Envy Without Reason Reading Questions and Answers

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  • IELTS Reading Locating Information
  • IELTS Reading Sentence Completion
  • IELTS Reading Matching Headings

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IELTS Reading passage Envy Without Reason

Envy Without Reason

A Do you come from a culture which places emphasis on envy? Without a doubt, envy is something that we all feel at some time in our lives. The Concise Oxford Dictionary lists envy as ‘resentful or admiring contemplation of a more fortunate person’. Instead of sharing in the joy of a new job, car or party dress, a friend either pretends she or he has not noticed the fantastic new BMW or says “Mercedes or better’. But does it matter? In many parts of the world, the personal satisfaction felt by those who prosper is tinged with concerns about the ill- will which success provokes in friends, and even family members. Envy becomes something to be feared for it may have the power to cause harm.

B The Swahili people of Coastal East Africa take envy very seriously. They frequently feel the need to hide or minimize personal success. Hence, boasting can be a dangerous pastime. Envy emanates from neighbours, friends and family. After all, a stranger does not care if you have managed to replace your thatched house with corrugated iron. But those Swahili who have struggled houses the slogan, hasidi hana sababu; this means envy without reason’. The slogan seems to be a forlorn attempt to remind neighbours and any envious passers-by that the apparent good fortune indicated by a superior house has been earned. The message that there is no reason for envy, and that those harbouring ill-will should control their feelings. The successful are pleading to be allowed to succeed.

C In Swahili culture, and how many emanates from the eye of the beholder. The Evil Eye, as a source of harm to those who fall under its gaze, is reported throughout much of the world. Indeed, according to Brain Spooner, an expert on the various ways used to keep envy at bay, the idea of the Evil Eye is so widespread that it can be regarded as a universal phenomenon. In the parts of Europe that border the Mediterranean, in the Middle East and North Africa, the wearing of pendants depicting one large eye is a popular way of repelling envy. Ideas about the Evil Eye moved from the Mediterranean to the New World of America. Atwood Grains have traced the origin of beliefs about the Evil Eye as a cause of sickness from Spain to Mexico, Haiti and Puerto Rico. The illnesses caused by the Evil Eye are given specific names such as susto, in such cases, the Evil Eye is suspected after an illness or misfortune has already occurred.

D Marica Inhorn has written about the Evil Eye in Egypt. There, women may attribute infertility and other health problems to the envy of neighbours or friends. But in the Middle East, as elsewhere, envy can occur in many settings. Hence, at the end of an important meeting to discuss a research study, the head of the project noticed that her best silk suit had white marks on both the jacket and skirt. It was ruined. She worked out that bleach. She had then brushed against the table. Nobody else’s clothes were damaged. Her Palestinian colleagues suggested that envy, harboured by an unknown acquaintance, had ruined her suit. The grounds for envy were either her beautiful clothes or her powerful position in the research team.

E Some social scientists argue that envy is widespread in societies where resources are scarce and one person’s gain is considered another’s loss The reasoning behind this theory of envy is that, when people are poor and in competition with each other, they believe that there is not enough good food, good fortune or good jobs to go around.

F G.M. Foster studied peasant society in Latin America and propounded ‘the image of limited good’. According to his theory, when somebody from a family or village prospers, they use up part of a stock of limited good and reduce the chances of the success of others. Foster sees the ‘image of limited good’ as operating in peasant societies where people know and compete with each other in adverse economic conditions. However, the theory may hold good for many other social and economic contexts. Take scholarships, for example There are only so many to go round. If your best friend gets the scholarship, your chances of getting one too may be greatly reduced.

G Western psychoanalysts have also studied envy. Melanie Kien sees envy as an emotion felt by the breastfeeding infant towards its mother’s breast. Although the infant feels love and gratitude towards its mother, it also wants the goodness of the milk for itself. Some of these scholars, unlike everyday speakers of English, are careful to distinguish between envy and jealousy. Swahili people make the same distinction. Jealousy is a triangular relationship. For example, two friends spend all their free time together until one takes a lover. The neglected friend grows jealous of the affection lavished on the new lover. When there is jealousy, three people are involved. Envy, on the other hand, is more straightforward: one person envies another’s achievement, quality or possession. While most English people do not take envy seriously, it remains a matter of concern to people worldwide. It makes ambition and the pursuit of success more difficult, and some would say, dangerous. Many seek ways to avoid falling victim to envy. How do you deal with it?

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Questions 15-20

The Reading Passage below has seven paragraphs (A-G).

Choose the most suitable heading for each paragraph from the List of Headings below. Write the appropriate numbers (i-xv).

Please note that you may use each heading only once.

List of Headings

i. Breastfeeding and envy
ii. A victim of envy
iii. A global remedy for envy
iv. What is envy?
v. The Evil Eye in Europe
vi. Sharing access
vii. No grounds for envy
viii. Envy and illness
ix. Envy where resources are limited
x. The Swahili in America
xi. The work of social scientists
xii. Envy in relation to other emotions.
xiii. A dictionary definition of envy
xiv. A universal phenomenon
xv. Envy in poor societies

15 Paragraph A
16 Paragraph B
17 Paragraph C
18 Paragraph
19 Paragraph F
20 Paragraph G

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Questions 21-24

Use the information in the text to match the people listed (21-24) with the Concepts (i – vii).


i. The idea that there is only so much good to go round in any community.
ii. That there is a relationship between the Evil Eye and illness
iii. The theory that the Evil Eye influences infertility
iv. Keeping envy at bay
v. The concept of Evil Eye being a universal phenomenon
vi. The distinction between jealousy and envy
vii. The babies envy their mother’s milk

21 Brain Spooner
22 GM Foster
23 Melanie Kein
24 Atwood Gaines

Questions 25-27

Use NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS to fill blank space.

25 ………………… people in society are often the victims of envy.
26The Evil Eye is a ………………… to those within its range.
27Among the Swahili, boasting is …………………….

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Question No.AnswerQuestion No.Answer
18ii25more fortunate/ successful/ powerful/ prosperous
19ix26source of harm
20xii27dangerous pastime

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