TOEFL iTP | Reading | Ben Franklin & Thomas Paine

Welcome back to another TOEFL iTP segment! Because my videos on YouTube are now taking off and link clicks are coming through to my blog, I decided that I’m going to start posting more content on here for you guys. So, today’s segment is on literature, Ben Franklin!

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Whereas literature in the first half of the eighteenth century in America had been largely religious and moral in tone, by the latter half of the century the revolutionary fervor that was coming in life in the colonies began to be reflected in the literature of the time, which in turn served to further influence the population. Although not all writers of this period supported the Revolution, the two best-known and most influential writers, Ben Franklin and Thomas Paine, were both strongly supportive of that cause.

Ben Franklin first attained popular success through his writings in his brother’s newspaper, the New-England Courant. In these articles he used a simple style of language and commonsense argumentation to defend the point of view of the farmer and the Leather Apron man. He continued with the same commonsense practicality and appeal to the common man with his work on Poor Richard’s Almanac from 1733 until 1759. Firmly established in his popular acceptance by the people, Franklin wrote a variety of extremely effective articles and pamphlets about the colonists’ revolutionary cause against England.

Thomas Paine was an Englishman working as a magazine editor in Philadelphia at the time of the Revolution. His pamphlet Common Sense, which appeared in 1776, was a force in encouraging the colonists to declare their independence from England. Then throughout the long and desperate war years he published a series of Crisis papers (from 1776 until 1783) to encourage the colonists to continue on with the struggle. The effectiveness of his writing was probably due to his emotional yet oversimplified depiction of the cause of the colonists against England as a classic struggle of good and evil.

Longman Series
  1. The paragraph preceding this passage most likely discusses
  • how literature influences the population
  • religious and moral literature
  • literature supporting the cause of the American Revolution
  • what made Thomas Paine’s literature successful

2. The word “fervor” in line 2 is closest in meaning to

  • war
  • anxiety
  • spirit
  • action

3. The word “time” in line 3 could best be replaced by

  • hour
  • period
  • appointment
  • duration

4. It is implied in the passage that

  • some writers in the American colonies supported England during the Revolution
  • Franklin and Paine were the only writers to influence the Revolution
  • because Thomas Pain was an Englishman, he supported England against the colonies
  • authors who supported England did not remain in the colonies during the Revolution

5. The pronoun “he” in line 8 refers to

  • Thomas Paine
  • Ben Franklin
  • Ben Franklin’s brother
  • Poor Richard

6. The word “desperate” in line 16 could best be replaced by

  • unending
  • hopeless
  • strategic
  • combative

7. Where in the passage does the author describe Thomas Paine’s style of writing?

  • Lines 4-6
  • Lines 8-9
  • Lines 14-15
  • Lines 18-20

8. The purpose of the passage is to

  • discuss American literature in the first half of the eighteenth century
  • give biographical data on two American writers
  • explain which authors supported the Revolution
  • describe the literary influence during revolutionary America



Answers on second page

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