British literature test

ENG 228­: Midterm


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You should allow yourselves no more than two hours to complete the midterm (around 60­–70 minutes of writing time should be sufficient, plus “reading” time and note making).


Answer all three sections.


Section 1: Identifications (15 points)


Respond tothree only from the following five questions.Two images appear on the next page. Your response should be no longer than two regular sentences; writing more will not enhance (and may detract from) your answer. Basic and obvious answers are fine.


  1. How does Image 1invoke the idea of the king’s two (or multiple) bodies?


  1. Why might Jeremy Collier, critic of Restoration stage comedies, have objected to the use of innuendo in the British Baking Show (see e.g. or Emily in Paris, in which baguettes and croissants double for sexual organs, sexual activity, etc.


You may also (or instead) comparethe comic features of one or both of those shows to the often harsh, immoral worlds of the plays we have read.


  1. Why is it misleading to call eighteenth-century Ireland a “country”? and/or “…misleading to call Jonathan Swift an “Irish” writer?


4.How do these lines from AnnaBarbauld’s poem to a prominent opponent of the slave trade connect with or supplement “Abolitionist” arguments, strategies, and “feelings.”


Cease, Wilberforce, to urge thy generous aim!

Thy country knows the sin, and stands the shame!

The preacher, poet, senator in vain

Has rattled in her sight the Negro’s chain;

With his deep groans assailed her startled ear,

And rent the veil that hid his constant tear;

Forced her averted eyes his stripes to scan,

Beneath the bloody scourge laid bare the man,

Claimed Pity’s tear, urged Conscience’s strong control,

And flashed conviction on her shrinking soul…

…Still Afric bleeds,

Unchecked, the human traffic still proceeds;

She stamps her infamy to future time,

And on her hardened forehead seals the crime.


  1. Look at Image 2(“Albion” arising by William Blake). How does this figure being naked help to identify this image with “Romanticism”?


Image 1: From Eikon Basilike (1649).
Image 2: Engraving of “Albion” (England) arising by William Blake


Section 2: Passages(45 points)


Identify the author and work and comment briefly on threeof these five passages, remarking on the deployment of language and use of literary form. Strong answers will attend both to the specifics of the given passage and relate their discussion to the wider literary aims and significance of the work as a whole.


  1. Five hours, (and who can do it less in?)

By haughty Celia spent in dressing;

The goddess from her chamber issues,

Arrayed in lace, brocades and tissues.

Strephon, who found the room was void,

And Betty otherwise employed,

Stole in, and took a strict survey,

Of all the litter as it lay;

Whereof, to make the matter clear,

An inventory follows here.

And first a dirty smock appeared,

Beneath the armpits well besmeared.

Strephon, the rogue, displayed it wide,

And turned it round on every side.

On such a point few words are best,

And Strephon bids us guess the rest,

But swears how damnably the men lie,

In calling Celia sweet and cleanly.

Now listen while he next produces

The various combs for various uses,

Filled up with dirt so closely fixt,

No brush could force a way betwixt…


  1. Lady Teazle. What, sentiment in soliloquy! Have you been very impatient now? O Lud, don’t pretend to look grave. I vow I couldn’t come before.

Joseph Surface.Oh Madam! Punctuality is a species of constancy—very            unfashionable quality in a lady.

Lady T. Upon my word you ought to pity me. Do you know that Sir Peter is      grown             so ill-tempered of late and so jealousof Charles too. That’s the best        of thestory, isn’t it?

Joseph.[Aside.]I am glad my scandalous friends keep that up.

Lady T.I’m sure I wish he would let Maria marry him, and then perhaps he      would be convinced. Don’t you, Mr. Surface?

Joseph.IndeedI do not.[Aside.] Oh, certainly I do, for then my dear Lady            Teazle would also be convinced how wrong her suspicions were of my having             any design on the silly girl.

Lady T.Well, well, I’m inclined to believe you, but isn’t it provoking to have       the most ill-natured things said to one. There is my friend Lady Sneerwell has             circulated I don’t know how many scandalous tales of me, and all without any       foundation, too; that’s what vexes me.


Joseph.Aye Madam, that is the provoking circumstance—without          foundations; yes, yes, there’s the mortification indeed. For when a slanderous          story is believed against one, there certainly is no comfort like the consciousness       of having deserved it.

Lady T.No, to be sure. Then I’d forgive their malice. But to attack me, who         am really so innocentand who never says an ill-natured thing of anybody,    that is, of my friends—and then Sir Peter tooto have him so peevishand so            suspicious—when I know the integrity of my own heart—indeed ’tis monstrous.

Joseph.But my dear Lady Teazle,‘tis your own fault if you suffer it. When a       husband entertains a groundless suspicion of his wife and withdraws his           confidence from her, the original compact is broke and she owes it to the       Honour of her sex to endeavour to outwit him.

Lady T.Indeed! So that if he suspects me without cause it follows that the          best way of curing his jealousy is to give him reason for’t…


  1. “I fly from pleasure,” said the Prince, “because pleasure has ceased to please: I am lonely because I am miserable, and am unwilling to cloud with my presence the happiness of others.”“You, sir,” said the sage, “are the first who has complained of misery in the Happy Valley. I hope to convince you that your complaints have no real cause.  You are here in full possession of all the Emperor of Abyssinia can bestow; here is neither labour to be endured nor danger to be dreaded, yet here is all that labour or danger can procure or purchase.  Look round and tell me which of your wants is without supply: if you want nothing, how are you unhappy?”


“That I want nothing,” said the Prince, “or that I know not what I want, is the cause of my complaint: if I had any known want, I should have a certain wish; that wish would excite endeavour, and I should not then repine to see the sun move so slowly towards the western mountains, or to lament when the day breaks, and sleep will no longer hide me from myself.  When I see the kids and the lambs chasing one another, I fancy that I should be happy if I had something to pursue.  But, possessing all that I can want, I find one day and one hour exactly like another, except that the latter is still more tedious than the former.  Let your experience inform me how the day may now seem as short as in my childhood, while nature was yet fresh, and every moment showed me what I never had observed before.  I have already enjoyed too much: give me something to desire.” The old man was surprised at this new species of affliction, and knew not what to reply, yet was unwilling to be silent. “Sir,” said he, “if you had seen the miseries of the world, you would know how to value your present state.”“Now,” said the Prince, “you have given me something to desire.  I shall long to see the miseries of the world, since the sight of them is necessary to happiness.”


  1. Mr. Collins was punctual to his time, and was received with great politeness by the whole family. Mr. Bennet indeed said little; but the ladies were ready enough to talk, and Mr. Collins seemed neither in need of encouragement, nor inclined to be silent himself. He was a tall, heavy-looking young man of five-and-twenty. His air was grave and stately, and his manners were very formal. He had not been long seated before he complimented Mrs. Bennet on having so fine a family of daughters; said he had heard much of their beauty, but that in this instance fame had fallen short of the truth; and added, that he did not doubt her seeing them all in due time disposed of in marriage. This gallantry was not much to the taste of some of his hearers; but Mrs. Bennet, who quarreled with no compliments, answered most readily.

“You are very kind, I am sure; and I wish with all my heart it may prove so, for else they will be destitute enough. Things are settled so oddly.”

“You allude, perhaps, to the entail of this estate.”

“Ah! sir, I do indeed. It is a grievous affair to my poor girls, you must confess. Not that I mean to find fault with you, for such things I know are all chance in this world. There is no knowing how estates will go when once they come to be entailed.”

“I am very sensible, madam, of the hardship to my fair cousins, and could say much on the subject, but that I am cautious of appearing forward and precipitate. But I can assure the young ladies that I come prepared to admire them. At present I will not say more; but, perhaps, when we are better acquainted—”

He was interrupted by a summons to dinner; and the girls smiled on each other. They were not the only objects of Mr. Collins’s admiration. The hall, the dining-room, and all its furniture, were examined and praised; and his commendation of everything would have touched Mrs. Bennet’s heart, but for the mortifying supposition of his viewing it all as his own future property. The dinner too in its turn was highly admired; and he begged to know to which of his fair cousins the excellency of its cooking was owing. But he was set right there by Mrs. Bennet, who assured him with some asperity that they were very well able to keep a good cook, and that her daughters had nothing to do in the kitchen. He begged pardon for having displeased her. In a softened tone she declared herself not at all offended; but he continued to apologise for about a quarter of an hour.


  1. 5. “These wonderful narrations inspired me with strange feelings. Was man, indeed, at once so powerful, so virtuous and magnificent, yet so vicious and base? He appeared at one time a mere scion of the evil principle and at another as all that can be conceived of noble and godlike. To be a great and virtuous man appeared the highest honour that can befall a sensitive being; to be base and vicious, as many on record have been, appeared the lowest degradation, a condition more abject than that of the blind mole or harmless worm. For a long time I could not conceive how one man could go forth to murder his fellow, or even why there were laws and governments; but when I heard details of vice and bloodshed, my wonder ceased and I turned away with disgust and loathing.

Every conversation of the cottagers now opened new wonders to me. While I listened to the instructions which Felix bestowed upon the Arabian, the strange system of human society was explained to me. I heard of the division of property, of immense wealth and squalid poverty, of rank, descent, and noble blood.

The words induced me to turn towards myself. I learned that the possessions most esteemed by your fellow creatures were high and unsullied descent united with riches. A man might be respected with only one of these advantages, but without either he was considered, except in very rare instances, as a vagabond and a slave, doomed to waste his powers for the profits of the chosen few! And what was I? Of my creation and creator I was absolutely ignorant, but I knew that I possessed no money, no friends, no kind of property. I was, besides, endued with a figure hideously deformed and loathsome; I was not even of the same nature as man. I was more agile than they and could subsist upon coarser diet; I bore the extremes of heat and cold with less injury to my frame; my stature far exceeded theirs. When I looked around I saw and heard of none like me. Was I, then, a monster, a blot upon the earth, from which all men fled and whom all men disowned?

I cannot describe to you the agony that these reflections inflicted upon me; I tried to dispel them, but sorrow only increased with knowledge. Oh, that I had for ever remained in my native wood, nor known nor felt beyond the sensations of hunger, thirst, and heat!”



Section 3: Essay Questions (40 points)


Choose one of the following essay questions (all three options deliberately appear below).


Your answer should address two works from the class in detail and attend to specific textual episodes from the two works under discussion.


  1. “Poetry is infinitely better at conveying feeling than prose/fiction or theater.”


Do you agree with this statement? Your response should compare a poem we have read to a work of prose or drama, with attention to their respective formal features.


  1. “There’s a sweetness in good Verse, which Tickles even while it Hurts” (Dryden)


Does satire “tickle” its readers, to make its point? (You need not talk about Dryden or poetry).


  1. “Men are always on top.”


Does literature support and uphold established authority, or seek to challenge constructions of power? You may think about state power (political, military, religious) and/or social power (especially classed and gendered).


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