ICSE 2016 English Literature Solved Previous Year Question Paper

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ICSE 2016 English Literature Solved Previous Year Question Paper

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How To Solve ICSE 2016 English Literature Previous Year Question Paper

Before start solving ICSE 2016 English Literature Paper you should read the following topics clearly.

  1. Read all chapter Carefully.
  2. Make a short notes on Latest Topics.
  3. Answer should be to the Point.
  4. focus on grammar in answer.
  5. Practice Chapter wise exercise of your Text Book

Select Topics 

 Drama – Section A 

 Poetry – Section B 

 Prose – Section C


ICSE 2016 English Literature Solved Paper Previous Year Question

(Two Hours)

  • Answers to this Paper must be written on the paper provided separately.
  • You will not be allowed to write during the first 15 minutes.
  • This time is to be spent in reading the Question Paper.
  • The time given at the head of this paper is the time allowed for writing the answers.
  • Attempt all questions from Section I and any four questions from Section II.
  • The intended marks for questions or parts of questions are given in brackets [ ]


Section A – Drama The Merchant of Venice : Shakespeare (ICSE 2016 English Literature Solved)

Question 1:

Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow:
Portia : As from her lord, her governor, her king.
Myself and what is mine to you and yours
Is now converted: but now I was the lord
Of this fair mansion, master of my servants,
Queen o’er myself; and even now, but now,
This house, these servants, and this same myself,
Are yours, my lord:
(i) Where are Portia and Bassanio? What has just taken place which makes Portia to speak these words? What was the inscription given in the lead casket? [3]
(ii) What does Bassanio say in praise of Portia’s portrait? [3]
(iii) What news saddens Bassanio on this happy occasion ? What does Portia ask him to do? [3]
(iv) Who is Balthazar? What was the work assigned to him by Portia? [3]
(v) Where does Portia really plan to go ? What similarity do we find between Portia and Antonio ? What does this scene reveal about the character of Portia ? Give a reason to justify your answer. [4]

Answer: 1


Portia and Bassanio are in a room in Portia’s house at Belmont.
Portia speaks these words when Bassanio says that he is doubtful that all what he sees is true or not until it is fully confirmed, signed and approved by Portia.
The lead casket read that “Who chooseth me must give and hazard all he hath’.

Bassanio praises Portia’s portrait by saying that when he moves his eyeballs it seems that Portia’s eyeballs are also moving. He also says that from the parted lips of Portia a sweet breath is coming out. He further praises her picture by saying that in her golden hair the artist has worked like a spider and instead of painting her hair he has woven a golden trap to entrap the hearts of men faster t|ian flying insects are trapped in spider webs.

The news that Antonio’s all the ships are lost in the sea and not even one venture has been successful saddens Bassanio. Bassanio is also sad because Antonio’s bond to the Jew has been forfeited and since Antonio has not repaid the money to the Jew he is not going to live anymore.
Portia tells Bassanio to go to Venice and pay the’Jew six thousand ducats then double the six thousand and then three times that to cancel the bond. She tells Bassanio to do all this fast before even a hair of Antonio should fall because of Bassanio’s fault.

Balthazar is a servant to Portia and he has always been true and honest to her. Portia expects him to be the same now also.
She gives him the task of delivering a letter to her cousin Dr. Bellario who lives in Paduan. She asks him to go as fast as possible. She also asks Balthazar to bring the notes and clothes that Dr. Bellario gives him to the water route through which trade with Venice is carried out.

She plans to go Venice to help Bassanio to save Antonio’s life from Shylock, the Jew.
Both of them love Bassanio from the bottom of their heart. They both have a helpful nature as shown by Antonio by giving Bassanio money and as shown by Portia by giving money to Bassanio to save Antonio’s life.
Portia reveals that she is a strong woman who is both bold and capable. She takes charge of the situation, thinks of a daring plan, sends Bassanio to Venice with instructions and money to help Antonio.

Question 2:

Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow:
But mercy is above this sceptred sway;
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God’s
When mercy seasons justice.

Name the speaker. Why did the speaker appeal to the Jew for mercy? Earlier who
else in the play appealed for mercy ? [3]

What are the three qualities of mercy which the speaker has stated just before the
extract? [3]

Give the meaning of‘But mercy is above this sceptred sway’. How does Shylock turn
down Portia’s plea for mercy? What does he insist on? [3]

What is Bassanio ready to do for Antonio in the court? Why is Bassanio snubbed
immediately by the disguised Portia? [3]

Mention two prominent character traits of Shylock as highlighted through the scene
from which the extract has been taken. Substantiate your answer with examples from the text. [4]



Portia is the speaker in the disguise of Balthazar.
Shylock was rigid to charge the penalty as mentioned in the bond. Thus Portia appeals to the Jew as she wants to save Antonio without resorting to legal actions. Earlier in the play the Duke himself and noble men of the highest standing have appealed for mercy to Shylock.

The quality of Mercy is a divine blessing which benefits both the man who shows Mercy and the man who receives it. Mercy is a nobler quality in a royal king better than the crown he wears. Mercy is far above this world ruled by men with sceptre.

The quality of Mercy is more powerful than the king’s rod of authority which sym¬bolizes his power and grandeur on earth ahd a king who is merciful has the quality of God.
Shylock takes responsibility of all his deeds. He insists to follow the course of law and enforce proper penalty according to the bond for the breech of agreement.

Bassanio is ready to give twice the stun of the money promised in the bond. If the Jew thinks that it is too little, he will pay it ten times over. He is also ready to forfeit his hands, his head and his heart for Antonio’s life.
Bassanio pleads with Portia to twist the law a little from its original course. To do a great act of justice, do a little wrong. He begs her to prevent the cruel Jew from succeeding in his cruel design. But Portia immediately snubs him.

Shylock portrays himself as a strict follower of religion. When Duke appeals to him to show pity on Antonio he tells him that he has sworn by the holy Sabbath to take the penalty.
Shylock is firm and adamant in his decision to take nothing but the penalty. His motive is to take revenge from his enemy and show the strength of his character that nothing can prevent him from his purpose.

Loyalties : John Galsworthy

Question 3:

Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow:
Inspector: [Sharply] Are you sure there was nobody in the room already?
De Levis: [Taken aback] I don’t know. I never thought. J didn’t look under the bed if you mean that.
Inspector: [Jotting I Did not look under bed. Did you look under it after the theft?
De Levis: No. I didn’t.
Inspector: Ah! Now, what did you do after you came back from your bath? Just give us that precisely.

What reply did De Levis give to the inspector’s last question in the extract? [3]

What made De Levis check the contents of his pocket book? What did he find there?
Whom did he go to upon discovering the theft? [3]

Who was Robert? Where was Robert’s room? At what time did he take De Levis’ clothes and boots? [3]

What is the Inspector’s final theory of the theft? [3]

Whom did De Levis accuse of stealing his money? What were his reasons for making this accusation? [4]

Answer: 3


De Levis told the inspector that after he came back from the bath he locked the door and left the key there only. Then he put back the bath sponge, took off his dressing gown and puts it on the bars at the lower end of the bedstead. After this he drew the curtains of the windows back.

De Levis had a feeling that his pocket book was thinner than it was previously, so he checked its content. He found that the notes have been replaced by shaving papers. He went to Mr. Winsor after he discovered the theft.

Robert was a footman, who look after the clothes of Mr. De Levis.
Robert’s room was on the ground floor at the extreme end of the house where he lives with other two servants.
Robert took De Levis’s clothes and boots at Ten O’clock.

According to inspector’s final theory, the theif walked into the room through the creeper before the door was locked, probably while dinner was going on and was under the bed and then he escaped by jumping from the balcony.

De Levis accused Captain Ronald Dancy of stealing his money. He told Canynge that the distance from the railing of his balcony to the railing of Dancy’s balcony is just seven feet, which anybody chp jump (if he cab jump to a narrow book case at four feet high, while standing on the floor).
Therefore He  also told to Canynge to see the crushed and broken creeper lying in the balcony, which is a proof that someone has stood on them to jump back to his balcony.

Question 4:

Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow:
Mabel: [Utterly surprised] Ronny! Do they want me in Court?
Dancy: No.
Mabel: What is it, then ? Why are you back?
Dancy: Spun.
Mabel: [Blank] Spun? What do you mean ? What’s spun?
Dancy: The case. They’ve found out through those notes.
Mabel: Oh [Staring at his face] Who?

Where are Mabel and Dancy at this time? What was Mabel doing just before this conversation? [3]

Why did Mabel say, “Do they want me in court?” Explain the meaning of spun in the extract? [3]

What ‘notes’ is Dancy talking about now?. How does Mabel react immediately after the extract”: [3]

 Dancy leaves a note for his best friend towards the end of the play. What is the name of his best friend? What is written in the note? [3]

What does Dancy do at the end? Why does he do that? What is your opinion of Mabel and Dancy? [4]

Answer: 4


Mabel and Dancy are in their sitting room. Mabel was sitting alone on a sofa with a newspaper on her lap and inhaling the Smelling-Salts with staring eyes.

Mabel say, “Do they want me in court”, because she Suddenly sees Dancy entering the room, while he was supposed to be in the court for his case.
Spun in the extract means finished, which Dancy says to Mabel while referring to his case.

Dancy is talking about the notes which he has stolen from De Levis’ pocket book.  As soon as Mabel came to know that Dancy has stolen De Levis’ money, she buries her face in the pillows of the sofa in a horrified quietness. She asked Dancy that why he has not told her about the truth of the theft.
Dancy’s best Mend name is Colford.

 In the note, it is written that this step of Dancy is very cruel to Mabel but this is the only way to save his honour. Dancy also wrote, he is again taking a desperate step of suicide after the one he has taken to jump from one balcony to another. At the end of the note he asked Colford to look after Mabel.

 At the end, Dancy shot himself by a pistol. He do this to save his honour.
Mabel represents the noblest form of wifely loyalty to her husband. She knows her that her husband had married her without telling her about his earlier love affair. She knows that he has stolen money and has been deveiving her all along. Even then her loyalty remains firm as a rock. Under no circumstances would she desert him.
Dancy is loyal to his own conception of a manly, advantourous dare-devil type of life. He wants to live dangrously. That is why he took the risk of jumping from one balcony to the other twice. That also explains why he shot himself when he was trapped.

Section B – Poetry  (ICSE 2016 English Literature Solved)

A Collection of Poems

Question 5:

Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow:
The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
And miles to go before I sleep.
(Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening: Robert Frosty)

Who is ‘I’ referred to in the extract? Which season of the year is it? What evidence is there in the poem to support your answer? [3]

Who has made him aware of his mistake? How does it make the speaker aware of his mistake? What does it seem to say? [3]

 What are the three sounds heard? [3]

 What has been said earlier by the poet about the owner of the woods? [3]

What does lovely, dark and deep suggest? What is the underlying significance in the repetition of the last two lines of the extract? Mention the moral tag that the poet attaches to the poem. [4]



‘I’ is the author Robert Lee Frost.
It is the winter season and it is the longest and the coldest evening of the year. The line ‘To watch his woods fill up with snow’ and ‘frozen lake’ is the evidence given in the poem.

The horse of the narrator has made the author aware of his mistake in stopping there. The horse does so by shaking his harness bells.
Horse wants to ask if there is some mistake that they have stopped between the woods and the frozen lake without a farmhouse near.

The three sounds heard by the author are the shaking of the harness bells by the horse, sweeping of the downy flakes and easy wind.

The poet has said that he knows the owner of the woods. He says in a voice of despair that the owner lives in the village away from the woods and he is not able to admire the beauty of his woods being filled with snow.

The poet finds the woods to be beautiful and charming. The woods appear to be restful, seductive and lovely to the poet. When taken at a symbolic level, the woods are opposed to the promises which the poet must keep. Woods represent sensuous enjoyment (lovely), the darkness of ignorance (dark) as well as the dark inner self of man (deep).
The last two lines means that the poet Robert Frost has to fulfill his promises and has to travel a lot of distance before he can rest. Sleep could also be interpreted as a metaphor for death.
Poet attaches the moral tag that in life one must do one’s duty and carry out one’s obligations.

Question 6:

Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow:
The morning stretched calm, beautiful, and warm.
Sprawling half clad, I gazed out at the form
Of shimmering leaves and shadows. Suddenly
A strong flash, then another, startled me.
I saw the old stone lantern brightly lit.
(A Doctor’s Journal Entry for August 6, 1945 : Vikram Seth)

In which country did the incident described in the poem occur? What had caused the flashes? What happened to his home soon after? [3]

Describe the injuries suffered by the Doctor. [3]

What was his wife’s name? What happened to a house standing before them? [3]

How does he describe the people he met on the way? [3]

Why were the people walking with their hands away from their bodies? What was
common to all of them? What message does the poem convey? [4]



The incident occurred in Hiroshima in Japan on August 6,1945.
The flashes, that is, bright light were caused by the detonation of the nuclear bomb that was thrown on the city.
The roof and the wall of his house crumble leaving behind timber and debris raising dust.

The clothes of the doctor disappeared. A splinter extended outwards from his dam¬aged thigh. He found his right side bleeding and his cheek was tom. He took out a piece of glass from his body without any pain.

The name of doctor’s wife was Yecko San.
A house standing before them tilted, swayed, toppled and crashed. The fire sprang up in the dust and spread widely by the wind.

On the way he met a soldier standing silently who gave him a towel. Further, he saw shadow like appearances of people, some looked like ghosts, the others like the scarecrows. He was stunned to see people walking in a naked parade.

The people were walking with their hands away from their bodies because the friction on their bums caused so much pain that they feared rubbing flesh against flesh. Silence was a common feature to all the suffering men and women.
The poem is an attack on all who are still engaged in piling up nuclear and other deadly weapons of war. The wars must be stopped and nuclear weapons should be totally destroyed.

Section C – Prose (ICSE 2016 English Literature Solved)

Collection of Short Stories

Question 7:

Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow:
“That only leaves October, November and December,”’said the Queen. *And after that we shall have to begin all over again.”
“No, we shan’t” said the King, “because I think twelve daughters are enough for any man and after the birth of dear little December I shall be reluctantly compelled to cut off your head.”
He cried bitterly when he said this, for he was extremely fond of the Queen.

Why did the king change the names of his daughters so many times? [3]

In what way was Princess September different from her sisters ? What reason does the author give for this difference in their temperaments? [3]

Which unusual birthday tradition did the King of Siam observe? Mention some of the gifts that he gave. [3]

Why did Princess September put the Nightingale in a cage? What reasons did she give to the bird for putting it in a cage and then keeping it there? [3]
(v) How did the bird behave upon being locked in a cage? What is the message of the story? [4]



The king of Siam is an odd character. He had a peculiar manner of naming his children. When he had two daughters he named them day and night. When he has two more, he changed the names of the first ones and called the four of them after the seasons. Therefore When he had three others he called all seven by the days of the week. On more daughters being born he called them by the months of the year.

The Princess September’s name had never been changed. She had a very sweet and charming nature. She was basically innocent and kind hearted. On the other hand, her sisters had annoying nature. They were petty minded and cunning because their names were changed more than once.

The King of Siam used to give, not receive gifts on his birthdays. One year on his birthday he gifted each of his daughters a green parrot in a golden cage. The other gifts that he gave were his wedding presents and his own crowns which had gone out of fashion.

Princess September put the bird in a cage because her sisters advised her that the bird could fly away and never come back. Actually they wanted to trouble the bird for they were jealous of it. The Princess September truly became worried about the bird.
September said to the bird that it should remain in the cage. So The cage was golden and made by the best workman. She feared it would go and never return and also was worried about its safety.

The bird being locked in the cage was feeling troubled and weak. It refused to sing, it stopped eating and then it lay in the cage as if it were dead.
The message is, freedom is cherished by all creatures. Nature has good effect on one’s physical and mental growth.

Question 8:

The Last Leaf explores the theme of Friendship and Self-sacrifice. Discuss this with close reference to O’Henry’s ‘The Last Leaf’. [16]


O’Henry’s ‘The Last Leaf explores the theme of friendship and self-sacrifice. The story presents the deep and sincere friendship between sue and Johnsy, two string artists. Story also presents the self-sacrifice of Behraman for these artists.

Sue and Johnsy met each other in the month of May at the table d’hote of an Eighth street ‘Delmonico’s. They found their taste in art, food and fashion common which instantly sparked a friendship and the two decided to share an apartment and open a joint studio. Their decision may initially have been a matter of need and mutual help in time of poverty, but they soon develop a profound relationship. Their friendship is marked by love, loyalty, sacrifice and sincerity for each other.

When Johnsy is down with pneumonia in the month of November, Sue attends to her day and night. This shows her eagerness to be with her friend through thick and thin. She spends her time nursing her ailing friend, Johnsy, even though she has to submit her drawings to the editor man the next day. Sue does not want that Johnsy should die and tries her best to comfort her during her illness.

she came to know about the strange fancy of Johnsy that she will die as soon as the last ivy leaf falls then she lies to her that Johnsy’s chances to live were ten in one but in reality it was one in ten. Sue tries her best to keep up Johnsy’s spirits. Sue tries to divert her friends mind talking about clothes and fashion. It is the care and nursing of Sue which helps in Johnsys quick recovery.

Greater than this relationship is the one that Behraman shares with sudie and Joanna. He considers himself as the mastiff in waiting to protect the two young artists in the studio above. When the old man gets to know about Johnsy’s strange fancy from Sue, he makes up his mind to do something to save the young girl’s life. He goes out in the heavy cold rain mingled with snow and paints an iny leaf on the wall, after the last leaf has fallen. In this process, he gets throughly drenched and icy cold. He suffers from an acute attack of penumonia also.

The doctor told Sue that there is no hope for Behraman to live. Behraman went to the hospital to be made more comfortable where he dies of his old age and weakness. Thus, the old and past sixty years in age artist sacrifies his own life to save Johnsy. The author praises the noble soul of this ordinary old man, who accomplished an extraordinary feat by sacrificing his life to save the life of another person.

Animal Farm : George Orwell

Question 9:

Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow:
These three had elaborated old Major’s teachings into a complete system of thought, to which they gave the name of Animalism.

Who had elaborated on Old Major’s teachings? [3]

When and where did they hold their secret meetings ? How did the meetings end? [3]

 What had the Old Major said about the ‘nature of this life of ours’? [3]

Who were the most faithful disciples? How did they contribute towards the preparations for the rebellion? [3]

How did the animals celebrate the day after the rebellin? [4]

Question 10:

Give an account of how Napoleon and his companions were unjust and cruel in their behaviour towards the other animals. [16]

To Sir, With Love : E.R. Braithwaite

Question 11:

Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow:
NEXT MORNING, I HAD AN IDEA. IT WAS nothing clear cut, merely speculative, But I considered it all the way to school. Then, after assembly, as soon as they were quiet I waded in. This might be a bit rough, I thought, but here goes.
“I am your teacher, and I think it right and proper that I should let you know something of my plans-for this class.”

Who is ‘I’ in the above lines? Where is he? In what mood was he when he entered the class? [3]

What did the narrator expect from his students at this moment? [3]

Who entered soon after this? What did she do that made the narrator angry? What challenge did he give her? [3]

What was the effect of the challenge on her? What plan did the narrator have in mind regarding the conduct of the young ladies? Whose help did he seek for this? [3]

 What did the narrator expect from the boy? What was the reaction of the children when they heard the narrator’s expectations? [4]

Question 12:

Give an account of the incidents of racial discrimination that Braithwaite has described in the novel ‘To Sir With Love’. [16]

English Literature Previous Year Solved Question Papers

Board – Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE), www.cisce.org

Class – Class 10
Subject – English Literature
Year of Examination – 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010 

  • 2019 Solved Question paper for ICSE English Literature
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  • ICSE English Language Sample Paper for 2020

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