English Literature Questions
Introduction (including "The Persistence of English"), From “An Ecclesiastical History of the English People”, “The Dream
of the Rood”, and “Beowulf”
Questions for "The Persistence of
1. Why do philosophers compare
languages to games?
2. How are language and political
3. What was the role of Alfred
the Great when it came to English?
4. Why was French widely used in
England for so long?
5. Why is Old English different
from Middle English?
6. What was the "Great Vowel
7. Why did Elizabethans coin thousands
of new words?
8. How did use of English affect
different social classes?
9. How did the rejection of an
academy of English affect the English language? How have other countries
(i.e. France) been affected by establishing such an academy?
10. How is the English language
like the English Constitution?
11. What historical problems are
there with the term "English democracy"?
12. Why might some people (i.e.
the Irish) resent speaking English?
13. Why is the term "standard
14. What did Johnson mean by the
term " a nation of readers?"
Questions for Middle Ages Introduction
When did English originate?
What factors have changed the English language over the centuries? What
languages have played a role in its development?
What were some of the arguments for or against the writing of a dictionary?
What role does "common literature" play in the creation of a "common language"?
What does the word "medieval" mean?
What was the Norman Conquest?
7. What is the "heroic code"?
8. How are pagan and Christian
ideals used in Anglo Saxon literature?
9. What is a "kenning"?
10. What languages dominated
after the Norman Invasion?
11. What is "blood vengeance"?
12. What was the spiritual
climate of the Middle Ages? In other words, what religions played a role
during that time period in Britain?
from "An Ecclesiastical History of the
13. Who is Caedmon?
14. Who trains him to sing?
"The Dream of the Rood"
15. What is this poem about?
16. What descriptions are given
of the rood and how does the writer draw parallels to Christ in his
17. How is Christ described as
the Anglo Saxon heroic ideal?
18. How are Anglo Saxon terms
(i.e. kennings) used to describe things?
19. List several examples of
20. List several examples of
21. What is an epic poem?
How does this poem compare to the Iliad and the Odyssey?
22. Look for kennings throughout
23. Be able to summarize the
fight with Grendel, the battle with Grendel's mother, and the fight with the
dragon, as well as Beowulf's burial.
24.What evidence do we have of the
influence of pagan culture on this poem? Christian culture?
25. Compare and contrast Beowulf
and Grendel. How does the writer reveal Beowulf as the Christian figure
and Grendel as the Satanic figure?
26. Examine the relationships
between kings and subjects throughout the poem.
27. What is the role of the poet
throughout the poem?
28. Why does Beowulf spend so
much time recounting his exploits to King Hygelac? Does he have an ego
29. Why does Wiglaf risk his
life for Beowulf?
30. Why does Beowulf choose to
Using the Middle Ages introduction section's descriptions of Anglo Saxon ideals,
find examples which show that Beowulf is an Anglo Saxon hero. What other
elements of the Anglo Saxon world are revealed?
Lyrics, The Wakefield Second Shepherd’s Play,
Chaucer poems (p. 314-316)
*** Please read about Middle English pronunciation before
you begin and refer to it as you read.
“Troilus’s Song”, what does the speaker say about love?
How has it caused him “wo”?
“Truth”, what is being said about the nature of truth?
does the speaker complain to his purse in “Complaint to His Purse”?
Middle English Lyrics (p. 350)
do we use to define poetry? Why
do we call these pieces “poetry”?
Cuckoo Song” is meant to be sung. Listen
to it on the companion CD for the anthology.
What elements of this poem make it suitable as a song?
is happening in “Alison”?
does “What is he, this lordling…” compare to “Dream of the Rood”?
is speaking in “Ye That Pasen by the Weye”?
words are being played with in “Sunset on Calvary”?
Think of other words that have multiple meanings.
simile is used in "I Sing of a Maiden?" Who is this maiden?
does the theology of “Adam Lay Bound” compare to the theology of the
Bible and the story of the Fall?
"The Corpus Christi Carol", how is Christ's tomb described?
The Wakefield Second Shepherds’ Play
are “mystery” plays?
“Wakefield Master” is considered the first English writer of realistic
comedy. Look for humorous
elements in this play. Do you
find this play funny?
Identify the rhyme scheme in two stanzas of your choice in order to get some
practice with identifying rhyme scheme. Are the two stanzas you chose
consistent in their rhyme scheme?
does Coll say he "were better hanged than once say him nay" about the "swain"?
line 75, Coll uses the word "pardie" for God. If you know any French,
what do you think this phrase might be a shortened version of?
are the landowners viewed in this play?
does Gib say, "Woe is him that is bun" (l. 116)?
is the weather like?
Mak likeable? Why or why not?
that these shepherds refer to “Christ’s cross” and Mary as the mother
of God in several places. This
play is set BEFORE the birth of Christ.
Why do you think Wakefield has them speak this way?
does Mak attempt to fool the other shepherds and why?
Describe the relationship between Mak and his wife.
do they do to him as a punishment for his trick?
is your first response to the appearance of the angel? How does this
description of Christ's birth compare the the biblical account and the picture
you have had of it in the past?
“Morte D’Arthur” and
are Sir Agravain and Sir Mordred? Why do they dislike Lancelot?
plot do they hatch against Lancelot?
you think Lancelot is responsible in any way for the success of their plot?
does Lancelot view his actions towards Guinevere (and ultimately Arthur)?
is the speaker’s view of Lancelot’s behavior with Guinevere? (p. 425)
is Arthur’s view of his wife? (p. 428)
does Sir Gawain get revenge?
is the word “worshipfully” used? (What
is being described?)
What is Sir Bedivere asked to do with Excalibur? Why do you think he
hesitates to do this?
does Arthur die?
Where does Guinevere go after she leaves
Arthur? Do you believe she has changed over the years?
Do you believe Lancelot has changed?
do Guinevere and Lancelot die?
role does the French legend play in Malory's work? (i.e. What authority
does Malory give to it?)
reading about Malory's life, how do you think his own life may have affected
his personal views of certain characters?
is a “morality play”? How
does Everyman fit this genre?
Everyman taken by surprise when Death appears? What effect does this have on
do the different virtues seek to help Everyman as he faces death?
what is Everyman able to take with him to the grave?
is the moral of this morality play?
you were to direct this play, how would you costume the characters so that the
audience had a clear idea of who they were?
and contrast the worldviews of Everyman and “Morte D’Arthur”.
Century Introduction, from More’s “Utopia”
Century Introduction, from More’s “Utopia”
What major change in perception about the
English language took place from the beginning of the 16th century
to its end?
What were the Wars of the Roses? How did they
What is “sprezzatura”? Describe the manners
of those at court.
What major changes occurred in the city of
How did the Renaissance take root in
philosophies were admired?
What do “sola scriptura” and “sola fide”
mean? How are these phrases connected to the Reformation and Martin Luther?
What role did Henry the VIII play in the
Why did Proquizants flee when Mary took the
Elizabeth I seek to
restore the Church of England?
What are the “body natural” and the “body
politic” and how did they effect
role as monarch?
Describe some of the things
Elizabeth I did to gain
favor with the people and to portray herself as a symbol of England.
What were some of the dangers facing Elizabeth
I during her lifetime?
How did writers earn money for their work
during the 16th century?
How did different writers use “ornament,
plainness, and wonder” in their work?
Which of Sidney's ideas of theater were broken
during the Elizabethan era and beyone? What Aristotlean rules of theatre did
Shakespeare break? (if you have read "Poetics")
Why were Puritans opposed to theatre?
What is “humor comedy”?
Who was crowned king after
Elizabeth died? What
were his religious leanings and how did this impact England?
- Who is Raphael Hytholoday, and what does his name mean?
Who did he travel with?
- Why is he uninterested in joining in the king’s service?
- Why don’t cities in Utopia want to enlarge their
- How do farms operate in Utopia?
- Why is gold and silver precious in our world?
- Why is it important for Utopians to not place value on
gold and silver? What impact does this have on their society?
- How are Utopians kept from being in awe of gold and
silver—in other words, what are they used for there?
- What happens if a Utopian is caught in adultery or
- How does a Utopian obtain a divorce?
- What are the Utopians religious beliefs?
- How do they respond to Christianity?
- Why is the Utopian “preacher” punished?
- What were King Utopus’ laws about religion in Utopia?
- What impact does it have on a man to believe that his
soul has no eternal value?
- How do Utopians deal with death?
- What are the two sects of people who fully devote
themselves to religious life?
- Who do Utopians believe they owe their children to?
- What is considered “wealth” in Utopia?
- Why can it truly be called a “common” wealth, according
- What happens to people who are no longer able to work?
- Why do the Utopians not struggle with greed?
- How might we avoid famine?
- In your opinion, is this type of society possible in
light of what the Bible says about humanity?
- What real world governments have tried some of these
ideas? Have they succeeded or failed? Why or why not?
- If you have read anything along the lines of 1984, Brave
New World, Animal Farm or Plato’s Republic, what parallels do you see? How
do ideals applied to “real” life tend to pan out in the end according to
whichever book you are familiar with?
Faerie Queene, Book I, cantos i-v
created his own meter and rhyme scheme for The Faerie Queene. Today,
this is known as a Spenserian stanza. See if you can figure out his rhyme and meter on your
own and then check the dictionary in the back of the anthology.
There are many characters in this poem. It will help you to keep a
record for yourself of these characters.
- This poem
begins with a call to the Muse. This
is a common way for epic poems to begin.
If you have read The Iliad or Odyssey, look for
are the Redcrosse Knight and Una traveling together?
does Redcrosse symbolize? What does Una symbolize?
did they enter the woods? (the "shady grove") What mistakes did they make
was Red Crosse called to fight? (stanza 5, canto 1)
gives Red Crosse the strength to continue? (stanza 12, canto 1)
the encounter with Errour. What
does Spenser say about the Catholic church here? (stanza 18, canto 1)
does Errour die and what do her babies do afterwards?
What effect does this image have on the reader?
do the Hermite’s appearance and reality differ? Again, what does this
reveal about Spenser’s view of the RC church?
evil tricks does the Hermit play on Red Crosse as he sleeps? Who helps him
with his tricks?
does Red Crosse respond to these tricks?
15. How does Archimago finally divide Redcrosse
16. How does Una respond when falsely accused?
17. What form does Archimago take?
18. What does the Saracen symbolize?
19. What does Duessa symbolize? Describe her.
20. In Duessa's tale, who was she engaged to?
22. What happened to her beloved?
23. What happens when Redcrosse plucks a branch from a
24. What was Fradubio's mistake?
25. How does Duessa distract Redcrosse from Fradubio's
26. What does the lion represent?
27. Why did he not attack Una?
28. Who does Una compare him to? (stanza 7)
29. What does Abessa's mother symbolize?
30. What was Kirkrapine's mistake?
31. Who did Corceca meet on her way home?
How was he dressed?
32. How did Una react to him? (stanza 27)
33. Why does Sansloy attack Archimago?
34. What does Sansloy symbolize?
35. What does the Palace of Pride look like?
36. What are the roads like? What does that mean?
37. What does the queen hold in her hand instead
of a sceptre?
38. Who led them to her throne?
39. The first of her counselors was Idleness.
40. What color horse did Gluttony ride?
41. What disease plagued Avarice?
42. What was Envy chewing on?
43. Who does Redcrosse meet in the Palace?
44. Describe how Duessa shows her falseness at the end
of Canto IV.
45. What is Duessa's role at the beginning of the
duel between Sansjoy and Redcrosse?
46. What is Sansjoy's motive for fighting?
47. What is Redcrosse's motive?
48. What happened to prevent Redcrosse from
finishing off his opponent?
49. Who helped Duessa transport Sansjoy to hell?
50. Who is the messenger of death?
51. Who is Tantalus?
52. Who is Aesculapius?
53. How does Duessa convince him to help Sansjoy?
54. What do the people in the Princess's dungeon
have in common?
Faerie Queene Questions, Book I, Cantos
does Sans Loy attempt to gain his desires from Una?
does Una escape from him?
descriptions of Una and the woodland folk are particularly vivid?
Choose your two favorite lines and why they struck you.
Satyrane’s upbringing and abilities.
does Una fear has happened to Red Crosse?
does Satyrane attempt to avenge Red Crosse for Una?
and contrast Una and Duessa—think about what each represent as you do
What contributes to Red Crosse’s weakness and what might
is rebuked by the speaker more harshly (Red Crosse or Duessa)for what
happens? What do you think
does the Geaunt overtake Red Crosse?
Duessa becomes Geaunt’s mistress, what do her new clothes symbolize?
is Una’s reaction to what has become of Red Crosse?
What does this reveal about her?
might we compare our first glimpse of Prince Arthur to the glorified rood in
“Dream of the Rood"?
indeed Arthur is a Christ figure, what support can you find in the text?
does Una share with Arthur about her past? What biblical connection can be
made from her place of origin?
is Una’s “onely foe?”
what Arthur tells Una to do before he fights the “Gyant” (Hey, I
didn’t spell that inconsistently—Spenser did) what is his apparent
descriptions of Duessa and the Gyant/Geant/Geaunt in canto 8 cause them to
appear even more despicable than they were before?
the battle between Arthur and the misspelled Giant.
effective similes are used to describe the defeat of the Gyant?
the inside of Orgoglio’s castle and the release of Red Crosse.
does Duessa really look like?
Arthur’s upbringing and his great loss.
Considering that Arthur was supposedly an ancestor of Queen Elizabeth
I (and also that he was a popular mythical figure during Spenser’s lifetime) and
that the Faerie Queene represents QE, what significance might this have?
did Arthur scorn? What happened?
What gifts are exchanged between Arthur and Red Crosse and what might they
What did Sir Trevisan wear around his neck?
is Sir Terwin and what happened to him?
What do you consider Despair's best argument? How would
you answer it?
and contrast the House of Holiness to the House of Pride, especially the
Who was queen of the House of Holiness?
If the door was locked, how did they get in?
What does this symbolize?
What did Fidelia teach Redcross?
What did Speranza teach Redcross to hold?
What was sent for to help cure the knight?
What does Charissa teach to Redcross?
- Compare Charissa and her babies to Errour and her babies.
- Who leads Redcross up the mountain?
- Why is Redcross not allowed to go straight to the New Jerusalem?
What does Spenser compare the dragon's wings to?
How long is his tail?
Who drew his "first blood" in the battle?
What did the dragon's flame do to Redcross's armor?
How long did Una pray?
What saved the knight?
When Redcross reappeared the next morning, how did the dragon react?
What saved the knight this time?
How does Redcross slay the dragon?
Whose victory was it?
Who told the king and queen the dragon was dead?
What does the king offer to Redcross in verse 17?
Why does Redcross turn it down?
Who shows up to spoil the party?
What does this say about the nature of sin?
What does she claim and by what right?
How does the king respond?
Who bails out Redcross (again)?
When the party resumes, who performs the betrothal ceremony?
Why doesn't this end with "and they lived happily ever after"?
The Faerie Queene Questions, Book II,
1. What do Sir Guyon and the
Palmer represent? Why is it appropriate that these two virtues would
2. Describe the Bower of Bliss.
3. How does Guyon respond to the
"bowle" offered to him? What does it represent?
4. How does he respond to the
second cup offered to him? What does this tell us about his character?
5. How is Guyon rescued from the
6. What have the men surrounding
Acrasia been turned into? Who is Grille and what is his response?
What is Spenser telling us about what inappropriate love does to us?
Cantos i-xii (read summaries of cantos 4, 7, 8, 9, and 10
the encounter between Guyon and Britomart.
is the “secret power” of Britomart’s spear?
does a lady rush past them on a horse?
does Britomart fight? Who is
she defending and what has he done “wrong”?
appears on the tapestries in this castle and why are they significant?
does Britomart keep her armor on?
this to Red Crosse’s disarming of himself before he was captured by
Orgoglio in Book II.
quote(s) reveal that the lady of Castle Joyeus is NOT a Proverbs 31 woman?
(specifically: “Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the
Lord shall be praised.”)
encouragement and advice does Spenser give to young ladies in canto i?
the situation that occurs between Britomart and the “Lady” of the
canto ii, what is Spenser’s opinion of men in general?
what does he say about women as warriors?
does the lines in stanza 7 of canto ii connect Britomart to Beowulf?
does Britomart see in her father’s “magic mirror”? Why does this upset
Why does she think those with "horrible intent" have life
better than her?
Why are her nurse's herbal remedies ineffective?
two effective descriptions of Britomart’s emotions in canto 2.
1. Why do they go to Merlin?
2. What does he tell them?
summary of canto 4 and read canto 5 from stanza 27-55.
is Timias’ wounded, physically?
he is cured, how is wounded, emotionally?
What is he willing to do to avoid dishonor?
Belphoebe. (not “Buffy”)
Belphoebe’s conception and birth.
is her sister Amoretta and what is she raised to be?
is Time an enemy to the Garden of Adonis?
What do you think is the purpose of the description of
the Garden of Adonis?
summaries of cantos 7-10
is Britomart able to frighten Ollyphant?
says the following and what does it refer to? “What booteth then the good
and righteous deed, if goodnesse find no grace, nor righteousnesse no meed?”
says, “…life is wretchedness” and why is this meant to be a comfort?
Why doesn't Scudamore make it into Busirane's house?
the type of scenes on the tapestry in Busirane’s house.
What do these scenes reveal about the nature of the owner?
Why is Cupid described as "Victor of the gods"?
the “masque” (procession of people in costume) and what do each of them
represent? Compare to the House
of Pride’s characters.
does Britomart defeat Busirane? What
does he attempt to use against her?
General questions about this
Red Crosse changed since Book II? Why
or why not?
virtues and character traits do Una and Britomart share?
How do they differ in their use of them?
of these houses (Pride,
Holiness, Joy, Busirane) do you think was described the most effectively?
Give examples of Spenser’s descriptions.
Doctor Faustus Questions
does Faustus live during the play (town) and what historical significance
does this town have?
subject is his degree in?
subject interests him most?
are logic, medicine (physic), religion, and law worthless subjects to Faustus?
What do Cornelius and Valdes tell Faustus he will gain if
he sells his soul?
Faustus summons up a demon (Mephastophilis), he asks him to appear as a
“Franciscan friar”. What
might this reveal about Faustus’ view of the Church?
does Mephastophilis tell Faustus about his (M’s) own eternity?
is the clown willing to sell his soul for? Compare this scene to the
scene of Faustus selling his soul. How does each character weigh the
pros and cons of doing so?
arguments does Faustus use for and against the selling of his soul? (This is
a question that can draw answers from the entire play).
Are there verses in the Bible to support or disprove his arguments?
(Be ready with them)
happens when Faustus first tries to sign his name in blood?
question does Faustus ask Mephastophilis after he sells his soul?
Why do you think he asks this questions AFTER he has signed his soul
does Faustus blame for his actions?
Compare Faustus to Lucifer. What similarities to
the devil do you see in why he chooses to sell his soul and what he does
afterwards? Look for verses from the Bible to reveal Lucifer's character
delightful vision does Faustus compare the seven deadly sins to?
the seven deadly sins as compared to the seven deadly sins in Faerie Queene.
tricks does Faustus play on the Pope during his invisible visit?
curse do the friars proclaim on “whoever” did these things to the Pope?
do Robin and Rafe use Faustus’ necromancy books?
How does Faustus punish the Knight for doubting his skills?
images does he conjure for the emperor?
the trick that Faustus plays on the horse-courser.
makes the above scene so humorous?
arguments does the Old Man use with Faustus to get him to change his mind?
Why do you think Faustus asks Mephastophilis to bring him
"heavenly Helen" when he is facing death? (l. 75 and surrounding lines, act
has Faustus truly lost all hope? Do
you think he should still have mercy at the end of his life?
What does the Bible say about God’s mercy?
Weeks 9 and 10
able to explain what a Shakespearean sonnet is. (meter, rhyme scheme, subject matter)
the theme of each sonnet on the reading list, plus the most effective usages
of literary devices (metaphor, simile, rhyme, alliteration).
a longer period of time examining two sonnets of your choice.
Look up unfamiliar words (you should do this when you read anything,
and then “translate” these two sonnets into modern English.
You do not need to follow the rhyme scheme or the meter, but focus on
the meaning. It would be good to choose the sonnet that you
understand the least on a first reading.
Twelfth Night Questions, Acts I-V
happened when Sebastian and Viola sailed near Illyria?
did Viola decide to do when she landed on the coast?
is Viola sent to visit Lady Olivia?
happens when Viola visits Lady Olivia?
does Olivia attempt to see Viola/Cesario again?
does Viola say about men and women and their love for each other?
trick is played on Malvolio?
would Shakespeare portray Malvolio, a very unlikeable fellow, as a Puritan,
considering what you know about the sixteenth century? (Think back a few
do people dislike about Malvolio?
does Malvolio do the day after he reads the letter supposedly from Olivia?
is Olivia’s reaction?
does Toby tell Cesario and Sir Andrew about Malvolio when they come to call?
duel between Cesario and Sir Andrew begins and both are terrified.
Who steps in and why did this person stop the fight?
is Viola’s reaction at hearing the name Sebastian?
is Olivia angry with Viola after the duel?
you find it odd that Orsino marries Viola so quickly after his melancholy
love for Olivia?
you find it odd that Sebastian is willing to marry Olivia so quickly?
the previous two questions. What
is Shakespeare saying about the nature of love in this play?
Malvolio deserve the treatment he receives? Why or why not?
can Viola do dressed as a man that she cannot do as a woman?
is music used in the play? Are
the lyrics of the songs significant to the scenes in which they appear?
is the significance of drunkenness, revelry and madness in the play?
what ways do characters of lesser rank become “masters” of their
superiors in this play?
is the role of Feste in this play?
your opinion, who speaks the most truth throughout the play?
The Early Seventeenth Century
were some differences between Elizabeth I and James I, concerning views of
the monarchy, interests, etc.
James I and his son, Charles.
were some changes in the scientific world during this time?
sets apart the poetry of John
Donne (and the Metaphysical poets), Ben Jonson (and the Cavaliers or “Sons
of Ben”) and George Herbert?
were some causes of the English Revolution?
was Oliver Cromwell and what was his role?
happened in the world of theatre during this time period?
was Milton’s view of the Revolution and what were some of the subjects
about which he wrote?
is a “metaphysical conceit”?
is the flea compared to in “The Flea”?
two things love is compared to in “The Good-Morrow”.
is the difference in theme in both “Songs”?
does the speaker say about love in “The Indifferent”?
is a “valediction” and what does the speaker say about tears in “A
Valediction: Of Weeping”?
does it mean for a person to be “canonized” and why does the speaker
think he and his love should be canonized in “The Canonization?”
is “the bait” in the poem by the same title?
does the speaker say he will do to his mistress after his death in “The
is the image of a compass used in “Valediction: Forbidden Mourning”?
*Spend some extra time on this one—the compass conceit is one that
Donne is most famous for.
is a “relic” and what does the speaker hope a gravedigger will think
when he sees the speaker’s bones?
3 contains the musings of Donne as he debates leaving the Roman Catholic
Church for Anglicanism. What
main question is he asking about religion and what conclusion does he come
does the speaker use East and West in “Good Friday, 1613: Riding
“A Hymn to Christ”, what ideas come across in the last line of each
does the speaker joy in his “straits” (he plays with more than one
meaning of this word) in “Hymn to God, My God, in My Sickness”?
does the speaker use the words “done” and “more” in “Hymn to God
the Father”? (Be sure to read the biographical information of Donne, and
remember “Donne” is pronounced “done”—hmmm… maybe I gave away
does the bell toll for in Meditation 17?
is God a “metaphorical” God in Meditation 19?
does Donne urge his congregation to do at the end of
his sermon, “Death’s Duel”?
Holy Sonnets (questions numbered by number of sonnet)
does the speaker ask of God ?
5. What does the speaker say
should be done to his “little world”?
7. Why does the speaker ask God
to “let them sleep”?
does the speaker complain about at the start of the poem and how is his
is Death not proud?
does the speaker say about beauty and pity?
images are used to describe the speaker and God?
is the speaker seeking comfort for?
“spouse” is the speaker referring to?
are the speaker’s best days when he “shakes with fear?”
Pay attention to the names and meanings of the characters and think about what
virtues or vices those particular animals might be associated with. Jonson did this intentionally.
As the play opens, what does Volpone worship? (Hint: He speaks about it in
When Nano and Androgyno speak, they
use the meter used in the old morality plays (i.e. Everyman).
What "moral" do you think they might be trying to express?
4. Why is a fool able to speak "truth free from
5. What does Corbaccio bring for Volpone on his first visit?
Why does Mosca tell him Volpone will not take it?
6. What does Mosca tell Corbaccio he must do in order to be
7. What does Mosca tell Corvino (not to be confused with
Corbaccio!) Volpone must have from him?
8. Lady and Sir Politic Would-Be are visitors to Venice (where
the play is set) from England. They
are there to pick up the customs of the Venetians and think very highly of
themselves. The word
"politic" means "cautious" in this context and it has more
to do with being socially appropriate in order to move up in society. One joke
that is brought up about them has to do with the fact that King James gave away
knighthoods whenever he felt like it. Because
of this, many people looked down upon a knight because knighthoods were so easy
to come by. However, Sir Politic continues to think he is quite the man and Lady
Politic (who is NOT beautiful, though she is called so) believes she is the next
Helen of Troy. Picture both of them
as washed-up and unattractive in order to read the play properly. They are
name-droppers who try to show how "in the know" they are about Venice,
but merely reveal their ignorance as they try to do this.
Peregrine is another traveler that Politic meets in the streets and
shares too much personal information with. Find several examples of Sir and Lady
that reveal what I have just told you about them.
For example, who is Lady Politic seeking to learn Venetian fashion from?
9. What does Volpone dress up as and what does he try to sell on
Who does he see in a window and what emotion overtakes him at this time?
Describe the marital relationship between Corvino and Celia.
What kind of person is Celia?
Who is Bonario? How does Mosca upset him?
Does Volpone enjoy Lady Politic's company?
How does Mosca get Lady P. to leave Volpone's house?
A "cuckold" is a man whose wife has been unfaithful to him and
evidence of that was (oddly enough) horns growing out of his head.
Remember this when you read Act 3, sc. 7.
What is Corvino's view of honor? Celia's?
What does Corvino say he will do if Celia does not go to Volpone?
As we read the "Cavalier" poets (or "sons of Ben",
who imitate Jonson's style), we will explore the common theme of "carpe
diem" in their poetry. This
means "seize the day", or more commonly, is meant to mean "seize
the dame". Read the
"song" in Act III, sc. 7 with this theme in mind.
Poets often lament the lack of women who are beautiful and honorable.
What character represents both in this play and what happens to her?
Who does Lady Politic think Peregrine is? * See question 15.
Why is a trial held and why do so many people gang up against Celia in the court
trial? What is Bonario's role?
When Volpone's death is announced, what is discovered about his inheritance?
What disguise does Sir Politic attempt to put on and what is he accused
of doing? (This is, in my opinion, the comic highlight of the play-- picturing
Sir Politic in this costume is pretty funny :))
The second court trial has to do with Volpone's inheritance.
It is here that Mosca plays a trick on him in order to get what he wants.
Is he successful?
How does the fool become the master in the end?
Identify the subject and theme of each poem.
A hint for "On Something That Walks Somewhere"-- Jonson didn't
think a nobleman deserved credit just for inheriting a title.
This poem is a comment about someone in the upper class.
2. What does Jonson tempt his prospective guest with in
"Inviting a Friend to Supper"?
3. "To Penshurst" is one
of the great poems celebrating a "country house".
What merits does this house possess?
4. What praise does Jonson give Shakespeare in his poem to his
5. Jonson wrote "Ode to Himself" after his "The
New Inn" failed to win public appeal.
What does he say about the general public's taste in this poem?
What do his devotional poems reveal about his beliefs?
poetry forms the words of the
poem in the shape of what is being written about. George Herbert is one of the English masters of
emblematic poems. Pay close
attention to the two poems (“The Altar” and “Easter Wings”) we are
studying. What shapes do they
suggest and, more specifically, where are certain words placed within the
picture? For example, where
does Herbert discuss the heart in “The Altar”?
What significance might this have?
Similarly, look at which lines are smallest in “Easter Wings”.
What do these words say?
extended metaphor is used in “Redemption”?
is fairly autobiographical to Herbert’s life. He ends the poem with a puzzling statement.
Look over the rest of the poem to figure out why he might say this.
(1)” lists images to illuminate the subject of prayer for us, but the
second stanza has me stumped. Please
look over this stanza and be ready to tell me what you think it might mean
in connection to the rest of the poem.
Monuments” refers to something called “memento mori”, or reminders of
death. During Herbert’s time,
and in previous centuries, paintings often contained images of life, such as
flowers, along with images of death, such as dead bugs (I kid you not!) and
skulls. You can still see
clocks in museums with Latin inscriptions reminding people to remember that
time is leading them to death. There
were many different types of memento mori, but the basic idea, whatever the
medium, was that man should not live life ignorant of death’s approach.
Remember that John Donne had a painting made of himself in his
funeral shroud to look at on his deathbed.
While these “memento mori” may seem morbid to the modern man,
there is hope in looking at them from a Christian perspective.
What positive message does the speaker draw out of the church
rhyme scheme in “Denial” is important to the meaning of the poem.
The footnote for the seventh edition tells us that all of the
concluding lines of the stanzas are unrhymed except for the last one.
What does Herbert believe will fix his “heartless breast” which
is out of rhyme?
places beautiful, vibrant image next to a reminder of death.
How does the speaker justify the placement of these two seemingly
contradictory things next to each other? (Hint: last stanza!)
“The Collar”, the title has several meanings. The seventh edition footnote tells us it could
mean: 1. a clerical collar (like a clergyman would wear), 2. a slave’s
collar 3. the poet’s choler (anger) and (perhaps) 4. the “caller” that
he hears in the end. Why is the
poet angry and what soothes him in the end?
the poem “Discipline”. Now
go back and read John Donne’s poem “Holy Sonnet 14”. Compare the view that each poet has of the subject.
Which do you feel is more effective?
Why? Be ready to support
your idea using both texts.
“Love (3)”, when the speaker says “A guest…worthy to be here”
(line 7), he is saying that he lacks, or needs, a guest who is worthy to be
there—he is not saying that he IS a guest who is worthy to be there.
What does the Lord tell him to assuage his fears of unworthiness?
Herrick’s “Delight in Disorder” to the sixteenth century view of
fashion. (Think about how
Elizabeth I dressed).
Going A-Maying” and “To the Virgins…” are both classic “carpe
diem” (seize the day, seize the dame) poems.
What common images do they use?
Think about what the speaker says about the seasons.
What does the speaker tell the reader he (or she) must do in order to
enjoy life to its fullest?
“His Prayer to Ben Jonson”, what images are used to turn Ben into
- In “Upon Julia’s Clothes”, how is the word
“liquefaction” used? (Look
it up!) What effect does it have on our view of her dress?
connections does the speaker draw between Christ and the serpent in
Marvell’s “The Coronet”?
do “Soul” and “Body” lament in “ A Dialogue Between Soul and
two “Mower” songs are about a mower (Yes, a grass-cutting fellow!).
According the footnote Seventh Edition, since the mower wields a
scythe, he can also call to mind other figures such as Time or Death.
(The Grim Reaper carries a scythe) What role does Juliana play in
“On the Morning of Christ’s Nativity”
are Milton and Spenser’s allusions (look this word up if you don’t know
does Milton personify the Earth?
setting is described for Christ’s birth?
do you think Milton uses so many references to pagan gods as he is
describing the birth of the one true God?
would kings wish for a tomb such as Shakespeare’s?
(Do not think literally about this question.)
This poem is
a pastoral elegy, which means (if you read the background) that it is a poem
that mourns the death of someone from a shepherd’s point of view.
We will read more pastoral poetry (we read some last week with the
“mower” poems) this year. Pastorals tend to paint a very idyllic view of a shepherd’s
life—we don’t catch a glimpse of the hard work that shepherds do, we don’t
see the grime they daily live with and we certainly don’t smell the many
pungent odors of a shepherd’s life when most poets write about them. Those of
you who know the life of a shepherd (or farmer), think about what effect it has
on you to read a sanitized version of this lifestyle—why do you think poets
choose to write in this way? Milton
makes several references to the church and the “pastors” therein compared to
the shepherds in the poem—a pastor is a shepherd.
Be aware of this.
gift is Lycidas chiefly mourned for?
does the speaker describe the Muses (“nymphs”) to reveal his feelings
towards them concerning the death of Lycidas?
criticism is revealed about the church? (bishops in particular)
comfort does the speaker offer to the other shepherds as they think on the
loss of Lycidas? In other
words, what specifically has Lycidas gained?
“Areopagitica” (say this one five times fast)
This piece was written as Milton sought to publish his
not-so-accepted views on divorce. Please
look up any words you are not familiar with and read all of the
definitions—the first definition is not always the meaning intended.
One word you may not find is “stationer”—the stationers that Milton
refers to were the 20 official printers, appointed by the government.
These stationers acted as censors of any printed material.
“Licensing” is censorship.
gives books “life”, according to Milton?
suggests (strongly) that those in pursuit of true virtue should pursue,
rather than avoid, all kinds of knowledge. What does he think this pursuit does to one’s virtue?
is a writer to be trusted when he presents his ideas?
ways does Milton personify Truth?
does Milton think censorship does to a man’s “desire to learn?”
does Milton say about Freedom and Truth?
“How Soon Hath Time”
Milton wrote this sonnet on his 23rd birthday
and Milton was a young-looking 23.
is said about destiny in this poem?
“When I Consider How My Light Is Spent”
This poem was written after Milton went completely blind.
does Milton use the parable of the talents in this poem?
You might reread that parable as you look at this poem.
“On the Late Massacre in Piedmont”
This poem was written after many Italian Proquizants were
18. Who does
Milton compare to the whore of Babylon in this poem?
“Methought I Saw My Late Espoused Saint”
This poem was most likely written about Milton’s second
wife, who he never saw because he married her after he went blind.
19. What vision does he describe?
18th Century and Bunyan
Great Britain became a “nation of readers”, what types of literature
rulers came to power to calm the instability in Britain?
were the Georges not particularly interested in England?
(i.e. where did their sympathies lie?)
was the behavior (morally) of the nobility during Charles’ rule?
were some of the key philosophies circulating during the Restoration period?
defines the “modern individual”, according to the 7th
edition? (If you don’t have
the 7th, guess!)
is “neoclassical” literature?
were some of these writers views on Nature? (This background is particularly important as we head
into next semester and the Romantic poets)
did the 18th century bring “poetry down to earth?”
changes took place in theater?
writer helped popularize the novel as a literary genre?
Bunyan’s “Grace Abounding”
Bunyan was struggling with his conscience, what did God show him?
book was most helpful to him in his struggles?
the “sell Christ” temptation that Bunyan went through.
What simile does he use to describe his despair when he fails to rise
to this temptation?
do you suppose the Norton Anthology has chosen to excerpt only the passages
revealing Bunyan’s despair, rather than choosing to show us any of the
hope he later realizes?
From “Pilgrim’s Progress”
look up the word “allegory”, even if you are familiar with it.
(It’s in the back of the book in the terms section)
How does this piece fit the definition?
does Christian leave his wife and family?
does Evangelist reveal to him?
is the difference between Christian and Dr. Faustus’ reaction to the verse
“Fly from the wrath to come?” In
other words, what actions does each man take after hearing/seeing these
do the words “Obstinate” and “Pliable” mean and how do the
characters by those names exemplify the definitions?
excuses does Obstinate give for not accompanying Christian on the journey?
happens in the “Slough of Despond”?
“burden” is Christian carrying on his back and why does it hinder his
escape from the Slough? How
does this scene compare to the excerpts from “Grace Abounding”?
is Vanity Fair and how long has it been in existence?
set the pilgrims apart at Vanity Fair?
happens to the pilgrims in the River of Despair as they almost reach the
Celestial City? How is
Christian helped through his trial? What
encouragement is offered by Hopeful?
is the fate of Ignorance and what verse(s) does this fate bring to mind?
And now for something completely different…
is a “travesty” or “burlesque” and how do these definitions fit “Hudibras”?
the several “qualities” possessed by Sir Hudibras.
How does Butler reveal that these qualities are really to be despised
and ridiculed? (Go through each stanza on each quality and pick out specific
quotes that reveal Butler’s disdain for Sir H.)
is Butler’s final description of the sect which Sir. H. belongs to?
Swift and Pope Questions
“Abolishing of Christianity in England”
wrote this piece of satire (look up this term) to voice his disagreement
with the repeal of the quiz Act (see footnote in book).
Instead of discussing the quiz Act, what does Swift act as if the
Parliament is REALLY proposing?
criticisms of the gospel does he put forward?
advantages will arise out of abolishing Christianity?
is Swift’s opinion of “freethinkers”?
does Swift reveal about his opinion of the state of Christianity in his day?
is the purpose of a “superior power?”
does he compare Jesuits to Presbyterians, Anabaptists, Independents, and
does Swift ultimately propose in this essay?
based this piece on a popular metaphor, “The English are devouring the
Irish”. He takes this metaphor to
its extreme conclusion. Pay
attention to adjectives in this essay, as well as other means Swift uses to
manipulate his audience.
do Irish children grow up to become?
words does he use to describe Irish mothers?
If you are unfamiliar with these words, you must look them up to
understand what he means. How
do these words cause us to view these mothers?
he refers to his American friend, what does he imply about Americans in
does he say about landlords and Papists? (Catholics)
can the carcasses of children be used for?
does he argue against replacing deer-hunting with child-hunting?
benefits will be gained if his plan is implemented?
does he urge politicians against his plan to talk to and why?
will Swift gain nothing from this proposal?
is Swift really trying to say in this piece? Do you think he was successful
or unsuccessful? Why or why
Rape of the Lock”
poem is written as a mock-heroic. (Look it up) Pope uses many elements of epic
poetry in order to get his point across. If
you are unfamiliar with epic poetry, here are some things to look for: asking
the “muses” for help in telling the tale, giving the heroes a god-like
appearance, retelling a story and giving it mythical proportions, nature
similes, and an elevated tone.
are the Sylphs?
real life incident occurred which caused Pope to write this poem?
is Belinda described?
warns her and what warning is she given?
things “early taint the female soul”? (canto I, line 87)
besides her natural beauty, makes Belinda so attractive? This has to do with her “toilet” (not the same
meaning as today—look it up!) and is similar to several scenes in the
Belinda’s character, when it comes to dealing with men.
does Pope spend so much time describing her beauty and virtue?
is the Baron and what does he want from Belinda?
role do the Sylphs play in the battle for the Lock?
does Pope make social activities at court sound like actions on a
battlefield? Why do you think he does this?
“honors” does Belinda receive and how are they “snatched away”?
canto 3, line 103
does Pope use myths throughout the poem?
(The footnotes explain the mythological allusions)
happens to the Sylph who tries to interfere with the cutting of the Lock?
Canto 3, lines 155- to the end of Canto 3.
What images does Pope combine here and to what effect?
is Belinda’s reaction to the cutting of the Lock?
social repercussions does Belinda fear as she is shorn of her Lock?
adjectives are used to describe the Lock and the hands that cut it?
does Pope describe the interaction between men and women in canto 5?
How can a woman “kill” a man?
family heirloom becomes a weapon for Belinda and how does she use it?
does Belinda demand of Baron?
is the ultimate fate of the Lock?
this poem to Butler’s Hudibras. How
do burlesques and mock-heroics differ?
Do you think Butler or Pope is more successful in achieving his ends,
or do both do well with the mediums they choose?
Week 17 Questions
Cowper, Johnson and Boswell
Johnson, from A Dictionary of the English Language
1. What is laughable about writing a dictionary?
What happened in
Italy and France when dictionaries were introduced? (i.e., how long were they
transform a language?
What type of
society would be able to prevent a language from changing?
What do you think
Johnson means by “illiterate” (p. 2721)?
What future use does Johnson hope his dictionary will have, even if it is
outdated by modern standards?
Choose three words from the Dictionary excerpt that have different
meanings than you might expect. Think
about why these meanings have changed from the meaning that Johnson recorded for
them. Be ready to share your words
James Boswell, from “The Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D.”
Boswell is admired for his amazing ability to remember and record
conversations without taking notes during a conversation.
His biography of Johnson is one of the best records we have of that time
period. As you read the excerpts
from it, think about why it was chosen as a significant piece of literature.
What do the anecdotes he chooses to tell reveal to us about the character
of Johnson? Also, what does the
writing reveal about Boswell himself?
Describe Johnson’s family and upbringing.
his personal appearance.
11. What did
he think of Lord Chesterfield?
were his views of death?
does the dinner with Wilkes reveal about his character?
were his views on politics and their effect on individuals?
Johnson be a person you would like to meet?
Why or why not?
From “The Task”
that this was originally written as a mock-heroic about a sofa, do you find
any trace of humor in this excerpt?
is the main idea of the section from Book I?
is Kate crazy?
does the speaker say about hopes and fears in Book 3?
is the speaker’s view of a quiet evening in Book 4?
From “The Castaway”
literally happens to the castaway in this poem?
“sea” do you think the speaker is “whelmed in”? (Think of Cowper’s life for ideas)
and contrast the rhyme scheme of these two poems.
Why do you think Cowper chose the rhyme scheme (and meter) he did for
each poem? Think about the
subject of each poem as you answer this question.
What movie is the last stanza included in?
The Romantic Period and Blake
the Romantic Period fit a single definition? Why or why not?
were economics and the political structure changing?
was the “Industrial Revolution” and how did it impact the world?
changes occurred in Parliament?
was the “spirit of the age”?
did many Romantic poets believe the source of poetry was?
How did this differ from the views of past poets?
is the difference between Wordsworth’s idea of good poetry versus the
classical ideals of good poetry?
role did feelings play in poetry, according to Coleridge?
did Wordsworth (and others) believe about nature and God?
types of people did Wordsworth choose to write about?
How was this viewed by Byron?
views did many Romantics take of society?
were periodicals used during this time period?
was there little performed drama during this time?
does “gothic” mean, according to the Norton Anthology?
did Jane Austen write in what some saw as a “conventional” manner,
rather than trying to buck tradition?
The following website has
extensive background on Blake that is very helpful, along with the drawings that
were to accompany his poetry. Please use this resource!
“To Spring”, “To Autumn”, and “To the Evening Star”.
Blake uses a great deal of personification in these poems.
What types of “persons” does he create for each poem?
Are they similar or vastly different?
How does he create them?
at “All Religions Are One” and “There is No Natural Religion” (a and
b). These poems contain a great
deal of Blake’s religious philosophy.
What does Blake believe about God?
About Man? About how we
learn things? How do his views
differ from orthodox (generally accepted by the Christian world)
the poems from “Songs of Innocence” with the poems from “Songs of
Experience” that correspond. Though
the topics are the same, what is different about them?
For instance, Blake ends “The Lamb” by saying “God bless
thee”. “The Tyger” is the
corresponding poem—is it possible for Blake to say “God bless thee” to
the tiger? What contrasts do
you see in the two characters?
Blake and Burns’ Questions
“The Marriage of Heaven and Hell”
does Blake believe about good and evil, God and Satan, angels and demons?
the “Proverbs of Hell”. Select
five that stand out to you, for any reason. Do they correspond to biblical proverbs or contradict
them? (both are possible)
his encounter with Isaiah and Ezekiel.
What explanations do they give for their writings and actions?
does Blake tell the Angel that he “oughquiz to be ashamed” of?
do you think he means when he says “I tell you, no virtue can exist
without breaking these ten commandments”?
Marriage of Heaven and Hell” is a poem.
How does it differ in structure from the other poetry that we have
read this year? Do YOU consider
it a poem? Why or why not?
How do the poems from last week (Songs of Innocence and
Experience) illustrate Blake’s views, as expressed in “The Marriage
of Heaven and Hell”?
Robert Burns was a Scotsman who often wrote with a Scots
dialect. This makes his poetry
rather difficult to understand. Try
reading it out loud and guessing at the way to pronounce the words.
You might try reading a whole stanza first to look for a general gist and
then go back and read it again and figure out what specific words are.
It would be helpful for you to listen to or watch people with Scots
accents before you do this, so you can have the sound of the dialect in your
head as you read the poetry. Listen
to Tam o' Shanter read with a Scots accent! http://www.electricscotland.com/burns/shanter.html.
of the Romantic poets, specifically Wordsworth, believed that good poetry
was written in the language really used by men, particularly common men.
He admired Burns due to the fact that he often chose to do this.
What impact does Burns’ use of dialect have on the subjects in
these poems? For example, what
difference would it make if he had written “Green grow the rashes” in
standard English? What does the
poem gain (or lose) through use of the accent?
is Holy Willie’s Prayer? Is he “holy”?
a Mouse” is the poem that John Steinbeck got the title for “Of Mice and
Men” from. If you have read
this book, why do you think Steinbeck chose this poem as the basis for the
does Burns portray the mouse? (as
noble or despicable?) How does he do this?
“To a Louse”, Burns is describing a singular member of the lice species
crawling around in people’s hair at church. (really!) How
do you view these people when Burns describes them with parasites wandering
around on their scalps? What was his purpose in doing this, besides to give
us a gross image?
Lang Syne” is THE New Year’s Eve song.
What is it about?
Water” is the only poem in this selection not written in an accent.
Compare Burns’ descriptions in this poem to “Green grow the
rashes”. How does the tone
change? (or does it?) This type of a poem, written to an inanimate object (or
a deceased person) is called an “apostrophe”.
read this background on "Tam o' Shanter" before reading the poem: http://www.bath.ac.uk/~exxdgdc/poetry/poets/tam.html
. Wordsworth, a teetotaler (non-drinker), had a high opinion of “Tam o’
Shanter” even though the main character is a drunk.
Do you agree or disagree with Wordsworth’s reasoning for his
favorable view of it? (See the
footnote for specific quote)
Bruce’s March on Bannockburn”is a poem to inspire patriotism.
Are there any American patriotic songs or poems that have
similarities to this one?
Red, Red Rose” uses many different images to express love.
What are some of the most effective?
For a’ that and a’ that” describes the life of the poor man versus the
life of the noble or wealthy man. What
advantages does the poor man have over the rich man?
This poem is important because it describes the “common man” so
important to many Romantic writers in upcoming assignments.
Questions for Burke, Paine, and Wollstonecraft essays
Burke, From “Reflections on the Revolution in France”
It would be helpful for you to do some research on the
French Revolution, if you have not studied it.
For a quick and interesting view of it, there are several films that are
entertaining and also have some good background: Tale of Two Cities and The
Scarlet Pimpernel are two I have seen (and
the books are also quite enjoyable).
You can always get an encyclopedia excerpt for a start.
The French Revolution was very influential in the lives of writers from
this time period.
***Edmund Burke is attacking those in support of the
Revolution in this essay, on several grounds.
While he is not from France, this issue is important because many English
people were strongly in support or against the Revolution.
Several of the writers we will study actually went to France to help
fight. Because of this impact on
society, Burke is presenting his views on the subject.
uses language to paint a picture against the supporters of it—be looking for
effective phrases utilized for this purpose.
When he talks about an “inheritable crown”, he is referring to what
has been set in place by monarchical forefathers. Burke is in support of the old
views of the monarchy as being divinely appointed.
Keep this in mind as you read.
does he believe causes a “spirit of innovation”? Is he favorable towards this spirit?
2. What is the “method of nature”?
rights do men have?
all men to have a share of power and authority?
does he tell the story of the capture of the king and queen of France?
Is there anything persuasive in the way he tells this story?
is his personal contact with the queen?
As a reader, how does his mention of this effect your opinion of her?
is the “decent drapery” of life?
states (p. 127) , “To make us love our country, our country ought to be
lovely.” What will make this
makes a king a tyrant? (same page)
are his final statements about the people who support this Revolution?
How does he present his opinion of these people?
Thomas Paine, from “Rights of
This essay is a rebuttal to
is Burke’s opinion about the spirit of the French? (p. 134)
is Paine’s view of government and its stability over time? How would this
view impact the “strict Constitutionalists” of today?
is Paine’s justification for the Revolution? (p. 135) * hint: “Augean
does Paine argue that the people are not against the specific monarch (Louis
XVIth) but against monarchy in general?
insulting comment does he make about Mr. Burke regarding a “moldy
parchment”? How does this
adjective effect his statement?
does Paine state that Burke supports “power over principles”? (p. 136)
does Paine say about Mr. Burke’s “tragic paintings”? (p. 136)
is Paine’s view of chivalry?
Mary Wollstonecraft, from “A
Vindication of the Rights of Woman”
***It is IMPERATIVE that you read
the background on this writer. You
should ALWAYS read the background. You will have a better understanding of the works is you know
about the writers’ lives.
Wollstonecraft wrote this during a time when
women could not own property and they could rise in society only through
marriage. It is considered an early
feminist document. Look at what she
says from a biblical perspective.
What has made women’s minds unhealthy? (p. 167)
What purpose are women of her day made to live for?
In other words, what is the only way they can wield power?
What comments does Wollstonecraft make about virtue for men and women?
Why does Wollstonecraft dislike the term “innocent” when used for men
and women? (p. 171)
What are Rousseau’s beliefs about women?
Why does Wollstonecraft compare the women of her day to “standing
armies”? (These are armies during peacetime not engaged in battle.
Think of Mr. Wickham from Pride and Prejudice)
What greater benefits will a husband (and children) receive from a woman
who is well-educated and independent?
Wollstonecraft addresses the ideas of a Dr. Gregory.
What are his ideas and why does she disagree with them?
What is the difference between friendship and love, according to
Why is an “unhappy marriage” often “advantageous” to a family?
What view should women take about marriage and husbands in general to
prevent unhappiness after marriage? Do you agree or disagree with this view?
What does she say about women and souls?
What is “sensibility” and why is Wollstonecraft so opposed to it? (If
you have seen or read “Sense and Sensibility”, the meaning is the same.
Think about Marianne Dashwood as a bit of an example—maybe Lucie Steele
is more appropriate??)
Does Wollstonecraft want women to have power over men? (p. 187)
Why can a husband not maintain a woman’s happiness if she suffers from
excess sensibility? (p. 189)
What two kinds of women who “receive a careful education” (p. 190)
exist? What problems does
Wollstonecraft see in each type of woman?
From what you know of modern-day feminism, would you consider this essay
to be feminist? ( I realize there is a vast array of feminists and feminist
thought, so be ready to define what type of feminist you mean)
From a biblical perspective, what do you think of this essay?
to Lyrical Ballads” outlines Wordsworth’s philosophy of poetry.
It is important that you read this essay before you read his
poetry—it will help you to understand his ideas more thoroughly.
What type of people is Wordsworth interested in writing his poetry
states that he wishes to “choose incidents and situations from common
life”. (p. 241) How does he present these incidents and what is his reason
for choosing “common” incidents?
are men who live the rural life the best subjects?
How do you suppose Wordsworth “purified” their language? (and
is “good poetry”? (p. 242)
does he feel that people need good poetry particularly during the time
period in which he is writing? (p.
243) What will good poetry give
to these people?
does he argue that good poetry must “in no respect differ from that of
good prose”? (p. 245)
is a poet? (This should be a longer answer)
can a poet be considered a “translator”? (p. 247)
does a poet write?
does he compare a poet to a man of science?
he states that “poetry is the first and last of all knowledge”, it is
important to know that the root of the word “poetry” means “to
create”. With this thought in
mind, how do you interpret the statement?
is “emotion reflected in tranquility”?
*** Important main ideas to
understand about Wordsworth:
*Children (and “common men”, such as shepherds (here we go again with
the pastoral theme)) have a privileged view of the world because they are less
“spoiled” than other people.
*Nature is the ultimate teacher about human nature and morality.
*There is “life and food” for the soul which come from time spent in
read “Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey”.
Look for Wordsworth’s philosophy coming out in his poetry.
scene is described in the first stanza?
has he thought of “in lonely rooms”?
did he spend his childhood doing? Describe
his progress, emotionally, from child to man.
is the “guide, the guardian of my heart, and soul of all my moral
does he see in his “dear, dear Sister”’s eyes?
exhortations does he give to her for future years when he will not be with
does the Child’s insistence that “We Are Seven” upset the speaker?
do you think she has taught him by the end of the poem? (This is implied,
rather than stated explicitly, so you may have to guess a bit)
“Lines Written in Early Spring” what do you think he means when he says,
“much it grieved my heart to think what man has made of man.”?
is praiseworthy about nature in this poem?
and Reply” and “The Tables Turned” are companion poems.
What does Matthew urge the speaker to do with his time and what does
the speaker urge Matthew to do with his time?
What is each of them saying about their personal philosophy? (*note:
“barren leaves” (p. 228, l. 30) refers to pages in a book)
“Strange fits of passion” how does the rhyme scheme affect the tone of
unusual images are used to describe Lucy in “She dwelt among the untrodden
“Three years she grew”, Nature is personified as one who chooses to make
Lucy his own. What is Lucy
given by Nature because of this?
is the main character in “The Two April Mornings” and what is his tale?
How does this poem fit Wordsworth’s philosophy of poetry?
read the excerpt from Dorothy Wordsworth’s journal (p. 391) with “ I
wandered lonely as a cloud.” How
do the poem and journal entry connect?
the last stanza. In it,
Wordsworth reveals that this daffodil vision has become an “emotion
recollected in tranquility”. What
emotion does he gain as he thinks of it?
“My heart leaps up”, what do you think he means when he states that
“The Child is father of the Man”?
the selected sonnets (“Westminster Bridge”, “It is a beauteous
evening”, “London 1802”, “The World is Too Much with us” and
“Surprised by joy”.) What is Wordsworth’s rhyme scheme for sonnets?
special attention to “The world is too much with us”.
What criticism does Wordsworth have of mankind and what would he be
willing to do in order to gain a “sight of Proteus”?
and Byron Questions
This week, in order to have a better understanding of the Byronic Hero, I would
recommend either reading or viewing Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte.
The film version with Lawrence Olivier strays pretty far from the book,
but it does capture the essence of the Byronic hero.
is the Eolian Harp, literally and figuratively?
26-33 are well-known for the Romantic ideal they capture.
What do you think Coleridge is saying in these lines?
example of “emotion recollected in tranquility” do we have in this poem?
happens in Part I of “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”?
is the albatross a symbol of at the end of Part I?
happens after the albatross is shot?
is on the skeleton ship in Part 3?
do you think the Mariner lives on after the others have died?
does the Mariner lose the albatross around his neck?
“moral” does the Mariner give to the wedding guest as the poem closes?
does Coleridge paint a picture in Kubla Khan with his use of language?
Note especially effective images.
you think Kubla Khan is a
does Coleridge warn against the attractiveness of the Satanic hero in his
essay of the same name? *** This is helpful as we go into Byron.
Please read about Byron’s life. It
is important to know in connection with his poetry, particularly “Childe
is the tone of “Written after Swimming from Sestos to Abydos”?
is the “ague”?
“She Walks in Beauty”, what is the lady compared to?
What images are effective?
Byronic hero exhibits several characteristic traits, and in many ways he can be
considered a rebel. The Byronic hero does not possess "heroic virtue"
in the usual sense; instead, he has many dark qualities. With regard to his
intellectual capacity, self-respect, and hypersensitivity, the Byronic hero is
"larger than life," and "with the loss of his titanic passions,
his pride, and his certainty of self-identity, he loses also his status as [a
traditional] hero" (Thorslev 187).
is usually isolated from society as a wanderer or is in exile of some kind. It
does not matter whether this social separation is imposed upon him by some
external force or is self-imposed. Byron's Manfred, a character who wandered
desolate mountaintops, was physically isolated from society, whereas Childe
Harold chose to "exile" himself and wander throughout Europe. Although
Harold remained physically present in society and among people, he was not by
any means "social."
the Byronic hero is moody by nature or passionate about a particular issue. He
also has emotional and intellectual capacities, which are superior to the
average man. These heightened abilities force the Byronic hero to be arrogant,
confident, abnormally sensitive, and extremely conscious of himself. . In one
form or another, he rejects the values and moral codes of society and because of
this he is often unrepentant by society's standards. Often the Byronic hero is
characterized by a guilty memory of some unnamed sexual crime. Due to these
characteristics, the Byronic hero is often a figure of repulsion, as well as
Please look for the above characteristics as you read this poem.
Note specific stanzas to share in class that capture the characteristics.
for imitation of Spenser in this poem.
does the poet ask for help from as the poem begins?
(Think about “The Rape of the Lock”)’
the change of voice in this poem—Byron discusses Harold in the first and
third person—he equates himself with his creation.
does Byron connect Napoleon to the idea of the Byronic hero? (In the section
of the same name)
views of nature does Byron reveal in stanzas 85-118?
This is my favorite section of the poem.
stanzas 134-137, what is the curse and what must be forgiven?
179-186 are an “apostrophe”
(address to an inanimate object). What
is addressed and what is this thing praised for?
does Byron’s life compare to Harold’s?
Shelley/ Keats Questions
***Remember to read the footnotes! Many answers are hiding
- How does Shelley use the image of the “forgotten lyres”
in “Mutability”? How does this connect to the idea of the Eolian Harp?
- What is the only thing that endures?
- In “To Wordsworth”, why is Shelley disappointed with
- In “Ozymandias”, who is Ozymandias? What has happened
to his pedestal? Why is this ironic?
- What is the speaker’s opinion of England in “England in
1819”? What images does he use to express his opinion?
- In “Ode to the West Wind”, what is “terza rima”? How
does Shelley use the images of Autumn and fire? How does this compare to
Shakespeare’s use of these in his sonnets? What examples of personification
are used? Shelley uses the word “lyre” again. This is a reference to the
Eolian harp. What is his purpose in using this image?
- In “To a Skylark”, what similes and metaphors are used?
What is the speaker chiefly expressing to the skylark?
- How does “The Flower that Smiles Today” compare to
“A Defence of Poetry” was written
as a rebuttal to an ironic essay (read the intro) but Shelley is also quite
seriously expressing his views of poetry. Keep Wordsworth’s “Preface to Lyrical
Ballads” in mind as you read this essay. Shelley tends to be more philosophical
and less tangible in his essay, but persevere in your reading of him.
- What is a poet? (p. 791)
- Why is a poet’s fame more long-lasting than that of a
legislator or founder of religion? (p. 793)
- What does Shelley believe about traditional form? In
other words, what is the most important thing about a poem? (p. 793)
- What makes poetry so pleasurable? (p. 795)
- What is Plato’s belief about poetry? (footnote 795)
This is an important concept for you to know in order to understand the rest
of the essay.
- On what grounds does Shelley argue that poetry is moral?
- What are the “functions of the poetical faculty”? (p.
- Why can a man not say, “I will compose poetry”? (p. 798)
- What does Shelley say (overall) about divinity and
poetry? You may find more specifics on p. 799.
- How does poetry turn “all things to loveliness?” (p.
- Socrates said (through Plato’s writings) that in order
to be happy, one must be moral. What benefits does morality have for a poet?
- Knowing that Shelley was quite immoral by most
standards, how does he try to justify his own actions and include himself as
one of the great poets? (801)Of course, you have to read about his life in
order to answer this question. J
- How are poets “hierophants”? Do you agree or disagree?
- In “Sleep and Poetry”, Keats outlines what he intends to
write in the coming years. What does he intend to do? What do you think he
means by “real things” in the closing stanza?
- In “When I have fears that I may cease to be”, what does
the speaker do when he struggles with his fears? What does he think about?
- In “The Eve of St. Agnes”, who are the following people:
The Beadsman, Madeline, St. Agnes, Porphyro, the old beldame.
- What is supposed to happen on St. Agnes’ Eve for young
- How does Porphyro intend to gain Madeline’s love? Is he
- In “”La Belle Dame Sans Merci”, why does the speaker
- In “Sonnet to Sleep”, sleep can be compared to death.
How does Keats make that connection clear?
- In “Ode to a Nightingale”, what does the nightingale
represent? What does her song cause the speaker to think about?
- In “Ode on a Grecian Urn”, which “still” do you think
fits better? (see footnote)
- What does the speaker say about truth and beauty? Why
do you think he makes this statement at the end of the description of the
urn? How do specific images of the urn connect to this theme?
- How are Beauty and Melancholy intertwined? Why are both
Victorian Period and Carlyle Questions
- What effect did Queen Victoria have on the age named
after her, as far as “temper”? (p. 1044)
- What did the “Reform Bill” reform? (P. 1046)
- What were the Corn Laws? (p. 1048)
- What views on Free Trade came to the forefront? (p.
- What is Utilitarianism? (p. 1050)
- What is Higher Criticism? (p. 1051)
- What social impact did the THEORY (I emphasize that
since most secular works refuse to refer to is as a theory
J) of evolution have on society?
- What was the Boer War? P. 1053
- Why is melancholy a more appropriate description of what
are often called the “Gay” (as in happy, not homosexual) Nineties?
- How were women viewed during the Victorian era? (p.
- Why were women more welcome as writers in the world of
- How were novels originally published?
- How did Victorian poets differ from Romantic poets?
- What elements of poetry were Victorian poets known for?
** This piece describes Carlyle’s struggle to find
something fulfilling to his soul outside of the orthodox Christian belief in
God. Though this is a serious topic, Carlyle’s sense of humor is a major part
of this work. Remember that there are many intentionally humorous sections in
what you are reading.
- What is the “Clothes Philosophy”? (intro to “Sartor
- What does “Teufelsdrockh” mean?
- What role does Hope play in the lives of men and how is
Teufelsdrockh shut out from this? P. 1078
- What happened to Teufelsdrockh to add to his despair? P.
- When the “siecle de Louis Quinze” is mentioned,
Carlyle is referring to the period before Rationalistic philosophy was
introduced by writers such as Voltaire. This philosophy threw out belief in
- What is the “Satanic School”?
- Why should a writer “envy not him who they name
- What are his views on war? P. 1085
- What great things has Teufelsdrockh seen in his time? P.
- Describe his encounter with the bear. P. 1087-88
- When Teufelsdrockh breaks free from “Legion” or the
Satanic School, does he find anything to take its place? How does this make
him feel? P. 1088-9
The Everlasting Yea
- Teufelsdrockh mentions his “consciousness of Battle”.
(p. 1089) He is striving to fight the battle of finding meaning in life.
- Teufelsdrockh reflects on Nature from the Alps (where I
sit as I type this question—how appropriate). Why does he think that he
cannot make Nature God? (p. 1091)
- Why can happiness not be the goal of life? (p. 1092-3)
- What is “the Everlasting Yea wherein all contradiction
is solved?” p. 1093
- What criticism does he have of Christianity, also known
as the ‘Worship of Sorrow?’ (p. 1093-4)
- What criticism of Voltaire does he voice? (p. 1094)
- At the end of the Everlasting Yea, Teufelsdrockh
discusses the idea of the Ideal versus the Actual. (p. 1095) The Ideal is
man’s idea of perfection, the Actual is what he really lives in, which is less
than perfection. Teufelsdrockh states that within Man lies the ability to
live in the Ideal or the Actual; basically, Man has the ability to shed Light
on his existence and to remove the Chaos. At this point, Teufelsdrockh is
free of his burden concerning the meaning of life. This is a self-created
- This section is written to refute David Hume’s essay.
Please read the footnote on p. 1096. How does Teufelsdrockh view miracles?
How do Custom, Time and Space get in the way of miracles and Wonder?
- On p. 1101 (top) the word “sphere-melody” is mentioned.
“Sphere-melody” refers to the idea by the astronomer Kepler that the
proportions of the orbits of the planets reflect the proportions between notes
in various harmonic relationships in music. This idea was used to show that
the universe was divinely created since it was so harmoniously created.
- What is Teufelsdrockh’s view on ghosts? What was our
friend Dr. Johnson’s view? P. 1101
- Ultimately, how does his conclusion differ from orthodox
Christianity? Are there any similarities?
John Stuart Mill Questions
“What is Poetry?”
- What are some problems with trying to define poetry? (p.
- What is the object of poetry? (p. 1140)
- When and where is poetry appreciated most? (p. 1140)
- What does Mill think of novels? (p. 1141)
- What “two excellences” does Shakespeare combine? (1141)
- How does a poet describe things? (1142)
- What is the difference between poetry and eloquence?
- How does a poet use “soliloquy”? (p. 1143)
- How do we tell the difference between poetry and
- How does Mill connect poetry to music? (1144 and on)
- What is his opinion of the French?
From “The Subjection of Women”
- How does Mill compare the status of women to that of
slaves throughout the essay?
- How are women worse off than slaves, in his opinion?
- What role has force played in the lives of women and how
- What examples from history are discussed which reveal
the status of women throughout?
- Why would women not seek help from the law against an
abusive husband? (1158)
- What were women brought up to do? (1158, 1159, and
- Why can people not use “experience” as a reason for
equality not working? (1160)
- How have slaves been more free to develop than women?
- What hindrances are there to having a general idea about
women? (1162 and on)
- What problems are there with women’s writings as a
glimpse of their general character? (1164)
- Respond biblically to Mill’s ideas. What does God’s
Word teach about the role of women and the standard for marriage? Many people
say that the biblical ideal makes women into doormats. Please give a biblical
response to this idea.
- How did Mill’s education help bring about his
- How does he compare to Carlyle philosophically? (1170)
- What two ways was his life impacted by his depression?
(1169 and 1170)
- What frustration did he have with music? (1171)
- How did Wordsworth help him through his struggle? (1172)
Elizabeth Barrett Browning Questions
- Sonnet 21: How is “I love you” like a cuckoo song and
what does the speaker think of this idea?
- Sonnet 22: Why does the speaker not want to go to heaven
with her beloved?
- Sonnet 32:Why does she want the moon to come? What kind
of “musician” is her beloved?
- Sonnet 43: This first line is very famous. Answer the
question—how does she love him?
- Who is Aurora?
- What is her first impression of England and her aunt?
- How is she educated?
- What does she feel to be her goal in life?
- Why does she reject Romney?
- What must a poet present in his or her writing?
- How does Aurora connect to Mill’s essay about women? Is
her education in keeping with what he supports or fights against?
Mother and Poet
- Why does the mother feel responsible for her sons’
- What does she think the purpose of women is? Connect to
“The Lady of Shalott”
- What must the Lady not do in order to avoid the curse?
- What role does Lancelot play in her curse?
- Why is his comment ironic?
From “In Memoriam, A.H.H.”
- In the Prologue, what does he ask God for?
- In section 2, why does he envy the yew?
- How does he use the image of a girl in section 6?
- In section 14, what would not seem strange to him, were
it to happen?
- In section 23, what “creeds” does he refer to?
- In section 24, what is his view of the past?
- In section 27, why does he not envy those who cannot
- Examine the three Christmases that Tennyson goes through
without Hallam. How does his sorrow change and how does it remain the same
over that period of time? (The stanzas discussing Christ’s birth)
- What is his view of God in section 34?
- What is his hope in section 47?
- Who do you think he is talking to in section 50?
- What is his ultimate hope in section 54 and 55?
- What does he say about Nature and God in section 56?
- How is day personified in section 72?
- In section 82, what is his attitude towards death?
- What does section 84 reflect on ?
- Describe the pastimes they enjoyed in section 89.
- How does the “dead man” touch him in section 95?
- In section 96, how does doubt affect him?
- Look at the sections describing the Christmas bells
ringing. What are they ringing in and out?
- How does he view faith in section 108?
- What views of science does he have in 120?
- How is Venus like him in 121?
- What has given him faith in 124 and 125?
- What has he learned in 131 and Epilogue?
“The Coming of Arthur”
- What is the mystery of Arthur’s birth?
- How do his subjects view him?
- Why was Arthur given to Merlin?
“The Passing of Arthur”
- Who does he battle in the end?
- What happens with Bedivere and Excalibur?
- Where does Arthur go at the end of the poem?
- Examine the setting. How does it connect to the plot of
- Where has Porphyria come from and why?
- What do you think is meant by the last two lines?
“Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister”
- What bothers the speaker about Brother Lawrence?(look
through the entire poem) Is his anger justified?
- In stanza 4, is there any proof that Lawrence is guilty
of what the speaker charges him with?
- In stanza 6, what trick is the speaker playing on
“My Last Duchess”
This is about a painting of the speaker’s deceased wife.
- What fault is his last duchess guilty of?
- Do you agree with the charge?
- How did she die? (you have to dig a little for this one)
- Why is the speaker in the laboratory?
- How has she tried to kill her competition in stanza 9?
“The Bishop Orders His Tomb at St. Praxed”
- The speaker is on his deathbed talking to his sons.
What does the fact that a Catholic priest has sons tell us about him?
- What is his opinion of Gandolf (and his tomb)? Give
specific sections that reveal this attitude.
- Does the bishop trust his sons? How does he seek to
gain their favor?
“Love Among the Ruins”
- Note the rhyme scheme and meter of this poem. How does
it affect the content?
- What is the general theme of the poem?
“Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came”
- What physical obstacles does he encounter along the way?
- In stanzas 15-18, how does he seek to encourage himself
and why does this fail?
- Is the last image in this poem a hopeful one?
“Fra Lippo Lippi”
- Who is Lippi talking to?
- Who does he know who is powerful enough to frighten his
- Why is Lippi out this evening?
- Why did he become a monk?
- How did his early poverty help him become anb artist?
- What do the other monks think of his paintings?
- What does Lippi believe about beauty?
** Keep in mind that Hopkins frequently used inventive
word-combinations in his poetry and that he believed in “inscape” and “instress”.
Please read about these terms in the background on Hopkins and be ready to
discuss his poetry in light of them.
- What is “inscape”?
- What is “instress”?
- In “God’s Grandeur”, what is said about nature?
- What is the role of the Holy Spirit in “God’s Grandeur”?
- Please compare this poem to “The world is too much with
us” by Wordsworth. (p. 297)
- How are onomatopoeia and imagery used in “God’s
- In “The Starlight Night”, Hopkins is describing the
starry sky. What images does he use to do this?
- What do you think the second stanza means, particularly
in relation to Christ? (Please be willing to take a stab in the dark at this
one—there will probably be many answers to it)
- What role does inscape play in “As Kingfishers Catch
- How does Christ play “in ten thousand places”?
- What images are used to portray the spring in “Spring”?
- What do you think is meant by “thy choice and worthy the
winning”? (I am still working through this one)
- In “The Windhover”, “achieve” is used as a noun in line
8. Why do you think this poem is addressed to “Christ our Lord”?
- How does “pied” beauty reveal the immutability of God?
(in “Pied Beauty”)
- What is being described (in “Hurrahing in Harvest”) as
“Meal-drift moulded ever and melted across skies”?
- What has happened to the “Binsey Poplars”? (a poplar is
a type of tree)
- What connection to inscape is made in this poem?
- Who is Duns Scotus? How does Scotus’ beliefs come to
life for the speaker as he looks around him? (the footnote will help you)
- What happened to “Felix Randal” as death drew near?
- Why is Margaret grieving in “Spring and Fall”?
- In “Carrion Comfort”, what does the speaker mean by “not
choose not to be”?
- Who is wrestling with whom in this poem? How does the
speaker feel about this?
- What hope does the speaker find in this image?
- In “No Worst, There is None”, what is the “comfort
serves in a whirlwind”?
- What is “God’s most deep decree” in “I Wake and Feel the
Fell of Dark, Not Day”?
- Is the view of self positive or negative in “I Wake…”?
- What is being described in “That Nature…” ?
- What hope ends “That Nature…”?
- Why does the speaker begin discussing “banks and brakes”
and birds in “Thou Art Indeed Just, Lord”?
- How is he “Time’s eunuch”?
- In the excerpts from “Journal”, how does Hopkins writing
compare to the writing in his poetry?
Oscar Wilde Questions
- Identify the following characters: Jack, Algernon,
Cecily, Gwendolen, Aunt Augusta/Lady Bracknell, Merriman, Miss Prism,
Chasuble, Lane, “Ernest” (give all possible answers for this character)
- Why is Aunt Augusta opposed to Jack’s desire to marry
- How does Algernon win Cecily’s heart, initially?
- Why do Cecily and Gwendolen refuse to marry Jack and
- How do Jack and Algernon rectify this problem?
- A "comedy of manners" is defined
as: "A comedy concerned with the social actions and behavior of members of a
highly sophisticated, upper-class society. Low-class characters are normally
subordinate in interest or are played against the foibles of their 'betters'.
Such comedy emphasizes wit, whether true or false, and more often that not
takes an arch view of the love game." [Bacon, Wallace A. The Art of
Interpretation. 2nd ed.]
closely does Earnest fit this description?
- Look up the word “satire”.
What do you think the author satirizes?
- How is marriage viewed in this play? In other words,
what do the characters think of it?
- How do the characters view death in this play?
- What views of social class does this play reveal?
- What makes this play humorous?
- What do you think Wilde was trying to say when he wrote
this play? Do you think he was successful or not?
The Twentieth Century
- What is “art for art’s sake” and who was involved in it?
- How did widespread literacy effect England?
- What are “high, low and middle brows”?
- What did those who were anti-Victorian attack about
- What changes for women were occurring?
- What Irish struggle effected British literature?
- What was “golden” about the Georgian period?
- What problems arose following WWI?
- How did these problems impact literature?
- How did regional arts councils effect the literary and
artistic world of Britain?
- What doesthe Norton Anthology give Margaret Thatcher
credit for? Tony Blair?
- What was the “imagist movement”?
- What role did T.S. Eliot play in the world of poetry?
- What is remarkable about Yeats’ writing?
- What are the three main “strata” of fiction in the 20th
- Where did writers seek to find truth and reality?
- How did the different wars impact the writing of the
- Why is late 20th century literature
- What was happening in Irish theater during the 20th
- What happened in 1968 that effected theatre?
Heart of Darkness Questions
*This novel is full of symbolism as well as a glimpse of
man’s depravity. Be aware that it is not merely a tale of a journey down the
****Please read the questions BEFORE you read so you can be
aware of what to look for. They are not chronological this time, as I want you
to focus more on general ideas rather than just looking at the plot.
- Themes to look for: Man vs. Nature, Man vs. Man
(individually as well as in a broader sense, as far as Civilization vs.
Savagery), Man vs. God, Light and Dark, Faith vs. Despair, Insanity vs.
Sanity, Reality vs. Dreams/Sense of Unreality, Good and Bad
- Please examine the following and think about what they
might symbolize. If you struggle with how to do this, let me give you an
example: “*the candle at Kurtz’s death: light is usually associated with life
(and good, etc.) and darkness is associated with death. Marlowe blows out the
candle when Kurtz dies, so the candle could represent the extinguishing of
Kurtz’s life.” Basically, you want to look at the following things in light
of the whole book, so while you should take notes on the symbols as you read,
don’t make any conclusions until you get to the end of the book and look at
the whole thing. Also, it is not unusual for something to have more than one
meaning (or for its meaning to be hotly debated), so please be willing to take
a stab in the dark. (no pun intended)
*** *the painting by Kurtz, * the two ladies in the office,
* the candle at Kurtz’s death, *the river, * the boat, *the savage woman,
*Kurtz’s “Intended”, * the well-dressed accountant
- As the boat goes deeper into the Congo, keep a record of
the behavior of the men and Marlowe’s thoughts. What changes do you note?
Also examine the role of nature in this journey.
- Why do you think Marlowe says he admires Kurtz so much,
especially in light of what Kurtz has become? Does this tell us anything
- Over and over, we read that Kurtz is an amazing
individual. When we finally meet him, does he fit that description? Why or
why not? Did he fit your expectations?
- Compare and contrast Kurtz with his Intended.
- Why do you think Marlowe is repeatedly described as an
“idol” or a “Buddha”?
- Take a good look at Marlowe’s view of good vs. bad. Do
his views change throughout the novel? Does he make any judgments on other
characters from a moral standpoint?
- Ultimately, what statement(s) is Marlowe making about
life and faith?
World War I Poetry Questions
- “The Soldier”: What is the tone towards war in this
poem? What is the view of death? What is the purpose of the war?\
- Thomas, “Adlestrop”: How does this poem connect to the
- “Tears”: What “truths” do you think the speaker is told?
- “The Owl”: What is different about the speaker’s life
and that of the other soldiers? How does he feel about these differences?
- “Rain”: Why can death not disappoint?
- “The Cherry Trees”: What are the trees a symbol of?
- “As the Team’s Head Brass”: The poet describes two
different lives in this poem. How do these two lives interact with one
- Sassoon, “They”: What is the tone towards war in this
poem? How does this poem compare with Brooke’s “The Soldier”?
- “The Rear-Guard”: What do you think is meant by
“unloading hell” in this poem?
- “The General”: Examine the meter and rhyme scheme of
this poem. What effect does it have on the content of the poem?
- “Glory of Women”: What view do women have of the war
versus what the men live out?
- “Everyone Sang”: What literary devices are used to
create the lyrical sound of birdsong? How do these descriptions effect the
conclusion of the poem?
- “On Passing the New Menin Gate”: What is the “crime”
mentioned at the end of the poem?
- What kind of thoughts go through Sassoon’s head during
the battle described in “Memoirs”?
- Gurney: “To His Love”: How does the last stanza contrast
with the images in the rest of the poem?
- “The Silent One”: What do you think is happening in
this poem? What effect does it have to use parentheses around the phrase
“polite to God”?
- Rosenburg, “Break of Day in the Trenches”: Why is the
rat more “chanced” than the soldiers? How is the word “cosmopolitan” used?
What do you think the poppies symbolize?
- “Louse Hunting”: Why are the men in an uproar about the
lice? How does this “battle” compare with the battles they fight by day? In
other words, compare the two enemies.
- “Returning, We Hear the Larks”: What do the larks
represent? What tone is taken towards them in light of what the speaker
- “Dead Man’s Dump”: How is personification used in the
poem? How does the poet build suspense at the end of the poem?
- Owen, “Anthem for Doomed Youth”: What images does Owen
use to draw the contrast between those fighting the war and those at home?
- “Apologia Pro Poemate Meo”: Why do the men not feel
“sickness or remorse of murder”?
- “Miners”: How are the centuries personified? What tone
does this reveal about the work the soldiers have done?
- “Dulce et Decorum Est”: How does the content of the poem
connect to the title of the poem? What images are used to paint the picture?
- “Strange Meeting”: How does Owen use alliteration and
assonance in the poem?
- “Futility”: What does the sun symbolize?
- “Disabled”: Why did the young man join the army? What
has happened to him? How has he changed? (besides physically)
- Cannan, “Rouen”: What effect do Cannan’s use of meter
and repetition of certain words (“and” and “can you”) have on the content?
What images does she use? What tone is taken towards the war? Would you
group her with Brooke or Owen?
- “Grey Ghosts...” : How does her experience compare with
Sassoon and Owen’s?
- Jones, “In Parenthesis”: What images does the term
“Waste Land” evoke as a description of the battlefield?
- “The Five Unmistakeable Marks”: How does this poetic
structure differ from the other war poetry? What images does he place next to
one another as he tells his story? How does he attempt to raise these
characters to mythological heights? (Please read the introduction to this poem
for help) What do you think the gun symbolizes in this poem? What does
leaving it behind mean?
- In “The Madness of King Goll”, the
last line of each stanza is the same. What purpose do you think this line
serves? What do you think drove the king to madness?
- In “The Stolen Child”, take note of
examples of onomatopoeia and alliteration and the effect they make.
- Read the footnote (1) for “The Rose
of the World” . How does Yeats illustrate this view of beauty throughout the
- What desire is revealed in “The
Lake Isle of Innisfree”? What is appealing about this life to the speaker?
How does Yeats create the sounds one would hear there through his words?
- Compare the first and last stanzas
of “The Sorrow of Love”. How do they connect?
- How is Love personified in “When
You Are Old”?
- In ‘The Folly of Being Comforted”,
what is his reasoning for stating that he cannot be comforted?
- In “Adam’s Curse”, what does the
speaker say about the work of a poet?
- In “No Second Troy”, why does he
not blame “her”?
- What specific things have “dried
the sap” out of the speaker’s veins in “The Fascination of What’s Difficult”?
What from Yeats’ life is he referring to?
- What is the speaker lamenting in
- Why is there “more enterprise in
walking naked” in “A Coat”?
- How are the swans described in “The
Wild Swans at Coole”? What might they symbolize?
- “Easter 1916” is about an Irish
revolt against the British. There has long been enmity between Irish
nationalists, who want all of Ireland to be independent, and England, who
wants to maintain control of it. Currently, southern Ireland is an
independent nation and Northern Ireland is not. This is why there are often
bombings and other problems with violence in Ireland. Why do you think Yeats
uses the phrase “a terrible beauty” is born in connection with the revolt in
- What do you think is being stated
about Christ in “The Second Coming”?
- In “A Prayer for My Daughter”, what
desires does he have for his daughter?
- In “Sailing to Byzantium”, why do
you think it is considered “no country for old men”?
- In “A Dialogue of Self and Soul”,
what are self and soul conversing about?
- How is “bodily decrepitude” wisdom
in “After Long Silence?”
- In “Lapis Lazuli”, what is being
- What things does Yeats find
significant about his family?
- How has Irish literature suffered
from being “Proquizant Ireland”?
- Why was he criticized for enjoying
Blake and Rossetti?
- What was his impression of Oscar
- What inspired him to write “The
Lake Isle of Innisfree”?
- What was the purpose of “The
T.S. Eliot Questions
T.S. Eliot quotes from and alludes to a huge number of
sources and I realize the number of footnotes is mindboggling. Don’t try to
understand every reference made—rather, try to look at the poem as a whole.
Though much of what you read will seem disjointed and you may say “I can connect
nothing with nothing” (quote from The Waste Land :)) do not be discouraged. It
is a good idea to skim the poem once before even trying to answer the
questions. Then, go back and read it again slowly with the questions.
“The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”
- Where is the Italian passage from Dante written from?
How does this effect the start of the poem?
- Eliot uses many images to create the setting at the
start. What are some of them and what is he trying to express about the
- What kind of a fellow is Prufrock, from the descriptions
of his thoughts, such as “Do I dare?”
- Why do you think Eliot mentions only the arms of the
- Why does Prufrock proclaim he is not Prince Hamlet?
- Does this love song meet your expectations for the usual
love song? Why or why not? Who or what might he be singing to?
“The Waste Land”
- Why is April the “cruellest month”?
- How might the Wagner quotes connect to the phrase
- What role does water play throughout this poem? What
things does it symbolize?
- What role do eyes play in part II? In other words, what
might they represent?
- In part III, how is the Thames described?
- Who is Tiresias and why is he important?
- In Part IV, what was the fate of Phlebas?
- What images does part V end with?
“The Hollow Men”
**Eliot was a part of the “Lost
Generation” which is a name for those who lived through World War I. Since such
an incredible number of young men died, everyone was impacted by death in a
personal way and many of this generation were without hope. This poem is often
said to be representative of the spirit of the Lost Generation.
- Since you have read “Heart of Darkness”, you should be
well equipped to answer this question: How does the quote at the start
connect to the rest of the poem? You must think about the whole novel, not
just the quote. Think about Kurtz and what Marlowe said about him.
- What is a “hollow man”?
- How do the dead remember the “hollow men”? (l. 13-18)
- How does the speaker view “death’s dream kingdom” in
- In part III, what is the “supplication of a dead man’s
hand”? Is there power behind such prayer?
- What role does sight and eyes play in part IV?
- Why do you think Eliot changes the mulberry bush song of
childhood and includes it, along with the Lord’s Prayer?
- Consider the pictures Eliot has created of the Hollow
Men. How does this picture connect to the final line of the poem?
“Journey of the Magi”
- What had the magi spent their time doing before setting
out on the journey?
- What kind of obstacles were faced along the way?
- Why does Eliot place the phrase “you may say” in
parentheses? If it is an aside, (an “aside” in theater is when a character
speaks without intending for everyone to hear what is said) why?
- What do you think is meant by the closing line of the
poem? Think about this from a Christian perspective.
“Tradition and the Individual Talent”
- Since you have read Shelley and Wordsworth’s view of
poetry, this essay should be interesting. Think about the comparisons and
contrasts to be made.
- Why should we not focus on a poet as an individual when
we consider his poetry?
- Why must we not ignore the dead writers when we look at
- Why should we avoid looking at “personality” when we
look at poetry?
- What is Eliot’s view on Wordsworth and ‘emotion
recollected in tranquillity’?
“The Metaphysical Poets”
- Why is it difficult to define the term “metaphysical?”
- What is the difference between an “intellectual” and a
“reflective” poet?” p. 2405
Thomas, Heaney, Boland, and Hughes Questions
“The Force That Through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower”
1. This poem examines (or illustrates) how man is connected with nature. What is Thomas saying?
2. When the word “dumb” is used, it is in the sense of unable to speak. Why do you think the speaker feels dumb?
“After the Funeral”
3. What role does nature play in mourning the loss of Thomas’ aunt?
4. Thomas plays with language to describe this setting. For example, he uses the phrase, “all the sun long” rather than “all the day long”. Note other such phrases in this poem and their effect.
5. What do you think his “chains” are in the last line of the poem?
“Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night”
6. What do you think it means to “rage agains the dying of the light?”
7. How does Heaney compare his profession as a writer to the profession of his ancestors?
8. Describe the speaker’s friendship with the man who is the poem’s subject. How did this man die and what does this tell us about him?
“That the Science of Cartography is Limited”
11. Why is the science of cartography limited?
“The Dolls Museum in Dublin”
12. How does Boland use the descriptions of the dolls to give us a glimpse of the children who owned them, as well as life before the Easter Rising of 1916? What images are particularly effective?
“The Lost Land”
13. Who do you think the speaker is referring to with the word “they” in line 25? What country might the “lost land” be?
14. "Wind": What is the house compared to throughout
the poem? What might be going on emotionally that causes him to make this
15. "Relic": If a jawbone is an image of terror and power,
what effect does it create for us to see it useless on the shore? Why do
you think Hughes chose to call this poem "relic"? What is a relic and what
is the jawbone a relic of?
16. "Pike": How is enjambment used in the last stanza?
Make sure to read the lines, flowing from one to the next, to get the correct
meaning. What do you think he means in the last stanza?
17. "Examination at the Womb-Door": Make sure to read the
footnote for help on this one. How is the Crow "stronger than death"?
Is the Crow portrayed in such a way that one expects this?
18. 'Theology": What REALLY happened in Eden, according to
19. "The Seven Sorrows": What are the seven sorrows? What
images strike you in particular?
20. "Daffodils": Remember how Hughes lost his wife, Sylvia
Plath, as you read this poem. What image does the speaker give to his deceased
wife's scissors? What does this tell us about his memories of her? How are
the daffodils described?
This is your very last question of the year:
*What is the average velocity of a swallow? (as in "bird")