Your SECOND Step to Success!!!

Четвертая всероссийская дистанционная олимпиада
по английскому языку для студентов-гуманитариев

Just Train Your Brain -
"All the world's a stage..."



Listen to the extracts below and guess the book's title, its author and --where possible -- the name of the main character.  Answer the question following each extract. (1-3 sentences maximum)


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Do you agree with the character? Why? Why not?


Book: Theatre; author: William Somerset Maugham; main character: Julia Lambert

There is no doubt that Julia is an excellent actress, but it doesn’t give her the right to think of people as raw material for actors. To my mind, people are not the same as ants living in their ant hill, every person is unique and in the course of his/her life he plays his or her own role which is different from others. Actors can only imitate some of the single characters on the scene, but, frankly speaking, real life is much more vivid. (Стариков Александр, Южно-Уральский государственный университет). some extent it is really so: we play our roles, but the fun is we don’t know the lines; we have the audience, but we are not always happy about it; we would like to play it better the second time, but we don’t have a chance to do it; we try to lead, but very often we are led by others; we want this play to last forever, but it’s death that drops the curtain... (Политкина Елена, Одесский национальный университет имени И.И.Мечникова)



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Why is it important to take care of one’s pronunciation – according to the author of the book and in your own opinion?


 Author: George Bernard Shaw; title: Pygmalion; main characters: Henry Higgins, a professor of phonetics, and Eliza Doolittle.

According to the author, it is important to take care of one’s pronunciation to make one’s language comprehensible to all the native speakers and make them feel united by a common language. He also claims that it is easier for a foreigner to master a language that has clear pronunciation rules correlated with the spelling of words. I believe clear pronunciation encourages communication and serves as an indicator of status. (Мамедова Анастасия, МГУ им. М.В. Ломоносова)  

The accuracy in pronunciation is crucial even without taking into consideration a chance of misunderstanding due to enunciation. The subtleties of authentic pronunciation can bring additional color and liveliness to the perception of the listener… (Левин Михаил, Российский Государственный Социальный Университет)



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Find arguments to object to the words of the character.


Book title:  “The picture of Dorian Gray”, author: Oscar Wilde, main character: Dorian Gray

Dorian! Jealousy is one of the man’s fatal vices; it’s like a worm which gnaws at your soul! So, stop thinking in that way. The only thing that really has value in life is not some material facts or your irresistible appeal, but it’s your beloved person, for whom you’ll always be the most beautiful creature in the world, it’s your family and friends, for whom it doesn’t matter what kind of fashionable clothes you might wear or what defects of the body you might have. (Секурцева Анастасия, Сибирский Федеральный Университет, Институт Естественных и Гуманитарных Наук)

As youth passes away our hearing and eyesight get worse and worse, we lose appetite and the sense of smell, adopt stooping posture, our skin gets wrinkled, hair goes grey and thin out and there is nothing to do with it. But it’s only the shape, the real beauty is kept inside, in our hearts. People who own that sort of beauty are not afraid of getting older, as the saying goes: “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. (Ларшина Маргарита, МГУ им.М.В.Ломоносова)

“I am alive” – that was a marvellous discovery of twelve-year-old Douglas from Ray Bradbury’s “Dandelion Wine”, and if Dorian Gray had realized it, he probably wouldn’t have said those vain words. Life is given to us by God, it is unrepeatable, and that’s its main value. A man should be responsible for his deeds, and he can’t put this burden on anybody else, even on his portrait. (Пьянкова Анастасия, Пермский Государственный Университет)

“Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming,” says Oscar Wilde in the preface to his book, but I tend to look at the problem from another point of view. Giving preference to appearance instead of contents leads to lack of morality in a person. The person who's just looking for the ways to avoid ageing also deprives himself of gaining experience, learning from his own mistakes, getting wiser – everything that the normal course of life can bring. (Сазонова Анна, Московский Государственный Медико-Стоматологический Университет)



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Would you call this encounter a blessing or a curse? Why?


Book title:  “Romeo and Juliet”, author: William Shakespeare, main character: Romeo Montague, Juliet Capulet

From my point of view, the encounter of these two young souls, Romeo and Juliet, is undoubtedly a great blessing, as it brought love into their hearts making them the happiest people in the world. You may mention all the difficulties they had to withstand. Yes, there were some really unpleasant moments in their love story, but all these things just made their love stronger and even more passionate and they would not ruin such a great love! (Кабирова Диана, г.Нижнекамск, средняя школа №33, 10 класс)

This is the first time Romeo sees Juliet and portrays her beauty in terms of light and dark. He describes her beauty as brighter than a torch, contrasts it with the blackness of crows, and compares it with the shine of a rich jewel in Ethiope's ear. The encounter is both a blessing and a curse, a blessing to see someone so beautiful and a curse because we know how the story ends. (Стариков Александр, Южно-Уральский государственный университет).

Everlasting love is all-absorbing and all-triumphant, overbearing the animosity of the confronting families, reconciling them in the face of the untimely death of the two young lovers. Romeo and Juliet experienced the purest, the most tender and romantic feeling that ever existed in the world: in love they lived and in love they died. Thus, it’s a tragic blessing for everybody, for they all came to realise how blind they used to be in their rivalry, which led them to the disaster. (Александрова Екатерина, Институт Туризма и Гостеприимства)

In my opinion, the character of the young hot-headed Romeo was such that he would have found another lady to court if he hadn't met Juliet, and the two, in all probability, were not in love but just infatuated with each other. Their hastiness and selfishness led to tragic consequences, but one could hardly expect passion-driven teenagers to stop and think about what could go wrong. Their families make peace with each other in the end, but the price paid for this peace seems too high. (Мальцева Юлия, МГУ им.М.В.Ломоносова)

"I never saw the beauty till last night,” that is the way Romeo expresses his attitude towards Juliet in this play, having met this charming girl for the first time. Oliver Wendell Holmes (a famous American poet of the 19th century) said, "love is the master key that opens the gates of happiness,” that is why, on the one hand, this encounter may be considered as a blessing. But, on the other hand, we know that their feelings will be ruinous for both of them at the end, because Romeo falls in love with Juliet without knowing that she is the daughter of his bitter enemy. (Храмова Оксана, Южно-Уральский Государственный Университет)



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What traits of character does a person need in order to achieve maturity, according to the author of the poem, and in your own opinion?


Title:  «If», author: Rudyard Kipling

The author’s message to his son is quite clear – Earth will be his if only he is complacent and believes in himself, doesn’t give way to emotions, is honest and resilient, if he is never too proud or too willing to oblige everyone irrespective of his own beliefs. I think that growing mature means accepting vulnerability (according to Madeleine L'Engle) and at the same time being able to accept life as it is and be oneself and not what somebody else thinks you should be, but I don’t want to grow mature – if maturity really means taking life so seriously. (Шенкаренко Елена, Пермский Государственный Университет)

According to Kipling’s verses, and here I completely agree with him, the basis of maturity is, on a large scale, responsibility and the ability to respect the dignity of others, not losing one’s own. Honour would probably be the best word to characterise maturity in this sense. (Казаков Григорий, МГУ им. М.В. Ломоносова)

These are the traits a person needs in order to achieve maturity according to R. Kipling: self-respect, strong will, patience, honesty, tolerance, self-control, resolution and ability to attach sense to his/her life. From my point of view, a person is mature if he/she is able to think and act independently and at the same time to be fully responsible for his/her actions and words. A mature person realizes him/herself an integral part of the whole world that has its special destination, besides such person is capable of self-examination and is always trying to improve him/herself. (Желенкова Антонина, Южно-Уральский Государственный Университет)



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Just guess the book's title, its author and the name of the main character.


Title: “Murder On the Orient Express”. Author: Agatha Christie. Main character: Hercules Poirot.


ВНИМАНИЕ! ЖЮРИ рассмотрело только работы, содержащие ответы на ВСЕ ПЯТЬ вопросов. Максимальный объема ответа на каждый вопрос - 3 предложения.  Ответ на ШЕСТОЙ вопрос не является обязательным. Однако участники олимпиады, ответившие на шестой вопрос, получили дополнительное преимущество при оценке работ.

NB! While looking for the answers to the questions you can take advantage of our page of sources and useful links.


As always there are people without whose help this project would not have been possible.
We are particularly grateful to Anthony Johns who provided us with crystal clear audio-files and a lot of general guidance and advice on English lifestyle!
Our special thanks to Keith Rawson-Jones for his witty remarks and for generously providing his voice to help us!
We also thank Larissa Mashkova, whose passionate vocal contributions you will hear in these pages.