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Page 345. 239. “ wealth” – welfare ; so the word is used in “commonwealth.” 275. “inter’gatories” -- interrogatories, questions propounded before sentence was pronounced. The defendant swears that he will “ answer all things faithfully.”
“Mythological Allusions.” Make note of all the allusions to classical mythology found in this play. In your essay, comment on the number of allusions — speak of several that are either quite prominent or seem to interest you most, giving the connection in which each is used and quoting lines from the play to illustrate your point- the effect of these allusions upon one's interest in the author's language
“ Biblical Allusions.” Treat in the manner outlined above.
“ How the Language of the Play differs from Modern English.” When the play was written and why language changes — words that are now obsolete or archaic (quote from the play to illustrate your thought) - words that have greatly changed in meaning - words only slightly changed in meaning — the seemingly strange use of some prepositions some grammatical peculiarities — the effect of these facts in regard to the language upon the reader's interest in the play.
“ The Use of Puns in this Play.” The custom of playing upon the different uses of words seems to have been almost universal in Shakespeare's time — make note of all the puns in this play and try to classify them, as, for example, those used for pure humor, those used to relieve for a moment a serious situation, those indulged in merely for the sake of punning; and devote a paragraph to a discussion (with quoted illustrations) of each class — general conclusion.
“ Fine Figures of Speech in the Play.” Why figures of speech are introduced into a drama - comment on several figures that you think especially beautiful, fitting, forceful, etc., giving the connection in which each is used (do not fail to quote lines from the play to illustrate each of your topic-thoughts) — conclusion.
“ Quotations from the Play.” Why certain lines are more distinctly remembered than others — quote a number of lines or passages, with interesting descriptive explanations to show the force of each quotation — what use one can make of these quotations.
DIALOGUE AND ACTION Inasmuch as the study of the dialogue and action is interesting chiefly to the playwright and actor, only a few exercises are given here.
Select several passages in which the dialogue seems especially easy and true to life. Select passages (if any) in which the dialogue seems forced and unnatural. Compare the dialogue between Antonio and his friends with that between Launcelot and his father. Note several places where a long speech is spoken by some person and tell what others, who are on the stage at that time, might be doing. What parts should be characterized by dignified acting? earnest ? indifferent? clownish? Of what value are the unimportant parts and actors in a play?
THE STUDY OF CHARACTER
In this study, the student should be very careful to remember that “ the play's the thing” to be considered. From a diligent and thoughtful study of what a “person” says and does in the play, an original idea of the character of that “person ” is formed. This original idea may be enlarged and supplemented by reading the critical essays of various authors, but independent study of the play itself should always come first. The expression of one's own ideas about a character, in one's own way, even though that way be much inferior to the style of cultivated writers, has great value. It develops the habit of investigation, independence, power of thought, and readiness in the use of language — mental abilities which comprise almost the whole aim of education.
“ The Character of Portia.” Review the parts of the play in which Portia speaks with others, or soliloquizes, or is spoken of by others. Make note of the passages which indicate traits or peculiarities of character that distinguish her, such as - her accomplishments, respect for law, her attitude toward those who came to woo her, toward the one she loved, promptness in deciding, her happy way of relieving those who are on the point of embarrassment, her love of a joke, the nobility of her nature, etc. Make an outline to indicate the arrangement and discussion of these topics in paragraphs. Write the first draft of your essay; revise carefully, introduce quotations from the play skillfully, and try to ornament your style with figures of speech. Satisfy yourself that you can now write more readily and more pleasingly than you could at the beginning of the year.
“ Antonio, the Dramatic Hero of the Play.” By dramatic hero, we mean the person whose fortunes have most to do with determining the movement of the drama; his fate is the “exciting force” of the action. Prepare your essay in the manner indicated above.
“Shylock, the Persecuted Jew.” His family — his business – how Jews were treated by the State and even by the Christians — why Shylock was hated — why he hated in return — his fate — what our feeling toward Shylock should be — compare the poet's picture of Shylock with the prominence of Jews at the present time in nearly every profession and business of life.
Bassanio, the Masterful Lover.” Discuss his fidelity to his friend Antonio and especially the qualities of Bassanio's character that were fitted to inspire the love of such a woman as Portia.
“ Launcelot, the Buffoon.”
“ The Moral Basis of · The Merchant of Venice.'” Discuss: Must a drama contain a great moral lesson or philosophy in order to be great? How is the moral truth presented ? Is the moral fundamental or incidental? What is the great moral (if any) in this play? What are some of the subordinate moral thoughts? The effect of these ideas upon one who studies the play or sees it acted.
“ The Passions of the Play.” Show that the two chief passions portrayed are directly opposite, and how lighter emotions are introduced to relieve the intensity of the strong feelings. Why do these emotions appeal to and affect all kinds and classes of people ?
“ The Operation of Incident on Character.” Show how certain critical events bring out traits of character not previously observed.
INTROD. LESS. IN ENG. LIT. – 24
Presuming that the pupils have acquired the power of appreciating and understanding the best literature, the purpose of these brief notes is simply to mention other works of the authors we have been studying, in order that the student may know what to read with greatest pleasure and profit, after he has left school. No details of biography are given, as these can readily be found in encyclopedias or other reference books; neither is there any extended critical comment, as each reader is a critic for himself. A careful and sympathetic reading of what time and the consensus of public opinion have declared to be the best literature gives a real acquaintance, with an author, which no intermediate criticism can afford ; and the true biography of an author, that in which we see him “face to face,” is that best part of himself which he has given to the world in his writings.
Nathaniel Hawthorne, the most imaginative and artistic of American prose writers, was born in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1804. His ancestry and his surroundings in youth greatly determined the character of his writings, all of which have an air of mysteriousness and a strong moral flavor. His shorter writings are included in “ Twice Told Tales," a modern version of old myths; “ Mosses from an Old Manse,” a series of delightfully interesting stories, of which “ Feathertop,” is one; “ The Wonder Book”; and “ Tanglewood Tales.” His longer writings are: “ The Scarlet Letter,” which is considered, by some critics, the best novel in American literature; “ The House of the Seven Gables,” a powerful and pleasing story; “ The Blithedale Romance,” which embodies Hawthorne’s experiences with the Brook Farm Community; and “ The Marble Faun.” Hawthorne’s greatest literary work was done between 1837 and 1860. He died at Plymouth, New Hampshire, in 1864.
William Cuilen Bryant (1794–1878) is our American Poet of Nature. Although he spent most of his life in New York city as an editor of a newspaper, his heart was with the scenes of natural beauty and grandeur which inspired the great body of his poetry. Besides the three poems given in this book, his most popular pieces are:
“ The Planting of the Apple Tree,” “The Battle-Field,” “Green River," “ The Death of the Flowers,” “ Evening Wind,” “ To the Fringed Gentian.” Late in life Bryant produced excellent translations of the two greatest poems of ancient Greece, the “Iliad” and “Odyssey” of Homer. Those who cannot read these poems in the original Greek should not fail to read them in these admirable translations.
Jefferson and Lincoln are so well known to every American high school pupil that no biographical mention is necessary here. The bestknown literary productions of each are those given in the text.
William Wordsworth (1770-1850) was one of the greatest, though not one of the most popular, of the English poets of the first half of the nineteenth century. His great ideas are liberty, and the spiritual power of Nature. He constantly pleads for simplicity and nobility of life, “ plain living and high thinking.” He was poet laureate of England during the last seven years of his life. His greatest short poems are: “ Ode on Intimations of Immortality from Recollections . of Early Childhood," “ Tintern Abbey,” “ The Skylark,” “ To the Cuckoo,” “ The Solitary Reaper,” “ To a Highland Girl,” “ The Green Linnet,” “ Lucy,” “ Expostulation and Reply,” and “The Tables Turned.” In two long, philosophical poems, of uneven merit, —“The Prelude” and “ The Excursion” – Wordsworth attempts an account of the growth of his own mind and poetic powers, especially telling how Nature inspired and instructed him in the higher moral and spiritual life. Wordsworth wrote numerous sonnets, some of which are well known: “Milton,” “The World is too Much with Us,” “ It is a Beauteous Evening,” etc.