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Terms in this set (162)

Now we must praise heaven-kingdom's Guardian,

Speaking in the first-person plural (technical term for "we"), the speaker in the hymn declares that it's time to get our praising on.
God is the subject of this poetic awe and admiration, but he doesn't appear as just "God." Heck no. This line gets the metaphors going with "heaven-kingdom's Guardian." "Heaven-kingdom" is an example of a specific form of Anglo-Saxon compound word called a kenning (see more under "Imagery."). Keep your eyes open for more examples.
And while you're at it: Mind the Gap! That cavernous space dividing the line in half is called a caesura, or pause, and it helps to organize each line's orderly system of stresses and alliteration (for more, see "Form and Meter").
he Measurer's might and his mind-plans,

Caedmon continues his praising with this descriptive appositive, a noun phrase following another word or phrase that continues to describe or identify it. For example, if you were to say, "Harry Potter, the boy-wizard," it's clear that "boy-wizard" is a further description or appositive of the first word, "Harry Potter." In this case, line 2 is continuing the description of "heaven-kingdom's Guardian" in the first line.
Caedmon describes God in another metaphor as a kind of architect, a "Measurer" whose power is exercised through something called "mind-plans." These might just be "thoughts," but the addition of "plans" in this kenning makes them seem more architectural, like God is doodling with a compass in his head, figuring out the circumference of the world, the depths of the oceanic basins, the height of the sky—you know, the easy stuff.
There sure are a lot of M's here. What's the effect of putting three M-sounds in a single line? For Anglo-Saxon poets, alliteration was a way of organizing the line around its four stresses and that big space in the middle. For more on how alliteration became a calling card for all major Anglo-Saxon poetry, see "Form and Meter." And look out for more alliterating words below!
he work of the Glory-Father, when he of wonders of every one,
eternal Lord, the beginning established.

...annnd we're still in the same sentence here, but hold tight, because a period is in sight at the end of line 4. The first part of line 3 is another appositive, this time providing a further description of line 2, which told us about God the architect and his "mind-plans." Here Caedmon re-phrases this as "work" and re-titles God as the "Glory-Father," emphasizing that he is the parent of all glory.
This becomes important in the rest of lines 3-4 because then we get a mini-description of just how God fathered this glory.
The syntax here is a little tricky, so let's break it down. First, eliminate "eternal Lord," another re-titling of God and an appositive of "he" in line 3. That means "eternal Lord" is also the subject. Think back to HP: in the sentence "Harry Potter, the boy wizard, rocks," both "Harry Potter" and "the boy wizard" function as the subject.
That leaves us with this: "when he of wonders of every one...the beginning established." Or, in other words: when God established the beginning of every wonder. All of the wonderful things in the universe—the sun, the continents, the herbivores, you name it—have their beginning in God.
So, to recap this heckuva sentence from line 1 to line 4, we have: It's time to start praising God, his power and his awesome creative plans, and particularly his work in the universe creating everything from scratch.
He first created for men's sons
heaven as a roof, holy Creator,

Now Caedmon goes into a little more detail with these wonders and gives us a chronology. Also notice that humans have entered the story now, so the wonders Caedmon lists are in relation to us—or "men's sons," as the poem puts it, masculinely (FYI, Caedmon: women live here too).
So first God creates heaven, which Caedmon compares to a roof in an interesting architectural simile (see "The Kingly" section under "Imagery" for how this might relate to God as a king).
"First" is one of a cluster of "time" words that gives a definite sense of chronology to God's actions. (For more, see "Time" in the "Themes" section.)
then middle-earth mankind's Guardian,
eternal Lord, afterwards made—

Once the sky is created, God makes the earth. The sentence structure is tricky again, with the subject and object in mixed-up places. "Mankind's Guardian" is the subject doing the making and "middle-earth" is the object being made.
Wait, God made Gandalf? One hymn to rule them all, one hymn to find them. One hymn to bring them all and in the darkness bind them. Get your minds out of Tolkien, hobbit-freaks. "Middle-earth" is our earth. It's also another kenning. For more insight, see "Imagery" below.
for men earth,
Master almighty.

The last line is a short summary of the difficult sentence in lines 7-8. God, who is all-powerful, created an earth for the human race.
"Master almighty" is the final title conferred on God and it's a doozy. Read more about it in the "Wordplay" section.
King Hrothgar of Denmark, a descendant of the great king Shield Sheafson, enjoys a prosperous and successful reign. He builds a great mead-hall, called Heorot, where his warriors can gather to drink, receive gifts from their lord, and listen to stories sung by the scops, or bards. But the jubilant noise from Heorot angers Grendel, a horrible demon who lives in the swamplands of Hrothgar's kingdom. Grendel terrorizes the Danes every night, killing them and defeating their efforts to fight back. The Danes suffer many years of fear, danger, and death at the hands of Grendel. Eventually, however, a young Geatish warrior named Beowulf hears of Hrothgar's plight. Inspired by the challenge, Beowulf sails to Denmark with a small company of men, determined to defeat Grendel.

Hrothgar, who had once done a great favor for Beowulf's father Ecgtheow, accepts Beowulf's offer to fight Grendel and holds a feast in the hero's honor. During the feast, an envious Dane named Unferth taunts Beowulf and accuses him of being unworthy of his reputation. Beowulf responds with a boastful description of some of his past accomplishments. His confidence cheers the Danish warriors, and the feast lasts merrily into the night. At last, however, Grendel arrives. Beowulf fights him unarmed, proving himself stronger than the demon, who is terrified. As Grendel struggles to escape, Beowulf tears the monster's arm off. Mortally wounded, Grendel slinks back into the swamp to die. The severed arm is hung high in the mead-hall as a trophy of victory.

Overjoyed, Hrothgar showers Beowulf with gifts and treasure at a feast in his honor. Songs are sung in praise of Beowulf, and the celebration lasts late into the night. But another threat is approaching. Grendel's mother, a swamp-hag who lives in a desolate lake, comes to Heorot seeking revenge for her son's death. She murders Aeschere, one of Hrothgar's most trusted advisers, before slinking away. To avenge Aeschere's death, the company travels to the murky swamp, where Beowulf dives into the water and fights Grendel's mother in her underwater lair. He kills her with a sword forged for a giant, then, finding Grendel's corpse, decapitates it and brings the head as a prize to Hrothgar. The Danish countryside is now purged of its treacherous monsters.

The Danes are again overjoyed, and Beowulf's fame spreads across the kingdom. Beowulf departs after a sorrowful goodbye to Hrothgar, who has treated him like a son. He returns to Geatland, where he and his men are reunited with their king and queen, Hygelac and Hygd, to whom Beowulf recounts his adventures in Denmark. Beowulf then hands over most of his treasure to Hygelac, who, in turn, rewards him.

In time, Hygelac is killed in a war against the Shylfings, and, after Hygelac's son dies, Beowulf ascends to the throne of the Geats. He rules wisely for fifty years, bringing prosperity to Geatland. When Beowulf is an old man, however, a thief disturbs a barrow, or mound, where a great dragon lies guarding a horde of treasure. Enraged, the dragon emerges from the barrow and begins unleashing fiery destruction upon the Geats. Sensing his own death approaching, Beowulf goes to fight the dragon. With the aid of Wiglaf, he succeeds in killing the beast, but at a heavy cost. The dragon bites Beowulf in the neck, and its fiery venom kills him moments after their encounter. The Geats fear that their enemies will attack them now that Beowulf is dead. According to Beowulf's wishes, they burn their departed king's body on a huge funeral pyre and then bury him with a massive treasure in a barrow overlooking the sea.
"The Wanderer" is an Anglo-Saxon poem about a lonely wanderer hopelessly alleviating his woes in the posthumous period of his fallen lord. Characteristic of the Anglo-Saxon period, the poem portrays themes of fraternity and loyalty, allegiance and the tradition of a warrior's passing. Imagery of the warrior, "the byrny-clad warrior, / The prince in his splendor" (86/87) comes traditional as well as communal gatherings of thanes and kings: "he dreams of the hall-men. / The dealing of treasure, the days of his youth. / When his lord bade welcome to wassail and feast." (30-33).

The death of a king, as assumed to be the rank of the fallen kin, is a traditional subject matter for Anglo-Saxon culture; being a warlike culture they feature battle as a daily test of ability centered around the protection and allegiance to one's king. The poem itself is centered on a very lonely and lamentable atmosphere. Cold, bitter, forlorn, the wanderer himself roams in scenery similar to his emotional weariness, and these themes of solitude are addressed consistently by the imagery and the personal reflection of the wanderer. The atmosphere is dreary and interpreted by the speaker "Beholding gray stretches of tossing sea. / Sea-birds bathing, with wings outspread, / While hailstorms darken, and driving snow." (40-43). The setting is hardly a solace for the wanderer's weary heart but it is clear that the imagery in not intended to be a natural reflection of a traditional day but a symbolic reflection of the wanderer's inner torment; harborer of the sage's lament.

The style of the poem has the necessary elements of an Anglo-Saxon poem. The Caesura splitting apart two half-lines and in phrases such as "Homeless and helpless he fled from fate." (5) you have the necessary alliteration to organize the content of the poem. The poem also reflects elements of an Elegy. An Elegy, defined as a poem about the passing of life and the eternal lament of the main character, reveals itself in the cold aura of the imagery and the main subject of the poem itself: sadness of a deceased kinsman. Elements of an Ubi Sunt, another specific form of Anglo-Saxon poetry, are evident in "The Wanderer" for its nostalgic memories of feasts in the meadhalls and "Even in slumber sorrow assaileth. / And, dreaming he claspeth his dear lord again." (35/36).

The sage, as characterized as the speaker of the poem, regrets when he "Fettered my feelings, far from my kin," (19). His physical and emotional exile consume the better part of his days, which once upon a time were spent in comfort with happy lords and plentiful comrades. The imagery is most suitable, but what should be noted is its more crucial importance in this specific poem, for what makes him a wanderer is the vast scenery of seas, shores, halls, earth, night, day, which are all apparent in the poem. Descriptive though they are, what is more essential is the variety that characterizes the character as a wanderer indifferent to his surroundings due to inner turmoil. So the imagery is subtle, yet plentiful.

The other speaker, the narrator, adds his little footnote of the "happy man who seeketh for mercy / From his heavenly Father, our fortress and strength." (107/108) which comes unexpected for its offer of hope and romantic faith but perhaps serves more as a pitiable solace for the wanderer. It is a reflection of weariness and emotional cruelties that bitterly immortalize the wanderer and his forlorn exile. Immortal woe and restlessness relentlessly encompass the wanderer of this Anglo-Saxon poem.
The speaker of "The Seafarer" announces that he can make a true song about himself and the suffering he has endured while traveling over the ocean in the middle of winter. He remembers terrible cold and loneliness, and hearing the sounds of seabirds instead of the mead hall. This life of hardship is one about which the comfortable "city dwellers" know nothing. They'll never understand his suffering, poor guy. The weather worsens as snow and hail fall. His spirit is troubled, urging him to endure the harsh conditions on the winter sea so that he can seek a faraway "foreign" homeland.

Ah, the arrival of spring should help, right? Wrong. It only provokes more wanderlust in the speaker. The cry of the cuckoo, a sign of warmer weather, makes our speaker feel downright down in the dumps. It tells him it's time for yet another journey. The Seafarer's spirit leaps out of his chest and soars all over the world, then returns to him unsatisfied.

He knows the world's riches will not last, since everyone dies and you can't take your possessions with you. Because it's only through the praise of the living after one's death that a person can hope to live forever, people should fight hard against the devil so their bravery will be remembered after their death. That way, they can live forever with the angels. Sweet deal.

The days of earthly glory are over, the speaker tells us, because the wealthy and powerful civilizations have fallen. The party's over, and the weak have inherited the earth. Glory and nobility have faded just like an aging person, whose body and senses fail. No matter how much we try to comfort the dead and ourselves with gold, it won't work because a sinful soul can't take his gold with him after death. He's painting quite the pretty picture, this seafarer guy.

So what's the takeaway point here? Our speaker tells us that it's important to fear God, who created the whole world, and before whom it stands still. Only a fool does not fear God: he will meet his death unprepared. In order to avoid this, a man has to live humbly, control his passions, keep his word, and be fair to both friends and enemies. A man should think about his earthly life, focus on the heavenly home that awaits him, and how to get there. In fact, our speaker suggests, we should all work hard to get to the eternal life, where joy awaits us, thank God, indeed.
The story of the adulterous affair between Lancelot and Guinevere was known to almost every upper-class person in the Middle Ages. Eventually it brought about the ruin of Camelot, the court of King Arthur (Guinevere's husband). After being retold for generations, Guinevere's reputation became rather soiled, as this lay reflects. Arthur was originally Cornish, from the area immediately across the channel from Cornwall. He is portrayed as having conquered all of England, which bordered the still-barbaric lands of Scotland where dwelt the savage Scots and Picts. A very high percentage of Arthurian tales are set at Pentecost because it was associated with the miraculous. See Acts 2:1-13 for an account of the first Pentecost. See p. 2 of the Ovid guide for an explanation of the reference to Semiramis. Octavian was the original name of the first Roman Emperor, Augustus. Both are examples of extreme wealth. A "shift" is an undergarment somewhat like a slip. Note how Lanval pledges his exclusive love to the lady, quite spontaneously and voluntarily. "She granted him her body" means that they made love. A "boon" is a favor of some kind, in this case a magic one. Even in ordinary love affairs secrecy was crucial, but here it has a magical quality. "He was neither foolish nor ill-mannered": this sort of understated complement by negation is common in Medieval narratives. What is the "one dish" that Lanval has in abundance [153-88]? Note that among other generous deeds, Lanval gave clothes to the jongleurs (reciters of poems and tales). As a writer herself Marie takes this as a sign of high virtue. [St. John's Day] In early Arthurian stories, Gawain is the greatest of all knights, renowned for his courtesy and prowess. Later Lancelot tends to supplant him. When Lanval refuses Guenevere's proposition, what reason does he give her? How does she react? Stories like this are common: a shameless woman propositions a man and is rebuffed and takes her revenge by accusing him of trying to seduce her. Such tales are obviously popular among men who want to blame women for all sexual aggression. The direct address to the reader/listener at the end of section [311-51] is another typical Medieval narrative device. The king's use of the term "vassal" is meant to be insulting here. There is great irony, of course, in the king defending the queen's honor when she in fact has attempted to betray him; but what does the king seem to be most worried about? The "pledges" are hostages to guarantee his return. A palfrey is a small horse, often used for carrying loaded packs, suitable for women to ride. Why is the beauty of the damsel so important in [509-46]? Why do you think it is important that the maiden be wearing clothing which partly reveals her body? Her description reveals her to be an absolutely stereotyped Medieval beauty. Avalon is the magical island where the fairies dwell. Medieval fairies were normal-sized and indistinguishable from human beings except by their extraordinary beauty and magical powers. They were often mischievous or even cruel; but this one seems to take compassion on Lanval. What do you think is the lesson taught in this story, and how effectively is it conveyed?
During a New Year's Eve feast at King Arthur's court, a strange figure, referred to only as the Green Knight, pays the court an unexpected visit. He challenges the group's leader or any other brave representative to a game. The Green Knight says that he will allow whomever accepts the challenge to strike him with his own axe, on the condition that the challenger find him in exactly one year to receive a blow in return.

Stunned, Arthur hesitates to respond, but when the Green Knight mocks Arthur's silence, the king steps forward to take the challenge. As soon as Arthur grips the Green Knight's axe, Sir Gawain leaps up and asks to take the challenge himself. He takes hold of the axe and, in one deadly blow, cuts off the knight's head. To the amazement of the court, the now-headless Green Knight picks up his severed head. Before riding away, the head reiterates the terms of the pact, reminding the young Gawain to seek him in a year and a day at the Green Chapel. After the Green Knight leaves, the company goes back to its festival, but Gawain is uneasy.

Time passes, and autumn arrives. On the Day of All Saints, Gawain prepares to leave Camelot and find the Green Knight. He puts on his best armor, mounts his horse, Gringolet, and starts off toward North Wales, traveling through the wilderness of northwest Britain. Gawain encounters all sorts of beasts, suffers from hunger and cold, and grows more desperate as the days pass. On Christmas Day, he prays to find a place to hear Mass, then looks up to see a castle shimmering in the distance. The lord of the castle welcomes Gawain warmly, introducing him to his lady and to the old woman who sits beside her. For sport, the host (whose name is later revealed to be Bertilak) strikes a deal with Gawain: the host will go out hunting with his men every day, and when he returns in the evening, he will exchange his winnings for anything Gawain has managed to acquire by staying behind at the castle. Gawain happily agrees to the pact, and goes to bed.

The first day, the lord hunts a herd of does, while Gawain sleeps late in his bedchambers. On the morning of the first day, the lord's wife sneaks into Gawain's chambers and attempts to seduce him. Gawain puts her off, but before she leaves she steals one kiss from him. That evening, when the host gives Gawain the venison he has captured, Gawain kisses him, since he has won one kiss from the lady. The second day, the lord hunts a wild boar. The lady again enters Gawain's chambers, and this time she kisses Gawain twice. That evening Gawain gives the host the two kisses in exchange for the boar's head.

The third day, the lord hunts a fox, and the lady kisses Gawain three times. She also asks him for a love token, such as a ring or a glove. Gawain refuses to give her anything and refuses to take anything from her, until the lady mentions her girdle. The green silk girdle she wears around her waist is no ordinary piece of cloth, the lady claims, but possesses the magical ability to protect the person who wears it from death. Intrigued, Gawain accepts the cloth, but when it comes time to exchange his winnings with the host, Gawain gives the three kisses but does not mention the lady's green girdle. The host gives Gawain the fox skin he won that day, and they all go to bed happy, but weighed down with the fact that Gawain must leave for the Green Chapel the following morning to find the Green Knight.

New Year's Day arrives, and Gawain dons his armor, including the girdle, then sets off with Gringolet to seek the Green Knight. A guide accompanies him out of the estate grounds. When they reach the border of the forest, the guide promises not to tell anyone if Gawain decides to give up the quest. Gawain refuses, determined to meet his fate head-on. Eventually, he comes to a kind of crevice in a rock, visible through the tall grasses. He hears the whirring of a grindstone, confirming his suspicion that this strange cavern is in fact the Green Chapel. Gawain calls out, and the Green Knight emerges to greet him. Intent on fulfilling the terms of the contract, Gawain presents his neck to the Green Knight, who proceeds to feign two blows. On the third feint, the Green Knight nicks Gawain's neck, barely drawing blood. Angered, Gawain shouts that their contract has been met, but the Green Knight merely laughs.

The Green Knight reveals his name, Bertilak, and explains that he is the lord of the castle where Gawain recently stayed. Because Gawain did not honestly exchange all of his winnings on the third day, Bertilak drew blood on his third blow. Nevertheless, Gawain has proven himself a worthy knight, without equal in all the land. When Gawain questions Bertilak further, Bertilak explains that the old woman at the castle is really Morgan le Faye, Gawain's aunt and King Arthur's half sister. She sent the Green Knight on his original errand and used her magic to change Bertilak's appearance. Relieved to be alive but extremely guilty about his sinful failure to tell the whole truth, Gawain wears the girdle on his arm as a reminder of his own failure. He returns to Arthur's court, where all the knights join Gawain, wearing girdles on their arms to show their support.
General Info: (The Canterbury Tales is a collection of stories written in Middle English. The tales (mostly written in verse although two are in prose) are presented as part of a story-telling contest by a group of pilgrims as they travel together on a journey from Southwark to the shrine of Saint Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral. The prize for this contest is a free meal at the Tabard Inn at Southwark on their return.)

he narrator opens the General Prologue with a description of the return of spring. He describes the April rains, the burgeoning flowers and leaves, and the chirping birds. Around this time of year, the narrator says, people begin to feel the desire to go on a pilgrimage. Many devout English pilgrims set off to visit shrines in distant holy lands, but even more choose to travel to Canterbury to visit the relics of Saint Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral, where they thank the martyr for having helped them when they were in need. The narrator tells us that as he prepared to go on such a pilgrimage, staying at a tavern in Southwark called the Tabard Inn, a great company of twenty-nine travelers entered. The travelers were a diverse group who, like the narrator, were on their way to Canterbury. They happily agreed to let him join them. That night, the group slept at the Tabard, and woke up early the next morning to set off on their journey. Before continuing the tale, the narrator declares his intent to list and describe each of the members of the group.

Analysis

The invocation of spring with which the General Prologue begins is lengthy and formal compared to the language of the rest of the Prologue. The first lines situate the story in a particular time and place, but the speaker does this in cosmic and cyclical terms, celebrating the vitality and richness of spring. This approach gives the opening lines a dreamy, timeless, unfocused quality, and it is therefore surprising when the narrator reveals that he's going to describe a pilgrimage that he himself took rather than telling a love story. A pilgrimage is a religious journey undertaken for penance and grace. As pilgrimages went, Canterbury was not a very difficult destination for an English person to reach. It was, therefore, very popular in fourteenth-century England, as the narrator mentions. Pilgrims traveled to visit the remains of Saint Thomas Becket, archbishop of Canterbury, who was murdered in 1170 by knights of King Henry II. Soon after his death, he became the most popular saint in England. The pilgrimage in The Canterbury Tales should not be thought of as an entirely solemn occasion, because it also offered the pilgrims an opportunity to abandon work and take a vacation.

In line 20, the narrator abandons his unfocused, all-knowing point of view, identifying himself as an actual person for the first time by inserting the first person—"I"—as he relates how he met the group of pilgrims while staying at the Tabard Inn. He emphasizes that this group, which he encountered by accident, was itself formed quite by chance (25-26). He then shifts into the first-person plural, referring to the pilgrims as "we" beginning in line 29, asserting his status as a member of the group.

The narrator ends the introductory portion of his prologue by noting that he has "tyme and space" to tell his narrative. His comments underscore the fact that he is writing some time after the events of his story, and that he is describing the characters from memory. He has spoken and met with these people, but he has waited a certain length of time before sitting down and describing them. His intention to describe each pilgrim as he or she seemed to him is also important, for it emphasizes that his descriptions are not only subject to his memory but are also shaped by his individual perceptions and opinions regarding each of the characters. He positions himself as a mediator between two groups: the group of pilgrims, of which he was a member, and us, the audience, whom the narrator explicitly addresses as "you" in lines 34 and 38.

On the other hand, the narrator's declaration that he will tell us about the "condicioun," "degree," and "array" (dress) of each of the pilgrims suggests that his portraits will be based on objective facts as well as his own opinions. He spends considerable time characterizing the group members according to their social positions. The pilgrims represent a diverse cross section of fourteenth-century English society. Medieval social theory divided society into three broad classes, called "estates": the military, the clergy, and the laity. (The nobility, not represented in the General Prologue, traditionally derives its title and privileges from military duties and service, so it is considered part of the military estate.) In the portraits that we will see in the rest of the General Prologue, the Knight and Squire represent the military estate. The clergy is represented by the Prioress (and her nun and three priests), the Monk, the Friar, and the Parson. The other characters, from the wealthy Franklin to the poor Plowman, are the members of the laity. These lay characters can be further subdivided into landowners (the Franklin), professionals (the Clerk, the Man of Law, the Guildsmen, the Physician, and the Shipman), laborers (the Cook and the Plowman), stewards (the Miller, the Manciple, and the Reeve), and church officers (the Summoner and the Pardoner). As we will see, Chaucer's descriptions of the various characters and their social roles reveal the influence of the medieval genre of estates satire.

Are you ready for the test?
Prologue: Highlights the perfections of the knight: his victories in battle, perfect chivalry, calls him a
truly worthy knight who is dressed meekly in the tradition of pilgrimage. Loves truth,
honor, freedom, and courtesy. He is a model of everything a knight should strive to be.

Long ago in Ancient Greece, a great conqueror and duke named Theseus ruled the city of Athens. One day, four women kneel in front of Theseus's horse and weep, halting his passage into the city. The eldest woman informs him that they are grieving the loss of their husbands, who were killed at the siege of the city of Thebes. Creon, the lord of Thebes, has dishonored them by refusing to bury or cremate their bodies. Enraged at the ladies' plight, Theseus marches on Thebes, which he easily conquers. After returning the bones of their husbands to the four women for the funeral rites, Theseus discovers two wounded enemy soldiers lying on the battlefield, nearing death. Rather than kill them, he mercifully heals the Theban soldiers' injuries, but condemns them to a life of imprisonment in an Athenian tower.

The prisoners, named Palamon and Arcite, are cousins and sworn brothers. Both live in the prison tower for several years. One spring morning, Palamon awakes early, looks out the window, and sees fair-haired Emelye, Theseus's sister-in-law. She is making flower garlands, "To doon honour to May" (1047). He falls in love and moans with heartache. His cry awakens Arcite, who comes to investigate the matter. As Arcite peers out the window, he too falls in love with the beautiful flower-clad maiden. They argue over her, but eventually realize the futility of such a struggle when neither can ever leave the prison.

One day, a duke named Perotheus, friend both to Theseus and Arcite, petitions for Arcite's freedom. Theseus agrees, on the condition that Arcite be banished permanently from Athens on pain of death. Arcite returns to Thebes, miserable and jealous of Palamon, who can still see Emelye every day from the tower. But Palamon, too, grows more sorrowful than ever; he believes that Arcite will lay siege to Athens and take Emelye by force. The knight poses the question to the listeners, rhetorically: who is worse off, Arcite or Palamon?

Summary: Part 2

Some time later, winged Mercury, messenger to the gods, appears to Arcite in a dream and urges him to return to Athens. By this time, Arcite has grown gaunt and frail from lovesickness. He realizes that he could enter the city disguised and not be recognized. He does so and takes on a job as a page in Emelye's chamber under the pseudonym Philostrate. This puts him close to Emelye but not close enough. Wandering in the woods one spring day, he fashions garlands of leaves and laments the conflict in his heart—his desire to return to Thebes and his need to be near his beloved. As it -happens, Palamon has escaped from seven years of imprisonment that very day and hears Arcite's song and monologue while -sneaking through the woods. They confront each other, each claiming the right to Emelye. Arcite challenges his old friend to a duel the next day. They meet in a field and bludgeon each other ruthlessly.

Theseus, out on a hunt, finds these two warriors brutally hacking away at each other. Palamon reveals their identities and love for Emelye. He implores the duke to justly decide their fate, suggesting that they both deserve to die. Theseus is about to respond by killing them, but the women of his court—especially his queen and Emelye—intervene, pleading for Palamon and Arcite's lives. The duke consents and decides instead to hold a tournament fifty weeks from that day. The two men will be pitted against one another, each with a hundred of the finest men he can gather. The winner will be awarded Emelye's hand.

Analysis

The Knight's Tale is a romance that encapsulates the themes, motifs, and ideals of courtly love: love is like an illness that can change the lover's physical appearance, the lover risks death to win favor with his lady, and he is inspired to utter eloquent poetic complaints. The lovers go without sleep because they are tormented by their love, and for many years they pine away hopelessly for an unattainable woman. The tale is set in mythological Greece, but Chaucer's primary source for it is Boccaccio's Teseida, an Italian poem written about thirty years before The Canterbury Tales. As was typical of medieval and Renaissance romances, ancient Greece is imagined as quite similar to feudal Europe, with knights and dukes instead of heroes, and various other medieval features.

Summary: Part 3

Theseus prepares for the tournament by constructing an enormous stadium. By its gate, he erects three temples to the gods—one for Venus, the goddess of love; one for Mars, the god of war; and one for Diana, the goddess of chastity. The Knight provides a lengthy description of each temple. The tournament nears, spectators assemble, and both Palamon and Arcite arrive with impressive armies. The Sunday before the tournament, Palamon visits the temple of Venus and supplicates her in the night. He tells her of his desire for Emelye and requests that she bring him victory in the name of love. The statue of Venus makes an enigmatic "sign" (the reader isn't told what the sign is), which Palamon interprets as a positive answer, and he departs confident. That dawn, Emelye also rises and goes to the temple of Diana. Desirous to remain a virgin—"a mayden al my lyf" (2305)—she begs Diana to prevent the impending marriage. But an image of Diana appears and informs her that she must marry one of the Thebans. Obedient, Emelye retires to her chamber.

Arcite walks to the temple of Mars and begs the god of war for victory in the battle. He, too, receives a positive sign: the doors of the temple clang, and he hears the statue of Mars whisper, "Victorie!" (2433). Like Palamon, Arcite departs the temple in high hopes for the coming day. The scene then shifts to the gods themselves. Saturn, Venus's father, assures her cryptically that despite Mars's aid to Arcite, Palamon will have his lady in the end.

Summary: Part 4

The Firste Moevere of the cause above,
Whan he first made the faire cheyne of love,
Greet was th'effect, and heigh was his entente.
(See Important Quotations Explained)

After much feasting, the spectators assemble in the stadium. The magnificent armies enter, appearing evenly matched. After Theseus has sternly delivered the rules, the bloody battle of flashing swords and maces begins. Though Palamon fights valiantly, Arcite sees his chance and brings Palamon "to the stake"—he claims him with a sword at his throat. Emelye rejoices as Theseus proclaims Arcite victorious. Venus, on the other hand, weeps with shame that her knight lost, until Saturn calms her and signals that all is not over. At Saturn's request, the earth shakes beneath Arcite as he rides toward Theseus. The knight's horse throws him, crushing his chest. Gravely wounded, the company transports Arcite to bed, where physicians attempt in vain to heal him. Arcite expresses his love to Emelye, and then tells her that if she decides to marry another, she should remember Palamon, who possesses the qualities of a worthy knight—"trouthe, honour, knyghthede, / Wysdom, humblesse" (2789-2790).

All of Athens mourns Arcite's death. Emelye, Theseus, and Palamon are inconsolable. Theseus's father, Egeus, takes Theseus aside and tells him that every man must live and die—life is a journey through woe that must, at some point, come to an end. After some years pass, the mourners heal, with the exception of Emelye and Palamon, who continue to go about sorrowfully, dressed in black. During one parliament at Athens, Theseus berates the two for grieving too much. He reminds them that God ordains that all must die, and refusal to accept death is therefore folly. He requests that they cease mourning, and that his wife's sister take Palamon for her husband and lord. They obey, and as they realize the wisdom of Theseus's advice over many years, Emelye and Palamon enjoy a long, loving, and happy marriage.

Analysis

Because Egeus has lived long enough to witness Fortune's rising and falling pattern, he is the only human character in the Knight's Tale who understands that Fortune's wheel is the plot's driving force. Egeus is therefore the only man capable of comforting Theseus amid the general lament over Arcite's accidental death. In his final speech to Palamon and Emelye, Theseus shows that he has learned his lesson from Egeus. Echoing the old man's words, the duke argues that excessive mourning over disaster is inappropriate. His speech conveys a message of humility, instead of an attempt to explain the meaning of Arcite's death. A benevolent order may exist in the universe, Theseus asserts, but human beings should not seek to pry into it, or set themselves against it by prolonging mourning too long.

The gods, whose role is to develop instability in the lives of the characters, are the instruments of Fortune. The Knight's extensive descriptions of the symbolic decorations of the temples of Venus, Mars, and Diana help shed light on the gods' roles. The walls in Venus's temple depict the traditional sufferings of the courtly lover—sleeplessness, sighing, and burning desire. But they also portray the sinfulness that love can cause—lust, jealousy, idleness, and adultery—a more Christian, moralistic message. Moreover, these walls also present love's invincibility and irresistibility, in scenes taken from Ovid's Metamorphoses. The relationship among these three ideas of love is left unresolved.

Summary: Part 3

Theseus prepares for the tournament by constructing an enormous stadium. By its gate, he erects three temples to the gods—one for Venus, the goddess of love; one for Mars, the god of war; and one for Diana, the goddess of chastity. The Knight provides a lengthy description of each temple. The tournament nears, spectators assemble, and both Palamon and Arcite arrive with impressive armies. The Sunday before the tournament, Palamon visits the temple of Venus and supplicates her in the night. He tells her of his desire for Emelye and requests that she bring him victory in the name of love. The statue of Venus makes an enigmatic "sign" (the reader isn't told what the sign is), which Palamon interprets as a positive answer, and he departs confident. That dawn, Emelye also rises and goes to the temple of Diana. Desirous to remain a virgin—"a mayden al my lyf" (2305)—she begs Diana to prevent the impending marriage. But an image of Diana appears and informs her that she must marry one of the Thebans. Obedient, Emelye retires to her chamber.

Arcite walks to the temple of Mars and begs the god of war for victory in the battle. He, too, receives a positive sign: the doors of the temple clang, and he hears the statue of Mars whisper, "Victorie!" (2433). Like Palamon, Arcite departs the temple in high hopes for the coming day. The scene then shifts to the gods themselves. Saturn, Venus's father, assures her cryptically that despite Mars's aid to Arcite, Palamon will have his lady in the end.

Summary: Part 4

The Firste Moevere of the cause above,
Whan he first made the faire cheyne of love,
Greet was th'effect, and heigh was his entente.
(See Important Quotations Explained)

After much feasting, the spectators assemble in the stadium. The magnificent armies enter, appearing evenly matched. After Theseus has sternly delivered the rules, the bloody battle of flashing swords and maces begins. Though Palamon fights valiantly, Arcite sees his chance and brings Palamon "to the stake"—he claims him with a sword at his throat. Emelye rejoices as Theseus proclaims Arcite victorious. Venus, on the other hand, weeps with shame that her knight lost, until Saturn calms her and signals that all is not over. At Saturn's request, the earth shakes beneath Arcite as he rides toward Theseus. The knight's horse throws him, crushing his chest. Gravely wounded, the company transports Arcite to bed, where physicians attempt in vain to heal him. Arcite expresses his love to Emelye, and then tells her that if she decides to marry another, she should remember Palamon, who possesses the qualities of a worthy knight—"trouthe, honour, knyghthede, / Wysdom, humblesse" (2789-2790).

All of Athens mourns Arcite's death. Emelye, Theseus, and Palamon are inconsolable. Theseus's father, Egeus, takes Theseus aside and tells him that every man must live and die—life is a journey through woe that must, at some point, come to an end. After some years pass, the mourners heal, with the exception of Emelye and Palamon, who continue to go about sorrowfully, dressed in black. During one parliament at Athens, Theseus berates the two for grieving too much. He reminds them that God ordains that all must die, and refusal to accept death is therefore folly. He requests that they cease mourning, and that his wife's sister take Palamon for her husband and lord. They obey, and as they realize the wisdom of Theseus's advice over many years, Emelye and Palamon enjoy a long, loving, and happy marriage.

Analysis

Because Egeus has lived long enough to witness Fortune's rising and falling pattern, he is the only human character in the Knight's Tale who understands that Fortune's wheel is the plot's driving force. Egeus is therefore the only man capable of comforting Theseus amid the general lament over Arcite's accidental death. In his final speech to Palamon and Emelye, Theseus shows that he has learned his lesson from Egeus. Echoing the old man's words, the duke argues that excessive mourning over disaster is inappropriate. His speech conveys a message of humility, instead of an attempt to explain the meaning of Arcite's death. A benevolent order may exist in the universe, Theseus asserts, but human beings should not seek to pry into it, or set themselves against it by prolonging mourning too long.

The gods, whose role is to develop instability in the lives of the characters, are the instruments of Fortune. The Knight's extensive descriptions of the symbolic decorations of the temples of Venus, Mars, and Diana help shed light on the gods' roles. The walls in Venus's temple depict the traditional sufferings of the courtly lover—sleeplessness, sighing, and burning desire. But they also portray the sinfulness that love can cause—lust, jealousy, idleness, and adultery—a more Christian, moralistic message. Moreover, these walls also present love's invincibility and irresistibility, in scenes taken from Ovid's Metamorphoses. The relationship among these three ideas of love is left unresolved.
The pilgrims applaud the Knight's Tale, and the pleased Host asks the Monk to match it. Before the Monk can utter a word, however, the Miller interrupts. Drunk and belligerent, he promises that he has a "noble" tale that will repay the Knight's (3126). The Host tries to persuade the Miller to let some "bettre" man tell the next tale (3130). When the Miller threatens to leave, however, the Host acquiesces. After the Miller reminds everyone that he is drunk and therefore shouldn't be held accountable for anything he says, he introduces his tale as a legend and a life of a carpenter and of his wife, and of how a clerk made a fool of the carpenter, which everyone understands to mean that the clerk slept with the carpenter's wife (3141-3143). The Reeve shouts out his immediate objection to such ridicule, but the Miller insists on proceeding with his tale. He points out that he is married himself, but doesn't worry whether some other man is sleeping with his wife, because it is none of his business. The narrator apologizes to us in advance for the tale's bawdiness, and warns that those who are easily offended should skip to another tale.

The Miller begins his story: there was once an Oxford student named Nicholas, who studied astrology and was well acquainted with the art of love. Nicholas boarded with a wealthy but ignorant old carpenter named John, who was jealous and highly possessive of his sexy eighteen-year-old wife, Alisoun. One day, the carpenter leaves, and Nicholas and Alisoun begin flirting. Nicholas grabs Alisoun, and she threatens to cry for help. He then begins to cry, and after a few sweet words, she agrees to sleep with him when it is safe to do so. She is worried that John will find out, but Nicholas is confident he can outwit the carpenter.

Nicholas is not alone in desiring Alisoun. A merry, vain parish clerk named Absolon also fancies Alisoun. He serenades her every night, buys her gifts, and gives her money, but to no avail—Alisoun loves Nicholas. Nicholas devises a plan that will allow him and Alisoun to spend an entire night together. He has Alisoun tell John that Nicholas is ill. John sends a servant to check on his boarder, who arrives to find Nicholas immobile, staring at the ceiling. When the servant reports back to John, John is not surprised, saying that madness is what one gets for inquiring into "Goddes pryvetee," which is what he believes Nicholas's astronomy studies amount to. Nevertheless, he feels sorry for the student and goes to check on him.

Nicholas tells John he has had a vision from God and offers to tell John about it. He explains that he has foreseen a terrible event. The next Monday, waters twice as great as Noah's flood will cover the land, exterminating all life. The carpenter believes him and fears for his wife, just what Nicholas had hoped would occur. Nicholas instructs John to fasten three tubs, each loaded with provisions and an ax, to the roof of the barn. On Monday night, they will sleep in the tubs, so that when the flood comes, they can release the tubs, hack through the roof, and float until the water subsides. Nicholas also warns John that it is God's commandment that they may do nothing but pray once they are in the tubs—no one is to speak a word.

Monday night arrives, and Nicholas, John, and Alisoun ascend by ladder into the hanging tubs. As soon as the carpenter begins to snore, Nicholas and Alisoun climb down, run back to the house, and sleep together in the carpenter's bed. In the early dawn, Absolon passes by. Hoping to stop in for a kiss, or perhaps more, from Alisoun, Absalon sidles up to the window and calls to her. She harshly replies that she loves another. Absolon persists, and Alisoun offers him one quick kiss in the dark.

Absolon leaps forward eagerly, offering a lingering kiss. But it is not her lips he finds at the window, but her "naked ers [arse]" (3734). She and Nicholas collapse with laughter, while Absolon blindly tries to wipe his mouth. Determined to avenge Alisoun's prank, Absolon hurries back into town to the blacksmith and obtains a red-hot iron poker. He returns with it to the window and knocks again, asking for a kiss and promising Alisoun a golden ring. This time, Nicholas, having gotten up to relieve himself anyway, sticks his rear out the window and farts thunderously in Absolon's face. Absolon brands Nicholas's buttocks with the poker. Nicholas leaps up and cries out, "Help! Water! Water!" (3815). John, still hanging from the roof, wakes up and assumes Nicholas's cries mean that the flood has come. He grabs the ax, cuts free the tub, and comes crashing to the ground, breaking his arm. The noise and commotion attract many of the townspeople. The carpenter tells the story of the predicted flood, but Nicholas and Alisoun pretend ignorance, telling everyone that the carpenter is mad. The townspeople laugh that all have received their dues, and the Miller merrily asks that God save the company.
Analysis

Thus swyved was this carpenteris wyf,
For al his kepyng and his jalousye;
And Absolon hath kist hir nether ye;
And Nicholas is scalded in the towte.
(See Important Quotations Explained)

In the Miller's Prologue, we perceive tension between social classes for the first time in The Canterbury Tales. The Host clearly wants the Monk to tell the second tale, so that the storytelling proceeds according to social rank. By butting in, the Miller upsets the Host's plan. Like the Knight's Tale, which fits his honorable and virtuous personality, the Miller's Tale is stereotypical of the Miller's bawdy character and low station. However, nothing about the drunken, immoral, and brutal Miller could possibly prepare the reader for the Miller's elegant verse and beautiful imagery. The Miller's description of Alisoun draws on a completely different stock of images from the Knight's depiction of Emelye, but it is no less effective. Whereas Emelye is compared to a rose, a lily, the spring, and an angel, Alisoun's body is delicate and slender like a weasel, her apron is as white as morning milk, and her features are compared to plums and pear trees. The Miller's imagery is less conventional and less elevated than the Knight's, drawn instead from the details of village or farm life.

Although the narrator is unforgiving in his depiction of the drunk, rowdy Miller, whom he presents according to the stereotypes of the Miller's class and profession, there are a few intriguing points of similarity between the narrator and the Miller. For instance, the Miller apologizes for the tale he is about to tell, and transfers all blame to the "ale of Southwerk"—in effect, to the Host himself (3140). Thirty lines later, the narrator himself makes a similar apology, and reminds his audience to blame the Miller if it finds the tale offensive. Also, the Miller begins his story by giving little portraits of each of his characters, just as the narrator begins his story of the pilgrimage by outlining each of its members.

The Host asks the Monk to "quite," or repay, the Knight's Tale (3119). But when the Miller interrupts and cries out that he can "quite the Knyghtes [Knight's] tale," he changes the word somewhat to mean "revenge" (3127). Indeed, the Miller does take "revenge" upon the Knight to an extent. Just as he transforms the meaning of the word "quite," the Miller takes several of the themes from the Knight's Tale and alters them. For instance, the Knight's Tale suggested that human suffering is part of a divine plan that mortals cannot hope to know. In a completely different tone and context, the Miller, too, cautions against prying into "God's pryvetee," meaning God's secrets (3164). He first raises this idea in his Prologue, arguing that a man shouldn't take it upon himself to assume that his wife is unfaithful. In the Miller's Tale, John repeats the caution against prying into "God's pryvetee." Several times, John scolds Nicholas for trying to know "God's pryvetee," but when Nicholas actually offers to let John in on his secret, John jumps at the chance. John also jealously tries to control his young wife, reminding us that the Miller equated an attempt to know God's "pryvetee" with a husband's attempt to know about his wife's "private parts." The two round tubs that the foolish carpenter hangs from the roof of his barn, one on either side of a long trough, suggest an obscene visual pun on this vulgar meaning of "God's pryvetee."

The Miller's Tale also responds to the Knight's by turning the Knight's courtly love into a burlesque farce. The Miller places his lovers' intrigues in a lower-class context, satirizing the pretensions of long-suffering courtly lovers by portraying Nicholas and Alisoun in a frank and sexually graphic manner—Nicholas seduces Alisoun by grabbing her by the pudendum, or "queynte" (3276). Absolon, the parish clerk, represents a parody of the conventional courtly lover. He stays awake at night, patiently woos his lady by means of go-betweens, sings and plays guitar, and aspires to be Alisoun's page or servant. For his pains, all he gets is the chance to kiss Alisoun's anus and to be farted on by Nicholas.

In addition to parodying tales of courtly love, the Miller's Tale also plays with the medieval genres of fabliaux and of mystery plays. Fabliaux are bawdy, comic tales that build to a ridiculous and complex climax usually hinging on some joke or trick. Nicholas is parody of the traditional clever cleric in a fabliau. As the deviser of the scheme to trick John, he seems to be attempting to write his own fabliau, although Absolon foils his plan. Yet, John is still the big loser in the end. The moral of the play is that John should not have married someone so young: "Men sholde wedden after hire estaat [their estate], / For youthe and elde [old age] is often at debaat" (3229-3230). Justice is served in the Miller's eyes when Alisoun commits adultery, because she revenges her husband "[f]or . . . his jalousye" (3851). Despite their differences, the two clerics ally at the story's end to dupe the carpenter, and so nobody believes John's story about Nicholas's trick.

The Miller's Tale also includes references to different scenes acted out in medieval mystery plays. Mystery plays, which typically enacted stories of God, Jesus, and the saints, were the main source of biblical education for lay folk in the Middle Ages. As John's gullibility shows, his education through mystery plays means that he has only a slight understanding of the Bible. The Miller begins his biblical puns in his Prologue, when he says that he will speak in "[Pontius] Pilates" place. His statement that he will tell "a legende and a lyf / Bothe of a carpenter and of his wyf" is a reference to the story of Joseph and Mary. "Legends and lives" were written and told of the saints, and the story in which Joseph finds out that Mary is pregnant (and the many jokes that could be made about Mary being unfaithful) was a common subject of mystery plays. The stories of Noah's flood, and of Noah's wife, are also obviously twisted around by the Miller. These biblical puns work up to the climax of the tale. When he says that Nicholas's fart was as great as a "thonder-dent," the Miller aligns Nicholas—the creator of the action—with God (3807). Absolon, who cries out, "My soule bitake I unto Sathanas [Satan]" (3750), becomes a version of the devil, who damns God by sticking him with his red-hot poker. The result of Absolon's actions is that John falls from the roof in a pun on the fall of humanity.
Prologue: Wife claims to be an authority figure regarding marriage because of the multiple ones
she's had. Has her own views of Scripture and God's plan. She admits that many great Fathers of the Church have proclaimed the importance of virginity, such as the Apostle Paul. But, she reasons, even if virginity is important, someone must be procreating so that virgins can be created. Views her verbal and sexual power as a gift from God to be used to bring her husbands to total submission. Interrupted by the Pardoner who is now concerned about his upcoming marriage. She tells him to just listen to her tale.

Tale: Knight in Arthur's court rapes a maiden. King A captures knight, sentences to death.
Queen Guen interferes telling the knight his life will be spared if he can successfully tell
her what women most desire giving him a year to search for the answer. Asked
everywhere, but found no true answer. Sees old hag, and she agrees to tell him the
answer if he will marry her. He agrees with no options left. Takes her and her answer to
court saying that women most desire sovereignty over their husbands. Answer is
accepted. Knight marries hag. On wedding night, hag upset that he is repulsed by her.
She reminds him that her looks can be an asset because she will be a virtuous wife to
him because no other men would desire her. She asks him what he would prefer - an old
ugly hag who is loyal, true and humble or a beautiful woman whom he would always have
doubts about concerning her faithfulness. The Knight responds that the choice was hers,
an answer which pleases her greatly. Now that she has won power over him, she asks
him to kiss her, promising beauty and fidelity. Hag turns into beautiful woman. Both are happy. (Keep in mind who is telling the tale)
Part 1: Gawain's brothers Aggravain and Mordred, hating the queen and Launcelot,
speak of their adulterous love before numerous knights. Gawain, Gareth,
and others ask the trouble-makers to say no more and expect no support from them.
Aggravain and
Mordred nevertheless inform Arthur, who in fact has known for a long time and has
ignored the matter for love of them both (This is hinted at more than factually stated, but
you could argue this as truth and it be seen as a valid argument) He grudgingly consents to Aggravain's plan to trap them now that the shame is public. The jealous brothers spring their trap;
Launcelot kills Aggravain with twelve of his knights and wounds Mordred, who flees.
Arthur judges Guinevere to be burned, as law requires. Gawain pleads against it and
refuses to have any part in it; his young brothers Gareth and Gaheris beg to be excused as executioners or guards. All Launcelot's house urges him to rescue the queen, as he
himself desires, and so when the queen is lashed to the stake Launcelot comes, kills all
those standing around her-including Gareth and Gaheris, who are unarmed, and takes
her with him.
Part 2: When Gawain hears of the death of his young brothers, he drops his love for Launcelot and swears he will be avenged. He persuades Arthur to lay siege to Lance's refuge. Arthur and Launcelot parley and Arthur is ready to drop the siege, but Gawain will not hear of it. The pope requires Arthur and Launcelot to make peace and orders Launcelot to return Guinevere to the king. Launcelot obeys; Gawain reaffirms his vow of vengeance; and Launcelot is banished and returns to his own country with all his forces.
Part 3: At Gawain's insistence, Arthur attacks Launcelot's lands, leaving England and Guinevere in Mordred's safekeeping. Gawain fights nobly, but Launcelot will not come against him because of their former love. Finally, when Gawain calls Launcelot a traitor, shaming him before his people, Launcelot is forced to defend his honor. Launcelot beats Gawain but refuses to kill him.
Gawain is carried back to Arthur's tents and lies there three weeks to let his wounds heal. As soon as he can sit on a horse he challenges Launcelot again, and again Launcelot is forced to fight. He again hacks Gawain almost to death but stops at the last moment, leaving his former friend howling and whining in impotent rage. Then comes news of Mordred's treason.
Part 4: Mordred makes himself King of England and incestuously claims Guinevere as his wife.
In the first battle against Mordred, Gawain is mortally wounded. He admits to Arthur that if it were not for his insane pride in insisting on unjust revenge, Launcelot would be here now to save the kingdom; Gawain dies.
Meet for last Battle. All who love Lance fight with Mordred against Arthur. The night before the battle, Arthur first dreams he is on the Wheel of Fortune, sitting on a throne and dressed in the richest gold that can be made.
He then dreams Gawain and a number of ladies come to him to warn him against fighting in the morning for if Arthur fights, he will die; if he waits for a month, Launcelot will be here to help him.
Arthur asks a truce, but an adder appears, a knight unthinkingly draws his sword to kill sending the two armies to war. End of battle, Mordred is the only man left, and Arthur has only two knights, Sir Lucan and Sir Bedivere. Against Sir Lucan's advice, Arthur fights Mordred and kills him, but he gets his own death wound as he does it. Arthur is dying. Sends Bedivere to throw Excalibur into the lake nearby. The hand of the Lady of the Lake catches the sword and takes it under water.Then at Arthur's command, Bedivere carries the king to the waterside, where a barge awaits him and some ladies in black hoods. Then he is borne away to Avalon, perhaps to heal his wounds, perhaps to die. Bedivere wanders through a forest until he comes to where a hermit is kneeling over a fresh grave. It is the grave of a man brought to him at midnight by ladies in black. Whether or not the body is really that of Arthur, no one knows.
Part 5: When Launcelot hears of the death of Arthur and Gawain, he comes to England. He looks for the queen and finds her in a nunnery. For love of Guinevere as much as for remorse he takes on the habit of a priest. Guided by visions, he goes to Almesbury, where he finds Guinevere dead. He buries her beside King Arthur, then sickens and dies himself. The remnants of the Round Table are dispersed. Some go to the Holy Land to fight the infidel. The rest wander off.
In this rollicking and stylistically daring work of prose fiction, Nashe's protagonist Jack Wilton adventures through the European continent and finds himself swept up in the currents of sixteenth-century history. Episodic in nature, the narrative jumps from place to place and danger to danger. Jack begins his tale among fellow Englishmen at a military encampment, where he swindles his superiors out of alcohol and money, framing others as traitors. Commenting by the way on the grotesque sweating sickness, Jack arrives in Munster, Germany, to observe the massacre of John Leyden's Anabaptist faction by the Emperor and the Duke of Saxony; this brutal episode enables Nashe to reflect on religious hypocrisy, a theme to which he frequently returns.

Following the massacre of the Anabaptists at Munster, Jack Wilton has a number of personal encounters with historical figures of the sixteenth century, many of them important for their literary contributions. Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey functions as a sustained travel partner for Jack, and the two journey to Italy to fulfill the Earl's pledge to defend the honor of his beloved Geraldine in a tournament. Surrey's grandiloquent praise for Geraldine evinces clearly the author's ability to play with literary history, for although the poet was in truth married to Frances Howard, Nashe fashions her into the beloved object of the poet's courtly affections. Surrey and Jack pass through Rotterdam, where they meet both Erasmus and Sir Thomas More, who are at work on their important prose works The Praise of Folly and Utopia. Following this episode, the pair reaches the university city of Wittenberg, which enables Nashe to mock the customs of Renaissance academia, especially its convoluted orations and bizarre gestures and body language. Following the orations, the magician Cornelius Agrippa reveals in an enchanted mirror the image of Surrey's beloved, "weeping on her bed, and resolved all into devout religion for the absence of her love."[1] The image causes Surrey to burst into poetry and spurs him forward with his new page Jack.

Passing into Italy, the land where the remainder of the narrative unfolds, Jack and Surrey exchange identities as a security measure and because the earl means "to take more liberty of behaviour."[2] The two engage in acts of deceit and trickery with pimps, prostitutes, and counterfeiters. Forced to dig themselves out of a succession of plots, the disguised Jack and Surrey assume much of the duplicitous behaviour that Italians were stereotypically known for in Renaissance England. Commenting on the pander Petro de Campo Frego, Jack states that "he planted in us the first Italianate wit that we had."[3] While imprisoned for fraud, Surrey and Jack meet Diamante, who had been falsely accused of adultery and cast out by her husband; Jack takes her up as his romantic companion and financier. All three characters are freed soon enough thanks to an English connection to the famous satirist Pietro Aretino. Nashe, who professed elsewhere his own desires to emulate Aretino's literary style, offers praise for the satirist as "one of the wittiest knaves that ever God made."[4]

Departing from Venice, Surrey and Jack arrive in Florence, the city where Geraldine was born. Surrey is overcome with poetry and speaks a sonnet in honor of her fair room, a moment in which Nashe can slyly mock the overbearing, lovesick verse of contemporary imitators of Petrarch. The copia of Surrey's verse then gives way to a tournament in which the Earl competes for his beloved's fair name, and Nashe offers gratuitous descriptions of the competitors' armor and horses in a manner that recalls printed accounts of early modern masques and other festive spectacles. The most worthy competitor, Surrey emerges from the tournament victorious, but is suddenly called back into England for business matters.

Jack and Diamante then travel to Rome, which Jack admires for its classical ruins (he is less impressed by its religious relics). By this point in time, Jack clearly sticks out as a foreigner and a tourist, "imitat[ing] four or five sundry nations in my attire at once." [5] After praising the marvelous wonders of artificially-engineered gardens and lamenting the gruesome, simultaneous realities of the plague, the protagonist stumbles into one of the most memorable episodes of the narrative. Esdras of Granado and his lackey Bartol the Italian break into the house where he and Diamante are lodging, and Esdras rapes the virtuous matron Heraclide, who commits suicide after an eloquent oration. Jack witnesses the episode "through a cranny of my upper chamber unsealed,"[6] and some critics believe this act of voyeurism makes Jack complicit in the act of rape.[7]

Heraclide's husband accuses Jack of the rape, but another English character known as the "Banished Earl" stays Jack's execution. This comes at a slight cost, however; banned from his beloved home country, the Earl rattles off a catalogue of reasons to avoid travel at all costs. In Italy, one only learns "the art of atheism, the art of epicurizing, the art of whoring, the art of poisoning, the art of sodomitry."[8] France gains one only a knowledge of wine and the "French disease," syphilis. In Spain, one only acquires strange clothing. The Dutch excel only in their drinking. Such an admonitory catalogue follows the precepts found in the writings of the Elizabethan education theorist Roger Ascham, who warned his fellow Englishmen about the dangers of Italy and its books.[9]

In spite of the Banished English Earl's suggestions, Jack remains in Italy in search of his beloved Diamante. In so doing, he becomes entangled with and entrapped by Zadok the Jew and Zachary, the Papal Physician, who plan to use Jack as a specimen at the anatomical college. Freed from the brutal pair by the wiles of Juliana, the Pope's courtesan, Jack reunites with Diamante and robs Juliana of her goods, while Zachary flees and Zadok faces a grotesque combination of torture and execution.

The final episode of The Unfortunate Traveller returns to the character of Esdras, who figures now as a victim. At Bologna, Jack and Diamante observe the public execution of Cutwolf, the brother of Esdras's lackey Bartol. Standing before the crowd, Cutwolf delivers a speech recounting his vile actions. Seeking vengeance for his brother's murder, Cutwolf tracked down the villain Esdras, confronted him, and forced him to blaspheme against God and against salvation before discharging a pistol into his mouth, thereby damning his soul eternally in death. Self-righteously, he declares in his own defense before the crowd that "This is the fault that hath called me hither. No true Italian but will honour me for it. Revenge is the glory of arms and the highest performance of valour." [10] In spite of such an oration, Cutwolf joins the ranks of the narrative's brutally-executed characters, and Jack and his newly-wed Diamante flee out of "the Sodom of Italy" back toward the English encampment in France, where the story first began.
The Discourse of Raphael Hythloday on the best state of a Commonwealth, Book Two: As Recounted by Thomas More, Citizen and Sheriff of London
The island of Utopia is kind of shaped like a crescent moon with two horns at the end that opens onto a large, peaceful bay. There's a big harbor on one side, so lots of ships sail from one end of the island to the other. There's one big rock right in the middle of the bay with a watchtower on top.
The entrance to the bay is a bit tricky, what with super shallow water on one side and super sharp rocks on the other. That means strange ships can't really come in unless they have some help from a Utopian pilot who knows the various landmarks.
In fact, if the Utopians wanted to totally destroy an enemy fleet, all they'd have to do is rearrange those landmarks. Sneaky.
On the other side of the island, it's mostly incredibly rocky, making it a natural defense against enemies.
Apparently, the island of Utopia wasn't always an island. Utopus, who conquered the country and made it into a beacon of intellect and culture, decided to also change how it looked. After conquering the locals, he formed a man-made channel to separate one area from the rest of the continent, transforming it into an island.
Utopus ordered not just the native people to help with this project, but had his own soldiers pitch in too; he actually didn't want to make the people he conquered feel any more put down.
With so many helpers, the work went pretty quickly and the neighboring countries were pretty intimidated.
Utopia has fifty-four cities and each one is pretty much exactly the same: all nice, same language, same habits, same laws—you get the idea. In fact, they're practically identical since they're all built on the same plan and they're spaced apart so that it's never any longer than a day's walk between each city.
Once every year, each city sends three of its best residents to the capital, Amaurot, to chat about official island business.
Every city isn't just a city, but also includes a nice amount of farm land, which stays intact because Utopian city-dwellers aren't greedy for more land. Instead, they sprinkle the country with a small number of well-placed country-houses (no suburban developments on this island!).
Every country-house has at least forty workers, plus two slaves (yep, you read that right—slaves) as well as a master and mistress. There's also a kind of "community leader" who is in charge of thirty households.
The country and the city have a little exchange program going on, where twenty country-dwellers swap with twenty city-dwellers and each learn new skills. It's a good system because everyone gets exposure to different ways of living, but no one is stuck doing one thing unless they really like it.
Farm jobs include the usual farm stuff... except people are in charge of hatching chickens so the chicks get attached to their humans and follow them around (aww!). They raise just a few horses and some oxen, too.
They don't make beer (unlike England!), only wine. And they always have a surplus of food. With the surplus, they make sure everyone gets what they need.
(Areopagitica is a prose polemical (topic is controversial) tract against censorship written at the height of the English Civil War. Areopagitica is among history's most influential and impassioned philosophical defences of the principle of a right to freedom of speech and expression, which was written in opposition to licensing and censorship. It was distributed via pamphlet, defying the same publication censorship he argued against. Famous quotes: "For books are not absolutely dead things, but do contain a potency of life in them to be as active as that soul whose progeny they are; nay, they do preserve as in a vial the purest efficacy and extraction of that living intellect that bred them." ; "Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties.")
Published in England in 1644 as an appeal to Parliament to rescind their Licensing Order of 1643. This order was designed to bring publishing under government control by creating a number of official censors to whom authors would submit their work for approval prior to having it published. Milton's argument was that pre-censorship of authors was little more than an excuse for "state control of thought." Recognizing that some means of accountability was necessary to ensure that libellous or other illegal works were kept under control, Milton felt this could be achieved by ensuring the legal responsibility of printers and authors for the content of what they published.
In this essay, attacks on Catholicism should be read with the context of the English Civil War kept in mind. Although the English had had some form of censorship since about 1530, Milton tried to shame Parliament into adopting his views by claiming it a recent Catholic import and the principal opponent of the Protestant Parliament. (His attacks on Catholicism are a manipulation device used on the Protestant Gov. to help him win his case)
There's this dude named Cinyras; he's got a daughter named Myrrha. (The trouble begins.)
It turns that out Myrrha likes her dad way too much; the young girl passionately lusts after her own father. (In some versions, Myrrha's incestuous love is inflicted on her by Venus (Aphrodite) as a punishment for neglecting her worship of the goddess.)
Eventually, Myrrha becomes so ashamed of her lust that she decides to hang herself.
At the last minute, her nurse busts onto the scene and stops her from doing it.
Myrrha tells her nurse what's wrong.
At first, the nurse is like, "Ew gross! You're totally insane," but Myrrha keeps whining about it, so the nurse finally agrees to help the girl.
During a festival of Ceres (Demeter), the nurse approaches Cinyras when he's blisteringly drunk and lookin' for love.
The nurse says "Hey big fella, I know a little lady who is all about some Cinyras."
Cinyras is definitely interested.
So Cinyras unknowingly sleeps with his daughter for several nights. (He never knew it was her, because the lights weren't on.)
One night, he gets curious though, and he brings an oil lamp in to check out who it is. (That's always a bad idea. Doesn't he know the myth of "Cupid and Psyche"?)
He's so grossed out when he sees that it's his own daughter that he pulls out his sword and tries to kill her.
Myrrha hightails it out of there and avoids getting chopped up by her father.
She wanders all around for a while.
Things get more complicated when Myrrha discovers that she's pregnant.
As the baby grows inside her, life just gets to be way too exhausting for Myrrha. She prays to be punished for her actions, and her prayer is answered: some god or another turns her into a tree.
Her tears turn into sap that drips down the bark. To this day, that sap is known as "myrrh." (Just like the myrrh the Three Wise Men are said to have brought to baby Jesus.)
"But isn't this supposed to be about Venus and Adonis?" you ask. Hang on a second, we're almost there.
Guess who Myrrha's baby is? Yep, he's Adonis.
With some help from the goddess Lucina, Adonis is born from the tree.
(In some versions, Cinyras actually splits the tree with a sword.)
Some versions also tell us that Persephone and Venus are both struck by a maternal instinct when they see baby Adonis. They bicker over who will care for him. Eventually, Zeus has to step in and rule that Persephone can have Adonis four months of the year, Venus can have him another four months of the year, and Adonis can be on his own for the final four months of the year.
Adonis grows up to be the hottest guy the world has ever seen. He's so hot that Venus, the goddess of love, falls for him hard. When her son Cupid accidentally scratches her with one of his love arrows, Venus' infatuation gets totally out of control.
Venus stops hanging out in places she usually hangs out and starts only chilling with Adonis, who basically just wants to hunt all day. She even starts dressing like the huntress goddess, Diana (Artemis), probably because she hopes that Adonis will think her new look is sexy.
Venus warns Adonis to not hunt dangerous animals: "Just kill the little fluffy ones," she tells him.
Before she leaves him one day, Venus tells Adonis the story of Atalanta and Hippomenes, whom she turned into lions when they were ungrateful. Then the goddess of love flies up into the air and leaves Adonis alone.
Adonis is all, "Fluffy ones! Whatever. Adonis doesn't hunt the fluffy ones."
Then he comes upon a wild boar and stabs it with his spear.
He doesn't spear it well enough, though, and the boar jabs Adonis with his tusks.
Venus hears Adonis's death groans and hurries back to him - but it's too late.
The goddess is crazy sad.
She turns Adonis's blood into a bright red flower called an anemone to honor him.
he Story

At Ardea, where the Romans were fighting, two Roman leaders, Tarquin and Collatine, spoke together one evening. Collatine described his beautiful young wife, Lucrece, in such glowing terms that Tarquin's passions were aroused. The next morning, Tarquin left the Roman host and journeyed to Collatium, where the unsuspecting Lucrece welcomed him as one of her husband's friends. As Tarquin told her many tales of Collatine's prowess on the battlefield, he looked admiringly at Lucrece and decided that she was the most beautiful woman in Rome.

In the night, while the others of the household were asleep, Tarquin lay restless. Caught between desire for Lucrece and dread of being discovered, to the consequent loss of his honor, he wandered aimlessly about his chamber. On the one hand, there was his position as a military man who should not be the slave of his emotions; on the other hand was his overwhelming desire. He feared the dreadful consequences that might be the result of his lustful deed. His disgrace would never be forgotten. Perhaps his own face would show the mark of his crimes and the advertisement linger on even after death. He thought for a moment that he might try to woo Lucrece but decided that such a course would be to no avail. She was already married and was not mistress of her own desires. Again he considered the possible consequences of his deed.

At last, emotion conquered reason. As Tarquin made his way to Lucrece's chamber, many petty annoyances deterred him. The locks on the doors had to be forced; the threshold beneath the door grated under his footstep; the wind threatened to blow out his torch; he pricked his finger on a needle. Tarquin ignored these omens of disaster. In fact, he misconstrued them as forms of trial that only made his prize more worth winning.

When he reached the chamber door, Tarquin began to pray for success. Realizing, however, that heaven would not countenance his sin, he declared that Love and Fortune would henceforth be his gods. Entering the room, he gazed at Lucrece in sleep. When he reached forward to touch her breast, she awoke with a cry of fear. He told her that her beauty had captured his heart and that she must submit to his will. First he threatened Lucrece with force, telling her that if she refused to submit to him, he would not only kill her but also dishonor her name. His intention was to murder one of her slaves, place him in her arms, and then swear that he killed them because he had seen Lucrece embracing the man. If she yielded, however, he promised he would keep the whole affair secret. Lucrece began to weep and plead with Tarquin. For the sake of her hospitality, her husband's friendship, Tarqum's position as a warrior, he must pity her and refrain from this deed. Her tears serving only to increase his lust, Tarquin smothered her cries with the bed linen while he raped her.

Shame-ridden, he stole away, leaving Lucrece desolate. She, horrified and revolted, tore her nails and hoped the dawn would never come. In a desperate fury, she railed against the night; its darkness and secrecy had ruined her. She was afraid of the day, for surely her sin would be revealed. Still worse, through her fall, Collatine would be forever shamed. It was Opportunity that was at fault, she claimed, working for the wicked and against the innocent. Time, the handmaiden of ugly Night, was hand-in-hand with Opportunity, but Time could work for Lucrece now. She implored Time to bring misery and pain to Tarquin. Exhausted from her emotional tirade, Lucrece fell back on her pillow. She longed for a suicide weapon; death alone could save her soul.

As the dawn broke, she began to consider her death. Not until she had told Collatine the complete details of her fall would she take the step, however, for Collatine must revenge her on Tarquin. Lucrece called her maid and asked for pen and paper. Writing to Collatine, she asked him to return immediately. When she gave the messenger the letter, she imagined that he knew of her sin, for he gave her a sly side glance. Surely everyone must know by now, she thought. Her grief took new'channels. Studying a picture of the fall of Troy, she tried to find the face showing greatest grief. Hecuba, who gazed mournfully at Priam in his dying moments, seemed the saddest. Lucrece grieved for those who died in the Trojan War, all because one man could not control his lust. Enraged, she tore the painting with her nails.

Collatine, returning home, found Lucrece robed in black. With weeping and lamentations, she told him of her shame, but without naming her violator. After she had finished, Collatine, driven half-mad by rage and grief, demanded the name of the traitor. Before revealing it, Lucrece drew promises from the assembled soldiers that the loss of her honor would be avenged. Then, naming Tarquin, she drew a knife from her bosom and stabbed herself.

Heartbroken, Collatine cried that he would kill himself as well, but Brutus, his friend, stepped forward and argued that woe was no cure for woe; it was better to revenge Lucrece. The soldiers left the palace to carry the bleeding body of Lucrece through Rome. The indignant citizens banished Tarquin and all his family.
Canto 1

A knight, identified only by the red cross on his shield, accompanies an unnamed lady (later revealed to be Una) across a plain. A storm arises, forcing them to take shelter in a beautiful forest; unfortunately, the forest turns out to be the "Wandering Wood," where the monster Errour makes her den. Una realizes this and warns Redcrosse not to venture forth, but the knight proceeds anyway and finds himself locked in battle with Errour. Errour gains the advantage by spewing forth vile misinformation at Redcrosse, but Una encourages him to stand firm in his faith. Doing so, Redcrosse is able to gain the upper hand and strangle Errour. He leaves Errour's body to her foul offspring, who gorge themselves on the body until they burst.

Redcrosse and Una depart the forest and encounter a hermit, who is actually the sorcerer Archimago in disguise. Archimago offers them shelter, but while they sleep, he plots against them with his dark arts. The sorcerer summons sprites (nature spirits) to do his bidding: one he sends to Morpheus, god of sleep, to procure a lying dream of Una's unfaithfulness to Redcrosse; another he transforms into a duplicate Una to seduce Redcrosse. Redcrosse resists, however, driving the sprite away.

Canto 2

Despite his success against the false Duessa, Redcrosse loses his faith in her when the lying dream shows Una "sporting" with another knight. He abandons Una and flees into the forest, there encountering the knight Sansfoy ("faithlessness") and Sansfoy's lady, Duessa ("duplicity"). The knights joust, with Redcrosse winning and Sansfoy fleeing without his lady. Duessa introduces herself to Redcrosse as Fidessa (fidelity) and obtains Redcrosse's promise to accompany and defend her. Duessa leads Redcrosse to a bower, where a wounded tree tells Redcrosse that it was once a man but was transformed into this sickly, immobile state by Duessa. Redcrosse does not connect the Duessa of the tree's story to the Fidessa he is protecting, partially because Duessa distracts him with her charms before he can think the story through.

Canto 3

The scene shifts back to Una, afraid and alone in the forest. A great lion charges her, intent on devouring her, but upon reaching her, it is overcome by her virtue and instead kisses her. The lion becomes her devoted protector, taking the place Redcrosse abandoned. Una and the lion come upon Abessa (absence), who invites them to follow her to her home to stay with herself and her mother. As the lion approaches the house, the mother and daughter cower in fear, but Una is given lodging. That night Kirkrapine (church robber) comes to visit his beloved Abessa, bringing his ill-gotten gains to her; however, the lion discovers Kirkrapine's presence and kills him.

The next morning, Una departs Abessa's home. Redcrosse approaches her, although he is really Archimago in disguise. Una believes the deception, but her unfounded joy is short-lived as the brother of Sansfoy, Sansloy, attacks the false Redcrosse and defeats him. Sansloy removes his opponent's helmet, revealing Archimago's deception. The knight then lays claim to Una, since she is without a protector. The lion attempts to defend Una, but Sansloy kills it and drags her away.

Canto 4

Duessa brings Redcrosse to the House of Pride, run by Lucifera. Here he meets the seven deadly sins (Pride, Sloth, Gluttony, Lechery, Avarice, Envy, and Wrath). Another of Sansfoy's brothers, Sansjoy, recognizes Redcrosse as his brother's killer and seeks vengeance in a duel with him.

Canto 5

Sansjoy and Redcrosse duel, with Redcrosse ultimately winning. Duessa asks Redcrosse to spare Sansjoy's life, but Redcrosse is too deep into his own rage and pride to heed her. Duessa creates an obscuring mist to prevent Redcrosse from killing Sansjoy; she then helps Sansjoy escape to the underworld to heal. Redcrosse, warned of the dungeons hidden beneath the House of Pride, departs while Duessa is occupied.

Canto 6

When Sansloy attempts to have his way with Una, she cries out and is heard by nearby fauns and satyrs. The woodland spirits arrive and frighten Sansloy away, then take Una to their home. Beguiled by Una's beauty, the fauns and satyrs begin paying obeisance to Una; Una immediately decries these actions as false worship, so the sylvan creatures turn their adulation to Una's donkey. Eventually the half-human, half-satyr knight Satyrane arrives and being also struck by Una's virtue, pledges to protect her. Satyrane leads Una from the village of the fauns and satyrs in an effort to track Redcrosse. Instead of Redcrosse, the two find Archimago, this time disguised as a pilgrim, who claims that the knight Sansloy has killed Redcrosse. Archimago gives them directions to find Sansloy; Satyrane challenges Sansloy to combat, and while they fight, Una runs away. Archimago follows her.

Canto 7

As he is making his way through the forest, Duessa accosts Redcrosse. They mend their strained relationship, consummating it in sexual intimacy. Redcrosse is weakened by the encounter, making him easy prey for the giant Orgoglio. Duessa prevents Orgoglio from killing Redcrosse, offering herself as paramour to the giant. Orgoglio imprisons Redcrosse in his dungeon, and then gives Duessa a magnificent beast-steed. Redcrosse's dwarf assistant escapes Orgoglio's dungeon to find Una. He explains the situation to Una, who then encounters Prince Arthur. Telling him of her plight, Una gains the protection of Prince Arthur and takes him on as her champion against Orgoglio.

Canto 8

Arthur and Orgoglio do battle, with Arthur wounding Orgoglio by cutting off his left arm. Duessa attempts to help Orgoglio, but Arthur attacks her beast to drive her away. Orgoglio re-enters combat with Arthur, only to be dismembered. Orgoglio falls to the ground, his body releasing a great gust of air as it collapses. Duessa is placed into the care of Arthur's squire while Ignaro leads the Prince into the castle.

Redcrosse escapes the castle, but is weakened by his sinful behavior. Una takes him back by her side, but seeks to teach Redcrosse a lesson beginning with Duessa's true form. Una allows Duessa to live on the condition that she will show herself for what she truly is; Duessa agrees, revealing herself to be a loathsome, misshapen creature.

Canto 9

Arthur, accompanying Redcrosse and Una, tells them of his quest for the Faerie Queene. The two knights swear their friendship for one another, exchange gifts, and then go their separate ways. Redcrosse and Una then encounter a frightened knight wearing a noose around his neck. The knight has come from an encounter with the creature Despair. Redcrosse vows to battle Despair. Redcrosse finds his cave, a corpse-littered abattoir in which Despair has just finished killing his latest victim. Despair seeks to convince Redcrosse that his sins are too great to bear, and that he should end his own life now rather than sinning even more. Una prevents Redcrosse from stabbing himself and must take him away to renew his strength and faith.

Canto 10

Una takes Redcrosse to the House of Holiness to heal and regain his strength. Humility leads them to Dame Caelia and her three daughters, Fidelia, Speranza, and Charissa. Redcrosse confesses his sins, learns the right way, and regains his strength as he undergoes a series of encounters representing his increase in holiness; the training culminates in a vision of the New Jerusalem. He speaks with Contemplation, who reminds him that he must complete his earthly quest before he can hope to enter heaven.

Canto 11

Redcrosse finally battles the dragon that has been terrorizing Una's parents. The battle takes three days. On the first, Redcrosse wounds the dragon's wing, but is himself engulfed in the dragon's flames until he falls into the Well of Life. On the second day Redcrosse manages to cut off the dragon's tail, but not before being stung and knocked down under the Tree of Life (which heals him for the next day's battle). On the third day, the dragon tries to devour Redcrosse whole, but the knight is able to drive his spear through the dragon's mouth, killing it.

Canto 12

Una's parents and the castle at large celebrate the dragon's defeat. Redcrosse is engaged to Una, but must first complete his six-month obligation to the Faerie Queene. Archimago makes an appearance to accuse Redcrosse of having a prior engagement to Duessa. Una reveals Archimago's identity, resulting in his imprisonment. Redcrosse departs to the Faerie Queen, leaving Una to await his return and their wedding day.

ANALYSIS

Canto 1

Redcrosse represents Holiness, while Una represents Truth. Specifically, Una represents the truth of Protestantism against that of Roman Catholicism, which Errour represents. When Errour spews forth her lies upon Redcrosse Knight, Catholic tracts and papal injunctions are among the papers that make up her vomit. Redcrosse can only achieve victory over Errour by holding to the true faith, Protestant Christianity. In this way, holiness triumphs over falsehood.

Canto 2

Archimago means "arch-image," a name that reflects his use of deceitful appearances to work his evil. Having already failed to diminish Redcrosse's virtue through the false Una (something which seems like the truth, but is not), he has more success with the false image of Una's unfaithfulness. Redcrosse has a much harder time quelling his doubts about Una's fidelity, leading to his flight into the forest and his encounter with Sansfoy. Sansfoy means "faithlessness," and here represents Redcrosse's own faithlessness to Una (his refusal to believe the best of her) as well as his struggle with her seeming faithlessness to him. Sansfoy is accompanied by the anti-Una, Duessa, whose name means "duplicity." Where Una is chaste and true, Duessa is lascivious and false. Her claiming the name Fidessa ("fidelity") is ironic in several ways. First, she is a liar, and hardly faithful; second, she offers herself as a reward for Redcrosse's lack of fidelity to Una; and third, she is already being unfaithful to Redcrosse in lying to him, whereas the woman she imitates, Una, has been true to her virtue despite Redcrosse's misgivings.

While Una represents the truth of the Protestant Church, Duessa represents the false theology of the Catholic Church. When Redcrosse embraces Duessa in the forest, he is showing how holiness can fall under the spell of erroneous theology, which looks appealing and true on the outside but is actually nothing but lies.

Canto 3

Una's encounter with the lion highlights Spenser's fusion of Christian theology and allegory with classical mythology and paganism's reverence for nature. The lion at first seeks to kill Una; once it is close enough to apprehend whom and what she really is, it becomes tame and obedient. God's truth is a higher law than the law of nature, where power and teeth reign supreme. That the lion joins Una as her protector demonstrates the submission of the natural world to spiritual revelation.

The damsel Abessa, or "absence," represents a lax attitude toward the important details of the church. She could be everything from the minister who is lazy in his Biblical scholarship, to the layperson that is in fact absent from church on Sundays because he deems other things to be a higher importance. Abessa's absence allows Kirkrapine, the church-thief, to steal from the very house of God. When the lion kills Kirkrapine, the natural law has gone into effect upon someone breaking the spiritual law--morally corrupt choices lead to physical destruction.

Sansloy, or "lawlessness," is brother to Sansfoy and more able at combat than both Archimago and the lion. The lawless man--the one who sins without regret and rejects the moral law of God--may come out ahead of both the deception and natural law. Spenser allegorizes the immense power of human morality and immorality to resist the law of nature that was able to deal with Kirkrapine. Sansloy is also a sinner, but he sins boldly and without the secretive nature of either Kirkrapine or Archimago.

Canto 4

A porter, Idleness, leads Redcrosse along a broad path to the House of Pride, a direct reference to Matthew 7:13 ("broad is the way that leads to destruction"). Lucifera, mistress of the House of Pride, is the chief of the seven deadly sins, Pride. Her name is a feminization of Lucifer, a name for Satan in Christian theology. Satan is said to have committed the sin of pride when he saw himself as better than his Creator. Similarly, Lucifera as pride is Redcrosse's gateway into the other sins; if Redcrosse is more prone to any sin than others are, it is his pride in his personal power. Allegorically, we see how an individual's holiness can become dangerously like pride if it is focused on the self rather than on God.

Canto 5

Another brother of Sansfoy seeks vengeance for his brother's death. Sansjoy ("joylessness") challenges Redcrosse, but the once-virtuous knight is now driven by bloodlust and rage. Duessa saves Sansjoy in a foreshadowing mockery of Redcrosse's own rescue by Una later in the book. In fact, all of the sinful symbols in this Canto are twisted parallels of later virtues, as we see in the House of Holiness of Canto 10.

Canto 6

When Sansloy attempts to rape Una, her cries are heard by local wood spirits, the fauns and satyrs. Their immediate adoration of her again echoes Spenser's fusion of pagan and Christian ideals, with paganism submitting itself to the truth of Protestant Christianity whenever the two are together. Spenser wants his reader to know that the mythical and natural elements of classical and neo-classical writers and artists are subsumed within the true Christian faith, and that the God whose supernatural revelation founded the church is the same God who has created the natural world and all that is in it.

Satyrane is the balanced blend of the human and the mythical, as he is half-human and half-satyr. He, too, is a knight and so may stand among the other virtuous warriors of The Faerie Queene. He may represent the pre-Christian champion, who follows God through his understanding of the natural world rather than by the supernatural revelation given through Jesus Christ.

Canto 7

Redcrosse continues his descent into sin. Although he has escaped the dungeons of the House of Pride, he gives in to the temptation of Duessa and engages in a carnal relationship with her. This act weakens him for the giant Orgoglio (Italian for "pride"). Redcrosse has succumbed to his own pride and is now at its mercy. Duessa's prize of a bestial mount casts her in parallel to the **** of Babylon from Revelation 17, who rode atop a seven-headed monster. (The **** of Babylon was often interpreted as the Roman Catholic Church by Protestants of Spenser's day, which saw the seven heads as representative of the seven hills of Rome.)

Redcrosse and Una are together in the same Canto for the first time since he abandoned her in Canto 1. Her happenstance meeting with Prince Arthur introduces this pivotal character to the epic. Prince Arthur is, of course, the young King Arthur, mythical past and destined future ruler of Britain. Arthur steps in to fulfill the role left vacant by Redcrosse, but he does it as part of his larger quest to find the Faerie Queene.

Canto 8

Prince Arthur triumphs where Redcrosse failed, for he is not prideful. Arthur's attack on Duessa's mount may be a reference to his virtuous assault on the foundations of Roman Catholicism, or perhaps even a political cry for a leader to champion Protestantism over Catholicism in Spenser's own day. Arthur is victorious over Orgoglio and wins Redcrosse's freedom.

Redcrosse begins his rehabilitation by facing the truth. He must look upon Duessa's true form that he may never forget the true nature of deceit (particularly the theological deceit of Roman Catholicism).

Canto 9

Prince Arthur's tale of his own quest for the Faerie Queene foreshadows his own involvement in the epic (had it been completed). Once he leaves their company, Redcrosse and Una immediately encounter a victim of Despair. The victim, another knight, displays the depths of his self-loathing in the noose he wears around his neck. Redcrosse challenges Despair, but he is easily persuaded that his recent sins have blackened his soul beyond redemption. Despair focuses Redcrosse only on his own failures, with no mention of the grace of God. Una again comes to the rescue, as the truth saves him from suicide and leads him to the House of Holiness to recuperate.

Canto 10

The House of Holiness is the virtuous counterpart to the House of Pride. It is accessed by a narrow path (cf. Matthew 7:13); the porter is Humility, and the mistress of the House is Dame Caelia, which means "heavenly." Whereas the House of Pride was the abode of the seven deadly sins, the House of Holiness shelter's Dame Caelia's daughters, whose names mean "Faith," "hope," and "charity" (the three highest virtues as recorded in 1 Corinthians 13). Redcrosse must be retrained through several allegorical situations, creating an allegory-with-an-allegory in this Canto. That this training ends with a vision of the New Jerusalem indicates that Redcrosse has succeeded and his healed, for he has seen a vision of the New Heavens and New Earth as recreated by God at the end of days--a vision available only to those who persevere in their faith.

Canto 11

The climax of Book 1 occurs with the battle between Redcrosse and the dragon. The dragon, of course, is an image of Satan from Revelation, and its siege of Una's parent's castle is a general statement of the state of Christianity in a Satanically-controlled world, and a specific criticism of the Catholic Church's stranglehold over the political and historical ancestors of Protestantism (both in the Holy Land and in England herself). The three days of the battle correspond to the three days between Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection, while the particular events of those three days represent specific church ordinances: Redcrosse's recovery by falling into the Well of Life represents Baptism, while the healing given by the Tree of Life parallels communion (or the Eucharist).

Canto 12

The defeat of the dragon frees Una's parents and their subjects to celebrate, and frees Una and Redcrosse to be betrothed. Redcrosse has one higher calling, however, in his duty to the Faerie Queene. Una has no difficulty with the wait, for she sees Gloriana (Queen Elizabeth) as the great sovereign without equal; beside her, all other claims fall to last place.
Edmund Spenser wrote Amoretti about his courtship with Elizabeth Boyle and their eventual wedding in June of 1594. Spenser follows the Petrarchan style; however, one notable difference is that the women that Petrarch writes about are unavailable to him while Spenser wrote about a woman that he actually could have and did have. The rhyme scheme is a typical Spenserian sonnet: ABAB BCBC CDCD EE. In Sonnet 1, Spenser is talking to his poem/book about how wonderful it would be for his beloved to read his words; it would mean everything to him for his beloved to behold his loving words.


Happy ye leaves when as those lilly hands,
Which hold my life in their dead doing might,
Shall handle you and hold in loves soft bands,
Lyke captives trembling at the victors sight. (lines 1-4)
Spenser is telling his poem that it will be so happy when his beloved's hands hold its pages in her Lilly white hands. Like other Petrarchan heroines, Spenser's beloved holds all of the power; she could kill him (metaphorically speaking) by rejecting his poem, which would be like rejecting his love. His soul would die without his beloved's love. Spenser uses an analogy to further convince the reader how much his beloved controls his destiny. His beloved is both his captor and his victor. She holds his poem and heart in "loves soft bands" (bonds- something that binds or restrains). Her hands could kill him ("dead doing might") or give him life. The poem and his heart trembles with the anticipation of her love, like when a captive catches sight of his victor (the person who frees him).
And happy lines, on which with starry light,
Those lamping eyes will deigne sometimes to look
And reade the sorrowes of my dying spright,
Written with teares in harts close bleeding book. (5-8)
Spenser tells his poem that it will be extremely happy when she gazes upon its lines with her "starry light" (starry eyes- having a romantic, sometimes naïve view of something). If those "lamping" (flashing- romance, excitement) eyes deign (deem the lives worthy) to read your lines, you will be filled with much joy. If she reads the poem she will discover the sorrows of his heart and dying "spright" (spirit), and the pages will bleed the tears of his "close" (secret) heart (love).
And happy rymes bath'd in the sacred brooke
Of Helicon whence she is derived is,
When ye behold that Angels blessed looke,
My soules long lacked foode, my heavens blis. (9-12)
The rhymes of this poem have been bathed in the sacred river of the Helicon Mountains. The Hippocrene spring is the source of poetic inspiration. Helicon is believed to be a sacred site and favored by the Greek Gods, especially the nine muses. The legend of the river says that the winged horse Pegasus aimed his hoof at a rock and struck it with such force that a spring burst from that spot. Spenser says that his beloved is his muse ("she is derived"- she comes from the spring, as one of the Greek muses). Spenser tells the poem that when it has her ("Angel") blessed gaze, his starving soul is in heavenly bliss.


Leaves, lines, and rymes, seeke her to please alone,
Whom if ye please, I care for other none. (13-14).
These two lines form the rhyming couplet, which summarize the entire poem. Spenser says he wrote these pages of rhymes for his beloved alone, because he cares for her above all other.
ccording to Mutter Epithalamion is one of the greatest formal lyrics in English. Legouis praises it as a great ode without a rival. It exceeds in richness and splendour all compositions of the same kind. It is the most gorgeous jewel in the treasure-house of the Renaissance. J.W. Mackail assigns to it the first place not only among spenser's lyrics but also among all English odes. It celebrates the marriage of Spenser with Elizabeth Boyle.

The ode adopts the Italian Canzone. It has twenty three stanzas of usually seventeen lines which are of unequal length and intricate rhyme pattern, each stanza ending in a fourteen syllable line which forms a varied refrain. The last seven lines are tornata, an envoi, that expresses the poet's desire to offer the poem as a gift in lieu of the ornaments that have not reached her because of some accident. It bears the influence of Sappho, Theocritus's Epithalamium of Helen, Catallus's The Wedding of Manlius and Vinia and the epithalamia of the French Pleiade, Ronsard and Du Bellay. Its novelty lies in the narrator being the poet who is also the bridegroom.

The poem unfolds a canvas where mythological and Christian elements, literary reminiscence and natural description blend harmoniously to intensify the expression of the poet's personal emotions. It radiates an aura of a pageant about it. Its chief features are the invocation of the Muse, the procession, feasting, the decoration of the bride, the praise of her beauty, the bride's arrival at the church, the marriage ceremony, the preparation of the bridal chamber and prayer for their fruitful union.


Spenser's Platonic conception that the outward beauty is a reflection of the inner virtue and purity, manifests itself in the description of the bride who is adorn'd with beauty's grace and virtue's store. The beauty of her body like a palace fair leads the mind with many a stately stair to honour's seat, to the seat of perfect virtue. Spenser's celebration of ideal beauty, and the Petrarchan deification of the lady are conventional. Though the poem is personal, it universalies the experience of love. The narration of events covering one day, from morning to midnight imposes on the poem a unity in respect of the subject-matter and of its emotional content. As Mutter observes, the wealth of imagery is allied to the often remarked musical quality of the poem to produce a total effect of strength and controlled luxuriance which earns for it Coleridge's praise of truly sublime.
Book 1:
The poem opens with an invocation; that's when the speaker asks the muses - ancient deities thought to inspire poetry and art - to inspire him, give him the ability to perform, etc. We see speakers talk to their muses in the beginning of a lot of epic poems; check out the first lines of the Iliad.
He asks the muses to sing about "man's first disobedience" (1), the Forbidden Fruit, his exile from Eden, his eventual redemption through Jesus Christ, etc.
Soon, the scene shifts to a burning inferno; we're in Hell with Satan, only Hell isn't below the earth but somewhere way out in the middle of nowhere, a place Milton calls Chaos.
Milton's universe is tricky, so we'll give you a quick lay of the land. Basically, the created universe (the earth, the sun, the planets, the stars, etc.) is an enclosed globe or spherical structure. This structure hangs from Heaven by a golden chain. Everything outside the sphere and Heaven is called Chaos, with Hell at the end opposite to Heaven and the universe. Head over to "Best of the Web" to see some pictures.
Satan looks around bewildered; apparently he's just fallen from Heaven and hasn't quite adjusted to his new surroundings. It's hot, and there's a weird "darkness visible" all around.
He notices his first mate, Beelzebub.
Satan addresses Beelzebub, saying he doesn't look like the friend he knew in Heaven (apparently, the fallen angels have also undergone a change in appearance as well as location).
Satan describes how he and a bunch of other angels fought with God and lost. Although they've been beaten, all is not lost.
Beelzebub responds, saying that he's upset and worried about the current state of affairs.
He suggests that the only reason they still feel strong and courageous - still feel alive - is so that they can completely experience their punishment and satisfy God's "vengeful ire."
Satan responds, saying that their goal from now on is to be evil: "To do ought good never will be our task, / But ever to do ill our sole delight" (1.159-60). If God does something good, they will try to screw it up.
Satan suggests that he and Beelzebub move to a nearby plain and think about how to war against God, deal with the horrors of their circumstances, and repair their losses.
As Satan moves towards the plain, the narrator describes him: he is much bigger than any of the famous giants of classical mythology or the bible. He is so big, a sailor might mistake him for an island and attempt to moor his boat there.
He moves off the lake and flies - these fallen angels still have their wings - to the plain, which is also burning. Beelzebub eventually follows him.
Satan looks around and says it's not so bad because he'd rather be as far from God as possible.
He then suggests that his forces reassemble on the plain so they can figure out a plan of action.
Satan goes to the shore of the burning lake to beckon the fallen angels; his shield is almost as big as the moon and his spear is much bigger than the biggest mast of a ship.
The fallen angels are scattered on the lake like a whole bunch of leaves, or just like a whole bunch of reeds in the Red Sea.
Satan addresses the fallen angels, and he can't believe they've been vanquished.
He tells them to rise up now, or remain fallen forever. They rise up very quickly, as if they've been caught napping while on duty (that's Milton's comparison not ours!).
The angels assemble in squadrons, just like an organized army. There are a ton of them! The leaders of the squadrons assemble close to Satan, the "great commander."
These leaders will eventually become the various pagan deities described in the Old Testament (the first half of the Bible that deals with the times before Jesus) that the Israelites worshipped (sinfully) alongside God.
The first to come is Moloch, who is covered in blood. He somehow deceived Solomon - an Old Testament king - to build a temple for him.
Next comes Chemos; after the Israelites made it out of Egypt, they started spending a lot of time with non-Hebrew peoples and eventually started worshipping this guy.
With Chemos and Moloch come Baalim and Ashtaroth. Both of these are general words to refer to types of male and female pagan deities found in the region that is now the modern-day middle east, especially Syria, Iraq, Israel, and Jordan.
Astoreth or Astarte, as the Phoenicians called her, also comes with the fallen angels. She was worshipped by Phoenician virgins and also by the Israelites in their promised land!
Thammuz comes next; he was supposedly wounded every year, which caused the river Adonis to become a purplish color because of his blood.
Next comes Dagon, a Philistine sea-god whose upper half is man, the lower fish.
After him comes Rimmnon, a deity worshipped in what is now modern-day Syria.
Next come the bestial and beastly Egyptian gods with animal heads - Isis, Osiris, and Orus.
The last to arrive is Belial; nobody ever built a temple for him, but he can be found everywhere. He loves vice for itself, and is associated with insolent debauchery.
There were a lot of other fallen angels, but it would take forever to name them all, says our narrator. For example, there were also the Olympian gods that the Ancient Greeks worshipped.
A lot of other devils come, and they all look unhappy, though they appear to have some hope left. They are glad to find that Satan is not in total despair.
Satan rekindles their hope with a speech that sounds good but is really a bunch of rubbish (so says the narrator), and he demands that his flag be unfurled.
When all the fallen angels see the flag (it shines like a meteor), the individual squadrons raise their flags, spears, and shields and roar with one loud voice.
The soldiers start marching (silently) to the tune of some hellish pipes, and eventually assemble in front of Satan, waiting for his command.
Satan stands like a tower over his army (the biggest ever assembled); he's still got some of the old fire still left in him, even after falling a really long way.
Satan tries three times to speak to his minions, but he keeps bursting into tears! Satan can cry? Since when?!
Finally he starts speaking, noting that they are brave soldiers and nobody could have foreseen that such an awesome army could ever be defeated.
Don't worry, he tells them, they will rise again, but they can't fight God in the same way. They have to use "fraud or guile" this time.
The rumor-mill says God intends to create another world, and Satan says they should devote their energies to messing with that world.
Satan finishes, and his legions all draw their swords as a sign of approval.
A group of fallen angels led by Mammon - the greedy, money-loving devil - head towards a volcano rich with "metallic ore."
They start digging in it and eventually unearth a bunch of gold.
A second group works to separate the ore from the rock with the help of liquid fire - there's a burning lake nearby just right for the purpose - while a third group pours the ore into a mould.
Eventually, a huge edifice emerges; it looks like a huge temple and has sculptures adorning it, huge pillars, and even a golden roof. It is more magnificent than anything ever seen on earth.
The fallen angels enter the building, now given the name Pandemonium, to have a council. It is swarming with angels, almost like a beehive.
All of a sudden, the fallen angels, which a minute before were bigger than giants, now shrink to the size of little elves or dwarves (this is so that they can all fit inside Pandemonium).
The squadron leaders retain their giant size (they don't shrink) and gather together for the great debate in Hell.

Book 9:
Book 9 opens with Milton's final invocation; he says he must now change his "notes" (i.e., his poem) to "tragic."
Milton says that his theme is more heroic than all the martial epics of Homer, Virgil, and Spenser that have preceded him. The themes of those poems are "Not that which justly gives heroic name/ To person or to poem" (9.40-41).
The sun sets and night falls as Satan returns - "fearless" and "bent on man's destruction" - to the garden. He's been gone for about a week.
There's a river (the Tigris) that flows underground and remerges as a fountain in Paradise; Satan uses this river to get back into the garden.
He decides to become a serpent to execute his designs against Adam and Eve.
Before that, though, he bursts out in complaint, saying the earth is really beautiful; "With what delight could I have walked thee round," he exclaims.
It turns out, though, that Satan really can't enjoy it; the whole thing just makes him mad. He's not hoping to become happy because of what he's doing; he just wants to make others as miserable as he is.
He searches throughout the night for the serpent. He finds him (the serpent), enters through his mouth, and waits until dawn.
As the sun rises, Adam and Eve come forth. Eve suggests to Adam that they divide their labor; often, when working together, they don't get anything done.
Adam responds by saying labor isn't such a big deal that they can't rest and take it easy. But, if
Eve wants to get away for a while, that's OK with him because "Solitude sometimes is best society."
Adam is uneasy though; he reminds Eve that they've been warned about Satan and that they're better off together.
Eve isn't crazy about Adam's comment, so she says in return that she's upset that Adam has his doubts about her.
Adam responds by saying that he doesn't doubt her ability to resist temptation; he just thinks it would be dishonorable for her to suffer temptation alone.
Eve responds, saying that temptation in itself isn't a bad thing; it will only prove how strong she and Adam are, and how evil Satan is.
Adam replies with some remarks about the importance of trial and concludes by telling Eve that he doesn't want to make her work with him against her will.
Eve says she'll back by noon or so and that such a proud foe as Satan is wouldn't dare attempt to mess with the "weaker" sex because that would make his punishment all the more shameful.
Satan is waiting in the bushes for Eve; he had been hoping to find her alone and lo and behold his wish has come true!
Satan can't believe how gorgeous Eve is; seeing her is like being pent up in a disgusting city and then going out to the country for some fresh air. For a moment, Satan forgets his hate.
Then he snaps out of it and tells himself not to forget about the hate and revenge that brought him here. He also makes some remark about how much easier this is going to be with just Eve.
He moves towards Eve, except he moves in a sideways motion, almost as if he didn't want to interrupt her. Oh, and he's walking upright, not crawling on his belly.
He approaches here, and makes some noise in an effort to get her attention; she doesn't notice because she's used to it, so he makes some bolder gestures. He even licks the ground she walks on!
By the way, the first letter of each line from 510-514 spells "Satan." That's called an acrostic.
Satan addresses Eve, telling her not to wonder. He tells her she's so beautiful that everybody should be able to gaze on her, not just Adam.
Eve is surprised ("not unamazed"); she says she didn't think animals could talk and wants to know how it is that he can speak.
Satan responds, again with flattery, by saying he used to be as dumb as the other animals. But then he saw a tree whose fruit looked soooooo good; he couldn't resist so he slithered up the trunk and took some.
It was marvelous, he says, because then he could talk and think and reason.
Eve is amazed. She asks the Satan (disguised as a serpent) which tree it was and to lead her to it, which he gladly does.
He's clearly deceiving her; he's kind of like a mirage or fire at night that distracts wandering travelers and leads them astray.
He leads Eve to the "Tree/ Of prohibition." Eve tells Satan that she's not allowed to eat from it and makes a cute pun as well: it is "Fruitless...though fruit be here to excess," she says. Hehe.
Satan can't believe it and realizes he will have to more persuasive. He starts moving around like some ancient orator in Greece or Rome.
He tells Eve that the fruit won't kill her; just look at him! He ate from it, and he's fine! Besides, why shouldn't she be able to eat the same stuff as the beasts (i.e., the serpent)?
What is more, he says, God will admire her boldness in eating what will make her smarter, despite God's threats of death!
God wouldn't hurt Eve, he continues, because that wouldn't be just. The only reason he's forbidden her to eat is because he wants to "keep ye low and ignorant."
If she eats the fruit, she'll become like the gods and possess a much clearer vision of things, just like the serpent.
The only death that will result is that she will put off her human nature and assume a godlike one, he claims. So eat the fruit, he says to her.
Eve is tricked by Satan; his words have "too easy entrance won" into her heart. It's near lunchtime, and she's hungry; that fruit looks so good, and she can't stop staring at it.
Eve addresses the fruit, saying it is quite powerful (it gave the serpent the ability to speak) and the fact that it is forbidden makes it even more desirable.
Why should mankind be denied knowledge, she asks? It has done wonders for the serpent so why shouldn't she be allowed to have it too? Was death made only for mankind?
She eats the fruit; or rather, she stuffs her face with it until she's full. Nature shudders as Eve eats death.
She addresses the fruit then as the most "precious" of all trees. She vows to sing to it everyday, and eat from it everyday until she grows wise.
But what about Adam? Should she tell him? If he doesn't eat, and she dies because she ate it, Adam will get a new Eve. She decides to tell him.
Meanwhile, Adam has been weaving a little garland for Eve's hair. Anxious, he goes looking for her and eventually bumps into her near the Tree of Knowledge.
Eve runs up to him with a bunch of fruit and tells Adam that the tree isn't like what they've been told. It has not caused death but has rather opened her eyes. She wants Adam to eat some of the fruit too.
Adam is shocked; his blood turns icy cold. He drops the pretty garland he has made for her and then speaks to himself.
He says, "How art thou lost, how on a sudden lost" (9.900). He can't believe it; he's doomed too, he says, because he can't stand to be without Eve, or to watch her suffer.
He then tells Eve that she's done a bold thing; however, it's clear that the fruit will cause them to become like gods.
God won't kill his first-made creatures, says Adam; besides, he would have to un-create the world too, which was made for and is dependent on Adam and Eve.
Adam loves Eve too much, and he will go down with her.
Eve says everything she's thought about Adam has been confirmed. She encourages him to eat with similar language that Satan used with her: "Adam, freely taste."
With that, Eve offers Adam a healthy portion of the fruit; he eats it, and the earth groans again. Thunder is heard, and some rain drops fall.
They both feel like gods, and experience lust for the first time ("in lust they burn"). Adam gives Eve a look, she returns it, and then Adam says "now let us play."
They have sex for a while in some thicket, fall asleep, and then wake up "as from unrest." The fruit is bad, almost a drug, and they're now waking up with a hangover.
They now realize they are naked, and Adam tells Eve that the serpent lied and that they have lost their innocence.
He suggests that they find something to cover up their private parts; they choose some fig leaves. They then sit down and cry while various passions like anger and hate tear up their insides.
Adam tells Eve that if she had only stayed home that morning this wouldn't have happened; Eve responds by saying it could just as easily have happened because the serpent was so persuasive.
They spend the rest of the day accusing/blaming each other.
Antonio, a Venetian merchant, complains to his friends of a melancholy that he cannot explain. His friend Bassanio is desperately in need of money to court Portia, a wealthy heiress who lives in the city of Belmont. Bassanio asks Antonio for a loan in order to travel in style to Portia's estate. Antonio agrees, but is unable to make the loan himself because his own money is all invested in a number of trade ships that are still at sea. Antonio suggests that Bassanio secure the loan from one of the city's moneylenders and name Antonio as the loan's guarantor. In Belmont, Portia expresses sadness over the terms of her father's will, which stipulates that she must marry the man who correctly chooses one of three caskets. None of Portia's current suitors are to her liking, and she and her lady-in-waiting, Nerissa, fondly remember a visit paid some time before by Bassanio.

In Venice, Antonio and Bassanio approach Shylock, a Jewish moneylender, for a loan. Shylock nurses a long-standing grudge against Antonio, who has made a habit of berating Shylock and other Jews for their usury, the practice of loaning money at exorbitant rates of interest, and who undermines their business by offering interest-free loans. Although Antonio refuses to apologize for his behavior, Shylock acts agreeably and offers to lend Bassanio three thousand ducats with no interest. Shylock adds, however, that should the loan go unpaid, Shylock will be entitled to a pound of Antonio's own flesh. Despite Bassanio's warnings, Antonio agrees. In Shylock's own household, his servant Launcelot decides to leave Shylock's service to work for Bassanio, and Shylock's daughter Jessica schemes to elope with Antonio's friend Lorenzo. That night, the streets of Venice fill up with revelers, and Jessica escapes with Lorenzo by dressing as his page. After a night of celebration, Bassanio and his friend Gratiano leave for Belmont, where Bassanio intends to win Portia's hand.

In Belmont, Portia welcomes the prince of Morocco, who has come in an attempt to choose the right casket to marry her. The prince studies the inscriptions on the three caskets and chooses the gold one, which proves to be an incorrect choice. In Venice, Shylock is furious to find that his daughter has run away, but rejoices in the fact that Antonio's ships are rumored to have been wrecked and that he will soon be able to claim his debt. In Belmont, the prince of Arragon also visits Portia. He, too, studies the caskets carefully, but he picks the silver one, which is also incorrect. Bassanio arrives at Portia's estate, and they declare their love for one another. Despite Portia's request that he wait before choosing, Bassanio immediately picks the correct casket, which is made of lead. He and Portia rejoice, and Gratiano confesses that he has fallen in love with Nerissa. The couples decide on a double wedding. Portia gives Bassanio a ring as a token of love, and makes him swear that under no circumstances will he part with it. They are joined, unexpectedly, by Lorenzo and Jessica. The celebration, however, is cut short by the news that Antonio has indeed lost his ships, and that he has forfeited his bond to Shylock. Bassanio and Gratiano immediately travel to Venice to try and save Antonio's life. After they leave, Portia tells Nerissa that they will go to Venice disguised as men.

Shylock ignores the many pleas to spare Antonio's life, and a trial is called to decide the matter. The duke of Venice, who presides over the trial, announces that he has sent for a legal expert, who turns out to be Portia disguised as a young man of law. Portia asks Shylock to show mercy, but he remains inflexible and insists the pound of flesh is rightfully his. Bassanio offers Shylock twice the money due him, but Shylock insists on collecting the bond as it is written. Portia examines the contract and, finding it legally binding, declares that Shylock is entitled to the merchant's flesh. Shylock ecstatically praises her wisdom, but as he is on the verge of collecting his due, Portia reminds him that he must do so without causing Antonio to bleed, as the contract does not entitle him to any blood. Trapped by this logic, Shylock hastily agrees to take Bassanio's money instead, but Portia insists that Shylock take his bond as written, or nothing at all. Portia informs Shylock that he is guilty of conspiring against the life of a Venetian citizen, which means he must turn over half of his property to the state and the other half to Antonio. The duke spares Shylock's life and takes a fine instead of Shylock's property. Antonio also forgoes his half of Shylock's wealth on two conditions: first, Shylock must convert to Christianity, and second, he must will the entirety of his estate to Lorenzo and Jessica upon his death. Shylock agrees and takes his leave.

Bassanio, who does not see through Portia's disguise, showers the young law clerk with thanks, and is eventually pressured into giving Portia the ring with which he promised never to part. Gratiano gives Nerissa, who is disguised as Portia's clerk, his ring. The two women return to Belmont, where they find Lorenzo and Jessica declaring their love to each other under the moonlight. When Bassanio and Gratiano arrive the next day, their wives accuse them of faithlessly giving their rings to other women. Before the deception goes too far, however, Portia reveals that she was, in fact, the law clerk, and both she and Nerissa reconcile with their husbands. Lorenzo and Jessica are pleased to learn of their inheritance from Shylock, and the joyful news arrives that Antonio's ships have in fact made it back safely. The group celebrates its good fortune.
A lord comes across a drunken and comatose Christopher Sly, and conceives the idea of bringing him back to his house and treating him as a nobleman when he awakes, to see what happens. The lord has his servants dress and act appropriately, and convinces Sly that he has come to his senses after a long illness. A passing troupe of players perform a play for him, during which Sly gives an occasional bored reaction.

The play begins with Lucentio arriving in Padua to study. As soon as he sees Bianca, the younger daughter of the rich merchant Baptista, he falls in love with her. Bianca is also being wooed by Gremio and Hortensio, but Baptista will not allow her to be married until a husband is found for his older daughter Katherina, 'the shrew', whose aggressive character has made this unlikely. Gremio and Hortensio decide to join forces to find a husband for Katherina. Lucentio changes identities with his servant Tranio, and gets a job as Bianca's tutor in order to be close to her.

Petruchio of Verona is visiting Hortensio, and agrees to help his friend by marrying Katherina, especially when he learns the size of her dowry. At his first meeting with her, he takes no argument from her and insists on marrying her despite her angry protestations. Baptista willingly agrees, leaving Bianca's suitors to argue their respective cases among themselves. Lucentio makes progress with Bianca in his guise as tutor.

Petruchio arrives late for his wedding, badly dressed, behaves badly during the service, and afterwards refuses to stay for the reception, despite Katherina's wishes to the contrary. He takes her back to his country house, where he refuses to let her eat, sleep, or dress well until she conforms to his every whim.

Hortensio and Gremio see Bianca courting the tutor Lucentio and decide in disgust to court her no longer. Hortensio decides to marry a rich widow. Tranio persuades a passing schoolmaster to play the part of Lucentio's father, Vincentio, and confirm to Baptista that Lucentio has a wealthy background. Lucentio elopes with Bianca and they are married. On their way back to Padua, Katherina and Petruchio meet the real Vincentio. They arrive at Lucentio's house, but the schoolmaster and Tranio refuse to acknowledge him, calling him a villain. The real Vincentio is about to be taken off to prison when Lucentio arrives, revealing his marriage and the identity changes. The parents accept the situation.

At a combined wedding-reception for Petruchio, Lucentio, and Hortensio, the three husbands wager among themselves which of their wives, in another room, will be the most obedient and come at their bidding. Katherina, now a changed person, is the only one to do so. She remonstrates with the other women, lecturing them on the merits of wifely obedience.
I Henry IV, part I is a history play. The Henriad is a common title used by scholars for Shakespeare's second historical tetralogy, comprising Richard II; Henry IV, Part 1; Henry IV, Part 2; and Henry V.)
Note: 1 Henry IV has two main plots that intersect in a dramatic battle at the end of the play. The first plot concerns King Henry IV, his son, Prince Harry, and their strained relationship. The second concerns a rebellion that is being plotted against King Henry by a discontented family of noblemen in the North, the Percys, who are angry because of King Henry's refusal to acknowledge his debt to them. The play's scenes alternate between these two plot strands until they come together at the play's end.
When the play opens, military news interrupts the aging King Henry's plans to lead a crusade. The Welsh rebel Glyndwr has defeated King Henry's army in the South, and the young Harry Percy (nicknamed Hotspur), who is supposedly loyal to King Henry, is refusing to send to the king the soldiers whom he has captured in the North. King Henry summons Hotspur back to the royal court so that he can explain his actions.
Meanwhile, King Henry's son, Prince Harry, sits drinking in a bar with criminals and highwaymen. King Henry is very disappointed in his son; it is common knowledge that Harry, the heir to the throne, conducts himself in a manner unbefitting royalty. He spends time hanging around with vagrants and other shady characters. Harry's closest friend among the crew of rascals is Falstaff, a sort of substitute father figure. Falstaff is a worldly and fat old man who steals and lies for a living. Falstaff is also an extraordinarily witty person who lives with great gusto. Harry claims that his spending time with these men is actually part of a scheme on his part to impress the public when he eventually changes his ways and adopts a more noble personality.
Hotspur arrives at King Henry's court and details the reasons that his family is frustrated with the king: the Percys were instrumental in helping Henry overthrow his predecessor, but Henry has failed to repay the favor. After King Henry leaves, Hotspur's family members explain to Hotspur their plan to build an alliance to overthrow the king.
As Harry and the others are all drinking back at the tavern, a messenger arrives for Harry. Harry's father has received news of the civil war that is brewing and has sent for his son; Harry is to return to the royal court the next day.
Although the Percys have gathered a formidable group of allies around them—leaders of large rebel armies from Scotland and Wales as well as powerful English nobles and clergymen who have grievances against King Henry—the alliance has begun to falter. Several key figures announce that they will not join in the effort to overthrow the king, and the danger that these defectors might alert King Henry of the rebellion necessitates going to war at once.
Heeding his father's request, Harry returns to the palace. King Henry expresses his deep sorrow and anger at his son's behavior and implies that Hotspur's valor might actually give him more right to the throne than Prince Harry's royal birth. Harry decides that it is time to reform, and he vows that he will abandon his wild ways and vanquish Hotspur in battle in order to reclaim his good name. Drafting his tavern friends to fight in King Henry's army, Harry accompanies his father to the battlefront.
The civil war is decided in a great battle at Shrewsbury. Harry boldly saves his father's life in battle and finally wins back his father's approval and affection. Harry also challenges and defeats Hotspur in single combat. King Henry's forces win, and most of the leaders of the Percy family are put to death. Falstaff manages to survive the battle by avoiding any actual fighting.
Powerful rebel forces remain in Britain, however, so King Henry must send his sons and his forces to the far reaches of his kingdom to deal with them.
When the play ends, the ultimate outcome of the war has not yet been determined; one battle has been won, but another remains to be fought (Shakespeare's sequel to this play, 2 Henry IV, begins where 1 Henry IV leaves off).
(Part of Shakespeare's first tetralogy, a group of history plays consisting of Henry VI Parts 1, 2 and 3 and Richard III, is inflected with a sense of nostalgia: for the past, for the era of epic heroes, and for a king in the face of thirty-plus years of Elizabethan queenly rule. Richard III is a history play depicting the Machiavellian rise to power and subsequent short reign of Richard III of England. It is termed a tragedy. Important symbol:The Boar is Richard's heraldic symbol, and is used several times throughout the play to represent him. The idea of the boar is also played on in describing Richard's deformity. The boar was one of the most dangerous animals that people hunted in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, and Shakespeare's audience would have associated it with untamed aggression and uncontrollable violence.)
After a long civil war between the royal family of York and the royal family of Lancaster, England enjoys a period of peace under King Edward IV and the victorious Yorks. But Edward's younger brother, Richard, resents Edward's power and the happiness of those around him. Malicious, power-hungry, and bitter about his physical deformity, Richard begins to aspire secretly to the throne—and decides to kill anyone he has to in order to become king.(The idea is that Richard was born prematurely, before he could fully develop. More important, Richard also claims that his "lameness" is the reason no woman wants anything to do with him, which is why he is "determined" to be a "villain.")
Using his intelligence and his skills of deception and political manipulation, Richard begins his campaign for the throne. He manipulates a noblewoman, Lady Anne, into marrying him—even though she knows that he murdered her first husband. He has his own older brother, Clarence, executed, and shifts the burden of guilt onto his sick older brother King Edward in order to accelerate Edward's illness and death. After King Edward dies, Richard becomes lord protector of England—the figure in charge until the elder of Edward's two sons grows up.
Next Richard kills the court noblemen who are loyal to the princes, most notably Lord Hastings, the lord chamberlain of England. He then has the boys' relatives on their mother's side—the powerful kinsmen of Edward's wife, Queen Elizabeth—arrested and executed. With Elizabeth and the princes now unprotected, Richard has his political allies, particularly his right-hand man, Lord Buckingham, campaign to have Richard crowned king. Richard then imprisons the young princes in the Tower and, in his bloodiest move yet, sends hired murderers to kill both children.
By this time, Richard's reign of terror has caused the common people of England to fear and loathe him, and he has alienated nearly all the noblemen of the court—even the power-hungry Buckingham. When rumors begin to circulate about a challenger to the throne who is gathering forces in France, noblemen defect in droves to join his forces. The challenger is the earl of Richmond, a descendant of a secondary arm of the Lancaster family, and England is ready to welcome him.
Richard, in the meantime, tries to consolidate his power. He has his wife, Queen Anne, murdered, so that he can marry young Elizabeth, the daughter of the former Queen Elizabeth and the dead King Edward. Though young Elizabeth is his niece, the alliance would secure his claim to the throne. Nevertheless, Richard has begun to lose control of events, and Queen Elizabeth manages to forestall him. Meanwhile, she secretly promises to marry young Elizabeth to Richmond.
Richmond finally invades England. The night before the battle that will decide everything, Richard has a terrible dream in which the ghosts of all the people he has murdered appear and curse him, telling him that he will die the next day. In the battle on the following morning, Richard is killed, and Richmond is crowned King Henry VII. Promising a new era of peace for England, the new king is betrothed to young Elizabeth in order to unite the warring houses of Lancaster and York.

Book 3:
Canto 1

Guyon, Arthur, and Arthur's squire Timias encounter a knight whom they do not recognize. The knight jousts with Guyon, knocking him from his horse. Guyon and the knight reconcile despite Guyon's wounded pride. Unbeknownst to any of the three travelers, the unknown knight is Britomart, a woman on her own quest.

A beautiful woman runs by the group, followed by a man apparently intent on raping her. Arthur and Guyon follow the woman, while Timias gives chase to the woman's attacker. Britomart, unmoved by fleeting beauty, continues on her way. She finds adventure in the form of six knights attacking a lone defender. Taking the cause of the weaker party, Britomart defeats three of the aggressors while the single knight defeats one and the last two surrender. The lone knight is revealed to be Redcrosse. The two defeated knights take Britomart and Redcrosse to Castle Joyous. There they meet the mistress of the castle, Malecasta, whose practice is to sleep with any knight who seeks shelter. Redcrosse rejects her proposition, claiming a previous betrothal (to Una from Book 1). Malecasta's minions accost Redcrosse, but their mistress's attention turns to Britomart, whom she still believes to be a man. Malecasta secretly goes to Britomart's bed, but is horrified to learn her mistake and faints. The six knights from the previous battle arrive to defend Malecasta, and one of them wounds Britomart with an arrow. Redcrosse arrives to aid Britomart, and the two escape Castle Joyous together.

Canto 2

As they travel, Britomart reveals her story to Redcrosse. She has fallen in love with the knight Artegall, although she insults him to Redcrosse that she might hear his reputation defended by another knight. Britomart had been struck by Cupid's arrow when seeing Artegall's image in a magic mirror. Her nurse, Glauce, attempted to cure her lovesickness through magic and potions, but failed.

Canto 3

Britomart continues her personal history, describing how Glauce's last attempt to help lead Britomart to Merlin, whose magic mirror brought this upon Britomart in the first place. Merlin advises Britomart to give in to her love, citing her destiny to produce a line of noble rulers. Thus advised, Britomart set out on her quest. Once her story is finished, Redcrosse and Britomart part as friends.

Canto 4

As Britomart muses over her sorry state, the knight Marinell arrives and they do battle. Britomart wounds him, but his mother appears to take him away to heal.

In the meantime, we learn that the woman Arthur and Guyon pursued is Florimell, Marinell's beloved. She is still being pursued by the lustful ruffian, who is in turn being pursued by Timias. When they stop to rest, Arthur muses over his own unfulfilled love and resigns himself to a lonely night in the forest.

Canto 5

The next morning, Arthur learns that Florimell is searching for her beloved Marinell, whom she thinks is dead. Arthur sets out to find her. Timias, meanwhile, has caught up with Florimell's attacker only to be ambushed by him and his two brothers. Timias bests the three men, but receives a dangerous wound to the thigh. He faints from blood loss. Belphoebe the huntress arrives and heals him. Timias falls in love with her, but is left to mourn that fate has caused him to become impassioned by the virginal (and therefore unavailable) beauty.

Canto 6

Belphoebe's background is described. She is the daughter of Chrysogonee, a faerie maid, who bore her and her twin sister, Amoretta. Chrysogonee was sleeping when she gave birth, and nymphs owing allegiance to Diana found the newborn babies. Diana kept Belphoebe while Venus took charge of Amoretta. Belphoebe was raised to be a huntress; Amoretta, to be a mother to the souls of the Garden of Adonis.

Canto 7

Florimell, still fleeing her would-be rapist, finds refuge at a witch's cottage. The witch's son lusts for her, but Florimell is able to fend him off until she can sneak away. Angered that her son remains impassioned by an unrequited love, the witch sends a beast to hunt down and kill Florimell. Florimell escapes, but the horse she was riding does not. When the horse's remains are found, they are mistaken for Florimell's. Meanwhile, the giantess Arganta attempts to capture the Squire of Dames, but the knight Palladine drives her away.

Canto 8

Back at the witch's house, the witch creates an imitation Florimell out of snow and wax to sate her lovesick son's lust. The knight Braggadocchio and his squire Trompart steal the false Florimell, and then lose her to another knight. The real Florimell continues her flight by crossing the water, only to be accosted by a lustful sailor. The sea god Proteus rescues her, only to seek her for himself. Florimell resists him. Elsewhere, Satyrane and the Squire of Dames meet Paridell, himself in pursuit of Florimell.

Canto 9

Satyrane, the Squire of Dames, and Paridell arrive at Malbecco's castle, but Malbecco refuses them entry. Britomart arrives and she and Paridell battle, but Satyrane ends the conflict and reconciles them. The four plot together to burn Malbecco's castle to the ground, but Malbecco is intimidated by this threat and allows them to enter. Paridell makes amorous overtures with the lady of the castle, Hellenore, at dinner, while he and Britomart relate their respective lineages.

Canto 10

Paridell convinces Hellenore to run away with him. Hellenore steals some of Malbecco's money and sets the rest aflame. As they are escaping, Hellenore cries out for help, forcing Malbecco to choose between saving his wife or his money. He cannot decide at first, but eventually pursues Paridell and his wife. En route, he meets Braggadocchio and Trompart, whom he requests to chase Hellenore with him. The three find Paridell alone; he has abandoned Hellenore in the forest. Braggadocchio nearly battles Paridell, but slyly manages to avoid it. Trompart advises Malbecco to protect his remaining money by burying it safely in the ground, only to return later to steal it for himself. Malbecco resumes his pursuit of Hellenore, ultimately finding her cavorting with satyrs in the forest. That night, he begs Hellenore to come back to him, but she refuses. Driven mad with jealousy, Malbecco runs away through the dark night until his body wastes away. Only his superhumanly jealous spirit remains to wander the earth.

Canto 11

Leaving Malbecco's castle, Britomart and Satyrane encounter the giant Ollyphant (brother to Arganta), chasing a young man. Britomart and Satyrane pursue, the giant, but are separated in the forest. Britomart finds a knight Sir Scudamore bemoaning his inability to rescue his beloved Amoretta from an evil wizard. Britomart agrees to help him. As they approach the castle, they discover that a flaming porch protects it; Britomart charges through it unharmed, but Scudamore is forced back. Britomart observes that the interior of the castle is decorated with tapestries depicting the conquests of Cupid.

Canto 12

Britomart lurks in the chamber of Cupid watching a procession pass by. Cupid, followed by Fancy, Desire, Hope, and Doubt pass by. Amoretta follows them while carrying her own beating heart on a silver tray. The next night, Britomart sees the procession again, but this time she follows it to the wizard Busyrane's chamber. She sees Busyrane chanting spells and writing with Amoretta's blood. Britomart attacks him, driving him down and nearly killing him, but Amoretta prevents her from striking the killing blow. Amoretta explains that she needs Busyrane to reverse his enchantments before he dies. Busyrane does so, but escapes with his life. Britomart brings Amoretta to Scudamore; the two join in an embrace so loving that they appear to merge into a single being. Britomart remembers her own love for Artegall and renews her desire to be with him.

ANALYSIS

Canto 1

Britomart represents the virtue Chastity throughout The Faerie Queene, but her chastity consists of much more than merely refraining from sexual impulses. Her character will be developed more later in the book, but at the beginning the reader learns at least this: she is the equal of any other knight (save perhaps Arthur) in the epic. She unseats Guyon, putting his temperance to the test, but they reconcile. She is very careful never to reveal herself to be a woman, which would further humiliate Guyon. Chastity proves a stronger virtue than Temperance.

Florimell is quite literally fleeting beauty, as she spends much of the Book fleeing her pursuers. Arthur and Guyon are susceptible to the urge to chase the flighty girl, but Britomart is immune to her ephemeral charms. She then finds Redcrosse, outnumbered and under attack, and rescues him. Her superior battle-prowess suggests that Holiness needs Chastity to keep it healthy. Malecasta, whose name means "unchaste," is Britomart's opposite: Britomart seeks adventure as she quests for her one and only beloved, while Malecasta rests in luxury, seeking to impose her own lusts upon any knight who accepts her hospitality. When Malecasta faints at learning Britomart's gender, her six knights—representing the six stages of lechery—attack her, but Redcrosse aids her. Thus, Holiness helps Chastity to avoid lecherousness.

Cantos 2 and 3

Britomart reveals the name of her beloved: Artegall, meaning "Arthur's equal." He is a parallel to the nearly perfect Arthur, but must develop into the knight of Justice in Book 5. These two Cantos reveal Chastity to be more than sexual asceticism, as Britomart is indeed in love and seeks union with a member of the opposite sex. Spenser's female knight is inherently immune to the charms of temptresses throughout the epic, as Chastity resists the lure of inappropriate sexual relations.

Canto 4

This Canto focuses on unrequited love and the role of Fortune in the lives of human beings. Britomart begins the section lamenting that her beloved is a man whom she has never actually met, while Arthur ends the Canto alone, bemoaning his unrequited love for Gloriana.

Canto 5

Timias takes the spotlight as his pursuit of Florimell's would-be rapist leads him to Belphoebe, yet another virginal warrior figure. Timias' instant love for her is tempered by his understanding that she is too high for him to attain. The social positions of the real world are again imposed on Spenser's Faerie land.

Canto 6

Belphoebe's background story illustrates the two primary roles of women: the virgin (Belphoebe) and the mother (Amoretta). These are two aspects of womanhood that Britomart will reconcile in her quest.

Canto 7

Florimell's narrow escape from the witch's lustful son and the beast demonstrates the fragile state of female beauty when pitted against the power of lust. A complementary problem occurs when Argenta the giantess, representing unbridled female lust, attempts to take the Squire of Dames. Apparently, both men and women are capable of abusing their God-given desires for one another, and it is only by fleeing the temptation that most people are able to avoid sin.

Canto 8

The false Florimell made of snow and wax (both images of impermanence) becomes a central figure in the epic. Her existence reminds us that Florimell's allure is not evil, merely a function of the fickleness of male desire, while her nature as a false beauty illustrates the emptiness of merely surface beauty. She also becomes a Duessa-like anti-lady, as we see from the kind of knights who choose to take her for their own. Similarly, the real Florimell's attraction for the sea god Proteus teaches that her beauty is a part of the natural world and not a vice in and of itself. It is the reaction others have to such beauty that determines the virtue or vice involved.

Cantos 9 and 10

Paridell is yet another knight given to immoral behavior, this time adultery. He woos Hellenore at dinner, a violation of both hospitality and Christian morality. Malbecco, however, proves inhospitable at the beginning, as he refused refuge to the knights and only gave in to their request when he was in danger of losing his castle. Malbecco means "evil goat," referring to the horns said to grow upon the head of the cuckolded husband. His inability to act when faced with the dilemma of losing his wealth or losing his wife demonstrates his moral impropriety: to Malbecco, both material possessions and human relationships are the same importance.

Hellenore does not escape without some judgment on her actions, however. She is abandoned shortly after her departure with Paridell and found by satyrs, the spirits of the forest. She gives herself over to base carnality while Malbecco looks on in a jealous rage. She is not destroyed for her sin, but the natural consequences of her behavior—becoming more beast than human—are detailed. Malbecco goes in a seemingly opposite direction: where Hellenore gives in to her flesh, Malbecco leaves his body behind when he becomes a ghost fueled only by jealousy.

Canto 11

Scudamore, "shield of love," is introduced here as a distraught knight lamenting the loss of his beloved to the wizard Busyrane. Scudamore and Amoretta's relationship will intertwine with Britomart's quest for some time, influencing her even as she models feminine virtue to Amoretta. The fiery defense of the castle acts as a test of virtue: Britomart can pass through it unharmed due to her purity of purpose, while Scudamore, influenced as he is in part by a baser desire to consummate his marriage to Amoretta, is repulsed. This impurity in Scudamore's character will come back to haunt him later in the form of a baseless jealousy over Amoretta's chastity.

Canto 12

Britomart is the first knight to end a Book of the epic without fulfilling her ultimate quest. She has not found Artegall, but she does manage to free Amoretta from Busyrane's bondage. Amoretta needs Busyrane to reverse his spells in order to undo the abuse (emotional and physical, but all magical) he has caused her and restore her to the person she was when he first captured her. The scene in which Scudamore and Amoretta embrace and fuse into a single individual serves to accentuate Britomart's incompleteness, while also drawing our attention to her ability to balance the feminine and masculine in her role as woman-warrior.
The story opens in ancient Britain, where the elderly King Lear is deciding to give up his power and divide his realm amongst his three daughters, Cordelia, Regan, and Goneril. Lear's plan is to give the largest piece of his kingdom to the child who professes to love him the most, certain that his favorite daughter, Cordelia, will win the challenge. Goneril and Regan, corrupt and deceitful, lie to their father with sappy and excessive declarations of affection. Cordelia, however, refuses to engage in Lear's game, and replies simply that she loves him as a daughter should. Her lackluster retort, despite its sincerity, enrages Lear, and he disowns Cordelia completely. When Lear's dear friend, the Earl of Kent, tries to speak on Cordelia's behalf, Lear banishes him from the kingdom.

Meanwhile, the King of France, present at court and overwhelmed by Cordelia's honesty and virtue, asks for her hand in marriage, despite her loss of a sizable dowry. Cordelia accepts the King of France's proposal, and reluctantly leaves Lear with her two cunning sisters. Kent, although banished by Lear, remains to try to protect the unwitting King from the evils of his two remaining children. He disguises himself and takes a job as Lear's servant. Now that Lear has turned over all his wealth and land to Regan and Goneril, their true natures surface at once. Lear and his few companions, including some knights, a fool, and the disguised Kent, go to live with Goneril, but she reveals that she plans to treat him like the old man he is while he is under her roof. So Lear decides to stay instead with his other daughter, and he sends Kent ahead to deliver a letter to Regan, preparing her for his arrival. However, when Lear arrives at Regan's castle, he is horrified to see that Kent has been placed in stocks. Kent is soon set free, but before Lear can uncover who placed his servant in the stocks, Goneril arrives, and Lear realizes that Regan is conspiring with her sister against him.

Gloucester arrives back at Regan's castle in time to hear that the two sisters are planning to murder the King. He rushes away immediately to warn Kent to send Lear to Dover, where they will find protection. Kent, Lear, and the Fool leave at once, while Edgar remains behind in the shadows. Sadly, Regan and Goneril discover Gloucester has warned Lear of their plot, and Cornwall, Regan's husband, gouges out Gloucester's eyes. A servant tries to help Gloucester and attacks Cornwall with a sword - a blow later to prove fatal.

News arrives that Cordelia has raised an army of French troops that have landed at Dover. Regan and Goneril ready their troops to fight and they head to Dover. Meanwhile, Kent has heard the news of Cordelia's return, and sets off with Lear hoping that father and daughter can be reunited. Gloucester too tries to make his way to Dover, and on the way, finds his own lost son, Edgar.

Tired from his ordeal, Lear sleeps through the battle between Cordelia and her sisters. When Lear awakes he is told that Cordelia has been defeated. Lear takes the news well, thinking that he will be jailed with his beloved Cordelia - away from his evil offspring. However, the orders have come, not for Cordelia's imprisonment, but for her death.



Despite their victory, the evil natures of Goneril and Regan soon destroy them. Both in love with Gloucester's conniving son, Edmund (who gave the order for Cordelia to be executed), Goneril poisons Regan. But when Goneril discovers that Edmund has been fatally wounded by Edgar, Goneril kills herself as well.

As Edmund takes his last breath he repents and the order to execute Cordelia is reversed. But the reversal comes too late and Cordelia is hanged. Lear appears, carrying the body of Cordelia in his arms. Mad with grief, Lear bends over Cordelia's body, looking for a sign of life. The strain overcomes Lear and he falls dead on top of his daughter. Kent declares that he will follow his master into the afterlife and the noble Edgar becomes the ruler of Britain.
We start out in Venice, Italy, land of love and water. We meet two guys early on: Iago and Roderigo. Iago, who's been taking money from Roderigo in some sort of "arrangement," is upset at "the Moor," a.k.a. Othello, our tragic hero. Othello is a general in the Venetian army, and he just chose another man, Cassio, to be his lieutenant. This angers Iago, who wanted the position for himself.

Iago and Roderigo decide to get back at Othello by making a nighttime visit to Brabantio, the father of Desdemona (a.k.a. the woman Othello has recently eloped with). When Iago and Roderigo tattle on Othello for marrying Desdemona without her father's permission, Brabantio rushes to his daughter's room and discovers that she is missing. According to the angry father, this must mean that "the Moor" somehow "tricked" his daughter into whatever the two of them are doing together.

Cut to Othello in the next day or so, who's hanging out with Iago and talking about his new wife, Desdemona. Trouble is brewing since Brabantio is a senator and therefore pretty influential. It's clear that he'll try to split the pair up. But Othello isn't worried. Since he's legendary in the Venetian military, he believes his service record will get him through just fine. He adds that he really loves Desdemona, too.

The conversation is interrupted by Michael Cassio (the guy who got the lieutenant position over Iago), who says the Duke of Venice needs to see Othello right away, because there's some military action going down in Cyprus. Before everyone can peacefully exit, Brabantio shows up with Roderigo and various henchmen, ready to kill Othello or at least maim him severely for having the audacity to marry his daughter. Looks like everyone is off to see the Duke and settle the matter.

Once we get to the Duke, Othello speaks in his defense: he says Desdemona was an equal participant in their courting, and there was no trickery involved. They're now very much in love and married. Our woman in question, i.e. Desdemona, finally arrives and confirms the whole story. At this, the Duke tells Brabantio to stop whining and sends Othello to fight the battle in Cyprus. Desdemona states that she'll come along, as do Iago, his wife Emilia, Cassio, and Roderigo.

Iago and Roderigo have a little conversation during which Roderigo complains about being lovesick for Desdemona, and Iago says he'll get them together as soon as they bring down Othello. Once alone, Iago reveals a rumor that Othello was having sex with Iago's wife, Emilia. (The rumor is totally untrue and it's not even clear that Iago believes it.) To get revenge, he'll take out Cassio and Othello by convincing Othello that Cassio is having sex with Othello's wife, Desdemona.

So our cast of characters gets transported to Cyprus, where instead of battle there's just a big party (long story, read your play for the details). We note that Cassio is a ladies' man, especially around Emilia. While on watch together, Iago gets Cassio drunk and orchestrates a fight between him and Roderigo.

Othello intervenes and fires Cassio for being belligerently drunk instead of doing his job. Iago then convinces Cassio that he should ask Desdemona to tell Othello to give him back his job. Once alone, Iago schemes more about how he's going to convince Othello that Desdemona is having an affair with Cassio.

Cassio talks to Desdemona and she agrees to try to convince her husband to give Cassio his job back. As Othello is seen approaching, Cassio slinks off, not wanting to have an awkward moment with the guy that just fired him. Iago (entering with Othello) notes how suspicious it is that Cassio hurried off like that. Once the two men are alone, Iago plants (and massively fertilizes) the seed of suspicion. Cassio, he hints, is having an affair with Desdemona. He warns Othello to keep his eye out for anything suspicious, like Desdemona talking about Cassio all the time and pleading for his job back.

Othello is so upset he gets physically ill. Once Desdemona is back, she tries to bandage his head playfully with the "special handkerchief" Othello once gave her, a symbol of their undying love, an heirloom from his dead mother, and eventually the cause of a whole lot of trouble—which is why we later call it "the handkerchief of death."

To make a long story short, Emilia steals the handkerchief for her husband Iago, whom we learn has asked for it repeatedly in the past. Iago plants the handkerchief of death in Cassio's room. Othello enters, and Iago furthers Othello's suspicions with the aid of various outright lies. When Othello learns about the handkerchief, he decides that Desdemona is cheating on him, and because of that, she has to die.

The next scene brings us to Othello arguing with Desdemona while Emilia watches. He wants to know where the handkerchief is and Desdemona, oblivious, wants to talk about Cassio. Fighting ensues.

Shortly afterwards, we meet Bianca, a prostitute who's in love with Cassio. Cassio gives her the handkerchief he got from Iago, and swears it's not a love token from another woman. Some time later, Iago sets up a conversation between himself and Cassio, in which he gets Cassio to speak provocatively about Bianca. According to Iago's plan, somehow Othello, hiding and listening in, will think Cassio's speaking of Desdemona. So while Cassio is saying, "Yeah, I gave it to her good," Othello is thinking, "I'm going to kill that guy."

To make matters even worse, Bianca storms in and throws the special handkerchief in Cassio's face, having discovered that it indeed belonged to another woman. She storms out, with Cassio following behind her. Othello rages for a bit, and Iago advises that he strangle Desdemona. The next time the couple interacts, Othello hits her in the face (in front of a messenger from Venice telling him he has to go back home). Shortly after that, Othello yells at his wife, calling her a "*****," a "strumpet," and lots of other hurtful names. Filled with jealousy and indignation, he eventually resolves to kill his wife.

Back on the other manipulation front, Roderigo is getting tired of Iago taking all his money and not delivering the goods (i.e., Desdemona), as promised. Iago tells him to cool his jets, and also to kill Cassio when the opportunity arises, which, according to Iago, will happen that night between midnight and 1:00 AM.

Meanwhile, Desdemona and Emilia are talking together, and Desdemona begins to act strangely, foreshadowing her own death. She sings of it, too. Emilia, meanwhile, defends the act of cheating on one's spouse, especially if there's a good reason for it.

Iago and Roderigo hang out, waiting for Cassio. Roderigo tries to stab Cassio, fails, gets stabbed himself, and looks to be in trouble until Iago sneaks up and stabs Cassio in the leg. Two Venetian gentlemen run in at the sound of Cassio's screaming. Iago pretends he just stumbled in himself, declares Roderigo to be the assailant, and stabs Roderigo to death before the man can claim otherwise. Bianca runs in and screams a bit, and Iago tries to pin the mess on her. Emilia enters and Iago weaves her a lying tale. He instructs her to tell Othello and his wife about the news.

Othello, meanwhile, kills Desdemona, just as Emilia enters the room. In this moment of confusion, Emilia reports (incorrectly) to Othello that Cassio killed Roderigo. Othello is furious to find that Cassio is still alive, as that was definitely not the plan. Emilia finally puts two and two together and realizes her own husband is the cause of everyone's tragedy.

As people pour into the room, Emilia outs Iago for being a rat. Iago promptly stabs his wife, but not so promptly that the truth can't come out first. Othello demands to know why Iago ruined his entire life, but Iago refuses to give him (and us) a good reason. The Venetian gentlemen decide to take Othello back to Venice to face his punishment for killing his wife, and Cassio inherits Othello's post in Cyprus. Othello, overwhelmed by grief, decides to end his life rather than live without Desdemona.
(Edward II is a Renaissance or Early Modern period play. Marlowe found most of his material for this play in the third volume of Raphael Holinshed's Chronicles (1587). Frederick Boas believes that "out of all the rich material provided by Holinshed" Marlowe was drawn to "the comparatively unattractive reign of Edward II" due to the relationship between the King and Gaveston. Boas elaborates, "Homosexual affection ... has a special attraction for Marlowe.")
Marlowe's play opens at the outset of the reign, with Edward's exiled favourite (intimate friend/ advisor and sometimes sexual companion of a ruler), Piers Gaveston, rejoicing at the recent death of Edward I and his own resulting ability to return to England.
Upon Gaveston's re-entry into the country, Edward gives him titles, access to the royal treasury, and the option of having guards protect him. Although Gaveston himself is not of noble birth, he maintains that he is better than common people and craves pleasing shows, Italian masques, music and poetry. However, as much Gaveston pleases the king he finds scant favour from the king's nobles, who are soon clamouring for Gaveston's exile. Edward is forced to agree to this and banishes Gaveston to Ireland, but Isabella of France, the Queen, who still hopes for his favour, persuades Mortimer, who later becomes her lover, to argue for his recall, though only so that he may be more conveniently murdered. The nobles accordingly soon find an excuse to turn on Gaveston again, and eventually capture and execute him. Edward in turn executes two of the nobles who persecuted Gaveston, Warwick and Lancaster.
Edward now seeks comfort in a new favourite, Spencer, and his father, decisively alienating Isabella, who takes Mortimer as her lover and travels to France with her son in search of allies. France, however, will not help the queen and refuses to give her arms, although she does get help from Sir John of Hainault. Edward, both in the play and in history, is nothing like the soldier his father was — it was during his reign that the English army was disastrously defeated at Bannockburn — and is soon out-generalled. Edward takes refuge in Neath Abbey, but is betrayed by a mower, who emblematically carries a scythe. Both Spencers are executed, and the king himself is taken first to Kenilworth. His brother Edmund, Earl of Kent, after having initially renounced his cause, now tries to help him but realizes too late the power the young Mortimer now has. Arrested for approaching the imprisoned Edward, Edmund is taken to court, where Mortimer, Isabella, and Edward III preside. He is executed by Mortimer, who claims he is a threat to the throne, despite the pleading of Edward III.
The prisoner king is then taken to Berkeley Castle, where he meets the luxuriously cruel Lightborn, whose name is an anglicised version of "Lucifer". Despite knowing that Lightborn is there to kill him, Edward asks him to stay by his side. Lightborn, realizing that the king will not fall for deception, kills him. Maltravers and Gurney witness this before Gurney kills Lightborn to keep his silence. Later, however, Gurney flees, and Mortimer sends Maltravers after him, as they fear betrayal. Isabella arrives to warn Mortimer that Edward III, her son with Edward II, has discovered their plot. Before they can plan accordingly, her son arrives with attendants and other lords, accusing Mortimer of murder. Mortimer denies this, but eventually is arrested and taken away. He tells Isabella not to weep for him, and the queen begs her son to show Mortimer mercy, but he refuses. Edward III then orders Mortimer's death and his mother's imprisonment, and the play ends with him taking the throne.
Dr. Faustus (published in 1604, eleven years after Marlowe's death)
(Based on the legend of Faust who is the protagonist of a classic German legend; a highly successful scholar but one dissatisfied with his life who therefore makes a pact with the Devil, exchanging his soul for unlimited knowledge and worldly pleasures. Blank verse is largely reserved for the main scenes while prose is used in the comic scenes.)
Doctor Faustus, a well-respected German scholar, grows dissatisfied with the limits of traditional forms of knowledge—logic, medicine, law, and religion—and decides that he wants to learn to practice magic. His friends Valdes and Cornelius instruct him in the black arts, and he begins his new career as a magician by summoning up Mephastophilis, a devil. Despite Mephastophilis's warnings about the horrors of hell, Faustus tells the devil to return to his master, Lucifer, with an offer of Faustus's soul in exchange for twenty-four years of service from Mephastophilis. Meanwhile, Wagner, Faustus's servant, has picked up some magical ability and uses it to press a clown named Robin into his service.
Mephastophilis returns to Faustus with word that Lucifer has accepted Faustus's offer. Faustus experiences some misgivings and wonders if he should repent and save his soul; in the end, though, he agrees to the deal, signing it with his blood. As soon as he does so, the words "Homo fuge," Latin for "O man, fly," appear branded on his arm. Faustus again has second thoughts, but Mephastophilis bestows rich gifts on him and gives him a book of spells to learn. Later, Mephastophilis answers all of his questions about the nature of the world, refusing to answer only when Faustus asks him who made the universe. This refusal prompts yet another bout of misgivings in Faustus, but Mephastophilis and Lucifer bring in personifications of the Seven Deadly Sins to prance about in front of Faustus, and he is impressed enough to quiet his doubts.
Armed with his new powers and attended by Mephastophilis, Faustus begins to travel. He goes to the pope's court in Rome, makes himself invisible, and plays a series of tricks. He disrupts the pope's banquet by stealing food and boxing the pope's ears. Following this incident, he travels through the courts of Europe, with his fame spreading as he goes. Eventually, he is invited to the court of the German emperor, Charles V (the enemy of the pope), who asks Faustus to allow him to see Alexander the Great, the famed fourth-century b.c. Macedonian king and conqueror. Faustus conjures up an image of Alexander, and Charles is suitably impressed. A knight scoffs at Faustus's powers, and Faustus chastises him by making antlers sprout from his head. Furious, the knight vows revenge.
Faustus then goes on with his travels, playing a trick on a horse-courser along the way. Faustus sells him a horse that turns into a heap of straw when ridden into a river. Eventually, Faustus is invited to the court of the Duke of Vanholt, where he performs various feats. The horse-courser shows up there, along with Robin, a man named Dick (Rafe in the A text), and various others who have fallen victim to Faustus's trickery. But Faustus casts spells on them and sends them on their way, to the amusement of the duke and duchess.
As the twenty-four years of his deal with Lucifer come to a close, Faustus begins to dread his impending death. He has Mephastophilis call up Helen of Troy, the famous beauty from the ancient world, and uses her presence to impress a group of scholars. An old man urges Faustus to repent, but Faustus drives him away. Faustus summons Helen again and exclaims rapturously about her beauty. But time is growing short. Faustus tells the scholars about his pact, and they are horror-stricken and resolve to pray for him. On the final night before the expiration of the twenty-four years, Faustus is overcome by fear and remorse. He begs for mercy, but it is too late. At midnight, a host of devils appears and carries his soul off to hell. In the morning, the scholars find Faustus's limbs and decide to hold a funeral for him.
The Duchess of Malfi (1612-13)
(a macabre (grim atmosphere with details and symbols of death), tragic English play. The play is loosely based on events that occurred between about 1508 and 1513. The Duchess in the play is based on Giovanna d'Aragona.)
The play is set in the court of Malfi (Amalfi), Italy 1504 to 1510. The recently widowed Duchess falls in love with Antonio, a lowly steward, but her brothers, not wishing her to share their inheritance, forbid her from remarrying. She marries Antonio in secret and bears him several children.
The Duchess' lunatic and incestuously obsessed brother Ferdinand threatens and disowns her. In an attempt to escape, she and Antonio concoct a story that he has swindled her out of her fortune and has to flee into exile. She takes Bosola into her confidence, not knowing that he is Ferdinand's spy, and arranges that he will deliver her jewelry to Antonio at his hiding-place in Ancona. She will join them later, whilst pretending to make a pilgrimage to a town nearby. The Cardinal hears of the plan, instructs Bosola to banish the two lovers, and sends soldiers to capture them. Antonio escapes with their eldest son, but the Duchess, her maid, and her two younger children are returned to Malfi and, under instructions from Ferdinand, die at the hands of Bosola's executioners. This experience, combined with a long-standing sense of injustice and his own feeling of a lack of identity, turns Bosola against the Cardinal and his brother, deciding to take up the cause of "Revenge for the Duchess of Malfi" (V.2).
The Cardinal confesses to his mistress Julia his part in the killing of the Duchess and then murders her to silence her, using a poisoned Bible by forcing her to kiss the poisoned cover. Next, Bosola overhears the Cardinal plotting to kill him (though he accepts what he sees as punishment for his actions) and so visits the darkened chapel to kill the Cardinal at his prayers. Instead, he mistakenly kills Antonio, who has just returned to Malfi to attempt a reconciliation with the Cardinal. Bosola stabs the Cardinal, who dies. In the brawl that follows, Ferdinand and Bosola stab each other to death.
Antonio's elder son by the Duchess appears in the final scene and takes his place as the heir to the Malfi fortune, despite his father's explicit wish that he "fly the court of princes", a corrupt and increasingly deadly environment.
The Changeling follows Beatrice-Joanna, the daughter of Vermandero. a wealthy nobleman of Alicante. Beatrice is engaged to Alonzo but she and Alsemero fall in love at first sight. Alsemero considers leaving when he finds he will not be able to marry Beatrice but she convinces him to stay; they meet in secret to discuss possible solutions to their predicament. Alsemero is willing to have a duel with Alonzo but Beatrice fears his punishment and death. It occurs to Beatrice that her father's servant, De Flores, is the perfect man to kill Alonzo. Beatrice apparently loathes De Flores, appalled by his ugly appearance, but De Flores lusts after Beatrice. When Beatrice asks De Flores to commit the murder, he willingly agrees, certain she will give him sexual favors in return for the deed, while she only intends to pay him gold. De Flores successfully kills Alonzo and demands Beatrice sleep with him or he will reveal she had a hand in the murder. Alonzo's brother, Tomazo, attempts to find his brother's killer throughout the play. After Alonzo's death, Vermandero agrees to his daughter's marriage with Alsemero. On their wedding night, Alsermero hears from his servant that Beatrice may be unfaithful so he tests her virginity. Beatrice, discovering the test before hand, is able to trick Alsemero into thinking she is a virgin but—just in case he should discover otherwise when they are actually in bed together—she has her serving maid, Diaphanta, act as a substitute bride. Unfortunately, Diaphanta so enjoys herself that she stays too long; to create a diversion and get her out of the way, Beatrice agrees to De Flores' idea of starting a fire and murdering Diaphanta. Beatrice now admits her love for De Flores. The plan goes smoothly but later, Alsemero catches sight of Beatrice and De Flores in the garden causing him to realize her infidelity. He accuses her; she denies her sexual relationship with De Flores but admits she orchestrated Alonzo's murder, which she claims was out of love for her husband in hopes that he will forgive her. He is disgusted with her. De Flores begs to talk with her and while they are alone off stage he stabs her and himself. They re-enter and Beatrice admits everything. The play ends with Alsemero and Vermandero creating a new family relationship.

Meanwhile, the head of an insane asylum, Alibius, has married a younger woman, Isabella; in order to keep her from committing adultery he keeps her locked in the madhouse. Unbeknownst to him, two of her suitors have disguised themselves as a fool (Antonio) and a madman (Franciscus) and entered the asylum; Alibius' assistant Lollio also attempts to court her. The madmen are preparing for a masque they will perform at Beatrice's wedding. Franciscus and Antonio are Vermandero's servants and when he discovers their absence, he assumes they were Alonzo's murderers. Luckily for them, at the moment of their conviction, Alsemero has discovered Beatrice and De Flores' guilt.
The play begins with an extended bit of metadrama; the company's stage-keeper enters, criticising the play about to be performed because it lacks romantic and fabulous elements. He is then pushed from the stage by the book-keeper, who (serving as prologue) announces a contract between author and audience. The contract appears to itemise Jonson's discontentment with his audiences: Members are not to find political satire where none is intended; they are not to take as oaths such innocuous phrases as "God quit you"; they are not to "censure by contagion," but must exercise their own judgment; moreover, they are allowed to judge only in proportion to the price of their ticket. Perhaps most important, they agree not to expect a throwback to the sword-and-buckler age of Smithfield, for Jonson has given them a picture of the present and unromantic state of the fair.

The play proper begins with a proctor and amateur dramatist Littlewit and his friends, Quarlous and Winwife; they are plotting how to win Dame Purecraft (a widow, and Littlewit's mother-in-law) from Zeal-of-the-Land Busy, a canting, hypocritical Puritan.

This colloquy is interrupted by the entrance of Wasp, the irascible servant of Cokes, a country simpleton who is in town to marry Grace Wellborn. Grace is the ward of Adam Overdo, a Justice of the Peace; Overdo's wife is Cokes's sister. All of these characters are at Littlewit's to get a marriage license; having obtained it, they indulge Cokes's wish to visit the fair.

Littlewit and his friends also plan to go to the fair to see a puppet-show Littlewit wrote. To overcome Busy's likely objections, they pretend that Win (Littlewit's wife) has a pregnant craving for roast pork. The Renaissance audience, familiar with stage satire of Puritans, would not have been surprised that Busy, far from abhorring the fair and its debauchery, is ready to rationalise his presence there as allowable and even godly. The first act ends with both groups, the genteel Overdos and the raffish Littlewits, headed for the fair.

The fair propels these characters through experiences that put their social identities under extreme strain. Justice Overdo, well-read in the "disguised prince" tradition, assumes a disguise to ferret out wrongdoing at the fair; he is beaten by Wasp, falsely accused by Edgeworth, a cut-purse, and put in the stocks. Quarlous and Winwife engage Edgeworth to steal the marriage license from Wasp; he does so when Wasp is arrested after starting a fight. Wasp, too, is put in the stocks. Winwife has abandoned his plan to marry Dame Purecraft; instead, he and Quarlous fight for Grace's hand. Win Littlewit and Mistress Overdo are enlisted as prostitutes by the pimp Whit; Zeal-of-the-land Busy is arrested for preaching without license and put into the stocks. Cokes is robbed several times by Edgeworth and other denizens of the fair. All the imprisoned characters escape when Trouble-All, a seeming madman for whom Dame Purecraft has conceived a sudden passion, fights with the guards.

The climax of the play occurs at the puppet show. Madame Overdo and Win are brought in, masked, as prostitutes; Madame Overdo is drunk. Overdo is still in disguise, and Quarlous has disguised himself as Trouble-All; in this guise, he stole the marriage license from Winwife and made it into a license for himself and Purecraft. The puppet show, a burlesque of Hero and Leander and Damon and Pythias, proceeds until Busy interrupts, claiming that the play is an abomination because the actors are cross-dressed. The puppets refute him decisively by raising their clothes, revealing that they have no sex. Busy announces himself converted into a "beholder" of plays.

At this point, Justice Overdo reveals himself, intent on uncovering the "enormities" he has witnessed at the fair. He is in the process of punishing all of the various schemers and malefactors when his wife (still veiled) throws up and begins to call for him. Abashed, Overdo takes the advice of Quarlous and forgives all parties; Winwife marries Grace, Quarlous marries Purecraft, and all the characters are invited to Overdo's house for supper.
Giovanni, recently returned from university study in Bologna, has developed an incestuous passion for his sister Annabella and the play opens with his discussing this ethical problem with Friar Bonaventura. Bonaventura tries to convince Giovanni that his desires are evil despite Giovanni's passionate reasoning, and eventually persuades him to try to rid himself of his feelings through repentance.

Annabella, meanwhile, is being approached by a number of suitors, including Bergetto, Grimaldi, and Soranzo. She is not interested in any of them, however, and when Giovanni finally tells her how he feels (obviously having failed in his attempts to repent), she requites his love immediately. Annabella's tutoress Putana encourages the relationship. The siblings consummate their relationship.

Hippolita, a past lover of Soranzo, verbally attacks him, furious with him for letting her send her husband Richardetto on a dangerous journey she believed would result in his death so that they could be together, then declining his vows and abandoning her. Soranzo leaves and his servant Vasques promises to help Hippolita get revenge on Soranzo, and the pair agree to marry after they murder him.

However, Richardetto is not dead but also in Parma with niece Philotis, and is also desperate for revenge against Soranzo. He convinces Grimaldi that to win Annabella, he should stab Soranzo (his main competition) with a poisoned sword. Unfortunately, Bergetto and Philotis, now betrothed, are planning to marry secretly in the place Richardetto orders Grimaldi to wait, and Grimaldi mistakenly stabs and kills Bergetto instead, leaving Philotis, Poggio, and Donado distraught.

Annabella resigns herself to marrying Soranzo, knowing she has to choose someone and it cannot be her brother. She subsequently falls ill and it is revealed that she is pregnant. Friar Bonaventura then convinces her to marry Soranzo before her pregnancy becomes apparent.

Meanwhile Donado and Florio go to the cardinal's house, where Grimaldi has been in hiding, to beg for justice. The cardinal refuses due to Grimaldi's high status and instead sends him back to Rome. Florio tells Donado to wait for God to bring them justice.

Annabella and Soranzo are married soon after, and their ceremony includes masque dancers, one of whom reveals herself to be Hippolita. She claims to be willing to drink a toast with Soranzo, and the two raise their glasses and drink, on which note she explains that her plan was to poison his wine. Vasques comes forward and reveals that he was always loyal to his master, and in fact he poisoned Hippolita. She dies spouting insults and damning prophecies to the newlyweds. Seeing the effects of anger and revenge, Richardetto abandons his plans and sends Philotis off to a convent to save her soul.

When Soranzo discovers Annabella's pregnancy, the two argue until Annabella realises that Soranzo truly did love her, and finds herself consumed with guilt. She is confined to her room by her husband, who plots with Vasques to avenge him against his cheating wife and her unknown lover. On Soranzo's exit, Putana comes onto the stage and Vasques pretends to befriend her to gain the name of Annabella's baby's father. Once Putana reveals that it's Giovanni, Vasques has bandits tie Putana up and remove her eyes as punishment for the terrible acts she has willingly overseen and encouraged.

In her room, Annabella writes a letter to her brother in her own blood, warning him that Soranzo knows and will soon wreak his revenge. The friar delivers the letter, but Giovanni is too arrogant to believe he can be harmed and ignores advice to decline the invitation to Soranzo's birthday feast. The friar subsequently flees from Parma to avoid further involvement in Giovanni's downfall.

On the day of the feast, Giovanni visits Annabella in her room, and after talking with her, stabs her during a kiss. He then enters the feast, at which all remaining characters are present, wielding a dagger on which his sister's heart is skewered, and tells everyone of the incestuous affair. Florio dies immediately from shock. Soranzo begins to attack Giovanni, but Giovanni manages to stab and kill him. Vasques intervenes, wounding Giovanni before ordering the bandits to finish the job.

Following the massacre, the cardinal orders Putana to be burnt at the stake, Vasques to be banished, and the church to seize all the wealth and property belonging to the dead. Richardetto finally reveals his true identity and the play ends with the cardinal saying of Annabella "who could not say, 'Tis pity she's a *****?"
Act I.

The play's action begins with Harry Horner explaining to The Quack his brilliant ruse for making a conquest of London's upper-class ladies. Horner has spread a rumor that a treatment for venereal disease rendered him impotent, and his new status as a eunuch will allow him to gain access to ladies whose husbands and families would otherwise consider him dangerous. It will also allow the ladies to undertake liaisons with him and yet preserve their honor in the eyes of the world.

Sir Jasper Fidget enters with his wife, Lady Fidget. Inferring from Horner's aversion to ladies that the rumors of his impotence are true, Sir Jasper arranges for Horner to act as his wife's new chaperone and companion. After the departure of the Fidgets, Horner's two friends, Frank Harcourt and Mr. Dorilant, enter and banter with him about women, wine, and friendship. Soon the fatuous Mr. Sparkish arrives, bores the three friends with his pretensions to wit, and is driven away.

Jack Pinchwife enters, and Horner correctly discerns that he has recently gotten married. Pinchwife, who has not heard the rumors, privately fears that Horner will cuckold him. The men then discuss Pinchwife's reasons for marrying and his choice of a bride, and Pinchwife's contempt for women becomes plain. When it comes out that Horner has seen the new Mrs. Pinchwife, the day before at the theater, Pinchwife becomes uncomfortable and departs.

Act II.

Margery Pinchwife complains to her sister-in-law, Alethea Pinchwife, that her new husband has confined her indoors and will not let her see the sights in London. The women discuss Pinchwife's jealousy, and Margery expresses her admiration of the actors she saw at the theater yesterday. Pinchwife enters and impresses both wife and sister with the importance of Margery's remaining ignorant of the ways of the town. When Margery inquires the reason for this, Pinchwife explains that a licentious man at the theater has seen her and fallen in love with her; Margery is delighted, and soon Pinchwife locks her away in another room.

Sparkish, who is to marry Alethea tomorrow, arrives with Harcourt to show off his fiancée to him. Harcourt falls in love with Alethea immediately upon seeing her, and he cleverly makes advances to her under the nose of Sparkish, who is too obtuse to comprehend the drift of Harcourt's dialogue. Alethea tries in vain to wind Sparkish up to some degree of indignation over this behavior; Sparkish believes staunchly that sophisticated town wits are immune to jealousy.

Once Sparkish, Harcourt, and Alethea have left, Pinchwife is surprised by the arrival of Lady Fidget, Dainty Fidget, and Mistress Squeamish. The ladies have come to see Margery, but Pinchwife invents excuses for why they cannot, then departs rudely. The ladies discuss Pinchwife's jealousy and lament the mistreatment of upper-class wives by their husbands. They also discuss adultery, which they agree injures no one's honor as long as it goes on in secret.

Sir Jasper arrives with Horner, saying that he has business to attend to and that the ladies must accept Horner as their chaperone. Lady Fidget rejects the idea of spending time with a eunuch, but Sir Jasper wins her cooperation by suggesting that she might win money off Horner at cards. Lady Fidget and Horner then step aside, ostensibly to patch things up, and Horner tells Lady Fidget in confidence that his impotence is a sham. She is delighted with this news, and the pair establish an implicit intention to undertake a liaison.

Act III.

Margery and Alethea again discuss the restrictions Pinchwife has imposed on Margery. Pinchwife then enters and, after accusing Alethea of being a disreputable lady, says that he is looking forward to marrying Alethea off to Sparkish and then returning with Margery to the country. Margery protests, however, saying that she wants to stay in London and walk abroad. Pinchwife finally gives in; he decides to disguise Margery as a young man and take her out for an airing.

In the next scene, Horner, Harcourt, and Dorilant stand bantering in the New Exchange. Harcourt confesses that he is in love with Alethea and needs a way of preventing her marriage to Sparkish. Horner advises him to use Sparkish himself as a cover for making advances to Alethea. Sparkish himself then approaches, and soon Pinchwife enters with Alethea and the disguised Margery.

Horner, recognizing Margery beneath her disguise, makes his move right under Pinchwife's nose; Pinchwife cannot intervene without admitting to the disguise and humiliating himself. Meanwhile, Harcourt gets Sparkish to plead for him to Alethea, and in begging for reconciliation he covertly (but in terms clear enough to Alethea) expresses his love for her. Alethea becomes frustrated with Sparkish, who refuses to recognize that Harcourt is actually trying to steal her away from him.

When Pinchwife's back is turned, Horner manages to make off with Margery. Pinchwife searches in vain for his wife, who soon returns with her arms full of gifts from Horner. Pinchwife, suspecting that he has been cuckolded, prepares to leave. Sir Jasper enters to fetch Horner to Lady Fidget.

Act IV.

Alethea's maid Lucy finishes dressing her mistress for the wedding with Sparkish. Lucy disapproves of the match, however, and continues to advocate for Harcourt. The two women argue about the nature of honor and whether it is prudent or just for Alethea to marry a man she does not love, simply because she previously agreed to it. Alethea also reveals that Sparkish's lack of jealousy is, to her, his most attractive quality.

Sparkish enters with Harcourt, who is disguised as his fictional brother "Ned," the parson, who is to officiate at the wedding. Alethea tries in vain to make Sparkish see through the disguise; eventually she gives up and agrees to submit to what she knows will be an invalid marriage ceremony.

In the next scene, Pinchwife interrogates Margery regarding her encounter with Horner. Pinchwife is not yet a cuckold, but he sees that he will have to take measures to ensure that Horner does not have any further success with his wife. Pinchwife forces Margery to compose at his dictation a letter to Horner expressing her disgust with him and renouncing any further contact. Margery complies under threat of physical harm, but once the letter is finished and Pinchwife's back is turned, she substitutes a love-letter for the harsh one Pinchwife dictated.

In the next scene, Horner gives The Quack a positive report on the success of his impotence ruse. The Quack then conceals himself as Lady Fidget enters, seeking her first sexual encounter with Horner. After some preliminary fretting over her reputation, she embraces Horner just in time to be caught in the act by Sir Jasper, who enters unexpectedly. Lady Fidget's outrageous explanation, that she was merely determining whether Horner is ticklish, satisfies her oblivious husband. Sir Jasper objects, however, that Lady Fidget was supposed to be shopping for china. She explains that Horner himself has some expertise in china and even possesses a few pieces that she would like to obtain. With this excuse, she exits to another room, into which Horner soon follows her on the pretense of protecting his china collection. As Sir Jasper stands gleefully by, anticipating that his wife is about to obtain a valuable piece of china, Lady Fidget and her new lover have a liaison behind the locked door. Mistress Squeamish enters too late and is disappointed to have missed her opportunity; when Horner and Lady Fidget re-enter, they indicate through double entendres that he is physically depleted.

Pinchwife enters, and Sir Jasper departs with the ladies. Pinchwife delivers Margery's letter to Horner; Horner reads it on the spot and figures out that Margery has substituted a love-letter for one that Pinchwife dictated to her. Pinchwife warns Horner not to cuckold him, but Horner feigns surprise at learning that the "youth" he kissed was not Margery's brother but Margery herself. With another warning, Pinchwife departs.

After a brief discussion between Horner and The Quack, Pinchwife re-enters with Sparkish. Pinchwife and Sparkish are discussing the latter's marriage to Alethea, which may be invalid, as the authenticity of the parson is now in doubt. Horner expresses disappointment in Alethea's attachment to Sparkish; he is thinking of Harcourt's hopes, though Pinchwife takes him to be disappointed for his own sake. Pinchwife exits, and Sparkish invites Horner to dine with him and Pinchwife. Horner accepts, on the condition that Margery will be invited.

In the next scene, Margery thinks longingly of Horner and sits down to write another letter to him. Pinchwife enters, reads the letter she is composing, and is about to commit a violent act upon her when Sparkish walks in and puts a stop to it, leading Pinchwife off to dinner.

Act V.

After dinner, Pinchwife directs Margery to finish the letter to Horner as she had intended. Margery cleverly finishes it in Alethea's name, suggesting that Alethea, not she, is in love with Horner. Pinchwife warms to the idea of marrying Alethea to Horner instead of Sparkish. Meanwhile, with Lucy's help, Margery concocts a plan to get to Horner's lodging: she will impersonate Alethea, who ostensibly wishes to meet Horner and discuss the matter with him but who is so ashamed that she must wear a mask in order not to face Pinchwife. Pinchwife falls for this ruse, and soon he and the disguised Margery depart for Horner's lodging.

In the next scene, Pinchwife delivers the disguised Margery to Horner and then departs to find a parson who will marry Horner and Alethea. Sir Jasper then enters to inform Horner that Lady Fidget and her friends will soon be arriving.

In the next scene, Pinchwife, in Covent Garden, presents Sparkish with evidence that Alethea has written to Horner and intends to marry him. Sparkish is incensed over this insult. Soon Alethea enters, and Sparkish says such nasty things to her, including an avowal that her only attraction for him was her money, that Alethea concludes that she was deceived all along about his good nature.

In the next and final scene, Lady Fidget, Dainty Fidget, and Mistress Squeamish all carouse with Horner in his lodging. (Margery is concealed in a nearby room.) The ladies speak openly of their frustrations with the upper-class men who neglect them and of the hollowness of "reputation." Lady Fidget then makes a reference to Horner's being her lover; this admission elicits surprise from the other two ladies, who apparently have also availed themselves of Horner's services. The three ladies quickly agree not to fight over him, however, but rather to be "sister sharers," all keeping each other's secrets.

Sir Jasper enters, and then the group receives notice that Pinchwife and others are approaching. Horner sends his guests into another room, then calls forth Margery and tries in vain to persuade her to go home before Pinchwife finds her. Margery, however, has resolved to leave Pinchwife and take Horner as her new husband. Horner sends her back into the other room as Pinchwife and the others enter.

Pinchwife, accompanied by Alethea, Harcourt, Sparkish, Lucy, and a parson, wants Horner to attest that Alethea has visited his lodging. Horner lies, in order to protect Margery, and affirms this. Alethea, baffled and aware that she is dishonored by this slander, avows that she regrets the loss of no one's good opinion but Harcourt's. Harcourt declares that he believes her; he then tries in vain to get Horner to clear the matter up. The two men have reached a stalemate when Margery pokes her head in.

Margery gives her opinion that the parson should marry Horner to her rather than to Alethea. Pinchwife, suddenly undeceived, draws his sword on Margery; Horner objects, and Pinchwife turns to threaten him instead, then is restrained by Harcourt. Sir Jasper, entering, inquires what is going on and is amused by the notion of Horner's cuckolding anyone. Pinchwife's seriousness, however, instills in him a fear that Horner may be virile after all.

Lucy intervenes, claiming that Margery's coming in disguise to Horner's lodging was not an indication that Margery loves Horner but rather part of Lucy's plan to break up Sparkish and Alethea. Margery objects, however, that her love for Horner is genuine. Pinchwife makes more threats.

Suddenly The Quack walks in, to the relief of Horner, who calls upon him to attest to his impotence, which The Quack obligingly does. Sir Jasper readily accepts this medical testimony. Pinchwife is more suspicious and requires to be assured that all of London believes in Horner's impotence before he will accept the idea. Margery continues to dissent, but the ladies overwhelm her testimony with expressions of their confidence in Horner's deficiency.

Among the concluding remarks, Harcourt indicates his impatience to be a husband, the Pinchwifes each indicate their distaste for their marriage, and Lucy insists to Pinchwife that Margery's expression of love for Horner "was but the usual innocent revenge on a husband's jealousy." Margery reluctantly confirms this lie, and Pinchwife resigns himself to accepting the story, though it does not convince him: "For my own sake fain I would all believe; / Cuckolds, like lovers, should themselves deceive."
Act I

An "introductory" scene opens The Beggar's Opera, featuring the Beggar and the Player. They directly address the audience about the impending story's origins, intentions and form. Of primary importance is that the piece be understood as opera, even though it contains no recitative and no epilogue or prologue. The Beggar — the "author" of the piece — assures the audience that his play follows all other conventions of the day's fashionable operas.

The story begins in Peachum's house, as Peachum flips through his account book. Peachum is a professional "impeacher"; he runs a gang of thieves, highwaymen and prostitutes, profiting by their earnings. When they are no longer of use, he betrays his associates to the criminal court system for a tidy reward. In other words, he impeaches them.

Peachum inquires of his wife, Mrs. Peachum, whether she has lately seen Captain Macheath, one of their more distinguished highwaymen. She has. More importantly, she believes their daughter Polly may be embroiled in a love affair with the Captain. Peachum revolts against this news. It is imperative that they intercede to stop the romance in its tracks. Above all, Polly must not marry Macheath, or else her money and potential earnings will default to Macheath.

Mrs. Peachum asks one of the lesser henchmen, Filch, for information about the romance. Filch is torn between guarding Polly's confidence and his loyalty to Mrs. Peachum. Mrs. Peachum retires with Filch to ply him with alcohol.

Peachum has meanwhile found Polly, who enters the scene assuring her father that she is merely trifling with Macheath for goods and gifts. This is revealed to be a lie, however, as Mrs. Peachum storms in to announce that Macheath and Polly have indeed married (information she has gotten from Filch). Both parents are outraged.

Polly confesses that she married Macheath because her sexual ardor was so aroused that she needed to safeguard her reputation.

Peachum suspects Macheath has married Polly in an attempt to gain control of her family's money. Regardless, he realizes a potential benefit to this union. If Polly can secure a jointure — a guarantee of property conferred to a widow upon her husband's death — he might gather evidence against and then betray Macheath to the authorities. Then the Peachum family will receive both reward money and Macheath's property, while Macheath will end up hanged. Polly protests this plan vehemently. She married Macheath for love, not money.

Polly resolves to warn Macheath of her parents' cruel intent, so she releases him from her bedchamber, where he has been hiding. As he enters, he swears oaths of fidelity to Polly. Polly enjoins him to flee, insisting they shall reunite when the path is safer.

Act II

At a tavern near Newgate prison, the thieves of Peachum's gang drink, smoke and wax poetic about their depth of friendship towards one another. Matt of the Mint gives a short, rousing speech justifying their trade as a means towards the redistribution of wealth.

Macheath enters the tavern, and asks the men to convince Peachum that he has fled town and quit the gang. The rest of the men exit for 'work,' leaving Macheath alone in the tavern. He is not alone for long before he is visited by several female consorts, the female counterparts to the gang. Although the women strive to imitate the airs of the gentry, they are actually raunchy and lewd. Macheath jostles with them flirtatiously, and two of them, Jenny Diver and Suky Tawdry, wrangle him into a compromising physical position. They draw pistols on the unsuspecting man, and signal to an awaiting Peachum, who enters with the constable. Macheath is subdued and then led away to Newgate Prison.

At Newgate, the jailer Lockit displays his fine assortment of fetters from which, for the right price, Macheath may select the most comfortable pair. Lockit is also Peachum's most important business partner. They are conspiring to share the reward gained from Macheath's death.

Macheath, alone in his cell, laments his entanglement with Polly. Enter Lucy, daughter of Lockit and jilted lover of Macheath. Lucy is in a rage because Macheath had promised to marry her, but married Polly instead. Macheath lies and assures her that he has not married Polly, and Lucy softens.

Peachum and Lockit, in a different part of the prison, come to blows when Peachum accuses Lockit of stealing money. They soon resolve the matter, reasoning that they need each other. Lucy enters and pleads with her father for Macheath's release, but Lockit refuses. Lucy returns to Macheath to deliver the bad news.

Enter Polly, who has come to visit her beloved, incarcerated husband. In an effort to keep Lucy's good faith — after all, she has more power to secure his release than does Polly — Macheath ignores Polly altogether. The women's enmity towards one another grows hot. Eventually, Peachum bursts in and tears Polly away from Macheath.

Lucy conceives of a way to spring Macheath: her father has a habit of drinking with the inmates and then passing out for several hours. She shall steal the keys from him while he's out cold.

Act III

Lucy's plan has worked (in between Acts), and Macheath has fled the prison. Lockit immediately realizes his daughter's part in this escape. If she has collected a fee from Macheath for her services, then there is no harm done, so long as Lockit may collect half. But Lucy has acted only in the service of love. Lockit, enraged, banishes Lucy from his sight. Left alone, Lockit realizes that Peachum will reap the total profit of Macheath's capture, since Macheath is sure to return to Polly.

Meanwhile, Macheath has fled to the gambling-house, where he reunites with members of his gang. Macheath distributes money owed his friends. The men then discuss their operating plans for the evening's thievery.

Lockit has tracked Peachum to the man's stolen-goods warehouse. There, the two discuss their profits from the day until a Mrs. Diana Trapes arrives. She is a manager of stolen goods, and a madam of working women. She despairs that one of their mutual employees, Mrs. Coaxer, is behind on a debt. Mrs. Trapes has forced Mrs. Coaxer to 'work' for the night with a gentleman until the debt is repaid. She refers to this gentleman as "Captain." Peachum immediately discerns that this captain is Macheath, and offers to pay off Coaxer's debt in exchange for access to the Captain.

Back at Newgate, Lucy has summoned Polly on the pretense of reconciling with her. Lucy's real goal, however, is to poison Polly. Polly suspects something untoward in Lucy's enticement, and refuses to drink. The two women are interrupted as the chain-bound Macheath is dragged back into the prison hold, having been captured at the home of Mrs. Trapes.

The women rush at Macheath, begging for a sign of affection, each one hoping and believing she is (or will be) his one, true wife. Peachum asks Macheath to resolve the matter, so they may avoid a lawsuit between the women after Macheath's hanging. Macheath refuses to make a choice. The women once again beg for leniency from their fathers, but the men dismiss their pleas.

Soon after, in the condemned-man's hold, Macheath drinks heavily and steels himself for his imminent hanging. His friends Ben Budge and Matt of the Mint enter to say a fond farewell. Once they are gone, Lucy and Polly rush in, weeping and swearing their love.

A jailer enters to announce the arrival of four more women, each with a child and each calling herself Macheath's wife. This is enough to make Macheath call for the hangman; he is led away.

The Player and the Beggar re-enter in the play's penultimate scene. The Player disputes the Beggar's intended ending, suggesting Macheath's death would make the opera a tragedy, rather than a popular comedy. The Beggar concedes that the fashionable operas of the day always end happily, and agrees to conform to that model. He then directs the rabble to "cry reprieve" for Macheath.

In the final scene, Macheath has been pardoned from hanging. Accompanied by the rabble and the women, he enters in high spirits. Macheath publicly takes Polly as his one, true wife, and the play ends with a high-spirited, carefree song and dance.
ady Sneerwell, who in her youth was the target of slander, has set her life upon a course to reduce the reputations of other women to the level of her own. Aided by her intimate, Snake, she intrigues to involve the Teazles in scandal, to bring Joseph Surface's true character to light, to wreck the love between Charles and Maria, and to gain Charles for herself along with Sir Oliver's fortune. To her the world consists of nothing but scandal and scandalous intrigues, and she does her best to make her vision a reality. She is not successful, however, when she abuses Charles Surface to Sir Peter Teazle's ward Maria, who refuses to listen to her. Instead, Maria trustingly confides in Lady Candour, whose defense of a reputation ensures its complete annihilation.

Sometimes Sir Peter Teazle ponders the wisdom of his marriage to Lady Teazle, doubting the judgment of an old bachelor in marrying a young wife. Lady Teazle is a country-bred girl who is enjoying London life extravagantly and to the full. Sir Oliver Surface is concerned about his two nephews, his problem being the disposal of his great fortune. Sir Oliver has been abroad for the past fifteen years and feels that he does not know his nephews' real natures; he hopes by some stratagem to catch them unawares and thus be able to test their characters.

One day, Sir Peter and Lady Teazle quarrel because Sir Peter violently objects to her attendance at the home of Lady Sneerwell. Lady Teazle accuses Sir Peter of wishing to deprive her of all freedom and reminds him that he has promised to go to Lady Sneerwell's with her. He retorts that he will do so for only one reason, to look after his own character. When they arrive, Lady Sneerwell's rooms are full of people uttering libelous remarks about their enemies and saying even worse things about their friends. Sir Peter escapes as soon as possible.

When the rest of Lady Sneerwell's guests retire to the card room, leaving Maria and Joseph alone, Joseph once more presses his suit. He insinuates that Maria is in love with Charles and is thus running counter to Sir Peter's wishes. Lady Teazle walks in just as Joseph is on his knees avowing his honest love. Surprised, Lady Teazle tells Maria that she is wanted in the next room. After Maria leaves, Lady Teazle asks Joseph for an explanation of what she has seen, and he tells her that he was pleading with Maria not to tell Sir Peter of his tender concern for Lady Teazle.

Sir Oliver consults Rowley, Sir Peter's shrewd and observing servant, in an attempt to learn more about his nephews' characters. Rowley himself believes that Joseph does not have as good a character as his reputation seems to indicate and that Charles has a better one. Sir Oliver also consults Sir Peter, who declares that he is ready to stake his life on Joseph's honor. He is much put out, therefore, when Maria once more refuses to marry Joseph.

Sir Peter, Sir Oliver, and Rowley plan to test the worthiness of the nephews. Charles is, as usual, in dire need of money, and Sir Oliver arranges to accompany a moneylender who is going to see Charles; Sir Oliver will claim to be Mr. Premium, a man who can supply the money that Charles needs. When they arrive at Charles's lodging, a drinking party is in progress, and some of the guests are playing games of dice. Sir Oliver is not at all impressed with Trip, Charles's footman, who gives himself the airs of a fashionable man-about-town.

Upon investigating, Sir Oliver discovers that Charles has, with the exception only of the portraits of his ancestors, turned all of his inherited possessions into cash. Convinced that Charles is a scamp, Sir Oliver, still calling himself Premium, agrees to buy the paintings, and he purchases each picture as presented except his own portrait, which Charles will not sell for any amount of money. Sir Oliver is pleased by this fact and on that ground discounts Charles's reputation for extravagance. Charles receives a draft for eight hundred pounds for the portraits and immediately sends one hundred pounds to Mr. Stanley, a poor relation whose financial circumstances are even worse than his own.

During an assignation between Joseph Surface and Lady Teazle in Joseph's library, Joseph advises her to give her husband grounds for jealousy rather than to suffer his jealousy without cause. He argues that to save her reputation she must ruin it and that he is the man best able to help her. Lady Teazle considers such a doctrine very odd.

While they are talking, Sir Peter arrives unexpectedly, and Lady Teazle hides behind the screen that Joseph orders placed against the window. Joseph then pretends to be reading when Sir Peter walks in. Sir Peter has called to inform Joseph of his suspicions that Lady Teazle is having an affair with Charles; Sir Peter also shows Joseph two deeds he has brought with him, one settling eight hundred pounds a year on Lady Teazle for her independent use, the other giving her the bulk of his fortune at his death. Joseph's dissimulation before Sir Peter and Sir Peter's generosity to her are not lost on Lady Teazle. When Sir Peter begins to discuss Joseph's desire to wed Maria, Lady Teazle realizes that Joseph has been deceiving her.

Below stairs, Charles inopportunely demands entrance to the house to see his brother. Not wishing to see Charles, Sir Peter asks Joseph where he can hide. Sir Peter catches a glimpse of a petticoat behind the screen, but Joseph assures him that the woman behind the screen is only a French milliner who plagues him. Sir Peter hides in a closet, and Lady Teazle remains in her hiding place behind the screen.

When Charles comes in, he and Joseph discuss Lady Teazle and Sir Peter's suspicion that Charles is her lover. Charles mentions that he believes Joseph to be her favorite and recounts all the little incidents that lead him to think so. Embarrassed by this turn in the conversation, Joseph interrupts to say that Sir Peter is within hearing. Placed in a difficult position, Charles explains to Sir Peter that he has merely been playing a joke on Joseph. Sir Peter knows a good joke on Joseph, too, he says: Joseph is having an affair with a milliner. Charles decides that he wants to have a look at the milliner and pulls down the screen, revealing Lady Teazle. Joseph is undone because Lady Teazle refuses to agree with any of the excuses he makes. She angrily informs her husband of the whole nature of Joseph's intentions and departs. Sir Peter follows her, leaving Joseph to his own conscience.

Sir Oliver, masquerading as Mr. Stanley and badly in need of assistance, gains admittance to Joseph's apartment. Joseph refuses to help Mr. Stanley, saying that he receives very little money from Sir Oliver and claiming that he has advanced all his funds to Charles. After Sir Oliver leaves, Rowley, who is a party to the whole scheme, comes to tell Joseph that Sir Oliver has arrived in town.

Sir Oliver goes again to see Joseph. Still believing that his uncle is Mr. Stanley, Joseph is showing him out just as Charles enters. Charles, surprised to see the man he knows as Mr. Premium in his brother's apartment, also insists that he leave, but at that moment Sir Peter Teazle arrives and addresses Sir Oliver by his right name. Both Sir Oliver and Sir Peter are now aware of Joseph's real character. Charles, promising to try to reform, gets Maria and his uncle's inheritance as well. Lady Sneerwell is exposed by Snake, who is paid double to speak the truth, and Lady Teazle returns her diploma to the School for Scandal, of which Lady Sneerwell is president. Everyone is happy except Lady Sneerwell and Joseph Surface.
Oroonoko chronicles the story of the African prince Oroonoko and his beloved wife Imoinda, who are captured by the British and brought to Surinam as slaves. The tale is set primarily in this locale on the northern coast of South America during the 1640s, just before the English surrendered the colony to the Dutch.

A young English woman, the nameless narrator, resides on Parham Plantation awaiting transportation back to England. She is the daughter of the new deputy-governor, who unfortunately died during the family's voyage to take up his new post. During her wait, she has the opportunity to meet and befriend prince Oroonoko and his lovely wife, Imoinda. Before introducing the primary character, however, the narrator provides great detail about the colony and the inhabitants, presenting first a list of multicolored birds, myriad insects, high-colored flora and exotic fauna, and then an almost anthropological account of the natives with whom the British trade and who seem to the narrator to be as innocent as Adam and Eve in "the first state of innocence, before man knew how to sin." The British, she insists, live happily with the natives. Because of their vast numbers, the colonists are unable to enslave them and so must look elsewhere for slaves to work on the sugar plantations--that is, they look to Africa.

After her overview of Surinam, the narrator switches the setting to Coramantien (today Ghana) on the west coast of Africa, where the protagonist Oroonoko is about to meet Imoinda, the daughter of the general who has just died saving Oroonoko's life. The king of Coramantien, who is the 100-year-old grandfather of Oroonoko, has also fallen in love with the young and beautiful girl and has beaten Oroonoko to the punch by sending her the royal veil, a gift Imoinda cannot refuse, and which signifies that she is now the wife of the king. She will spend the rest of her days locked within the otan, or the royal seraglio, which only the king can visit. Oroonoko, however, breaks into the otan with the help of his good friend Aboan, who keeps one of the king's senior wives named Onahal occupied with lovemaking. The king catches him, and Oroonoko flees. Although Imoinda is sold into slavery, the king later informs Oroonoko that she has been honorably put to death.

Meanwhile, the British arrive in Coramantien to trade for the war captives whom Oroonoko sells as slaves. The captain invites the prince and his friends to board his vessel as his guest, but then surprises them and takes them captive. Soon after he promises Oroonoko his freedom, when he and his friends refuse to eat, but he fails to keep this promise. Upon the ship's arrival at Surinam, Oroonoko is sold to the mild-mannered and witty overseer of Parham Plantation who befiends him, Mr. Trefry. At this point, Oroonoko meets the narrator. She and Trefry assure the prince that as soon as the lord-governor Willoughby arrives in Surinam he will be set free.

Because of his high social status, superior education, and spectacular physical appearance, Oroonoko is never sent to work. He resides away from the other slaves in the plantation house. While walking with Trefry one day, he sees Imoinda. The lovers fall happily into each other's arms and all but instantly marry. Soon Imoinda becomes pregnant.

At this point Oroonoko, who desperately desires that his child not be born a slave, becomes even more concerned about his enslaved status despite Trefry's and the narrator's renewed promises that all will be well when the governor arrives. They attempt to divert him with hunting, fishing, and a trip to a native village. Oroonoko is a champion hunter who kills two tigers singlehandedly in addition to managing to hold onto a fishing rod even when an electric eel knocks him unconscious. Although the native village provides distraction (and another means for Behn to provide cultural information about the natives in this region), Oroonoko incites a slave revolt with the other plantation slaves. They escape on Sunday night when the whites are drunk, but they leave a trail that is easy to follow because they have to burn the brush in front of them. The plan is to settle a new community near the shore and find a ship on which to return to Africa. Meanwhile, the narrator flees to safety, but later she gets a firsthand account of the events.

Deputy-governor Byam negotiates with Oroonoko to surrender and promises him amnesty. Once more he assures Oroonoko that he and his family will be freed and returned to Africa. Hardly surprising, however, Byam lies once more to Oroonoko and sees that he is whipped brutally, with pepper poured into his wounds, as soon as he surrenders. The despondent Oroonoko realizes he now will never be free and that his child will be born in captivity. He informs Imoinda that he has decided to kill her honorably, take revenge on Byam, and then kill himself. She thanks her husband for allowing her to die with dignity, and he cuts her throat and removes her face with his knife. But Oroonoko becomes prostrated with grief and can never generate enough energy to go after Byam. Sinking ever deeper into depression, he waits for eight days next to the body of his dead wife until the stench brings Byam's men to the site, where they immediately set about killing him. Finally, Oroonoko stands stoically smoking his pipe while they chop off his nose, ears, and one leg. Then he falls down dead, and they quarter his body before disposing of it.
Robinson Crusoe Summary
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Robinson Crusoe is a youth of about eighteen years old who resides in Hull, England. Although his father wishes him to become a lawyer, Crusoe dreams of going on sea voyages. He disregards the fact that his two older brothers are gone because of their need for adventure. His father cautions that a middle-class existence is the most stable. Robinson ignores him. When his parents refuse to let him take at least one journey, he runs away with a friend and secures free passage to London. Misfortune begins immediately, in the form of rough weather. The ship is forced to land at Yarmouth. When Crusoe's friend learns the circumstances under which he left his family, he becomes angry and tells him that he should have never come to the sea. They part, and Crusoe makes his way to London via land. He thinks briefly about going home, but cannot stand to be humiliated. He manages to find another voyage headed to Guiana. Once there, he wants to become a trader. On the way, the ship is attacked by Turkish pirates, who bring the crew and passengers into the Moorish port of Sallee. Robinson is made a slave. For two years he plans an escape. An opportunity is presented when he is sent out with two Moorish youths to go fishing. Crusoe throws one overboard, and tells the other one, called Xury, that he may stay if he is faithful. They anchor on what appears to be uninhabited land. Soon they see that black people live there. These natives are very friendly to Crusoe and Xury. At one point, the two see a Portuguese ship in the distance. They manage to paddle after it and get the attention of those on board. The captain is kind and says he will take them aboard for free and bring them to Brazil.

Robinson goes to Brazil and leaves Xury with the captain. The captain and a widow in England are Crusoe's financial guardians. In the new country, Robinson observes that much wealth comes from plantations. He resolves to buy one for himself. After a few years, he has some partners, and they are all doing very well financially. Crusoe is presented with a new proposition: to begin a trading business. These men want to trade slaves, and they want Robinson to be the master of the tradepost. Although he knows he has enough money, Crusoe decides to make the voyage. A terrible shipwreck occurs and Robinson is the only survivor. He manages to make it to the shore of an island.

Robinson remains on the island for twenty-seven years. He is able to take many provisions from the ship. In that time, he recreates his English life, building homes, necessities, learning how to cook, raise goats and crops. He is at first very miserable, but embraces religion as a balm for his unhappiness. He is able to convince himself that he lives a much better life here than he did in Europe--much more simple, much less wicked. He comes to appreciate his sovereignty over the entire island. One time he tries to use a boat to explore the rest of the island, but he is almost swept away, and does not make the attempt again. He has pets whom he treats as subjects. There is no appearance of man until about 15 years into his stay. He sees a footprint, and later observes cannibalistic savages eating prisoners. They don't live on the island; they come in canoes from a mainland not too far away. Robinson is filled with outrage, and resolves to save the prisoners the next time these savages appear. Some years later they return. Using his guns, Crusoe scares them away and saves a young savage whom he names Friday.

Friday is extremely grateful and becomes Robinson's devoted servant. He learns some English and takes on the Christian religion. For some years the two live happily. Then, another ship of savages arrives with three prisoners. Together Crusoe and Friday are able to save two of them. One is a Spaniard; the other is Friday's father. Their reunion is very joyous. Both have come from the mainland close by. After a few months, they leave to bring back the rest of the Spaniard's men. Crusoe is happy that his island is being peopled. Before the Spaniard and Friday's father can return, a boat of European men comes ashore. There are three prisoners. While most of the men are exploring the island, Crusoe learns from one that he is the captain of a ship whose crew mutinied. Robinson says he will help them as long as they leave the authority of the island in his hands, and as long as they promise to take Friday and himself to England for free. The agreement is made. Together this little army manages to capture the rest of the crew and retake the captain's ship. Friday and Robinson are taken to England. Even though Crusoe has been gone thirty-five years, he finds that his plantations have done well and he is very wealthy. He gives money to the Portuguese captain and the widow who were so kind to him. He returns to the English countryside and settles there, marrying and having three children. When his wife dies, he once more goes to the sea.
Gulliver's Travels (1726)
(A novel by Irish writer and clergyman Jonathan Swift, that is both a satire on human nature and a parody of the "travellers' tales" literary sub-genre. It is Swift's best known full-length work, and a classic of English literature.)
Gulliver's Travels recounts the story of Lemuel Gulliver, a practical-minded Englishman trained as a surgeon who takes to the seas when his business fails. In a deadpan first-person narrative that rarely shows any signs of self-reflection or deep emotional response, Gulliver narrates the adventures that befall him on these travels.
Gulliver's adventure in Lilliput begins when he wakes after his shipwreck to find himself bound by innumerable tiny threads and addressed by tiny captors who are in awe of him but fiercely protective of their kingdom. They are not afraid to use violence against Gulliver, though their arrows are little more than pinpricks. But overall, they are hospitable, risking famine in their land by feeding Gulliver, who consumes more food than a thousand Lilliputians combined could. Gulliver is taken into the capital city by a vast wagon the Lilliputians have specially built. He is presented to the emperor, who is entertained by Gulliver, just as Gulliver is flattered by the attention of royalty. Eventually Gulliver becomes a national resource, used by the army in its war against the people of Blefuscu, whom the Lilliputians hate for doctrinal differences concerning the proper way to crack eggs. But things change when Gulliver is convicted of treason for putting out a fire in the royal palace with his urine and is condemned to be shot in the eyes and starved to death. Gulliver escapes to Blefuscu, where he is able to repair a boat he finds and set sail for England.
After staying in England with his wife and family for two months, Gulliver undertakes his next sea voyage, which takes him to a land of giants called Brobdingnag. Here, a field worker discovers him. The farmer initially treats him as little more than an animal, keeping him for amusement. The farmer eventually sells Gulliver to the queen, who makes him a courtly diversion and is entertained by his musical talents. Social life is easy for Gulliver after his discovery by the court, but not particularly enjoyable. Gulliver is often repulsed by the physicality of the Brobdingnagians, whose ordinary flaws are many times magnified by their huge size. Thus, when a couple of courtly ladies let him play on their naked bodies, he is not attracted to them but rather disgusted by their enormous skin pores and the sound of their torrential urination. He is generally startled by the ignorance of the people here—even the king knows nothing about politics. More unsettling findings in Brobdingnag come in the form of various animals of the realm that endanger his life. Even Brobdingnagian insects leave slimy trails on his food that make eating difficult. On a trip to the frontier, accompanying the royal couple, Gulliver leaves Brobdingnag when his cage is plucked up by an eagle and dropped into the sea.
Next, Gulliver sets sail again and, after an attack by pirates, ends up in Laputa, where a floating island inhabited by theoreticians and academics oppresses the land below, called Balnibarbi. The scientific research undertaken in Laputa and in Balnibarbi seems totally inane and impractical, and its residents too appear wholly out of touch with reality. Taking a short side trip to Glubbdubdrib, Gulliver is able to witness the conjuring up of figures from history, such as Julius Caesar and other military leaders, whom he finds much less impressive than in books. After visiting the Luggnaggians and the Struldbrugs, the latter of which are senile immortals who prove that age does not bring wisdom, he is able to sail to Japan and from there back to England.
Finally, on his fourth journey, Gulliver sets out as captain of a ship, but after the mutiny of his crew and a long confinement in his cabin, he arrives in an unknown land. This land is populated by Houyhnhnms, rational-thinking horses who rule, and by Yahoos, brutish humanlike creatures who serve the Houyhnhnms. Gulliver sets about learning their language, and when he can speak he narrates his voyages to them and explains the constitution of England. He is treated with great courtesy and kindness by the horses and is enlightened by his many conversations with them and by his exposure to their noble culture. He wants to stay with the Houyhnhnms, but his bared body reveals to the horses that he is very much like a Yahoo, and he is banished. Gulliver is grief-stricken but agrees to leave. He fashions a canoe and makes his way to a nearby island, where he is picked up by a Portuguese ship captain who treats him well, though Gulliver cannot help now seeing the captain—and all humans—as shamefully Yahoo-like. Gulliver then concludes his narrative with a claim that the lands he has visited belong by rights to England, as her colonies, even though he questions the whole idea of colonialism.
"A Modest Proposal" (1729)
(a Juvenalian satirical essay written and published anonymously by Jonathan Swift. Swift suggests that the impoverished Irish might ease their economic troubles by selling their children as food for rich gentlemen and ladies. This satirical hyperbole mocks heartless attitudes towards the poor, as well as Irish policy in general.)
The full title of Swift's pamphlet is "A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People from Being a Burthen to their Parents, or the Country, and for Making them Beneficial to the Publick." The tract is an ironically conceived attempt to "find out a fair, cheap, and easy Method" for converting the starving children of Ireland into "sound and useful members of the Commonwealth." Across the country poor children, predominantly Catholics, are living in squalor because their families are too poor to keep them fed and clothed.
The author argues, by hard-edged economic reasoning as well as from a self-righteous moral stance, for a way to turn this problem into its own solution. His proposal, in effect, is to fatten up these undernourished children and feed them to Ireland's rich land-owners. Children of the poor could be sold into a meat market at the age of one, he argues, thus combating overpopulation and unemployment, sparing families the expense of child-bearing while providing them with a little extra income, improving the culinary experience of the wealthy, and contributing to the overall economic well-being of the nation.
The author offers statistical support for his assertions and gives specific data about the number of children to be sold, their weight and price, and the projected consumption patterns. He suggests some recipes for preparing this delicious new meat, and he feels sure that innovative cooks will be quick to generate more. He also anticipates that the practice of selling and eating children will have positive effects on family morality: husbands will treat their wives with more respect, and parents will value their children in ways hitherto unknown. His conclusion is that the implementation of this project will do more to solve Ireland's complex social, political, and economic problems than any other measure that has been proposed.
Little Joey Andrews has a pretty sweet gig going for him. At ten years old, he goes from a job scaring birds away from the fields to being a footman at Sir Thomas Booby's grand old house. The job comes with one downside: Lady Booby, Sir Thomas's lecherous wife, is majorly into Joseph. Even though Lady Booby might benefit from watching He's Just Not That Into You, the truth is that Joseph is too busy getting educated to notice what Lady Booby wants. Hey, the local parson, Mr. Abraham Adams, is one heck of a teacher.

The Boobys take Joseph to their London home, which turns out to give some culture shock to poor Joey. Joseph spends his days getting into mischief, but he doesn't succumb to the advances of Lady Booby. Sir Thomas unfortunately kicks the bucket while in London, so Lady Booby is even more insistent about getting some action. Also, did we mention that Joseph has another fan among the ladies? Mrs. Slipslop, Lady Booby's maid, tries to tell Joseph that he's hot stuff, too—but she totally gets rejected. She's pretty mad about it—in fact, she goes straight to Lady Booby and makes up stories about how Joseph's a little too loose with the ladies.

In a fit of jealousy, Lady Booby kicks Joseph out. Never fear: he has a plan. Joseph decides to embark on a journey to see his long-lost childhood sweetheart, Fanny Goodwill. Unfortunately, he's barely out of the gate when he runs into two highwaymen. These ruffians not only take his money, but they also strip him of his clothes and beat him up when he protests. Poor, naked Joseph lies in a ditch by the side of the road and waits for someone to take pity on him.

Not everyone's as nice as Joseph, though. A coach full of well-to-do people nearly pass him by until one of them, a lawyer, worries that they'll be held accountable for his murder. They grudgingly drop Joseph off at Mr. and Mrs. Tow-wouse's inn. A surgeon takes a gander at Joseph and proclaims him to be mortally wounded, which makes Joseph despair of ever seeing Fanny again. A clergyman named Mr. Barnabas stops by the inn and says he'll pray for Joseph, though he spends more time provoking the surgeon.

Who should happen upon this dismal scene but Parson Adams? It turns out the dude is on his way to London to publish some of his sermons. Well, he'll be on his way just as soon as he gets a loan from someone to make that happen, actually. Surprise, surprise: no one's really interested in giving Parson Adams any moolah, but his arrival at the inn coincides with Joseph getting rapidly better—he's not going to die, after all. Obviously, the two parsons in the hizzouse get along swimmingly. Barnabus introduces Parson Adams to a bookseller, but the bookseller isn't really interested in helping Adams out.

The whole inn is in an uproar because Betty, a maid who initially had eyes for Joseph, is caught in bed with Mr. Tow-wouse. Joseph and Parson Adams decide to skedaddle from the inn, but they have a somewhat unconventional traveling style: they swap places, one of them riding on Adams's horse and one walking, every few miles. There's one problem with that: while Adams is riding, it takes Joseph a much longer time to walk. While Adams is waiting for Joseph to catch up, he runs into his old pal Mrs. Slipslop. She invites Adams to travel in her coach and tells him the gossipy story of a lady named Leonora.

In the meantime, Joseph catches up to the group on horseback and joins Adams for dinner at an inn. The owner of the inn picks a fight with Adams, who promptly decks him in the face. The group starts off again, with Joseph in the coach and Adams on foot. What about the horse?

Adams, that lovable doofus, totally forgot about the horse.

While strolling through the night, Adams happens across a gentleman out shooting partridges. These two fine fellows begin a conversation on bravery when they hear a woman screaming nearby. While the partridge-hunting gentleman books it out of there, Adams runs to the young lady's assistance. He chases off a dude trying to ravish the lady and tells her she's safe.

The nameless young lady doesn't totally trust Adams, but she lets him escort her to safety. The couple soon runs right into the lady's attacker again... along with a group of young men out for a lark. The ravisher-dude actually convinces the group that he's the good guy and says that Adams and the lady were out to rob and murder him.

As Adams and the lady are escorted back to be thrown in jail, Adams figures out that this dame is none other than Fanny Goodwill—that's right, Joseph's childhood sweetheart. It turns out she was trying to go see Joseph while Joseph was trying to go find her. Tough luck, we guess.

The Justice of the Peace hears the case against Adams and Fanny, but he doesn't care one way or another and doesn't try to save them from prison. Luckily, someone recognizes Adams as a parson and tells the Justice of Peace to check himself before he wrecks himself. Adams and Fanny get out of there to try to find Joseph.

Finally, the sweethearts reunite at a nearby inn, much to the chagrin of Mrs. Slipslop. The group gets in trouble once again when they realize they're broke as a joke and need to pay for their stay at the inn. Adams is all, "I got this." He confidently heads straight to the house of Trulliber, a parson and sometimes-hog-farmer who has no interest in helping anyone out. Instead, a kind peddler takes pity on them and pays their fee so that the merry group can travel on.

A kindly squire offers to lend Adams, Fanny, and Joseph his coach, but the guy turns out to be a fraud. He just offers things to people without ever following through, says the innkeeper at the next place the group stays. The three buddies end up spending the next night at the home of the Wilson family, a truly good sort of people. While listening to Mr. Wilson's life story, Adams and Joseph learn that their new pal's eldest son was kidnapped by a band of roving gypsies when he was only a wee lad.

The group departs from the Wilson household, trudges along for a good long while, then takes a little siesta. That little nap gets interrupted by a pack of hunting dogs out for blood—the blood of a poor defenseless hare, that is. In the chaos, Adams and Joseph fight back against the wild pack. Whaddya know—the dogs' owner is a real jerk: not only is this evil squire totally unsympathetic about his animals attacking the group, but he also acts super lecherously toward Fanny. Under the guise of inviting the group to dinner, he tries to get on her good side.

At dinner, Parson Adams gets cruelly taunted by the squire's servants. He's so fed up that he takes off with Joseph and Fanny, leaving the squire resolved to get Fanny back. Unbeknownst to the group, the squire sends some of his crew off to kidnap her and bring her back. What's with this girl's bad luck?

The squire's servants manage to nab Fanny the next time the group stops for rest at an inn. Adams and Joseph aren't able to prevent the crime, since they've been tied up and are totally useless. Luckily, a bunch of Lady Booby's entourage recognize Fanny and stop the crime from happening. Fanny's rescuers are Peter Pounce and his posse (gotta love the alliteration), who also happen to be journeying to Lady Booby's country house. Obviously, everyone makes the last leg of the journey together.

After finally arriving in Lady Booby's country parish, Joseph and Fanny are awfully antsy to get married. The recently arrived Lady Booby tries to put a stop to that nonsense by appealing to Adams. When that doesn't work, she tries more underhanded tactics: she employs a lawyer who makes up some legal mumbo-jumbo about why the couple can't wed. Oh, yeah—and remember the Justice of Peace? He's back in the picture, and he totally approves of Lady Booby's scheming.

Just when things couldn't get more dismal, Joseph's beloved sister, Pamela, arrives with her new husband. That'd be Lady Booby's nephew, Mr. B—just in case you need to brush up on your Pamela history. Pamela and her hubby figure out how to stop Lady Booby's plan. Fanny, in the meantime, attracts the attention of the pompous Beau Didapper, a local country gentleman. When Beau figures out he can't have Fanny, he goes over to the dark side: in other words, his wish is Lady Booby's command. Beau also charges his servant to attack Fanny, because he's just that vile.

But no one's picking on Fanny when Joseph Andrews is around. Joseph comes to Fanny's rescue and accompanies her on over to Adams's house. Things are looking pretty bad at the Adams household, since the good parson and his wife have just received news that their youngest son has drowned. Just when Adams is about to tear his (fake) hair out, the peddler pops back into the story. And guess who the peddler's got with him? It's none other than little Jacky, the kid who supposedly drowned. There's a celebration.


(And yes, we also noticed that things have started to get pretty random in Joseph Andrews town.)

The peddler doesn't stop at saving lives, either. He's an amateur Encyclopedia Brown, looking into the (previously unmentioned) mystery of Fanny's birth. See, the peddler had a mistress a long time ago who stole a child while she was traveling with gypsies. Wait, what? Bear with us, because it gets even more complicated. Turns out, the mistress sold that child to Sir Thomas Booby. The parents of child are—wait for it—Mr. and Mrs. Andrews, Joseph's parents.

Since Joseph's not into the idea of marrying his sister, this poses some problems. Mr. and Mrs. Andrews arrive in the meantime and confirm that Fanny is their daughter. Here's where the plot gets even more complicated: Fanny was stolen from Mr. and Mrs. Andrews when she was a baby, and the gypsies left Joseph in her place.

Yes, we now have three separate incidences of gypsies stealing children in this book.

Remember, though, that the peddler is a detective. He asks Joseph whether he has a strawberry-shaped birthmark on his breast. Joseph does. It turns out that strawberry-shaped birthmark proves that he's actually Mr. Wilson's son. To jog your memory, that's the guy who housed Joseph, Adams, and Fanny for a night and told them the sob story about his missing son.

Well, at this point, Wilson shows up and embraces his long-lost son; Fanny and Joseph get married (you know, since they're not siblings, after all); and Pamela's husband doles out land and money to everyone like they won the state lottery. And what about Lady Booby, you might ask? She finds another young buck to fill Joseph's strawberry-shaped hole in her heart.
The book opens with Pamela, a 15-year old waiting-maid, writing a letter to her parents mourning the loss of her lady, a.k.a. employer. In addition to being sad about Lady B's death, Pamela is worried about losing her position in the household. Coming from an impoverished family, Pamela is very anxious to keep money rolling in, plus it's a pretty cushy job. Lucky for her, Mr. B—her lady's son—offers to keep her and the other servants on.

Woohoo! Pamela is totes thrilled, but soon take a dark turn when Mr. B starts trying to get a little too friendly, if you know what we mean—and what we mean is that he tries to rape her, often enlisting the help of other servants in his attempts. (We're still in letters, here: in fact, the whole novel is told through letters.)

Pamela begs to go home or at least to be sent to serve Mr. B's sister (Lady Davers), but no dice. Mr. B alternates between being furious with Pamela's "impertinence" and saying he can't control his desire for her. Yeah, we've heard that one before—and it sounded just as pathetic then, too.

Eventually, he agrees to send Pamela to her parents. But surprise! It's a trick: instead, he sends her to his Lincolnshire estate to keep her prisoner. Are you feeling the love yet? He then writes to Pamela inviting her to be his mistress, but Pamela is super religious and proud of her virtue, so it doesn't take her long to say a big fat NO.

Meanwhile, Pamela has managed to let local preacher Mr. Williams know the deets of her very troubling situation, and Mr. Williams has agreed to help her out. In fact, he even offers to marry her to get her out of her present circumstances. Awesome! For a poor maid to marry a preacher is definitely a step up the social ladder.

But apparently it's not far enough for Pamela (we kid ... or do we?), who just wants to go home. Mrs. Jewkes, the housekeeper at the Lincolnshire house, eventually gets wise to Mr. Williams's coziness with Pamela and tells Mr. B, who is not pleased and comes up with a truly diabolical and hilariously weird plan: with the help of Mrs. Jewkes, Mr. B dresses up like one of the housemaids, Nan, so he can sneak into bed with Pamela. Unfortunately for Mr. B's amorous intentions, Pamela has a fit when she realizes what's happened—like, literally a fit: a seizure so strong that Mr. B and Mrs. Jewkes are afraid she'll die.

After that incident, Pamela tells her parents that Mr. B's behavior changes. He stops trying to rape her, and he mumbles something about loving her. But even when he says he might maybe sort of think about asking her to marry him, Pamela still just says she wants to go home.

Well, fine then. He furiously sends her away to her parents ... until he writes and begs her to come back. For some reason, Pamela believes all his talk about reform and admits that she has some teeny-tiny feelings for him, too. So, she heads back.

After some tedious agonizing about their class differences, they decide to marry. And ... then the book starts to get a little boring. Mr. B lectures Pamela about how to be a wife, because he has some sort of moral authority now? Whatever.

And then Pamela wins over a whole series of snotty aristocratic ladies who hate that this eligible bachelor married his servant, because Pamela is the bestest ever and nobody hates her. Finally, the book closes on a super weird note: Mr. B introduces Pamela to his daughter from a youthful dalliance, who believes Mr. B is her uncle. Pamela is thrilled to have her in the family and begs Mr. B to let her come live with them, like you do when you discover that your husband has a secret love child.
The story opens in a London playhouse where the unnamed main character, intrigued by the men at the theater, decides to pretend she is a prostitute. She enjoys talking with one Beauplaisir and he, believing her favors to be for sale, asks to meet her. She demurs and puts him off until the next evening. In preparation, she rents lodgings and then meets him at the theater the following night. They go to the house and she realizes that Beauplaisir wants to have sex and resists him, but he does not listen to her protests and rapes her. Afterwards, she is despondent and rejects his money, which confuses Beauplaisir, who did not believe her protestations. Worried about her reputation, she gives her name as "Fantomina". Soon, however, Beauplaisir tires of her and leaves for Bath. She follows him. Dressed as a country girl, she obtains employment at the inn where he is staying, as a maid. When Beauplaisir sees her, he believes her to be a new maid, Celia, and, overcome by his desire, ravishes her. He gives her some money in recompense. He leaves Bath after about a month, tired of Celia. On his way home, he encounters Mrs. Bloomer and invites her into his carriage, who is the protagonist dressed as a widow. Her grief prompts him to try to raise her spirits, which results in them having sex in an inn along the way. Back in London, the heroine sends Beauplaisir a letter, signed "Incognita", declaring her undying love and passion for him. She writes there is nothing she will refuse him, except the sight of her face. They meet and she, wearing a mask, agrees to sleep with him in the dark. Beauplaisir keeps up each of these affairs, never realizing they are the same woman, but they both eventually tire of each other. She becomes pregnant and after she gives birth her mother insists she name the father. When Beauplaisir arrives, he does not know who she is until she tells her story. At the end, her mother sends her to live in a monastery in France.
The action covered in Tristram Shandy spans the years 1680-1766. Sterne obscures the story's underlying chronology, however, by rearranging the order of the various pieces of his tale. He also subordinates the basic plot framework by weaving together a number of different stories, as well as such disparate materials as essays, sermons, and legal documents. There are, nevertheless, two clearly discernible narrative lines in the book.

The first is the plot sequence that includes Tristram's conception, birth, christening, and accidental circumcision. (This sequence extends somewhat further in Tristram's treatment of his "breeching," the problem of his education, and his first and second tours of France, but these events are handled less extensively and are not as central to the text.) It takes six volumes to cover this chain of events, although comparatively few pages are spent in actually advancing such a simple plot. The story occurs as a series of accidents, all of which seem calculated to confound Walter Shandy's hopes and expectations for his son. The manner of his conception is the first disaster, followed by the flattening of his nose at birth, a misunderstanding in which he is given the wrong name, and an accidental run-in with a falling window-sash. The catastrophes that befall Tristram are actually relatively trivial; only in the context of Walter Shandy's eccentric, pseudo-scientific theories do they become calamities.

The second major plot consists of the fortunes of Tristram's Uncle Toby. Most of the details of this story are concentrated in the final third of the novel, although they are alluded to and developed in piecemeal fashion from the very beginning. Toby receives a wound to the groin while in the army, and it takes him four years to recover. When he is able to move around again, he retires to the country with the idea of constructing a scaled replica of the scene of the battle in which he was injured. He becomes obsessed with re-enacting those battles, as well as with the whole history and theory of fortification and defense. The Peace of Utrecht slows him down in these "hobby-horsical" activities, however, and it is during this lull that he falls under the spell of Widow Wadman. The novel ends with the long-promised account of their unfortunate affair.
Rasselas (1759)
(an apologue-- brief fable or allegorical story with pointed or exaggerated details, meant to serve as a pleasant vehicle for a moral doctrine or to convey a useful lesson without stating it explicitly--about happiness. Concerns a young man traveling in the company of honored teachers, encountering and examining human suffering in an attempt to determine the root of happiness. Confronts most directly whether or not humanity is essentially capable of attaining happiness. Writing as a devout Christian, Johnson makes through his characters no blanket attacks on the viability of a religious response to this question, and while the story is in places light and humorous, it is not a piece of satire.)
The plot is simple in the extreme. Rasselas, son of the King of Abyssinia (modern-day Ethiopia), is shut up in a beautiful valley, "till the order of succession should call him to the throne." He grows weary of the factitious entertainments of the place, and after much brooding escapes with his sister Nekayah, her attendant Pekuah and his poet-friend Imlac. They are to see the world and search for happiness, but after some sojourn in Egypt, where they encounter various classes of society and undergo a few mild adventures, they perceive the futility of their search and abruptly return to Abyssinia. Local color is almost nonexistent and episodic elements, e.g. the story of Imlac and that of the mad astronomer, abound. There is little of incident, no love-making, with few endeavors to charm the fancy, and with but slight recognition of the claims of sentiment.
Equiano begins his first-person narrative by including several letters that attest to both the veracity of his text and his good character. He then proceeds to his narrative.

He was born in the Eboe province of Africa, and provides cultural detail on those people. While young children, he and his sister were seized by kidnappers and sold to slave traders. After being brought across Africa to the coast, he was sent to the West Indies via the horrific Middle Passage.

He was purchased quickly enough by Michael Henry Pascal, a lieutenant in the Royal Navy. Pascal had intended him as a gift for friends in London, but instead kept Equiano as an aid towards his naval endeavors during the Seven Years' War. During this time, Equiano heard about the Christian God and started learning to read and write. Through his ability at sea, he became indispensable to Pascal and became accustomed to his situation.

Equiano began to think of freedom, and hoped that Pascal might one day allow it. Unfortunately, Pascal learning of Equiano's ambition, and cruelly sold him to Captain Doran of the Charming Sally. Equiano was devastated, but tried to resign himself to God's will. Doran in turn sold Equiano to Robert King, a wealthy and benevolent Quaker merchant who worked out of Philadelphia. King was a kind master, and Equiano worked diligently and cheerfully for him. Even though he still hoped to one day purchase freedom, Equiano's strong moral code precluded him from simply running away unless he was abused.

Equiano traveled to America and the West Indies with King, noting the terrible punishments and treatment inflicted upon the Africans who toiled on the plantations there. He realized that free blacks in some ways were worse off than slaves, since they had no master to look out for them, and no opportunities for legal redress of injury. King allowed his friend, Captain Thomas Farmer, to take Equiano as sailor on several of his voyages, on which Equiano distinguished himself. King and Farmer accused him once of planning an escape, but Equiano's evidence of loyalty quashed their fears. Guilty over the accusation, King promised to lend Equiano money towards his freedom if the slave could raise an adequate amount himself.

Equiano finally raised enough money to purchase his manumission in July of 1766. Equiano describes it as the happiest day of his life. As he was firmly indebted to the kindness of Farmer and King, he continued to sail with them, but now as a paid steward and sailor. Equiano's travels brought him to Turkey, Martinico, Georgia, Montserrat, Grenada, France, and even to the North Pole. That mission sought a route to India, but was a failure. Throughout these voyages, Equiano proved himself to be immensely capable and intelligent. He had learned how to read and write, and mastered navigation. He also learned how to dress hair, an occupation he took up when he later lived in London.

After several near death experiences on the North Pole expedition, Equiano decided to seek God in a deeper way than he had previously done. He visited several churches and found them wanting; he preferred to read the Bible alone in his lodging. However, in a chance encounter with an elderly Methodist man, he came to understand a new way of interpreting the Bible. It became clear to him that good works alone could not procure the free gift of grace and salvation that God provided. After some equivocation, Equiano underwent a conversion experience and joined the Methodist church. Religion thus permeated every aspect of his life and was crucial to his fashioning of his identity.

After a few more voyages, Equiano accepted his friend Doctor Irving's proposal to work as an overseer on a new plantation in Jamaica. Equiano was not in Jamaica for long before he tired of life there. He sailed back to England and worked for Governor Macnamara for a time. Macnamara wanted Equiano to serve as a missionary in Africa, but the Bishop of the Church did not approve his petition. Equiano then worked as part of the government's plan to relocate slaves in Sierra Leone. Due to mismanagement and shortsightedness, the plan failed. Equiano was criticized for his role in this failure, but he protests quite firmly that he was blameless. He was honored to present a petition to the Queen calling attention to the atrocities of the slave trade, and asking for its abolition. He also spent time in Wales, and married Miss Susanna Cullen in 1791. In the final chapter, he makes several explicit arguments to the reader for abolition of the slave trade. Equiano ends his narrative by explaining that he had come to see the invisible hand of God was in every event of his life. Through that realization, he has learned a lesson of "morality and religion" (236).
Once upon a time (the late seventeenth century), in place far, far away (England), there lived two poets: one named John Dryden, the other, Thomas Shadwell. They were both quite successful and well respected. One thing led to another, however, and they soon found themselves embroiled in some serious beef. One day, the writer by the name of John Dryden decided to up the ante.

The result was "Mac Flecknoe," John Dryden's literary takedown of Thomas Shadwell, an imaginative and hilarious satire extraordinaire. Whether it's epically ironic, or ironically epic (you'll have to read on and tell us which one you think), the poem pretty much carved out its own genre: the mock-epic, or mock-heroic.

Dryden completely skewers Shadwell, exposing him for what he was: a bad writer with bad taste, who would do anything for the cheap laugh. Though it really doesn't even seem fair to make fun of a guy who looks like this. Okay, maybe that's an unfair assessment of Shadwell. He was pretty well-known in his day, an important, albeit minor, figure in the English Restoration literary scene. But unfortunately for him, he's best remembered today for playing the hapless starring role in "Mac Flecknoe," where he gets shredded faster than a Kleenex at Edward Scissorhand's house.

How does Dryden achieve this razor-sharp, devastating effect, you might wonder? "Mac Flecknoe" is an incredibly rich, expertly crafted work of satire, layered in so much irony, sarcasm, and wit that you forget at times he's even joking. Written in Dryden's patented mock-epic style, the poem takes after its heroic, grandiose big brothers, classical and modern epics—like The Iliad and Paradise Lost—except for the minor detail that the whole thing is a massive joke.

See, "Mac Flecknoe" is a uniquely epic piece of writing that's less Homer, and more Homer Simpson—except maybe a bit smarter. Dryden mocks his victim, Shadwell, by depicting him as the lamest epic hero of all time: the terminally dull, hopelessly witless poet-king of the "realms of Non-sense" (6). Throughout the poem, Dryden shows no mercy to his victim, finding new and clever ways to use wit and irony, while pretty much inventing his own genre in the process. Today, "Mac Flecknoe" is hilarious as ever; we can still feel that 330-year-old burn just as sharply. Now that's what we call epic.
The Rape of the Lock is a humorous indictment of the vanities and idleness of 18th-century high society. Basing his poem on a real incident among families of his acquaintance, Pope intended his verses to cool hot tempers and to encourage his friends to laugh at their own folly. The verse form of The Rape of the Lock is the heroic couplet; Pope still reigns as the uncontested master of the form. The heroic couplet consists of rhymed pairs of iambic pentameter lines (lines of ten syllables each, alternating stressed and unstressed syllables). Pope's couplets do not fall into strict iambs, however, flowering instead with a rich rhythmic variation that keeps the highly regular meter from becoming heavy or tedious.)
Belinda arises to prepare for the day's social activities after sleeping late. Her guardian sylph, Ariel, warned her in a dream that some disaster will befall her, and promises to protect her to the best of his abilities. Belinda takes little notice of this oracle, however. After an elaborate ritual of dressing and primping, she travels on the Thames River to Hampton Court Palace, an ancient royal residence outside of London, where a group of wealthy young socialites are gathering for a party. Among them is the Baron, who has already made up his mind to steal a lock of Belinda's hair. He has risen early to perform an elaborate set of prayers and sacrifices to promote success in this enterprise. When the partygoers arrive at the palace, they enjoy a tense game of cards, which Pope describes in mock-heroic terms as a battle. This is followed by a round of coffee. Then the Baron takes up a pair of scissors and manages, on the third try, to cut off the coveted lock of Belinda's hair. Belinda is furious. Umbriel, a mischievous gnome, journeys down to the Cave of Spleen to procure a sack of sighs and a flask of tears which he then bestows on the heroine to fan the flames of her ire. Clarissa, who had aided the Baron in his crime, now urges Belinda to give up her anger in favor of good humor and good sense, moral qualities which will outlast her vanities. But Clarissa's moralizing falls on deaf ears, and Belinda initiates a scuffle between the ladies and the gentlemen, in which she attempts to recover the severed curl. The lock is lost in the confusion of this mock battle, however; the poet consoles the bereft Belinda with the suggestion that it has been taken up into the heavens and immortalized as a constellation.
(The Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot is a satire in poetic form and addresses Pope's friend John Arbuthnot, a physician. Published when Pope learned that Arbuthnot was dying. Pope described it as a memorial of their friendship. It has been called Pope's "most directly autobiographical work," in which he defends his practice in the genre of satire and attacks those who had been his opponents and rivals throughout his career. Pope discusses the current state of artistic and political affairs in England while examining his own long career as England's foremost poet—and most feared satirist.)
The poem includes character sketches of "Atticus" (Joseph Addison) and "Sporus" (John Hervey). Addison is presented as having great talent that is diminished by fear and jealousy; Hervey is sexually perverse, malicious, and both absurd and dangerous. Pope marks the virulence of the "Sporus" attack by having Arbuthnot exclaim "Who breaks a butterfly upon a wheel?" (famous quote) in reference to the form of torture called the breaking wheel (a torture device used for capital punishment in the Middle Ages and early modern times for public execution by bludgeoning to death). By emphasizing friendship, Pope counters his image as "an envious and malicious monster" whose "satire springs from a being devoid of all natural affections and lacking a heart." It was an "efficient and authoritative revenge":in this poem and others of the 1730s, Pope presents himself as writing satire not out of ego or misanthropy, but to serve impersonal virtue.
http://www.poetryfoundation.org/learning/guide/179880 (<--Great link that discusses this work in more deatil)
The poem begins with the speaker asking a fearsome tiger what kind of divine being could have created it: "What immortal hand or eye/ Could frame they fearful symmetry?" Each subsequent stanza contains further questions, all of which refine this first one. From what part of the cosmos could the tiger's fiery eyes have come, and who would have dared to handle that fire? What sort of physical presence, and what kind of dark craftsmanship, would have been required to "twist the sinews" of the tiger's heart? The speaker wonders how, once that horrible heart "began to beat," its creator would have had the courage to continue the job. Comparing the creator to a blacksmith, he ponders about the anvil and the furnace that the project would have required and the smith who could have wielded them. And when the job was done, the speaker wonders, how would the creator have felt? "Did he smile his work to see?" Could this possibly be the same being who made the lamb?

Form

The poem is comprised of six quatrains in rhymed couplets. The meter is regular and rhythmic, its hammering beat suggestive of the smithy that is the poem's central image. The simplicity and neat proportions of the poems form perfectly suit its regular structure, in which a string of questions all contribute to the articulation of a single, central idea.

Commentary

The opening question enacts what will be the single dramatic gesture of the poem, and each subsequent stanza elaborates on this conception. Blake is building on the conventional idea that nature, like a work of art, must in some way contain a reflection of its creator. The tiger is strikingly beautiful yet also horrific in its capacity for violence. What kind of a God, then, could or would design such a terrifying beast as the tiger? In more general terms, what does the undeniable existence of evil and violence in the world tell us about the nature of God, and what does it mean to live in a world where a being can at once contain both beauty and horror?

The tiger initially appears as a strikingly sensuous image. However, as the poem progresses, it takes on a symbolic character, and comes to embody the spiritual and moral problem the poem explores: perfectly beautiful and yet perfectly destructive, Blake's tiger becomes the symbolic center for an investigation into the presence of evil in the world. Since the tiger's remarkable nature exists both in physical and moral terms, the speaker's questions about its origin must also encompass both physical and moral dimensions. The poem's series of questions repeatedly ask what sort of physical creative capacity the "fearful symmetry" of the tiger bespeaks; assumedly only a very strong and powerful being could be capable of such a creation.

The smithy represents a traditional image of artistic creation; here Blake applies it to the divine creation of the natural world. The "forging" of the tiger suggests a very physical, laborious, and deliberate kind of making; it emphasizes the awesome physical presence of the tiger and precludes the idea that such a creation could have been in any way accidentally or haphazardly produced. It also continues from the first description of the tiger the imagery of fire with its simultaneous connotations of creation, purification, and destruction. The speaker stands in awe of the tiger as a sheer physical and aesthetic achievement, even as he recoils in horror from the moral implications of such a creation; for the poem addresses not only the question of who could make such a creature as the tiger, but who would perform this act. This is a question of creative responsibility and of will, and the poet carefully includes this moral question with the consideration of physical power. Note, in the third stanza, the parallelism of "shoulder" and "art," as well as the fact that it is not just the body but also the "heart" of the tiger that is being forged. The repeated use of word the "dare" to replace the "could" of the first stanza introduces a dimension of aspiration and willfulness into the sheer might of the creative act.

The reference to the lamb in the penultimate stanza reminds the reader that a tiger and a lamb have been created by the same God, and raises questions about the implications of this. It also invites a contrast between the perspectives of "experience" and "innocence" represented here and in the poem "The Lamb." "The Tyger" consists entirely of unanswered questions, and the poet leaves us to awe at the complexity of creation, the sheer magnitude of God's power, and the inscrutability of divine will. The perspective of experience in this poem involves a sophisticated acknowledgment of what is unexplainable in the universe, presenting evil as the prime example of something that cannot be denied, but will not withstand facile explanation, either. The open awe of "The Tyger" contrasts with the easy confidence, in "The Lamb," of a child's innocent faith in a benevolent universe.
A black child tells the story of how he came to know his own identity and to know God. The boy, who was born in "the southern wild" of Africa, first explains that though his skin is black his soul is as white as that of an English child. He relates how his loving mother taught him about God who lives in the East, who gives light and life to all creation and comfort and joy to men. "We are put on earth," his mother says, to learn to accept God's love. He is told that his black skin "is but a cloud" that will be dissipated when his soul meets God in heaven. The black boy passes on this lesson to an English child, explaining that his white skin is likewise a cloud. He vows that when they are both free of their bodies and delighting in the presence of God, he will shade his white friend until he, too, learns to bear the heat of God's love. Then, the black boy says, he will be like the English boy, and the English boy will love him.

Form

The poem is in heroic quatrains, which are stanzas of pentameter lines rhyming ABAB. The form is a variation on the ballad stanza, and the slightly longer lines are well suited to the pedagogical tone of this poem.

Commentary

This poem centers on a spiritual awakening to a divine love that transcends race. The speaker is an African child who has to come to terms with his own blackness. Blake builds the poem on clear imagery of light and dark. The contrast in the first stanza between the child's black skin and his belief in the whiteness of his soul lends poignancy to his particular problem of self-understanding. In a culture in which black and white connote bad and good, respectively, the child's developing sense of self requires him to perform some fairly elaborate symbolic gymnastics with these images of color. His statement that he is "black as if bereav'd of light" underscores the gravity of the problem. The gesture of his song will be to counteract this "as if" in a way that shows him to be as capable and deserving of perfect love as a white person is.

The child's mother symbolizes a natural and selfless love that becomes the poem's ideal. She shows a tender concern for her child's self-esteem, as well as a strong desire that he know the comfort of God. She persuades him, according to conventional Christian doctrine, that earthly life is but a preparation for the rewards of heaven. In this context, their dark skin is similarly but a temporary appearance, with no bearing on their eternal essence: skin, which is a factor only in this earthly life, becomes irrelevant from the perspective of heaven. Body and soul, black and white, and earth and heaven are all aligned in a rhetorical gesture that basically confirms the stance of Christian resignation: the theology of the poem is one that counsels forbearance in the present and promises a recompense for suffering in the hereafter.

The black boy internalizes his mother's lesson and applies it in his relations with the outer world; specifically, Blake shows us what happens when the boy applies it to his relationship with a white child. The results are ambivalent. The boy explains to his white friend that they are equals, but that neither will be truly free until they are released from the constraints of the physical world. He imagines himself shading his friend from the brightness of God's love until he can become accustomed to it. This statement implies that the black boy is better prepared for heaven than the white boy, perhaps because of the greater burden of his dark skin has posed during earthly life. This is part of the consoling vision with which his mother has prepared him, which allows his suffering to become a source of pride rather than shame. But the boy's outlook, and his deference to the white boy, may strike the reader (who has not his innocence) as containing a naive blindness to the realities of oppression and racism, and a too-passive acceptance of suffering and injustice. We do not witness the response of the white boy; Blake's focus in this poem is on the mental state of the black child. But the question remains of whether the child's outlook is servile and self-demeaning, or exemplifies Christian charity. The poem itself implies that these might amount to the same thing.
Dated 1789, but probably engraved between 1788 and 1791, The Book of Thel is an intriguing allegorical counterpart to the Songs of Innocence. Here Thel, a mytholgoical figure associated with the daugher of Venus (Desire), is a young virginal figure, intrigued by the world of sex and experience, but she is frightened by the prospect. In the course of the 'Book' she confronts various forms of created life - the Lilly, the Cloud, the Worm, the Clod of Clay - and asks them about the mysteries of mortal life: what is it like to be mortal, to live and to experience, but also to have to face the prospect of disillusionment, depair and death. At the end of the 'Book' Thel almost summons the courage to enter the world of the Real, but at the last minute her nerve gives way, and she runs shrieking back to the sanctuary of immortality.
In allegorical terms The Book of Thel presents the State of Innocence, confronted by the world of Experience. Thel is, in one sense, a virginal goddess, pure and untouched by material reality, about to embark on the passage from childhood to adult maturity. Yet she is also, in metaphorical and archetypal form, a symbol of a state of mind or, better still, "State of Soul", a platonic essence intrigued by, but apprehensive of the realities of experience. Through mythological personification Blake is able to express, in symbolic terms, aspects of innocence and experience which are difficult to express in other terms. Thel's final failure of nerve is, the poem suggests, to be pitied rather than applauded: 'Innocence' may well be an idyllic state but, "Without Contraries there is no Progression".
The Book of Thel can, therefore, be read on a number of levels, from being a literal exploration of various forms of innocence and hesitance (the child's reluctance to grow up), to more abstract and metaphorical levels, an allegorical exploration of the relationship between Thought and Action, or between the Immortality of the Idea or Image, and the mortality of lived experience.
(Don Juan (first canto in 1818, and still working on a seventeenth canto in 1823)
(The poem was issued in parts, with intervals of unequal duration.Don Juan is a satiric poem, based on the legend of Don Juan, which Byron reverses, portraying Juan not as a womanizer but as someone easily seduced by women. It is a variation on the epic form. Byron himself called it an "Epic Satire". Byron completed 16 cantos, leaving an unfinished 17th canto before his death in 1824. Byron claimed he had no ideas in his mind as to what would happen in subsequent cantos as he wrote his work.)
Canto I
Don Juan was born in Seville, Spain, the son of Don José and Donna Inez. His parents don't get along. Father cheats often. Donna Inez about to divorce him, but then he dies of a sudden fever.
Mother focuses on Don Juan's education of the arts and sciences, but nothing of basic facts of life. Donna Julia is the young and beautiful wife of Don Alfonso, a middle-aged man incapable of engaging her affections. When Juan is sixteen, Donna Julia falls in love with him. Don Alfonso
tries to catch her cheating with Juan. Juan hides under bed clothes while he searches her room.
While searching he finds Juan's shoes. A fight breaks out, Juan strikes Don Alfonso on the nose and escapes. Donna Julia is sent to a convent and Don Alfonso sues for divorce. Donna Inez decides that her son should spend the next four years traveling.
Canto II
Don Juan goes to Italy, where his family has relatives. Ship hit by storm. Few men including Don Juan and his tutor survive in long boat. Draw lots for cannibalism. Tutor gets eaten. Boat finds land. Don Juan only survivor.
Canto III
Haidée, young and beautiful girl, finds him on the shore. Helps him to a cave and nurses him back to health. Juan and Haidée fall in love and marry without benefit of clergy. Her father, Lambro, dies and Juan and Haidée move into his mansion as man and wife. But the rumor of Lambro's death is false. When he returns to his home, he does not make his presence known immediately. There is a celebration at his house. At the time of his arrival, Juan and Haidée, attired in gorgeous costumes and are feasting.
Canto IV
Juan and Haidée take a nap after feasting. She has a bad dream of her father's face and wakes to find him standing over them in bed. Lambro commands Juan to surrender. Haidée saves Juan's life by throwing herself in front of him. Twenty of Lambro's followers appear and attack Juan. Haidée sees Juan injured, a vein bursts in her body and she collapses and is in a coma then dies. Juan is brought to a slave market in Constantinople.
Canto V
Bought in slave market by wife of Sultan. In palace, he is dressed in woman's clothes and called 'Juanna'. Sultana, Gulbeyaz, wants to make love with him, but he is sad over losing Haidee and cries. Sultana is angered, but then the sultan arrives. He remarks it is a pity that a Christian should be so pretty.
Canto VI
Juan taken to room with concubines of the sultan. One of the girls, Dudji, has bad dream and wakes screaming. News of her screaming in the night reaches Sultana, but not news of the dream. Reports the next morning to the sultana that Juan and Dudji shared quarters. When Gulbeyaz hears this, her cheeks become ashen. She commands Baba to bring Juan and Dudji to her.
Canto VII
The setting is a Turkish fortress on the Danube, which is being besieged by the Russians. Here arrive, by steps which Byron omits, a party from Constantinople made up of Juan, Johnson, two unidentified Turkish women, and a eunuch. They are brought to General Suwarrow, the ruthless and efficient commander of the Russians.
Canto VIII
The final assault on Ismail begins. The Turks resist with valor. Juan, swept away by a thirst for glory, proves himself to be a soldier of prowess and courage, but at the same time shows his humanitarianism by rescuing a little Turkish orphan girl from a pair of Cossacks who are about to slay her. Juan, now a lieutenant in the Russian army, is selected because of his valor and humanity to carry the news of the victory to the Empress Catherine in Petersburgh. He takes Leila, the young Turkish girl, with him.
Canto IX
The Empress Catherine is taken with the appearance of the handsome, youthful lieutenant. She falls in love at first sight with the bearer of the good news. Juan is swept off his feet by the attention he receives from Catherine. She showers him with wealth. Because of the position he so quickly gains and because of his gracious demeanor, he becomes the center of attention in the Russian court.
Canto X
Juan soon finds himself quite at home in Petersburgh gets caught up in the high life of wealth and royalty. He is courted by everyone. Then he falls sick. The climate is too cold for him, and Catherine, much against her wishes, decides to send him on an official mission to England. He leaves Russia for England laden with gifts and honors, taking with him his little orphan Leila.
Canto XI
In England Juan quickly becomes the object of as much attention as he had been in Russia. He is known to have come on an important mission; He is well received everywhere. He passes his mornings in business, his afternoons in visits, and his evenings in dancing and other forms of entertainment.
Canto XII
One of Juan's first problems to be solved in England is what to do with little Leila. He finally decides to place her in the care of Lady Pinchbeck, who is elderly, virtuous, wise in the ways of the world, and interested in the Turkish orphan.
Canto XIII-XIV
Diplomatic business often brings Juan in contact with Lord Henry Amundeville, who takes a liking to the young Spaniard, as does his wife, Lady Adeline. Juan acquits himself well in the country. He proves to be good at fox-hunting, riding, dancing, and all the other activities of country life among the aristocracy. Lady Fitz-Fulke, who is living apart from her husband, begins to take a special interest in him. When Lady Adeline notices this, she resolves to save Juan from Lady Fitz Fulke, who has a reputation for getting involved in intrigues. Lady Adeline has a weakness of her own: Her heart is vacant. She loves her husband, or thinks she does, but that love costs her an effort. She is also of the same age as Juan, namely twenty-one.
Canto XV
Lady Adeline tells Juan that she thinks he ought to get married. She names a number of what she considers good matches but fails to mention Aurora Raby, who is rich, noble, young, pretty, sincere, and a Catholic like Juan. This omission makes Juan wonder and he brings the fact to the attention of Adeline. She responds that the girl is a "baby" and "silent." One evening Juan sits beside Aurora at dinner. She pays no attention to him, a phenomenon which piques him and arouses his interest in her.
Canto XVI
That night Juan, unable to sleep, takes a walk and sees a ghost monk. As Juan has heard that the ghost of a monk haunts Norman Abbey, in his fear he assumes that he has seen this very ghost. The next morning Lord Henry remarks that he looks as if he had seen the ghost of the Black Friar. Juan does not admit what he has seen. That night Juan is again unable to sleep and again he hears the deliberate footsteps he heard the night before. Suddenly his door flies open. In the doorway stands the friar. Juan's dread turns to anger and he advances toward the ghost. The ghost retreats until it is backed up against a wall. Juan stretches out his arm and touches the solid breast of Lady Fitz-Fulke, the woman living away from her husband who had taken a special interest in him.
Canto XVII: (A Fragment of Fourteen Stanzas)
The following morning Juan looks tired and worn. The Duchess Fitz-Fulke "had a sort of air rebuked — / Seemed pale and shivered . . ." (Here the canto ends and is unfinished)
As the frost "performs its secret ministry" in the windless night, an owlet's cry twice pierces the silence. The "inmates" of the speaker's cottage are all asleep, and the speaker sits alone, solitary except for the "cradled infant" sleeping by his side. The calm is so total that the silence becomes distracting, and all the world of "sea, hill, and wood, / This populous village!" seems "inaudible as dreams." The thin blue flame of the fire burns without flickering; only the film on the grate flutters, which makes it seem "companionable" to the speaker, almost alive—stirred by "the idling Spirit."

"But O!" the speaker declares; as a child he often watched "that fluttering stranger" on the bars of his school window and daydreamed about his birthplace and the church tower whose bells rang so sweetly on Fair-day. These things lured him to sleep in his childhood, and he brooded on them at school, only pretending to look at his books—unless, of course, the door opened, in which case he looked up eagerly, hoping to see "Townsman, or aunt, or sister more beloved, / My play-mate when we both were clothed alike!"

Addressing the "Dear Babe, that sleep[s] cradled" by his side, whose breath fills the silences in his thought, the speaker says that it thrills his heart to look at his beautiful child. He enjoys the thought that although he himself was raised in the "great city, pent 'mid cloisters dim," his child will wander in the rural countryside, by lakes and shores and mountains, and his spirit shall be molded by God, who will "by giving make it [the child] ask."

All seasons, the speaker proclaims, shall be sweet to his child, whether the summer makes the earth green or the robin redbreast sings between tufts of snow on the branch; whether the storm makes "the eave-drops fall" or the frost's "secret ministry" hangs icicles silently, "quietly shining to the quiet Moon."

Form

Like many Romantic verse monologues of this kind (Wordsworth's "Tintern Abbey" is a notable example), "Frost at Midnight" is written in blank verse, a term used to describe unrhymed lines metered in iambic pentameter.

Commentary

The speaker of "Frost at Midnight" is generally held to be Coleridge himself, and the poem is a quiet, very personal restatement of the abiding themes of early English Romanticism: the effect of nature on the imagination (nature is the Teacher that "by giving" to the child's spirit also makes it "ask"); the relationship between children and the natural world ("thou, my babe! shall wander like a breeze..."); the contrast between this liberating country setting and city ("I was reared / In the great city, pent 'mid cloisters dim"); and the relationship between adulthood and childhood as they are linked in adult memory. However, while the poem conforms to many of the guiding principles of Romanticism, it also highlights a key difference between Coleridge and his fellow Romantics, specifically Wordsworth. Wordsworth, raised in the rustic countryside, saw his own childhood as a time when his connection with the natural world was at its greatest; he revisited his memories of childhood in order to soothe his feelings and provoke his imagination. Coleridge, on the other hand, was raised in London, "pent 'mid cloisters dim," and questions Wordsworth's easy identification of childhood with a kind of automatic, original happiness; instead, in this poem he says that, as a child, he "saw naught lovely but the stars and sky" and seems to feel the lingering effects of that alienation. In this poem, we see how the pain of this alienation has strengthened Coleridge's wish that his child enjoy an idyllic Wordsworthian upbringing "by lakes and sandy shores, beneath the crags / Of ancient mountain, and beneath the clouds..." Rather than seeing the link between childhood and nature as an inevitable, Coleridge seems to perceive it as a fragile, precious, and extraordinary connection, one of which he himself was deprived.

In expressing its central themes, "Frost at Midnight" relies on a highly personal idiom whereby the reader follows the natural progression of the speaker's mind as he sits up late one winter night thinking. His idle observation gives the reader a quick impression of the scene, from the "silent ministry" of the frost to the cry of the owl and the sleeping child. Coleridge uses language that indicates the immediacy of the scene to draw in the reader; for instance, the speaker cries "Hark!" upon hearing the owl, as though he were surprised by its call. The objects surrounding the speaker become metaphors for the work of the mind and the imagination, so that the fluttering film on the fire grate plunges him into the recollection of his childhood. His memory of feeling trapped in the schoolhouse naturally brings him back into his immediate surroundings with a surge of love and sympathy for his son. His final meditation on his son's future becomes mingled with his Romantic interpretation of nature and its role in the child's imagination, and his consideration of the objects of nature brings him back to the frost and the icicles, which, forming and shining in silence, mirror the silent way in which the world works upon the mind; this revisitation of winter's frosty forms brings the poem full circle.
his poem describes Xanadu, the palace of Kubla Khan, a Mongol emperor and the grandson of Genghis Khan. The poem's speaker starts by describing the setting of Emperor's palace, which he calls a "pleasure dome." He tells us about a river that runs across the land and then flows through some underground caves and into the sea. He also tells us about the fertile land that surrounds the palace. The nearby area is covered in streams, sweet-smelling trees, and beautiful forests.

Then the speaker gets excited about the river again and tells us about the canyon through which it flows. He makes it into a spooky, haunted place, where you might find a "woman wailing for her demon lover." He describes how the river leaps and smashes through the canyon, first exploding up into a noisy fountain and then finally sinking down and flowing through those underground caves into the ocean far away.

The speaker then goes on to describe Kubla Khan himself, who is listening to this noisy river and thinking about war. All of a sudden, the speaker moves away from this landscape and tells us about another vision he had, where he saw a woman playing an instrument and singing. The memory of her song fills him with longing, and he imagines himself singing his own song, using it to create a vision of Xanadu.

Toward the end, the poem becomes more personal and mysterious, as the speaker describes past visions he has had. This brings him to a final image of a terrifying figure with flashing eyes. This person, Kubla Khan, is a powerful being who seems almost godlike: "For he on honey-dew hath fed/And drunk the milk of paradise" (53-54).
Three guys are on the way to a wedding celebration when an old sailor (the Mariner) stops one of them at the door (we'll call him the Wedding Guest). Using his hypnotic eyes to hold the attention of the Wedding Guest, he starts telling a story about a disastrous journey he took. The Wedding Guest really wants to go party, but he can't pry himself away from this grizzled old mariner. The Mariner begins his story. They left port, and the ship sailed down near Antarctica to get away from a bad storm, but then they get caught in a dangerous, foggy ice field. An albatross shows up to steer them through the fog and provide good winds, but then the Mariner decides to shoot it. Oops.

Pretty soon the sailors lose their wind, and it gets really hot. They run out of water, and everyone blames the Mariner. The ship seems to be haunted by a bad spirit, and weird stuff starts appearing, like slimy creatures that walk on the ocean. The Mariner's crewmates decide to hang the dead albatross around his neck to remind him of his error.

Everyone is literally dying of thirst. The Mariner sees another ship's sail at a distance. He wants to yell out, but his mouth is too dry, so he sucks some of his own blood to moisten his lips. He's like, "A ship! We're saved." Sadly, the ship is a ghost ship piloted by two spirits, Death and Life-in-Death, who have to be the last people you'd want to meet on a journey. Everyone on the Mariner's ship dies.

The wedding guest realizes, "Ah! You're a ghost!" But the Mariner says, "Well, actually, I was the only one who didn't die." He continues his story: he's on a boat with a lot of dead bodies, surrounded by an ocean full of slimy things. Worse, these slimy things are nasty water snakes. But the Mariner escapes his curse by unconsciously blessing the hideous snakes, and the albatross drops off his neck into the ocean.

The Mariner falls into a sweet sleep, and it finally rains when he wakes up. A storm strikes up in the distance, and all the dead sailors rise like zombies to pilot the ship. The sailors don't actually come back to life. Instead, angels fill their bodies, and another supernatural spirit under the ocean seems to push the boat. The Mariner faints and hears two voices talking about how he killed the albatross and still has more penance to do. These two mysterious voices explain how the ship is moving.

After a speedy journey, the ship ends up back in port again. The Mariner sees angels standing next to the bodies of all his crewmates. Then a rescue boat shows up to take him back to shore. The Mariner is happy that a guy called "the hermit" is on the rescue boat. The hermit is in a good mood. All of a sudden there's a loud noise, and the Mariner's ship sinks. The hermit's boat picks up the Mariner.

When they get on shore, the Mariner is desperate to tell his story to the hermit. He feels a terrible pain until the story had been told.

In fact, the Mariner says that he still has the same painful need to tell his story, which is why he stopped the Wedding Guest on this occasion. Wrapping up, the Mariner tells the Wedding Guest that he needs to learn how to say his prayers and love other people and things. Then the Mariner leaves, and the Wedding Guest no longer wants to enter the wedding. He goes home and wakes up the next day, as the famous last lines go, "a sadder and a wiser man."
In his journals, Gerard Manley Hopkins used two terms, "inscape" and "instress," which can cause some confusion. By "inscape" he means the unified complex of characteristics that give each thing its uniqueness and that differentiate it from other things, and by "instress" he means either the force of being which holds the inscape together or the impulse from the inscape which carries it whole into the mind of the beholder:

There is one notable dead tree . . . the inscape markedly holding its most simple and beautiful oneness up from the ground through a graceful swerve below (I think) the spring of the branches up to the tops of the timber. I saw the inscape freshly, as if my mind were still growing, though with a companion the eye and the ear are for the most part shut and instress cannot come.

The concept of inscape shares much with Wordsworth's "spots of time," Emerson's "moments," and Joyce's "epiphanies," showing it to be a characteristically Romantic and post-Romantic idea. But Hopkins' inscape is also fundamentally religious: a glimpse of the inscape of a thing shows us why God created it. "Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:/ . . myself it speaks and spells,/ Crying Whát I dó is me: for that I came. "

Hopkins occupies an important place in the poetic line that reaches from the major Romantic poets, especially Wordsworth and Keats, through Tennyson and the Pre-Raphaelites to Hopkins, Pater, Yeats and the symbolists, and finally to Ezra Pound and the Imagists. His insistence that inscape was the essence of poetry ("Poetry is in fact speech employed to carry the inscape of speech for the inscape's sake") and that consequently, what he called "Parnassian" poetry (i.e., competent verse written without inspiration) was to be avoided has much in common with the aestheticism of Walter Pater (one of his tutors at Oxford) and the Art for Art's Sake movement, and sounds very much like the
"Ode to a Nightingale" (1819)
("Ode to a Nightingale" is a personal poem that describes Keats's journey into the state of Negative Capability--'The concept of Negative Capability is the ability to contemplate the world without the desire to try and reconcile contradictory aspects or fit it into closed and rational systems.' The term Negative Capability has been used by poets and philosophers to describe the ability of the individual to perceive, think, and operate beyond any presupposition of a predetermined capacity of the human being. It further captures the rejection of the constraints of any context, and the ability to experience phenomenon free from epistemological bounds, as well as to assert one's own will and individuality upon their activity. (Terms Negatively Capability in response to Shakespeare's writing that caters to his society.) The term was first used by the Romantic poet, John Keats to critique those who sought to categorize all experience and phenomena and turn them into a theory of knowledge. The tone of this poem rejects the optimistic pursuit of pleasure found within Keats's earlier poems, and it explores the themes of nature, transience--inevitability of death; things and time passing quickly--and mortality, the latter being particularly personal to Keats as he was dying slowly of tuberculosis at a young age during the height of his writing career.)
The speaker opens with a declaration of his own heartache. He feels numb, as though he had taken a drug only a moment ago. He is addressing a nightingale he hears singing somewhere in the forest and says that his "drowsy numbness" is not from envy of the nightingale's happiness, but rather from sharing it too completely; he is "too happy" that the nightingale sings the music of summer from amid some unseen plot of green trees and shadows.
In the second stanza, the speaker longs for the oblivion of alcohol, expressing his wish for wine, that would taste like the country and like peasant dances, and let him "leave the world unseen" and disappear into the dim forest with the nightingale.
In the third stanza, he explains his desire to fade away, saying he would like to forget the troubles the nightingale has never known: "the weariness, the fever, and the fret" of human life, with its consciousness that everything is mortal and nothing lasts. Youth "grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies," and "beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes."
In the fourth stanza, the speaker tells the nightingale to fly away, and he will follow, not through alcohol, but through poetry, which will give him "viewless wings." He says he is already with the nightingale and describes the forest glade, where even the moonlight is hidden by the trees, except the light that breaks through when the breezes blow the branches.
In the fifth stanza, the speaker says that he cannot see the flowers in the glade, but can guess them "in embalmed darkness": white hawthorne, eglantine, violets, and the musk-rose.
In the sixth stanza, the speaker listens in the dark to the nightingale, saying that he has often been "half in love" with the idea of dying and called Death soft names in many rhymes. Surrounded by the nightingale's song, the speaker thinks that the idea of death seems richer than ever, and he longs to "cease upon the midnight with no pain" while the nightingale pours its soul ecstatically forth. If he were to die, the nightingale would continue to sing, he says, but he would "have ears in vain" and be no longer able to hear.
In the seventh stanza, the speaker tells the nightingale that it is immortal, that it was not "born for death." He says that the voice he hears singing has always been heard, by ancient emperors and clowns. He even says the song has often charmed open magic windows.
In the eighth stanza, the word forlorn tolls like a bell to restore the speaker from his preoccupation with the nightingale and back into himself. As the nightingale flies farther away from him, he laments that his imagination has failed him and says that he can no longer recall whether the nightingale's music was "a vision, or a waking dream." Now that the music is gone, the speaker cannot recall whether he himself is awake or asleep.
Ode to a Grecian Urn" (1819)
In the first stanza, the speaker stands before an ancient Grecian urn and addresses it. He is preoccupied with its depiction of pictures frozen in time. He also describes the urn as a "historian" that can tell a story. He wonders about the figures on the side of the urn and asks what legend they depict and from where they come. He looks at a picture that seems to depict a group of men pursuing a group of women and wonders what their story could be.
In the second stanza, the speaker looks at another picture on the urn, this time of a young man playing a pipe, lying with his lover beneath a glade of trees. The speaker says that the piper's "unheard" melodies are sweeter than mortal melodies because they are unaffected by time. He tells the youth that, though he can never kiss his lover because he is frozen in time, he should not grieve, because her beauty will never fade.
In the third stanza, he looks at the trees surrounding the lovers and feels happy that they will never shed their leaves. He is happy for the piper because his songs will be "for ever new," and happy that the love of the boy and the girl will last forever, unlike mortal love, which lapses into "breathing human passion" and eventually vanishes, leaving behind only a "burning forehead, and a parching tongue."
In the fourth stanza, the speaker examines another picture on the urn, this one of a group of villagers leading a heifer to be sacrificed. He wonders where they are going and from where they have come. He imagines their little town, empty of all its citizens, and tells it that its streets will "for evermore" be silent, for those who have left it, frozen on the urn, will never return.
In the final stanza, the speaker again addresses the urn itself, saying that it, like Eternity, "doth tease us out of thought." He thinks that when his generation is long dead, the urn will remain, telling future generations its enigmatic lesson: "Beauty is truth, truth beauty."(famous quote) The speaker says that that is the only thing the urn knows and the only thing it needs to know.
Prometheus Unbound (1820)
(Is a four-act lyrical drama; concerned with the torments of the Greek mythological figure Prometheus and his suffering at the hands of Zeus.Shelley's play is closet drama, meaning it was not intended to be produced on the stage.)
Shelley's drama begins with the Titan Prometheus shackled to a rocky precipice in the Caucasus for three-thousand years. Prometheus defied Jupiter, king of the gods, by creating humankind and giving them fire. Jupiter binds Prometheus to the rock where his heart is continuously attacked by an eagle. Prometheus' mother, Earth, tells him to summon the Phantasm of Jupiter, which he does. The Phantasm repeats the curse, and Prometheus repents, saying "I wish no living thing to suffer pain." Mercury visits Prometheus with the Three Furies to torture Prometheus further. Mercury tells Prometheus that he will be freed if he discloses the prophecy of Jupiter's downfall that only Prometheus knows.
Prometheus refuses to assist Jupiter in his reign of terror over humanity. The Furies torment Prometheus by showing him the Passion of Christ, and the corruption of the noble intentions of the French Revolution. The Furies leave, and are replaced by a Chorus of Spirits who sing that goodness is borne of evil. Dawn breaks, and Prometheus' wife, Asia, patiently awaits the safe delivery of her husband.
Act II begins with Asia and her sister Panthea trailing an unseen spirit crying, "Follow me, follow me." They are led to Demogorgon, supreme power over all the gods. Asia relates to Demogorgon that Prometheus bestowed great powers and wisdom upon Jupiter with the provision that he allow humanity its freedom. Jupiter instead uses his powers to keep the human race in misery. In retaliation, says Asia, Prometheus gave humanity science, for which Jupiter punished him. Asia's story inspires Demogorgon to assist in freeing Prometheus and the human race. Demogorgon rides the chariot of the Spirit of the Hour.
Act III begins with Jupiter marrying Thetis. He surmises that his power is endless until Demogorgon arrives to cast him into darkness. Herakles, the half-god, arrives at Caucasus to free Prometheus who joins Asia in the cave from which they will watch the world reborn. Shelley at first intended this as the ending of Prometheus Unbound, but he added a fourth act several months later.
In Act IV, often considered to be the best lyric poetry written by Shelley, Earth and Moon are revitalized and sing of their love. Humanity becomes a metaphorical sea reflecting this Love, and Prometheus' great qualities of Gentleness, Virtue, Wisdom, and Endurance are identified by Demogorgon as ending Jupiter's reign of terror.
The poem opens with the poet visiting a place called Tintern Abbey on the banks of the River Wye in southeast Wales. He's visited it before, but not for five years. He remembers almost every detail: the sound of the "mountain-springs," "this dark sycamore," and the "hedge-rows."

He looks back on the past five years that have gone by since his first visit to the place, and remembers how much the memory of this scene meant to him when he was cooped up in the city. In fact, he practically relied on his memories of the beauty of the place to keep him sane while he was living in "the din/ Of towns and cities" (25-6).

Now that he's finally back in the same spot again, he finds himself looking out at the landscape and experiencing an odd combination of his present impressions, the memory of what he felt before, and the thought of how he'll look back on this moment in the future. He imagines that he'll change as time goes by from what he was during his first visit: a kid with a whole lot of energy to "boun[d] o'er the mountains" (68). Back in the day, nature meant everything to him.

Now, though, he's learned how to look at nature with a broader perspective on life. He doesn't just look and say, "Holy cow, the view from up here is pretty awesome!" and then run "bound[ing] o'er the mountains" again. In other words, he used to enjoy nature, but he didn't fully understand it. Now he looks and is able to sense a deeper, wider meaning to the beauty in nature. He sees that everything in nature is interconnected.

It turns out Wordsworth's sister is with him during his present tour of the area, and he says that she still looks at nature in the same way that he did when he was a kid. He imagines how his sister will go through the same development and transformation that he did. One day she'll be able to look out at nature and imagine the interconnectedness of things, too. Then he imagines her coming back to the same spot years in the future, after he's dead, and remembering the time she came here with her brother.
"These verses," William Wordsworth wrote of "Nutting"', "arose out of the remembrance of feelings I often had when a boy, and particularly in the extensive woods that still stretch from the side of Esthwaite Lake towards Graythwaite, the seat of the ancient family of Sandys." They were composed during his 1798-9 stay in Germany, a fertile period for "home-thoughts" that produced the "Lucy" poems as well as early drafts of material eventually to become The Prelude.

At first, in fact, Wordsworth had thought "Nutting" would have a natural place in The Prelude, but he later struck it out, "as not being wanted there". It's easy to see the rightness of that conclusion. "Nutting" is a self-contained narrative, as complete and satisfying as a fairy-story told by the Brothers Grimm. It emerges from silence, as the indented first line suggests, and it finally returns to silence. And, although autobiographical, it is not framed as pure autobiography.

The narrative begins as if it were emerging out of deep recollections that had finally shaped themselves into leisurely, blank-verse utterance. So far, so Prelude-like. There is no apparent audience. Not until the closing lines does an unexpected "turn" occur, which changes the nature of the poem. That sudden apostrophe to the "dearest Maiden" reveals that the poet has all the while imagined a silent listener. He has not merely been describing a remembered incident for his own pleasure and edification, but composing, in beautiful, reflective, un-moralising language, a parable - a lesson tenderly set out before a beloved child. The whole thought is re-cast, and intensified. "Nutting" turns out to be a wonderful hybrid, and might even be considered a kind of Conversation Poem, the genre Wordsworth's friend Coleridge made his own.

As in all his profoundest poems, the moral "story" is seamlessly entwined with the psychological one, and both are realised through a rich mixture of naturalistic and idealised pastoral imagery. The "fairy-tale" qualities are apparent from the start. The poem begins with a quest. The young boy sets off, armed with his nutting-crook and wallet: he is dressed in raggedy old clothes, for the practical reasons proposed by the "frugal dame" - but an element of disguise ("More ragged than need was!") is strongly suggested. Having forced his way through the brambles and over the "pathless rocks" the young adventurer finds the treasure he is seeking. And, although there are no monsters or goblins in sight, and the lesson is purely psychological, he learns like any young hero that treasure is not as easily taken as he had believed.

Both the laden hazel-tree and the "dear nook unvisited" have magical qualities, and a moral suggestiveness which the boy partly responds to. He defers gratification, experiences sheer delight in the loveliness and abundance of his surroundings. But then another, more primitive self breaks through and lays waste to the trees. The hero of this fable is also its monster.

The movement of the syntax over the blank verse lines has been almost relaxed until this moment, rhythmically one of abrupt high drama: "Then up I rose." No reason is given: none is needed. A natural human impulse drives the boy to jump up and rake the trees of their hazel-nuts. After he has seized the hoard, the sight of the "silent trees" themselves and "the intruding sky" awakens another response, a terrible sense of guilt at the destruction caused by his innocent greed. That he has "deformed and sullied" the "bower" is the wisdom, the "knowledge of good and evil", that he has painfully achieved - and so he imparts the lesson to his listener.

And who is she? Perhaps Wordsworth had in mind his sister Dorothy, his companion during the German trip. It's suggested here that there was a "beloved Friend" named Lucy who, as "a ravager of the autumn woods", reminded Wordsworth of himself as a child. The beautiful imagery of the hidden violets and the stones "fleeced with moss" may well link "Nutting" to the "Lucy" poem, "She Dwelt Among the Untrodden Ways", in which the "maid" herself is compared to "a violet by a mossy stone". The fact that a young female is being given the warning seems to undermine the narrowly sexual interpretation that "Nutting" sometimes attracts. Of course, as a parable, it can contain many metaphors, and defloration is one of them. But both genders can be rapacious, after all, and this poem is not about rape, in the usual sense, but rapacity.

The lingering, opulent scene-setting in the "dear nook" section is impressive, but most remarkable are the changes of mood and pace in the 14 concluding lines - a sonnet's-worth of compressed drama - that culminate in a miraculously structured tercet. The syntax here is so arranged that the poet seems to be extending an invitation rather than a prohibition: "In gentleness of heart, with gentle hand/ Touch ..." The line-break and the comma-and-dash punctuation that create pauses before and after "Touch" are wonderfully judged. That word, like a delicate finger-tip, restores the poem's human balance, bringing us out of shame and degradation and back to the initial reverence and "wise restraint" that had been practised without understanding. Now the poet and his listener fully understand the respect and moderation required of them in their dealings with nature. The lesson is emphasised by a new turn into enchantment. "Numen in est" as the Romans said: a spirit is present. And with that the poem slips into a silence not only magical but sacred.
Mrs. Bennet has five daughters and a big problem: none of them are married, there isn't much fortune to go around, and—thanks to a quirk of English property law—they'll all be kicked out of their house when Mr. Bennet dies. Enter Mr. Bingley, a rich, single man who moves into their neighborhood and takes a liking to the eldest Miss Bennet, Jane.

But don't save the date quite yet: Mr. Bingley might be easygoing and pleasant, but his sisters are catty snobs and his controlling friend Mr. Darcy isn't about to let Mr. Bingley marry beneath him. When they all meet up at a local ball, Mr. Darcy lets everyone around him know just how dumb and boring he finds the whole thing—including our new BFF and protagonist, the second Bennet daughter, Elizabeth.


It's clear to everyone that Mr. Bingley is falling in love with Jane, but Jane keeps her feelings on the down low, against the advice of Lizzy's good friend Charlotte Lucas. And, surprising no one, Mr. Darcy finds himself strangely attracted to Lizzy. The two get even more opportunities to snip at each other when Lizzy goes to Mr. Bingley's house to nurse her sister, who's gotten sick on a wet horseback ride over for dinner.

And now it's time to meet Bachelor #3: Mr. Collins. As Mr. Bennet's closest male relative, Mr. Collins will inherit the estate after Mr. Bennet's death. Mr. Collins has decided that the nice thing to do is to marry one of the Bennet girls in order to preserve their home. Unfortunately, he's a complete fool and Lizzy hates him on sight. Also unfortunately, he sets his sights on her.

As for the two youngest Bennet sisters, the militia has arrived in town and they're ready to throw themselves at any military officers who wander their way—like Mr. Wickham, who rapidly befriends Elizabeth and tells her a sob story about how Mr. Darcy totally ruined his life, which Elizabeth is happy to believe. Oh, and Mr. Collins's boss, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, just so happens to be Mr. Darcy's aunt. Small world!

Not too long after this, all the Bennet girls (including middle sister Mary, who's too wrapped up in books to notice boys) head to a ball at Netherfield (a.k.a. Mr. Bingley's mansion). It's kind of awful. Darcy, of all people, asks Elizabeth to dance, and Lizzy's entire family is unbearably embarrassing—like her mom loudly announcing that they all expect Bingley to marry Jane.

But it gets worse when Mr. Collins proposes the next morning. Elizabeth refuses, obviously, but hold your pity: Charlotte Lucas shows up to "help out," by which we mean "get Collins to propose to her instead." It works, which is good news for the 27-year-old Charlotte, who's too poor and plain to expect anything better; but bad news for Elizabeth, who can't believe that her friend would actually marry the guy—even when Charlotte explains that she's really out of options, here.

And then more bad news arrives: Jane gets a letter from Miss Bingley basically breaking up with her on her brother's behalf. Jane is super bummed, and she goes to stay with her aunt and uncle in London to get over it (and just maybe see Bingley, who's off to the big city). Elizabeth travels too: she's off to visit the newly married Charlotte, who seems to be holding up well. One problem: Mr. Darcy is on his way to visit his aunt, who's also, you might remember, Mr. Collins's boss.

Darcy almost acts like he's glad to see Lizzy, and even comes to visit her at Charlotte's house, but Lizzy is not having it: she learns from Mr. Darcy's friend that Bingley was going to propose to Jane until Darcy intervened. And that's exactly the moment Darcy chooses to propose. Can you guess how it goes?

Not well. During the proposal, mixed in with Darcy's "I love you" are some "I am so superior to you" comments, which, not surprisingly, don't go over so well. Elizabeth has some choice things to say to him, and the next day he hands her a letter with the full story about Wickham (he's a liar, a gambler, and he tried to elope with Darcy's underage sister) and Jane (Darcy was convinced Jane was just a gold-digger). Cue emotional transformation.

When Lizzy gets him, she finds that Lydia, the youngest of the Bennet girls, has been invited to follow the officers to their next station in Brighton. Elizabeth thinks this is a Very Bad Idea, but Mr. Bennet overrules her. Big mistake, as we'll find out soon.

But first, it's time for Elizabeth to accompany her aunt and uncle on a trip to Derbyshire, which, incidentally, is where Mr. Darcy lives. Uh-oh! Oh, but he's out of town. Phew. They visit his estate (Pemberley) as tourists—you can do that kind of thing in England—and Lizzy is impressed. Darcy's housekeeper also has nothing but compliments for her master. Weird, right? It gets weirder when they run into Darcy who's home early, and he's actually polite and friendly.

Before we can start practicing our wedding toasts, disaster strikes: Elizabeth learns that Lydia has run off with Wickham. This scandal could ruin the family, so Elizabeth's uncle and father try to track the renegade couple down. Elizabeth's uncle saves the day and brings the two young 'uns back as a properly married (and unapologetic) couple. When Lydia lets slip that Darcy was at her wedding, Elizabeth realizes that there's more to the story and writes to her aunt for more information.

Here's the full story: Darcy saved the Bennet family's honor. He tracked down the couple and paid off Wickham's massive debts in exchange for Wickham marrying Lydia. Why would he possibly do that? Well, we have some ideas—but we don't get to find out right away. First, Bingley comes back and finally proposes to Jane. And then, Lady Catherine visits Longbourn to strong-arm Elizabeth into rejecting any proposal from Darcy, which obviously doesn't work.


When Lizzy and Darcy finally get some alone time on a walk, we get the moment we've all been waiting for: they clear up all their past misunderstandings, agree to get married, and then make out in the rain. (Oh wait, that was the movie version.)

And they all live happily ever after. More or less.
Basil" was the first of Joanna Baillie's plays that I read, and the first blazing sign to me that the classic repertoire might truly be the poorer for its neglect of her work. While certainly not without its problems, there is more than enough wit, passion and vibrancy on display to make up for its faults and then some. The play is a veritable feast for actors, packed full of well drawn, interesting characters, witty exchanges, impassioned clashes, and soul searching monologues, and I find it quite baffling that it had not actually been performed on stage until a small company in Washington, D.C. staged it in 2003, over 200 years after it was written.

The plot of Basil is as follows:

During the Italian Wars of the 16th century, the young but already famous general Count Basil and his troops pass through Mantua on their way to the front. When paying his respects to the Duke of Mantua, Basil finds himself for the first time overwhelmed with passion for something other than war and glory - love for the Duke's beautiful daughter, Victoria. The Duke, an old friend of Basil's father, begs Basil to stay with them at Mantua for an extra day or two, but Basil refuses, as his men are needed immediately on the front lines. The Duke then enlists his daughter to use her charms to secure the presence of the stern young general, and Victoria gladly takes up the challenge. With Basil showering her with promises of love and devotion, she has no trouble trapping him in his own words so that he finally consents to stay.

But unbeknownst to either of them, the Duke has a secret motive for wanting to keep Basil in Mantua - he is working for the enemy, and knows their army is on its way. That night, while Victoria throws a masked ball for her honored guest, the Duke arranges for his minister Gauriceio to spread rumors through Basil's camp and stir his men up to mutiny. Meanwhile, at the ball, Basil's best friend and cousin Count Rosinberg receives a warning from the Countess Albini that there is trechery in the court, and Basil should leave immediately. But Rosinberg cannot find Basil, who is too busy professing his love to Victoria. She gives him just enough hope to keep him ensnared in his new, overwhelming passion.

Back at the camp, Gauriceio has succeeded in using a disgruntled officer named Frederick to stir the troops up against Basil. When Basil returns from the masque to find all his men demanding their own way, he finally snaps back to his former self and reclaims command in brilliant fashion. Rosinberg then presses him to leave before things get any worse, and after a heated discussion, Basil relents. But against Rosinberg's warnings, Basil goes to tell Victoria of his departure in person. Once again face to face with the woman he worships, Basil's resolve crumbles, and he agrees to go riding with her when he should be leading his troops to the aid of their army's main force. During his gambol with Victoria, a messenger arrives with news that the army has engaged with the enemy, managing to eke out a victory against great odds, and at great loss of life. Ashamed at having abandoned his fellow soldiers in time of need, Basil commits suicide. When Victoria finds out that her vanity led to the downfall of such a gallant man, she vows to enter the cloister in repentance, just as Gauriceio betrays her father by leading the Duke's disgruntled subjects in the north against him.

Of course, what this summary fails to convey is Baillie's great skill with character and language, which is where the joys of this play truly lie. While a synopsis of the plot is likely to leave one with a less than exemplary opinion of Basil, Baillie makes a convincing hero of him, mainly by devoting a good amount of time to his struggle with his affections, which resemble a man dying slowly of poison, little by little losing what he is. And his ultimate downfall is made all the more tragic by our having seen the kind of commander he is when in full possession of his faculties, as in the mutinty scene. Baillie also skillfully uses language to service the character when it would be much easier (and in her time, probably more commercially viable) to have it work the other way around. Basil is a skilled warrior, but entirely unskilled in love, and Baillie isn't afraid to let his dialogue show it. Basil's rhapsodies on love are full of stammering fits and starts and simple declarations:
Jane Eyre is the story of a young, orphaned girl (shockingly, she's named Jane Eyre) who lives with her aunt and cousins, the Reeds, at Gateshead Hall. Like all nineteenth-century orphans, her situation pretty much sucks.

Mrs. Reed hates Jane and allows her son John to torment the girl. Even the servants are constantly reminding Jane that she's poor and worthless. At the tender age of ten, Jane rises up against this treatment and tells them all exactly what she thinks of them. (We wish we could've been there to hear it!) She's punished by being locked in "the red room," the bedroom where her uncle died, and she has a hysterical fit when she thinks his ghost is appearing. After this, nobody knows what to do with her, so they send her away to a religious boarding school for orphans—Lowood Institute.

At Lowood, which is run by the hypocritical ogre Mr. Brocklehurst, the students never have enough to eat or warm clothes. However, Jane finds a pious friend, Helen Burns, and a sympathetic teacher, Miss Temple. Under their influence, she becomes an excellent student, learning all the little bits and pieces of culture that made up a lady's education in Victorian England: French, piano-playing, singing, and drawing.

Unfortunately, an epidemic of typhus breaks out at the school, and Helen dies—but of consumption, not typhus. (We always knew she'd be a martyr.) Jane remains at Lowood as a student until she's sixteen, and then as a teacher until she's eighteen. When Miss Temple leaves the school to get married, Jane gets a case of wanderlust and arranges to leave the school and become a governess.

The governess job that Jane accepts is to tutor a little French girl, Adèle Varens, at a country house called Thornfield. Jane goes there thinking that she'll be working for a woman named Mrs. Fairfax, but Mrs. Fairfax is just the housekeeper; the owner of the house is the mysterious Mr. Rochester, and he's Adèle's guardian, although we're not sure whether she's his daughter. Jane likes Thornfield, although not the third floor, where a strange servant named Grace Poole works alone and Jane can hear eerie laughter coming from a locked room.

One evening when Jane's out for a walk, she meets a mysterious man when his horse slips and he falls—of course, this is Mr. Rochester. Jane and Rochester are immediately interested in each other. She likes the fact that he's craggy, dark, and rough-looking instead of smooth and classically handsome. She also likes his abrupt, almost rude manners, which she thinks are easier to handle than polite flattery. He likes her unusual strength and spirit and seems to find her almost unworldly; he's always comparing her to a fairy or an elf or a sprite.

Rochester quickly learns that he can rely on Jane in a crisis—one evening, Jane finds Rochester asleep in his bed with the curtains and his bedclothes on fire, and she puts out the flames and rescues him. Jane and Rochester have fascinating conversations in the evenings and everything seems to be going really well... until Rochester invites a bunch of his rich friends to stay at Thornfield, including the beautiful Blanche Ingram. Rochester lets Blanche flirt with him constantly in front of Jane to make her jealous and encourages rumors that he's engaged to Blanche. Don't worry, though—it's really only Jane he wants.

During the weeks-long house party, a man named Richard Mason shows up, and Rochester seems afraid of him. At night, Mason sneaks up to the third floor and somehow gets stabbed and bitten (ew). Rochester asks Jane to tend Richard Mason's wounds secretly while he fetches the doctor. The next morning before the guests find out what happened, Rochester sneaks Mason out of the house.

Before Jane can discover more about the mysterious situation, she gets a message that her Aunt Reed is very sick and is asking for her. Jane, forgiving Mrs. Reed for mistreating her when she was a child, goes back to take care of her dying aunt. When Jane returns to Thornfield, Blanche and her friends are gone, and Jane realizes how attached she is to Mr. Rochester. Although he lets her think for a little longer that he's going to marry Blanche, eventually Rochester stops teasing Jane and proposes to her. She blissfully accepts.

Everything seems to be going great... until we notice that there's still a third of the book left. That means something bad is about to happen.

It's the day of Jane and Rochester's wedding. It should be the happiest day of Jane's life, but during the church ceremony two men show up claiming that Rochester is already married. Dum dum dummm. Rochester admits that he is married to another woman, but tries to justify his attempt to marry Jane by taking them all to see his wife.

Mrs. Rochester is Bertha Mason, the "madwoman in the attic" who tried to burn Rochester to death in his bed, stabbed and bit her own brother (Richard Mason), and who's been doing other creepy things at night. Rochester was tricked into marrying Bertha fifteen years ago in Jamaica by his father, who wanted him to marry for money and didn't tell him that insanity ran in Bertha's family. Rochester tried to live with Bertha as husband and wife, but she was too horrible, so he locked her up at Thornfield with a nursemaid, Grace Poole.

Meanwhile, he traveled around Europe for ten years trying to forget Bertha and keeping various mistresses. Adèle Varens (Jane's student) is the daughter of one of these mistresses, though she may not be Rochester's daughter. Eventually he got tired of this lifestyle, came home to England, and fell in love with Jane.

After explaining all this, Rochester claims that he's not really married because his relationship with Bertha isn't a real marriage. The main problem is that he can't divorce her (because it was pretty tough to get a divorce at all in the Victorian period, and Bertha's behavior isn't grounds for a divorce, since she's mentally ill and therefore not responsible for her actions). He wants Jane to go and live with him in France, where they can pretend to be a married couple and act like husband and wife. Jane refuses to be his next mistress and runs away before she's tempted to agree.

Jane travels in a random direction away from Thornfield. Having no money, she almost starves to death before being taken in by the Rivers family, who live at Moor House near a town called Morton. The Rivers siblings—Diana, Mary, and St. John—are about Jane's age and well-educated, but somewhat poor. They take whole-heartedly to Jane, who has taken the pseudonym "Jane Elliott" so that Mr. Rochester can't find her. Jane wants to earn her keep, so St. John arranges for her to become the teacher in a village girls' school.

When Jane's uncle Mr. Eyre dies and leaves his fortune to his niece, it turns out that the Rivers siblings are actually Jane's cousins, and she shares her inheritance with the other three. (Now she's Jane Heir, hey-o.)

St. John, who is a super-intense clergyman, wants to be more than Jane's cousin (back when that wasn't considered gross). He admires Jane's work ethic and asks her to marry him (how un-romantic), learn Hindustani, and go with him to India on a long-term missionary trip. Jane is tempted because she thinks she'd be good at it and that it would be an interesting life. Still, she refuses because she knows she doesn't love St. John. To top it off, St. John actually loves a different a girl named Rosamond Oliver, but he won't let himself admit it because he thinks she would make a bad wife for a missionary.

Jane offers to go to India with him, but just as his cousin and co-worker, not as his wife. St. John won't give up and keeps pressuring Jane to marry him. Just as she's about to give in, she supernaturally hears Mr. Rochester's voice calling her name from somewhere far away.

The next morning, Jane leaves Moor House and goes back to Thornfield to find out what's going on with Mr. Rochester. She finds out that Mr. Rochester searched for her everywhere and, when he couldn't find her, sent everyone else away from the house and shut himself up alone. After this, Bertha set the house on fire one night and burned it to the ground. Rochester rescued all the servants and tried to save Bertha, too, but she committed suicide and he was injured. Now Rochester has lost an eye and a hand and is blind in the remaining eye.

Jane goes to Mr. Rochester and offers to take care of him as his nurse or housekeeper. What she really hopes is that he'll ask her to marry him—and he does. They have a quiet wedding, and after two years of marriage Rochester gradually gets his sight back. St. John Rivers, meanwhile, goes to India alone and works himself to death there over the course of several years.
Victoria de Loredani is the beautiful, spoiled daughter of the Marchese di Loredani and his wife, Laurina. Victoria, her brother Leonardo, and her parents reside in a palazzo in Venice, Italy. They live in happiness until the Marchese's friend, Count Ardolph, visits from Germany. Ardolph takes pleasure in destroying the reputations of pure women, and breaking up happy marriages. Ardolph quickly sets his sights on Laurina di Loredani. Laurina's vanity makes her highly susceptible to Ardolph's advances, and he succeeds in seducing her away from the husband she claims to love. They disappear from Venice together, which sets off a cascade of increasingly tragic events.

After Laurina elopes, Leonardo disappears from Venice without explanation, leaving only Victoria and her father in the palazzo. One year later, the Marchese encounters Ardolph in the streets of Venice. They duel, and Ardolph fatally stabs the Marchese. The wound puts the Marchese on his deathbed. Laurina comes to check on him after Ardolph tells her about the duel. The Marchese's dying wish is for Laurina to find Leonardo and reclaim her children and flee from Venice. He wants there to be forgiveness between his children and their mother. Victoria falls into Ardolph and Laurina's custody, and soon after meets Il Conte Berenza, a noble but naive Venetian man. Berenza quickly falls in love with Victoria and wants to move away with her. Victoria curses her Mother in front of Berenza. Therefore, Berenza becomes wary of her evil character. Laurina and Ardolph do not approve of Berenza, so Ardolph solicits Laurina to forge a letter in Victoria's handwriting persuading Berenza to leave Venice. Ardolph and Laurina claim that they are all visiting Laurina's cousin Signora di Modena, but instead leave Victoria there as a prisoner under the Signora's tyrannical rule.

Victoria finally escapes Signora's household with the help of her servant Catau, and disguises herself as a peasant when she travels back to Venice. Upon arrival in Venice, she meets Berenza again.

Victoria and Berenza begin living together and Berenza discloses information about his former mistress Megalena and her jealous ways.

One night, an assassin enters the home of Victoria and Berenza. He attempts to stab Berenza in his sleep, but Victoria awakens and defends her lover by taking the dagger in her arm instead. The man flees, and Berenza awakens deeply shaken by the occurrence. He is completely impressed by Victoria's action and no longer questions the passion of her love for him. Victoria decides not to tell Berenza that she has noticed, that her long-lost brother, Leonardo was the assassin.

The narrator then switches to the point of view of Leonardo. It begins with his escape after his mother abandons him.

Leonardo first stumbles upon the Zappi family. Signor and Signora Zappi take Leonardo in. Leonardo falls in love with their daughter Amamia, but Signora Zappi falls in love with Leonardo. Signora Zappi professes her love for Leonardo, but he claims he could never love her. Consequently, she tears her clothes and creates a dishevelled manner to fake the appearance of rape. She tells her husband that Leornado has raped her. Leonardo does not defend himself, but instead decides to leave their household, even though he is heartbroken. He curses his mother for all his troubles.

Next, Leonardo comes upon an old woman mourning the death of her son. He offers to help her around her house in place of her son, and she takes him in. Unfortunately, shortly after the old woman (Nina) passes away, and Leonardo is forced to move again. He finally decides it is time for him to move back to Venice. On his trip home he catches the eye of the fatal Megalena Strozzi. She quickly convinces him to love her as his mistress and controls his every move. She informs him of the death of his father, and tells him to stay with her instead. One day Megelena comes across her former lover Berenza with his new lover (Victoria). Megelena is deeply affected by his new relationship and comes home to Leonardo in a rage. She tells him to prove his love to her, he must kill Berenza. Leonardo hesitates, but ultimately knows he must follow her commands. He comes back after stabbing his own sister instead of Berenza, and tells Megalena what happened. They realise that he left the Stiletto (dagger) there, and that Megalenas name is engraved on it. They are forced to leave civilisation, due to their fear of being discovered.

The narrator now switches back to the perspective of Victoria. Berenza was deeply moved by the loving action of Victoria and decides it is time for them to be married.

Five years later, Berenza's brother Henriquez comes to visit and stay with Berenza and Victoria. Victoria quickly realises she has feelings for Henriquez, but is saddened to discover that his heart lies with Lilla.

Victoria feels that she must do anything to prevent the marriage of Lilla and Henriquez, even at the destruction of lives and hearts, much in the manner of her mother.

Victoria's evil hopes of Lilla's destruction take over her thoughts throughout the day and night. She begins dreaming about how she will destroy Lilla and be with Henriquez. During her dreams, a familiar face begins to surface. She sees Henriquez's servant Zofloya, as her aid in the destruction of Lilla. During the day, she is intrigued by the handsome figure of the Moor Zofloya, and notices him catching her eye.

Zofloya disappears shortly after, apparently having been killed, but strangely returns to Berenza and Victoria's household later. When he returns he approaches Victoria and tells her to meet him in the garden. When they meet, Victoria eventually confesses her desires about Henriquez, and Zofloya claims he can help her fulfill any desire that she seeks. She is hesitant about taking his help, but ultimately her desires take over her body and mind. Zofloya shares his ideas about the use of poison and the two begin to plan the slow destruction of Berenza. As Berenza's health slowly declines, Zofloya advises Victoria to change locations since she is wary about being suspected of Berenza's poisoning. Victoria, Berenza, Henriquez, Lilla, and Lilla's elderly relative retreat to Berenza's mountain castilla. Victoria is impatient with Berenza's death and questions the methods of Zofloya. Berenza mentions a poison he believes will kill Berenza immediately, but uncertainty leads him to test the poison on Lilla's elderly relative, who does not die immediately by the poison and must be strangled by Zofloya.

After two more weeks of impatiently waiting for Berenza to die, Victoria gives him his final ration of poison, and Berenza dies; the cause appears to be a heart attack.

The death of Berenza sparks suspicion in the mind of Henriquez. He begins to despise Victoria. In a desperate panic, Victoria confesses her love to Henriquez and becomes beside herself with emotion. He is harsh and cruel to her, but then realises that she was the wife of his brother, and he should contain his hatred for her.

Victoria decides the only way to win his love, is to eliminate Lilla. Zofloya and Victoria capture Lilla and tie her up in a cave. Henriquez is deeply upset when he discovers his lover is missing. Victoria decides to confess her love again, while Lilla is missing, but Henriquez still refuses to reciprocate her emotion. Victoria runs to Zofloya, upset that he hasn't helped her attain her desires, he tells her she can have Henriquez if she appears to be Lilla. He gives her a poison to administer to Henriquez, which will make the first woman he sees when he awakens, the woman of his dreams (Lilla). Zofloya fails to mention that the allusion will only last until Henriquez falls asleep again.

Victoria gets her wish of having Henriquez look at her, and hold her with love for a day, while she appears to be Lilla. When they awake in bed together the next morning, Henriquez realises that he had been wronged, and was with Victoria all night. He kills himself in response, by jumping on a sword in his room.

Victoria is upset with Zofloya for lying to her, and her passion she decides to stab Lilla repeatedly and shove her off the edge of a cliff.

Victoria realises she is in the power of Zofloya, and he seduces her with his words, she thinks they are in love, and trusts Zofloya to take care of her. He leads her to the banditti, led by the chief Leonardo (her brother). Zofloya and Victoria live among savages, and Zofloya shows his possessive evil side when he exclaims " thou wilt be mine, to all eternity" (244)

Zofloya begins showing a different side to himself, including an ability to read Victoria's thoughts.

One night, the banditti, bring a woman and man into their savage home. The woman and man turn out to be Laurina and Ardolph. Leonardo stabs Ardolph and proclaims that he has finally had his vengeance. Laurina is frightened by Leonardo's actions and, as a gasp escapes her lips, Leonardo turns back his attention to her. Her demands to know which of the banditti have harmed her and caused the bruises and cuts she suffer from, but they tell him that it was Ardolph who had been beating her and it was her cries that had called their attention. At her deathbed, Laurina begs her children for their forgiveness. Victoria refuses, but Leonardo readily forgives her. Leonardo scorns Victoria for her being so harsh on their mother and not forgiving her.

All the characters and their connecting stories come together in this final scene, and their unfortunate pasts surface. Leonardo and Megalena kill themselves, and Victoria is filled with guilt for all her past actions. She turns to Zofloya to tell him about her guilt, and instead of comforting her, he unmasks himself, thus revealing his hideous nature inside and out. He declares that he is Satan, and had tempted and used Victoria repeatedly. Victoria then gets annihilated by the Devil.

Dacre ends the story with a short paragraph, commenting on the novel. She claims that her story is more than a romance. She comments on the nature of humans, their passions and weakness, and "either the love of evil is born with us, or we must attribute them to the suggestions of infernal influence."[1]
There is no real plot, but rather a collection of satirical sketches, which sympathetically portray changing small town customs and values in mid Victorian England.[9] Harkening back to memories of her childhood in the small Cheshire town of Knutsford, Cranford is Elizabeth Gaskell's affectionate portrait of people and customs that were already becoming anachronisms.[10]

Chapter I - Our Society[edit]
The book is narrated by Mary Smith, a young woman who frequently visits the town and, when away, remains abreast of events through correspondence with the other characters. The first chapter introduces the leading women of Cranford, idiosyncratic yet endearing characters who hope to preserve their lifestyles (and all-important social customs) from change. Rowena Fowler, possessor of a red silk umbrella, conservatively considers an heir while her infirm body has outlived her kin. Miss Betty Barker is also determined to preserve the past, but in the form of her cow, which she sews pyjamas for, as it lost all of its hair after falling into a lime-pit. As for Miss Deborah Jenkyns, she establishes the norms and customs by which the town must abide.

However, when Captain Brown moves to town, he challenges the women's rules of politeness. First, he openly admits his own poverty. This is particularly awful to Miss Deborah Jenkyns, whom Brown also offends by finding Charles Dickens a better writer than Jenkyns' preferred "Dr. Johnson" (Samuel Johnson). Nevertheless, Brown's warm manner subdues his detractors' contention of his supposed social awkwardness; therefore, they allow him to bypass custom and visit before noon. Brown also has two daughters: Miss Brown, an ill-tempered woman with hardened features, and Miss Jessie, who has an innocent face and, like her father, is naive to Cranford's rules. For instance, Miss Jessie boasts that her uncle can provide her with large amounts of Shetland wool. When aristocratic Miss Jamieson overhears, she takes exception to Miss Jessie putting on airs.

Chapter II - The Captain[edit]
As in any other small town, all is known by all, and the Browns' affairs shortly are no exception. While their economic distress is evident from day one, the townspeople soon discover something new: Captain Brown's kindness. This is most notable in his treatment of his elder daughter, who has a debilitating illness (which contributes to her bad temper). Captain Brown and his younger daughter endure abject poverty in order to afford small luxuries to comfort the elder daughter. Captain Brown also shows his kindness by hand-crafting a wood-fire shovel for Miss Jenkyns.

After leaving Cranford for a time, our narrator, Mary Smith, returns to find nothing changed, not even Miss Jenkyns' animosity for Captain Brown. Captain Brown is still indigent as his daughter's condition worsens. However, the town soon becomes hectic when Captain Brown dies. The women of the town then expect to have to support Brown's daughters. With the final pages focusing on funeral arrangements, consoling the daughters, and Miss Jenkyns' attempts to take Miss Jessie in, the chapter concludes with Major Gordon, a man who served with Captain Brown, arriving in Cranford and trying to connect with Brown's children.

Chapter III - A Love Affair of Long Ago[edit]
Miss Jenkyns' younger sister, Miss Matty, is overwhelmed by the upcoming visit of her cousin, Major Jenkyns. This anxiety is due to the fact that Miss Matty's sister always ruled over her. Therefore, Miss Matty is ill-prepared to receive visitors, a job Miss Jenkyns would have overseen herself. In the meantime, Miss Matty takes on a new servant, Martha, whom Mary Smith trains. Fortunately, the visit goes without a hitch, aside from one small mistake: the servant nudges Major Jenkyns when he does not help himself fast enough at the dinner table.

The chapter concludes at Johnson's store, when Miss Matty and Mary notice the arrival of Thomas Holbrook, who proposed to Miss Matty when they were young. Recalling the incident, Miss Matty says that her elder sister did not feel Thomas Holbrook would be a suitable husband, so the two separated in spite of mutual interest. Nevertheless, Holbrook invites the women to spend a day with him at his home.

Chapter IV - A Visit to an Old Bachelor[edit]
Arriving at Mr. Holbrook's house, Miss Matty, Miss Pole, and Mary Smith are received well, and Miss Matty is flush with ideas of what may have been. Allowing Miss Pole and Miss Matty to get acclimated, Holbrook then shows Mary around the grounds, which is a fine home indeed. Although a hard-working man, Holbrook is content with a meagre social status, as his passion is books, not climbing social ladders.

After an enjoyable dinner, Holbrook offers Miss Matty the honor of filling his pipe. Then he reads poetry aloud, during which Miss Matty falls asleep. As the women are departing, Mr. Holbrook says he will call upon them. Miss Matty begins to hope that her girlhood dream may come true after all. Unfortunately, Mr. Holbrook dies later. As a result, Miss Matty resigns herself to allowing Martha to date, for she does not wish to prevent love in the same way Miss Jenkyns did to her.

Chapter V - Old Letters[edit]
In chapter five, the story shifts back in time to focus on Molly and John, the future parents of the Jenkyns sisters. John is very much in love and eager to be married, but Molly is not as enthusiastic. She expresses annoyance at John's constant professions of love in their correspondence. However, she finally accepts his advances, and they are married when Molly is eighteen.

The chapter then includes letters from the Jenkyns sisters' grandfather, who writes at the news of his granddaughters being born. He believes they will be great beauties of Cranford. When a son is born later, the grandfather hopes that the boy will not fall into the proverbial "snares of the world."

Finally, John, now Reverend Jenkyns, receives some acclaim in having one of his sermons published. Now Molly's love finally matures, and is illustrated by her now addressing him as "my honored husband" in their letters.

Chapter VI - Poor Peter[edit]
Chapter six focuses on Miss Matty's brother, Peter. Close with Matty but not with Miss Jenkyns, Peter has a life of prestige ahead of him, destined for an education of distinction at Cambridge. Preferring a life of mischief, Peter dresses up as his sister Miss Jenkyns and carried what would be construed as an illegitimate child, to upset his father, the reverend. The reverend then beats his son with his walking stick. After kissing his mother, Peter goes upstairs, and then leaves without telling anyone. His mother cries for his return.

A few days later a letter from Peter arrives. He has signed up to work on a ship. Unfortunately, Peter's letter arrives late, and his parents' attempts to persuade him otherwise go to no avail. Shortly thereafter, Peter's mother dies from grief over her son, and Miss Jenkyns promises to take care of her father. After some time, Peter returns with some military accomplishment, and his father shows him off to Cranford. Peter then leaves for a war in India, and he is never heard from again.

Chapter VII - Visiting[edit]
A woman named Miss Betty Barker visits Miss Matty before the socially acceptable time. Thus, this visit once again overwhelms Matty, who accidentally puts on two caps to receive Miss Betty. Mary Smith is highly amused with the mistake. Miss Betty, a modest clerk's daughter, once was employed as a maid. She saved enough to open a millinery shop with her sister. After working with a well-connected woman, Lady Arley, on clothing patterns, they focused on selling to aristocrats.

Miss Betty invites all the Cranford women to tea, even her former employer, Mrs. Jamieson. Class consciousness begins to inflate, and a Mrs. Fitz Adam receives no invitation due to her background. During the tea party, Miss Betty's tea tray arrives with extravagant goodies, which is considered vulgar in Cranford. However, the rules begin to recede as the women play cards, order another tray, and consume a little too much brandy.

Chapter VIII - Your Ladyship[edit]
The widow of Mr. Jamieson's eldest brother, Lady Glenmire, is arriving to visit the small town, and staying with Mrs. Jamieson. In turn, Cranford is buzzing to have such a prestigious woman in their midst. That is, all are excited but Mrs. Jamieson, who slightly insults Lady Glenmire. Nevertheless, while Miss Pole specifically wishes to be assured that Queen Victoria is well; however, confusion abounds as to how one should address Lady Glenmire, especially Miss Matty.

Yet in still, Mrs. Jamieson's butler, Mr. Mulliner, sends out invitations for a small party. Most women wish to decline until they are persuaded by Miss Pole to accept. Uncomfortably quiet in the beginning, no one knows how to begin a conversation with someone of Lady Glenmire's stature. This awkwardness is concluded when Miss Pole finally asks Lady Glenmire whether she has been to court, to which she states she had not. A mutual friendship is soon formed, while Mr. Mulliner takes too long to appease the hungry guests.

Chapter IX - Signor Brunoni[edit]
Mary Smith decides to return home to nurse her ailing father, leaving her interest in Cranford behind. Yet in November, while her father is returning to health, Mary receives an odd letter from Miss Matty. Asking about Turbans, styles and fashions, Miss Matty inevitably put the confusion to rest by saying a conjurer is coming: Signor Brunoni.

Mary decides to return, but mostly to see her friends, to which Miss Pole has a story just aching to be told. In the meantime, preparations are made for Signor Brunoni's arrival. Miss Pole then meets a man, but this man mysteriously turns into Signor Brunoni, who is apparently demonstrating his magic. The next day Miss Matty is so excited to attend the show that she prepares early and rushes Mary to do so as well. The performance begins, and as the ladies are impressed, they aren't quite sure what to think about the spectacle.

Chapter X - The Panic[edit]
Shortly after Signor Brunoni's show, there is a spike in robberies. The ladies begin to believe Brunoni is responsible, even though he is no longer in town, and perhaps even a spy for the French. Miss Matty is also concerned, and she, Mary Smith, and Martha check the house every evening before bed. Soon after, Miss Pole also believes there is some trouble brewing when odd things happen, such as a beggar coming to the house and two men lurking around the premises as well. Similar things happen at Mrs. Jamiesons' home, and Mr. Mulliner attempted to confront the evildoers, scaring off the assailants. In the fracas, Mrs. Jamieson's dog, Carlo, died.

Miss Pole then sees the gang, 2 men and a woman, which came with their appearance including glowing auras. Later, Mrs. Forrester invites everyone to come to celebrate her wedding anniversary. Everyone attends in spite of difficult traveling conditions to support Mrs. Forrester's night reminiscing as a widow. Showing their bravery the women confront their fears by discussing them. Miss Matty was fearful there may be a man hidden under her bed, while Miss Jenkyns thought it would be terrible to find a man staring at her from underneath a bed. Mrs. Forrester resigns to hiring boy from the cottages to keep an eye on her home. This comes with instructions that the boy should attack any strange noises with the Major's sword.

Chapter XI - Samuel Brown[edit]
Miss Pole and Lady Glenmire go for a walk to visit a lady famous for knitting socks. Unfortunately, they become lost on the way, so they inquire for directions. Meeting two men and a woman, Miss Pole ponders as to whether these are the burglars. Mrs. Roberts, owner of the lodging place where Miss Pole and Lady Glenmire ask for directions, is insulted as if she stands accused. She goes to look for one of the apparent members of the gang, who is coincidentally Signor Brunoni, but now discovered to be an Englishman named Samuel Brown. Lady Glenmire offers to have a Dr. Hoggins look him over.

As Mary Smith is talking to Mrs. Brown, she learns of their time in India. Signor had been in the 31st regiment, but during that time she lost six children. Finally having a daughter named Phoebe, Mrs. Brown cannot bear to lose another child, and asks to go back to England. They save up, and when Phoebe is born they set off for the journey back to England. And as they near the end of their journey to leave India, Phoebe becomes ill. Meeting an Englishman named Aga Jenkyns, he nursed the baby back to health. Also, considering Peter vanished in India, curiosity abounds.

Chapter XII - Engaged to be Married[edit]
As Cranford, particularly Mrs. Jamieson and Lady Glenmire, took in Mr. and Mrs. Brown, the extra time spent between Lady Glenmire and Dr. Hoggins leads to Mrs. Fitz-Adam, Dr. Hoggins' sister, confirming the two are to be married. This time was also lengthened when one of Mrs. Jamieson's servants became ill, which require more interaction between the Dr. and Lady Glenmire.

This is quite the development for Cranford, the town struggles for an appropriate response, and this momentarily overshadows any discussion of Peter. However, the new spring fashion have arrived at the Johnson shop, and this may be the diversion Cranford needs.

Chapter XIII - Stopped Payment[edit]
The post-woman brings two letters to Miss Matty's house, one for herself and one for Mary Smith. Mary's letter was from her father, informing her of his continued good health and mentions the Town and County Bank, which Miss Matty has stock in. Miss Matty's letter comes directly from the bank, informing her of an important meeting.

The ladies travel to Johnson's to inspect the latest clothing arrivals. Miss Matty considers a new silk gown, a great departure from Miss Jenkyns's style. The shop man has also received a letter about the bank and informs the ladies that there are reports out that it is likely to break. This concerns the ladies. The following morning news comes that the bank has stopped payment, and Miss Matty is now financially ruined.

Chapter XIV - Friends in Need[edit]
Miss Matty attempts to deal with her financial ruin, and is supported by Martha, who refuses to leave. However, Miss Matty's finances made this a necessity, as she considers taking a single room and working as a teacher, a profession that Mary consider to be ill-suited to her. Mary Smith asks her father for advice, and a magnificent meal is made by Martha to console Miss Matty. Martha suggests that she will marry Jem Hearn, and asks Miss Matty to lodge with them.

The next morning, Miss Pole sends a letter suggesting a meeting with Mary and others. The women of Cranford discuss Miss Matty's plight, and resolve to help her. Mary gives Miss Matty the news when Mary's father comes to discuss Miss Matty's affairs. Miss Matty speaks of her own plan, which was that Martha and Jem were to be married without delay, and that they could live at Miss Matty's house after a sale.

Chapter XV - A Happy Return[edit]
Miss Matty's sale goes well, and she is able to retain some of her belongings. Mary leaves Miss Matty making a living by selling tea out of her parlor. Mr. and Mrs. Hoggins return to Cranford. Mrs. Hoggins casts aside her aristocratic roots (as Lady Glenmire), and is genuinely thrilled with Mr. Hoggins' more humble status.

Not long after, Martha is about to have her first lying-in. She summons Mary back to Cranford to break the news to Miss Matty. Even though she is married, Martha is terrified of what the monastic Miss Matty will think when she finds out that she is pregnant. Indeed, Miss Matty is not aware that Martha is 9 months pregnant (!), but the shock subsides as soon as the baby comes.

One day soon after, a man walks into the shop. Mary quickly realizes that it is Peter Jenkyns himself, responding to her letter. Indeed, he sold his land in India and came back to be with his sister, who is overpowered with joy at his return. He is wealthy enough that they can live together comfortably, and she can give up the tea shop.

To increase his use to Cranford, Peter hires Signor Brunoni to perform at a brunch given by the long-absent Jessie Gordon (née Brown), and he inexplicably mends the Jamieson-Hoggins feud. This is all in the service of making Miss Matty happy.

Chapter XVI - Peace to Cranford[edit]
Peter wonders how Miss Matty never married Mr. Holbrook, distressing her somewhat. He becomes a favourite of the ladies of Cranford. Although the ladies worry that he is interested in Mrs. Jamieson, he turns out to be "pranking" her, telling her tall tales about his travels in India. His ultimate goal is to please Miss Matty, and the book ends with a panegyric on her goodness, and prognostics of a peaceful future for her.
Many of the events of the novel are narrated twice; first by the 'editor', who gives his account of the facts as he understands them to be, and then in the words of the 'sinner' himself.

The 'Editor's Narrative' starts in 1687 with the marriage of Rabina Orde to the much older George Colwan, Laird of Dalcastle. Rabina despises her new husband because he falls short of her extreme religious beliefs, his love of dancing and penchant for drinking alcohol. She initially flees him but her father forces her back, and they live separately in the one house. Rabina gives birth to two sons. The first, George, is indisputably the son of the Laird, but it is strongly implied - though never confirmed - that her second son, Robert, was fathered by the Reverend Wringhim, Rabina's spiritual adviser and close confidante.

George, raised by the Laird, becomes a popular young man who enjoys sport and the company of his friends. Robert, educated by his mother and adoptive father Wringhim, is brought up to follow Wringhim's radical antinomian sect of Calvinism, which holds that only certain elect people are predestined to be saved by God. These chosen few will have a heavenly reward regardless of how their lives are lived.

The two brothers meet, as young men, in Edinburgh where Robert starts following George through the town, mocking and provoking him and disrupting his life. He appears to have the ability of appearing wherever George is. When on a hill-top, George sees a vision of his brother in the sky and turns to find him behind him, preparing to throw him off a cliff. Robert rejects any friendly or placatory advances from his brother.

Finally, George is murdered by being stabbed in the back, apparently during a duel with one of his drinking acquaintances. The only witnesses to the murder were a prostitute and her despicable client, who claim that the culprit was Robert, aided by what appears to be the double of George's friend. Before Robert can be arrested, he disappears.

The second part of the novel consists of Robert's account of his life. It purports to be a document, part-handwritten and part-printed, which was found after his death. It recounts his childhood, under the influence of the Rev Wringhim, and goes on to explain how he becomes in thrall to an enigmatic companion who says his name is Gil-Martin. This stranger, who could be seen to be the Devil, appears after Wringhim has declared Robert to be a member of 'the elect' and so predestined to eternal salvation. Gil-Martin, who is able to transform his appearance at will, soon directs all of Robert's pre-existing tendencies and beliefs to evil purposes, convincing him that it is his mission to "cut sinners off with the sword", and that murder can be the correct course of action. From Gil-Martin's boasting of the number of his adherents and size of his dominions, Robert falls into the delusion that he is Peter the Great of Russia, who visited England about that time.

The confession traces Robert's gradual decline into despair and madness, as his doubts about the righteousness of his cause are counteracted by Gil-Martin's increasing domination over his life. Finally, Robert loses control over his own identity and even loses track of time. During these lost weeks and months, it is suggested that Gil-Martin assumes Robert's appearance in order to commit further crimes. However, there are also suggestions in the text, that 'Gil-Martin' is a figment of Robert's imagination, and is simply an aspect of his own personality: as, for example when 'the sinner' writes, 'I feel as if I were the same person' (as Gil-Martin).

Robert flees, but is pursued and tormented by devils and can find refuge only as a shepherd. Finally he hangs himself with a grass rope - in which it is suggested that he is aided by devils.

The novel concludes with a return to the 'Editor's Narrative' which explains how the sinner's memoir was discovered in his grave. Hogg appears as himself in this section, expressing scorn of the project to open the grave.
Once upon a time (because at its heart, Kim is a fairy tale), there was an orphan boy named Kimball O'Hara, Kim for short. In fact, this isn't just any old fairy tale time: this book takes place specifically around the late 1890s in British India. (For more on this time period, check out the "In a Nutshell" and "Setting" sections.) Kim spends his time in the city of Lahore running around, scrounging food, and generally leading a carefree and mischief-heavy life.

But there is a prophecy surrounding Kim. No, not "neither can live while the other survives"— that's about a different orphan boy. Kim's prophecy comes down from his now-deceased father: Apparently, Kim's luck will change once he finds a Red Bull on a green field. And two men will appear first to prepare the way for the arrival of this Red Bull.

So one day Kim is playing in front of the Lahore Museum (which everyone in the book calls the Wonder House) and he spots someone wearing clothes of a style he's never seen before. This man is a lama, a Tibetan Buddhist from the North. The lama wants to speak to the curator of the Wonder House because he has heard that the curator is a wise man. He needs to talk to smart people, because he is looking for something extremely important to him: the River of the Arrow.

According to the lama, once during a test of strength the Buddha shot an arrow out far beyond his furthest target. Where the arrow landed, a River sprung up. If the lama can find that river and bathe in it, then he will be Enlightened. Kim is so interested by the lama—by his strangeness and his seriousness—that he volunteers to go along with him on his journey to find the River of the Arrow. The lama is glad to have a chela, a disciple, and the two make plans to go to the holy city of Benares (now Varanasi).

The night before Kim and the lama leave Lahore, they spend the night with Kim's old friend Mahbub Ali, a horse-trader. Mahbub Ali has an exciting side job in the British Indian Secret Service. He likes Kim because the kid is a dependable carrier of messages and because he is really good at disguises and hiding.

When he hears that Kim is going south, he thinks this is the perfect opportunity to get a little kid to do a dangerous job for him, so Mahbub Ali hands Kim a secret, coded message to bring to an Englishman in the city of Umballa (now called Ambala, right on the border of the Punjab and Haryana states) when he and the lama pass through. Kim is delighted to do it—he just loves trouble.

As Kim and the lama travel south by train and on foot, they bond, but Kim's mind is always on his little side-errand for Mahbub Ali. When they reach Umballa, he quietly leaves the lama behind while he goes to the compound of the Englishman to whom he is supposed to pass on his message.

Once he has given this Englishman his note confirming that there are five kings in northern India who are planning to break away from the British Indian government, he secretly sits and waits to hear what comes of it. When he sees the Englishman planning troop deployments to the North, he gets really excited. This is the life as far as Kim is concerned, delivering information that has real impact on state decisions.

Kim goes back to the lama and they continue their search for the lama's River of the Arrow. But as they are walking the Grand Trunk Road (an ancient highway that cuts north and south across India) they happen upon Kim's prophesied Red Bull.

They are standing in a field when they see two guys—advance scouts—looking for a place for their regiment to camp. Once they choose a place, they plant their regimental flag: it's a Red Bull on a green background. It turns out that Kim's father's prophecy was actually a description of the flag that belongs to his former regiment in the British Army, the Irish Mavericks.

Kim slips into the army camp and gets caught by an Anglican priest attached to the regiment. He and Father Victor, his Catholic colleague, both finally figure out that Kim is none other than Kimball O'Hara, Sr.'s son. They also speak to the lama about Kim. The lama is amazed that Kim is actually a British boy—since Kim speaks Urdu and has been traveling with him in Indian clothing, he doesn't seem English at all. But now that the lama knows that Kim is British, he wants Kim to have the best education that money can buy. So the lama offers to pay Kim's tuition to St. Xavier's, a great (fictional) school in Lucknow.

What a transformation: Kim goes from this smart, charming little wiseass kid (kind of like Lyra Belacqua in Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials series) to a reluctant British schoolboy in a matter of days. Kim hates his early days at the regimental school, and he writes to Mahbub Ali to please, please, please come rescue him. Mahbub Ali does come by, but he doesn't rescue him—instead, he does something much better: he recommends Kim to Colonel Creighton, the Englishman who received Mahbub Ali's message in Umballa.

Creighton keeps tabs on Kim when he moves south to start school at St. Xavier's in Lucknow. And he is impressed enough with Kim's sass, creativity, and resourcefulness that he arranges for Kim to spend time over summer break with a legend named Lurgan in the city of Simla. This man Lurgan teaches Super Special Spy Skills, like remembering where objects are (seriously, this is a vital spy skill), assessing people's character, and resisting hypnosis (Kim is a natural at this one).

Between Lurgan, his ongoing friendship with Mahbub Ali, and his more formal education at St. Xavier's, Kim grows up prepared to become what Creighton wants him to be: an agent in the British Indian Secret Service. Kim has a particular talent for getting people to talk to him and for hiding his identity as a British guy. These are (apparently) useful traits when you want to spy for the British colonial government of India. And at seventeen, Kim is ready to go back on the road the way he used to when he was a kid.

Creighton is a little reluctant to let a seventeen-year-old just wander around India on the government's dime, so he gives Kim a probation period: he wants Kim to travel for six months to remind himself what real life in India is like. And since Creighton doesn't want Kim to go alone, Mahbub Ali tells Kim to go back to his old friend the lama in the city of Benares.

Another employee of the Service, an Indian man the novel just calls the Babu (for more on this term, check out Chapter 2 in the "Detailed Summary" section) escorts Kim down to Benares. He gives Kim a silver amulet that will identify him as a member of the Secret Service to other members, and then sends him on his way.

Backtracking a bit, while Kim has been off learning how to make maps and do spy stuff, the lama has been traveling all over India. He has visited all of the holy sites of Buddhism in the country. But the more he has traveled, and the more wise men that he has spoken to, the more convinced he is that his real quest is for the River of the Arrow. And the lama believes that he won't be able to find this River without the help of his beloved disciple, Kim. So when Kim leaves school, the lama is thrilled to find him ready to rejoin the search for the River, and for Enlightenment.

Back in the present, Kim and the lama are planning to stay for a bit at the house of a woman they met during their first round of searching for the River of the Arrow: the Kulu woman. Kulu (or Kullu, really) is a region in the foothills of the Himalayas. Once they arrive there, they find a familiar face: the Babu, disguised as a hakim (a Muslim doctor).

The Babu quickly brings Kim up to speed about why he's here: the thing is, he has spotted two Russian agents (well, one of them is French, but they both represent the Russians) making friends with two of the five potentially rebel kings right on the northern borders between British India and Afghanistan.

(It's worth noting, by the way, that the countries that are now India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan were all under some degree of British control after the Second Afghan War in 1878, so the whole Indian subcontinent is supposed to be loyal to Britain during the setting of Kim.)

The Babu wants to steal any messages or papers these guys might be carrying, but (and here's the problem for the Babu) he doesn't want to do something so dangerous on his own. The Babu wants a lively young guy like Kim to come with him.

Together, Kim and the Babu convince the lama that his River is probably in the north, in the foothills of the Himalayas. The lama is glad to hear this suggestion, since (being from Tibet) he loves mountains and feels at home there.

They all travel north, Kim and the lama as pilgrims and the Babu in his hakim disguise. The Babu rushes on ahead and befriends these two Russian agents; he pretends to be a guide, and volunteers to bring them to Simla (the summer capital of British India). He also takes care to badmouth the British and praise Russia at every opportunity, which totally fools these two guys into thinking he is loyal to them.

But everything comes to a head when the two foreign agents, led by the Babu, bump into Kim and the lama on the road. The lama is showing Kim his illustration of the Great Wheel of Existence (for more on this, go and see our analysis in the "Symbols, Imagery, Allegory" section). The Russian guy likes the look of this drawing and tries to take it from the lama, actually hitting the lama in the face when he refuses to sell this piece of religious art for money.

When the people of the valley see this foreigner hitting a holy man, they immediately turn against these two Russian agents, and it's only thanks to the lama's request that the two men get away with their lives. But as the two men flee (along with the Babu, who is still pretending to guide them), they leave behind their baggage. When Kim searches it, he finds a locked box filled with letters and messages from the hill kings that speak of treason against the British Indian government. In other words, from the point of view of a Secret Service agent, Kim has found the jackpot.

In the aftermath of his Brush With Death, the lama has a crisis of faith. In the split second after the Russian guy hit him in the face, the lama wanted him to die. The lama gave into anger and a desire for vengeance—for a little while at least—so he is convinced that he has begun to wander from his religious path.

The lama and Kim travel south to the house of the Kulu woman. By the time they arrive, the lama is sick in the soul (thanks to his guilt over his brief flare-up of anger at the Russian agent) and Kim is sick in the body (because he's been lugging this locked box full of papers all over the Himalayas while trying to take care of the lama). Concerned over his health, the lama hands Kim over to the Kulu woman, who gives him a long massage and puts him to bed. Kim sleeps for thirty-six hours with his super-secret stolen papers under his bed—that's how tired he was.

When Kim wakes up he finds that big things have been happening: first, the Babu has arrived at the Kulu woman's house to find Kim. He guided the two agents all the way to Simla, while deliberately steering them away from closer European settlements, so that he could delay any action they might take over their lost luggage.

When the Babu left them, they actually wrote out a recommendation for him for future employment as a guide—that's how good his performance as a loyal employee and Russian sympathizer was. But now the Babu is ready to take over Kim's secret papers proving the betrayal of these northern kings. He will bring them to Creighton in the South, and Kim's first real secret mission as a grown-up is officially a total success.

The other thing that's happened while Kim has been sleeping is that the lama has had a vision. After two days of fasting, he saw himself flying high above the world and coming right to the edge of the Great Soul at the center of creation. But just as he was about to receive Enlightenment, a voice asked him what would happen to Kim if the lama died. Hearing this, the lama decides to go back to his body to bring wisdom back to his beloved disciple.

He comes out of his vision soaking wet, since he apparently walked into a nearby river in his trance... and this river must be none other than the River of the Arrow. So the lama has found his River at long last, and he is ready to show it to Kim to bring him wisdom. The lama has come to a spiritual understanding of his place in the world and of his grandfatherly relationship to young Kim.
The Picture of Dorian Gray is the story of one beautiful, innocent young man's seduction, moral corruption, and eventual downfall.

And, oh yeah: it's also the story of a really creepy painting.

We meet our three central characters at the beginning of the book, when painter Basil Hallward and his close friend, Lord Henry Wotton, are discussing the subject of Basil's newest painting, a gorgeous young thing named Dorian Gray. Basil and Henry discuss just how perfectly perfect Dorian is—he's totally innocent and completely good, as well as being the most beautiful guy ever to walk the earth. Lord Henry wants to meet this mysterious boy, but Basil doesn't want him to; for some reason, he's afraid of what will happen to Dorian if Lord Henry digs his claws into him.

However, Lord Henry gets his wish—Dorian shows up that very afternoon, and, over the course of the day, Henry manages to totally change Dorian's perspective on the world. From that point on, Dorian's previously innocent point of view is dramatically different—he begins to see life as Lord Henry does, as a succession of pleasures in which questions of good and evil are irrelevant.

Basil finishes his portrait of Dorian, and gives it to the young man, who keeps it in his home, where he can admire his own beauty. Lord Henry continues to exert his influence over Dorian, to Basil's dismay. Dorian grows more and more distant from Basil, his former best friend, and develops his own interests.

One of these interests is Sybil Vane, a young, exceptionally beautiful, exceptionally talented—and exceptionally poor—actress. Though she's stuck performing in a terrible, third-rate theatre, she's a truly remarkable artist, and her talent and beauty win over Dorian. He falls dramatically in love with her, and she with him.

For a moment, it seems like everything will turn out wonderfully. However, this is just the beginning of Dorian's story. Once he and Sybil are engaged, her talent suddenly disappears—she's so overcome with her passionate love for Dorian that none of her roles on stage seem important to her anymore. This destroys Dorian's love for her, and he brutally dumps her. Back home, he notices a something different in his portrait—it looks somehow crueler. In the meanwhile, the distraught Sybil commits suicide, just as Dorian decides to return to her and take back his terrible words.

Sybil's suicide changes everything. At first, Dorian feels horrible... but he rather quickly changes his tune. On Lord Henry's suggestion, Dorian reads a mysterious "yellow book," a decadent French novel that makes him reevaluate his whole belief system. The protagonist of the book lives his life in pursuit of sensual pleasures, which intrigues Dorian. From this moment on, Dorian is a changed man.

Dorian starts to live as hedonistically as his wicked mentor, Lord Henry, does. The only thing that documents this turn for the worst is the portrait, which alarmingly begins to exhibit the inward corruption of Dorian's soul; the beautiful image changes, revealing new scars and physical flaws with each of Dorian's dastardly actions. As years pass, the man in the picture grows more and more hideous, as Dorian himself stays unnaturally young and beautiful. Rumors start to spread about the various people whose lives Dorian has ruined, and his formerly good reputation is destroyed.

On Dorian's 38th birthday, he encounters Basil, who desperately asks his former friend if all the horrifying rumors about him are true. Dorian finally snaps and shows Basil the portrait, in which the horrible truth about his wicked nature is revealed. Basil recoils, and begs Dorian to pray for forgiveness. In response, Dorian murders Basil, stabbing him brutally. He blackmails another of his former friends into disposing of the body.

Dorian retreats to an opium den after dealing with all of the evidence, where he encounters an enemy he didn't know he had—Sybil Vane's brother, James. Through a rather complicated turn of events, James (who's on a mission to punish Dorian for his mistreatment of Sybil) ends up dead. Dorian isn't directly responsible, but it's yet another death to add to Dorian's tally of life-wrecking disasters.

Dorian is relieved that his enemy is out of the way, but this event sparks a kind of mid-life crisis: he begins to wonder if his vile but enjoyable lifestyle is worth it. He actually does a good(ish) deed, by deciding not to corrupt a young girl he's got the hots for, which makes him question his past actions even more. Seeking some kind of reassurance, Dorian talks to Lord Henry, who's not any help at all, unsurprisingly. Dorian even practically admits to murdering Basil, but Henry laughs it off and doesn't believe him.

That night, Dorian returns home in a pensive mood. Catching a glimpse of himself in the mirror, he hates his own beauty and breaks the mirror. Again, he vows to be good, but we find out that his various crimes don't really haunt him, because he doesn't consider them his fault. Instead, he selfishly wants to be good so that the painting will become beautiful again. Heartened by this thought, he goes up to see if his recent good deed has improved the painting. In fact, it only looks worse. Frustrated, Dorian decides to destroy the picture, the visible evidence of his dreadful crimes, and the closest thing to a conscience he has. Dorian slashes at the painting with the same knife that killed Basil, trying to destroy the work as he did the artist.

A tremendous crash and a terrible cry alert the servants that something very, very bad has happened— it's even audible outside the house. Finally, they go upstairs to check it out, and are horrified by what they find: a portrait of their master, as beautiful as ever, hangs on the wall, and a mysterious, grotesquely hideous dead man is lying on the floor with a knife in his heart. Upon close examination, the rings on the dead man's hand identify him as Dorian Gray.
Part One spans approximately seven hours and takes up more than half the book. It's set at the Ramsay's summer home, where the Ramsays and their eight children are entertaining a number of friends and colleagues. The novel begins with James Ramsay, age six, wanting to go to the Lighthouse that's across the bay from the Ramsays' summer home. His mother, Mrs. Ramsay, holds out hope that the weather will be good tomorrow so they can go to the Lighthouse, but Mr. Ramsay is adamant that the weather will be awful. Charles Tansley, one of Mr. Ramsay's visiting students, chimes in and supports Mr. Ramsay's view that the weather will be rotten. He's a very socially awkward young man who is obsessed with his dissertation.

Numerous small bits of action occur. For example, after lunch, Mrs. Ramsay takes pity on Mr. Tansley and asks him to accompany her into town. By the end of the trip, Mr. Tansley is in love with the much older, but still beautiful, Mrs. Ramsay (by the way, she is 50). Later, as she sits in a window and reads a fairy tale to James, Mrs. Ramsay remembers that she must keep her head down for Lily Briscoe's painting. (If you're wondering who Lily is, we are in the same boat. Although, we gather she's a family friend.) Mrs. Ramsay has the fleeting thought that Lily will have a hard time getting married, but she likes Lily anyway and decides that Lily should marry William Bankes, an old friend of Mr. Ramsay's.

William Bankes, who is also visiting the Ramsays, comes up to Lily and the two of them go for a walk. They talk about Mr. Ramsay. Meanwhile, Mr. Ramsay walks along the lawn and worries about mortality and his legacy to humankind, and then pesters Mrs. Ramsay to soothe his ego. Mrs. Ramsay does calm her husband, and then starts worrying about Paul (the Ramsays' guest), Minta (another guest), Nancy Ramsay (daughter), and Andrew (son), who are not yet back from the beach. She hopes that Paul has proposed to Minta.

At dinner, Mrs. Ramsay triumphs. The food is delicious; she is beautiful; Mr. Bankes has stayed for dinner; and Paul's proposal to Minta has been accepted. She wishes she could freeze the moment but knows it is already part of the past. She tucks her youngest two children into bed and then sits with her husband as he reads. They make small talk and she knows he wants her to say, "I love you," though she refuses. She gets out of it by smiling at him and telling him that he was right - the weather will be bad tomorrow and they will not be able to visit the Lighthouse.

Part Two compresses ten years into about twenty pages. All the traditionally important information in a story (read: what happened to the characters) is briefly imparted in brackets. We learn that Mrs. Ramsay, Prue Ramsay (daughter), and Andrew Ramsay (son) have died. Mrs. Ramsay died at night; Prue died in childbirth (after first getting married); and Andrew died when a shell exploded in France. Oh, right. There also happens to be a war going on - World War I - which gets glossed over in favor of extended descriptions of the weather and the summer house by the sea.

Part Three takes place at the summer house and begins with Mr. Ramsay and two of his children, Cam and James, finally going to the Lighthouse, and Lily working on the painting of Mrs. Ramsay that she never finished. Via Lily's thoughts, we hear that she never married, but remained good friends with William Bankes. Paul and Minta's marriage fell apart. Mr. Ramsay, Cam, and James actually make it to the Lighthouse. Lily finishes her painting. Throughout this last part of the novel, it's clear that Mrs. Ramsay is sorely missed.
Take a deep breath and repeat after us:

A girl walks into a cave...and an empire trembles.

It might seem scandalous to reduce E.M. Forster 's A Passage to India, a complex and multi-faceted work considered one of the greatest novels of the 20th century, to such a concise formula. But we humbly offer up this mantra as our homage to Forster's novel, as a passage into his Passage to India. Published in 1924 when the cracks in the British Empire were just emerging, the novel centers on the trial of an Indian doctor accused of raping an Englishwoman. The work was the last of Forster's novels, and a thematic departure for him as well. Previous novels such as A Room with a View (1908) and Howards End (1910) stayed in Europe, focusing on the familiar Edwardian theme of the individual's struggle against the stifling conventions of society. Informed by Forster's own travels to India in 1912-13 and 1921, A Passage to India has been lauded not only for its critique of the British Empire, but also for its stylistic innovation and philosophical density.

So, a girl walks into a cave...and an empire trembles. One of the reasons that Forster's novel is so amazing is that it takes an individual case - a rape trial - and shows how it sets off network of social, political, and cultural forces that reverberates across the British Empire. Set in India in the early 20th century when it was still a British colony, the novel challenges the claim that British had a right to colonize India. Variously called Britain's "civilizing mission" or, in Rudyard Kipling 's famous line, the "white man's burden," British imperialism was motivated by the idea that the British were a superior, enlightened, and more advanced race than non-European peoples, and thus had a duty to "civilize" these people, by force if necessary (source).

British imperialism in India entailed a fundamentally racist set of beliefs about "Orientals," a term which denoted anyone living east of western Europe, from North Africa to China. Orientals were considered passive, weak, illogical, and morally corrupt with a tendency toward despotism. A Passage to India turns this imperial ideology on its head through its scathing depiction of British colonial bureaucrats, its detailed and nuanced portrayal of Indian characters, and its invocation of India's rich history and culture. But it also shows how difficult the path to Indian independence would be through exploration of the tensions between the Hindu and Muslim characters in the novel.

Despite its critique of the British Empire, Forster's novel continues to draw controversy, particularly in the field of postcolonial studies, a field devoted to the study of literary, social, and political issues relating to former European colonies. (Read more about postcolonial studies here.) Some critics argue that A Passage to India is still bogged down by the Orientalist stereotypes that the novel condemns. Others take issue with Forster's exclusion of women from the idealized, though fraught, friendships between men in the novel - this exclusion is seen as revealing how the British Empire was not only a racist system, but a patriarchal one as well.

The novel certainly resists easy answers to these daunting questions. As Forster himself said of his novel, "When I began the book I thought of it as a little bridge of sympathy between the East and West, but this conception has had to go, my sense of truth forbids anything so comfortable" (Childs 22). In its refusal of "comfortable" solutions to pressing political issues, Forster's novel doesn't give us a blueprint to a better, happier, world. Instead, A Passage to India offers a way of thinking critically about our relationship to the world, and our relationship to ourselves. So we invite you to bid farewell to our mantra, and let yourself get lost in the extraordinary passages of Forster's A Passage to India.
As Part I opens, Antoinette Cosway is a young girl living with her mother and brother at Coulibri, her family's estate near Spanish Town, Jamaica. With the passage of the Emancipation Act and the death of her father, the family is financially ruined. Moreover, they are ostracized by both the black and white communities on the island. The black community despises them for being former slaveholders, and the white community looks down on them because they are poor, Creole, and, in her mother's case, French. Among the only servants who remain is Christophine, a Martinique woman who is rumored to practice obeah.

Motivated in part by her family's desperate situation, Annette, Antoinette's mother, marries Mr. Mason, a wealthy planter. This marriage, however, only seems to aggravate racial tensions in their neighborhood. One night, rioters burn the house down. The entire family narrowly escapes, all except Antoinette's brother Pierre, who, due to his exposure to the smoke, either dies very soon after. Pierre's death devastates Annette, who goes mad with grief. Mr. Mason sends Annette off to an isolated house to be cared for by a colored couple. Antoinette is sent to live with her aunt Cora in Spanish Town. For a year and a half, Antoinette attends a convent school there. Part I ends with Mr. Mason back in Antoinette's life, insinuating that plans for arranging her marriage are already under way.

Part II opens with a newly wedded Antoinette and Rochester on their honeymoon in Granbois, the Cosway estate outside Massacre, Dominica. Through a series of flashbacks, we learn that their marriage was arranged by Rochester's father, Mr. Mason, and Richard Mason, Antoinette's stepbrother. After only a month of courtship, Rochester married Antoinette. While at first wary of each other, Antoinette and Rochester grow to trust each other and consummate their marriage.

But the honeymoon is short-lived, as Rochester receives a malicious letter from a man who claims to be Daniel Cosway, Antoinette's stepbrother. The letter alleges that there is a history of sexual degeneracy and mental illness in Antoinette's family, and it also alleges that Antoinette had previously been engaged to a colored relative, Sandi Cosway. After receiving the letter, Rochester spurns Antoinette. Using an obeah potion obtained from Christophine, Antoinette drugs and seduces Rochester. On waking, Rochester realizes that he has been drugged, and sleeps with Antoinette's maid in revenge. Betrayed, Antoinette seems to go mad herself. Part II ends with their departure from Granbois to Spanish Town, where Rochester plans to have Antoinette declared insane and confined.

Part III opens with Antoinette already confined in Thornfield Hall (in England), guarded by Grace Poole. Antoinette seems to have little sense of who or where she is at this point. Her stepbrother Richard Mason visits her, and she attacks him after he refuses to help her out of her marriage. Finally, she dreams that she escapes from her room and sets fire to the entire house. At the end of the dream, she flees to the top of the battlements, then jumps off. Antoinette wakes up, and the novel ends as she escapes from her room, with a candle lighting her way down a dark hallway.
It is the early 1930s. At the Marcia Blaine School, located in Edinburgh, Scotland, a class of ten-year-old girls begins two years of instruction with Miss Jean Brodie, a charismatic teacher at the Junior school who claims again and again to be in her "prime." She provides her pupils with an energetic if unorthodox education in unauthorized topics as various as poetry, makeup, Italian fascism under Mussolini, and her own love life, believing that Goodness, Truth, and Beauty are of supreme value, and that the arts hold a higher place than the sciences. In time, Miss Brodie singles out six girls as special to her, and who she intends to mold into "'the crème de la crème'": Sandy Stranger, Rose Stanley, Mary Macgregor, Jenny Gray, Monica Douglas, and Eunice Gardiner. These girls come to be known as the Brodie set, whom Miss Brodie culturally develops and confides in. However, in one of the novel's characteristic prolepses (fast-forwards), we learn that one of these girls will eventually betray Miss Brodie, though Miss Brodie never learns which.

The girls' other teachers at the Junior school include the art master, the handsome, sophisticated Mr. Teddy Lloyd, a Roman Catholic who lost his arm during World War I, as well as the singing master, the short-legged and long-bodied Mr. Gordon Lowther. Both of these men come to love Miss Brodie, but Miss Brodie is passionate only about Teddy Lloyd, whom she commends for his artistic nature. The two kiss once, as witnessed by Monica Douglas, but Miss Brodie soon renounces her love for Teddy Lloyd, as he is married with six children. Instead, she commences an affair with the unmarried Mr. Lowther during a two-week leave of absence (although she claims that her absence is due to illness).

Meanwhile, the highly imaginative, psychologically penetrating Sandy becomes increasingly obsessed with Miss Brodie's love life, going so far as to imagine her teacher having sexual intercourse. At one point in their two years in the Junior school, Sandy's best friend Jenny is accosted by a man exposing his genitals to her near the Water of Leith (a river that runs through Edinburgh), an incident investigated by a female policewoman. Sandy falls in love with the idea of this policewoman, and imagines that she is on the police force alongside her, with the purpose of preventing sex altogether. She also imagines that she and her invented policewoman should investigate the love affair between Miss Brodie and Mr. Lowther.

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At the age of twelve, the girls leave Miss Brodie's class and graduate to the Senior school, taught by teachers like the excellent science instructor Miss Lockhart, all of whom are committed to the authorized curriculum as Miss Brodie was not. Nonetheless, the girls retain their group identity as the Brodie set, even though they have nothing in common save being picked out by Miss Brodie, whom they visit extracurricularly as they did as students at the Junior school, going with her to the ballet and the like.

The headmistress of Blaine, Miss Mackay, has all the while been fostering a professional disapproval of Miss Brodie's educational methods and scorn for the group identity of her six special girls; she wishes Miss Brodie would leave Blaine to teach at a progressive school, but Miss Brodie dismisses the idea. Consequently, Miss Mackay attempts to pump the Brodie girls for incriminating facts about their former teacher that might allow her to dismiss Miss Brodie. Miss Macaky also attempts to break the Brodie set up. Both attempts fail; the Brodie girls are unflaggingly loyal to their beloved teacher and to the principles of individualism, love, and loyalty she instilled in them.

Miss Brodie's love affair with Mr. Lowther continues; when the sewing teachers at Blaine, the sisters Miss Ellen and Alison Kerr, begin to work as housekeepers for Mr. Lowther, and encroach on Miss Brodie's exclusive claim to him, she asserts her influence by coming to Mr. Lowther's house whenever the Kerr sisters are there so that she can oversee them. She criticizes them for skimping on their employer's meals, and sets about fattening Mr. Lowther up. She also begins to invite her special girls, now thirteen years old, to socialize with her in pairs at her paramour's house. She asks them often about Mr. Lloyd, for several of the girls, especially Rose Stanley, have begun to sit for portraits with their art teacher. Miss Brodie especially enjoys hearing about how each face Mr. Lloyd paints strangely resembles her own. One day in Mr. Lloyd's studio, Sandy points this fact out to Mr. Lloyd himself, glaring at him insolently; Mr. Lloyd kisses the young girl, and she doesn't know what to think about it.

As the girls grow from thirteen to fourteen, fourteen to fifteen, Miss Brodie determines that she can trust Sandy absolutely as her informant and confidant. Miss Brodie is also becoming increasingly fixated on the idea that Rose—as the most instinctual of the Brodie set and famous for sex (although Rose has no interest in sex)—should have a love affair with Mr. Lloyd as her, Miss Brodie's, proxy. Miss Brodie additionally plans on Sandy being her informant regarding the affair. Indeed, so fixated does Miss Brodie become on this strange plan that she neglects Mr. Lowther, who, to everyone's surprise, soon becomes engaged to the Senior school science instructor Miss Lockhart.

During this time, another girl, the "rather mad" and delinquent Joyce Emily Hammond, is sent by her rich parents to Blaine as a last resort. She desperately wants to attach herself to the Brodie set, but they won't have anything to do with her. Miss Brodie, however, will. She spends time with Joyce Emily one-on-one, and privately encourages her in her desire to run away and fight in the Spanish Civil War under Francisco Franco's Nationalist banner (Miss Brodie admires Franco, who like Mussolini is a fascist). Swiftly and shockingly, Joyce Emily does so, only to be killed when the train she is travelling in is attacked. The school holds a remembrance service for her.

The Brodie girls, having turned seventeen and upon entering their final year at Blaine, begin to drift apart. Mary Macgregor and Jenny Gray leave before taking their final exams, Mary to become a typist, Jenny to enroll at a school of dramatic art. Monica Douglas becomes a scientist, and Eunice Gardiner becomes a nurse and marries a doctor. Rose makes a good marriage, and easily shakes off Miss Brodie's influence. Sandy decides to pursue psychology.

During this period, both Sandy and Rose, now eighteen years of age, continue to go to Mr. Lloyd's house to model for him. One day, alone with Mr. Lloyd while his wife and children are on holiday, Sandy commences a love affair with him, usurping Rose's role in Miss Brodie's plan (Rose never had any erotic feelings for Mr. Lloyd in any case, nor he for her). The two carry on for five weeks during the summer and even once Mr. Lloyd's wife and children return home. But by the end of the year Sandy loses interest in Mr. Lloyd as a man, becoming more and more exclusively interested in his painter's mind, as well as in his obsession with Miss Brodie as it is documented on his canvases. She eventually leaves Teddy altogether, but takes with her his Roman Catholic beliefs.

That following autumn, Sandy approaches Miss Mackay and announces for reasons never made explicit that she is interested "'in putting a stop to Miss Brodie.'" She tells Miss Mackay about Miss Brodie's side interest in fascist politics and suggests that by following up on this lead Miss Mackay will at last have the incriminating evidence she needs to dismiss Miss Brodie. And indeed, presumably connecting Miss Brodie to Joyce Emily's running away, Miss Macaky at last succeeds in forcing Miss Brodie to retire. Sandy's betrayal is complete, and it won't be until the end of World War II, when she is near death, that Miss Brodie can bring herself to think that it was her most intimate confidant Sandy who betrayed her.

By middle age, Sandy is the author of a famous psychological treatise entitled "The Transfiguration of the Commonplace"; she is also a Roman Catholic nun called Saint Helena of the Transfiguration. Over the years, she receives several visitors at her convent, mostly Brodie girls, and invariably conversation turns to Miss Brodie: Sandy suggests that Miss Brodie was silly but also an enlarging presence, yet she also suggests that she nor any other Brodie girl owed Miss Brodie any loyalty. One day, a young man comes to the convent to interview Sandy about her famous work in psychology, asking her at one point, "'What were the main influences of your schooldays, Sister Helena? Were they literary or political or personal? Was it Calvinism?'" Sandy responds: "'There was a Miss Jean Brodie in her prime'"; it would seem that she of all the Brodie set was most deeply influenced by their strange, charismatic teacher.
The United States has fallen, overthrown by a theocratic regime, founded on rigid Christian principles and the disempowerment of women, which has installed a new nation called Gilead in its place. The novel begins with Offred, the first-person narrator, remembering her restricted life at the Rachel and Leah Center, a training camp for Handmaids in an old high school. The scene changes to her current residence, where she lives with a Commander and his wife, Serena Joy. Offred puts on a red uniform and goes on a shopping trip with Ofglen, and afterwards they stop by the Wall to look at the bodies of recently executed men.

In the evening, Offred lies in bed. She remembers her spunky friend Moira, her activist mother, and the loss of her daughter and her husband, Luke. She thinks about the previous Handmaid who left a Latin message scratched into the wall. She describes her trip to the doctor on the previous day. The doctor suggested that her Commander might be sterile and offers to have sex with her. Though her life depends on getting pregnant, Offred refused.

She takes a bath and thinks about her daughter and the hysterical Handmaid Janine. After her bath, she and the rest of the members of the household gather to listen to the Commander read the bible. Then the Commander, the Commander's wife Serena Joy, and Offred perform the Ceremony: the Commander has impersonal sex with Offred while she lies between Serena Joy's legs. Afterwards, Offred sneaks downstairs in a rebellious gesture and runs into Nick, who gives her a message from the Commander to meet the following night.

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The next day, Offred and other Handmaids attend Janine's birth. In the afternoon, Offred remembers how Moira managed to escape from the Rachel and Leah Center disguised as an Aunt. In the evening she sees the Commander, who surprisingly only wants to play Scrabble and get a chaste kiss. Afterwards she can't stop laughing.

Months pass. Offred and the Commander meet often, and the Ceremony becomes more fraught for Offred now that she and the Commander know each other. Offred and Ofglen go shopping regularly, and Ofglen reveals that she's part of a secret organized resistance. Offred recalls all the events that lead from the US government to the Republic of Gilead—a massacre of the President and Congress, a succession of restrictive measures imposed for "safety," the removal of all power and possessions from women. One night the Commander explains the meaning of the previous Handmaid's Latin, and Offred learns that the previous Handmaid hanged herself.

After a shopping trip one day, Serena Joy tells Offred to have sex with Nick in an effort to get pregnant, and Offred agrees. Offred and Ofglen attend a Prayvaganza, celebrating arranged marriages. Afterward, Serena Joy shows Offred a photo of her daughter. That night, the Commander gives Offred a skimpy outfit and makeup, and Nick drives them to a nightclub/hotel filled with prostitutes. Offred spots Moira across the room, and they meet in the bathroom. Moira reveals that she spent many months on the Underground Femaleroad before she was captured. Offred and the Commander get a room and have sex, and Offred has to fake arousal.

Shortly after returning home, Serena Joy leads Offred to Nick, and Offred doesn't have to fake arousal this time. Time passes, and Offred sees Nick often. She becomes so obsessed with him that she doesn't want to leave or help Ofglen with Resistance efforts. Offred and Ofglen attend a Women's Salvaging, where three women are hanged. Afterwards there's a Particicution, a frenzied group murder of a supposed rapist, who was actually a member of the Resistance. The following day, a new Handmaid comes for the shopping trip with Offred. She says that the old Ofglen committed suicide when the Eyes—the Gilead secret police—came to get her.

When Offred returns home after shopping, Serena Joy confronts her with the skimpy outfit and threatens to punish her. Offred goes to her room and sees the Eyes coming for her. Nick tells her that they're secretly members of the Resistance, and she enters their van, unsure of her fate.

The novel ends with "Historical Notes" from a future academic conference about Gilead. Professor Pieixoto describes the discovery of Offred's narrative on cassette tapes in Maine, suggesting that the Eyes that took her were part of the Resistance, as Nick claimed. It is revealed that researchers may have discovered who the Commander was, but no one knows what happened to Offred.
It's the summer of 1956, and butler James Stevens is in the middle of preparing Darlington Hall for its new American owner, Mr. Farraday. Chill Mr. Farraday proposes that Stevens take a road trip through England's West Country while he is in America—he needs a vacation.

Stevens has recently received a letter from Miss Kenton, a former co-worker. It sounds like she would like to return to Darlington Hall, which Stevens is psyched about. Stevens decides to accept Mr. Farraday's offer and uses the road trip as a chance to visit Miss Kenton and ask her to return as housekeeper.

While road-tripping out to Miss Kenton's home in Cornwall, Stevens mulls over the events at Darlington Hall in the period between the two world wars, a time when both he and Miss Kenton worked together. These events are significant both to Stevens and to his employer, Mr. Darlington.

In 1923, when Lord Darlington hosts an international conference at Darlington Hall, Stevens's father dies. In the early 1930s, as Lord Darlington becomes more and more involved with the English fascists and the German cause—mostly out of ignorance rather than because he's a jerk. Well, he's kind of a jerk anyway: Stevens and Miss Kenton have to deal with his anti-Semitic policies.

On the evening of an important meeting Lord Darlington has organized between the German ambassador and English diplomats, Miss Kenton announces to Stevens that she's leaving Darlington Hall and getting hitched. While he's thinking back over these events, Stevens struggles to understand a) how Lord Darlington, who was a pretty nice dude (and a gentleman), ended up working with the Nazis and b) why Miss Kenton left and what part he may have played in her leaving.

On the road trip itself, Stevens takes the scenic route and thinks about how pretty England is. After spending the first night in Salisbury, he runs out of gas in Moscombe, near Tavistock, Devon. He spends the night with some kind villagers but is kind of weirded out at being mistaken for a gentleman—he has an upper-crust accent but is definitely not upper-class.

When he arrives in Cornwall the next day, he finally meets up with Miss Kenton for tea in the afternoon, only to learn that he was mistaken: she isn't coming back to work. Miss Kenton tells him that she loves her husband and is staying put with him. She suggests to Stevens that he should stop worrying so much about the past.

The novel ends with Stevens making a stop at Weymouth pier on the way back to Darlington Hall. He spends his second evening in Weymouth sitting, watching the pier lights come on, and thinking over his life with regret and with the grand plan of pleasing his American employer.
A lot happens in Atonement. And then some of it doesn't, which can get the plot even more tangled.

We start out at the Tallis family's very upper-class English home in 1935, a few years before World War II. The family is expecting a visit from their maternal cousins—the young twins Jackson and Pierrot, and 15-year-old Lola—all of whom have been temporarily cast adrift by their parents' divorce. The Tallis family is also expecting a visit from brother Leon and his friend, the chocolate magnate Paul Marshall. With five (count 'em, five) people arriving, the house is in something of an uproar—especially since father Jack Tallis is off in London at his government job, while mother Emily Tallis is largely incapacitated with a migraine.

In the middle of all this burble and bustle, Robbie Turner, the son of the housekeeper, realizes that he's fallen hopelessly, passionately in love with his childhood friend Cecilia Tallis. Their courtship rituals result—as these things will—in a series of awkward sexual displays. Cecilia jumps into a fountain in her underwear. Robbie accidentally gives Cecilia a letter he meant to destroy in which he tells her exactly what he wants to do with her. Then they do some of those things, not nearly privately enough, in the family library.

These embarrassing events are witnessed by Briony, Cecilia's imaginative 13-year-old sister. Spurred by confusion, and by her penchant for making up stories, she decides that Robbie is a "maniac" who is after her sister. This results in disaster when the twins run away after dinner, and everyone races out to search for them in the dark. Briony finds Lola, who has been sexually assaulted, and sees a figure running away into the darkness. Though she does not see his face, she is convinced that it was Robbie, and accuses him to the police. Robbie is taken to prison, despite the protests of Grace Turner (his mother) and Cecilia, who pledges her love and promises to wait for him.

The novel now jumps several years to 1940. Robbie has been released from prison to join the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) fighting in France against the Nazis. The war has gone horribly though, and so Robbie is trudging cross-country to the sea at Dunkirk, where he, his companions Mace and Nettle, and the rest of the British hope to be ferried across to England and safety. Robbie is wounded and increasingly delirious. He is sustained only by letters from Cecilia and his hopes for their future together. He finally collapses into sleep, waiting for the evacuation which is to begin the next day.

The narrative shifts to Briony. She is riddled with guilt since realizing that it wasn't Robbie who raped Lola. In part to try to atone for what she has done, she refuses to go study at Cambridge. Instead, to her mother's shock, she becomes a training nurse in London, where she cares for some of the first British soldiers wounded in the war.

On one of her days off from the hospital, Briony goes to visit her sister and offers to tell their parents and the court that her statement about Robbie was false. She discovers Robbie, who has survived the Dunkirk crossing, staying in her sister's apartment—scandal! (Or at least the landlady is scandalized, anyway.) Though it seems unlikely that Robbie's verdict can be overturned, she promises to retract her statement before an official witness, to tell their parents, and to write them a full account of what she did and why. She also tells them that Paul Marshall has married Lola, and that it was almost certainly he who raped her. Cecilia and Robbie do not forgive her, since she did ruin their lives and it's hard to get past that. But there is some sense of reconciliation.

The final part of the book is told by Briony in first person. She is old now, and a famous author. She has just learned that she has vascular dementia, a condition which will lead her to senility and then death in a couple of years. We learn that the book—yup, Atonement—is her novel, and that she is waiting to publish it until Lord and Lady Marshall—Paul and Lola—are dead and cannot sue. She recognizes that she will not outlive Lola, and that the book will therefore not be released in her lifetime. She also reveals that the book is not entirely truthful, and that Robbie and Cecilia did not reunite but instead died separately during the war. And if that doesn't make you cry when you turn the last page, then your heart is a big old lump of rock.
"The Stolen Child" (1886)
(A poem published in The Wanderings of Oisin and Other Poems. Considered to be one of Yeats's more notable early poems. The poem is based on Irish legend and concerns faeries beguiling a child to come away with them. Yeats had a great interest in Irish mythology about faeries. The poem reflects the early influence of Romantic literature and Pre-Raphaelite verse.
Background/ Interpretation: The west of Ireland, while being deeply Catholic, especially in those far off days, was also deeply superstitious. I found that the two are not mutually exclusive but are often found harmoniously side by side in regular mass-goers and rural folk. Includes the notion of "Changlings" -- where fairies swap one of their own, a changeling, for a human child. To this day people will still add "God bless him/her" when something is being praised or complemented, most especially the young. The idea being that God's invocation might prevent those malicious fairies from purloining it. Religious belief and arcane superstition run hand in hand quite comfortably. Those same fairies were blamed for everything untoward that happened in the countryside, from poor harvests and sudden disappearances to medical maladies, you name it, they got blamed for it.)
There is no summary, but the poem is short. Here are some of the important pieces:
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.
......................
To and fro we leap
And chase the frothy bubbles,
While the world is full of troubles
And is anxious in its sleep.
........................
Away with us he's going,
The solemn-eyed:
He'll hear no more the lowing
Of the calves on the warm hillside
Or the kettle on the hob
Sing peace into his breast,
Or see the brown mice bob
Round and round the oatmeal-chest.
...........................
"Easter, 1916"
(is a poem describing the poet's torn emotions regarding the events of the Easter Rising staged in Ireland against British rule on Easter in 1916. The uprising was unsuccessful, and most of the Irish republican leaders involved were executed for treason. The poem was written between May and September 1916, but first published in 1921 in the collection Michael Robartes and the Dancer.)
The poem begins by paying tribute to the Irish people for leaving behind their previously mundane, trivial lives to dedicate themselves to the fight for independence. In lines which become a refrain, Yeats proclaims, "All changed, changed utterly: A terrible beauty is born."
The second stanza singles out individual martyrs, killed or imprisoned for their activities, among them his childhood friend Countess Markiewicz (nee Constance Gore-Booth) and Major John MacBride, the husband of Maud Gonne, the woman Yeats had loved long and unrequited. Although he had considered MacBride merely "a drunken, vainglorious lout," Yeats acknowledges that he too has been ennobled by his heroism.
Stanza 3 notes paradoxically that these martyrs are all changed in that they have become unchanging: their hearts, united by one purpose, have become unchanging as stone, in disturbing contrast to the living stream of ordinary human life. In a characteristic shift of mood, Yeats uses the stone metaphor to warn of the danger of fanaticism: "Too long a sacrifice can make a stone of the heart."
The final stanza raises but quickly abandons essentially unanswerable questions about the duration and value of the Irish struggle and the trustworthiness of England's promise of independence. Instead Yeats confines himself to the more modest task of paying tribute to the fallen patriots by naming them with the tenderness of a mother naming her child. While acknowledging the awful finality of death, Yeats proclaims the meaningfulness of their enterprise, in which they doffed the "motley" of their former clownish days to don green in a life both terrible and beautiful in its purpose.
With rare compression, Yeats not only succeeds in expressing his ambivalence about patriotism in general and about the Irish cause in particular, but he also allows the reader to follow sympathetically the shifts of thought and feeling in the troubled mind of a poet who is both critical and compassionate.
("The Second Coming" is a poem first printed in The Dial (November 1920). The poem uses Christian imagery regarding the Apocalypse and second coming as allegory to describe the atmosphere in post-war Europe. The poem is considered a major work of Modernist poetry and has been reprinted in several collections including The Norton Anthology of Modernist Poetry.)

The poem begins with the image of a falcon flying out of earshot from its human master. In medieval times, people would use falcons or hawks to track down animals at ground level. In this image, however, the falcon has gotten itself lost by flying too far away, which we can read as a reference to the collapse of traditional social arrangements in Europe at the time Yeats was writing.

In the fourth line, the poem abruptly shifts into a description of "anarchy" and an orgy of violence in which "the ceremony of innocence is drowned." The speaker laments that only bad people seem to have any enthusiasm nowadays.

At line 9, the second stanza of the poem begins by setting up a new vision. The speaker takes the violence which has engulfed society as a sign that "the Second Coming is at hand." He imagines a sphinx in the desert, and we are meant to think that this mythical animal, rather than Christ, is what is coming to fulfill the prophecy from the Biblical Book of Revelation. At line 18, the vision ends as "darkness drops again," but the speaker remains troubled.

Finally, at the end of the poem, the speaker asks a rhetorical question which really amounts to a prophecy that the beast is on its way to Bethlehem, the birthplace of Christ, to be born into the world.
"Leda and the Swan" (1924)
(a sonnet first published in the Dial. Combining psychological realism with a mystic vision, it describes the Leda's rape by a swan. Irish poet and one of the foremost figures of 20th century literature. In the myth: The swan completes the act, and Leda becomes pregnant. She will give birth to Helen of Troy, the woman over whom the Trojan War will be fought. In Ancient Greek mythology - and in Yeast's poem - Leda's rape is taken as an indirect a cause of war.)
The speaker retells a story from Greek mythology, the rape of the girl Leda by the god Zeus, who had assumed the form of a swan. Leda felt a sudden blow, with the "great wings" of the swan still beating above her. Her thighs were caressed by "the dark webs," and the nape of her neck was caught in his bill; he held "her helpless breast upon his breast." How, the speaker asks, could Leda's "terrified vague fingers" push the feathered glory of the swan from between her thighs? And how could her body help but feel "the strange heart beating where it lies"? A shudder in the loins engenders "The broken wall, the burning roof and tower, and Agamemnon dead." The speaker wonders whether Leda, caught up by the swan and "mastered by the brute blood of the air," assumed his knowledge as well as his power "Before the indifferent beak could let her drop." Basically, The speaker wonders if Leda acquired any of Zeus's knowledge as the swan overpowered her. Did she know she was having sex with a god? She didn't have too long to think about it, because as soon as the swan had gotten what he wanted, he let her fall to the ground as if he couldn't care less.

A sudden blow: the great wings beating still
Above the staggering girl, her thighs caressed
By the dark webs, her nape caught in his bill,
He holds her helpless breast upon his breast.

How can those terrified vague fingers push
The feathered glory from her loosening thighs?
And how can body, laid in that white rush,
But feel the strange heart beating where it lies?

A shudder in the loins engenders there
The broken wall, the burning roof and tower
And Agamemnon dead.
Being so caught up,
So mastered by the brute blood of the air,
Did she put on his knowledge with his power
Before the indifferent beak could let her drop?
"The Circus Animals' Desertion" (1939)
(published in Last Poems. In the preface, Yeats suggests that he intended the poem to combine his personal views and impressions with the customs and beliefs of Christian Ireland. In the poem, the poet uses the desertion of circus animals as an analogy to describe his failure to find inspiration for poetic creation as he seeks for new inspiration. Critics have detected aspects of both Modernism and Postmodern literature in the poem. The poem is an ottava rima. A five-stanza poem in three parts. Part 1 introduces the poet's problem: a lack of inspiration. Part 2 explores three earlier writing experiences, and part 3 offers a solution to the problem.)
The poem's opening lines suggest that the poet is searching for a theme, but in the process, he finds the "masterful images" of his earlier works. The reflection upon previous poetic creations appears again as the second part begins and the poet voices his frustration by stating "What can I but enumerate old themes".
The final lines of the poem conclude that the poet must "lie down where all the ladders start", which leads Michael O'Neil to suggest that the use of the word "start" indicates a new beginning taking place as the poem ends. The "foul rag and bone shop of the heart", O'Neil contends, is the paper upon which the poem is written, and he argues that Yeats gives "grandeur" to the gutter items of the poem, as the reimagining of "old kettles, old bottles, a broken can" as well as the "rag and bone shop of the heart", become "as masterful a set of images as any Yeats has created".
There's a big reason that this play isn't called Meeting Godot or Hey, Godot's Finally Here or Godot, WTF? We've Been Waiting For You. You Could Have Texted.

That's because—spoiler, guys—Godot never shows. Godot's MIA.

So naturally the guys who have been waiting for Godot this whole time sulkily finish their brunch, leave Godot a few snappy voicemails, and post Instagrams of themselves going to the beach without Godot to make him jealous. Right?

Nope. Didi and Gogo not only wait for Godot until dark, but, when it's obvious that he's not coming, they come back the next day and wait again. And—shocker—Godot is once more a no-show. But Didi and Gogo keep on waiting.

So what is happening in Waiting For Godot? Is this play about two total doormats with weird names? Is it about unrequited love? Is it a scathing treatise on ghosting?


It's way more mind-meltingly deep than that. Waiting for Godot, published by Samuel Beckett in 1949, is a work of Absurdism that explores themes of Existentialist philosophy.

The sheer emptiness and randomness of the plot causes the audience (or reader) to wonder if anything is going to happen, and whether there is any meaning to anything in the play—or in life.

Samuel Beckett originally wrote the play in French, with the title En attendant Godot. (Two guesses what that means in French.) The work was revolutionary for what it lacked: real plot, discernible character development, and any sort of adherence to dramatic traditions. It was a hit—everyone loves a rebel—and the play became a cornerstone of "Le Théâtre de l'Absurde," or Theater of the Absurd, a dramatic body of work largely defined by the characteristic traits of Godot.

Beckett himself translated the play into English—his first language—shortly afterwards, and the play's success continued. And boy did Beckett's hard work pay off. The amount of criticism spawned by Godot is staggering and revolves both around the play's literary merits and its value as a philosophical work. Bonus—in 1969 Beckett was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for his revolutionary contributions to drama and literature.
The poet the world has come to know as the American bard was born Walter Whitman in West Hills, Long Island in New York on May 31, 1819. His mother, Louisa, immigrated from Holland and his father, Walter, from England. Whitman's father worked mostly with his hands as a carpenter and a housebuilder, trades Whitman himself would pursue early on in his life.

Shortly after Whitman was born, his family moved to Brooklyn, where Whitman would receive his schooling. As a young man, he held various jobs: he set type in a printing office, and he worked as a schoolteacher.

By 1841, Whitman was beginning to focus his career on writing—first in the form of journalism. He became something of an accomplished journalist in his own right, reporting for and editing several newspapers and periodicals. Bettina Knapp notes that Whitman completed a "temperance novel, Franklin Evans; or The Inebriate, in 1842 to secure funds for Leaves of Grass. He later disavowed this novel due to its poor quality." It was then, after a brief occupation as a carpenter, that Whitman finally determined to dedicate his time to writing poetry, though he had begun to formulate ideas about what a new American literature would look like much earlier. His vision stems, in part, from his experiences during a trip across America that he undertook in 1848. As he traveled from New York to Louisiana, Whitman was deeply affected by the people and places he saw. These images became a collage of America and a source for his writing.

Whitman's Leaves of Grass had a lifespan of several editions and 37 years, for Whitman was constantly in the act of revising and augmenting his collection of poems, finally conceiving of it as a "single poem." Leaves of Grass first appeared in 1855, a thin volume of a dozen poems. By the final impression in 1891-1892 (sanctioned the "deathbed" edition), the volume had expanded into the text we study today.

The earlier editions (1855, 1856, and 1860) announce the arrival of a brand new voice in American literature and represent Whitman's experimentation with form and subject matter in poetry. In his work, Whitman ignores many poetic conventions in order to achieve his purpose of creating something new in American letters. For example, Whitman rarely follows a patterned rhyme scheme, and he is not concerned with any regularity of meter; indeed, his poetry is written in free verse, a style of writing that is appropriate to Whitman's subject matter.

The later editions (1867, 1871, and 1881) are characterized by Whitman's experiences while caring for the wounded during the Civil War and his response to the assassination of President Lincoln. As Whitman kept crafting the editions of his masterpiece, he made extensive revisions, including: adding new poems, retitling poems, reshuffling the order in which the poems appear, deleting or reworking lines in various poems, dropping several poems, and refashioning punctuation.

In an essay written late in his life, entitled "A Backward Glance O'er Travel'd Roads," Whitman seems surprised by what he has accomplished:

My Book and I—what a period we have presumed to span! those thirty years from 1850 to '80—and America in them! Proud, proud indeed may we be, if we have cull'd enough of that period in its own spirit to worthily waft a few live breaths of it to the future!

Indeed, Leaves of Grass grows as America changes, ever evolving with the landscape, politics, and vibrant life in America, which proved to be an endless source of material for the poet who was gifted with an unusual sensitivity to his surroundings.

Whitman was committed to the role he envisioned for himself among Americans. He was a poet, a seer, a spiritualist, and a lover—above all, straightforward and full of life. Though he is often perceived to be too much of an egoist, Whitman means for his bold declarations of self love to be reflective of a credo for all Americans. Writing about himself in the third person, Whitman explains his goal:

His whole work, his life, manners, friendships, writings, all have among their leading purposes an evident purpose to stamp a new type of character, namely his own, and indelibly fix it and publish it, not for a model but an illustration, for the present and future of American letters and American young men.

He serves as an "illustration" of what an American was then and what an American could be; his poetry forms a blueprint for the potential successes and failures of Americans in the future.

Though in "No Labor Saving Machine," Whitman writes as if he feels obliged to concede that all he contributes to America are a few simple poems, most scholars and readers argue that he was more of an inventor than he presumed to be. Van Wyck Brooks, for example, explains how Whitman "precipitated the American character":

All those things that had been separate, self-sufficient, incoordinate—action, theory, idealism, business—he cast into a crucible; and they emerged, harmonious and molten, in a fresh democratic ideal, based upon the whole personality.

Whitman was just as much of an innovator through his poetry as any of the inventors of the time. His work was not only his poetry in Leaves of Grass, but also includes, more importantly, his shaping of the national character. Many consider his accomplishment to be the invention of a new kind of person: free, strong, vocal, at ease with himself, learned yet unbiased against the illiterate, proud, friendly, and honest—in short, American. In creating his book of poetry, Whitman also created himself for the American people.

Walt Whitman died in his home in Camden, New Jersey, on March 26, 1892. He is noted for his daring experimentation and his steadfast belief in democratic principles.
There's no way to fully summarize this poem, because there is so much in the poem. Seriously - Walt Whitman changes topics almost every other line. But there are a few main ideas you should know about before starting.

Let's start off with the basics: our speaker, who is actually named Walt Whitman, declares that he's going to celebrate himself in this poem. He then invites his soul to hang out and stare at a blade of grass. It's the party of the year.

He explains how much he loves the world, especially nature, and how everything fits together just as it should. Everything is good to him, and nothing is bad that doesn't contribute to some larger good. Nature has patterns that fit together like a well-built house.

The speaker divides his personality into at least three parts:

The "I' that involves itself in everyday stuff like politics, fashion, and what he's going to eat;
The "Me Myself" that stands apart from the "I" and observes the world with an amused smile; and
The "Soul" that represents his deepest and most universal essence.
Whitman thinks it's important for people to learn through experience and not through books or teachers. (If you like this idea, check out his short and sweet poem called "When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer" http://www.shmoop.com/learnd-astronomer/; you'll be a fan.)

A child asks him what the grass is, and he doesn't have an answer, which gets him thinking about all kinds of things, but especially about all the people buried in the earth who came before him. He identifies with everyone and everything in the universe, including the dead. He imagines that he's a bunch of different people, from a woman staring at naked bathers to a crewman on a ship during a naval battle. His soul takes him on a journey around the world and all over America.

Whitman tells us a bit about what he believes and what he's opposed to. Let's start with what he's opposed to:

People who think they preach the truth, like the clergy
Feelings of guilt and shame about the body
Self-righteous judgments
On the flip side, Whitman believes that:

Everyone is equal, including slaves
Truth is everywhere, but unspeakable
An invisible connection and understanding exists between all people and things
Death is a fortunate thing and not something to fear
People would be better off if they had faith in the order of nature (and death is part of this order) He's awesome, and thinks people should take pride in themselves
At the end of the poem, he says that he's going to give his body back to nature and to continue his great journey. He'll be hanging out ahead on the road, waiting for us to catch up with him.
William Bradford's History of Plymouth Plantation is generally felt by both U.S. and English historians to be one of the most important volumes of the colonial period in America. The work survived apparently only by the rarest of chances. It was begun in 1630 by Bradford, who was one of the hardy band who came to Plymouth on the Mayflower and who served as governor of that colony for thirty-three years; he completed chapter 10 that same year. Most of the remainder he wrote in pieces through 1646; later, he entered a few items up to 1650.

The manuscript remained in the family, passing first to the governor's oldest son, Major William Bradford; subsequently to his son, Major John Bradford; and then to his son, Samuel. Meanwhile, it was being borrowed and mined for various other histories of colonial America. While borrowed by Increase Mather, it narrowly escaped being burned when Mather's house was destroyed in 1676. After numerous uses by other historians, it eventually came to rest in the bishop of London's library in Fulham Palace, probably taken there by a soldier during the Revolutionary War. There it was found, and the first complete edition of the manuscript was published in 1856.

Long before it was published, much of its contents had passed into American history and myth. Factually, Bradford's account of the trials and misadventures of the settlers at Plymouth is the fullest and best available. It begins with the unfolding of the "occasion and inducements thereunto" of the Plymouth Plantation, the author professing that he will write "in a plain style, with singular regard unto the simple truth in all things," as far as his "slender judgment" will allow. Chapter 1 begins with the background of the trip—the years 1550 to 1607 and the origin of the Pilgrim Church in England.

Bradford gives a telling account of how the Pilgrims were forced to flee to Holland in 1608, the immense suffering they underwent while there, their manner of living in that alien land, and their eventual determination to sail to the New World. Eventually, all preparations were made for this mighty undertaking. At first, they were to sail in two ships, but one, because of the fear and duplicity of the captain, was finally abandoned, and the trip made in only one, the Mayflower, of which Christopher Jones was master.

The Pilgrims arrived at Cape Cod on November 11, 1620. Their consternation upon arriving on the foreign shore is graphically described by Bradford. He stood "half amazed" at the people's condition upon arrival. They could see nothing but "a hideous and desolate wilderness, full of wild beasts and wild men," with "savage barbarians," who were "readier to fill" the sides of the Pilgrims "full of arrows than otherwise."
Emily Dickinson is such a unique poet that it is very difficult to place her in any single tradition—she seems to come from everywhere and nowhere at once. Her poetic form, with her customary four-line stanzas, ABCB rhyme schemes, and alternations in iambic meter between tetrameter and trimeter, is derived from Psalms and Protestant hymns, but Dickinson so thoroughly appropriates the forms—interposing her own long, rhythmic dashes designed to interrupt the meter and indicate short pauses—that the resemblance seems quite faint. Her subjects are often parts of the topography of her own psyche; she explores her own feelings with painstaking and often painful honesty but never loses sight of their universal poetic application; one of her greatest techniques is to write about the particulars of her own emotions in a kind of universal homiletic or adage-like tone ("After great pain, a formal feeling comes") that seems to describe the reader's mind as well as it does the poet's. Dickinson is not a "philosophical poet"; unlike Wordsworth or Yeats, she makes no effort to organize her thoughts and feelings into a coherent, unified worldview. Rather, her poems simply record thoughts and feelings experienced naturally over the course of a lifetime devoted to reflection and creativity: the powerful mind represented in these records is by turns astonishing, compelling, moving, and thought-provoking, and emerges much more vividly than if Dickinson had orchestrated her work according to a preconceived philosophical system.

Of course, Dickinson's greatest achievement as a poet of inwardness is her brilliant, diamond-hard language. Dickinson often writes aphoristically, meaning that she compresses a great deal of meaning into a very small number of words. This can make her poems hard to understand on a first reading, but when their meaning does unveil itself, it often explodes in the mind all at once, and lines that seemed baffling can become intensely and unforgettably clear. Other poems—many of her most famous, in fact—are much less difficult to understand, and they exhibit her extraordinary powers of observation and description. Dickinson's imagination can lead her into very peculiar territory—some of her most famous poems are bizarre death-fantasies and astonishing metaphorical conceits—but she is equally deft in her navigation of the domestic, writing beautiful nature-lyrics alongside her wild flights of imagination and often combining the two with great facility.
Frederick Douglass was born into slavery sometime in 1817 or 1818. Like many slaves, he is unsure of his exact date of birth. Douglass is separated from his mother, Harriet Bailey, soon after he is born. His father is most likely their white master, Captain Anthony. Captain Anthony is the clerk of a rich man named Colonel Lloyd. Lloyd owns hundreds of slaves, who call his large, central plantation the "Great House Farm." Life on any of Lloyd's plantations, like that on many Southern plantations, is brutal. Slaves are overworked and exhausted, receive little food, few articles of clothing, and no beds. Those who break rules—and even those who do not—are beaten or whipped, and sometimes even shot by the plantation overseers, the cruelest of which are Mr. Severe and Mr. Austin Gore.

Douglass's life on this plantation is not as hard as that of most of the other slaves. Being a child, he serves in the household instead of in the fields. At the age of seven, he is given to Captain Anthony's son‑in‑law's brother, Hugh Auld, who lives in Baltimore. In Baltimore, Douglass enjoys a relatively freer life. In general, city slave-owners are more conscious of appearing cruel or neglectful toward their slaves in front of their non‑slaveowning neighbors.

Sophia Auld, Hugh's wife, has never had slaves before, and therefore she is surprisingly kind to Douglass at first. She even begins to teach Douglass to read, until her husband orders her to stop, saying that education makes slaves unmanageable. Eventually, Sophia succumbs to the mentality of slaveowning and loses her natural kindliness. Though Sophia and Hugh Auld become crueler toward him, Douglass still likes Baltimore and is able to teach himself to read with the help of local boys. As he learns to read and write, Douglass becomes conscious of the evils of slavery and of the existence of the abolitionist, or antisla-very, movement. He resolves to escape to the North eventually.

After the deaths of Captain Anthony and his remaining heirs, Douglass is taken back to serve Thomas Auld, Captain Anthony's son‑in‑law. Auld is a mean man made harsher by his false religious piety. Auld considers Douglass unmanageable, so Auld rents him for one year to Edward Covey, a man known for "breaking" slaves. Covey manages, in the first six months, to work and whip all the spirit out of Douglass. Douglass becomes a brutish man, no longer interested in reading or freedom, capable only of resting from his injuries and exhaustion. The turning point comes when Douglass resolves to fight back against Covey. The two men have a two‑hour fight, after which Covey never touches Douglass again.

His year with Covey over, Douglass is next rented to William Freeland for two years. Though Freeland is a milder, fairer man, Douglass's will to escape is nonetheless renewed. At Freeland's, Douglass begins edu-cating his fellow slaves in a Sabbath school at the homes of free blacks. Despite the threat of punishment and violence they face, many slaves from neighboring farms come to Douglass and work diligently to learn. At Freeland's, Douglass also forms a plan of escape with three fellow slaves with whom he is close. Someone betrays their plan to Freeland, however, and Douglass and the others are taken to jail. Thomas Auld then sends Douglass back to Baltimore with Hugh Auld, to learn the trade of ship caulking.

In Baltimore's trade industry, Douglass runs up against strained race relations. White workers have been working alongside free black workers, but the whites have begun to fear that the increasing numbers of free blacks will take their jobs. Though only an apprentice and still a slave, Douglass encounters violent tactics of intimidation from his white coworkers and is forced to switch shipyards. In his new apprenticeship, Douglass quickly learns the trade of caulking and soon earns the highest wages possible, always turning them over to Hugh Auld.

Eventually, Douglass receives permission from Hugh Auld to hire out his extra time. He saves money bit by bit and eventually makes his escape to New York. Douglass refrains from describing the details of his escape in order to protect the safety of future slaves who may attempt the journey. In New York, Douglass fears recapture and changes his name from Bailey to Douglass. Soon after, he marries Anna Murray, a free woman he met while in Baltimore. They move north to Massachusetts, where Douglass becomes deeply engaged with the abolitionist movement as both a writer and an orator.
Self-Reliance was first published in 1841 in his collection, Essays: First Series. However, scholars argue the underlying philosophy of his essay emerged in a sermon given in September 1830 - a month after his first marriage to Ellen (who died the following year of tuberculosis) - and in lectures on the philosophy of history given at Boston's Masonic Temple from 1836 to 1837.

The essay, for which Emerson is perhaps the most well known, contains the most thorough statement of Emerson's emphasis on the need for individuals to avoid conformity and false consistency, and instead follow their own instincts and ideas. The essay illustrates Emerson's finesse for synthesizing and translating classical philosophy (e.g., self-rule in Stoicism, the Bildung of Goethe, and the revolution of Kant) into accessible language, and for demonstrating its relevance to everyday life.

While Emerson does not formally do so, scholars conventionally organize Self-Reliance into three sections: the value of and barriers to self-reliance (paragraph 1-17), self-reliance and the individual (paragraph 18-32), and self-reliance and society (paragraph 33-50).

The Value of and Barriers to Self-Reliance (paragraph 1-17)

Emerson opens his essay with the assertion, "To believe in your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men, - that is genius." His statement captures the essence of what he means by "self-reliance," namely the reliance upon one's own thoughts and ideas. He argues individuals, like Moses, Plato, and Milton, are held in the highest regard because they spoke what they thought. They did not rely on the words of others, books, or tradition. Unfortunately, few people today do so; instead, "he dismisses without notice his thought, because it is his."

If we do not listen to our own mind, someone else will say what we think and feel, and "we shall be forced to take with shame our own opinion from another." Emerson thus famously counsels his reader to "Trust thyself." In other words, to accept one's destiny, "the place the divine providence has found for you, the society of your contemporaries, the connection of events." If such advice seems easier said than done, Emerson prompts his reader to recall the boldness of youth.

Their mind being whole, their eye is as yet unconquered, and when we look in their faces we are disconcerted. Infancy conforms to nobody; all conform to it; so that one babe commonly makes four or five out of the adults who prattle and play to it. So God has armed youth and puberty and manhood no less with its own piquancy and charm, and made it enviable and gracious and its claims not be put by, if it will stand by itself.

The difficulty of trusting our own mind lies in the conspiracy of society against the individual, for society valorizes conformity. As a youth, we act with independence and irresponsibility, and issue verdicts based on our genuine thought. We are unencumbered by thoughts about consequences or interests. However, as we grow older, society teaches us to curb our thoughts and actions, seek the approval of others, and concern ourselves with names, reputations, and customs. What some would call "maturity," Emerson would call "conformity."

To be a self-reliant individual then, one must return to the neutrality of youth, and be a nonconformist. For a nonconformist, "No law can be sacred to me but that of my nature. Good and bad are but names very readily transferable to that or this; the only right is what is after my constitution; the only wrong what is against it." Emerson does not advocate nonconformity for the sake of rebellion per se, but rather so the world may know you for who are, and so you may focus your time and efforts on reinforcing your character in your own terms.

However, the valorization of conformity by society is not the only barrier to self-reliance. According to Emerson, another barrier is the fear for our own consistency: "a reverence for our past act or word because the eyes of others have no other data for computing our orbit than our past acts, and we are loth to disappoint them." Rather than act with a false consistency to a past memory, we must always live in the present. We must become, rather than simply be. Emerson famously argues, "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines." While acting without regard to consistency may lead to us being misunderstood, the self-reliant individual would be in good company. "Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood."

Self-Reliance and the Individual (paragraph 18-32)

In this section, Emerson expounds on how individuals can achieve self-reliance.

As mentioned earlier, to live self-reliantly with genuine thought and action, one must "trust thyself." In other words, one must trust in the nature and power of our inherent capacity for independence, what Emerson calls, "Spontaneity" or "Instinct" - the "essence of genius, of virtue, and of life." This Spontaneity or Instinct is grounded in our Intuition, our inner knowledge, rather than "tuitions," the secondhand knowledge we learn from others. In turn, Emerson believed our Intuition emerged from the relationship between our soul and the divine spirit (i.e., God). To trust thyself means to also trust in God.

To do so is more difficult than it sounds. It is far easier to follow the footprints of others, to live according to some known or accustomed way. A self-reliant life "shall be wholly strange and new. It shall exclude example and experience. You take the way from man, not to man."

As such, one must live as courageously as a rose.

Man is timid and apologetic; he is no longer upright; he dares not say, "I think," "I am," but instead quotes some saint or sage. He is ashamed before the blade of grass or the blowing rose. These roses under my window make no reference to former roses or to better ones; they are for what they are; they exist with God today. There is no time to them. There is simply the rose; it is perfect in every moment of its existence... But man postpones or remembers; he does not live in the present, but with reverted eye laments the past, or, heedless of the riches that surround him, stands on tiptoe to foresee the future. He cannot be happy and strong until he too lives with nature in the present, above time.

To live in the present with nature and God, one must not worry about the past or future, compare oneself to others, or rely on words and thoughts not one's own.

Self-Reliance and Society (paragraph 33-50)

In the concluding paragraphs of Self-Reliance, Emerson argues self-reliance must be applied to all aspects of life, and illustrates how such an application would benefit society. "It is easy to see that a greater self-reliance must work a revolution in all the offices and relations of men; in their religion; in their education; in their pursuits; their modes of living; their association; in their property; in their speculative views."

In regard to religion, Emerson believes a lack of self-reliance has led prayers to become "a disease of the will" and creeds "a disease of the intellect." People pray to an external source for some foreign addition to their life, whereby prayer acts as a means to a private end, such as for a desired commodity. In this way, prayer has become a form of begging. However, prayer should be a way to contemplate life and unite with God (i.e., to trust thyself and also in God). Self-reliant individuals do not pray for something, but rather embody prayer (i.e., contemplation and unification with God) in all their actions. "The prayer of the farmer kneeling in his field to weed it, the prayer of the rower kneeling with the stroke of his oar, are true prayers heard throughout nature, though for cheap ends."

Emerson also believes true prayer involves an avoidance of regret and discontent, which indicate a personal "infirmity of will," as well as of sympathy for the suffering of others, which only prolongs their own infirmity, and instead should be handled with truth and health to return them to their reason.

As for creeds, his critique focuses on how those who cling to creeds obey the beliefs of a powerful mind other than their own, rather than listen to how God speaks through their own minds. In this way, they disconnect with the universe, with God, because the creed becomes mistaken for the universe.

In regard to education, Emerson asserts the education system fosters a restless mind that causes people to travel away from themselves in hope of finding something greater than what they know or have. Educated Americans desire to travel to foreign places like Italy, England, and Egypt for amusement and culture. They build and decorate their houses with foreign taste, their minds to the Past and the Distant. Artists imitate the Doric or the Gothic model. Yet, Emerson reminds us, "They who made England, Italy, or Greece venerable in the imagination, did so by sticking fast where they were, like an axis of the earth." One should not yearn for or imitate that which is foreign to oneself, for "Your own gift you can present every moment with the cumulative force of a whole life's cultivation; but of the adopted talent of another you have only an extemporaneous half possession... Every great man is unique." (Emerson develops these ideas further in his essay, The American Scholar, which calls for the creation of a uniquely American cultural identity distinct from European traditions.)

Finally, Emerson addresses the "spirit of society." According to Emerson, "society never advances." Civilization has not led to the improvement of society because with the acquisition of new arts and technologies comes the loss of old instincts. For example, "The civilized man has built a coach, but has lost the use of his feet... He has a fine Geneva watch, but he fails of the skill to tell the hour by the sun." Society merely changes and shifts like a wave. While a "wave moves onward... the water which it is composed does not." As such, people are no greater than they ever were, and should not smugly rest on the laurels of past artistic and scientific achievements. They must instead actively work to achieve self-reliance, which entails a return to oneself, and liberation from the shackles of the religious, learned, and civil institutions that create a debilitating reliance on property (i.e., things external from the self).

Emerson concludes, "Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles."
In September 1836 Emerson published his long essay Nature. The book outlined his ideas about the manifestation of the universal spirit in nature. Emerson argued that man needed no church to connect to the divine - he had only to go out into nature, God's true canvas, to hear the truthful voice within. "In the woods, we return to reason and faith," Emerson wrote. "There I feel that nothing can befall me in life, -- no disgrace, no calamity, (leaving me my eyes,) which nature cannot repair. Standing on the bare ground, -- my head bathed by the blithe air, and uplifted into infinite space, -- all mean egotism vanishes. I become a transparent eye-ball; I am nothing; I see all; the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or particle of God."7

A week later, Emerson presided at the first meeting of what came to be known as the Transcendental Club. This gathering of like-minded intellectuals shared a common interest in nature, spirituality gleaned from intuition instead of organized religion, and progressive social change. Most of the club's eventual members were residents of Concord, such as Henry David Thoreau, Bronson Alcott and Margaret Fuller. Emerson's Nature was one of the group's founding documents. Together, the transcendentalists would have an important impact on American thought, literature and culture.

On 31 August 1837, Emerson delivered a talk entitled "The American Scholar" to a crowded house at Harvard. The speech was a galvanizing call to Americans to get out from under Europe's thumb and form their own culture, shaped by the nation's unique history and geography. The audience was electrified. "An event without any former parallel in our literary annals, a scene to be always treasured in the memory for its picturesqueness and inspiration," wrote the poet and critic James Russell Lowell, who attended the lecture. "What crowded and breathless aisles, what windows clustering with eager heads, what enthusiasm of approval."8

Seated in the audience was a young Harvard undergraduate named Henry David Thoreau. Thoreau, who had grown up in Concord, was mesmerized. He introduced himself to Emerson, who became an important friend and mentor to him. Thoreau lived with the Emerson family for a few years, earning his keep with handyman jobs and babysitting. In 1845, Emerson hired him to plant trees on a denuded piece of property he owned on Walden Pond in Concord. Thoreau built a cabin and lived at the pond for two years, an experience he documented in his classic Walden.

On 20 March 1841, Emerson's first collection of essays was published. With works like Self-Reliance and The Over-Soul, the collection (simply entitled Essays: First Series) came to define Emerson's philosophies. In The Over-Soul, Emerson expanded the ideas he began in Nature. He outlined the transcendental belief in a common spirit uniting all beings, one adapted from Eastern religious readings popular among the Concord set. "We live in succession, in division, in parts, in particles," Emerson wrote. "Meantime within man is the soul of the whole; the wise silence; the universal beauty, to which every part and particle is equally related; the eternal ONE."9

In Self-Reliance, Emerson exhorted readers to trust their instincts as their best and truest guide to what is right. In our modern world where "following your heart" has become a cliché, it's important to remember how revolutionary Emerson's words were at the time. He was advocating for a new American ideology, one that broke with the do-as-been-done tradition of the past. "Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind. Absolve you to yourself, and you shall have the suffrage of the world," Emerson wrote. "Good and bad are but names very readily transferable to that or this; the only right is what is after my constitution, the only wrong what is against it. A man is to carry himself in the presence of all opposition, as if every thing were titular and ephemeral but he."10

Now, Emerson was not without his critics. Read that last excerpt from Self-Reliance carefully, and see how it could be interpreted to mean that you should do whatever you want, whenever you want to, regardless of the impact on others. His critics at the time (and in decades since) charged that Emerson completely overlooked the fact that for an evil-minded person, such advice could be dangerous. Emerson never really acknowledged this problem in his long career. For some it was frustrating, but to his fans Emerson's relentless optimism was part of his charm. Writer Henry James said that Emerson's "ripe unconsciousness of evil ... is one of the most beautiful signs by which we know him."11

In July 1842 Emerson took over from Margaret Fuller the editorship of the Transcendentalist journal The Dial. The job helped him cope with a recent tragedy: the sudden death of his five-year-old firstborn child Waldo from scarlet fever. Fortunately, the rest of Emerson's children lived long, full lives.
Originally titled "An Oration Delivered before the Phi Beta Kappa Society, at Cambridge, [Massachusetts,] August 31, 1837," Emerson delivered what is now referred to as "The American Scholar" essay as a speech to Harvard's Phi Beta Kappa Society, an honorary society of male college students with unusually high grade point averages. At the time, women were barred from higher education, and scholarship was reserved exclusively for men. Emerson published the speech under its original title as a pamphlet later that same year and republished it in 1838. In 1841, he included the essay in his book Essays, but changed its title to "The American Scholar" to enlarge his audience to all college students, as well as other individuals interested in American letters. Placed in his Man Thinking: An Oration (1841), the essay found its final home in Nature; Addresses, and Lectures (1849).

The text begins with an introduction (paragraphs 1-7) in which Emerson explains that his intent is to explore the scholar as one function of the whole human being: The scholar is "Man Thinking." The remainder of the essay is organized into four sections, the first three discussing the influence of nature (paragraphs 8 and 9), the influence of the past and books (paragraphs 10-20), and the influence of action (paragraphs 21-30) on the education of the thinking man. In the last section (paragraphs 31-45), Emerson considers the duties of the scholar and then discusses his views of America in his own time.

Readers should number each paragraph in pencil as these Notes make reference to individual paragraphs in the essay.
With the publication of Nature in 1836, Ralph Waldo Emerson found himself the center of controversy with the Unitarian community at Harvard. In the introduction to that essay, he had insisted that his contemporaries discover their own "original relation to the universe" instead of living out the history of the forefathers' understanding. Those "dry bones" of the past ought to be discarded, he declared, in favor of a "religion of revelation to us" in which one could behold God and nature face to face in a new immediacy of spiritual life. In the remainder of the essay, he outlined a vision of the created order in which currents of divinity, stemming from an "Over-Soul," were immanent in the natural world and described a form of the essential human "self," the soul, and the forms of its potency and striving that could take possession of such a world for those people daring enough to seize such possibilities for personal spiritual fulfillment.

In more particular terms, as a "self" enjoyed its most glorious prospects, Emerson argued, it would ascend through the world of nature by approaching it not only for its "commodity," its practical uses, and not only for its "Beauty," its aesthetic and moral uses, but for its "Spirit," its revelation to the self of that presence of world-soul that corresponded to the human soul. Thus would the human spirit be nurtured by self-reliance, the active independent seeking of the soul in the realm of direct experience, through the medium of intuition, for that which would answer it and on which it was ultimately dependent, the immanence of Spirit.

This early, visionary piece of writing, foundational for virtually every feature of Emerson's subsequent thinking, removed him from his intellectual and religious lineage in the American Puritan tradition and disaffected all but the most radical members of the Unitarian community he served in his own generation. Thus, when Emerson was approached in 1838 to speak to the senior class at the Harvard Divinity School, the invitation came neither from the Unitarian clergy nor from the officers of the school but, rather, from the seniors themselves, eager to get a look at this challenging new figure on the New England scene. He did not disappoint them: The challenge to the doctrinal tradition, generalized and muted in Nature, now became decidedly more specific; the hints in the earlier essay about divine capacity in humans were now spelled out more explicitly; the new vision, proposed in broad cultural terms in 1836, was directed during that July of 1838 to inspire a particular community of religious belief.

If the senior divinity students might have been stirred by the speech and if it was highly regarded by men such as William Ellery Channing and Theodore Parker, many others, however, resented this little talk, entitled simply "An Address." If for his part Emerson had delivered a clear remedy for the overemphasis on formalist and rationalist aspects of religion (which he spotted most especially in Unitarianism and which he would elsewhere refer to as its "pale negations"), and if he had done so in what he thought a congenial and constructive manner, one prominent Unitarian, Andrews Norton, vigorously attacked the address as "the latest form of infidelity," expressing a sentiment apparently shared widely among the clergy since only after nearly three decades was Emerson invited again to address the Harvard community.

Planning his talk (later to be called "The Divinity School Address") fully in continuity with the vision of the world articulated in Nature, Emerson opens his remarks with a melodious description of the New England summer and suggests how the plenitude and beauty of nature, its breadth and variety, invite the participation of human life in such abundance. Quickly, however, he turns from the questions of subduing the world for the realm of commodity and of enjoying the world at the level of beauty in order to raise the question of "the laws which traverse the universe" and which contain and unite all of its "infinite relations."
In March, 1845, Thoreau decides to build a cabin by Walden Pond, near Concord, Massachusetts, thus beginning his so-called "personal experiment." His goal is to discover everything he can about human nature; he thinks he can do this best when he doesn't have to deal with normal worldly concerns, like material goods and human society. Basically, he's super-crunchy.

The book is largely structured around the seasonal changes that Thoreau observes during his two years at Walden Pond. His days are filled with things most of us would never take the time (or have the opportunity) to do, like farming and observing different flora and fauna - that basically means plants and animals - that inhabit the area. Sometimes he puts his party hat on and goes into the village. On one such occasion, he's actually arrested - oops - and spends the night in jail for not paying a poll tax. (Please hold while Shmoop checks what a poll tax is and then makes sure we've paid ours...)

When he's not contemplating life, Thoreau sometimes entertains friends at his cabin. Throughout the book he meets quite a motley crew, including a poet, a philosopher, and various settlers, hunters, farmers, and laborers who offer him stories about the area's history.

But back to nature, where his loyalties lie: Thoreau takes the time to explore numerous ponds in the area, including Flint's Pond and White Pond. He also checks out the local farms, like Baker Farm, where he briefly takes shelter with an Irish laborer and his family. By the fall, he notes how the colors of the trees have changed, and he prepares for the winter by finishing the chimney on his cabin. During the winter, he observes Walden Pond in its frozen state, and is careful to notice the changes occurring around him. When spring finally arrives, Thoreau writes about how the frozen earth melts right before his eyes. There are also a ton of other changes that come with spring. For example, more varieties of birds and animals are present, and pine trees begin to pollinate.

Not much changes the second year he's there (although we don't get as much juicy detail about it). And alas, Thoreau bids a fond farewell to Walden in September, 1847.
Pity the poor biographer of Edgar Allan Poe. That maestro of the macabre rarely met a hoax or a distortion that he didn't like. Poe so thrived in the realm of the fantastic that even the basic facts of his life somehow became subject to the embellishments of his imagination. It didn't help that the first person to have a go at his biography was his literary nemesis. Shortly after Poe's death, this uber-rival published a slanderous account full of lies about the writer, who obviously couldn't do anything to defend himself, being dead and all. But even if Poe had still been around to write his own biography, it might not have been much more accurate. Poe seemed to genuinely enjoy misleading his readers, perhaps as a way of saying "Take that!" to the polite society that had so often rejected him. "The nose of a mob is its imagination," he once wrote. "By this, at any time, it can be quietly led."1

Edgar Poe was born in 1809 to two impoverished parents, orphaned at the age of two, and then adopted by a man named John Allan whom he never grew to love. He was broke all his life, often begging for money that he soon spent on drink. He died penniless at the age of 40 after being found disheveled and unconscious in a Baltimore gutter. For all of his problems, in the course of his relatively short life Poe revitalized American literature, producing perfectly crafted stories and poems while creating whole new genres (we have Poe to thank for the detective story, for example). The guy who spent his life on the outside is now, a century and a half after his death, considered a member of the inner circle of American literature. It's an ironic twist that Poe himself might have approved.
Passion, wild emotion, and forbidden love: is it the newest 50 Shades of Whatever? Or is it Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, published in 1850 and set over a century earlier, amid those stuffy old Puritans with their funny hats and buckles?

Yep. It's the second one. Nathaniel Hawthorne set the story of poor, persecuted Hester Prynne and her lover in the early Massachusetts Bay Colony, where his ancestors played a role in the persecution of Quaker women, as well as in the prosecution of women in the Salem Witch Trials. (Hey, you can't choose your family.) In The Scarlet Letter's preface, Hawthorne actually alludes to this history, taking blame for the actions of these ancestors and hoping that any curse brought about by their cruelty will be removed.

Before we set you loose upon the thrilling world of mid-17th century Boston, let's do a quick recap: this was a society governed by Puritans, religious men and women who settled at Plymouth Rock, founded Boston, and began the experiment that grew into the US of A. The Puritans left the Church of England (the Christian church of, well, England) because they thought it was getting a little bit too relaxed about things, and they wanted the freedom to practice their own strict form of religion. Set in a deeply religious time and place, the novel is centered around the concept of man's relationship to himself (or herself) and to a Christian God.

The novel itself came out of a difficult time in Hawthorne's life. After graduating from Bowdoin College, where he hung around with the likes of poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and future United States President Franklin Pierce, Hawthorne found a government job at the Custom House in Salem. He lost the job in 1849, just before his beloved mother died. Instead of lying on the couch eating Flamin' Hot Cheetos and playing Halo during his unemployment (ahem), Hawthorne decided to write a book. When he read the final words of the final chapter to his wife, he ran to bed crying.

At that point, Hawthorne knew he had a hit on his hands, and what a hit it was. Oh, sure, it was one of the first mass-produced books sold in America, and it received praise from no less than Henry James himself—but can that compare to being on almost every American literature reading list in the history of everywhere?
This story, in its most basic, stripped-down form, is a simple one: a successful lawyer, in need of assistance, hires a new scrivener (a kind of human Xerox machine) to join his small firm. Enter Bartleby, a quiet, initially efficient, anti-social little man. Bartleby proceeds to work well as a copyist, but refuses to help out with any other office tasks - or rather, he simply "prefers" not to. The lawyer and his other employees are shocked, but Bartleby just won't do what they ask.

Bartleby is always in the office, either working or staring out the window at a facing wall, and it turns out that he actually lives in the office. Eventually, this refusal grows more bizarre, when Bartleby announces that he will no longer work as a copyist - but prefers simply to stay in the office and not do any work. Finally, he is firmly asked to leave...but he just doesn't.

Rather than take any more drastic measures to get Bartleby out of his office, the lawyer actually picks up and moves his practice elsewhere. Another practice moves into the building, only to discover that Bartleby is still a fixture there. The new occupants complain to the Narrator, but he tells them the truth - Bartleby isn't his responsibility. At the end of their rope, the new occupants have the police arrest Bartleby. The story concludes with Bartleby in prison. He prefers not to do anything there, either, and even prefers not to eat. The Narrator goes to visit Bartleby, but unsurprisingly, he can't get through to the strange scrivener. Eventually, Bartleby wastes away and starves to death, leaving only the Narrator to mourn him.

As a rather odd end note, the narrator informs us that Bartleby previously worked as a clerk in an obscure branch of the Post Office known as the Dead Letter Office, sorting through undeliverable mail. We have to wonder what kind of effect these "dead" letters must have had on his psyche. But still, Bartleby is a mystery left unsolved.
Our intrepid narrator, a former schoolteacher famously "called" Ishmael—is that actually his name?— signs up as sailor on a whaling voyage to cure a bout of depression/being a misanthropic dirtbag. On his way to find a ship in Nantucket, he meets Queequeg, a heavily tattooed South Sea Island harpooneer just returned from his latest whaling trip. Ishmael and Queequeg become best buds and roommates almost immediately. Together, they sign up for a voyage on the Pequod, which is just about to start on a three-year expedition to hunt sperm whales.

On board the Pequod, Ishmael meets the mates—honest Starbuck, jolly Stubb, and fierce Flask—and the other harpooneers, Tashtego and Daggoo. The ship's commander, Captain Ahab, remains secluded in his cabin and never shows himself to the crew. Uh, that's ominous. Oh well. The mates organize the beginning of the voyage as though there were no captain.

Just when Ishmael's curiosity about Ahab has reached a fever pitch, Ahab starts appearing on deck—and we find out that he's missing one leg. When Starbuck asks if it was Moby Dick, the famous White Whale, that took off his leg, Ahab admits that it was and forces the entire crew to swear that they will help him hunt Moby Dick to the ends of the earth and take revenge for his injury. They all swear.

After this strange incident, things settle into a routine on board the good ship Pequod. While they're always on the lookout for Moby Dick, the crew has a job to do: hunting sperm whales, butchering them, and harvesting the sperm oil that they store in huge barrels in the hold.

Ishmael takes advantage of this lull in plot advancement to give the reader lots (lots) of contemporary background information about whale biology, the whaling industry, and sea voyages. The Pequod encounters other ships, which tell them the latest news about the White Whale. Oh yeah, and everyone discovers that Ahab has secretly smuggled an extra boat crew on board (led by a mysterious, demonic harpooneer named Fedallah) to help Ahab do battle with Moby Dick once they do find him.

Over the course of more than a year, the ship travels across the Atlantic, around the southern tip of Africa, through the Indian Ocean, among the islands of southeast Asia, into the Sea of Japan, and finally to the equator in the Pacific Ocean: Moby Dick's home turf.

Despite first mate Starbuck's misgivings and a variety of bad omens (all the navigational instruments break, a typhoon tries to push the ship backwards, and the Pequod encounters other ships that have lost crewmembers to Moby Dick's wrath), Ahab insists on continuing to pursue his single-minded revenge quest. In a parody of the Christian ceremony of baptism, he goes so far as to dip his specially forged harpoon in human blood—just so that he'll have the perfect weapon with which to kill Moby Dick.

Finally, just when we think the novel's going to end without ever seeing this famous White Whale, Ahab sights him and the chase is on. For three days, Ahab pursues Moby Dick, sending whaling boat after whaling boat after him—only to see each one wrecked by the indomitable whale. Finally, at the end of the third day, the White Whale attacks the ship itself, and the Pequod goes down with all hands.

Even while his ship is sinking, Ahab, in his whaling boat, throws his harpoon at Moby Dick one last time. He misses, catching himself around the neck with the rope and causing his own drowning/strangling death.

The only survivor of the destruction is Ishmael, who lives to tell the tale because he's clinging to the coffin built for his pal Queequeg when the harpooneer seemed likely to die of a fever.
At an English seaport, Lieutenant Ratcliffe of the H.M.S. Bellipotent is picking men for the ship's next expedition. A large, handsome sailor is immediately chosen and taken aboard the ship, Billy Budd. In speaking with Billy's old shipmaster, Ratcliffe finds out that Billy was enormously admired on board his last ship and that the shipmaster considers him something of a peacemaker.

As the Bellipotent pulls out, Billy hops up on the prow to say goodbye to his old crew. He is yelled at to get down, but he didn't mean any harm. It's just that he is extremely good-natured and simple and can't help but let his enthusiasm spill over the bounds of military propriety. Just by looking at him, the men suspect that Billy came from noble birth but the truth is that Billy doesn't know his origins. He was found in a basket as a child. The one flaw that Billy does have is that he has a severe stutter that comes out when he is nervous or tense.

Our story takes place in 1797 during the Napoleonic Wars, shortly after the notorious Nore Mutiny in the British fleet. After the massive mutinies, things are very tense in the English fleet and a number of captains think that their crews are like powder kegs ready to blow. It takes courageous men like the military hero Lord Nelson to impress men enough to inspire true devotion.

The captain of the Bellipotent is named Captain Edward Fairfax Vere or, as the men have nick-named him, Starry Vere. In general, he is widely admired. He is something of a closet intellectual and always brings a small library with him when he goes to sea. Occasionally the men worry that he's a bit snobbish, that he has his nose in the air, but it's usually not a problem.

Vere has picked up a new master-at-arms for the voyage, a man named John Claggart. No one knows where Claggart came from, but like Billy, he looks too noble and strong to be stuck aboard a ship. Claggart doesn't say anything about his origins, and so gossip flourishes. The gossip is hyped even more by the fact that the rumor is that the English fleet is so pressed for men that they've even been pulling men out of prisons and making sailors of them. This is a concern because 1797 is not too long after the French Revolution and so there's a revolutionary spirit in the lower classes.

Things are going pretty well for Billy Budd aboard the Bellipotent. The one problem, though, is that he keeps getting in trouble for stupid little things like not putting away his hammock properly. Billy decides to go ask the Dansker, a wise old Danish man, why he can't keep out of trouble. The Dansker tells him that it's because Claggart doesn't like him, but Billy can't believe that's true. He has no idea why Claggart wouldn't like him.

A few days later, Billy is below deck and the ship lurches, causing him to spill his soup just as Claggart is walking by. Claggart cracks a joke about it and Billy and all the men laugh. Billy thinks it's a sign that the Dansker doesn't know what he's talking about. The narrator notices, though, that as Claggart moves on he has a mean and distorted expression on his face. It's hard for the narrator to explain why Claggart doesn't like Billy Budd. He just doesn't. The narrator thinks that perhaps Claggart is just naturally depraved (given to bad or evil actions), that perhaps he's slightly mad and directs it straight at Billy.

One possibility is that Claggart is simply jealous of Billy's good looks and likability. Because jealousy is such a petty and embarrassing sin, he has to try to hide it by imagining greater animosity between them. For this reason, Claggart takes Billy spilling his soup as a sign of disrespect, and he begins to employ an underling, Squeak, to report to him on Billy's doings. Squeak is clever and knows Claggart doesn't like Billy, so he exaggerates every thing Billy says to make it seem like he dislikes Claggart. The master-at-arms doesn't doubt it for a second.

A bit later, Billy is snoozing aboard deck when an afterguard (one of the men from the lower decks) sneaks up to him in the night and asks him to assist with a mutiny against the Captain. Billy becomes furious and begins to stutter as he tells the afterguard to get away from him. The other men on the top deck rush up to see what's the matter, but Billy simply tells them that the afterguard was on the top deck when he wasn't supposed to be.

Billy's confused. He sees the afterguard in the light of day, and he's nothing but friendly. When Billy asks the old Dansker what's up, he tells Billy that it's somehow related to Claggart. Billy doesn't understand. The narrator thinks that Billy is just so good and innocent that he can't conceive of the conniving, indirect ways that the minds of bad men work.

A few days later, the Bellipotent is separated from the Mediterranean fleet. While on its solo mission, it sees an enemy ship and takes chase. The ship gets away and Captain Vere is frustrated, pacing up and down the deck. At this moment, Claggart approaches him and begins to allude to some problems among the crew. Vere is very suspicious of Claggart, but he can't understand why he would make anything up. He asks him to name names. Claggart names Billy Budd.

Vere is astonished. He admires Billy greatly and had even thought of promoting him so that they could work more closely together. When Claggart begins to list more evidence against Billy, Vere decides that they will continue the conversation in his cabin with Billy present. He debates whether or not Claggart is telling the truth but his intuitions are blocked.

Billy is not suspicious as he strolls to Vere's cabin. He thinks that perhaps the Captain will promote him. When he comes inside and hears Claggart's accusation, he is shocked. His stutter kicks in with full force and he cannot respond. Vere tries to soothe him, but Billy's hand shoots out and he punches Claggart in the face. Vere is distressed, and the two of them prop the body upright. Vere has Billy go in the back of the cabin and he calls the surgeon, who immediately can tell that Claggart is dead.

Vere can see what is coming. Unjust as the situation is, Billy is going to hang. He calls a drumhead court made up of an officer of marines, a sea lieutenant, and a sailing master. He wants to do everything as quickly as possible because he is worried that, if word gets out, he could have a mutiny on his hands.

Billy testifies before the court in Vere's cabin. He says that it is true that he killed Claggart but that it is not true that he was involved in a mutiny. Vere passionately tells Billy that he believes him. Billy fails to mention the incident with the afterguardsman, but it's only because he can't imagine accusing another member of the crew. The court wants to know why Claggart disliked Billy in the first place, but he has no idea. They suggest to Vere that if other men testified it might become clearer. Vere dismisses the idea, saying that it's something for psychologists and theologians to discuss. Right now, there is only the fact that Claggart is dead and Billy did it.

Vere sends Billy to the back room. The court is extremely compassionate toward Billy, as is Vere, but Vere tells them that, regardless of their private consciences, it is their duty to enforce the law. He reminds them that it is a time of mutiny, and that for this reason the law carries that much more weight. The court doesn't quite agree with him, but none of the men feel adequate to debate him because he is so much more eloquent than they are. In an attempt to soothe them, Vere suggests that Billy himself would take pity on them if he knew what conflict they were in. Billy is condemned to hang in the morning.

Vere himself goes to tell Billy the news. No one knows how their conversation went. The narrator speculates that Vere omitted no details, that Billy understood his dilemma, and that Vere perhaps broke down. The narrator thinks that Vere had come to look on Billy as something of a son. When Vere emerges, it is clear that the news was harder on him than on the condemned.

Vere announces his decision to the crew, and is extremely formal. There is a slight murmur, but he silences it. He does not mention the word mutiny. After that, everything proceeds according to military discipline. In the morning, Billy appears on the deck ready to be hanged with the entire crew gathered round. His last words are, "God Bless Captain Vere" (25.2). The entire crew, as if unconsciously, repeats the words. Billy is hanged. A light pierces the sky as his body goes up, and when everyone looks back he is hanging there unmoving except for the sway of the waves.

The next day, the purser is remarking to the surgeon that Billy must have had remarkable will power not to twitch during the hanging. The surgeon dismisses the idea and says that it's purely circumstance, and that will power has nothing to do with it.

After Billy is hanged, wrapped in canvas, and dropped to the sea fowls, a murmur rises up among the men. The boatswain calls them to deck, though, and they quickly go back to their duty, as sailors are all too accustomed to do.

A few days later, the Bellipotent falls into battle with a French ship called the Atheist. Captain Vere is hit with a musket ball. After the Bellipotent wins the battle, they dock at an English port near Gibraltar. Vere dies there, and just before he passes he is heard murmuring Billy's name over and over again.

In the sailor's newspaper, an article appears detailing what happened on board the Bellipotent. Whatever his intentions, the writer gets it all wrong. He portrays Billy as a mutineer and Claggart as an honorable master-at-arms just doing his duty. He says that Billy stabbed Claggart out of vindictiveness, and reports the details of Billy's hanging. Until the current narrative (the story Billy Budd, this article has been the only record of what happened to Billy Budd.

As for the sailors who knew Billy, they keep track of the spar (part of ship around the stout pole used for a mast) where he was hanged. For a sailor to get a piece of the spar is like getting a piece of the cross on which Jesus was killed. Billy's replacement on board the Bellipotent pays tribute to him with a poem. It is quite vulgar, written from the point of view of Billy just before his execution, and it ends: "I feel it stealing now. Sentry, are you there? Just ease these darbies at the wrist, And roll me over fair! I am sleep, and the oozy weeds about me twist" (30.2).
What do you get when you cross America's greatest humor writer with a runaway slave, a homeless street kid, and a lot of really offensive language?

You get a book that's been banned in classrooms and libraries around the country since just about the moment it was published in the U.S. in 1885—and a book that's been on required high school reading lists for almost as long.

Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was a follow-up to Tom Sawyer, and it dumps us right back in the Southern antebellum (that's "pre-war") world of Tom and his wacky adventures.

Only this time, the adventures aren't so much "wacky" as life- and liberty-threatening. Huckleberry Finn is a poor kid whose dad is an abusive drunk. Huck runs away, and immediately encounters another runaway. But this runaway isn't just escaping a mean dad; he's escaping an entire system of racially based oppression.

He's escaping slavery.

This encounter throws Huckleberry into an ethical quandary (that's a fancy way of saying "dilemma"). He knows that, legally, he should turn in the runaway slave Jim. Problem is, he's also starting to see Jim as a real person rather than, well, someone's property. (Duh, Huckleberry.)

When Twain published Huckleberry Finn first in 1884 in Canada and the U.K. and then in the U.S. in 1885, the book was immediately banned—but not for its casual racism and use of the n-word. Nope. It was banned because it was "vulgar," thanks to its depiction of low-class criminals and things like Huck actually scratching himself.

Fifty years later, Huckleberry Finn was part of American literary tradition. Both T. S. Eliot and Ernest Hemingway thought it was one of the most important books ever written in the U.S.—but it was still being banned, expurgated, and rewritten to suit a (somewhat) less racist time.

Shmoop loves banned books, and not just because we're rebels. We love banned books because a banned book means that someone's buttons are being pressed. And if someone's buttons are being pressed, we know that the book is raising important issues. And boy, does Huckleberry Finn raise some important issues.

Important issues like, "Is it right to own other people?" (Hint: no.)

Important issues like, "Is it right to obey laws, if the laws are wrong?" (Hm, this one's a little trickier.)

Important issues like, "Are individuals more important than society?" (We don't even want to touch this question.)

Think about it this way: Huckleberry Finn suggests that the accepted moral values of society are wrong. Public schools (and most private schools) are usually pretty committed to sticking to accepted moral values. Let's be clear: in most cases, those accepted moral values—don't cheat; be respectful; show up to places on time—are hard to argue with. But it's easy to see that schools might be a little wary about having their students read a book that suggests individual conscience should be a more important guide than the rules and laws that everyone follows.
A researcher of the great poet Jeffrey Aspern comes to Venice to meet with his ex-lover Juliana Bordereau, who lives with an unmarried niece Tina in a big house, and doesn't communicate with anyone. Juliana has the Aspern's letters the hero of the story dreams to get, but she hides them from everybody and puts an end to all attempts of Aspern's biographers and admirers to get acquainted with her.

Knowing that she is living in poverty, he decides to rent several rooms in her house. Obsessed with the idea to get the letters, he is willing to woo her niece, in order to achieve his goal. His old friend Mrs. Prest, who is confided in his plans, exclaims: "Oh, first have a look at her!" In order not to cause Juliana's suspicions, the hero appears in the house as an American traveler who wants to rent an apartment with a garden, which in Venice is a rarity. Tina accepts him with a timid bewilderment, but the hero's kindness, his assertiveness and promise to tidy the garden led to her promising to talk with her aunt. Hero with bated breath is waiting for the meeting with the legendary Juliana, who turns out to be nothing but suspicious and greedy old woman with the interested in money.

She asks from him an exorbitant fee for the room, and he is even afraid that if he agrees with this fee, he will impersonate himself: nobody would pay so much. But being sure that when Juliana speaks about money, she forgets everything else, the hero agrees. Julian proudly shows in front of impractical and helpless Tina her ability to make business. The money she intends to Tina, who adores her and devotedly takes care of her. The niece treats the protagonist with sympathy, and he hopes to find in her an assistant.

The hero settles in Juliana's house, but has been living in the house for a month and a half, he see Tina only once - when he brings the money. And Juliana he does not see even once. He hires a gardener and hopes to conciliate of the housewives at home, sending them bouquets of flowers. One day, after returning home in an odd hour, he meets Tina in the garden. The hero is afraid that she will be embarrassed by his appearance, but she is glad to see him, and suddenly she becomes very talkative. He tries to ask Tina about Aspern and eventually admits that he works on his oeuvre and is looking for new material about that writer. Tina leaves him being turmoil. Since then, she avoids him.

One day he meets Tina in the great hall, and she invites him to talk with Juliana. The hero is worried, but Tina says that she did not say anything about his interest in Aspern. Juliana thanks the hero for the flowers, and he promises to go on sending them. The hero is always trying to find in the greedy old woman the former Juliana - Aspern's inspirer, but sees only an old woman hiding her eyes under the ugly green visor. Julian wants the hero to entertain her niece, and he gladly agrees to walk with her around the city. Not very popular woman, Tina takes a fancy to the hero more and more. She honestly tells him everything she knows about the Aspern's letters, but she knows only that they exist. She does not agree to take the letters from Juliana and give them away - in fact it would mean that she betrayed her aunt.

The hero is afraid that Juliana would destroy the letters. Julian offers the hero to continue his staying in their house, but he has already spent so much money, that cannot afford paying so much for the rooms anymore. She agrees to make a price lower, but the hero does not want to pay for the six months ahead, and promises to pay monthly. As if to tease him, Juliana shows a miniature portrait of Aspern she is going to sell. Hero pretends that he doesn't know who this man is, but he likes the artist's skill. Juliana says proudly that the artist is her father, thus confirming the hero's guess about her origin. She says that she would not depart with the portrait for less than a thousand pounds. The hero hasn't so much money, and he suspects that actually she is not going to sell the portrait.

Few hours later Juliana feels sick, and Tina is afraid that she is going to die. The hero is trying to find out from Tina, where Juliana keeps the Aspern's writings, but Tina feels two feelings struggling within her - sympathy for the hero and devotion to her aunt. She was looking for the letters, but hasn't found them, and even if she has, she would not know whether to give them away: she does not want to cheat on Juliana.

In the evening, seeing that Juliana's room is opened, the hero enters and holds out his hand to the secretary, where, as he supposes, the letters can be kept, but at the last minute he looks back and notices Juliana on the threshold of the bedroom. At that moment he sees for the first time her unusually glowing eyes. She hissed with fury: "vile scribbler!" - And falls into the arms of her niece.

The next morning the hero leaves Venice and returns only in twelve days. Julian died, and she has been already buried. Hero solaces Tina and asks her about the plans for future. Tin is at a loss and has not decided anything yet. She presents him with the Aspern's portrait. The hero asks her about his letters. He gets to know that Tina prevented Juliana to burn them. Tina has them now, but she does not dare to give them to the hero - because Juliana guarded them from prying eyes so jealously. Tina shyly hints the hero, if he were not a stranger, if he were a member of the family, she would give him the letters.

The hero realizes that this clumsy spinster loves him and would like to become his wife. He rushes out of the house and cannot get over it: it appears that he unwittingly inspired a poor woman of hope, which he cannot realize. "I cannot marry a pathetic, ridiculous, old provincial girl for a bunch of the letters," - he decides. But after the night he realizes that he cannot give up the treasure he had been dreaming of for such a long time, and when he sees Tina in the morning, she seems to him rejuvenated and prettier. He is ready to marry her. But before he say about it Tina, she tells him that she has burned all the letters, leaf by leaf. Everything starts to blur in his eyes. When he wakes up, the spell scatters, and he sees an unsightly, baggy-dressed elderly woman again. The hero goes out.

He writes Tina that he has sold the Aspern's portrait and sends quite a large sum, which he could not receive, if he really dared to sell it. In fact, he leaves the portrait for himself, and when he looks at him, he has heart aches at the thought of what he has lost - of course, it refers to the Aspern's letters.
The book opens with a scene of violence, and it goes downhill from there. A little scrapper of a boy named Jimmie is fighting against hoodlums from Devil's Row with the help of some other neighborhood street urchins representing Rum Alley. And we're not talking about hair-pulling; we're talking about stone-throwing, clothes-shredding, and bloody faces. Then an older boy named Pete comes along—but rather than saving Jimmie, he sort of eggs him on. But he's got his back.

Home is even grimmer than the gravel heaps of Rum Alley for Jimmie because Mom is a raging alcoholic, Dad is a brute, and siblings Maggie and Tommie just seem like they have targets on their foreheads. It's complete mayhem in the house.

A few years later, Tommie is dead and so is Dad. Jimmie has become a bully and a monster himself, hating everything in his path and itching for the next fight. He's a teamster with road rage long before the term is invented, and he'll make mincemeat out of anyone who crosses his path.

Along comes that Pete fellow again—the one who "helped" Jimmie—and now he's a strapping, well-dressed dandy of a fellow. At least in Maggie's eyes, anyway. They begin to date, which Maggie sees as a prime opportunity to get away from the terribleness that is her life in the tenement. Pete loves him some entertainment, so he and Maggie attend all sorts of "fancy" (again, to her) vaudeville-type theatrical events where the audience is full of other hard-working immigrants. Beats being at home being beaten by Mom, that's for sure.


Mom and Jimmie are not impressed by the whole Pete-Maggie love connection, though. Doesn't matter if you are poor, you still have moral standards and that Maggie—well, she's making the family look bad by spending all sorts of time with that Pete. So they kick her out of the apartment. Now she has no choice but to be with Pete. Nice call.

Jimmie attempts to defend the family honor by beating Pete up—while Pete is at work, so that's not cool. The good times between Pete and Maggie come to a screeching halt. As sure as the day is long, Pete leaves Maggie for Nellie, an old flame who clearly has more sophistication than Maggie (which isn't hard, wide-eyed naïf that Maggie is).

Now Maggie has nowhere to go. Mom is busy maligning her with the neighbors (sweet mom, eh?), so it's the streets for Maggie (hence the subtitle of the book). Crane does a little smoke-and-mirrors trick by showing us a prostitute wandering the streets but not telling us directly that it's Maggie. We know better, though. Unfortunately, the scene doesn't end well, as a creep of a guy with "bloodshot eyes and grimy hands" follows "the girl" (17.17) down to the river. You do the math.

We find Pete drunk as a skunk with a bunch of "ladies," including that Nellie. They all take advantage of his generosity and then leave him passed out on the floor.

Jimmie comes home to Mom, flatly reporting that Maggie is dead. Mom throws a spectacular fit, as neighbors make feeble attempts to console her. The book ends with Mom promising to forgive Maggie. Um... too little, too late, Ma.
"Three years ago, a young New Hampshire schoolmaster went over to England, lived in retirement for a while, and published a volume of poems which won him many friends in a quiet way," wrote the Boston Herald in 1915. "Some time ago, another volume of verse went to the same publisher and one morning Robert Frost found himself famous."1

This is the simplified version of how a New Hampshire farmer became America's poet—the one whose clear, elegant verse spoke of things as powerful and inscrutable as nature itself. Robert Frost, who was born in 1874 and died 88 years later as one of the most famous men in America, doesn't fit neatly into any single chapter of a poetry anthology. His poetry captures the best of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It struck out on a bold, fresh course, while never veering from the confines of verse and meter. His poems are about a specific place—America's New England—but they speak for everyone, everywhere.

Like his placid images that hinted at darker truths beneath, Robert Frost's personal life belied the beauty of his poetry. Frost struggled with depression, and saw many of the people he loved destroyed by mental illness. He lost four of his six children. In the poem "Home Burial," the father of the dead child speaks words that could have been Frost's: "I shall laugh the worst laugh I ever laughed. / I'm cursed. God, if I don't believe I'm cursed."2

You have probably been forced to read and parse the meaning of "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" in English class. You may have seen lines from "A Road Not Taken" emblazoned on coffee mugs and journals. That's kid stuff. Now get ready to learn the real Robert Frost.
Quick, name a few things about poetry that make you, well, hate it. The list likely includes, but is by no means limited to: obscure references, difficult vocabulary, topics that are seemingly devoid of any relevance to your life, and as a whole, mind-bendingly difficult to understand.

Well, we're going to be honest here. Wallace Steven's poem, "The Idea of Order at Key West," would appear to have all these negative elements and more. This is a tough one on just about every level. Even the experts have troubled over this one. Wait! Stop! You were about to click away from Shmoop and go back to reading that blog about extreme eating. Don't do it! Stick with Shmoop. We'll walk you through it. Trust us.

The title and first stanza give us some pretty specific information that will be helpful to keep in mind once Stevens pulls the training wheels off in the subsequent stanzas. We are given a setting, Key West, which says sun and surf. We are given a "she" who is singing on the beach. And we have a speaker, who is observing the "she" and listening to the song (it all sounds pretty good so far, right?).

As the poem progresses, we see that the sea is actually much more than merely the poem's setting. And the "she" represents much more than a lone singer. The sea functions almost like another character in the poem to which the "she" is constantly set in juxtaposition.

In "The Idea of Order..." Stevens asks us to consider this: is the sea merely inspiration for her song, or is it her song that is giving new meaning, significance, life to the sea? Is it actually her imagination, her internal world, that is altering (ordering) the speaker's perception of the external reality of the Key West seashore? The poem becomes a kind of beautiful, haunting investigation of imagination, perception of reality, art, and creativity.

(A word of warning: Stevens can bring it in the vocabulary department, so you might want to pack a dictionary before setting off.)
The Burial of the Dead
It's not the cheeriest of starts, and it gets even drearier from there. The poem's speaker talks about how spring is an awful time of year, stirring up memories of bygone days and unfulfilled desires. Then the poem shifts into specific childhood memories of a woman named Marie. This is followed by a description of tangled, dead trees and land that isn't great for growing stuff. Suddenly, you're in a room with a "clairvoyant" or spiritual medium named Madame Sosostris, who reads you your fortune. And if that weren't enough, you then watch a crowd of people "flow[ing] over London Bridge" like zombies (62). Moving right along...

A Game of Chess
You are transported to the glittery room of a lavish woman, and you notice that hanging from the wall is an image of "the change of Philomel," a woman from Greek myth who was raped by King Tereus and then changed into a nightingale. Some anxious person says that their nerves are bad, and asks you to stay the night. This is followed by a couple of fragments vaguely asking you what you know and remember. The section finishes with a scene of two women chatting and trying to sneak in a few more drinks before closing time at the bar.

The Fire Sermon
Section three opens with a speaker who's hanging out beside London's River Thames and feeling bad about the fact that there's no magic left in the world. The focus swoops back to the story of Philomel for a second, then another speaker talks about how he might have been asked for weekend of sex by a "Smyrna merchant" (209). Next, you're hearing from Tiresias, a blind prophet from myth who was turned into a woman for seven years by the goddess Hera. You hear about a scene where a modern young man and woman—both not much to look at—are having this really awful, loveless sex. Finally, you overhear someone singing a popular song, which in the context of this poem just sounds depressing.

Death By Water
In a brief scene, you watch as a dead sailor named Phlebas decays at the bottom of the ocean, and the poem tells you to think of this young man whenever you start feeling too proud. Good tip, T.S.

What the Thunder Said
Section five takes you to a stony landscape with no water. There are two people walking, and one notices in his peripheral vision that a third person is with them. When he looks over, though, this other person disappears (it's like one of those squiggly lines that dance in the corner of your eye). In a dramatic moment, thunder cracks over the scene, and its noise seems to say three words in Sanskrit: Datta, Dayadhvam, and Damyata, which command you to "Give," "Sympathize," and "Control." This is followed by a repetition of the word Shantih, which means "the peace that passeth all understanding." After all that slogging, T.S. maybe gives us a little hope with this final word. Then again, maybe not.
Mapping out the plot summary of Long Day's Journey Into Night is a bit challenging, since there really isn't much in the way of plot. The play takes place exclusively in the living room of the Tyrone family's summer home, in August, 1912. Literally nothing happens in this room other than conversations, a lot of drinking, and a couple of blows to Jamie's face. The "action" of the play (such as the boys going into town and the mother taking morphine) all happens offstage. The detailed summary is really the place to go to get a sense of what happens in this play, but if you want the skeleton, here it is:

When the fateful day starts, there's already some tension floating around the Tyrone family. James Tyrone and his two sons, Edmund and Jamie, have all noticed that Mary, James's wife, spent the night before in the guest room where she used to take morphine.

The boys thought Mary had finally kicked her narcotics habit, but they now suspect that she may be back on the drug. Meanwhile, Jamie is home for the summer because he has no job and needs a place to stay, while Edmund, more distressingly, has been feeling very ill.

As the day progresses, problems mount for the Tyrones. It becomes obvious that Mary's back on morphine. She acts defensive at times, and as though she's a teenager again (when she was "happy") at others. Mary spent her youth at a convent planning to be nun; since then, though, she's faced all kinds of tragedies, including the death of her father, as well as the loss of her childhood home, her innocence, her religion, and her second son.

Edmund's nagging ailment proves to be consumption (i.e., tuberculosis), which was serious, bad news in 1912. It is often curable, but Edmund will have to be sent to a sanatorium (a medical facility for treating long-term illness), which is expensive.

Speaking of money, let's turn our attention to James. James doesn't have any life-threatening issues like Mary or Edmund, but he's got this frustrating tendency to be incredibly cheap. Additionally, he and Jamie (and, to a slightly lesser extent, Edmund) are all serious alcohol abusers.

By the time we reach this August afternoon, the boys have all left the house - Edmund to go the doctor to find out about his disease, and James and Jamie to accompany him and then do some drinking.

Jamie stays out and heads to a brothel, but James and Edmund come back after a few drinks. Mary, meanwhile, takes a quick drive into town to pick up some morphine, and then spends the afternoon talking to the house maid, Cathleen, about her childhood. We can assume that she took some more morphine before this conversation.

Once James and Edmund return, Mary engages them in conversation while high; her strange, morphine-influenced behavior drives James to get more whiskey and Edmund to take off entirely. James comes back in time for dinner, but Mary decides she has to go upstairs and sleep instead.

In the final act, Edmund comes back from a walk down the beach (and a stop at the inn for a drink) to find his father in the living room. The two are both drunk and begin to open up to one another about their pasts and their dreams.

It seems that Edmund, a would-be poet, wants to exist in a different reality (or, possibly, to die), while James admits that the experiences of his younger years are what rendered him so resentful of extravagance and laziness (both characteristics he finds in Jamie).

Jamie comes home drunk and with stories of an overweight prostitute, and after mouthing off about Mary, gets a punch in the face from Edmund. Jamie admits that he hasn't been the best son to Mary or brother to Edmund. In fact, secretly, he wants to destroy Edmund because he's jealous and resentful of his own wasted life.

Finally, Mary comes down carrying her old wedding dress, completely high on morphine and acting like the girl she was when she first met James. Jamie makes another crack at her expense and Edmund smacks him. As she has before, Mary recounts how joyful she was at the convent where she grew up and how much she loved James when they met. She's extremely upset about having lost something (we aren't told what), and concludes the play by saying her marriage with James was so happy - for a time.
The play opens in New Orleans in the 1940's at the ground-floor flat of a young couple, Stanley and Stella Kowalski. Upstairs lives another couple, Eunice and Steve. The dynamic between main characters Stella and Stanley is made immediately clear when he—clearly a gruff dude—tosses a piece of meat to his wife for her to make into dinner. Gender roles anyone? Meanwhile, it's clear that she adores him—she even tails after to watch him bowl with his friends.

After both Kowalskis exit, Blanche DuBois comes onstage. She's Stella's older, single sister (early thirties). She's dressed all in white, delicate, and "moth-like." Blanche waits inside the apartment and has a shot of Stanley's booze.

When Stella comes back, the sisters reunite and Blanche reveals some bad news: their family plantation, Belle Reve, has been lost; they are bankrupt. She had a bit of a break-down, so she's now taking some time off from her teaching position at the school (Blanche teaches high school English). She resents that she had to stay home and watch their older family members die one by one while Stella was off with Stanley. Blanche is also horrified that her sister is living in a dump like this one when they both come from such a wealthy, elite background.

Blanche has another drink. (From now on, just assume Blanche is either having a drink or about to have a drink at all times.) Stella goes to the bathroom and Stanley enters, which means he and Blanche are alone for Big Sexual Tension Scene Number One. While they chat, Blanche reveals that she was married once, but her husband died.

As Blanche is bathing, Stanley finds out from Stella that Belle Reve was lost. He rifles through Blanche's things and believes that her costume jewelry and fake furs are all genuine, expensive pieces —he thinks that she sold Belle Reve and kept the profits for herself. Later, while alone with Blanche, he accuses her of this. She shows him all the papers detailing the estate and its bankruptcy, proving her story correct. Meanwhile, Blanche tries to pull her "Aren't I so cute and pretty?" act with Stanley, and he's having none of it. Before the scene ends, Stanley reveals that Stella is pregnant.

Later that night, the women go out for dinner while Stanley and his buddies play poker at the house. Among said buddies is Mitch, who is single but lives with his elderly, sick mother. He's a bit more sensitive than the others. Stella and Blanche return home at about 2 a.m. to find the men still gambling and very drunk.

Blanche flirts with Mitch and it's clear that he returns her interest. He's a bit of an awkward teddy-bear, though, and Blanche has to carry the conversation entirely. Meanwhile, Stanley is angry that the women are chattering and interfering with his poker night. In a drunken rage, he hits Stella. The two women run upstairs to Eunice's place, and the men all go home after sticking Stanley in the shower and trying to sober him up.

Now under control, Stanley feels horrible at what he's done to his wife. He staggers outside, sobbing, and yells up to her—Stellaaaa!—to come down to him. To Blanche's horror, Stella does, and the two make up. The next morning, Blanche waits for Stanley to leave and then comes downstairs to her sister. She insists that they get out of this horrible situation immediately. Stella says she's happy—she's "thrilled" by Stanley's aggression, not frightened by it.

Meanwhile, Blanche and Mitch start dating. She won't let him see her in any strong light because she's trying to hide her age, and she also won't give him more than a goodnight kiss in the hopes that holding out will make him want to marry her. After one date, she reveals some of her past to Mitch. When she was young, she was married to a man who turned out to be gay. After discovering him with another man, Blanche called him "disgusting," and he killed himself. Since then, Blanche has been haunted by his death (made clear to the audience by the repeated use of the polka song that was playing when he committed suicide).

Tensions continue to rise between Blanche and Stanley, who can't stand his sister-in-law's phony act and her air of superiority. He does a little hunting around and discovers that Blanche has been lying about what went down in Laurel (her hometown). Apparently, she was fired from her job as a schoolteacher after she was discovered having an affair with one of her high school students. She then sank further into scandal, entertaining many gentlemen at a place called the Hotel Flamingo until she was essentially asked to leave town.

Stanley reveals all of this information to Stella (and, we find out later, to Mitch as well). The couple fights over it, since Stella wants to defend and help her sister, whereas Stanley wants Blanche out of his house. In the midst of their argument, Stella goes into labor and Stanley rushes her to the hospital.

While they're at the hospital, Blanche is left alone at the apartment. Mitch comes to see her, but by now he's wised up as to her real character. He wants her to have sex with him, seeing as that's what she does, apparently, with many other men. Blanche refuses; she still thinks Mitch should marry her. Mitch says, basically, "No, thanks" and takes off.

Blanche drinks herself silly until Stanley comes home from the hospital to get some rest, since the doctors say Stella won't deliver the baby until the morning. Now, he's alone with Blanche, which gives him the opportunity to tell her off the way he's always wanted.

Blanche responds to his anger by retreating further into self-delusion. She's all dressed up in her costume jewelry and finest gown, and she claims that she's going on a cruise in the Mediterranean with an old boyfriend. She also claims that Mitch came back to beg her forgiveness, which we all know isn't true.

She and Stanley continue to argue, and Blanche worries that she, a single and attractive woman, shouldn't be alone in an apartment with a man like Stanley. Stanley finds her fear amusing, but then attacks and rapes her. This isn't shown on stage; the scene comes to an end just as he's carrying a nearly unconscious Blanche into the bedroom.

The final scene features Stella (with the new baby) and Eunice helping Blanche to pack her things. They're sending her away to a mental institution. Blanche told Stella that Stanley raped her, but Stella doesn't believe her story. She just thinks her sister has gone mad. Blanche has somehow convinced herself that she's still going on this cruise with her old boyfriend, so she willingly packs and pretties herself.

Meanwhile, Stanley, Mitch, and a few of their buddies are sitting around the kitchen table playing poker. When the doctor comes to take Blanche away, at first she resists. But when he plays the part of the Southern gentleman and offers her his arm, Blanche accepts it and goes willingly. Mitch takes a swing at Stanley, revealing that he knows Blanche's story to be true (or at least strongly suspects it). Horribly distraught, Stella calls after her retreating sister, but submits to Stanley's comforting arms on the porch of their house as Blanche disappears around the street corner and offstage.
Willy Loman, an old salesman, returns early from a business trip. After nearly crashing multiple times, Willy has a moment of enlightenment and realizes he shouldn't be driving. Seeing that her husband is no longer able to do his job as a traveling salesman, Willy's wife, Linda, suggests that he ask his boss, Howard, to give him a local office job at the New York headquarters. Willy thinks that getting the new job is a sure thing since he (wrongly) sees himself as a valuable salesman.

We begin to learn some family background and hear about Willy and Linda's grown sons, Biff and Happy. Biff has just returned home from working as a farmhand in the West. Willy thinks Biff could easily be rich and successful, but is wasting his talents and needs to get on track. Willy thinks Biff is being wish-washy to spite him.

Later that night, Willy starts having flashbacks and talking to imagined images as if they were real people. You guessed it: something is wrong. He's ranting so loudly that Happy and Biff wake up. The brothers are legitimately worried, as they have never seen their father like this. Biff, feeling as though he should stay close to home and fix his relationship with his dad, decides to talk to a former employer, Bill Oliver, about getting a loan to start a business.

In the middle of the night, Willy's talking to himself so loudly that everyone wakes up. Linda admits to her sons that she and Willy are struggling financially. Worse, Willy has been attempting suicide. She's worried and takes it out on her boys, accusing Biff of being the cause of Willy's unhappiness. Now Willy gets in on the family discussion and the situation goes downhill. He and Biff begin to argue, but Happy interjects that Biff plans to see Oliver the following morning. Willy is overjoyed. Everyone goes to sleep believing that tomorrow will fulfill their dreams: Willy expects to get a local job, and Biff expects to get a business loan.

The next day, of course, everything goes wrong. Willy feels happy and confident as he meets with his boss, Howard. But instead of getting a transfer to the New York office, Willy gets fired. Destroyed by the news, he begins to hallucinate and, yes, once again speak with imaginary people as he heads out to meet his sons at a restaurant.

Waiting for their dad at the restaurant, Biff explains to Happy that Oliver wouldn't see him and didn't have the slightest idea who he was. Distressed, spiteful, and something of a kleptomaniac, Biff stole Oliver's fountain pen. By now, Biff has realized that he was crazy to think he would ever get a loan, and that he and his family have been lying to themselves for basically their entire lives. When Willy comes into the restaurant demanding good news, Biff struggles to explain what happened without letting his father down. Willy, who can't handle the disappointment, tries to pretend it isn't true. He starts drifting into the dreamy past again, reliving the moment when Biff discovered his (Willy's) affair with a woman in Boston. While their dad is busy being detached from reality, Biff and Happy ditch him for two girls.

Biff and Happy return home from their dates to find their mother waiting for them, fuming mad that they left their father at the restaurant. A massive argument erupts. No one wants to listen to Biff, but he manages to get the point across that he can't live up to his dad's unrealistic expectations and is basically just a failure. He's the only one who sees that they've been living a lie, and he tells them so.

The night's fight ends with Willy realizing that Biff, although a "failure," seems to really love him. Unfortunately Willy can't get past the "failure" bit. He thinks the greatest contribution that he himself can make toward his son's success is to commit suicide. That way, Biff could use the life insurance money to start a business.

Within a few minutes, there's a loud crash. Willy has killed himself.

In the final scene, Linda, sobbing, still under the delusion that her husband was a well-liked salesman, wonders why no one came to his funeral. Biff continues to see through his family's lies and wants to be a better man who is honest with himself. Unfortunately, Happy wants to be just like his dad.
The first act of the play is a swirling portrait of Troy Maxson's life. We meet all the main people surrounding Troy. There's his best friend, Bono, whom he met while in prison. Now the two work together as garbage collectors and sip gin every Friday night. Then there's Rose, Troy's loving and dutiful wife. Lyons, Troy's son from a previous relationship, stops by to borrow some money. We also meet Gabriel, Troy's brother, who suffers from a World War II head wound and now thinks he is the archangel Gabriel. Last, there's Cory, Troy's son by Rose.

Wilson plants all the major conflicts of the play in the first act. Troy is trying to break the racial barrier at work by becoming the first black garbage truck driver. This conflict is actually quickly resolved as Troy wins his battle. We also get strong hints in the first act that Troy is having an affair with a woman named Alberta.

Ultimately, however, it seems that the main conflict of the play will involve Troy's son Cory. Cory has the chance to go to college on a football scholarship, but Troy refuses to sign the permission paper. Troy says he doesn't want his son to suffer from the same racial discrimination that kept Troy from being a pro baseball player. This tension comes to a head when Troy tells Cory's high school football coach that Cory can't play football anymore, which destroys Cory's hopes of going to college.

Things start to go really bad for Troy in the play's second act. When Alberta becomes pregnant, he's forced to fess up to Rose about his affair. Making matters worse, Alberta dies in childbirth. Rose agrees to raise the baby girl, Raynell, but says she no longer considers herself Troy's woman.

Not only does Troy lose his mistress and his wife, he also loses his best friend, Bono. We learn that the two men no longer hang out. This is partly because ever since Troy got the promotion to driver, the two don't work together anymore. More than that, though, it seems like Bono is really disappointed in Troy for having the affair. We also learn that Troy has had Gabriel put away in a mental hospital. Rose accuses him of doing this just to get half of Gabriel's disability check.

The play comes to a climax when tensions explode between Troy and Cory and the two go at each other with a baseball bat. Though Troy wins the fight, he loses his son forever.

The last scene of the play takes place years later on the day of Troy's funeral. We see Cory return home in a military uniform. He's gone out and made his own way in the world but is still struggling with the shadow of his father. He considers not going to the funeral, but is talked out of it by Rose. We're given hope that Cory is on the path to becoming his own man and forgiving his father when he and young Raynell sing a song together in honor of Troy.

The play concludes when Gabriel returns. He tries to blow his trumpet to open the gates of heaven for Troy. When no sound comes out, he does a ritualistic dance and chant. In the play's final moment, we're told the gates of heaven are wide open.
How I Learned to Drive begins with Li'l Bit speaking to the audience as an adult. She
introduces us to the opening scene which takes place in a parked car on a summer night in
Maryland. In the front seat of the car Li'l Bit, age seventeen, sits with an older, married man
nick-named Peck. As they sit together, Peck makes advances on Li'l Bit and asks to be rewarded
for not drinking that week. She allows him to remove her bra before driving them home. Li'l Bit
then moves back into the position of narrator as she explains the nickname given to her by her
family and Peck is revealed to be her uncle.
The play continues, going back and forth in time. In the next scene Li'l Bit returns to her
seventeen year old self and sits down to a family dinner with her mother, her grandfather, her
grandmother, Aunt Mary, and Uncle Peck. During dinner she is antagonized by her grandfather
as she expresses her desire to be judged by her intellect rather than her body. Frustrated, Li'l Bit
storms off and Uncle Peck is sent after her. He gives her the keys to his car when she expresses a
desire to drive and cool off. A grateful Li'l Bit promises Peck that they will have another chance
to be alone together later that night. In their conversation, we find out that Peck is not a blood
relative to Li'l Bit, but an in-law.
The scene shifts back a year to Peck and Li'l Bit enjoying dinner together at a restaurant.
Peck encourages Li'l Bit to drink, but rather than take advantage of her, Peck takes her back to
the car and explains that he is willing to wait until she is ready. We are then brought back to an
earlier conversation in which Li'l Bit, her mother, and her grandmother discuss men, women and
sex. The two older women attempt to educate Li'l Bit on how to deal with sex and love, but the
two have very opposing opinions on the matter. In another driving lesson with her uncle, Li'l Bit
seems to be much more flirtatious as Peck attempts to get her to focus on the rules of the road.
In the next few scenes we get a glimpse of Li'l Bit's social experiences at school. The
other students alienate and poke fun at her due to her body type. This leads into a photo-shoot
with Peck and Li'l Bit. As he photographs her, Peck attempts to express to Li'l Bit the
appreciation he has for her body. Then, in a scene from the previous Christmas, Li'l Bit makes a
deal with Peck in which she agrees to spend more time with him if he stops drinking.
During Li'l Bit's first year of college she receives a great deal of letters from Peck, all
counting down to her eighteenth birthday. She does not reply, but eventually meets with him to
tell him that she is no longer interested in pursuing any kind of relationship with him. An adult
Li'l Bit tells us that he later drank himself to death, then she finally takes us back to the fateful
driving lesson where she had her first physical experience with Peck.
The Compson family is falling apart. The kids run wild, the mother locks herself in her bedroom with a hot water bottle and her Bible, and the father locks himself in the den with a nice big bottle of whiskey. In other words, life isn't exactly the sunniest. Not to worry, though: it can always get worse.

The Sound and the Fury cycles through the first-person narratives of three Compson children as they remember their childhood, and mourn the loss of their sister Caddy. Benjy, the first narrator of the novel, is mentally-handicapped and the youngest son of the family. He spends his days wandering around the edges of the family's small-town Mississippi home, listening to the golfers across the way yell for their caddies. To Benjy's ear, "caddie" sounds a whole lot like "Caddy," and so he thinks about all the times that Caddy played a huge part in his life. Since Caddy played a huge role in his life fairly frequently, his memories take a while to develop. Time warps backwards and forwards as Benjy's memory gets going: we get his account of Caddy's fierce independence and her blossoming sexuality.

Just when we're getting lulled into Benjy's mind and memories, however, Faulkner switches it all up. We wouldn't want to get too comfortable, would we? Chapter Two lands us smack in the middle of Quentin Compson's life eighteen years earlier. It's 1910. Quentin has left Mississippi to attend Harvard University. Sounds like a totally different life from Benjy's, right? Well, yes. And no. Like Benjy, Quentin is obsessed with Caddy. Like Benjy, he just can't seem to get her out of his head. Unlike Benjy, however, Quentin has an agonizing sense of how time is passing. Breaking his father's watch in a frantic attempt to stop time from ticking on, Quentin begins to move through the last day of his life.

The last day of his life? Well, yes. By the end of Quentin's section, he's on his way to jump into the river. But we're getting ahead of ourselves. Before his suicide, Quentin walks out of town into the country, helps a small girl, and gets beaten up by a college friend. Sounds like a straightforward day, right? Oh, but that would be forgetting Quentin's past.

As he walks, all of the old agony Quentin felt when Caddy got pregnant - and when she got married - surfaces again. Desperate to stop Caddy from changing into a woman, Quentin even offers to claim that he's committed incest with her. By his logic, sex with your brother is better than sex with random, unknown guys. No one seems to agree with Quentin, though. His plan is a bust. His family is falling apart. By the end of his chapter, his past and his present seem completely incompatible.

If you pity Quentin, you'll love to hate Jason. Jason, the second-eldest of the Compson boys, begins his section of the novel in 1928. He's a bitter, corrupt man whose hobbies include stealing from Caddy's daughter and skipping out on his work. In the course of Jason's day, he manages to scam Quentin (that's Caddy's daughter - not to be confused with her uncle Quentin) out of fifty dollars, forge a check from Caddy, berate Dilsey, the long-suffering servant of the family, and lose lots of money at the stock exchange. In other words, he's a busy guy. Oh - he also chases Quentin (Jr.) around for a while. It seems that she's run off with a circus man.

After the craziness of Jason's day, the final section of the novel is a breath of fresh air. It follows Dilsey as she prepares breakfast for the day and heads off to church.

In between these events, of course, there's a bit of good action: Quentin (Jr.) runs off, taking Jason's treasure hoard with her. We may all cheer for Quentin, but Jason's not all that happy about the turn of events. He tries to get the cops to run after her. For some reason, though, the cops seem to want to sit around and laugh at Jason. Maybe they like him as little as we do. Furious, Jason takes off on a manhunt all by himself.

Meanwhile, Dilsey heads to church, where a very unimpressive pastor manages to deliver an absolutely astounding sermon. Dilsey starts to cry. She recognizes Quentin's disappearance for what it is - the end of the Compson family.

Jason tries to find Quentin (Jr.) and fails miserably. He does get to smack a little old man around, though. It makes him feel better. Meanwhile, Benjy goes out for his Sunday afternoon ride. When Luster, Dilsey's grandson, takes the carriage out the wrong way, all hell breaks loose. Benjy loses it in the middle of town. He HATES changes in his routine. He starts bellowing; the carriage runs wild, and Jason himself has to step in to set things right. The novel ends with "order" restored: the carriage starts moving in the right direction, and Benjy watches calmly as everything passes by in the proper order.
Jake Barnes and his expatriate friends live in the topsy-turvy, hedonistic (sensual and self-indulgent) world of post-World War I Paris. There, they occasionally work, but spend most of their time partying, drinking, and arguing. From Jake's perspective, we meet the cast of characters that populates his story: the most important among them are Robert Cohn, a weak-willed, down-on-his-luck Princeton grad and unsuccessful writer, and Lady Brett Ashley, an exciting, beautiful, and unpredictable British divorcee.

Although Jake and Brett are actually in love, they aren't together, presumably because a mysterious war wound has rendered Jake impotent. Cohn falls in love with Brett (as everyone does) and, despite the fact that she's not terribly impressed with him, she secretly goes on a trip with him to the Spanish resort town of San Sebastian. Cohn is infatuated with Brett—he's completely smitten. We're talking truly, madly, deeply in smit.

Unfortunately for Cohn (and for everyone, for that matter), Brett is engaged to a wealthy, charming, and utterly inept drunkard named Mike. Jake's whimsical friend Bill returns to Paris from a trip and a plan is born: everyone agrees to decamp to Spain for some fishing and the running of the bulls in Pamplona.

On their brief fishing trip, Bill and Jake have a splendid time communing with nature and with each other, but the relaxation quickly comes to an end. They return to civilization and meet up with Brett, Mike, and Cohn in Pamplona for a weeklong orgy of bullfights, alcohol, and high drama. Jake has a true passion (aficion) for bullfighting, but everyone else is simply there to have a good time.

Brett begins a scandalous affair with a passionate and talented young bull-fighter, Pedro Romero. Jake feels terrible for many reasons—among them is the fear that he has corrupted Romero in some way by introducing him to Brett. Cohn's thwarted infatuation with Brett leads to arguments with everyone and, finally, he beats the unfortunate Romero to a bloody pulp. As the fiesta winds down, everyone leaves Pamplona in various states of anxiety, depression and frustration.

Jake heads to San Sebastian, where he intends to decompress alone for a while. Unfortunately, desperate telegrams from Brett arrive immediately. He goes to her in Madrid, where she is alone, having sent Romero away. For the first time, we see Brett truly vulnerable, afraid, and guilty. The future looks just as bleak—Jake and Brett agree again that, even though they love each other, they can't be together.
Our narrator, Nick Carraway, begins the book by giving us some advice of his father's about not criticizing others. (But—but what if they're lying, possibly sociopathic murderers?) And now it's time to meet our cast of characters: Nick's second cousin once removed Daisy Buchanan; her large and aggressive husband, Tom Buchanan; and Jordan Baker. Jordan's a girl, and she quickly becomes a romantic interest for our narrator. Probably because she's the only girl around who isn't his cousin.

While the Buchanans live on the fashionable East Egg (we're talking Long Island, NY in the 1920's, by the way), Nick lives on the less-elite but not-too-shabby West Egg, which sits across the bay from its twin town. We (and Nick) are soon fascinated by a certain Mr. Jay Gatsby, a wealthy and mysterious man who owns a huge mansion next door to Nick and spends a good chunk of his evenings standing on his lawn and looking at an equally mysterious green light across the bay. Ookay.


Tom takes Nick to the city to show off his mistress, a woman named Myrtle Wilson who is, of course, married. Myrtle's husband, George, is a passive, working class man who owns an auto garage and is oblivious to his wife's extramarital activities. Nick, who has some good old-fashioned values from his childhood growing up in the "Middle West," is none too impressed by Tom.

Back on West Egg, this Gatsby fellow has been throwing absolutely killer parties, where everyone and his mother can come and get wasted and try to figure out how Gatsby got so rich. Nick meets and warily befriends the mystery man at one of his huge Saturday night affairs. He also begins spending time with Jordan, who turns out to be loveable in all her cynical practicality.

Moving along, Gatsby introduces Nick to his "business partner," Meyer Wolfsheim. Hm. This is starting to sound fishy. Next, Gatsby reveals to Nick (via Jordan, in the middle school phone-tag kind of way) that he and Daisy had a love thing before he went away to the war and she married Tom, after a serious episode of cold feet that involved whisky and a bath tub. Gatsby wants Daisy back, and he enlists Nick to help him stage an "accidental" reuniting.

Nick executes the plan; Gatsby and Daisy are reunited and start an affair. Everything continues swimmingly until Tom meets Gatsby, doesn't like him, and begins investigating his affairs. Nick, meanwhile, knows all about it: Gatsby grew up in a poor, uneducated family until he met the wealthy and elderly Dan Cody, who took him in as a companion and taught him how to act rich. But Dan isn't the one who left him the money.

The big scene goes down in the city, when Tom has it out with Gatsby over who gets to be with Daisy; in short, Gatsby is outed as a bootlegger and Daisy is unable to leave her husband. Everyone drives home, probably in a really bad mood, and Tom's mistress, Myrtle, is struck and killed by Gatsby's car (in which Gatsby and Daisy are riding). Gatsby tells Nick that Daisy was driving, but that he's going to take the blame for it. Tom, meanwhile, feeds Gatsby to the wolves—or at least the ticked-off husband—by telling Myrtle's husband George where to find him. Bang-bang, and George Wilson and Gatsby are both dead.

Daisy and Tom take off, leaving their mess behind. Nick, who by now has had just about enough of these people, ends things off with Jordan in a way that's about one step up from breaking up via text message. He arranges Gatsby's funeral, which is very sparsely attended—although Gatsby's dad does show up with some more info about his past. Standing on Gatsby's lawn and looking at the green light (which, BTW, turned out to be the light in front of Daisy's house across the bay), Nick concludes that nostalgia just ends up forcing us constantly back into the past.
Their Eyes Were Watching God follows the life of Janie Crawford, a girl of mixed black and white heritage, around the turn of the century...which was not an easy time to be of mixed race. As an adolescent, Janie sees a bee pollinating a flower in her backyard pear tree and becomes obsessed with finding true love. (Because there's nothing hotter than a little bee-on-flower action.)

From there, the novel documents her emotional growth and maturity through three marriages.

Janie's first marriage, to farmer Logan Killicks, is planned and executed by Janie's well-intentioned grandmother, Nanny. Unfortunately, Nanny's plan doesn't go so well. In this marriage, Janie chafes under the uninspired but reliable Logan.

Make that uninspired, reliable...and abusive. After he threatens to kill her for not obeying him, Janie leaves Logan for the suave and ambitious Joe Starks.

Joe takes Janie to Eatonville, Florida, America's first all-black city, where she lives the high life as the mayor's wife. However, Janie finds that her husband has very rigid definitions of a woman's role. Joe often silences Janie and refuses to listen to others' opinions...which is no kind of good.

As Joe grows old, he tries to divert public attention from his failing body by accusing Janie of acting too young for her age. Finally, Janie can't bear it anymore and lashes out at Joe, insulting his manhood and pride. Joe is deflated and takes to his deathbed, refusing to let Janie visit him. Janie bursts into Joe's room in his final moments and speaks her mind.

After his untimely death, Janie dons widow's clothes and lives happily as a single woman until she meets a slick and fun-loving vagrant named Tea Cake. Although Tea Cake is 12 years younger than Janie, with him she finds the true love she has dreamed of all her life. In their relationship, both sides experience bouts of jealousy, but Janie and Tea Cake eventually find happiness working in the fields of the Everglades and mingling with the migrant workers.

Disaster arrives in the form of a hurricane. Tea Cake is given plenty of warnings about its coming and even an opportunity to flee, but he chooses to stay on the "muck" for the love of money. The hurricane strikes with divine ferocity, forcing all of the Everglades' inhabitants to either leave or die. While fleeing the storm, Tea Cake saves Janie from a ferocious dog but gets himself bitten in the process.

Tea Cake gets rabies, and his natural jealousy turns into aggressive suspicion and paranoia over Janie. In the end, Janie is forced to shoot her husband to protect herself—rabies is not pretty. Though she's put on trial for murder, she's pronounced innocent.

After Tea Cake's funeral, Janie returns home to Eatonville. There, she meets up with her old friend, Pheoby Watson, and tells her the whole story. This narration to Pheoby provides the framing for the whole novel.
The narrator introduces himself right off the bat as an invisible man. Hi, invisible man.

He lives off the grid, in a warm hole in the ground where he is hibernating in anticipation of future direct, visible action. But before all this direct, visible action happens, he needs to detail his road to recognizing his invisibility. We get context when we learn that the narrator's grandparents were former slaves freed after the Civil War.

On his deathbed, the narrator's grandfather, who had been considered a meek man, confesses anger towards the white-controlled system and advocates using the system against them. The narrator dismisses his grandfather's words and goes on to live a meek and obedient life as a model black student. After writing a successful speech on the importance of humility to black progress (i.e., the idea that blacks can progress as long as they recognize whites as superior), he is invited to give the speech to leaders of his town. The narrator is super-excited to give this speech.

Fast forward to speech day: the narrator is forced to strip off his clothes and fight a blindfolded "battle royal" with other young black men in front of white town leaders. Definitely not a speech. Only after the young men fight, egged on by drunken town leaders, is the narrator allowed to give his speech. His big moment has arrived, but the town leaders barely listen. They reward him well, however. At the close of his speech, the narrator is presented with a fine briefcase and a scholarship to a black college.

The narrator recalls that the college grounds were beautiful (remember this whole story is being told by a guy currently living in a manhole). He remains a model student and aspires one day to work with Dr. Bledsoe, who heads the school. When he is selected to drive Mr. Norton, one of the school's founders and a rich white millionaire, around the grounds, the narrator is excited. And then things go horribly wrong.

The two visit old slave quarters and hear the story of a man named Trueblood, who apparently impregnated his daughter. In need of some fortifying liquids, Mr. Norton orders the narrator to take him to the nearest bar. This happens to be an insane-asylum-and-bar hybrid. (What?!) Well, so much for the narrator someday working with Dr. Bledsoe—the guy kicks him out of school and tells him to go look for work in Harlem, New York. He hands the narrator some letters of recommendation and wishes him luck.

The narrator is excited about his prospects in Harlem, but Dr. Bledsoe's letters of recommendation aren't doing any magical employment tricks. Turns out the letters of recommendation are actually the opposite—letters asking the recipient to not help the narrator. Ouch. Crushed and dismayed, the narrator ends up taking a job at Liberty Paints. While there, he makes white paint, is mistaken for a fink (a hired strike-breaker), then mistaken for a unionist, and then is accidentally blown up and used as a lab rat in the company hospital. All-around great first day on the job. It's also the narrator's last day. We don't blame him.

A friendly, motherly woman named Mary Rambo takes the narrator into her house and, for lack of a less clichéd phrase, believes in him. This belief is borne out when the narrator witnesses an old black couple getting evicted on the streets and feels compelled to give an awesome impromptu speech (to a listening audience, no less).

One of those listening is a white man named Brother Jack, who initiates the narrator into the Brotherhood, a multiracial organization with communist undercurrents. The narrator moves out of Mary's house, makes some good money, and learns the ways of the Brotherhood. He makes some excellent speeches (to people that listen), and gains increasing prestige within the Harlem community.

Big mistake, apparently. The Brotherhood re-assigns the narrator to attend to women's issues downtown, which is equivalent to your swimsuit company transferring you to Juneau, Alaska.

After a couple weeks, the narrator returns to Harlem to learn that Tod Clifton, a fellow young black Brother, has been missing for a number of weeks. Harlem itself has undergone a lot of change—much of the work the narrator put into the community has disappeared. The narrator is further thrown for a loop when he finds Clifton selling Sambo dolls on the street. He witnesses a police officer shoot Clifton. With Clifton dead, the narrator urgently tries to contact senior members of the Brotherhood to organize a funeral service, but ends up taking matters into his own hands and organizes a public funeral. Mistake!

The Brotherhood summons the narrator to a meeting during which they chastise him for taking matters into his own hands. They call Clifton a traitor for selling the racist Sambo dolls, and they reprimand the narrator for organizing a public funeral. Apparently, public demonstrations are no longer part of the Brotherhood agenda. Brother Jack instructs the narrator to visit Brother Hambro, who will outline the new program.

The narrator decides to visit Brother Hambro that night, but on the way, he bumps into Ras the Exhorter, a black nationalist who conveniently uses the situation to stir up anti-Brotherhood sentiment. It's a bit of a dangerous situation for the narrator, who sees two men ready to follow him into a who-knows-what kind of dark alley. Deciding that a disguise would be the best course of action, the narrator purchases a prop or two and promptly starts being mistaken for a man called Rinehart. This Rinehart character is a reverend, a gambler, a fighter, and a pimp, among other identities.
The narrator realizes that he can have multiple identities—that's the benefit of being invisible. Deciding to discuss the idea with Hambro, the narrator meets up with Hambro and learns that the Brotherhood is planning to sacrifice the people of Harlem in service of a greater, unnamed cause. The narrator decides to spy on the Brotherhood and figure out their true intentions, but is unsuccessful.

Harlem erupts into a race riot, and the narrator speculates that this was the Brotherhood's plan all along. Extremely upset, he continues running down the streets of Harlem as Ras the Exhorter (now Ras the Destroyer) urges further destruction. Ras calls for the narrator to be apprehended, but the narrator eludes capture after a brief confrontation.

He tries to go to Mary's house, but ends up falling down a manhole. When he awakens, he realizes the full extent of the Brotherhood manipulation and gets angry. He realizes he needs a plan of action and decides to hibernate until then. He tells us that writing his story was helpful, and that he's ready to come out of hibernation. He wonders if his story is speaking for us as well as himself.
Abel, recently back from service in World War II, returns to his home in the small rural town of Walatowa, New Mexico, in 1945. It is late July, and Abel stays with his grandfather Francisco, who is a farmer. Abel meets a young white woman named Angela through the town priest, Father Olguin. He chops wood for her and they eventually have an affair.

Abel's return to his home brings up many different memories for him, about his brother, mother, and his membership in the Eagle Watchers Society. Father Olguin is also highly cognizant of memory, obsessed with one of his predecessors at the mission. Father Olguin also eventually develops another interest, Angela. He stops in her house the same day that Abel chopped wood for her, and invites her to the town's feast of Santiago. During a contest that reenacts a historical event in the life of Santiago, Angela witnesses a brilliant horseman, an albino, ceremonially smear Abel with the blood of a rooster.

In the beginning of August there is a festival and a large storm. A bull runs through the streets, chased by the townspeople people, and Francisco engages in a ceremony with many of the other elders. That night, after drinking at the bar, Abel seemingly inexplicably kills the albino man with a knife.

Seven years later, Abel is released from prison and placed under the care of an Indian Relocation program in Los Angeles. He begins to work at a factory where he meets Ben Benally, who offers to share his apartment with Abel. (Many of these details unfold out of chronological order, only pieced together in the last several chapters.)

Much of the section "The Priest of the Sun", the first portion of the novel set in Los Angeles, is written from the point of view of Abel. The present moment of the chapter is a night when Abel has just been beaten up by unknown assailants and left almost dead on the beach. One of the poignant threads to Abel's past resurfaces in this section—his memory of Milly, a social worker, who would come around to the apartment and spend time with Abel and Ben. Eventually, Abel gets to know Milly socially and they become lovers.

In contrast with Abel's daily existence are the sermons that the Priest of the Sun, John Big Bluff Tosamah, delivers in this same section of the novel, the last weekend of January 1952. The sermons contain several stories of the Kiowa people, such as how the Kiowa came to be and how the Big Dipper was formed in the sky. Tosamah also delivers a sermon that gives the history of the last days of the Kiowa as a sun dance culture, titled "The Way to Rainy Mountain." At the end of the sermon, Tosamah tells of his own experience visiting the grave of his grandmother at the base of Rainy Mountain.

The next section of the novel, set in February of that same year, is told from the point of view of Ben Benally on the day that Abel leaves for Walatowa. At the hospital and during a ceremony with the Priest of the Sun, both Ben and Abel make a pact to meet some day to sing the ceremonial song "House Made of Dawn." Ben recounts the events leading up to Abel's disappearance: working at the factory, drinking, more drinking, an altercation at Tosamah's, the visits of Milly, and a trip to the beach one afternoon.

By that point of the trip to the beach, Abel has lost his job and spends most of his time at the bars. One night, Ben and Abel are mugged when they are returning home from the bar. A week later, Abel's alcoholism leads to further aggression on his part towards Ben, who refuses to take Abel's behavior any more. The two men have a fight and Abel leaves, not returning until three days later, when he shows up at the apartment badly beaten and seemingly near death. It is never revealed what has happened to Abel during these three days of absence: all we can surmise from the previous chapter is that Abel is badly beaten by a group of men and left on the beach.

Not long after his beating, Abel returns to Walatowa, where he finds his grandfather, Francisco, on the verge of dying. Francisco remembers the first time he felt he became a man, when he returned from his first bear hunt. He also remembers taking Abel to the place where the race of the dead took place each year, at the old wagon road near town.

That night, Francisco passes away and Abel prepares him and leaves him with Father Olguin before dawn. Abel then quickly goes to the old wagon road until he approaches the field where the race of the dead used to take place. As the first light of dawn strikes the slopes of the valley, Abel watches the runners whip by him and he follows, regardless of his body's pain, and runs after them.
Celie, the protagonist and narrator of The Color Purple, is a poor, uneducated, fourteen-year-old black girl living in rural Georgia. Celie starts writing letters to God because her father, Alphonso, beats and rapes her. Alphonso has already impregnated Celie once. Celie gave birth to a girl, whom her father stole and presumably killed in the woods. Celie has a second child, a boy, whom her father also steals. Celie's mother becomes seriously ill and dies. Alphonso brings home a new wife but continues to abuse Celie.

Celie and her bright, pretty younger sister, Nettie, learn that a man known only as Mr. ______ wants to marry Nettie. Mr. ______ has a lover named Shug Avery, a sultry lounge singer whose photograph fascinates Celie. Alphonso refuses to let Nettie marry, and instead offers Mr. ______ the "ugly" Celie as a bride. Mr. ______ eventually accepts the offer, and takes Celie into a difficult and joyless married life. Nettie runs away from Alphonso and takes refuge at Celie's house. Mr. ______ still desires Nettie, and when he advances on her she flees for her own safety. Never hearing from Nettie again, Celie assumes she is dead.

Mr. ______'s sister Kate feels sorry for Celie, and tells her to fight back against Mr. ______ rather than submit to his abuses. Harpo, Mr. ______'s son, falls in love with a large, spunky girl named Sofia. Shug Avery comes to town to sing at a local bar, but Celie is not allowed to go see her. Sofia becomes pregnant and marries Harpo. Celie is amazed by Sofia's defiance in the face of Harpo's and Mr. ______'s attempts to treat Sofia as an inferior. Harpo's attempts to beat Sofia into submission consistently fail, as Sofia is by far the physically stronger of the two.

Shug falls ill and Mr. ______ takes her into his house. Shug is initially rude to Celie, but the two women become friends as Celie takes charge of nursing Shug. Celie finds herself infatuated with Shug and attracted to her sexually. Frustrated with Harpo's consistent attempts to subordinate her, Sofia moves out, taking her children. Several months later, Harpo opens a juke joint where Shug sings nightly. Celie grows confused over her feelings toward Shug.

Shug decides to stay when she learns that Mr. ______ beats Celie when Shug is away. Shug and Celie's relationship grows intimate, and Shug begins to ask Celie questions about sex. Sofia returns for a visit and promptly gets in a fight with Harpo's new girlfriend, Squeak. In town one day, the mayor's wife, Miss Millie, asks Sofia to work as her maid. Sofia answers with a sassy "Hell no." When the mayor slaps Sofia for her insubordination, she returns the blow, knocking the mayor down. Sofia is sent to jail. Squeak's attempts to get Sofia freed are futile. Sofia is sentenced to work for twelve years as the mayor's maid.

Shug returns with a new husband, Grady. Despite her marriage, Shug instigates a sexual relationship with Celie, and the two frequently share the same bed. One night Shug asks Celie about her sister. Celie assumes Nettie is dead because she had promised to write to Celie but never did. Shug says she has seen Mr. ______ hide away numerous mysterious letters that have arrived in the mail. Shug manages to get her hands on one of these letters, and they find it is from Nettie. Searching through Mr. ______'s trunk, Celie and Shug find dozens of letters that Nettie has sent to Celie over the years. Overcome with emotion, Celie reads the letters in order, wondering how to keep herself from killing Mr. ______.

The letters indicate that Nettie befriended a missionary couple, Samuel and Corrine, and traveled with them to Africa to do ministry work. Samuel and Corrine have two adopted children, Olivia and Adam. Nettie and Corrine become close friends, but Corrine, noticing that her adopted children resemble Nettie, wonders if Nettie and Samuel have a secret past. Increasingly suspicious, Corrine tries to limit Nettie's role within her family.

Nettie becomes disillusioned with her missionary experience, as she finds the Africans self-centered and obstinate. Corrine becomes ill with a fever. Nettie asks Samuel to tell her how he adopted Olivia and Adam. Based on Samuel's story, Nettie realizes that the two children are actually Celie's biological children, alive after all. Nettie also learns that Alphonso is really only Nettie and Celie's step-father, not their real father. Their real father was a storeowner whom white men lynched because they resented his success. Alphonso told Celie and Nettie he was their real father because he wanted to inherit the house and property that was once their mother's.

Nettie confesses to Samuel and Corrine that she is in fact their children's biological aunt. The gravely ill Corrine refuses to believe Nettie. Corrine dies, but accepts Nettie's story and feels reconciled just before her death. Meanwhile, Celie visits Alphonso, who -confirms Nettie's story, admitting that he is only the women's stepfather. Celie begins to lose some of her faith in God, but Shug tries to get her to reimagine God in her own way, rather than in the traditional image of the old, bearded white man.

The mayor releases Sofia from her servitude six months early. At dinner one night, Celie finally releases her pent-up rage, angrily cursing Mr. ______ for his years of abuse. Shug announces that she and Celie are moving to Tennessee, and Squeak decides to go with them. In Tennessee, Celie spends her time designing and sewing individually tailored pairs of pants, eventually turning her hobby into a business. Celie returns to Georgia for a visit, and finds that Mr. ______ has reformed his ways and that Alphonso has died. Alphonso's house and land are now hers, so she moves there.

Meanwhile, Nettie and Samuel marry and prepare to return to America. Before they leave, Samuel's son, Adam, marries Tashi, a native African girl. Following African tradition, Tashi undergoes the painful rituals of female circumcision and facial scarring. In solidarity, Adam undergoes the same facial scarring ritual.

Celie and Mr. ______ reconcile and begin to genuinely enjoy each other's company. Now independent financially, spiritually, and emotionally, Celie is no longer bothered by Shug's passing flings with younger men. Sofia remarries Harpo and now works in Celie's clothing store. Nettie finally returns to America with Samuel and the children. Emotionally drained but exhilarated by the reunion with her sister, Celie notes that though she and Nettie are now old, she has never in her life felt younger.
Lee Smith, who teaches creative writing at North Carolina State University, practices what she teaches. Smith has published five novels—The Last Day the Dogbushes Bloomed (1968), Something in the Wind (1971), Fancy Strut (1973), Black Mountain Breakdown (1980), Oral History (1983)—and a collection of short stories, Cakewalk (1981). All of her books have been well received, but the critical response to Oral History has made it clear that the most recent of her books is her finest to date. It should also be clear to anyone who has followed her career that Lee Smith is continuing to develop as a writer and that she deserves to be considered one of the most promising young novelists at work today.

Smith has been compared to Eudora Welty, Flannery O'Connor, and William Faulkner. The comparisons are valid, for Oral History has the resonant sense of place and the careful attention to the idioms of Southern speech characteristic of these writers. It is also the work of a captivating storyteller. Once such general comparisons are made, however, it is important to point out that there is nothing derivative about Smith's work. The comparisons come to mind not simply because she writes out of the Southern experience but because of the level of her talent. Much of the charm of Oral History derives from its local and regional color, but the view of life which it reflects and its stylistic and structural rhythms are distinctive and original.

The narrative line of the novel begins in the present with an oral-history project that leads Jennifer Bingham, a community-college student, to Hoot Owl Holler in the mountains of northern Virginia to visit relatives whom she does not remember. Through an artful and unobtrusive shift in point of view, the reader moves from the third-person perspective of the present to a first-person voice from the distant past. The voice is that of Granny Younger, who says that she can tell us more than we want to know as she spins out the story of Jennifer's great-grandfather and the curse which became part of the family legacy.

Almarine Cantrell, who inherited his father's house and property in the late nineteenth century, became infatuated with Red Emmy, whose father, it was believed, had sold her to the devil. Almarine finally broke the spell of lust that she had cast upon him and threw her out of his log-cabin home. Later, he married Pricey Jane, a dark-haired beauty whose origins were almost as hazy as those of Red Emmy. The marriage ended in tragedy when, apparently as a result of Red Emmy's powers, Pricey Jane and her infant son died from dew poison. Granny believes that Almarine, consumed by grief and rage, took his own revenge by murdering Red Emmy, whose curse then fell upon his descendants.
Sethe, a former slave, lives in Cincinnati with her daughter, Denver, and her mother-in-law, Baby Suggs. She's been ostracized from her community because, about 15 years before our story begins, she did the unthinkable: she killed one of her own children. There was a good reason for it, of course—if child-killing can ever be justified. See, Sethe was trying to keep her children from slave catchers.

Time passes. Baby Suggs dies. That leaves Denver all alone (she's got two brothers, Howard and Bugler, but they ran off years ago). Oh: there is one creature still around the house. It's a ghost. That's right, folks—124 Bluestone is haunted. Furniture gets thrown around the house; people get moved. Sethe doesn't seem to mind too much though. She's got a good job as a cook, and she's got her daughter. Things are about as good (or as bad) as they're ever going to be.

That's when Paul D Garner shows up. Paul D lived with Sethe at Sweet Home, the plantation where they both were enslaved. He remembers just about everything in Sethe's past—her husband Halle, their former masters, all the bad stuff that went on at the plantation. When Paul D comes around, Sethe feels like she can finally open up. As you might expect, Paul D and Sethe end up in bed together. It's not just a fling either; they become a couple.

Denver's not that wild about the new man in their life. That's why, when a strange woman shows up on the doorstep of 124 Bluestone Road, Denver's excited. The woman says that her name is Beloved, which is totally freaky since "Beloved" is what Sethe had carved on the tombstone of her dead baby. That's not the only coincidence either. Beloved seems to know things about Sethe that no one should know. Sethe lets Beloved stay because she thinks Denver needs a friend; plus, Sethe can't shake the idea that this Beloved might actually be her little Beloved, back from the dead and grown. Denver wants Beloved to stay because she's always wanted an older sister. Paul D's the only one who's not so sure about Beloved, but it's not like he can do anything about it; he doesn't own the house.

Once Beloved is part of the household, things start to change. Denver will do anything to please her. Beloved, however, only wants what Sethe has. You can guess what happens next right? Cue: "Bizarre Love Triangle." Beloved ends up seducing Paul D. We told you she was trouble.

But that's not what splits up Paul D and Sethe. Stamp Paid, an old friend of the family, tells Paul D about how Sethe killed her daughter and went to jail. Paul D can't believe it. When he confronts Sethe, they get in a huge fight. Paul D leaves. Sethe couldn't care less—all she cares about is Beloved.
After yet another long day of working in Mr. Hawkins's field, teased by his coworkers and treated like a kid, Dave is desperate to prove his manhood. And how exactly does he plan to do that? By buying a gun, duh. He'll have to ask his mom for money, of course, but don't pay that fact any mind.

He stops by Joe's store on his way home to check out the merchandise. Joe gives Dave a gun catalog to bring home, but also offers him a cheap old gun for a mere two dollars. And that's right in Dave's price range. Dave convinces his mom to give him the two dollars, with the caveat that he brings the gun right home and gives it to Daddy Saunders.

Dave does no such thing. He rushes to Joe's store and buys the gun, staying out late so his mom won't take it from him. Alrighty then. The next morning, he heads into work early, eager to pop a few caps before he starts his day. Unfortunately, though, Hawkins is already there and asks Dave to plow the field with Jenny the mule.

Once Dave gets out of earshot, he loads the gun and gets ready to fire into the forest—bam. Suddenly, Jenny collapses; she's been hit. In a panic, Dave buries the gun and comes up with a quick, quite unbelievable cover story. Hawkins doesn't buy it, though, instead telling Dave that he owes fifty dollars for Jenny. That'll take Dave over two years to earn.

Annoyed by this mistreatment, Dave digs up the gun but doesn't return home. He takes a few more shots, his aim steadier this time, before hitching a ride on a train and leaving home for good.
Socrates hopes that the issue of justice has been settled once and for all.
No such luck. (Are you surprised?)
Glaucon Describes Justice (Plus: The Story of the Ring)
Glaucon jumps in and wants to talk about the good. He outlines three ways in which things can be good:
1) a good everyone likes simply for its own sake
2) a good everyone likes both for its own sake and because we get something out of it (like healthy living)
3) a good everyone likes only because we get something out of it (like wages for work)
Socrates agrees with this breakdown, so Glaucon asks him into which category justice would fall.
Socrates says justice belongs in the second category—the best one, it seems. Glaucon says he bets most people would put justice in the third category, since it's something they only do because 1) they think they have to and 2) they want to have a good reputation.
Glaucon really wants to hear Socrates praise justice entirely for its own sake and not for the sake of its consequences. Even though he believes justice is better than injustice, he's going to play the devil's advocate and defend injustice.
Brain bite! Devil's advocate? That's just a fancy way of saying that someone is going to take an extreme opposite opinion in an argument more for the sake of the argument than because that person truly holds those extreme feelings.
Glaucon has an agenda. He's going to return to Thrasymachus's line of argumentation and 1) define justice and where it comes from; 2) demonstrate that everyone who acts justly does so "unwillingly, as necessary but not good" (358c); and 3) demonstrate that the unjust are better off than the just. Got all that?
Socrates is down.
Glaucon explains that justice came to exist not because it's something good to do, but because even though everyone wants to do unjust things, they're terrified of having unjust things done to them. So, in order to protect themselves, people made a kind of social contract or agreement to be just.
Glaucon insists, however, that if people weren't afraid of the implications of having injustice done to them, no one would be just.
To prove this, Glaucon tells a story about a man who finds a ring and realizes that, depending on which way he turns it, he can become invisible. Glaucon tells how this man, when he realizes he can do whatever he wants without being caught, acts unjustly all the time and lives a very happy and successful life, cutting corners and pretty much just doing whatever he wants.
Brain bite: Does this little story sound a bit familiar? As in, Middle Earth familiar? It should: J.R.R. Tolkien got his inspiration for The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings from this little story in Plato (we told you this book was important).
Glaucon goes on to imagine two men, one very just and one very unjust. He says that the very just man will be miserable, and people will constantly believe him to be unjust, while the unjust man will be adored and admired, and people will constantly believe him to be just. Why? Because the unjust man will always have an advantage: he will do whatever it takes to get ahead, whereas the just man will not.
Glaucon says the just man will live a life of torment and poverty ending in crucifixion (pretty bleak), while the unjust man will become ruler of the city, he'll marry a great lady, and he'll have great business opportunities, lots of money, good friends, tons of appealing sacrifices to the gods... you get the idea.
Adeimantus Describes Justice
Glaucon's brother, Adeimantus, jumps in and says that Glaucon has missed something crucial.
Adeimantus, playing the devil's advocate just like his brother, says that the reason why injustice so often appears to be better than justice is because the nature of justice and injustice are 1) poorly taught by parents and educators and 2) poorly represented in poetry and literature.
Justice is poorly taught by parents because even though they tell their children to be just, they defend it only in terms of the good things that come from having a reputation for being just: money, honors, etc.
Justice is poorly represented in poetry because poets are always moaning about the trials and tribulations of living a just and virtuous life while also telling stories about bad guys and villains who do well and end up unpunished. In fact, lots of poets even represent the gods themselves as indifferent to justice; all they seem to care about are some good sacrifices.
Between justice and status or advantage, how can anyone come to think justice is better? Children end up thinking that gaining an advantage in life is the most important thing, so once they see that if they can get away with injustice they'll do way better, that's what they do. And that's completely reinforced by the poetry they're reading.
Adeimantus concludes that the issue here is that justice and goodness are always discussed in terms of 1) what they provide you with in life and 2) how seeming to be just or good, instead of actually being those things, is all that matters.
This is why Adeimantus wants Socrates to defend justice on its own terms, not by what you can gain from it. He wants Socrates to explain why it is inherently good for your soul, regardless of whether anyone, god or man, knows or sees how you are acting. No one, until now, he says, has ever talked about this.
Well, Socrates is impressed. He thinks these are pretty amazing arguments, and he is almost—almost—at a loss how to respond to such persuasive thinking. But, of course, Socrates doesn't actually believe injustice is better than justice, so it's up to him to find out a convincing argument to explain why.
They Imagine a City, or Republic (At Last)
Socrates has an idea. He thinks that what's causing the guys all these problems is the fact that they are thinking about justice in terms of individuals, who are small and therefore harder to scrutinize. Socrates imagines that thinking about something bigger, like a city, would make it easier to think about this idea of justice.
"If we should watch a city coming into being in speech," Socrates famously says, "would we also see its justice coming into being, and its injustice?" (369a).
Adeimantus thinks that's likely, so they decide that's exactly what they're going to do.
Socrates believes that a city comes about because people can't survive on their own and need to form communities. The most urgent needs of a city are: 1) food 2) housing, and 3) clothing. In order to have all those things, they decide they will need a minimum of four to five people to be a farmer, builder, shoemaker, weaver, and so on.
They then agree that it is easier and more efficient if each person in the city specializes in one thing that they produce for everyone instead of trying to do a little bit of everything just for themselves. They also agree that this means more people will have to be added to the city, since each specialized job requires helpers and specific tools.
There will also need to be trade, both within the city and between cities, so merchants and tradesmen will also be necessary, as well as the production of surplus materials in order to trade.
Socrates asks where justice fits into this city, and Adeimantus suggests it must have something to do with the way various people relate to one another. Socrates agrees but first wants to think more basically about day-to-day life. The guys paint a picture of a thriving, well-fed city, where people enjoy not only sustenance but a few luxuries as well.
These luxuries multiply, so the number of various people necessary to sustain this sophisticated city begins to increase. Now we've got cooks, hairdressers, servants, doctors, and others. The guys imagine that the city will now be too small for all these new people, so they will need more land. How will they get it? They'll have to go to war with other cities.
So you guessed it: the city now needs an army, too. Socrates says that warfare is just as much a craft as anything else, so the soldiers must also be specialists.
What the guys come to realize is that the single most important thing they need to decide is who will rule the city, since this job will be the most specialized. Socrates calls these rulers guardians.
They first conclude that the guardians will need to be active and full of energy, almost like a dog or some other kind of animal. However, they also conclude that the guardians can't be aggressive toward one another either; they need to be restrained and mild to their own people and harsh to their enemies.
The gang is at a bit at a loss when they try to find someone who might combine both energy and good sense, until Socrates suggests they return to the image of a dog, since dogs are always friendly toward those they trust and aggressive toward strangers.
Socrates takes this a step further and suggests that there is something philosophical about dogs because they base their actions on what they know and do not know: they love and are kind to what they know and are unkind to what they don't know. Socrates says this is how a philosopher should be: he loves learning and doesn't love ignorance.
This means, therefore, that the guardian must be a philosopher; he's also got to be energetic, fast, and strong. We've got to applaud Socrates for that big leap from dogs to philosophers.
Socrates suggests that they now think about the education of the guardians. He suspects that this line of thinking will definitely relate back to the theme of justice (you know, one of these days).
They decide that the first thing that should be taught is the art of speeches; that's more important than either music or athletics.
Socrates says that speaking falls into two categories: lies and truths. He says that it's typical to start with the lies (Socrates is essentially talking about what we would call stories), since little children are always first told stories.
However, Socrates notes that childhood is a very impressionable period, and he suggests that they might want to be very careful about the kinds of things impressionable children are taught. In fact, he thinks they ought to regulate the kinds of stories mothers tell their children, and he imagines that most of the popular stories told to children in Greece at that time will have to be banned.
Wait, what? Banned? Why? Because in most of these stories (that would be, like, every Greek myth ever), the actions of gods and heroes are neither noble nor admirable; they're ridiculous, violent, and mean. If kids think this kind of stuff is heroic, the city will be a disaster. Kids will think it's okay to turn on their fathers, make war for no reason, have sex before marriage...
Socrates explains that even if these myths might have a deeper, less offensive meaning, children won't be able to understand that, so no one should tell stories like this. Poets, Socrates says, will be instructed to write and perform stories that make virtue appealing and good.
Adeimantus wants a bit more detail. What's the right way, he asks, to represent a god?
Socrates says that a god should be represented as completely good, since that should be the definition of a god (or else he wouldn't be a god, right?). On top of that, since gods only produce good and not evil, they are only responsible for good things and shouldn't be portrayed as causing evil things.
Socrates goes through a whole list of quotations from Homer and Aeschylus that show gods involved in evil, so those parts will have to be banned.
Socrates also says that these stories shouldn't represent the gods always sneaking around and changing form. Since the best things are the things that are most stable (and therefore change the least), the gods definitely wouldn't be constantly changing and sneaking up on us. Socrates worries children will become fearful and cowardly if they think the gods are always hiding and lying in wait.
Finally, Socrates says that gods can't be represented as lying, because lying is inherently bad and only acceptable in certain situations, such as: dealing with enemies, helping crazy people, and educating children (as long as the lies are as close to truth as possible). A god wouldn't be afraid of any enemies and is too all knowing to need a story to help him understand the world, so gods just don't need to lie at all.

Picking up from their previous discussion on poetry and what it should portray, Socrates and friends agree that in order to make sure the citizens of this city are brave, they'll need to make sure that death isn't described as scary.
This means eliminating any poetic moment (and there are lots in Homer) in which death is described negatively or in which the afterlife is described as bad.
They also agree that no poetry should be allowed which shows role models and heroes lamenting or grieving about the death of a loved one. If death is an honorable and necessary reality, intelligent people aren't going to be sad that someone else has died.
Socrates also objects to grieving because it is an immoderate and ostentatious show of emotion, something he doesn't think is very macho or philosophical. For this reason, he also thinks they shouldn't allow too much laughter, either.
Next, they return to the topic of lying and repeat the idea that lying should only be tolerated as a necessary tool for the benefit of the city. For this reason, only guardians should be allowed to lie, and only if they know it will help the city—just as only a doctor should prescribe medicines, since only a doctor can understand which medicines will help a sick person, and under what conditions.
They also want to educate the youth in how to be moderate and temperate, avoiding extremes and being obedient. Socrates thinks that the areas of sex, drinking, and eating are where people are most likely to be immoderate, so they agree that they should ban any poetry that depicts a god or hero indulging in any of these.
They also don't want their youngsters to be too fond of receiving money and gifts for doing good deeds, so they (unsurprisingly) remove any stories that describe something like that.
Socrates also makes sure to mention that poetry should never depict the gods raping women (which, if you've read Ovid, you'll know happens all the time).
The idea is that if people read these kinds of things, they'll think that their bad deeds aren't that big of a deal, because, after all, the gods are out there doing whatever they want, whenever they want.
They Discuss Poetic Form
The gang finally wraps up its discussion of what poetry should represent by saying that it should never depict happy people as unjust. Instead, poetry should be used as a tool to promote the idea of justice.
Before leaving the topic of poetry, however, Socrates up and decides that he needs to talk not only about what poetry describes but also how poetry describes what it describes. Socrates is just not letting this go.
In the course of this discussion, Socrates identifies three kinds of narration that you'll find defined below: 1) narration that is both simple and imitative (mixed), 2) narration that is simple and without imitation, and 3) narration that is the entirely imitative.
Socrates explains that many stories usually involve something called imitation, which is pretty much just what it sounds like: stories, even totally made up ones, involve objects, people, themes, and events that mimic, copy, or imitate real life. Imitation is what makes stories and poetry seem real.
Socrates explains this concept with a specific example from the beginning of Homer's Iliad, when a priest named Chryses begs the leader of the Greeks, Agamemnon, to return his daughter.
Socrates describes how in the Iliad, Homer is the narrator of everything (we'd call this a third-person omniscient narration). That means that Homer's narrator talks about all the events and gets inside the heads of all the characters. So this is what Socrates is calling mixed narration. When Homer is describing Chryses begging, he tries to really sound just like someone begging and pleading. Why? Because he wants us to forget about the narrator Homer and just focus on the character Chryses.
Socrates differentiates this kind of narration from another kind of narration that he calls simple narration. Simple narration just describes the events without dialogue, so the narrator never "pretends" to speak like one his characters; he always just speaks like the narrator. In simple narration, imitation is pretty minimal.
Narration in which there is only imitation and no narrator is what you find in tragedy and theater: just characters, no narrator.
What they need to decide for their city now is whether they will allow poets to imitate 1) anything, 2) only certain things, or 3) nothing.
By way of answering this question, Socrates wonders if the guardian of their city should be an imitator. They all decide against this because it would distract the guardian from his proper job of ruling the city.
Furthermore, they need to keep in mind that imitation is just like various professions: you're only going to excel if you stick to one. They all agree, for example, that one person isn't going to be good at writing both tragedy and comedy. (If you're mystified by this comment, don't worry: most scholars are, too. It doesn't help, either, that Socrates says exactly the opposite thing at the end of another dialogue by Plato called the Symposium. Socrates often contradicts himself, so don't be too concerned.)
So, if the guardians engage in any kind of imitation, it should only be the imitation of virtuous actions and not of degrading ones, because Socrates worries that the more you imitate something, the more you'll naturally incline toward doing it—kind of like a bad habit.
As a result, they all agree that a good man should never imitate: women, madmen, animals, workers, angry people, and Donald Trump.
Socrates images two men, an enlightened one and an unenlightened one, both involved in imitation. The good one will only imitate the actions and language of a good person, because he will feel debased doing anything else. The unenlightened one, on the other hand, will imitate as many diverse and different things as possible, regardless of their quality and virtue.
Beyond the obvious fear of debasement and habit, Socrates is also more simply worried about the multiplicity of imitation, even for the good man. He reminds his listeners about how they all agreed that their republic would be a place where each person devoted him- or herself to doing one thing really well, so he's suspicious of anything that asks someone to engage in many and various things.
So, they all agree that even though these kinds of performers who both narrate and imitate and who are able to pretend to be all kinds of different things may be very popular, they won't allow them in their city.
Music
After poetry, Socrates suggests that they move on to the topic of music.
They agree that music has three components: speech (we would say lyrics), harmonic mode (harmony), and rhythm. They suggest that both harmonic mode and rhythm develop out of the song's content.
Since they've already decided to eliminate wailing, lamenting, and drunkenness as music, they agree to eliminate forms of music from their republic that inspire or sound like these unacceptable states.
Socrates then suggests that the kinds of music they should allow to remain should be the kinds of music that either inspire courage in soldiers or inspire acts of piety, obedience, and devotion to the gods. We'll let you imagine what kind of jams those would be.
Since the kind of music performed in the city will be limited, the instruments allowed will also be limited: no lutes, harps, flutes or other many-stringed and many-toned instruments. The lyre, a basic cither, and a basic pipe will be the only kind allowed.
They all take a moment to congratulate themselves on purging so much from their city. According to them, this is a good sign, and it demonstrates their moderation.
They agree that rhythm should also be regulated so that only courageous and orderly rhythms will be allowed. They name some examples and decide which ones fit this model.
They all agree that in general, good rhythm is a necessary part of being graceful. They also agree that good rhythm, harmony, speech, and grace are all aspects of a good disposition and a good soul.
For this reason, Socrates suggests that they need to regulate not only poets but all craftsmen and musicians to make sure that they produce objects of harmony and grace. This will allow children to grow up surrounded by things that will incline them toward goodness and obedience.
Moreover, Socrates thinks that because music leaves such a profound impact on the human soul, it is the most crucial part of a moral education. He again says that there is a deep connection between harmonious music and harmonious living. He suggests that a virtuous person is most able to appreciate and value harmonious things, while someone ignorant of virtue will not. He suggests that the virtuous would therefore not want to see something ugly and defective.
Here, Adeimantus quickly jumps in to say that it's okay if someone is physically "defective." The problem is if they are morally so.
Socrates agrees and then brings up the topic of sex. Since sex often involves excessive pleasure instead of moderation, he says they're going to need to carefully regulate that as well. He reminds the gang that real love is not about excessive physical pleasure, so men who are really in love should only kiss their lovers, and "his intercourse with the one for whom he cares will be such that their relationship will never be reputed to go further than this" (403b).
(It's unclear exactly what Socrates means here: should intercourse be only kissing or just appear to be only kissing?)
Brain bite interruption! It's clear in the preceding discussion of sex that Socrates is only referring to sex between men, a very common practice in Greek society known as pederasty, which involved a sexual relationship between an older man and a younger one. Heterosexual sex, for Socrates, often seems to be more a question of reproduction than a question of love or pleasure, so that's why it doesn't come up here.
Athletics and Health
The next topic to be considered is the topic of fitness, food and health. Since they all agree that a healthy soul will naturally want to have a healthy body, fitness and healthy eating are crucial.
For fitness, you shouldn't be surprised to hear that they propose a moderate exercise routine, avoiding the excessive practices of some of the most intense athletes.
They agree that a diet free from rich, complex, and sweet foods is best. They compare these healthy practices to music and again praise simplicity and harmony in all things over too much variety and disorder.
They go on to say that a lack of simplicity can lead to licentiousness, which in turn leads to sickness. Too much sickness will overload both the city's hospitals and its law courts.
Socrates says that he doesn't really believe that good, educated people should ever need lawyers, and they should rarely need doctors. They shouldn't need lawyers because they should be completely comfortable with their own knowledge of justice, and they should only use doctors when they've been nobly injured in war. He thinks it's shameful to need a doctor's help just because you're lazy and have a poor diet (this seems to be a very common problem in Athens at the time).
Socrates also condemns a historic doctor named Herodicus who invented potions and strategies for keeping the sickly alive while allowing them to remain sickly. Socrates sees this as simply delaying death and says that you only see the wealthy doing this kind of thing (because they have the luxury of having nothing to do). A craftsman would simply be treated and get better because he would have to get back to work.
Socrates suggests that doctors should only treat the kinds of people who deserve to be treated. A hypochondriac, or someone so obsessed with his or her body that he or she doesn't have time for anything else, is useless to the city and shouldn't even reproduce. (Harsh, we know.)
Socrates does concede that they still will need some doctors, and he suggests that these doctors ought to be the very best. He offers a very odd idea for what kind of doctor is the best. He thinks a doctor who has been very sick himself, and one who has seen a lot of sick bodies on top of that, will have the best understanding of how to treat sickness. This is totally different from the requirements for lawyers or judges: as agents of justice, they must be completely unfamiliar with injustice.
Socrates goes on to say that a judge ought to be old and experienced—and he must be someone who has been virtuous from a young age, not someone who has done a lot of bad deeds in the past. He goes even suggests that just as the sickly should be allowed to die, a justice system should exist to kill those who aren't virtuous. That will also be a good deterrent for young people.
Socrates thinks that a virtuous person will pursue both music and athletics not for the sake of either but in a way that makes both of them good for his soul. Someone who is completely devoted to music becomes soft and unable to attend to other things, while someone completely devoted to athletics becomes hard and overly aggressive.
The guardians, therefore, must have both, but they must have them in moderation in order to avoid the excesses of either: they must be harmonious.
Socrates then goes on to describe in more detail the kinds of errors that certain excessive characters make. Someone obsessed with music, as he already mentioned, will become unable to fight and will lose his will to be courageous. Someone too spirited becomes aggressive and irritable. Someone who devotes himself fully to strength and bodybuilding, to the exclusion of philosophy, will become savage, not courageous.
Since it's clear that the best people are those who combine the best qualities of both musicality and athleticism in moderation, the gang moves on to determine who will rule both the city and the guardians (it looks like there needs to be a top guardian to keep all the other guardians in check).
They agree that this ruler must be old and of the best kind of virtue. He must always be inclined to do whatever will be to the best advantage of the city.
Socrates suggests that they'll be able to identify this kind of person by carefully watching good candidates as they grow and develop.
Because ruling the city is such an important job, and because even wise men can lose faith or be deceived, Socrates insists they go to extra special lengths to ensure that they choose not only the wisest person to govern, but also the one least likely to change his mind or be persuaded for the wrong reasons. Socrates recommends setting up tests for the young to see which ones falter and which ones stay true to what they know is best.
Once they identify someone with these superior qualities, he will be named the ruler and will be given various honors and memorials. They all decide that the title of this person will be "complete guardian" (not so creative, it's true).
Next, Socrates wants to see if they can imagine a lie, or a story, that such a guardian would need to tell, the kind of story they described earlier, which would be necessary for the well-being of the city.
Socrates tells a little story about how the guardians would tell the citizens of the city that they weren't actually the children of their parents, but the children of the earth, which would mean that all were brothers. The story would also go that each child was born of gold, silver, bronze, or a mixture. This would designate their future role in the city (you can guess which kind of kid would be the best).
Basically, Socrates thinks that the guardians need a kind of myth in order to make the citizens of the city care about each other and about the city instead of about private property and about themselves: this is the kind of lie he thinks a guardian can tell.
The gang goes on to discuss the organization and layout of the city. They suggest that there will be a specific, set place for a military camp.
They then agree that there will be no private property except for necessities, and all homes will be open and free for anyone to come in and out of. All citizens will be given the proper amount of food by the guardians. They will be told that silver and gold are already present within their souls. They shouldn't have anything to do with the actual precious materials, since these materials tend to make people greedy and base.

The Allegory of the Cave (a.k.a. A Big Deal)
The next thing Socrates wants to explain is how all human beings are educated, and he does this with a (super famous) story (in this case an allegory) about a cave:
Imagine all of humanity is in a deep, enormous cave with one really long tunnel that leads out to a little speck of light.
Now, all these folks have been tied up since childhood so that they can't move and can only see what's in front of them. There's no looking side-to-side, or behind.
The only light they have in this cave comes from some fires, and in front of them there's this big shadow-puppet show going on, which projects all kinds of different things and shapes.
Glaucon interrupts and says this is a weird story, but Socrates says it's not that weird, because that's how we all live.
Socrates goes on. These people in the cave know nothing about how they really look, or about how anyone around them really looks; all they can see is what is reflected by the fire.
Socrates imagines that these prisoners talk to each other about the shadows they see projected. They give everything they see names, and they believe that the truth consists of just these shadows that are projected on the wall.
All right. Now imagine that one of these prisoners manages to free himself and is able to actually look around for the first time. He'll be partly blinded by all the unfamiliar light, and he won't know what to make of the actual objects he's seeing around him. If someone comes and tells him that his entire life up to this point has consisted of watching silly shadows, and that the real world is all around him, he'll freak and probably not even believe this person. And even if this person tries to point the fire out to him so that he'll understand the situation, the freed prisoner's eyes will burn, and he will much rather return to the shadows his eyes are able to see.
So, let's say this other person gets aggressive and literally drags our freed prisoner out into the sunlight. What will happen then? Well, the freed prisoner will be so utterly blinded by the light that he won't be able to see anything. He still may not believe what this other person had been claiming.
But slowly, as the freed prisoner becomes accustomed to the light, he'll be able to see shadows, then objects, then the reflection of the sun, and then the sun itself, which will allow him to begin to understand the seasons and the workings of the real world.
So now that the freed prisoner understands these things, he'll remember all the other prisoners in the cave and go to free them.
Now, in the cave, the prisoners have come up with all kinds of rewards and honors for the ones who can best describe or predict the shadow images that go by, but Socrates suspects that once freed, the former prisoner will not be interested in having those honors. Furthermore, if he tries to sit down with them and explain what he has seen, the others will laugh at him and say he is the one with some serious delusion issues and vision problems. In fact, if one of the other prisoners is able to free his hands, he'll probably kill the freed prisoner for disturbing the peace.
Now, Socrates explains that this story corresponds to their earlier conversation about the good.
The cave is this visible, actual world; the light in the fire is the sun; the process of going up and leaving the cave is the soul's journey toward the intelligible; and the real world revealed at the top is the idea of the good. Once you see the good, you desire nothing else.
Socrates says that it shouldn't be a surprise that those who have been enlightened seem a bit weird and crazy, because they are like the prisoner coming back into the cave, having to readjust to its darkness and being asked to have strong opinions about these silly shadows on the wall.
So, we shouldn't laugh at people who are transitioning from darkness to light, because even though it is disorienting at first, this process is ultimately a very good thing.
Education, therefore, isn't just about filling the soul with new information; it's more like a whole transformation in which the soul slowly gets used to thinking about and contemplating true reality.
The capacity to think about the true reality is already there; it's just often directed at the wrong thing.
Other virtues are added to the soul later, as it practices and learns the good—though this can, of course, be complicated by bad habits which drag the soul down and turns its vision away from the good.
So, it's clear that the city can't be guarded either by people who have had no education or experience with truth or by people who have immersed themselves too completely in education, since they won't have any public interests.
Instead, they need to make sure that the best kind of people get exactly the education they've been outlining: they need make the ascent out of the cave to see the good. And what's more, they need to make sure that these people don't just stay and hang out in the land of the good but go back down into the cave and try to share what they've learned with the others.
Glaucon is horrified by this idea: he thinks it will punish their philosopher-guardians. But Socrates reminds him that the most important job of the guardians is to care for everyone as a whole. This is completely crucial to the entire project, since each time these philosophers descend, they'll be better and better able to understand how foolish the shadows and darkness are. Their willingness to descend will also be a sign that they are actually excited about the reality of ruling and caring, which is something Socrates believes is crucial for a happy city.
In this way, the city will be governed by justice and will function harmoniously, since everyone will understand the necessity of his or her role.
Even though philosophers are not politically inclined, everyone agrees (for like the zillionth time, we know) that they will make the best leaders.
Next, Socrates wants to explain what kinds of education will enable the soul to make the ascent from darkness into light.
Socrates reminds everyone that the guardians can't just be intellectual; they need to be warlike, too, so that will have to factor into their education scheme.
Earlier, the group decided that the best education comprised of music and athletics. But athletics isn't stable enough: it deals with the body, which isn't immortal, so the group decide that athletics won't work.
Music won't work, either, because it teaches by similarity: you become harmonious by being exposed to harmony. These philosophers, though, will need to know. They can't just learn habits by means of similarities.
The Study of Numbers and Calculations
What they decide is necessary is calculation and numbering, since that is a skill universally useful. It's applicable to pretty much everything.
Next, Socrates claims that different kinds of things and sensations produce different desires for intellectual consideration. On the one hand, there are simple things that appear to be obvious, so people don't give them a lot of thought. On the other hand, there are complex things, often things that seem to be contradictions, and people are naturally inclined to devote much time and thought to them.
These two categories also apply to the two categories of things Socrates established way back when: 1) the visible and 2) the intellectual. We don't necessarily think too hard about visual things, because things just look how they look. But when we think more deeply about something, about why it looks that way or how it could look that way, we are prompted to be more thoughtful. So, the intellectual world is more likely to foster deep consideration.
Now, since deep consideration is a way to escape the cave, it follows that the intellectual world is more likely to be of help in trying to accomplish this.
Going back to the study of numbers, Socrates wants to consider the idea of the number one. He asks whether the number one will make people think or not. The group agrees that it will make people think because, as a concept, it is kind of contradictory: it can represent a single thing, but it can also be used to describe a single multitude of things, like a single crowd.
So, they decide that the number one—and all other numbers, and the study of calculation in general—leads people to intense intellectual activity. Therefore, it leads them toward truth.
Socrates recommends that they make studying calculation a law. He wants philosophers to study it in such a way as to comprehend the intellectual meaning of numbers themselves. It shouldn't just be about the practical use of math for everyday needs.
Socrates continues to praise math as a wonderful way to contemplate the good because it so clearly exists in a realm beyond visible objects. Furthermore, because math is so complicated, people who are good at it tend to be good at everything else.
Areas of Study that Lead to the Good
Next, Socrates wants to consider geometry. Glaucon says that geometry would definitely be a good idea, since it's so useful for war.
However, Socrates says that you only need to know a very little bit of geometry to make it useful in war, whereas he wants to determine the effectiveness of entire disciplines in preparing people for intellectual consideration.
Socrates suggests that even though some people talk about geometry in an overly practical way, it's actually quite intellectual because it deals with absolute, unchanging truths. For this reason, it is clearly a study that will lead to the good, and it should be part of education in their city.
Next, they consider astronomy. Glaucon immediately endorses it for all the useful things it can do. But Socrates again teases him for being so fixated on the useful, when what they really care about is the ideal. He says that they've actually jumped a bit too far ahead: after geometry, they should consider solid, 3D geometry.
Glaucon isn't as enthusiastic about this area of study, because he says it hasn't been really figured out yet. Socrates admits that's true, but he bets that if a city and intelligent people put their minds to it, a lot of progress could be made.
On to astronomy. Glaucon again endorses it, but this time it's because he's sure that anything that is the study of the heavens will be good for the soul.
Socrates isn't so convinced. He says that looking up at the heavens isn't the same thing as actually contemplating them. Since he believes the only kind of studies that lead to the good are the ones that involve a contemplation of things that truly are (and that are invisible), astronomy doesn't qualify.
Instead, Socrates recommends a different version of studying the heavens, one not concerned with movements and visual things but with the actual divine will embodied by the heavens.
After considering astronomy, Socrates wants to consider an area of study called antistrophe, which he says is the study of harmonic movement.
Socrates says the he doesn't want anyone in their city to be studying imperfect things, so they'll need to be careful about how their citizens study harmony.
They won't allow any study of harmony that involves poorly played instruments, and they'll only allow study that encourages a deeper understanding of numbers.
Dialectic
They all agree that after having examined these various disciplines, it seems that they've chosen the best ones to lead an aspiring philosopher out of the darkness of the cave. Socrates says, however, that there is still one greater area of study they haven't considered. This one is the most crucial in enabling this path of enlightenment, and it's called dialectic.
Brain bite! Dialectic? Don't worry: this is just a fancy word that describes an argument where multiple people speak, voice different opinions, and hopefully, as a result, reach the truth. So, it's pretty much your typical kind of argument, but Plato is the guy who made it so famous.
Socrates again describes how the philosopher, having pursued dialectic and the rest of the education outlined, will be in a position where everything looks different: the phantoms of the cave will exposed as... yep, just phantoms.
Glaucon says that what Socrates says is completely convincing but, at the same time, still kind of hard to believe. He wants Socrates to talk more about what dialectic is and what forms it can take.
Socrates says this will be difficult: Glaucon might not be able to follow it, since such an inquiry will lead them to look at truth itself.
Socrates goes ahead, though, and says that dialectic alone has the power to reveal the greatest truths of philosophy.
The other disciplines they've mentioned—geometry, calculation, etc.—all help the mind understand bits and pieces of bigger truths, but they are still only concerned with the small part that pertains to their area of study. Dialectic is the area of study dedicated to the big picture of truth itself.
Socrates reminds Glaucon that earlier, they had outlined four categories of mental activity: 1) knowledge, 2) thought, 3) truth, and 4) imagination. The first two categories together were called "intellection" and the second two "opinion."
Socrates says they should maintain this system, and they should remember that the disciplines they've been discussing fall into the category of 2) thought. Intellection in general deals with being (the way things actually are), whereas opinion deals with things coming into being (attempts to understand the way things are). But Socrates wants to leave these categories alone for now and move on.
Socrates wants to talk about understanding and the role of dialectical thinking. He suggests that a dialectic person is able to understand the actual being of each thing, whereas someone who isn't dialectic isn't able to actually understand what things are, in and of themselves.
Understand what things are, in and of themselves, means understanding the idea of the good, not just being able to recognize a bunch of things you think are good (that's just having an opinion). Now, this isn't to say that sometimes opinions can't point in the right direction, or that opinions aren't sometimes able to lead to understanding. But even this understanding will only be partial, because it's still based on opinion and hasn't been thought about deeply enough to be considered knowledge.
Socrates asks about Glaucon's children. He wants to know whether Glaucon would allow them to become rulers of a city if they were clearly irrational. Glaucon assures him "no way."
Socrates makes sure Glaucon is on board with this whole dialectic-is-the-best thing. Glaucon is.
More on Educating Philosopher-Kings
Now that they've outlined this educational program, they need to figure out who will learn it and how.
Socrates reminds them that they decided to choose rulers who were moderate, courageous, and, yep, good looking. He says they should add the following requirements: candidates should learn all the above disciplines quickly, easily, and with determination.
Rulers will also need to have good memories, and they should never be afraid of hard work. These qualities are especially important, because philosophy has gotten a bad rap lately as a result of less-than-stellar people taking it up.
A philosopher can't be the kind of person who only likes some things about philosophy; he has to be willing to do it all. He also can't be the kind of person who says he's against lying but actually accepts lies he hears all the time.
They need to be very careful to be on the lookout for the best men: they don't want to be in a situation where someone less awesome is chosen just because no one knew how to be a good judge of character.
If they do find someone who is the best of the best, it seems impossible that the city won't be just.
Socrates briefly apologizes for having got too emotional just then. He just hates the idea that philosophy isn't as respected and revered as it should be. Glaucon assures him he didn't come off as emotional, and they proceed.
Socrates reminds everyone that earlier they had suggested that the best leaders of the city would be older people, but with this new regime they've come up with, they now want to start young.
Children should be given all the education they've described, but it shouldn't forced on them; they want people who are naturally interested, not those who have been forced.
In fact, the best educators know that play, not strict discipline, is the best method for education, because it shows what children naturally incline toward. Socrates also reminds everyone that they decided to have children witness battles to learn warfare.
Often children have been exposed to all these various things. Those who are most persistent and eager will be selected after they've done a couple years of intense athletic training (so probably when they're around 21).
Those who have been chosen will now be taught how the various disciplines they've learned are all connected, and they'll learn the reason they've been learning them. This phase will be a further test, because those who are able to grasp these big, umbrella concepts are dialectical, while those can't aren't.
Next, once these select few reach 30, they'll need to make sure that they are the kind of people willing to give up their reliance on their senses and follow the invisible truth. That's a tough job to oversee.
Why so tough? Well, Socrates says it's because the study of dialectic can very easily lead people to become fake and unruly (many who study it are both), because it often involves a realization that the morals and values you've held near and dear for your whole life are actually wrong. If you realize this without knowing where to turn to find what's right, you'll become sad, unhappy, and false.
Socrates compares the bad dialectician to an orphaned child who, once he realizes that his parents aren't actually his parents—and that he won't be able to find his real parents—turns away in anger from his adoptive parents and joins forces with some empty flatterers who at least make him feel better.
Socrates also recommends that they be careful in not allowing young children to be exposed to the art of dialectic. Young children won't fully understand how it works; they might misuse the art of dialectic and foolishly imitate dialecticians, not knowing what they're saying until they've become young adults apathetic about the whole thing.
A more mature person, in contrast, will be interested in discussing truth itself and will treat discussion honorably and sensibly. Moreover, these mature and sensible people should only argue with other mature and sensible people, in order to keep the argument dignified and productive.
After they've been allowed to study pure dialectic for about 5 years, these young rulers-in-training will need to go back into the cave and take up the practical responsibilities of leadership. This will also need to be monitored, in order to make sure these people remain strong and true to their education.
The rulers-to-be will do this for 15 years. Once they've reached the age of 50, they'll finally be allowed full and compete access to the knowledge of the good. They will spend most of the rest of their lives contemplating this good through philosophy, but will occasionally take turns ruling the city and educating other men to become like them. Once they die, they'll go off to heaven and be praised and honored by the city they left.
Glaucon says Socrates has described such beautiful ruling men that he's like an amazing sculptor making masterpiece statues. Socrates reminds Glaucon that he wasn't just describing ruling men; he was describing ruling women, too.
They all agree that what they've outlined is the ideal form of government, and while it may be difficult to set up, it's not impossible. Once philosophers take over as rulers of the city, the whole city will change for the better, because the philosophers will have zero interest in your typical honors and wealth. They will only want the very best for the city.
Socrates thinks the fastest way to set up a city like this would be to have some philosophers take children older than 10 from their parents and raise them in the country, away from all the bad influences of the world. That way, they'll begin to cultivate a generation of untarnished intellectuals. Glaucon agrees.

Imitation and Painting
Reflecting on their construction of the republic, Socrates thinks that the most important thing they did in the city was to not allow any imitative poetry (you know, pretty much all poetry).
Now that they've outlined the organization of the soul into three parts, Socrates thinks that it's even clearer than before that composing or listening to such poetry will degrade the soul.
At first, Socrates is hesitant to say more about poetry because he loved the poetry of Homer since he was little kid.
But, since the truth must shine through, Socrates agrees to go forward.
First, Socrates wants to define the concept of "imitation" again, this time using the example of a couch and a table.
Socrates explains how in the world, there are many different types of couches and tables, but there is still only one idea of a table. You might think of it as "tableness"—the thing that unites all tables as tables and doesn't let any couch pass as a table.
A craftsman, building a couch or a table, clearly starts with the idea of it already in his mind; he doesn't come up with the very idea himself.
Socrates imagines a kind of super-craftsmen who doesn't just make tables and couches but can make animals and plants, too.
Glaucon thinks that's impossible, but Socrates says it's actually easy: all you need to do is go around the world with a big mirror, and you'll be "creating" all these things.
Glaucon says that that isn't actually making these things; it's just representing them.
Bingo, says Socrates: it's just representing them. He says a painter is just like this mirror-guy because, in some way, he "makes" tables and couches when he paints them.
Socrates then goes a step further and says that even a craftsmen who makes couches is still making a representation because he isn't able to create the actual true idea or form of couchness; he just makes one particular couch.
So, they can rank three kinds of couch-makers: 1) a god, or nature, who makes true "couchness," 2) the craftsmen, who makes a version of the true couch, and 3) a painter, who makes a representation of a version of the true couch.
The couch made by nature is always only one, whereas the couches made by craftsmen are necessarily many.
But the painter? Well, it's actually a bit of a stretch to even call him a maker of a couch, so Glaucon suggests that instead they call him an imitator of couches.
It seems that this imitator is also the furthest away from nature, since he produces something two steps removed from the actual idea—and this is true of poets as well as painters.
Furthermore, because painting is about appearances (says Socrates), it is primarily concerned with imitating simply what the couch looks like. It's concerned with just a small part of the couch; it doesn't care about what the couch's true, inner idea is like.
Another problem with painting is that if a painter is too skilled at imitation, he might produce a picture that would fool silly people and children into thinking that they were seeing the real thing.
In fact, it's probably a good idea to be suspicious of anyone who claims to know everything, because it probably means they've only encountered imitations of everything, not the real truth.
Imitation and Poetry
All right. So now Socrates decides to seriously consider the question of imitation in terms of tragedy and the poetry of Homer.
Socrates points out that Homer and his poetry are often read as a repository of all wisdom, so they need to figure out if this is actually true. Can poetry lead to wisdom? Or is this, in fact, the consequence of mistaking imitation for reality?
Socrates says that everyone would agree that the more important thing is to actually accomplish something, not just to talk about accomplishing something.
So, has Homer ever accomplished anything? Even though everyone praises his poetry for its portrayal of warfare and leadership, there isn't a city anywhere in the world that can claim that it has benefited from Homer's leadership, nor has any war been won under Homer's rule.
Furthermore, if Homer were so wise and smart, why didn't he found some kind of school or academy? Why doesn't he have any devoted followers? (This seems like a problematic line of reasoning to us, but we're just the messengers.)
So, it seems they've decided that Homer doesn't actually know about virtue; he just imitates virtue.
Poets just imitate things like color and harmony to give their creations charm, but what they really lack is substance. If you saw a poem stripped of all its charm, it would look like a boy who's no longer youthful.
Socrates says that a painter imitates, say, the reins of saddle, but doesn't know how to use them. However, he imagines that even the smith who actually makes reins doesn't necessarily know how the reins work, either. The only person who actually understands how to use the reins would be a horseman.
So Socrates claims there are three kinds of people: 1) people who use things, 2) people who make things, and 3) people who imitate things.
Socrates goes on to claim that what something is meant to be used for is the most important quality it has.
So, obviously, the person who uses things is the most knowledgeable and the person most about to tell the maker which things are good and bad, just as a flutist would best be able explain to a flute-maker the most important things that can make a flute play well.
The flute-maker will know how to make something well because he's being advised by the flutist, but the imitator of a flute won't know anything about how to make one better or worse; all he cares about is how a flute looks.
To sum it up: 1) imitators don't know anything about what they imitate, 2) imitation is play and not something serious, and 3) tragic and epic poetry are both forms of imitation.
They've also agreed that imitation is concerned with something the furthest away from truth, since it relies on the unreliability of appearances. How are appearances unreliable? One example: a straight object looks bent in water, but it's just because the water makes it appear bent.
The only way to truly understand things is to measure and calculate them, and that's an activity associated with the highest part of the soul—the rational part.
The part of the soul that contradicts the conclusions of the calculating part is obviously lower.
Imitation, as a result, has nothing to do with what is true, just, or virtuous. It's mostly concerned with what is ordinary, and it produces ordinary things.
Now, to make sure that what they've been saying about imitation's place in the soul applies just as much to the visual (painting) as it does to the aural (poetry, since in Socrates's time people listened to poetry), Socrates defines imitation (again) as an imitation of an action that produces a feeling of having done either good or bad.
Socrates then reminds everyone that they agreed that the soul doesn't have one single desire, but many, sometimes conflicting desires.
Socrates imagines that a sensible man, if his son died, would feel torn in two directions: he'd want to remain composed in public, but he would want to give way to his grief and pain in private.
So, Socrates says this shows that there are two distinct impulses in such a man: 1) his rational part, which draws him to understand that grief doesn't accomplish anything and prevents us from analyzing a situation, and 2) his desiring part, which draws him to indulge in his grief.
Imitation, therefore, is drawn to imitate the desiring, angry, sad, irrational, passionate part of the soul, because it's way easier—and more entertaining—to see that part imitated than to see an imitation of the quiet, reserved, sensible, and contemplative qualities of the rational part.
Therefore, it looks like poets are in the same sitch as painters (hint: not a good one). They won't be allowed in the city, either, since they appeal to what's lowest in humans and create ghosts of the truth instead of going after truth itself.
But the biggest problem with poetry is how effective it is at appealing to even super duper sensible, rational people. Everyone, Socrates included, admits to having been totally wowed, won over, and left in tears after hearing about something sad in Homer.
Why does this happen? Well, it's because poetry appeals to the base part of the soul that most rational men don't often appeal to. When this part hears something appealing, it goes crazy.
Even though people might be too embarrassed to do what they are hearing described (like a great hero crying) themselves, they think it's okay to be moved by it because it's happening to someone else.
Jokes work the same way: plenty of people laugh at jokes they would never tell.
But, says Socrates, letting yourself be affected by others still affects you and the virtuousness of your soul. The same goes for sex and ambition, too.
What you need to keep in mind, then, is that even though you might agree with someone when he or she says that Homer is lovely, and even if this person goes on and on about how wise Homer is, Homer still wouldn't be admitted into the city.
Besides, Socrates reminds everyone that there's an "old quarrel" between poetry and philosophy, suggesting that the two have always been somehow incompatible.
But if poetry wants to construct a really good argument to show that it does deserve to be part of a good city, and if its argument is convincing, they'll totally let it back in the city. These guys do like poetry, really; they just can't ignore the truth
Frankly, even if they did listen to these arguments, they'd have to be very careful not to be charmed by it again, remembering how much they loved it as children.
Socrates warns everyone that they need to take this stuff very seriously, because it's a question of good and evil.
In fact, speaking of good and evil, something else important about the soul is that it is immortal—unlike a single person's life, which, in the grand scheme of things, is quite short.
Glaucon is flabbergasted. The soul is immortal? He must hear more.
The Myth of Er
Once upon a time, there was a strong man named Er, who seemingly died in a war.
Just as Er is about to be burned on a pyre for his burial, he comes back to life and tells everyone about his experience in the underworld.
When he first got to the underworld, Er saw how those people who were judged to be just were sent up to heaven with a record of their good deeds, while those who were judged to be unjust were sent down to hell with a record of their bad deeds.
When it's Er's turn to be judged, the judges decide that he needs to be a special messenger to the living people on earth, one who can explain to them what actually goes down after death.
So, Er watches everything very carefully.
Er sees how some people are actually returning from heaven and hell, looking exhausted, because after being judged, they had been sent on a very long journey.
Everyone's gathering in a meadow, kind of having a big party, and they start sharing their experiences about their lives and afterlives.
The ones who had been sent down to hell weep about how difficult their experience has been, while those who had been in heaven couldn't stop talking about how gorgeous it is.
It turns out that the unjust have to pay for all the people they were unjust to... times ten.
That's bad news if you were unjust to a whole city.
It also turns out that the gods don't much appreciate it when you dishonor them, or when you dishonor your parents, or when you murder people.
One guy, Adiaeus the Great, was a tyrant, and he has done so many horrible things that he's stuck in hell forever, where he is continuously flayed alive over thorns (yikes).
After everyone parties for four days, they're off again to finish their journey.
This takes them to an amazing, kind of psychedelic center of light in heaven. It looks like a huge, eight-level spiral that gets narrower and narrower as you go down.
Each level turns in an opposite direction and is guarded by a fierce siren.
Brain bite! A siren is a fierce, female monster in Greek mythology who is most known for looking—and sounding—beautiful and seductive from the middle up. She's horrible and monstrous from the bottom down, though. Bummer, right? The most famous incident involving sirens takes place in Homer's Odyssey.
Now, this whole area is ruled by the goddess Necessity and her daughters. They instruct everyone to gather around a pick a number.
Based on the number you pick, you get to pick the next life you want to lead.
Now, here's where Socrates interjects and reminds everyone that it's just this kind of (big) decision that philosophy prepares you for.
If you don't understand what a truly good life looks like, you might make a terrible choice.
Get a load of that guy who picked tyranny, for example. He wasn't a bad guy in his previous life. He was just kind of ordinary, he got overly excited about all the flash and cash, and all that has led him to choose the life of a tyrant.
Unfortunately, after he examines the life he's chosen a little more closely, he notices some serious drawbacks: eating his children, killing people... yeah.
The only foolproof way to make it through this process is to stick with philosophy.
As Er watches these people choose their lot in life, he sees some big-name famous dudes, who all tend to choose their next life based entirely on their previous life:
Orpheus, for example, ends his life being torn apart by women, so he chooses to be a swan (the Greeks thought, weirdly, that swans weren't born from females).
Er also sees Thamyras (another arrogant singing type), Ajax (a big Trojan War hero), Agamemnon (ditto), Epeius (a cowardly Trojan War hero), and Thersites (a ridiculous Trojan War hero).
Er finally sees good old Odysseus, who, not surprisingly, chooses a life of peace and quiet.
Once everyone has chosen their life, the Fates spin out their thread to show how long they let each person live.
Finally, each person has to drink from the Lethe (the river of forgetfulness) in order to forget everything they have experienced before, in their previous life. Some foolish people drink from the river of Carelessness, too, because why not, right? Before they know it, they're off, well, being born.
And so, folks, that's the end of Socrates's story, which he hopes has made its moral very clear: be just and philosophical in this life so that you'll glide through the perils and problems of the afterlife.
Revolutionary and incendiary, The Second Sex is one of the earliest attempts to confront human history from a feminist perspective. It won de Beauvoir many admirers and just as many detractors. Today, many regard this massive and meticulously researched masterwork as not only as pillar of feminist thought but of twentieth-century philosophy in general.

De Beauvoir's primary thesis is that men fundamentally oppress women by characterizing them, on every level, as the Other, defined exclusively in opposition to men. Man occupies the role of the self, or subject; woman is the object, the other. He is essential, absolute, and transcendent. She is inessential, incomplete, and mutilated. He extends out into the world to impose his will on it, whereas woman is doomed to immanence, or inwardness. He creates, acts, invents; she waits for him to save her. This distinction is the basis of all de Beauvoir's later arguments.

De Beauvoir states that while it is natural for humans to understand themselves in opposition to others, this process is flawed when applied to the genders. In defining woman exclusively as Other, man is effectively denying her humanity.

The Second Sex chronicles de Beauvoir's effort to locate the source of these profoundly imbalanced gender roles. In Book I, entitled "Facts and Myths," she asks how "female humans" come to occupy a subordinate position in society. To answer this question—and to better understand her own identity—de Beauvoir first turns to biology, psychoanalysis, and historical materialism. These disciplines reveal indisputable "essential" differences between men and women but provide no justification for woman's inferiority. They all take woman's inferior "destiny" for granted.

She then moves to history to trace the emergence of male superiority in society, from nomadic hunter-gatherers through the French Revolution and contemporary times. Here she finds ample examples of female subordination, but again, no persuasive justification for them. History, she argues, is not an immutable "fact," but a reflection of certain attitudes, preconceptions, and injustices.

De Beauvoir next discusses various mythical representations of women and demonstrates how these myths have imprinted human consciousness, often to the disservice of women. De Beauvoir hopes to debunk the persistent myth of the "eternal feminine" by showing that it arose from male discomfort with the fact of his own birth. Throughout history, maternity has been both worshipped and reviled: the mother both brings life and heralds death. These mysterious operations get projected onto the woman, who is transformed into a symbol of "life" and in the process is robbed of all individuality. To illustrate the prevalence of these myths, de Beauvoir studies the portrayal of women by five modern writers. In the end of this section, de Beauvoir examines the impact of these myths on individual experience. She concludes that the "eternal feminine" fiction is reinforced by biology, psychoanalysis, history, and literature.

De Beauvoir insists on the impossibility of comparing the "character" of men and women without considering the immense differences in their situation, and in Book II, entitled "Woman's Life Today," she turns to the concrete realities of this situation. She traces female development through its formative stages: childhood, youth, and sexual initiation. Her goal is to prove that women are not born "feminine" but shaped by a thousand external processes. She shows how, at each stage of her upbringing, a girl is conditioned into accepting passivity, dependence, repetition, and inwardness. Every force in society conspires to deprive her of subjectivity and flatten her into an object. Denied the possibility of independent work or creative fulfillment, the woman must accept a dissatisfying life of housework, childbearing, and sexual slavishness.

Having brought the woman to adulthood, de Beauvoir analyzes the various "situations," or roles, the adult woman inhabits. The bourgeois woman performs three major functions: wife, mother, and entertainer. No matter how illustrious the woman's household may be, these roles inevitably lead to immanence, incompleteness, and profound frustration. Even those who accept a less conventional place in society—as a prostitute or courtesan, for example—must submit to imperatives defined by the male. De Beauvoir also reflects on the trauma of old age. When a woman loses her reproductive capacity, she loses her primary purpose and therefore her identity. In the final chapter of this section, "Woman's Situation and Character," de Beauvoir reiterates the controversial claim that woman's situation is not a result of her character. Rather, her character is a result of her situation. Her mediocrity, complacency, lack of accomplishment, laziness, passivity—all these qualities are the consequences of her subordination, not the cause.

In "Justifications," de Beauvoir studies some of the ways that women reinforce their own dependency. Narcissists, women in love, and mystics all embrace their immanence by drowning selfhood in an external object—whether it be the mirror, a lover, or God. Throughout the book, de Beauvoir mentions such instances of females being complicit in their Otherness, particularly with regard to marriage. The difficulty of breaking free from "femininity"—of sacrificing security and comfort for some ill-conceived notion of "equality"—induces many women to accept the usual unfulfilling roles of wife and mother. From the very beginning of her discussion, de Beauvoir identifies the economic underpinnings of female subordination—and the economic roots of woman's liberation. Only in work can she achieve autonomy. If woman can support herself, she can also achieve a form of liberation. In the concluding chapters of The Second Sex, de Beauvoir discusses the logistical hurdles woman faces in pursuing this goal.

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Aristotle proposes to discuss poetry, which he defines as a means of mimesis, or imitation, by means of language, rhythm, and harmony. As creatures who thrive on imitation, we are naturally drawn to poetry.

In particular, Aristotle focuses his discussion on tragedy, which uses dramatic, rather than narrative, form, and deals with agents who are better than us ourselves. Tragedy serves to arouse the emotions of pity and fear and to effect a katharsis (catharsis) of these emotions. Aristotle divides tragedy into six different parts, ranking them in order from most important to least important as follows: (1) mythos, or plot, (2) character, (3) thought, (4) diction, (5) melody, and (6) spectacle.

The first essential to creating a good tragedy is that it should maintain unity of plot. This means that the plot must move from beginning to end according to a tightly organized sequence of necessary or probable events. The beginning should not necessarily follow from any earlier events, and the end should tie up all loose ends and not produce any necessary consequences. The plot can also be enhanced by an intelligent use of peripeteia, or reversal, and anagnorisis, or recognition. These elements work best when they are made an integral part of the plot.

A plot should consist of a hero going from happiness to misery. The hero should be portrayed consistently and in a good light, though the poet should also remain true to what we know of the character. The misery should be the result of some hamartia, or error, on the part of the hero. A tragic plot must always involve some sort of tragic deed, which can be done or left undone, and this deed can be approached either with full knowledge or in ignorance.

Aristotle discusses thought and diction and then moves on to address epic poetry. Epic poetry is similar to tragedy in many ways, though it is generally longer, more fantastic, and deals with a greater scope of action. After addressing some problems of criticism, Aristotle argues that tragedy is superior to epic poetry.
Okay, first, a few ground rules for this summary. One Hundred Years of Solitude jumps back and forth in time so much it makes our heads spin. So to make things simpler, we're going to summarize the events in linear time, not the order in which they appear in the novel. Basically, be sure you've read it cover to cover already, just so we don't spoil anything for you.

Here goes. José Arcadio Buendía and his cousin, Úrsula, fall in love and decide to get married without their families' permission. Úrsula is stressed that incest isn't best and that it will lead to a child with a pig's tail, so she doesn't want to consummate the marriage. José Arcadio Buendía wins a cockfight, and the loser, Prudencio Aguilar, teases him about his wife not putting out. He gets mad, kills Prudencio, then goes home and has sex with his wife. Prudencio Aguilar's ghost starts to haunt José Arcadio and Úrsula until they decide to pack up and go found a new city, Macondo, with some of their friends. Their idea is to set up the town near the sea, but they can't find it and eventually give up looking.

José Arcadio Buendía and Úrsula have two sons, José Arcadio (II) and Aureliano. Like all the future José Arcadios, this one is strong and tough, and like all the future Aurelianos, this one is nerdy, bookish, and clairvoyant. The town mainly gets its view of the outside world from a group of nomadic gypsies, headed by Melquíades, who brings real-life and magical inventions to Macondo - things like ice, flying carpets, magnifying glasses, and magnets. José Arcadio Buendía usually wants to turn every new thing into a weapon.

Tired of being so isolated from modern developments, José Arcadio leads a band of dudes on a mission to try to find a route to the sea and thus get contact with the outside world. They get stuck in the jungle, go kind of crazy, and eventually give up. Meanwhile, back home, José Arcadio (II) has sex with Pilar Ternera, knocks her up, freaks out at impending fatherhood, falls in love with a little gypsy girl, and runs off with the caravan. Trying to find him, Úrsula leaves Macondo and comes back a few months later having found a route to another town, connecting Macondo to the world. New people start coming to the town, and the government sends over a mayor-type guy, Don Apolinar Moscote.

Pilar Ternera gives her baby to the Buendía family, and he is named Arcadio and raised without knowing who his 'rents are. Also joining the family are Rebeca, an orphan who arrives with a letter for José Arcadio and a bag of her parents' bones, and Amaranta, a new baby born to Úrsula and José Arcadio. Aureliano falls in love with Don Apolinar's beautiful nine-year-old child, Remedios.

Suddenly, the town is hit by a plague. The main symptoms are insomnia and complete memory loss. José Arcadio and Aureliano try to fight the disease first by posting signs labeling everything, and then by creating a memory machine. But it's no use. In the nick of time, they are rescued by Melquíades, who has a potion to bring all the memories back. Melquíades claims that he's back from the dead, and he holes up in a room in the house to write manuscripts in a secret code and teach Aureliano how to be a goldsmith.

Another memory that pops up after the plague is the ghost of Prudencio Aguilar, who has spent years trying to find José Arcadio and Macondo. He hangs out with José Arcadio for a long night, and the next day José Arcadio has gone completely insane. The family ties him to a tree in the backyard where he seems happy, speaking some language no one can understand.

Meanwhile, Aureliano is tortured by his feelings for little girl Remedios and goes to bed with Pilar Ternera to make himself feel better. It doesn't work, and he ends up getting her pregnant in the process. But she does agree to set up the marriage. After Remedios finally gets her period, she and Aureliano marry and he is extremely happy for the first time in his life.

Úrsula decides to liven up the house and throw a party. Part of the prep is buying a player-piano, which comes with a technician named Pietro Crespi. Both Rebeca and Amaranta fall in love with him, and a bitter hatred and rivalry starts up between them. Pietro prefers Rebeca and they become engaged, while Amaranta plots ways to disrupt the wedding. Finally, the wedding is about to happen, and Amaranta decides to murder Rebeca. But she prays hard for some other thing to happen so she doesn't have to go through with it. The other thing that happens? Remedios dies from some kind of pregnancy complication.

José Arcadio (II) suddenly comes back, giant, tattooed, and wild. He's been a sailor. When he gets home, he and Rebeca have instant chemistry and get married despite the fact that everyone is grossed out by the almost-incest. Pietro Crespi now falls in love with Amaranta, but she rejects him and he ends up killing himself.

After Remedios' death, Aureliano starts to become more and more political. At first he's on the side of his father-in-law, the Conservative town mayor Don Apolinar, but when he sees how super-corrupt the Conservative government is, he decides to join up with the Liberals. They turn out to be better, so Aureliano starts calling himself Colonel Aureliano Buendía and becomes a leader in a civil war between the Liberals and the Conservatives. The Colonel loses all of the rebellions he starts all over the country, but manages to constantly escape death in a series of close calls and assassination attempts. Also, while he travels, a lot of beautiful women come to his tent at night to sleep with him - it's apparently a thing, like back in the days of gladiators. He ends up fathering seventeen sons, all named Aureliano. Eventually he is captured and put in front of a firing squad, but his brother José Arcadio (II) rescues him.

The civil wars are endless and relentless. Back home, Arcadio, the secret son of José Arcadio (II), marries Santa Sofía de la Piedad. While she is pregnant Arcadio is put in charge of Macondo by Colonel Aureliano Buendía. He turns out to be a horrible tyrant, making up for the all the sad indignities of his childhood, and is finally executed by firing squad. He and Sofía have three kids: Remedios, and the twins Aureliano Segundo and José Arcadio Segundo.

When the civil war finally ends, Colonel Aureliano Buendía is forced to sign a demoralizing peace agreement, and his depression and loner-ism become extreme. He comes home and spends the rest of his life making tiny gold fishes, melting them down, and making them again.

But hey, life goes on - this time in the form of Americans and a banana plantation. At first, the company and its doings are hunky-dory, but eventually the workers get upset about their terrible working conditions and they strike. The company pretends to hold a meeting to come to terms, but instead it gathers the 3,000 workers together in a square and slaughters them with machine guns.

José Arcadio Segundo, who was a foreman at the plantation and is one of the key strike leaders, is one of the only survivors. When he comes to after the massacre, he is on a train of corpses on their way to be dumped into the sea. He just barely escapes, and when he gets back to Macondo, no one knows the massacre has happened. For the whole rest of the novel, all the people in the town stick to the government line that the strike ended peacefully and all the workers just went home. The banana company leaves and the plantation shuts down.

While all that was going on, Aureliano Segundo fell in love with Petra Cotes, but goes off and marries a super-strict, super-religious, kind-of-crazy woman named Fernanda. After the wedding, he goes back and forth between them. While he's with Petra Cotes, their farm animals breed crazily and he becomes extremely wealthy. With Fernanda he has a daughter, Meme, and a son, José Arcadio (III).

Meme falls in love with a mechanic named Mauricio Babilonia. Fernanda discovers them, has Mauricio shot as a thief, and ships Meme off to a convent. A year later, a nun comes to Macondo with Aureliano (II), Meme's baby, who becomes a huge persona non grata (unwelcome person) at the house, and who is raised in near-captivity playing alongside Fernanda and Aureliano Segundo's last daughter, Amaranta Úrsula, without knowing that he's related to the Buendías.

Then it starts to rain. It rains for almost five years straight without interruption. Most of the town is completely destroyed, rotted, and washed away. Úrsula, the last of the original Buendías, dies. Everyone who is still alive starts dying off. Amaranta Úrsula goes off to Belgium, and eventually Aureliano (II) is left alone in the house. José Arcadio (III) comes back, starts an orgy lifestyle with some local kids, and they eventually kill him for his money. Then Amaranta Úrsula comes back with her husband, a Flemish pilot. After a while, she and Aureliano (II) end up getting it on, and the husband leaves. As their love grows, the house and the town fall more and more into complete nothingness.

Amaranta Úrsula becomes pregnant, and neither she nor Aureliano (II) knows that they are actually aunt and nephew. She dies during childbirth, after giving birth to a baby with the tail of a pig - just as Úrsula had been worried about all this time, bringing the story full circle. Totally depressed, Aureliano (II) goes and gets drunk. By the time he remembers the baby, little Aureliano (III) has been eaten by ants.

Aureliano (II) freaks out but can't do anything except go and finally translate the scrolls that Melquíades had left behind, which turn out to be the whole history of the Buendía family, from the patriarch tied to a tree to the baby devoured by ants. As he finishes reading the story, Aureliano (II), the house, and the rest of the town are wiped away by a hurricane. Everything is gone from memory, history, and existence.
Though Okonkwo is a respected leader in the Umuofia tribe of the Igbo people, he lives in fear of becoming his father - a man known for his laziness and cowardice. Throughout his life, Okonkwo attempts to be his father's polar opposite. From an early age, he builds his home and reputation as a precocious wrestler and hard-working farmer. Okonkwo's efforts pay off big time and he becomes wealthy through his crops and scores three wives.

Okonkwo's life is shaken up a when an accidental murder takes place and Okonkwo ends up adopting a boy from another village. The boy is named Ikemefuna and Okonkwo comes to love him like a son. In fact, he loves him more than his natural son, Nwoye. After three years, though, the tribe decides that Ikemefuna must die. When the men of Umuofia take Ikemefuna into the forest to slaughter him, Okonkwo actually participates in the murder. Although he's just killed his adoptive son, Okonkwo shows no emotion because he wants to be seen as Mr. Macho and not be weak like his own father was. Inside, though, Okonkwo feels painful guilt and regret. But since Okonkwo was so wrapped up in being tough and emotionless, he alienates himself from Nwoye, who was like a brother to Ikemefuna.

Later on, during a funeral, Okonkwo accidentally shoots and kills a boy. For his crime, the town exiles him for seven years to his mother's homeland, Mbanta. There, he learns about the coming of the white missionaries whose arrival signals the beginning of the end for the Igbo people. They bring Christianity and win over Igbo outcasts as their first converts. As the Christian religion gains legitimacy, more and more Igbo people are converted. Just when Okonkwo has finished his seven-year sentence and is allowed to return home, his son Nwoye converts to Christianity. Okonkwo is so bent out of shape that he disowns his son.

Eventually, the Igbo attempt to talk to the missionaries, but the Christians capture the Igbo leaders and jail them for several days until the villagers cough up some ransom money. Contemplating revenge, the Igbo people hold a war council and Okonkwo is one of the biggest advocates for aggressive action. However, during the council, a court messenger from the missionaries arrives and tells the men to stop the meeting. Enraged, Okonkwo kills him. Realizing that his clan will not go to war against the white men, the proud, devastated Okonkwo hangs himself.
In the novel's foreword, the fictional John Ray, Jr., Ph.D., explains the strange story that will follow. According to Ray, he received the manuscript, entitled Lolita, or the Confession of a White Widowed Male, from the author's lawyer. The author himself, known by the pseudonym of Humbert Humbert (or H. H.), died in jail of coronary thrombosis while awaiting a trial. Ray asserts that while the author's actions are despicable, his writing remains beautiful and persuasive. He also indicates that the novel will become a favorite in psychiatric circles as well as encourage parents to raise better children in a better world.

In the manuscript, Humbert relates his peaceful upbringing on the Riviera, where he encounters his first love, the twelve-year-old Annabel Leigh. Annabel and the thirteen-year-old Humbert never consummate their love, and Annabel's death from typhus four months later haunts Humbert. Although Humbert goes on to a career as a teacher of English literature, he spends time in a mental institution and works a succession of odd jobs. Despite his marriage to an adult woman, which eventually fails, Humbert remains obsessed with sexually desirable and sexually aware young girls. These nymphets, as he calls them, remind him of Annabel, though he fails to find another like her. Eventually, Humbert comes to the United States and takes a room in the house of widow Charlotte Haze in a sleepy, suburban New England town. He becomes instantly infatuated with her twelve-year-old daughter Dolores, also known as Lolita. Humbert follows Lolita's moves constantly, occasionally flirts with her, and confides his pedophiliac longings to a journal. Meanwhile, Charlotte Haze, whom Humbert loathes, has fallen in love with him. When Charlotte sends Lolita off to summer camp, Humbert marries Charlotte in order to stay near his true love. Humbert wants to be alone with Lolita and even toys with the idea of killing Charlotte, but he can't go through with it. However, Charlotte finds his diary and, after learning that he hates her but loves her daughter, confronts him. Humbert denies everything, but Charlotte tells him she is leaving him and storms out of the house. At that moment, a car hits her and she dies instantly.

Humbert goes to the summer camp and picks up Lolita. Only when they arrive at a motel does he tell her that Charlotte has died. In his account of events, Humbert claims that Lolita seduces him, rather than the other way around. The two drive across the country for nearly a year, during which time Humbert becomes increasingly obsessed with Lolita and she learns to manipulate him. When she engages in tantrums or refuses his advances, Humbert threatens to put her in an orphanage. At the same time, a strange man seems to take an interest in Humbert and Lolita and appears to be following them in their travels.

Humbert eventually gets a job at Beardsley College somewhere in the Northeast, and Lolita enrolls in school. Her wish to socialize with boys her own age causes a strain in their relationship, and Humbert becomes more restrictive in his rules. Nonetheless, he allows her to appear in a school play. Lolita begins to behave secretively around Humbert, and he accuses her of being unfaithful and takes her away on another road trip. On the road, Humbert suspects that they are being followed. Lolita doesn't notice anything, and Humbert accuses her of conspiring with their stalker.

Lolita becomes ill, and Humbert must take her to the hospital. However, when Humbert returns to get her, the nurses tell him that her uncle has already picked her up. Humbert flies into a rage, but then he calms himself and leaves the hospital, heartbroken and angry.

For the next two years, Humbert searches for Lolita, unearthing clues about her kidnapper in order to exact his revenge. He halfheartedly takes up with a woman named Rita, but then he receives a note from Lolita, now married and pregnant, asking for money. Assuming that Lolita has married the man who had followed them on their travels, Humbert becomes determined to kill him. He finds Lolita, poor and pregnant at seventeen. Humbert realizes that Lolita's husband is not the man who kidnapped her from the hospital. When pressed, Lolita admits that Clare Quilty, a playwright whose presence has been felt from the beginning of the book, had taken her from the hospital. Lolita loved Quilty, but he kicked her out when she refused to participate in a child pornography orgy. Still devoted to Lolita, Humbert begs her to return to him. Lolita gently refuses. Humbert gives her 4,000 dollars and then departs. He tracks down Quilty at his house and shoots him multiple times, killing him. Humbert is arrested and put in jail, where he continues to write his memoir, stipulating that it can only be published upon Lolita's death. After Lolita dies in childbirth, Humbert dies of heart failure, and the manuscript is sent to John Ray, Jr., Ph.D.
The novel opens with the Karamazov brothers returning to their hometown after being raised largely away from home by distant relatives. Now young men, they each have their own reasons for being there: Dmitri seeks to settle an inheritance dispute with their father, Fyodor Karamazov; Alyosha is a novice at the local monastery; and Ivan ostensibly has returned to assist Dmitri. The dispute between Dmitri and his father has been aggravated by their romantic rivalry over Grushenka, despite the fact that Dmitri is already engaged to Katerina Ivanovna. The Karamazovs meet with the elder Zosima at the monastery in an attempt to resolve their differences, but scandal ensues when Fyodor causes a scene.

After the scandal, Alyosha seeks out Dmitri, who is spying on Fyodor from a neighboring garden. Dmitri spills the details of his sordid affair with Grushenka and his shameful theft of Katerina's money in order to woo Grushenka. Leaving Dmitri, Alyosha enters his father's house, where he finds his father, Ivan, Smerdyakov, and Grigory engaged in a religious dispute over dinner. Suddenly Dmitri enters in a rage and beats Fyodor, then runs out the door. After the attack, Alyosha seeks out Katerina, who, to his surprise, is entertaining Grushenka. Grushenka insults Katerina and is thrown out. Katerina's maid hands Alyosha a note, which he opens when he finally returns to the monastery. The note is from Lise Khokhlakov, who declares her love for him.

The next morning, the elder Zosima sends Alyosha to check on his brothers and his father. Alyosha first visits his father, who is angry and suspicions about Dmitri and Ivan. On leaving his father, Alyosha heads off to the Khokhlakov residence, but his journey is interrupted by a group of schoolboys who are attacking another schoolboy. When Alyosha attempts to aid the defenseless schoolboy, the boy bites his hand and runs off. At the Khokhlakovs', Alyosha is taken aside by Lise and proposes marriage to her. After his chat with Lise, Alyosha enters the drawing room, where Ivan and Katerina have a dispute. After Ivan leaves, Katerina gives Alyosha 200 roubles to give to a Captain Snegiryov, who was insulted by Dmitri.

Alyosha heads to the Snegiryovs' cottage, where he meets the entire Snegiryov family, including the young boy, Ilyusha, who bit him earlier in the day. Captain Snegiryov proudly rejects Alyosha's offer of charity. After another brief visit to the Khokhlakovs, Alyosha seeks out Dmitri again. In his father's neighbor's garden, Alyosha meets Smerdyakov, who tells him that Dmitri has gone off to visit Ivan at the village tavern.

At the tavern, Alyosha finds Ivan alone. As they dine together, Ivan defends his religious skepticism to Alyosha by way of a long poetic fantasy entitled "The Grand Inquisitor." At the end of their meal, they part ways.

At this point, the novel shifts to Ivan's perspective. He heads back to his father's, where he meets up with Smerdyakov. Smerdyakov's sly insinuations about a possible murder of Fyodor trouble Ivan. During the night, Ivan finds himself checking on his father for no reason, and feels ashamed. The next morning, Fyodor convinces Ivan to go to Chermashnya, but on the way to the train station Ivan changes his mind and heads to Moscow.

The novel then shifts gears back to Alyosha, who is in the elder Zosima's cell where other monks have gathered to share his last moments. Zosima relates stories from his life and elaborates his religious teachings. Then suddenly he falls to the floor, praying, and dies.

The next morning Zosima's body is put on display at his wake. But despite everyone's expectations that some miracle might occur, his body begins to decay, much to the delight of his detractors.

This scandal troubles Alyosha, and Rakitin, sensing Alyosha's state, invites him to visit Grushenka. Grushenka happily announces to them both that a former lover of hers, a Pole, has finally returned to her, and she awaits his call to join him. Alyosha is grateful that Grushenka has not seduced him and returns that evening to Zosima's wake, where he prays and feels his faith revived.

The novel shifts perspective to Dmitri, who runs around town looking for someone to loan him 3,000 roubles, the amount he stole from Katerina. Both Kuzma Samsonov and Madame Khokhlakov turn him down. Dmitri at first believes that Grushenka is at Samsonov's, but when he realizes that she isn't, he immediately suspects her of going to his father's. Dmitri is tempted to attack his father, but refrains. As he escapes over the garden wall, he is caught by Grigory. In an attempt to free himself, he hits Grigory on the head.

Dmitri returns to Grushenka's, and finally learns from her servants that she is off at Mokroye to meet her Polish lover. He rushes off to Mokroye, where Grushenka rejects her Polish lover and declares her love for Dmitri. They throw a party to celebrate, but the festivities come to an end when officials arrive to arrest Dmitri for the murder of his father.

At this point, the novel moves several months ahead to the days leading up to Dmitri's trial, and turns to the story of Kolya Krasotkin and Ilyusha Snegiryov. After the incident with Alyosha, Ilyusha takes seriously ill. Alyosha rallies the other boys to cheer Ilyusha. Kolya, who was reluctant to visit at first, finally visits Ilyusha with the gift of a dog which Ilyusha was convinced he had killed. Despite Ilyusha's excitement and joy, a Moscow doctor, on a visit paid by Katerina's charitable generosity, announces that Ilyusha has very little time left to live.

Meanwhile Dmitri's case has caused quite a stir throughout Russia, helped in part by Rakitin's sensationalist journalism. Ivan attempts to convince Dmitri to escape a trial he surely can't win, but Ivan's own certainty about his behavior during the murder are put to the test by his conversations with the sly Smerdyakov. In their last conversation, Smerdyakov confesses that he murdered Fyodor. When Ivan returns home after his conversation with Smerdyakov, he imagines that he meets the devil in his own room. The hallucination is interrupted by a visit from Alyosha, who informs Ivan that Smerdyakov has committed suicide.

Dmitri's trial begins the next morning. Just as the witness testimony seems to be going Dmitri's way, Ivan makes a scene at the trial, which in turn stirs Katerina to reveal some damning evidence against Dmitri. Despite his defense lawyer's brilliant closing argument, Dmitri is found guilty.

The novel ends in the days following Dmitri's trial. Dmitri contemplates escaping with Grushenka to America, and Katerina nurses Ivan, who took ill immediately after he caused a scene at Dmitri's trial. Alyosha attends the funeral of little Ilyusha, and the novel closes with Alyosha and his young friends at Ilyusha's wake.
A Doll's House opens on Christmas Eve. Nora Helmer enters her well-furnished living room—the setting of the entire play—carrying several packages. Torvald Helmer, Nora's husband, comes out of his study when he hears her arrive. He greets her playfully and affectionately, but then chides her for spending so much money on Christmas gifts. Their conversation reveals that the Helmers have had to be careful with money for many years, but that Torvald has recently obtained a new position at the bank where he works that will afford them a more comfortable lifestyle.

Helene, the maid, announces that the Helmers' dear friend Dr. Rank has come to visit. At the same time, another visitor has arrived, this one unknown. To Nora's great surprise, Kristine Linde, a former school friend, comes into the room. The two have not seen each other for years, but Nora mentions having read that Mrs. Linde's husband passed away a few years earlier. Mrs. Linde tells Nora that when her husband died, she was left with no money and no children. Nora tells Mrs. Linde about her first year of marriage to Torvald. She explains that they were very poor and both had to work long hours. Torvald became sick, she adds, and the couple had to travel to Italy so that Torvald could recover.

Nora inquires further about Mrs. Linde's life, and Mrs. Linde explains that for years she had to care for her sick mother and her two younger brothers. She states that her mother has passed away, though, and that the brothers are too old to need her. Instead of feeling relief, Mrs. Linde says she feels empty because she has no occupation; she hopes that Torvald may be able to help her obtain employment. Nora promises to speak to Torvald and then reveals a great secret to Mrs. Linde—without Torvald's knowledge, Nora illegally borrowed money for the trip that she and Torvald took to Italy; she told Torvald that the money had come from her father. For years, Nora reveals, she has worked and saved in secret, slowly repaying the debt, and soon it will be fully repaid.

Krogstad, a low-level employee at the bank where Torvald works, arrives and proceeds into Torvald's study. Nora reacts uneasily to Krogstad's presence, and Dr. Rank, coming out of the study, says Krogstad is "morally sick." Once he has finished meeting with Krogstad, Torvald comes into the living room and says that he can probably hire Mrs. Linde at the bank. Dr. Rank, Torvald, and Mrs. Linde then depart, leaving Nora by herself. Nora's children return with their nanny, Anne-Marie, and Nora plays with them until she notices Krogstad's presence in the room. The two converse, and Krogstad is revealed to be the source of Nora's secret loan.

Krogstad states that Torvald wants to fire him from his position at the bank and alludes to his own poor reputation. He asks Nora to use her influence to ensure that his position remains secure. When she refuses, Krogstad points out that he has in his possession a contract that contains Nora's forgery of her father's signature. Krogstad blackmails Nora, threatening to reveal her crime and to bring shame and disgrace on both Nora and her husband if she does not prevent Torvald from firing him. Krogstad leaves, and when Torvald returns, Nora tries to convince him not to fire Krogstad, but Torvald will hear nothing of it. He declares Krogstad an immoral man and states that he feels physically ill in the presence of such people.

Act Two opens on the following day, Christmas. Alone, Nora paces her living room, filled with anxiety. Mrs. Linde arrives and helps sew Nora's costume for the ball that Nora will be attending at her neighbors' home the following evening. Nora tells Mrs. Linde that Dr. Rank has a mortal illness that he inherited from his father. Nora's suspicious behavior leads Mrs. Linde to guess that Dr. Rank is the source of Nora's loan. Nora denies Mrs. Linde's charge but refuses to reveal the source of her distress. Torvald arrives, and Nora again begs him to keep Krogstad employed at the bank, but again Torvald refuses. When Nora presses him, he admits that Krogstad's moral behavior isn't all that bothers him—he dislikes Krogstad's overly familiar attitude. Torvald and Nora argue until Torvald sends the maid to deliver Krogstad's letter of dismissal.

Torvald leaves. Dr. Rank arrives and tells Nora that he knows he is close to death. She attempts to cheer him up and begins to flirt with him. She seems to be preparing to ask him to intervene on her behalf in her struggle with Torvald. Suddenly, Dr. Rank reveals to Nora that he is in love with her. In light of this revelation, Nora refuses to ask Dr. Rank for anything.

Once Dr. Rank leaves, Krogstad arrives and demands an explanation for his dismissal. He wants respectability and has changed the terms of the blackmail: he now insists to Nora that not only that he be rehired at the bank but that he be rehired in a higher position. He then puts a letter detailing Nora's debt and forgery in the -Helmers' letterbox. In a panic, Nora tells Mrs. Linde everything, and Mrs. Linde instructs Nora to delay Torvald from opening the letter as long as possible while she goes to speak with Krogstad. In order to distract Torvald from the letterbox, Nora begins to practice the tarantella she will perform at that evening's costume party. In her agitated emotional state, she dances wildly and violently, displeasing Torvald. Nora manages to make Torvald promise not to open his mail until after she performs at the party. Mrs. Linde soon returns and says that she has left Krogstad a note but that he will be gone until the following evening.

The next night, as the costume party takes place upstairs, Krogstad meets Mrs. Linde in the Helmers' living room. Their conversation reveals that the two had once deeply in love, but Mrs. Linde left Krogstad for a wealthier man who would enable her to support her family. She tells Krogstad that now that she is free of her own familial obligations and wishes to be with Krogstad and care for his children. Krogstad is overjoyed and says he will demand his letter back before Torvald can read it and learn Nora's secret. Mrs. Linde, however, insists he leave the letter, because she believes both Torvald and Nora will be better off once the truth has been revealed.

Soon after Krogstad's departure, Nora and Torvald enter, back from the costume ball. After saying goodnight to Mrs. Linde, Torvald tells Nora how desirable she looked as she danced. Dr. Rank, who was also at the party and has come to say goodnight, promptly interrupts Torvald's advances on Nora. After Dr. Rank leaves, Torvald finds in his letterbox two of Dr. Rank's visiting cards, each with a black cross above the name. Nora knows Dr. Rank's cards constitute his announcement that he will soon die, and she informs Torvald of this fact. She then insists that Torvald read Krogstad's letter.

Torvald reads the letter and is outraged. He calls Nora a hypocrite and a liar and complains that she has ruined his happiness. He declares that she will not be allowed to raise their children. Helene then brings in a letter. Torvald opens it and discovers that Krogstad has returned Nora's contract (which contains the forged signature). Overjoyed, Torvald attempts to dismiss his past insults, but his harsh words have triggered something in Nora. She declares that despite their eight years of marriage, they do not understand one another. Torvald, Nora asserts, has treated her like a "doll" to be played with and admired. She decides to leave Torvald, declaring that she must "make sense of [her]self and everything around her." She walks out, slamming the door behind her.
Madame Bovary begins when Charles Bovary is a young boy, unable to fit in at his new school and ridiculed by his new classmates. As a child, and later when he grows into a young man, Charles is mediocre and dull. He fails his first medical exam and only barely manages to become a second-rate country doctor. His mother marries him off to a widow who dies soon afterward, leaving Charles much less money than he expected.

Charles soon falls in love with Emma, the daughter of a patient, and the two decide to marry. After an elaborate wedding, they set up house in Tostes, where Charles has his practice. But marriage doesn't live up to Emma's romantic expectations. Ever since she lived in a convent as a young girl, she has dreamed of love and marriage as a solution to all her problems. After she attends an extravagant ball at the home of a wealthy nobleman, she begins to dream constantly of a more sophisticated life. She grows bored and depressed when she compares her fantasies to the humdrum reality of village life, and eventually her listlessness makes her ill. When Emma becomes pregnant, Charles decides to move to a different town in hopes of reviving her health.

In the new town of Yonville, the Bovarys meet Homais, the town pharmacist, a pompous windbag who loves to hear himself speak. Emma also meets Leon, a law clerk, who, like her, is bored with rural life and loves to escape through romantic novels. When Emma gives birth to her daughter Berthe, motherhood disappoints her—she had desired a son—and she continues to be despondent. Romantic feelings blossom between Emma and Leon. However, when Emma realizes that Leon loves her, she feels guilty and throws herself into the role of a dutiful wife. Leon grows tired of waiting and, believing that he can never possess Emma, departs to study law in Paris. His departure makes Emma miserable.

Soon, at an agricultural fair, a wealthy neighbor named Rodolphe, who is attracted by Emma's beauty, declares his love to her. He seduces her, and they begin having a passionate affair. Emma is often indiscreet, and the townspeople all gossip about her. Charles, however, suspects nothing. His adoration for his wife and his stupidity combine to blind him to her indiscretions. His professional reputation, meanwhile, suffers a severe blow when he and Homais attempt an experimental surgical technique to treat a club-footed man named Hippolyte and end up having to call in another doctor to amputate the leg. Disgusted with her husband's incompetence, Emma throws herself even more passionately into her affair with Rodolphe. She borrows money to buy him gifts and suggests that they run off together and take little Berthe with them. Soon enough, though, the jaded and worldly Rodolphe has grown bored of Emma's demanding affections. Refusing to elope with her, he leaves her. Heartbroken, Emma grows desperately ill and nearly dies.

By the time Emma recovers, Charles is in financial trouble from having to borrow money to pay off Emma's debts and to pay for her treatment. Still, he decides to take Emma to the opera in the nearby city of Rouen. There, they encounter Leon. This meeting rekindles the old romantic flame between Emma and Leon, and this time the two embark on a love affair. As Emma continues sneaking off to Rouen to meet Leon, she also grows deeper and deeper in debt to the moneylender Lheureux, who lends her more and more money at exaggerated interest rates. She grows increasingly careless in conducting her affair with Leon. As a result, on several occasions, her acquaintances nearly discover her infidelity.

Over time, Emma grows bored with Leon. Not knowing how to abandon him, she instead becomes increasingly demanding. Meanwhile, her debts mount daily. Eventually, Lheureux orders the seizure of Emma's property to compensate for the debt she has accumulated. Terrified of Charles finding out, she frantically tries to raise the money that she needs, appealing to Leon and to all the town's businessmen. Eventually, she even attempts to prostitute herself by offering to get back together with Rodolphe if he will give her the money she needs. He refuses, and, driven to despair, she commits suicide by eating arsenic. She dies in horrible agony.

For a while, Charles idealizes the memory of his wife. Eventually, though, he finds her letters from Rodolphe and Leon, and he is forced to confront the truth. He dies alone in his garden, and Berthe is sent off to work in a cotton mill.