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Fill the blank with the most appropriate of the options

Pundits do not believe that the sporadic calls for her ouster-outcries spurred by both her unusual life style and social policies-have compelled the monarch to seriously consider ____________.

a) abnegation

b) vacillation

c) castigation

d) asceticism

e) misanthropy

Please guess the answer and then see my argument and my friends argument below

My Answer As from the sentence I am getting a sense that 'her' someone else . so I felt that 'castigation' is right . Another argument which I put keeping in mind it is a competitive exam (where we should logically eliminate irrelevant answers). If I choose castigation mainly because of the word 'ouster'. ousting someone is a serious punishment , so castigation fits in here .

My friends answer As from the sentence he assumes the 'her' refers to monarch and so he says that answer is abnegation .

Please help us find the right answer between the two . If you find that any other answer seems fit please tell that also , but with the reasoning behind it .

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    Abnegation is the only one that fits, but in this context it should surely be abdication. – StoneyB Jan 4 '15 at 3:58
  • "Castigation" is criticism. People don't "seriously consider" criticizing someone; they just do it. You're thinking of something like "censure", which is a more formal action. – Adam Haun Jan 4 '15 at 4:54
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Original Text: Pundits do not believe that the sporadic calls for her ouster-outcries spurred by both her unusual life style and social policies-have compelled the monarch to seriously consider ____________.

Let's simplify. First remove the parenthetical phrase:

  • Original: Pundits do not believe that the sporadic calls for her ouster -outcries spurred by both her unusual life style and social policies- have compelled the monarch to seriously consider ____________.

    Result: Pundits do not believe that the sporadic calls for her ouster have compelled the monarch to seriously consider ____________.

Simplify further by accepting the pundits belief as being true and replacing "ouster" with it's definition:

  • 1. Pundits do not believe that the sporadic calls for her ouster have not compelled the monarch to seriously consider ____________.
  • 2. The sporadic calls for her removal from office have not compelled the monarch to seriously consider __________.**

Note that "sporadic" is contrasted with "seriously". Nobody would seriously consider a removal from office just because of some sporadic calls for such. (Especially for the petty reasons we deleted earlier.)

Now the question is who is being called for an ouster? There are two choices: the monarch herself (if the monarch is a woman) or someone that the monarch (male or female) might be compelled to "oust". It should be obvious now that her=monarch. That would be the easier and more sensible way to read the sentence. (This is an example of cataphora.)

But just for fun, let's consider "your choice": that it is someone else the monarch is going to act upon. Let's call her "Mary". It would not make any sense for the monarch to "verbally reproach" (castigate) Mary due to a few discontented voices crying for an ouster. Note that castigation is never used in the sense of "removing someone from office".1 Castigation simply does not fit.

Your friend is correct. We must consider her=monarch and blank=abnegation. It fits and makes sense. It's not really that complicated, but I wanted to cover all bases. :)

As an additional note, @StoneyB and @DrMoishePippik deftly pointed out that abdication is the proper word to use in this case. See this link for a short explanation.


1. castigate is (IMO) ill-defined in most all dictionaries. The modern usage of the word is almost exclusively a harsh verbal reproach, yet every dictionary blithely includes "punish severely" and sometimes "flog", often including some archaic quote (and often the same quote in every dictionary). One is hard pressed to find modern sentences using 'castigate' as an actual physical punishment.

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Abnegation can mean renunciation, but more often means an act of self-denial or abstinence. However, it is the best of the choices available, since castigation implies blaming someone else. Perhaps a better word would beabdication, to leave her throne. Her must refer to the monarch, since there is no other antecedent for that pronoun. Asceticism would have made sense if there were only "outcries spurred by her unusual life style", presumably hedonistic, but would not apply to complaints against her social policies.

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