AD's English Literature : August 2013

A TO Z Literary Principles from History of English Literature: Note 58


History of English Literature: A Set of 26 Objective Questions & Answers :

 Epic and Mock Epic    


  1.  Epic: The epic poetry is a long narrated poem recounting heroic action usually of one principal hero. 
  2. Among the early epics 'The Mahabharata' and ‘The Ramayana’ in India and Homer’s, a Greek epic poet  , ‘The Iliad’ and ‘The Odyssey’ in ancient Greek are the only well known classical epic. 
  3. The epic has certain characteristic. It begins with ‘The Proposition’ i.e. the statement of the themes and the ‘Invocation’ or ‘Virgil’s ‘Aeneid’ which is an imitation of Homer’s Iliad and Milton’s ‘Paradises Lost’ which follows Virgil’s Aeneid, both begin with a clearly define, propulsive and invocation. 
  4. In the epic contains a no  of thrilling episodes and digressive such as the mustering of troops battles, duels wanderings, ordeals and the like. The incredible advent so, narrated excite, wonder and admiration. Read More about A to Z (Objective Questions)
  5. Supernatural agents of control the action of the epic. In Homer and Virgil, there are classical God and Goodness, supernatural agencies fight on both sides-Good and evil.
  6.  In Milton’s Paradise Lost, of course, there are only two human characters, and they are almost passive of Hell and Heaven. 
  7. The epic is divided in to books usually 12 in number, though the 'Iliad' and ‘The Odyssey’ have 24 books each. 
  8. The epic employee’s creation conventional poetic devices are such as the Homeric Epithets and the Homeric similes. 
  9. The epic has a moral purpose. In Homer and Virgil, there is little beyond the appeal to patriotism and national pride. Read More about A to Z (Objective Questions)
  10.  It was the Italian poet  Tasso, who introduced the moral and didactic elements into his Jerusalem Delivered’ completed in 1579. The purpose of Milton’s Paradise Lost is to justify the ways of God to man. 
  11. The epic continued to be written all through the 17th century but it was Milton alone who could write a successful epic in the class style. 
  12. The ‘Paradise Lost’ is the only classical epic in England language in 18th century age was not suited to epic or heroic poetry
  13. But instead of this, Wordsworth’s ‘The Prelude’ is known as one of the greatest romantic epics of the Romantic Age. 
  14. The romantic epic is different from the classical epic in the sense that while the classical epic is coherent and well-knit, the roman epic is incoherent and loose in stricture. Read More about A to Z (Objective Questions)
  15. It seems that the modern age is not suited to epic poetry because it has neither the heroic temper nor the requisite leisure. 
  16. Literary, or art, epics are the creation of known poets who consciously employ a long-established form. Like folk epics, literary epics deal with the traditions, mythical or historical, of a nation. 
  17. The Iliad and the Odyssey are regarded as literary epics. In Rome, national epic poetry reached its highest achievement in the 1st century bc. In such time Aeneid- one of the world's greatest literary epics, by the poet Virgil. 
  18. Mock Epic: Mock Epic is a literary from which parodies epic poetry by treating a trivial subject in a purpose manner.  
  19. It mocks the characteristics of the classical epics the formal statement of theme, the division into the books and cantos, the grand speeches of the hero, the use of epic simile and the use of supernatural machinery. Read More about A to Z (Objective Questions)
  20. The mock epic poem is much shortens than a true epic. Some prefer to all it ‘mock-heroic’, a term also applied to a poem which mocks romances rather than epic. 
  21. Chaucer’s ‘Nun’s Priests Tall’ is partly mock-heroic in characters as his Spenser’s the Fate of the Butterfly’, which imitates the opening of ‘The Adenoid’ and employs the elevates style for subject matter.
  22.  Noted mock epics include The Rape of the Lock (1712) by the English poet  Alexander Pope. Several novels also fall into this category, including Joseph Andrews (1742), described by its author, the English novelist Henry Fielding, as “a comic epic ... in prose.”
  23. Swift’s Battle of the Books is an example of a cuttingly satirical mock epic in prose. Pope’s ‘The Rape of the Lock’s the finest mock heroic poem in English. It satirizes the trivialities of the Elite society in the 18th century. 
  24. ‘The Rape of the Lock’ is one of the permanent achievements of English poetry in the tradition of the mock epic. Read More about A to Z (Objective Questions)
  25. The recent example of a cyclic mock epic is Ted Hughes’s ‘Crow’ (1970) a mock epic of short and completes utterances. 
  26. "It is a pretty poem, Mr Pope, but you must not call it Homer."
    Richard Bentley (1662 - 1742)

Ref: 1. History of English Literature- Albert
       2. The Concise Cambridge History of English Literature

       3. UGC NET OLD QUESTION PAPERS

The Art of Essay Writing: Essential Elements- Observations, Expectations and Experiences



Arther Benson explains the design and characteristics of an essay, the fundamental of which according to him, is the personal and subjective nature of the Essay . ‘ an Essay is a thing which someone does himself’ (“The art of the essayist”) - this implies that an essay is a piece which has been the recording  of the entire personal ideas and emotions of the written which he has experienced as a reaction to certain sensation. Moreover, doing himself also explains the nature of the essay. An essay is something spontaneous reaction. The recording of such a reaction forms the subject matter of an essay. If something is done by the way of professional work or in a mechanical uninspired manner then that cannot be of the nature of an essay.


Another important point underlying this statement is that the subject matter of the Essay is not of any very great importance; any subject can be good enough for the purpose. What is important is that the entire personality of the written should get reflected in the essays. The ideas, emotions, sensations and sentiments are what from the mental personality of a man and the charm of an essay would depend upon the charm of the personality.


Again subjectivity forms the essence of essay writing. What a lyrical is in poetry, an Essay is in prose. Personal sensation and impressions – these are what would constitute the subject matter of an essayist. But there is one great difference between poet and an essayist. A poet is always solemn and does not descend down to the commonplace while for an essayist nothing is vulgar, or common or mean.


There is still another point of Essay writing. An essayist need not conform any particular rules. He is entirely free to gather his own observations and expectations and experiences and to put them in any form and manner. Thus here also an essayist has perfect freedom and it is purely a personal matters for him to express his thoughts according to his whims and fancy and then those thoughts are purely his own.


There are certain essayists who take these personal aspects of Essay writing to the extent of becoming autobiographical. Montaigne, who is the father of essay writers, as Benson points out, in a manner which is partly autobiographical, partially speculative and at the same time the essays of De Quincey, according to Benson are,’ what may be called impassioned autobiography’.


Such is therefore the personal element that gets imbued in this form of writing. ‘The Essay is a reverie, the frame of mind in which a man says; in the word of the old song, says to myself ‘. This saying to one’s own self; this introspective nature is what gives rise to essay writing. In no other form of literature except lyrical poetry, is there so much scope for the revelation of the personality of the writers as in this. The essay is nothing but the recording of reaction created upon the mind of the writers by the outer stimuli and those reactions are nothing but purely personal a thing. True, therefore, it is when Benson says that ‘Essay is a thing which someone does himself’. Spontaneity is the basis, the inspiration and the essence of Essay writing.

 Ardhendu De

Ref: 1. Benson, Arthur. “The art of the essayist.”
    2. Link to Visit: http://essays.quotidiana.org/benson/art_of_the_essayist/

A TO Z Literary Principles from History of English Literature: Note 57


 History of English Literature: A Set of 26 Objective Questions & Answers Mystery, Morality and Miracle Plays



  1. After the Normal Conquest (1066) in England the liturgical plays reappeared in developed from and were known as Mysteries and Miracles, ‘The Mystery Plays’, were performed by guilds, who called their crafts, ‘Plasterers’. 
  2. Miracle, Mystery, and Morality Plays, generic terms given to the English dramas of medieval times (from the 5th century to about the 15th century). These plays developed from the liturgy of the Roman Catholic church after 1210 when a papal edict forbade members of the clergy from appearing on a stage in public.These plays had considerable influence on the work of the great English dramatists of the 1500s and 1600s. 
  3. When the simple scenes from the Bible that had become part of the liturgy could no longer be performed by the priests early in the 13th century, the miracle plays came into existence. These plays had as subject matter the miracles performed by the saints or, more frequently, scenes from the Old and New Testaments. 
  4. Miracle plays, also known as Saint Plays, in crude form were presented at Easter and on other holy days.They gained a formalized structure in the late 13th or early 14th century and reached the height of their popularity in the 15th and 16th centuries. 
  5. Miracle plays dealing with the legends of the saints were less realistic and more religious in tone than those concerned with biblical episodes, and were eventually superseded by the latter. 
  6. Initially, people thoughts that mysteries and miracles are synonyms, but actually there is a technical different between the two. 
  7. The themes of mystery plays were the Biblical sense and characters. The theme which the miracle play dealt with was the lives of Saint and Christian martyrs. 
  8. Detached from the church drama acquired a squealer character .It was no more in the hand of clergymen. The trade guilds and civil authorities undertook the plays. The clergymen were no more the actor. 
  9. Instead of brief speeches, now the emphasis was laid on the elaboration & Biblical stories. The setting was also elaborate. Heaven, where God made his appliance was designed to be awe-inspiring, where as the Hell contained costumed devils and they were meant for entertainment. 
  10. The plays were generally given in cycles, or sequences of related scenes, each of which required only a short time to perform. Each scene was acted by members of one of the trade guilds of the town. The cycles presented the Christian history of God and humanity, from the creation of human beings and the world to final judgment. The important cycles, named after the towns in which they were notably performed, are the Chester (25 scenes), the Wakefield (30 scenes), the York (48 scenes), the Norwich, and the Coventry plays. 
  11. The cycles were generally performed outdoors on festival days and particularly on the feast of Corpus Christi. Each guild acted its assigned scene on its own wagon or float on wheels, which could be moved from one place to another for repeated performances. 
  12. To the scenes from the Bible the anonymous playwrights added interludes consisting of realistic comedy based on situations and ideas of a contemporary nature. The miracle play, therefore, was not only a biblical drama or scene, but also included scenes of realistic medieval comedy. 
  13. The best-known miracle play is the Second Shepherd's Play of the Wakefield Cycle. This story of the shepherds watching their flock in the fields on the night of Christ's birth is enlivened by the comic episode in which one of the sheep is stolen; the thief hides the sheep in a cradle in his home and, brought to bay, pretends the little animal is a baby girl. 
  14. The term mystery play, also called a Corpus Christi play or simply mystery, is sometimes used synonymously with miracle play. Some literary authorities make a distinction between the two, designating as mystery plays all types of early medieval drama that draw their subject matter from Gospel events and as miracle plays all those dealing with legends of the saints. 
  15. Sometimes known simply as a morality, the morality play was most popular in the 15th and early 16th centuries. It was designed to instruct audiences in the Christian way of life and the Christian attitude toward death. 
  16. The general theme of the morality play is the conflict between good and evil for the human soul; the play always ends with the saving of the soul. The characters of the morality play are not the saints or biblical personages of the miracle play, but personifications of such abstractions as flesh, gluttony, lechery, sloth, pride, envy, hope, charity, riches, and strength. 
  17. Some of the moralities were anonymous; others were by known authors. The best known of the former type is Everyman (late 15th century), which probably was derived from a Dutch source but was thoroughly Anglicized. In the play the protagonist Everyman learns that everything material he has gained in life deserts him as he journeys into the Valley of Death; in the end only the allegorical personage Good Deeds accompanies him. 
  18. Trade guilds prepared play-cycles .A play-cycle consisted of a series of plays, built around scenes right from the creation man to the day of last Judgment. Each of the scenes was played a separate pageant wagon .Thus the city so that the entire popular might see the complete cycle. Different guilds were allotted different scenes ,i.e. the ship makers chose the story of  ‘No ash’s Are’, the nail makers chose the story of ‘Christ’s’ Crucifixion and the rope pullers that of suffering of chariest . 
  19. Comic element were also introduced in the mystery play e.g. No ash’s wife was shown boxing her husband ,who wanted her to board the Are but the humor in mystery plays, were clownish. 
  20.  Morality Plays are the next stage in the evolution on English drama in 15th century, after mysteries and miracles. These were the dramatized allegories, of the sensitive Christian Life. It was the story of a search for salvation in which the crucial events are inclination to temptation and sins, and ‘confrontation death. It presented the medieval vision of the nature of god and man’s relation to god. 
  21. The moralities were not guilds plays. They were performed by roving companies of professional players for money.In morality plays, characters are not borrowed from the Biblical stories or from the lives of saints or Christian McIntyre’s. In these plays, the hero is every man or mankind. 
  22. The other characters are personification of vices and virtue. The only important thing in morality play is the message. So it is without the spectacular element .The morality plays, were essentially religious, ethical and didactic .These plays dealt primarily with the theme of damnation which was brought about by the working of the agents of evil; In them, there was a conflict between the seven moral writers, and seven deadly sins which try to lead man astray. 
  23. The most notable morality play is ‘Everyman’ .Instead of vices and virtues, it contains, the characters of God, death, good fellowship, good deed etc., who are concerned with the future of everyman’s soul. The morality plays presented human soul as battlefield between the force of good and evil. In it, abstract vices and virtues were presented as if they were real living people. 
  24. Morality signifies drama’s gradual movement towards secularization. They allowed the dramatists greater freedom to invent situations and characters. 
  25. The morality was an important step forward in the development of the comic element and the satirical comedy. 
  26. In the 16th century, the morality plays served as a attic for religious and political propagate. By the middle of the century; the popularity of morality banned , But the survival of the elements of the morality may seen in Marlboro’s ; Doctor Faustus which contains the procession of the seven deadly sins, and repeated appearance of good and evil angels, who struggle for Faustus soul.
Ref: 1. History of English Literature- Albert
       2. The Concise Cambridge History of English Literature

         3. UGC NET OLD QUESTION PAPERS

A TO Z Literary Principles from History of English Literature: Note 56


 History of English Literature: A Set of 26 Objective Questions & Answers


  • Influences of Modern  Inventions on Literature.
  • Consequences brought about the First World War.
  • Impact of Psychology on  Modern  Literature.
  • Reasons for the Dominance of the Novel.
  • Rebirth of the Drama in the Twentieth Century. 
  1. Modern inventions and discoveries by universities, government agencies, private industries, or privately endowed foundations have changed the lifestyle of the modern men. 
  2. Particularly, Methods in industry and agriculture, methods in business and finance have been revolutionized, and all these innovations and modifications have their influence on the physical environment in which the modern author moves and has his being. 
  3. More directly, the modern press, made possible through improvements in machine production, the rapid collection of news, and the speedy distribution of newspapers and magazines has shown its power in formulating the taste and opinions of readers, and in publicizing authors and serializing their works. 

Humanism: Crosscurrents of Major European Intellectual Thoughts

"A man's ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death."-Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)


Any level of discourse to a moral Essay on humanism must represent the truth of the human condition. There is hardly any doubt that humanists’ social and political thought must gone through the crosscurrents of major European intellectual thought, especially socialism, religiosity and humanism. Here we will try to peep through their intelligentsia.

Humanism broadly defined as an attitude that emphasizes the dignity and worth of the individual was, in fact, the ‘Renaissance’ of classical literature and thought. The word “Humanism” is here used in a very wide sense, and this gives rise to considerable difficulty in drawing the line of exclusion. As a literary and cultural movement that spread through Western Europe in the 14th and 15th centuries has an interesting historical background.

A TO Z Literary Principles from History of English Literature: Note 55



 History of English Literature: A Set of 26 Objective Questions & Answers:

 Up to Pope

  1.  Queen Elizabeth: Queen Elizabeth died in 1603, thirteen years before Shakespeare, twenty-three years before Bacon. 
  2. Elizabethan: The term Elizabethan is applied not only to those who wrote while the Queen was on the throne but to Jacobean writers as well; that is, to writers of the reign of James I. The literature of the two reigns are thus grouped together because they have many characteristics in common. 
  3.  Elizabethan Renaissance: It is intellectual awakening which came first to Italy upon the rediscovery of Greek and Latin literature, followed by discoveries in the realm of science which swept away many of the crude ideas which had prevailed during the Middle Ages, and a vast widening of the world through the voyages of Columbus and the later explorers. 

A TO Z Literary Principles from History of English Literature: Note 54


History of English Literature : A Set of 26 Objective Questions & Answers: Metaphysical Poetry                               

  1. The metaphysical school of poetry is the kind of poetry written by a group of poets under the leadership of John Donne in 17th century. Other poets of the group are George Herbert, Richard Cashew, Henry Vaughan and Endrew Marvell. 
  2. It was Dr. Johnson who named Donne and his followers Metaphysical Poet’s. The name is now applied to those poets who employed a similar poetic manner and imagery, both in secular poetry and in religious poetry. 
  3. In a number of other lyrical and narrative works Sidney and Spenser displayed the ornate, somewhat florid, highly figured style characteristic of a great deal of Elizabethan poetic expression; but two other poetic tendencies became visible toward the end of the 16th and in the early part of the 17th centuries. 

A TO Z Literary Principles from History of English Literature: Note 50



 History of English Literature

A Set of 26 Objective Questions & Answers 

  1. Jeremy Collier’s A Short View of the Immorality and Profaneness of the English Stage attacked   William Congreve. In fact,   the work of Congreve and his colleagues was attacked by the clergyman Jeremy Collier as licentious. Congreve replied him with Amendments of Mr. Collier's False and Imperfect Citations (1698).
  2.   John Ruskin’s Sesame and Lilies influenced Mahatma Gandhi.
  3. Graham Greene’s novels are marked by Catholicism. This English novelist was concerned with spiritual struggle in a deteriorating world. His writings are seriously concerned with the moral, social, and religious problems of the time. Greene himself had been converted to Roman Catholicism in 1926.
  4. One important feature of Jane Austen’s style is humour and pathos.

Robert Lynd's On Not Being a Philosopher: Discussion Epictetus's Philosophy





Lynd read Epictetus. He agreed with nearly everything he said. He found close resemblance between the opinions. Epictetus held the same opinions. He felt death, pain and poverty as real evils except when he was in arm-chair reading a book by a philosopher. Even in the small things of life he failed to comfort himself like a philosopher of the school of Epictetus. He commands a spiritual attitude of which is nature is incapable. He has failed to achieve his imperturbability in small affairs.

George Bernard Shaw’s Philosophy of Life: Creative Evolution and Life Force,


"Shaw's judgements are often scatterbrained, but at least he has brains to scatter."-                   Max Beerbohm 

Pre-eminently a first-rate dramatist whose work had a major influence on British drama, Shaw is a philosopher par excellence, with a definite philosophy of life. As a philosopher he is the chief exponent of the philosophic doctrine known as Creative Evolution. The earliest statement of his philosophic doctrine appears in his Man and Superman as the doctrine of Life Force. This doctrine runs through most of his later plays and takes final shape as the doctrine of Creative Evolution in his Back to Methuselah published in 1921. 

George Bernard Shaw
A. C. Ward has traced the growth and development of Shaw’s philosophic doctrine in the following wards: “This play was Bernard Shaw’s earliest full statement of his conception of the way of Salvation for the human race, through obedience to the Life Force, the term he uses to indicate a power continually working upon the hearts of men and endeavoring to impel them towards a better and fuller life. In later plays the Life Force seems to become more and more closely identified with what most people mean when they speak of the Will of god and the Holy Ghost ……………….The philosophy of the Life Force introduced in Man and Superman, ran through most of the later plays. 

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