and Writing Questions: English 322C
of British Literature from Victorians to Moderns
Virginia Woolf, "The Mark
on the Wall"
(These questions are to be completed
as a class, as a sample of how to answer study questions. You need
not write out answers and hand them in.) What is the subject of
this essay - beyond simply a mark on the wall? List the things Woolf
theorizes may have caused the mark on the wall. What do all these
possible causes have in common? Finally, why does Woolf tell us
at the end of the essay, "It was a snail"?
Robert Browning, shorter poems
Why does Browning choose to use
first-person narrators in so many of his poems? How reliable are
these narrators? (Choose at least two to consider in your response.)
What aspects of human nature do Browning's narrators seem concerned
with? Finally, why does Browning choose to set so many of the poems
in Italy, a country very different from his native England? (Hint:
there is no simple answer to this question.)
Alfred, Lord Tennyson, shorter
In many poems, such as "Ulysses,"
"The Lady of Shalott," and "The Epic [Morte D'Arthur]," Tennyson
invokes myths from earlier periods in human history: the stories
of Ulysses and Arthur. What do these heroes have in common? What
aspects of these myths does Tennyson focus on, and why?
Thomas Hardy, a short story
and Industrialisation and
(answer one of these sets
What themes do the Hardy story
and the poems have in common? Comment on the form of the Hardy poems:
what kinds of line-lengths, rhyme schemes, and stanza forms does
Hardy prefer? How are these poems different from those of Tennyson
Macaulay's argument. What has Southey argued in the Colloquies,
accordingly to Macaulay? What is wrong with this argument, according
to Macaulay? Quote specific examples to support your answers. Choose
one of the other excerpts. What does it argue about the living and
working conditions of the people it describes? Give a few examples
of the evidence the author provides to support these claims.
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations,
Vol. I (chapters 1-19).
Explain why Dickens sets the
opening scene of GE in a graveyard. What does this choice tell us
about Pip, his home life, and his expectations for the future? Compare
Pip's sister, Mrs. Joe, and his brother-in-law Joe Gargery. What
are their attitudes towards the child they have been given to raise?
How do their attitudes seem to be affecting Pip? Accordingly, how
does Pip respond when Miss Havisham commands him to "play" at Satis
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations,
Vol. II (chapters 20-39)
Give at least three examples
of how the villagers respond to Pip's mysterious new "expectations"
and planned move to London. How does Pip feel about these expressions?
How does Herbert "transform" Pip? Give examples of Herbert's advice
and his methods of imparting it. Contrast these with Mr. Pocket's
techniques for accomplishing the same aims. Finally, describe Mr.
Jaggers: his habits, his reputation, his office, his employees,
his ways of conversing with clients. What do these things mean about
Mini-vacation from study questions!
Oscar Wilde: "The Importance
of Being Earnest"
Look closely at some of the many
famous one-line jokes in "The Importance of Being Earnest"
"her hair has gone quite gold
with grief." (Make a list of your favorites.) What pattern(s)
follow in constructing these
jokes? Give examples to support your argument.
10 and 11
W. B. Yeats, selected poems
(answer one question per week)
In what ways is the poem "When
You are Old" like "Sailing to Byzantium"? Give specific examples
to support your argument; be sure to consider form as well as meaning.
is Yeats's attitude toward the Easter Rebellion of 1916 and the
people who were involved with it? (Refer to the biographical headnote
if you need more information about the Easter Rebellion.)
Are his feelings positive, negative, or mixed? How do we know?
How do the images in stanza three of "Easter 1916" relate to the
poem as a whole?
Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway
In her essay "Modern Fiction"
(1925) Virginia Woolf asserts that "Life is not a series of gig-lamps
symmetrically arranged; life
is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from
beginning of consciousness to
the end. Is it not the task of the novelist to convey
this varying, this
unknown and uncircumscribed spirit,
whatever aberration or complexity it may display, with as little
mixture of the alien and external
as possible?" How does Woolf represent human consciousness?
What aspects of consciousness does she present to us? Focus
on one character, in one scene, and give examples for your assertions.
T. S. Eliot, an essay and
some shorter poems
What sort of person is Prufrock?
Was does his full name suggest about him? What is he afraid of?
what ways is his life trivial
or meaningless? To what extent is the title of the poem ironic?
Give examples to support your answers.
Review the Breughel
painting "Icarus" and study the painting carefully, paying special
attention to the relationship of its elements - the plowman, the
ship, the sheep and shepherd, the legs of the vanishing boy.
and Daedalus" , review that myth. How is Auden's poem
"Musée des Beaux Arts" about war? Pay special attention
to the year the poem was published and the world events taking place
at that time when you answer this question.
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