It can be inferred from the passage that most modern critics assume which one of the following in their interpretatio...

Sangwook on May 18, 2015

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I chose (E) by eliminating less correct answers, not by knowing why (E) must be the answer. Could you please explain what makes test takers infer most modern critics assume that Webster was influenced by the same sources as his contemporaries? Thanks,

2 Replies

Melody on May 18, 2015

This is a tricky question. It's important to really note what the question stem is asking: "It can be inferred from the passage that most modern critics assume which one of the following in their interpretation of Webster's tragedies?"

So, this is not asking us, what is actually the case. Rather it is asking us what do the modern critics believe. Well, we know that modern critics "keep coming back to this element of inconsistency [in Webster's writing on morality] as though it were an eccentric feature of Webster's own tragic vision," (14-16).

We are told that "Webster has become a prisoner of our critical presuppositions," (18-19). This is a huge clue. What is the critical presupposition that Webster is a prisoner of? Well, we know that Webster's contemporaries are influenced by the morality plays of earlier Renaissance and medieval theater. These morality plays allegorized the conflict between good and evil by presenting characters whose actions were defined as the embodiment of good or evil (22-27). So, it makes sense that Webster's contemporaries did not create inner contradictions within their characters.

However, we are told that "Webster seems not to have been as heavily influenced by the morality play's model of reality as were his Elizabethan contemporaries; he was apparently more sensitive to the more morally complicated Italian drama than to these English sources," (30-35). Thus, if we were to take into consideration that Webster was not influenced by the same sources as his contemporaries, and rather was influenced by more "morally complicated" Italian sources, then it would make sense that Webster's characters have more moral conflictions.

So, since modern critics find it bizarre that Webster has such contradictory ideas of morality within his stories and characters, we must assume that they are not taking into consideration that he is not influenced by the same sources as his contemporaries who have more clear cut lines of morality, i.e. we have placed Webster in a prison of "our critical presuppositions."

Therefore, we can infer that most modern critics assume that Webster's tragedies were influenced by the same sources as his contemporaries, i.e. answer choice (E), since they believe it is odd that unlike his contemporaries, his characters are not a complete embodiment of good or evil.

Hope that clears things up! Please let us know if you have any other questions.

Sangwook on May 21, 2015

Wow!!! Thanks a lot!!!^^