A TO Z Literary Principles from History of English Literature: Note 76

A Set of 26 Objective Questions & Answers


1.      After Chaucer there was a decline in the poetry of England. Occleve, Lydgate, and Skelton were the only English poets writing poetry in imitation of Chaucer. Read More A to Z (Objective Questions)   They are called English Chaucerians. Of these the first two are considered hopelessly dull, only Skelton showed some originality, but he, too, lacks the Renaissance spirit.

2.      James I, Robert Henryson, Wiliam Dunbar, Gavin Douglas are the best known Scottish Chaucerians. The treatment of nature by the Scottish poets is the most remarkable feature in the poetry of the Scottish Chaucerians. In comparison to the English Chaucerians , the Scottish Chaucerians were better poets.

3.       Dr. Johnson was the first English writer who used the term ‘Metaphysical’ as applied to poetry. He had borrowed it from Dryden’s phrase about Donne- “He affects the metaphysics.” Read More A to Z (Objective Questions)   About the beginning of the seventeenth century appeared a race of writers that may be termed the Metaphysical poets--- The Metaphysical poets were men of learning, and to show their learning was their whole endeavour.” This is Dr. Johnson writing about the Metaphysical School of Poetry.

4.       The term  Metaphysical is, applied to the poetry of John Donne and his followers chief of whom were George Herbert, Richard Crashaw, Henry Vaughan and Abraham Cowley who were all religious poets and also Carew, Suckling, Lovelace and Marvell who wrote secular poetry, and Herrick who wrote both secular and religious poetry. Read More A to Z (Objective Questions)   Thus, by Metaphysical poetry we mean the poetry of these poets.  

  5.      Ben Jonson’s comedy is called the comedy of humours as it aimed primarily at the representation of such characters as were motivated mainly or entirely by their peculiar, dominant passions or humours. Read More A to Z (Objective Questions)   Jonson felt that, in the words of a critic, “the purpose of comedy is to note those elements in human character which are either naturally and permanently dominant in each man, or which on occasion, in the hazard of life, overflow and exceed their limits at the expense of the other contributing elements to represent a number of characters differently humoured; and in the clash of contrasts to paint with pleasant laughter, the moral of these disorders.

6.      The Restoration age is associated with the rise and development of what is called “the comedy of manners. This kind of comedy was indeed a true mirror of the temper and outlook of the society-rather a section of the society of the age. Read More A to Z (Objective Questions)   Unlike the Elizabethan romantic comedy, the comedy of manners is characterized by realism, social analysis, and satire. Its use of prose served to heighten the realist effect.

7.      The writers of the comedy of manners gave much more importance to the wit and polish of, their dialogue than to the construction of their plot-which Aristotle thinks is the soul of a tragedy (and therefore quite important for a comedy too. Read More A to Z (Objective Questions)   Some love intrigue or love intrigues provided them with the ground work of their plot. But they seldom harmonized or even developed their plot with much architectonic skill. The lesson of Ben Jonson in this sphere was entirely lost. What was important for these playwrights was the dialogue and the individual scene or episode. They did not mind incorporating into a comedy numerous plots and sub-plots.

8.      The Satire is a literary composition whose principal aim is to ridicule folly or vices It is a light form of composition intended to keep the reader in a good humour even when it is at its most caustic. Read More A to Z (Objective Questions)   Dryden, a great satirist said, “the true end of satire is the amendment of vices by correction.”

9.      Origin: The Satire is of classical origin. The plays of the Greek Dramatist, Aristophanes are masterpieces in this vein. Its chief exponents in Latin Literature were Forace, Persius and Juvenal. They were imitated all over Europe during and after the Renaissance.

10.  Satire: Some of notable satires in English poetry are Dryden’s ‘Absalom and Achitophel’, Butler’s ‘Hudibras’, Pope’s ‘Dunciad’ and ‘The Rape of the Lock’. Swift’s ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ is a great satire in fiction. In prose Addison’s Essays are great satires. George Bernard Shaw’s plays are also good satires.

11.  Ben Jonson's Volpone is his sardonic farce, satirizing greed, blended Renaissance masque with mummery and satire. In Volpone, or, The Fox (1605), Jonson mocks the way money can corrupt individuals. Volpone, the main character, is an unmarried businessman who, with the help of his assistant, Mosca, cheats other wealthy people out of their money.  The main characters in the play are: Volpone – Fox, Voltore – Vulture, Mosca – Gad fly, the parasite, Corbaccio – Crow, Corvino- the raven , celia corvino’s wife, Nano-the dwarf, Androgyno – the hermaphrodite, Castrone –eunuch.

12.  The Gothic Romances: No account of the eighteenth century novel would be complete without a notice of the curious terror novel which made its appearance in the last quarter of the century. In the, words of S. D. Neill, ‘The English Romantic movement, which found its supreme expression in poetry, was reflected in a somewhat cruder and more primitive manner in the novel, where it helped to inaugurate a new literary genre-the thriller.” The eighteenth century novel had developed as a picture of men and manners. Read More A to Z (Objective Questions)   The profound reaction that grew against the long domination of reason and authority helped in expanding the novel in many directions of which the revival of romance was one. Renewed interest in the Middle Ages was a prominent feature in the great changes which were then coming over popular taste. This gave further impetus to the revival of romance.

13.  Horace Walpole occupies a very important place in the revival of the romances. In 1747, when the classicism, was at its height, Walpole brought a small house near Twickenham. Gradually he transformed it into a miniature ‘Gothic Castle’. In this he installed his collection of curiosites and art treasures, suits of armour, and other miscellaneous art treasures, suit of armour, and other miscellaneous articles. He called his novel ‘Castle of Otranto’ as ‘Gothic’ romance. This Medieval romance was given a new name of ‘Gothic’ romance by Walpole. Clara Reeve’s ‘Old English Baron’ followed ‘Castle of Otranto’ in 1777. Reeve’s novel was also described as a Gothic story’. Ann Radcliffe is another important name in this class of novelists. Her three novel ‘Romance of the Forest’, ‘The Mysteries of Udolpho’, and ‘The Italian’ are full of thrilling situations and horrors. Matthew Gregory Lewis earned fame by his ‘Ambrosio or the Monk’. Read More A to Z (Objective Questions)   It outdoes both ‘The castle of Otranto’ and ‘The Mysteries of Udolpho’ in the wild sensationalism of its machinery and effects.

14.  The Victorian Age is a great era of women novelist of whom Mrs. Gaskell, the Bronte sisters-Emile, charlotte and Anne, George Eliot, Mrs. Trollope. Mrs. Gore, Mrs. Marsh: Mrs. bray, Mrs. Henry wood, charlotte yonge, Mrs. Oliphant, Mrs. Lynn Lynton, M.E. Braddon, “Oulda’ Rhoda Broughton, Edna Lyall are the greatest.

15.    Mrs. Elizabeth Gaskell is one of these novelists who have effectively used the novel as an instrument of social Reform. We have novels like Maryarton (1 848) , Cranford (1853) which deal with social and Industrial problem.

16.   The Three Bronte sisters - Made notable contribution to the English novel during the victorian era. Their Chief novels are the following. Charlothe Bronte - The professor, villethe, Jane Eyre, shirley.Emile Bronte - Her only novel wuthering Heights. Anne Bronte - The Tenant of wildfell Hall and Agnes Grey. George Eliot is one of the great novelists of the victorian Age. George Eliots important novels are the following- The mill on the Floss, Adam Bede, Romela, Felix Halt, Silas marner, Daniel Deronda, Middlemarch. After leaving Cambridge.

17.   Marlowe moved to London, where he became a playwright and led a turbulent scandal-plagued life. He produced seven plays, all of which were immensely popular. Read More A to Z (Objective Questions)   Among the best known of his plays are Tamburlaine, The Jew of Malta and Doctor Faustus. In his writing, he pioneered the use of blank verse— nonrhyming lines of iambic pentameter—which many of his contemporaries, including William Shakespeare later adopted.

18.   In 1593, however, Marlowe’s career was cut short. After being accused of heresy (maintaining beliefs contrary to those of an approved religion), he was arrested and put on a sort of probation.

19.  On May 30, 1593, shortly after being released, Marlowe became involved in a tavern brawl and was killed when one of the combatants stabbed him in the head. Read More A to Z (Objective Questions)   After his death, rumors were spread accusing him of treason, atheism, and homosexuality, and some people speculated that the tavern brawl might have been the work of government agents. Little evidence to support these allegations has come to light, however.

20.   The Aesthetic Movement, the Pre-Raphaelite movement, and the Oxford movement reflect some of the multifarious aspects of Victorianism. The Oxford movement aimed at the revival of Romman Catholicism; the Pre-Raphaelite movement took the form of the glorification of art and artistic values, chiefly in pQetry: the Aesthetic movement did the same in prose and criticism. Walter Horatio Pater was the mentor of the Aesthetic movement. Read More A to Z (Objective Questions)    He gçt the inspiration from Ruskin, who gave to his generation the impulse to appreciatethe beauty of natural phenomena. Oscar Wilde became th chief exponent of the Aesthetic Movement. J.A.Symonds is another representative of the same school of thought; but is inferior to Pater both as a critic and as a stylist. In the field of poetry, D.G.Rossetti had been its greatest exponent. Morris and Swinburne were the other two great poets of this group. They were called the Pre-Raphaelites.

 21.  Epic is a narrative poem. It deals with the martial exploits of some national hero. It is chiefly of two types-Classical and Romantic. There is yet another classification of epic-epic of growth, epic of art. Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’ is a classical epic. Read More A to Z (Objective Questions)    Spenser’s ‘Faery Queen’ is a romantic epic,. Homer’s ‘Iliad’ and ‘Odyssey’, Virgil’s ‘Aeneid’ and Balmiki’s ‘The Ramayan’, and Vyasa’s ‘The Mahabharat’ are other famous epics. Normally an epic is a long narrative poem in twelve books. Its subject is solemn. Its style is grand. There are many episodes in an epic. Supernatural machinery is a very important characteristic of an epic. It the beginning of the poem the poet first invokes the Muse, the goddess of poetry. The poet first gives a summary of the entire narrative and expresses his purpose of writing the poem. Milton wrote ‘Paradise Lost’ to justify the ways of God to men”.

22.  Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’ is a classical epic. It has all the common features of the epics of Homer and Virgil. It is a long narrative poem in twelve books. Its subject is solemn, style is grand. It has unity of theme and treatment. There is plenty of supernatural invention in the poem. God and his angels, Satan and the other fallen angels are the characters. Adam and Eve are the only two human beings in the story. The fall of man is the central point of the theme. Milton is famous for the use of Similes. His similes are Homeric in Character. They are also called Miltonic Similes. Milton has given vivid descriptions of hell. In the beginning of the poem he invokes the Muse and expresses his purpose of writing his epic-To justify the ways of God to men.” Read More A to Z (Objective Questions)   There is controversy as to who is the hero of the poem. Some say that Satan is the hero, while some say that Adam is the hero. God, Christ, and Milton are also called by Some Critics to be the suitable characters for the title of the hero.

23.   A Shakespearean hero is either a king or a prince, or some other man placed in high degree. The tragic hero is placed in such circumstances which he and he alone cannot battle with. Read More A to Z (Objective Questions)   Thus in a Shakespearean tragedy the tragic hero is himself responsible for the tragedy that befalls him. The tragic hero is endowed with some human quality which in him is in an excessive degree. Macbeth, for instance is over-ambitions, Lear is proud, Hamlet is indecisive, and Othello is excessively Jealous. The ‘tragic trait’ becomes the ‘fatal flaw’ and the cause of tragedy. The hero errs, or makes some wrong judgment infatuation and the tragedy occurs. Thus, in a Shakespearean tragedy character is destiny. In other words, the tragic hero is himself responsible for the tragedy that befalls him.

24.  Milton is universally recognised as the greatest poet of England. He is the only poet who wrote an epic. His ‘Paradise Lost’ is he first and the last epic in the English language. Read More A to Z (Objective Questions)   It is a classical epic. Paradise Regained’ is another great work of Milton. ‘Lycidas’ is a famous pastoral elegy written by him. ‘L’ Allegro’ and Il Penseroso’ are other well-known poems. Milton was a great Sonneteer. His sonnets are balled Petrarchan or classical sonnets. They are also called Miltonic sonnets. He was a great prose-writer also. ‘Areopagitica is Milton’s great prose-work. ‘Samson Agonistes’ is Milton’s great dramatic poem. In Milton’s poetry there is a blend of the Renaissance and the Reformation. We also find in him an amalgamation of Hellenism, Hebraism, and Puritanism. He is known for his grand style. High seriousness and sublimity are the chief characteristics of Milton’s poetry.

25.  William Shakespeare was born at Stratford on-Avon. That is how he is called the ‘Bard of Avon’. He is considered the greatest dramatist of England. Read More A to Z (Objective Questions)   He wrote thirty seven plays. Of these his Tragedies are the, most popular. ‘Hamlet’, ‘Lear’, ‘Othello’, ‘Macbeth’ are, his four great tragedies. ‘Antony and Cleopatra’, ‘Romeo and Juliet’‘Julius Ceasar, and ‘Coriolanus a other tragedies. ‘As you Like It’, ‘Merchant of Venice’, and ‘Twelfth Night’ are his famous comedies. ‘The Tempest’ is a tragi-Comedy. He wrote Historical plays also. Shakespeare was a great Sonneteer also. He wrote 154 Sonnets. ‘Venus and Adonis’ and ‘Lucrecee’ are his narrative poems. He is noted for the unique command over the resources of the language. His vocabulary is computed to run to some 15,000 words. Shakespeare wa3.a’realist. Universality is the chief note of all his poetical works.

26.  Absurd Drama: Esslin to describe the drama that was written after the Second World War. In fact it was the period of disillusionment in entire Europe. The old values stood Shattered; the new ones had not yet taken shape. Morality was the greatest casualty. Read More A to Z (Objective Questions)   The sensitive men and women lived in a void and felt extremely bewildered. All talk of truth; justice, morality, struggle and dignity seemed meaningless and absurd. Albert Camus, the French writer was the first to give a philosophic description of the absurdity of human existence. He realized that the world had become an unintelligible and a meaningless place in which his own position was very insignificant. The absurdity is brought to its end by death which is the only recognizable reality. Therefore, artificial beliefs and illusions had to be created since they work as anesthesia against reality. The term ‘absurd’ was applied to the plays which reflected the spiritual

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