecedent for the pronoun “its”—the idea the pronoun “its” is standing in for). So, if history is often used as a subject for dramatic literature, we might expect that our blank will describe a relationship that conveys this idea. We could perhaps predict that our blank should express that literature reflects history.

Now that we have an idea of what our blank should say, we can start looking at our answers. It’s important that we try to form our own idea of what would fit in the blank before looking at our answers. This way we won’t get caught up trying to test out answers to see if they work. Instead we can match an answer.

  1. Confounds

This answer does not match our prediction “reflect.” To “confound” something is to mix it up with something else, but we don’t have evidence in our sentence that literature confuses historical events with one another or anything else. We can eliminate A.

  1. Repudiates

To “repudiate” something is to deny the truth of it or to refuse an association. Neither of these definitions matches our prediction, so we can eliminate B.

  1. Recapitulates

Even if we aren’t super sure about this word, we’ve probably know it’s more informal iteration—”recap.” Yup. To “recapitulate” something is just a formal way of saying to “recap” or restate and summarize a past event. This answer is pretty similar to our prediction and seems like it could relate to our blank, so let’s keep C.

  1. Anticipates

To anticipate something is to look forward to or expect it. But we can’t expect history—it already happened! We can eliminate D because “anticipate” doesn’t make sense in the context of our sentence.

  1. Polarizes

To be “polarized” is to be drawn to opposite sides or divided. While literature about history could, theoretically, have a polarizing effect on people, this answer doesn’t reflect the relationship we want it to (see what I did there?). We can eliminate E.

As a final check, let’s plug our only remaining answer, C, into our sentence.

“Dramatic literature often recapitulates the history of a culture in that it takes as its subject matter the important events that have shaped and guided the culture.”

Yes, now the sentence tells us that dramatic literature often recaps the history of a culture because historical events are often used as a subject for this literature.


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