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The Victorian Age
• more attention to the worker, worker's rights, factory & working class
• Heralding (a sign for) Industrial Revolution
• Queen Victoria
• 1830s-50s - colonial expansion, "Sun never sets on the British Empire"
• Prior to decay (pre 1890s) - confidence, entitlement, London/England = center of universe
• Theme: what Britain does, they do for the world
• late 1870s - 1880s decadent period, period of decay, critique of social order (Wilde, Shaw)
• genres : strong poetry, continuing flourish of the novel (1770s emerged)
• number of inventions, marxist revolution (in Paris) going on, origin of species (Darwin)
• "most important poet for England"
• rough bacground ,worked hard => given Baron title
• mystical quality : created concrete images for reader
"The Lady of Shalott,"
"The Charge of the Light Brigade,"
Idylls of the King. (The Passing of Arthur),
Tennyson, Browning, Arnold, Hopkins, Rosettis, Morris
themes : mystical qualities, class struggle, queer feminist theory, return to Medieval literature - revival of Arthuriana
The Lady of Shalott : What does the Mirror symbolize?
• mirror for weaving, looks objectively at art, curse : can't look at real world, only reflections
• self reflection, access to world
• barrier : artifice vs reality - for poet & lady, symbolism for what a poet does
• mirror breaks => like windo breaking, protection
The Lady of Shalott : Why does the lady die?
• she represents old Camelot and sees new Camelot
• free will involved? is there actually a curse?
• just to be seen by Lancelot, voluntarily gets in boat, knows town & Lancelot will see her
-heartbreaking cause of death? emerged due to love of Lancelot, and he doesn't even see her till her death
• overwhelmed by real world
- innocent/lacks constitutions for real world
The Lady of Shalott : What is the poem's main Theme?
• Fate vs. Freewill?
• Artifice vs. Reality , connection/imprint
• love & loss - trying, risk taking,
The Lady of Shalott further notes
• magical, revival of Arthuriana
• Camelot represents : maybe height of civilization
• Lady dies, fulfilling destiny? chooses death?
• her own demise? or fate?
- her own responsibility, easy way out, no origin of curse, no other characters or other pressures on her
-really only her in her own world
- Love provokes
vs. Curse : expectations of a lady at that time, Lancelot (free, expressed)
- weather/earth reacting : inevitable & her connection to Natural world
her fault ?
some would say yes - "I'm half sick of the shadows"
Idylls of the King (The Passing of Arthur)
• collections of Arthurian tales
• King Arthur : height of civilization, messianic figure
• Characters more human
• Dawn = of days, new era
• Sunset = decline
• King Arthur - against son, self ideal - self image
• transgressions amongst knights = human failings, aspirations, try yet fail
• Excalibur - represents..?, connection to Earth & responsibilities,
Lady of the Lake = Earth, earth bestows right to King
• dawn/hope as sailing away with Avalon Ladies - unsettling for new
Hope vs Despair (nationalism, England's story)
• A single person, who is patently not the poet, utters the speech that makes up the whole of the poem, in a specific situation at a critical moment [...].
• This person addresses and interacts with one or more other people; but we know of the auditors' presence, and what they say and do, only from clues in the discourse of the single speaker.
• The main principle controlling the poet's choice and formulation of what the lyric speaker says is to Reveal to the reader, in a way that enhances its interest, the speaker's temperament and character.
Browning's "My Last Duchess"
wife more popular (Elizabeth Barrett Browning)
modernists lost force - in didactic way & became more excited in nontraditional
-"My Last Duchess,"
-"Childe Rolande to the Dark Tower Came."
John H.C. Newman's The Idea of a University (Discourse 5 #6).
My Last Duchess
(poem by Robert Browning, Victorian)
• dramatic monologue - used to distrust voice (speaker) of poem
• what do we learn of speaker & his wife, last duchess?
- jealous man (line 14,31), hints at her promiscuity, and how now she only smiles for him (as he closes the curtain)
- he maybe had her killed (line 45)
- addressing painting (lines 1-2), maybe mourning or feeling guilty
- to whom is he speaking? man ? probably man giving tour of artwork to new wife?
- "taming of seahorse" - desired for woman? (54-56) & thought important on how to treat women
Child Rolande to the Dark Tower Came
(poem by Robert Browning, Victorian)
• tragedy = King Lear - only powerful tragedy if spend time in mindset of tragic figures of stories
• King Lear - feeling death of other fellow knights, renounced position as king & father, words can't express his despair
• poem meant to understand collapse/despair
- influences Stephen King & Tolkien (Mordor)
• landscape important
• dramatic monologue - used slightly differently, "have to read "against grain", rather abstract to understand whats going on"
• No Hope - going through wasteland, going to tower (like Frodo & Sam)
• if only to fail as they (other knights) did, no hope, but accomplish at least where they accomplish, band of brethren he hopes to have same fate (even though not good)
• powerful imagery - Victorian style
• not sure if actual terrain or just dream in his head
• H20 inhabited by (bodies?), spirits (Tolkenesque, accounts of war)
• dark and frightful imagery - "hell" for him"
• Ending : he arrives at dark tower, tone at very end - Acceptance of fate - blowing horn, engage in fight, announces presence, some Defiance almost : sees others fates, knowledge of death, but goes on,
-Defiance tempered with Resignation
• why are brethren recalled?
blow horn for and do deed for them too
• ambiguity : in voice of speaker, real vs. unreal, self doubt/anxiety (193,94)
Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came : Dark Tower Represents?
(poem by Robert Browning, Victorian)
• to knight maybe:
- manifestation of his fears,
- a hellish death
- self sacrifice - much in poem, for greater good, quest, though meaningless
• End of the World : reference to angels of revelation, Armageddon - defying end of the world, especially relates with how Tower kills everything that contacts with it
• "sheet of flame" - not heavenly, but maybe glory, in earthly death
• relationship to art & poetry
"In Memoriam" : how does it relate to values of the Victorian era? questioning of the concrete?
(Lord Tennyson poem)
• Nature/sunshien (move away from) --> Psychology
people's interiority more deeply
• darker side of mind, coming through individual
• Requiem for a friend, and written over 17 years, meditation on hope after great loss and touches on many important many of the most important and deeply-felt concerns of Victorian society
The Idea of a University
(writing by John Henry Cardinal Newman, Victorian)
• distinction between Liberal education and useful knowledge & philosophical vs. Mechanical knowledge
• liberal education knowledge : using knowledge for its own sake, cultivation of mind for its own sake
• teacher and pupil not generic, but pupil researches and teacher guides
• was theological , was a cardinal , believed there was whole truth, in God, Catholic
• shouldnt pursue knowledge just for a career, or wealth
• where are we heading to now? w/ edu? college?
- just going for better outcome (for some)
- modern thing for now to go to school to get better jobs, before classes systems were too restrictive & concept of using knowledge as a tool to get ahead wasn't there
- value : judgement, better people?
No, each liberal arts class as a tool, especially important with globalization
• different ways of learning & synthesis of using all whats learned
• thirst for knowledge not utilitarian,
mere life vs good life
• in reading curiosity/inquisitiveness is given, something beyond passive received to synthesis & use, apply
• bottom line : regardless of class desirableness to cultivate betterment of individual
The Forsaken Mermen
(Matthew Arnold, Victorian)
• passion of rustic, folklore, paganism vs Victorian Christianity
• Merman grieving for his human wife who leaves him and their children for the world above land,
religion (hearing bells, church) vs emotion (love to family, and freedom under ocean)
• town - organized structure from church contrasted with free ocean
• dramatic monologue - sympathy for creature (merman)
• "as Browning uses it, separates the speaker from the poet in such a way that the reader must work through the words of the speaker to discover the meaning of the poet"
i.e. duke speaks of his dead wife, and have to peice together the situation, infer what type of people duke & duchess were
Ultimately - "we infer what the poet himself thinks of the speaker he has created", can be contrary to what the artificial thinks hes saying
• originate from home of learning, art, philosophy
• having strong opinions, draw from predecessors (especially Dante)
Dante Gabriel Rosetti
Paintings : "The Blessed Damozel" & "Proserpine"
-lush, voluptuous, sensual
bodies composed, leisurely, but not total renunciation
The Blessed Damozel
(Dante Gabriel Rosetti wrote poem and made painting for it, Victorian)
• lover grieving on earth over the death of his loved one
• Undying love
(Christina Rosetti - who was very religions, Piety important, Victorian)
• many lists of things, i.e. Fruits = sexuality, enticement away from Godliness
• some see as an allegory of Capitalism
• eroticism of 2 women, erotic energy through poem, "suck me"
• Biblical symbolism : Lizzie becomes like the Eucharist, offers body to Laura (how Rosetti would see it)
Goblin Market : Feminist Reading
(Christina Rosetti, very religious, Victorian era)
• Women's bodies, comodities or products?
• (217-218) female sexuality out of control
• strain on female sexuality - Laura is punished, and punishes herself
• 2 types of women : one strong and stoic whiel the other one gives into temptation
• eroticism of the 2 women (Christina Rosetti would have hated that interpretation)
• Lizzie & Goblin scene - rape? resisting? Goblins definitely attack her
The Defense of Guenevere
(William Morris, Victorian era)
• What does she mean by saying "you lie" to Gawain?
-taking credibility of accuse
-what motives does she have for lashing out at him? --> she wanted to live
• Why did she commit adultury?
- claims she wasnt feeling wanted, not treated as a woman or wife
• used "feminine wiles", unable to control - susceptable to women
• manipulating Gawain and knights - plays up on innocent girl image, she says "don't think of me" to Gawain, but indirectly asking him to do so
• resorts to manipulation, uses resources given, woman in a man's world
Feminist reading : some see her as a strong woman , caught up in a man's world, (anything else?)
Tess of the D'ubervilles : To what efect does Hardy keep Tess so ignorant of sexuality? Why?
• could be seen as an "Eve" figure, dressed white (purity) at first and then later covered in blood
• inability to connect, distant, unable to relate (dancing scene)
• contrast with Alec
• becomes a piece to be acted on, more of a doll to be reckoned with
(Thomas Hardy, Victorian Era)
Tess of the D'ubervilles : Define the ways class and sexuality intersect?
• lust in both classes, amorousness equalized
• lower class: simpler, less desire for sex, dairy maids yearn for Alec, party scene: go out and be lustful (lusty dancing scene)
• Lower class (some of them) uses sex (daughter) to elevate family status
• higher class : angel's class, see selves as more pure, segregation (family wants Angel to marry someone in same class), Alec just wants sex
Angel : has negative opinions, sexuality defered, miling cow = substitute (??)
• the shame Tess feels for being connected to Aristocracy
Tess of the D'ubervilles: Does Alec qualify as a Byronic Hero? Explain.
• no redeeming quality, victicious
• no self awarenes,
• doesnt pity, focused mor on negative
• not rebel, bad person & sticks within confines of society
Yes (not much evidence for) :
• maybe came from rough life, mother is blind - has responsibilities
• maybe hidden, wanted her love & hurt when he didn't get it
Tess of the D'ubervilles: Hos is Tess herself a symbol of the "ach of Modernism"?
• very pessimistic
• always stifles herself, and never attaining happiness
• Numb- child dies, terrible encounter with Alec: numb about, not in touch with her emotions
• things never work out , fated , destined
• ambivalence about her sexuality/beauty- what is it goodbad for?
• innocence - sets up for
• siblings = only seen as problems, ruins her life's chances
• development of character more, more depth
• deeper psychological investigation, experiencing of shame, lust, etc
• became very popular in the Victorian Period
Tess of the D'ubervilles : Is she a tragic hero? or is her tragic story more due to society's doing/her upbringing?
• tragic : naive, fated, pitiful : society against her, mother is awful
• tragic hero : no turning back points, leading to train wreck,
catharsis, fate & destined, no way out, chance events, Intrapersonal Awareness, tragic flaw : guilt, berating self (self critical)
Tess of the D'ubervilles : Feminist Reading
• 2 different types of misogyny seen
1) Angel : is progressive seeming, but cultivates her, demeans her intelligence, sees women as less, morally flawed, objects of sin & weakness, had ideal version of her (expects his wife to be virginal) though is a hypocrite (has his own sexual past)
2) Alec - takes advantage of her naivety, "changed"? perhaps, some responsibility taken
• other women in text (other card)
Tess of the D'ubervilles : Tess
• strong? - resiliant, is herself
• weak? - inconsistent, capricious (change of mood/behavior)
• simple - limited, victim?
• subjectivity? or agent?
subjectivity : individual sees himself as as subject, source of power in text or subject to culture
agency - is an agent in his/her life
• Tess = type of Eve, Angel = Adam, maybe both Eve & Adam needed to learn a lesson, and therefore Sins are inevitable
• Relationship to soil : dairy, farmer, gravesight of baby
Tess of the D'ubervilles: Other women in the Text
• milkmaids : weak, fall at knees with male, commit suicide
• Tess' Mother - boisterous, strong-willed, weak though - as she lets Tess take downfall
sister - liza-lu
• not many objects besides marrying for
• Tess irrational? mostly no, but appropriate role (??)
• fair to expect roles of women, in time period for Hardy
Tess of the D'ubervilles : Spaces
• rape scene : fog,
• dairy farm : cows, pasture, mansion,
• Tess' cottage
• Church (reiteration of purity)
• cross - ancent ruins with Alec
Tess of the D'ubervilles: Reverence of the Stonehenge as a space in this text?
• human sacrifice - seen as an "alter"
• represents her past and past in general : old & famous, inescapable, hidden in a way too
• maybe a longing to a time a heroine would have been able to survive
• old order -> new order, old giveth way to new
• pagan rituals - beginning novel with (scene with Tess dancing in white) and ending it with
• Tess leaving her final mark : maybe choosing to turn herself in - last made concession with guilt, breaks free of guilt
Tess of the D'ubervilles : Nature
• winds in temple (stonehenge)
• Equinoxes important : lives bound to the land, land times of year, seasons, & imagery of Stonehenge
• impending death, cycle, going back to earth
• Romantic aspect : Angel in Nature, antagonism : Social conventions (and social norms) vs Nature
• sun imagery : indications of how Tess is doing
• Victorian writer, and poet, Irish (1854-1900)
• believed in "art for arts sake", eccentric, mother had job :O,
sexual exploration - in flamboyant dress, defiantly gay, provocative
• imprisoned for being gay, engaged in hard labor => depression afterwords
• drama, comedy , satire - intelligently poking fun at society
• making caricatures of societal individuals, amplifying absurdities
The Importance of Being Earnest : What does the play say about Death and what about Marriage?
• death as a triviality
• Marriage : dying institution, done for convenience and status and superficial aspects (inheritance, whether the man smokes or not), what men's and women's roles are in marriage - or how they are attracted to one another,
purity (prism, chasuble),
• high refinement and subtle beauties of a culture and art, passed their prime
• savor of incipient (initial) decay
• art - opposed to nature (bio, moral)
• derangement of senses
• Oscar Wilde always connected to
The Importance of Being Earnest
• Act I - Algy and "Earnest/Jack" talking about society, bunburying
=> Gwendolyn and Lady Bracknell arrive, Jack proposes to Gwendolyn, Lady Bracknell says no and interrogates Jack => leaves
• Act II - Jack visits cousin in the country, Algy visits and claims to be his brother, Cecily and Algy interact, Prism and Chasuble interact
• Act III - gwendolyn arrives at country house, women interact and fight over who's marrying "Earnest", men come in and true identities revealed, men claim lying to see ladies, ladies forgive them, => lady bracknell arrives to take Gwendolyn home, allows Cecily and Algy together because Cecily wealthy => Jack tricks Bracknell into allowing him to marry Gwendolyn as having the consent for Cecily to marry=> Prism comes in and Bracknell recognizes, Prism spills beans about losing baby of Bracknell's sister
=> Jack realizes true identity, brother to Algy and nephew of Bracknell and that his name actually is Earnest
The Importance of Being Earnest : Humor : still funny, why?
• exaggerated characters
• absurdity of bourgeoisie, why does lady bracknell care so much about title/inheritance? why do they all care so much about silly things?
• anything fixable in the social scene - fix something and become normal, make something up, lying accepted
• alter ego, getaway to go places, escape from commitments (social obligations, family)
i.e. Jack - has name Earnest for the city, and makes up brother that he's visiting named Earnest for his boring country home
i.e. imaginary friend of Algy (claims hes always sick all the time, to get out of family obligations)
The Importance of Being Earnest: Marriage & Institution of Marriage
• marriage trivialized but important
• social convention, but Romantic in a way (flirtatious interactions between the couples)
• Surface Oriented: man behind name doesn't matter as much as the the name itself, smoking makes him look better (according to Bracknell), inheritance and wealth importance
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