Now you can view this blog on your mobile phones! Give a try.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

I JPEng Optional English Questions

I JPEng students may post their questions and comments on the portion of the Optional English syllabus dealt with so far and classroom discussion here.


Anonymous said...

Okay, heres a question. I just spent my morning on Anglo Saxon Literature and now I want to know: are we supposed to be doing print culture and rise of nation states? Because there are a lot of confusing rumours about the portion for our mid sems. Where can I get material on Print Culture? I've got info on nation-states. But I still fail to see the link between all of these ie print culture, nation states and Anglo Saxon literature :S. Please help.

Anil Pinto said...

Thank you for the comment. Reg the syllabus will put up a note on the syllabus in your class tomorrow. Reg the connection between theme and syllabus will comment a little later.

Anonymous said...

Okay, i have a few questions sir:
1. What genre would Homer's Illiad and Odyssey fall under?
2. Which work could be officially called "The World's First Novel"?
3. Who were these "Nature Poets"? And was it a movement parallel to the Neo-classical age? Or was it just a feature of the age?

Thanks! :)

sid said...

Few questions..
1. Who were these "Metaphysical poets"? What was the main feature of their poems?
2. Can Defoe be called the "Father of English Novels"? And were their novels written before him? In England?
3. Can you tell me a site or a book where i can find posts and news on the topic "The Rise of Drama in England"? I don't seem to find info on this..

Thanks! :)

Anonymous said...

Have you written any book?

smriti said...

sir, id like to know if macbeth is important for this coming exams and if we could write our own interpretations for the poems and sonnets??

Anonymous said...

sir, id like to know if macbeth is important for this coming exams, and sir are we allowed to write our own interpretations of the poems and sonnets??

satya said...

i am unable to find anything on the "theory of being" please help.

Siddharth Ramanan said...

Do we even have "Theory of the being" ??? :( Wats it all abt? Pls get back to us asap sir.! No much time left for our exams! :(

Thanks :)

Anil Pinto said...

If my memory serves me right there is no question on Theory of Being. If you wish to know more about theory of being you could read wiki entry on Heidegger and Sartre. But it's a complex argument of Phenomenology and existentialism.

Anil Pinto said...

Dear 'anonymous', the 'link' that i am trying to establish between Print-culture, nation-states and British literature is that printing technology causes many socio-political changes because it is able to spread the ideas in a uniform manner and also reach them to large 'masses' Such reach also creates imaginary communities, one being nation.The emergence of nation-states is facilitated by writing forms that develop namely, essay, novel.

Anil Pinto said...

Illiad and Odyssey come under epic genre
Reg first novel please look up Wiki entry on Novel. (I do not want to do what is easily available)

Reg Nature poets, I guess u need to check with Tana.

Anil Pinto said...

websites for rise of drama

Anil Pinto said...

Macbeth is not included for the exam.

You can write your own interpretations provided you are able to substantiate your positions in the answers. (I personally do not bileive there can be 'One's own interpretation'. All the same if you can come up with one which is logical noting like it.

Siddharth Ramanan said...

Thanks sir! :)

smriti said...

sir, what exactly do you mean by "sustantiate your answer"??, sir please help!!! the ezams are round the corner and i have no idea what to do!!!! please try discusing some eamples of questions that would appear in the paper so that we have some idea atleast!!!! please sir...

and also please tell me if we need to know about the authors and all..

thank you...

Siddharth Ramanan said...

Will we be asked questions on the authors? Also will we have to summarize or analyze all our answers? Or is it a bit of both?

Juvenile Jack said...

Anil sir,i think you have got a fantastic thing going here.I mean,this blog is a great idea.If you could,perhaps, coax da other teachers into establishing their own blogs,it would be manna for us students.Kudos.

satya said...

sir, here is something that i got from the net about sonnet 116 but i have doubts if its authentic information , could you please clarify on that .. thank you

Although in former times this sonnet was almost universally read as a paean to ideal and eternal love, with which all readers could easily identify, adding their own dream of perfection to what they found within it, modern criticism makes it possible to look beneath the idealism and to see some hints of a world which is perhaps slightly more disturbed than the poet pretends. In the first place it is important to see that the sonnet belongs in this place, sandwiched between three which discuss the philosophical question of how love deceives both eye and mind and judgement, and is then followed by four others which attempt to excuse the poet's own unfaithfulness and betrayal of the beloved. Set in such a context it does of course make it appear even more like a battered sea-mark which nevetheless rises above the waves of destruction, for it confronts all the vicissitudes that have afflicted the course of the love described in these sonnets, and declares that, in the final analysis, they are of no account.

satya said...

In addition, despite the idealism, there is an undercurrent of subversion which permeates all. It is ironic that a poem as famous as this should be seized on by the establishment as a declaration of their view of what love should be. Does the establishment view take account of the fact that this is a love poem written by a man to another man, and that the one impediment to their marriage is precisely that, for no church of the time, or scarcely even today, permits a man to marry a man? It is useless to object that Shakespeare is here talking of the marriage of true minds, for the language inevitably draws us to the Christain marriage service and its accompanying ceremonies, and that is a ceremony designed specifically to marry two people, not two abstract Platonic ideals which have decided to be wed. It is almost as if the exclamation 'Oh No!' in the second quatrain is a recognition of this one great impediment that overhangs all others 'and all alone stands hugely politic'. (SB notes that the exclamation presents, among other things, 'a logically incidental example of a suitable prefatory exclamation introducing an impediment volunteered by a parishioner responding to the injunction in the marriage service').

Of course it is partly due to the slow process of being drawn into the sonnets, with their continuous change and varying cycles of elation and depression, that the view is gradually inculcated into one's soul that this is a history of love which anyone might have known, a mortal and immortal love such as any two lovers in the tide of times might have experienced, or might even be experiencing now. We tend to forget that it is also an unconventional love, even more unconventional in the Elizabethan world than it is today. But it is precisely this unconventionality that gives to the sonnets their subversive tone, and it is that tone which forces us, not so much to be on the defensive, but to question more profoundly what we mean by the word love. What is that strange attraction which draws two minds so irresistibly together? Must we classify or restrict it? Does it depend on time, or place, on beliefs, on the sex of the lovers, on the Church, or politics, life, death, change, removal, doom, eternity, the day of judgement? Or on none of these? Is human love an allegory of divine love? Or should one prefer instead the all too human conclusion of W. H. Auden:

zero-g3 said...

omg! who is satya?? is there a person lik tat in our clas?? he/she seems to be smarter than me which i cannot digest!!! lol jus kidding.

Siddharth Ramanan said...

Thanks Satya!! :) :)

anusri said...

sir please put up the syllabus here in the blog....

Anil Pinto said...

For a notes on the idea of nation please look up for new post i have made.

satya said...

you're welcome siddharth , but for what?

Siddharth Ramanan said...

For the sonnet thingy! :) :)

smriti said...

SIR!! PLEASE TELL ME IF THE HISTORY OF LITERATURE IS IMPORTANT FOR THIS EXAM.. sir please....!!!! and do we have to know the about the autors and poets???

Anil Pinto said...

Smriti, that which (history of literature) has been referred to, mentioned, discussed in the class is important

satya said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
smriti said...

sir its like impossible to study the whole litreature!!!!! sir it runs pages and pages!!!! is there an alternative..? sir please.. i really cant study that whole thing.. i wont even remember it!! :-((((( pls help...

Anonymous said...

Ahem Ahem Smriti why don't we use this forum to ask sensible questions? If you have any that is...

nightrene said...

sir will we b asked annotations 4 d exm?

Anil Pinto said...

I have written a booklet entitled 'Facilitator's Handbook' published in 2004.

Anil Pinto said...

No annotations

Anil Pinto said...

The analysis more of a structuralist reading of Shakespeare's sonnets. It resists the kind of close reading that we are used to. I went thorough the site where you found this material. The analysis is reliable.

smriti said...

anonymous, maybe u shud teach me how to ask the "sensible" questions since u seem to know a lot about it..:-)

smriti said...

and thanks a lot sir... :-)

Aishwarya said...

hi sir !
well i was just lookin thru your blog....ive realized its joys just today. i saw that u have posted sample questions for the 1 sem optional english , mid sem exam. lookin thru them i observed that the questions u have given are very similar to the ones that actually appeared. and so i would realy like it if u could provide us with " sample questions " even for the end-sem exams. :)

Anil Pinto said...

Let's hope for the best!

Aishwarya said...

Hi sir !
The paper was very very unexpected and so different from what we are used to.
There were a few questions which even now I have no clue as to how to answer to them.
I would realy appreciate it if you could answer it via mail or I have no problem at all if u prefer to explain it in the staff room and I could jot down points…please do let me know.
The questions are :

1) Locate Chaucer, Shakespeare, Bacon, Defoe and Goldsmith within the ‘Print culture and Rise of Nation-States’ framework through the texts you have studied.(5 marks)

*I dint attempt this one but would like to know wot on earth the answer is.

2). How is the world that comes across in the Prologue of the Wife of Bathe different from that of Shakespeare’s sonnets? .(5 marks)

*I attempted it but have received a 2 for all my trouble.

3). What problems do we encounter in making a comparative study of the description of Wife of Bathe and ‘the young man’? .(5 marks)

*Who Is the young man ? are u referring to the man the maximum of shakespears sonnets were dedicated to? And if so I have no clue as to how to compare them let alone the problems faced in the process of comparing them.could u please explain….?

4). Write a note on rise of English Drama with reference to the Miracle Moralities.(10 marks)

*What is miracle mortalities? Im sorry if this is something u have thought in class and I have not caught on. Could u please explain again?

5.) Write a note on the concept of the Metaphysical conceit.(10 marks)

*Wot the heck does it mean !! ?

PS : the link which allows us to send a mail to you regarding our doubts on our paper does not allow more than 300 words and so i had to send it on this blog.

Anil Pinto said...

Aishwarya, appreciate your interest and patience!

We can sit on a cup of tea after October 3 on these questions. Game?

Aishwarya said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Aishwarya said...

sir..i just realized..our last working day is this saturday..
can we discuss the questions before that?
if not ill have to specially come to college for this after october3..

cherry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
satya said...

Is the play 'Everyman' coming for the exam, as far as i remember it has not been taught in the class.

Anil Pinto said...

not there

Anonymous said...

Please could you tell me how should we study the essays.. can you mention few sites from where I can refer for these essays (Notes)..
and can u please send the link for the essay _ Addison and Steele..Characteristics of Will Wimble..

Aishwarya said...

i looked loads. din find notes on both "way of the world" and " the collar" by george herbert.

Aishwarya said...

could you please provide us sites where we can get sufficient information?

satya said...

sir, these are some very minor doubts hope you will try to answer them,

These are certain sentences that i did not understand

1. London under Elizabeth had all the charms of a growing metropolis.

2. In plays art imitates life but for the elizabethans this was a two way process and life unshamedly imitated art.

3. In some ways independent of queen were the puritan city father . They objected to the theatres, not only on moral grounds, but also because , as employers of apprentices, they resented the disruption of their business activities caused by the apprentices' theatregoing

4. " comedy is a conservation art "

5. comedy of manners- The antithesis is its characteristic stylistic device.

I also didnt find anything on the 'history of essays'
and 'characteristics of shakespeare's sonnets'.

also the question which was asked in the mid sems- "what problems do we encounter in making a comparative study of the description of Wife of Bathe and the 'young man'?"

Anil Pinto said...

Satya, could you mention the source of the sentences that require clarification?

satya said...

the first three sentences are from ' shakespeare and his contemporaries' by marguire alexander.

the rest is from a book i dont really remember the exact name i forgot to note it down, its i think critical glossary of literary terms. i will try to give the exact name by tomorrow.

Aishwarya said...

hey satya. this is the link to shakespears sonnet forms.

hope it helps.

Aishwarya said...

u can derive the characteristics from it.

satya said...

thanks buddy , i will check it out!

satya said...

sir, in the poem Ode on a Grecian Urn, could you please explain the line,

Thou foster child of Silence and slow time.

I did not understand the relativity of the term foster child here.

Swathi said...

hey aishwarya , do u want the notes on way of the world??

Swathi said...

The Way of the World: A Plot Summary
Mirabell is in love with Millamant, a niece of Lady Wishfort, and has pretended to make love to the aunt to conceal his suit for the niece. His trick has been revealed by Mrs. Marwood, who does it out of revenge because Mirabell has rejected her advances. Lady Wishfort, who now hates Mirabell "more than a quaker hates a parrot," will deprive her niece of the half of the inheritance she controls if Millamant marries Mirabell. Mirabell has his servant Waitwell impersonate his uncle, Sir Rowland, and pretend to marry Lady Wishfort, but only after having secretly married him off to her maid Foible. He hopes to use this humiliating deception to force Lady Wishfort to consent to his marriage to Millamant. The plot is discovered by Mrs. Marwood, who also finds out that Mirabell has had a past intrigue with Mrs. Fainall, daughter of Lady Wishfort, and after married her off to Mr. Fainall, thinking that she was pregnant with his child. She conspires with Fainall, her lover and the pretended friend of Mirabell, to reveal this information to Lady Wishfort, while Fainall threatens to divorce his wife and to discredit Lady Wishfort unless he is given full control of Mrs. Fainallís property and Millamantís portion is handed over to him. The scheme fails. Mrs. Fainall denies all and brings proof of Fainallís affair with Mrs. Marwood, while Mirabell produces a deed by which Mrs. Fainall, before her marriage, made him trustee of all her property. Lady Wishfort, grateful for her release from Fainallís threats, forgives Mirabell and consents to the marriage.

The way of the world book rags
The Way of the World Study Guide consists of approx. 109 pages of summaries and analysis on The Way of the World by William Congreve. Browse the literature study guide below:

The prologue is noted in the text of the play as being spoken by the actor who originally played the character of Fainall when The Way of the World was staged. It starts with a comparison of two different types of fools. Poets are one kind of fool, because they depend on the tastes and whims of other people to earn their livings. These tastes are determined by fortune, and are completely random, meaning writers are in a sense gambling that the audience will like what they write. "Natural" fools (stupid people) on the other hand are blessed by fortune. (read more)


In 1700, when The Way of the World was performed on the English stage at Lincoln's Inn Fields (a new theatre that William Congreve managed), it was not a popular success. This was the last play Congreve was to write, perhaps for that reason. Since that time, however, this play has come to be regarded not only as Congreve's masterpiece, but as a classic example of the Comedy of Manners. The play is aptly named for two reasons. First, its action takes place in the "present," which means it reflects the same social period during which the play was originally performed. Second, as a comedy of manners, its purpose is to expose to public scrutiny and laughter the often absurd yet very human passions and follies that characterize social behavior. It therefore transcends its time by holding a mirror to the fashionable world in all of its frivolity and confusion while posing something more precious and sensible as an antidote.

As with all comedies of this type, the principle comic material consists of sexual relations and confrontations. Marriages are made for the sake of convenience and tolerated within precise social limits. Affairs are conventional, jealousies abound, lovers are coy, and gallantry is contrived. Dowries are the coin of the marriage realm and therefore they are of central concern in all contracts and adulterous intrigues. Congreve makes clear that the general way of the world may be funny but it is not particularly nice. In the way of all romantic comedies the "marriage of true minds" is finally achieved, but humiliation, cruelty, and villainy are the means by which the action goes forward. His comedy is not intended to remedy the world, of course, but to offer an insightful and amusing view of both its seedy and sympathetic aspects.

Author Biography
William Congreve was born in 1670 in Bardsey (a village near Leeds), Yorkshire. When his father was commissioned to command the garrison at Youghal four years later, the family moved to Ireland, where Congreve was enrolled at a famous school in Kilkenny. In 1686, he attended Trinity College, Dublin along with his contemporary, Jonathan Swift. In 1688, the Congreves moved back to England, where William began writing his first play, The Old Bachelour, as he was recovering from an illness. Although he was sent to study law at the Middle Temple in London in 1691, he was not a diligent student. He preferred writing.

The The Old Bachelour was an immature work and borrowed heavily from earlier seventeenth century playwrights, especially Wycherley and Etherege, but it was a popular success. Henry T. E. Perry writes in The Comic Spirit of Restoration that when the play first appeared on stage in 1693, with the help of John Dryden, "literary London went mad over the new author." Congreve wrote four more plays between 1693 and 1700: The Double Dealer, Love for Love, The Mourning Bride, and The Way of the World, which appeared in 1700 and is considered his masterpiece.

As Congreve's reputation grew as a dramatist, he began to enjoy the benefits of the literary establishment. He counted Swift, Dryden, and Alexander Pope among his friends. When Parson Jeremy Collier wrote his notorious attack on the English stage, Congreve answered it with The Way of the World. In William Congreve, Bonamy Dobráee conjectures that the play's lukewarm reception may have been the reason that Congreve stopped writing plays. At any rate, Congreve still maintained his connections with the stage, managing Lincoln's Inn Fields and collaborating with Vanbrugh and Walsh in writing Squire Trelooby in 1704. He also wrote two libretti.

As a man of letters, he also was rewarded with government sinecures. He was given a post in Customs and, in 1714, was made Secretary of Jamaica. With this patrimony, as well as revenue from theatre productions and some royalties, he made a comfortable living. Congreve never married, but he was fond of the actress, Mrs. Bracegirdle, who played leading roles in all of his plays, including the part of Mrs. Millamant in The Way of the World. He was also the lover of the second Duchess of Marlborough and fathered her younger daughter, Lady Mary, who became Duchess of Leeds. When he died in 1729 at the age of fifty-nine, he left most of his estate to the Duchess of Marlborough

Prologue Summary
The prologue is noted in the text of the play as being spoken by the actor who originally played the character of Fainall when The Way of the World was staged. It starts with a comparison of two different types of fools. Poets are one kind of fool, because they depend on the tastes and whims of other people to earn their livings. These tastes are determined by fortune, and are completely random, meaning writers are in a sense gambling that the audience will like what they write. "Natural" fools (stupid people) on the other hand are blessed by fortune.

The prologue goes on to state that poets are often fooled by the success of one play or work into believing the next one will be successful. Fame and fortune are said to be fleeting, and one bad play can cost a poet a chance at immortality.

The prologue then refers to Congreve ("He wrought the following scenes") and how he knows this play will have to stand on its own without relying on his past successes. He goes on to say the purpose of the play is to please the audience and not instruct them about life, since the audience is already very knowledgeable. He also says he knows the audience will not be offended by any references to fools in the play, since none of the audience members are fools themselves. The prologue ends by referring to Congreve as a "passive poet" who will accept the audience's opinion of his play.

Prologue Analysis
The prologue acts as an introduction to Congreve and his play. While prologues were a normal way to introduce the subjects of a play in reformation theatre, the prologue to The Way of the World also serves as a platform for Congreve to fire back at audiences who had not responded well to the first performances of this play (The Way of the World did not appeal to audiences). The prologue, therefore, defends his decision to add some unusual and new elements to his play.

The prologue also challenges the audience to try something new, to use their "reformed" sensibilities to enjoy something a bit subtler than they may have been used to. This challenge stems from the fact that this play was heavily criticized for not having any "farce" (characters placed in improbable or ridiculous situations). Congreve also uses satire (words or language used to make fun of human characteristics) when he says that the play does not contain satire, since it is full of satirical pictures of different behaviors.

Act 1, Scene 1 Summary
The first act is set in a chocolate house (a kind of coffee shop). We are introduced to the two major male characters, Mirabell and Fainall, who are playing cards. When Mirabell loses, Fainall asks him why he does not seem to be paying much attention to the game. Fainall says it is not as much fun to win against a player who does not really care about the game. Mirabell confesses that his time with the woman he loves, Mrs. Millamant, was cut short when she welcomed two other men, Witwoud and Petulant, and her aunt Lady Wishfort. Also included were Mrs. Marwood, Fainall's wife, and a few other ladies.

Mirabell describes how the women became very silent, and then Wishfort talks about how some people stay too long when they are visiting. Millamant agrees with her statement, and so Mirabell then notes that he left after telling Millamant after telling her he knew when he was not welcome. Fainall sympathizes with Mirabell, but tells him not to take what Millamant says too seriously, since she was obeying her aunt's wishes. He adds that the group that gathered was like a women's group and that the two men are only included because together they make up one man from the community to prevent any scandals arising from secret keeping.

We then find out that Wishfort dislikes Mirabell because he tricked her into thinking that he loved her. Mirabell did so to hide the fact that he was in love with Millamant. His plan was to win her aunt's favor so she would give her blessing to a marriage between Millamant and Mirabell (her blessing would ensure that Millamant receives all of her fortune). His plan was to win her over by writing a song about her and having a friend write a lampoon (a poem that chastises bad behavior) accusing her of having an affair with a younger man. He also notes that he appealed to her vanity (by pretending she is much younger than her actual age of 55) by reporting a rumor that she was pregnant.

Mirabell tells Fainall that Marwood told Wishfort about the deception, and this is why Wishfort now dislikes him. Fainall says that Marwood must have done it because Mirabell had not returned her romantic gestures. In return, Mirabell notes that Fainall is probably having a romantic relationship with Marwood, which he denies.

Fainall leaves the room briefly to talk to Witwoud and Petulant. A footman arrives and tells Mirabell that Mirabell's valet Waitwell has married Wishfort's maid Foible. Mirabell is satisfied by this news, and tells the footman to order the newlyweds to meet with him before Foible returns to Lady Wishfort.

Act 1, Scene 2 Summary
Scene 2 takes place in the same chocolate house, with Mirabell, Fainall and Betty the waitress. Mirabell tells Fainall that he is planning something, but is not ready to reveal his deception. He then criticizes Fainall for letting his wife be a part of the "cabal" that shunned him the previous night.

The two begin discussing Millamant's character, and Mirabell notes that she is a bit foolish for spending time with the fools in the cabal. When Fainall says that he is to critical of her, Mirabell replies that he has studied all of her faults and decided that he loves her anyway. He adds that her faults have become as familiar to him as his own have, and that now that he has memorized them he finds that they suit her very well.

Next, a messenger enters looking for Witwoud. The messenger tells Fainall and Mirabell that he has a message for Witwoud from his half brother Sir Wilfull Witwoud, and they send him into the next room. Fainall tells Mirabell that if his romance with Millamant is successful he will become Sir Wilfull's relative, since Sir Wilfull is also Lady Wishfort's niece. Sir Wilfull, says Fainall, has come to London to get supplies and clothing for traveling. This fact amuses Mirabell, who notes that Sir Wilfull is over 40. Fainall agrees, but says that Sir Wilfull is going off on an important mission for England, and that the country can have "blockheads of all ages."

The two discuss Sir Wilfull, comparing his behavior when drunk to the monster Caliban in Shakespeare's play The Tempest (Caliban was an awful character who plotted against his master and was cruelly treated). Otherwise, they say, Sir Wilfull is good natured and bashful. They then compare him to Witwoud, whom they say has a bit more humor and intelligence than Sir Wilfull.

Witwoud then enters, and the three have a funny conversation. Witwoud asks Mirabell about Millamant, and then praises her. Fainall and Mirabell draw Witwoud into a discussion about Petulant. Witwoud complains that Petulant has just beaten him at cards and won some money from him. Fainall notes that he should let Petulant win, since Witwoud has all the wit between the two of them. Witwoud defends Petulant, but then notes that his friend does not have good breeding. He describes Petulant as a rogue, and says that he sometimes says things that he should not and has a tendency to lie.

A coachman enters with a message for Petulant that three ladies waiting for him outside. Witwoud reveals that the women are prostitutes that Petulant hired to make people think he is popular with women. He adds that one of Petulant's favorite tricks is to disguise himself and then send himself messages in order to appear like an important man. Petulant enters, and pretends to be mad about the women intruding on his privacy and refuses to go out to the women. Witwoud, however, notes that Petulant stays so that he can continue to try to impress people. The three make some sarcastic remarks about Petulant, which he does not seem to understand.

Fainall says that Petulant did not go out to the women because he is more interested in Millamant. Mirabell threatens to kill Petulant, and Petulant says that he should be more concerned about other people. Petulant and Witwoud then reveal to Mirabell and Fainall that Lady Wishfort is planning to arrange a marriage between Millamant and Mirabell's uncle, who has recently come to town. We also learn that if this uncle marries and has a child, Mirabell will lose his fortune.

Mirabell then ends the conversation and asks Fainall to walk with him in the "mall" (St. James Park) to find Millamant and the other ladies. Mirabell closes the act with a rhyming couplet that states that fashionable behavior and humor often disguises mean and rude talk.

Act 2, Scene 1 Summary
The scene opens in St. James Park, where Mrs. Fainall and Mrs. Marwood are walking. Mrs. Fainall talks about how men change from being passionate as lovers to cold as husbands. Mrs. Marwood says that men are inconstant, but she would rather love and be left by a man than not be loved at all. Mrs. Fainall says that Mrs. Marwood pretends not to like men to impress Lady Wishfort. Mrs. Marwood denies this, insisting that while love is important, she really does despise men.

She then reveals her plan to make her husband thinks she is cheating on him ("cuckolding" him.) Mrs. Fainall asks her why she only wants to give him the impression that he has been cuckolded, and Mrs. Marwood replies that his anguish will last longer if he cannot prove that she has been unfaithful. When Mrs. Fainall mentions Mirabell, Mrs. Marwood says she hates him for his pride, but it is clear to the audience from her sudden anger that she does actually care about him. This upsets Mrs. Fainall, which she blames on seeing her husband approaching.

Fainall and Mirabell enter and soon they are talking individually with the ladies. Mrs. Fainall says she wants to talk to Mirabell about the previous evening and he says that he does not want Fainall to hear, so the two exit briefly. Mrs. Marwood and Fainall then start talking, and Marwood asks if they are going to go with Mirabell and Mrs. Fainall. Fainall says that she is jealous of his wife spending time with Mirabell, and Mrs. Marwood replies that because of her love for him she is worried about the effect that Mirabell being alone with his wife will have on his honor. This makes it clear that Fainall and Mrs. Marwood are having an affair.

Fainall says that both of the women are in love with Mirabell. Mrs. Marwood says that she hates Mirabell, and challenges Fainall to prove otherwise. He brings up how she ruined Mirabell's plan to win over Lady Wishfort, and she claims that she only did this to show her loyalty to Lady Wishfort. She then threatens to reveal their (Fainall and Mrs. Marwood's) affair, and Fainall stops arguing.

She tells Fainall that he has ruined her by spending her money and wrecking her reputation. He replies that her actions to stop Mirabell and Millamant kept Millamant's fortune intact, and that if Lady Wishfort had taken this money away it would have gone to Mrs. Fainall and him. He notes that he could have then spent that money on her. Fainall claims that he only married his wife for her money, and this angers Mrs. Marwood. She says that she hates him, and Fainall promises to get a divorce and marry her instead. Mrs. Marwood starts to cry, and the two leave to get her a mask to wear.

Act 2, Scene 2 Summary
In this scene, we see Mrs. Fainall and Mirabell discussing their previous relationship. Mrs. Fainall says that she despises her husband and she only married him because Mirabell made her. Mirabell says that he only told her to marry Fainall to protect her reputation in case she got pregnant during her affair with Mirabell. He adds that they have chosen Fainall to be their dupe because he had a good reputation, and that he is a liar and a cheat. He also tells her that if she is tired of him "you know your remedy" (presumably a divorce).

Mrs. Fainall says that she has done a lot for him, and he notes that he has told her about all his plans and schemes. Mrs. Fainall asks about the plan once more, and Mirabell reveals that his servant Waitwell will pretend to be a made-up uncle (confirming to the audience that the uncle revealed in the first act is in fact a fake) who pursues Lady Wishfort.

We learn that Waitwell was married to Foible because Mirabell does not trust him; the marriage is to ensure that Waitwell does not actually try to marry Wishfort himself. Once Lady Wishfort agrees to marry Waitwell, Mirabell says he will blackmail her (with the embarrassment of her agreeing to marry a servant) into allowing him to marry Millamant. Then he will receive all of Millamant's money. The announcement alluded to in the first act was also part of Mirabell's plan; Foible prompted Lady Wishfort to announce that the uncle was coming to marry Millamant so that it will not embarrass Lady Wishfort by appearing to have come to marry Lady Wishfort and then left her (once the plan comes to fruition). Mrs. Fainall and Mirabell agree that the plan will likely succeed because Lady Wishfort is eager for a marriage.

At this point Millamant makes an appearance, along with Witwoud and her maid, Mincing. Mirabell comments that she is like a ship in full sail, with "fools for tenders" (smaller boats that provide supplies for ships). He tells Millamant that she seems not to have her usual collection of devoted people around her, and she responds that she has denied herself these trappings by walking past the crowd quickly. While they talk, Witwoud provides a stream of silly jokes and witticisms.

Millamant mentions that Mirabell left the night before, and adds that it makes her feel good to have the power to inflict pain on him. He replies that this kind of cruelty does not really suit her, and that she gets her real power from pleasing others. She disagrees, noting that cruelty makes a person powerful, and that giving up cruelty causes people to age and grow ugly. Mirabell responds once again by saying that a woman's beauty comes from her lover, and if she uses her cruelty on her lover, she may end up destroying her own beauty in the process.

Millamant then seeks support from Mrs. Fainall, noting that men are vain and that Mirabell is wrong. She adds that a woman's beauty does not depend on her lover. Mirabell then gets Witwoud and Mrs. Fainall to go away so that he can be alone with Millamant.

Mirabell next asks Millamant why she snubbed him the night before and why she spends her time with fools like Witwoud and Petulant. She replies that she does whatever makes her happy. Later she says that Mirabell is too serious, and that if he is going to be boring she will leave. She also mentions Foible's marriage to Waitwell and implies that she knows about his plan. She then leaves him, and he speaks briefly about feeling that a "whirlwind" has passed through him.

Waitwell and Foible then enter, and Foible reports that she has been filling Lady Wishfort's mind with stories about Mirabell's "uncle." While stealing this moment in the garden she has told her lady that she is showing Sir Rowland her picture, and plans to return with a story about how much Sir Rowland wants to see her. Mirabell gives her some money and tells her he is pleased with her part in the plan. He also says she will have a good future if the plan goes well. Foible hurries away; worried that Mrs. Marwood may have seen her with Mirabell.

Mirabell encourages Waitwell to embrace the part of Sir Rowland. Waitwell notes that he will be very confused after the plan is over, since he was married and knighted on the same day. He speaks the act in end-rhyming couplets, which in this case deals with the fact that when all is said and done, he will be forced to give up his title but he will be forced to keep his wife.

Act 3, Scene 1 Summary
This scene starts with Lady Wishfort sitting in her dressing room waiting for Foible to return. Her impatience is making her irritated, so she takes it out on her servant Peg. Lady Wishfort is applying makeup, and she asks Peg to bring her rouge. Peg misunderstands and asks if she wants a drink of cherry brandy. When Peg cannot produce the rouge, Lady Wishfort notes that she will have a drink after all.

Mrs. Marwood enters, and reports that she has seen Foible with Mirabell. Lady Wishfort has Mrs. Marwood hide and listen in while she questions Foible. Foible then enters and reports that Sir Rowland loves the picture of Lady Wishfort. When asked about Mirabell, Foible reassures her mistress that Mirabell had spoken to her and said that she was plotting against him. Foible notes that Mirabell insulted Lady Wishfort for being old, and that the best revenge for her would be to marry Sir Rowland right away. Lady Wishfort agrees and vows to marry the next day, and announce her intentions to marry that evening.

Foible tells her mistress that Sir Rowland will arrive that evening. Lady Wishfort is worried that she will not look young, and Foible says that she will look wonderful with the help of makeup. Lady Wishfort leaves, and Mrs. Fainall enters.

Mrs. Fainall tells Foible that she knows the details of Mirabell's plan and is worried that Mrs. Marwood may try to ruin the plan. Foible does not trust her at first so Mrs. Fainall reveals the details of the plan to get her to trust her, not knowing that Mrs. Marwood is in the closet listening. Foible notes that Mrs. Marwood told Lady Wishfort that she had seen Foible and Mirabell in the park.

She reveals how she reassured Lady Wishfort, and tells Mrs. Fainall that she has made Lady Wishfort so angry that she will quickly accept Sir Rowland's proposal. Foible asks Mrs. Fainall to tell Mirabell how things are going, since she believes Mrs. Marwood is watching her. She also reveals that Mrs. Marwood loves Mirabell, but that Mirabell does not return these feelings and finds her unattractive. The two depart

Act 3, Scene 2 Summary
This scene starts in Lady Wishfort's closet, where Mrs. Marwood has been listening. She has now heard everything about Mirabell's plan, and is angry with her "friend" Mrs. Fainall. She is also unhappy with the idea that Mirabell cannot stand her. She promises not to chase him anymore, and adds that she will ruin his plans.

Lady Wishfort then enters and apologizes for leaving her in there for so long. Mrs. Marwood replies that she has been entertained by what she has overheard. Mrs. Marwood tells Lady Wishfort that she thinks Sir Wilfull would make an excellent husband for Millamant, and Lady Wishfort agrees. Foible comes in to tell them the Witwoud and Petulant have arrived, and Lady Wishfort asks Mrs. Marwood to keep the men company until she is dressed and ready for dinner.

Act 3, Scene 3 Summary
The scene shifts to another room in Lady Wishfort's house. Millamant tells Marwood and her maid, Mincing, that Petulant has made her angry by constantly contradicting everything anybody else says and that she thought that Witwoud and Petulant might have a fight. Mrs. Marwood tells Millamant that Petulant would leave her alone if she just admitted her love for Mirabell. She adds that their "secret" romance is now the talk of the town, and that this secrecy will be their undoing. Millamant sends Mincing away to bring Witwoud and Petulant. Millamant tells her that she knows Mirabell loves her, and that she wishes he would be more forward in presenting his intentions.

Millamant makes some remarks about Mrs. Marwood's age, and then decides to sing a song. Mincing comes back and says the men are coming. Millamant's song makes fun of the "game" of love, and it notes that love is linked to the amount of ambition it takes to achieve a relationship. It goes on to say that these relationships are only good if many people have already tried and failed to win one of the participants' hearts.

Witwoud and Petulant enter, and Millamant asks if they have stopped arguing with one another. They then try to show off their wit be talking about the importance of being able to argue. Millamant gets frustrated with them, and she and Mincing leave as Sir Wilfull Witwoud enters with a footman. Witwoud tells Mrs. Marwood that he hardly knows his half brother.

The footman tells Sir Wilfull that Lady Wishfort is dressing and Sir Wilfull shows his ignorance of city manners by expressing surprise that she is not already dressed, since it is afternoon and not morning. He then quizzes the footman about his aunt (Lady Wishfort) and learns that most of the servants have only been with Lady Wishfort for a week, and that Lady Wishfort looks much different in the morning (before her make-up is applied).

Witwoud tells Petulant to start an argument with his half-brother. Petulant obliges by making fun of Sir Wilfull's clothing and horse. To stop the quarrel, Mrs. Marwood introduces the two brothers. Sir Wilfull says that Witwoud is rude and boorish, while Witwoud says that Sir Wilfull is an ignorant country peasant. Mrs. Marwood asks Sir Wilfull about his plans to travel, and he says that before he leaves he wants to learn about how town people live.

Fainall and Lady Wishfort enter. They both greet Sir Wilfull, and they briefly discuss Witwoud and Petulant's' rudeness. Mincing enters, and everyone except Fainall and Mrs. Marwood, who have been talking quietly away from the other characters, leave. Fainall is upset that his wife has had an affair with Mirabell, so it is clear Mrs. Marwood has been telling him about what she overheard. She asks him to help her spoil Mirabell's plan, and she tells him that his wife's affair ended before their marriage. She says that despite the affair he can still lead a happy life spending his wife's money.

Fainall responds by noting that Mrs. Marwood wrecked his earlier plan by exposing Mirabell's attempt to deceive Lady Wishfort, since his wife would have gotten Millamant's fortune if Lady Wishfort had taken it away from Millamant. Mrs. Marwood suggests that Fainall should tell Lady Wishfort about his wife's affair with Mirabell in order to blackmail Lady Wishfort to save Mrs. Fainall's reputation.

The only obstacle to this plan that Mrs. Marwood can see is her own idea to marry Millamant to Sir Wilfull, which would give Millamant her whole fortune. Fainall says he can solve that problem by getting Sir Wilfull drunk. They then plan to tell Lady Wishfort about Mirabell's plan with an anonymous letter. The scene ends with Fainall professing his desire for Mrs. Marwood, especially now that he considers himself single

Act 4, Scene 1 Summary
The scene begins in Lady Wishfort's house. Lady Wishfort questions Foible about preparations for Sir Rowland's visit. These preparations are elaborate and include music and dancing, as well as cologne for the footmen so that Sir Rowland will not smell the stables. The two then discuss Lady Wishfort's appearance, and how Lady Wishfort should be sitting when Sir Rowland enters the room.

Lady Wishfort then sends Foible to make sure that Sir Wilfull talks to Millamant after learning that Sir Wilfull is drinking in the parlor. Foible goes to Millamant, and instead of doing what Lady Wishfort told her to do, she tells Millamant that Mirabell has been waiting to see her. She also says that Lady Wishfort has sent her to get Sir Wilfull and Millamant together. Millamant at first says she will not see Mirabell, but changes her mind and asks Mrs. Fainall to entertain Sir Wilfull since as a married woman Mrs. Fainall can tolerate fools.

Sir Wilfull enters and tries to delay his proposal to Millamant. Mrs. Fainall urges him to carry on, then leaves, and locks the door behind her, forcing Sir Wilfull to talk to Millamant. Millamant ignores him and wanders around the room chanting verses about love and sex. The drunken Sir Wilfull misunderstands her words and tries to ask her to walk with him. She defeats him easily with her wit and he ends up leaving, promising to return with something important to say another time.

Mirabell enters and is able to finish the line of poetry Millamant has been reciting. This poem, by Sir John Suckling, is about a romance between the mythical characters of Phoebus and Daphne. Mirabell and Millamant discuss their views on marriage, telling each other what they expect from each other.

They each lay out terms, with Millamant insisting on privacy in a variety of different areas of her life before agreeing to marry and Mirabell insisting that she not have a female friend with whom she plots and schemes. He also asks that she not be a gossip. Millamant agrees to his terms after asking the newly arrived Mrs. Fainall for advice. Millamant tells Mirabell to keep quiet, and Mrs. Fainall urges him to leave quickly before Lady Wishfort arrives.

Mirabell leaves and Millamant discusses her love for him to Mrs. Fainall. Mrs. Fainall notes that Sir Wilfull has gotten very drunk and quarreled with Petulant. The situation has become so bad that Lady Wishfort has left Sir Rowland to deal with it, but that she has been unable to calm Sir Wilfull down. Witwoud enters the room drunk, and admits that Petulant and Sir Wilfull were quarreling over nothing.

Petulant then enters. He is also drunk, and he and Witwoud start to argue. Petulant finally admits that the quarrel was about Millamant, and that he has been defending her beauty. Petulant stumbles off claiming to be headed for a sexual liaison, and Witwoud tells the ladies that the quarrel was the result of a plan by Fainall to keep Sir Wilfull from winning Lady Wishfort's favor

Act 4, Scene 2 Summary
This scene takes place in the dining room of Lady Wishfort's house, with Millamant, Mrs. Fainall, Lady Wishfort, Witwoud and Sir Wilfull. Lady Wishfort is lecturing Sir Wilfull about his drunkenness, comparing him to Borachio, a drunken schemer in Shakespeare's Much Ado about Nothing. Sir Wilfull is happily drunk, however, and makes broad declarations about how he will marry Millamant. Millamant and Mrs. Fainall leave.

Foible enters to tell Lady Wishfort that Sir Rowland is waiting for her. Lady Wishfort asks Witwoud to take Sir Wilfull away, and then reflects that Sir Wilfull will not make a good husband for Millamant. Waitwell then enters (pretending to be Sir Rowland). She apologizes for leaving him alone to deal with Sir Wilfull, and he notes that he is in a hurry to be married to her and will be impatient until they get married. He adds that he will die of a broken heart if the marriage is delayed, or that Mirabell will poison him (because he plans to take away his inheritance). He states his desire to starve Mirabell, and Lady Wishfort talks about how Mirabell had tried to woo her. Waitwell pretends to be insulted by this, and threatens to kill Mirabell. Lady Wishfort then agrees to marry Sir Rowland, as long as he does not think she is agreeing just to be able to start having sex with him.

Foible then enters with a letter for Lady Wishfort, who steps out of the room briefly. Foible and Waitwell quickly chat, and he notes that he would rather become a chairman (one who carries a sedan chair on his back, a particularly hot and heavy job) than marry Lady Wishfort. Lady Wishfort comes back, and Foible recognizes that the latter is from Mrs. Marwood. She urges Waitwell to grab the letter away, but Lady Wishfort reads it aloud and discovers that "Sir Rowland" is actually an imposter.

The quick-thinking Waitwell, however, says that Mirabell is trying to stop him from marrying Lady Wishfort. He agrees to verify his identity with a black box containing personal documents, and promises to bring a marriage contract for her to sign later that evening. Waitwell delivers the act-ending rhyming couplet, which states that Lady Wishfort will be satisfied with his proof that he is an "errant knight." Foible completes the rhyme by saying that she will also learn that he is an "errant knave" (a fool on a mission).

Act 5, Scene 1 Summary
This scene takes place in yet another room in Lady Wishfort's house. Lady Wishfort has discovered that Waitwell really was a fake. At the beginning of the scene, we see Lady Wishfort dismissing Foible and accusing her of plotting with Mirabell. Foible asks for forgiveness, and says that Mirabell has seduced her. She points out that he has fooled many others, and that he had promised her that Lady Wishfort would not be harmed. She adds that Waitwell could not have consummated a marriage with Lady Wishfort because he was already married (to Foible). Lady Wishfort becomes angry and leaves after threatening to have Foible arrested.

Mrs. Fainall enters the room. Foible tells her about the situation, and says that Lady Wishfort has gone to get a constable to arrest her. It becomes clear that Fainall has had Waitwell arrested, but Mrs. Fainall assures Foible that Mirabell has gone to bail him out of jail. We also learn that Lady Wishfort did not read the entire letter so she does not know that Mrs. Fainall was a part of the plot. Mrs. Marwood has told Fainall about Mirabell's affair with Mrs. Fainall, however, and so the Fainalls' marriage is over. Foible tells Mrs. Marwood that she can help by revealing some information about Mrs. Marwood.

Mincing enters and tells the two that Mirabell has gotten Waitwell out of jail. She tells Foible that Mirabell has ordered her to hide until Lady Wishfort is not angry anymore. Mincing adds that Fainall has threatened to divorce his wife unless she hands over her fortune, and that Millamant agreed to marry Sir Wilfull to receive her own six thousands pound fortune. Mrs. Fainall urges Mincing to swear to testify for her if she is called upon to refute charges of adultery, and Mincing agrees before leaving with Foible.

Act 5, Scene 2 Summary
Mrs. Marwood and Lady Wishfort enter, with the latter praising Mrs. Marwood for revealing Mirabell's plots against her. Lady Wishfort then criticizes her daughter Mrs. Fainall for being an adulteress. She says that she finds it hard to believe, since her daughter grew up with a fine example of morals like herself. Mrs. Fainall acts injured, and urges Mrs. Marwood to produce proof of her infidelity. Mrs. Fainall assures her mother that she can prove her innocence, and tells her that Mrs. Marwood is not really her friend.

After Mrs. Fainall leaves, Lady Wishfort talks about how chaste her daughter had been as a child. Through a soliloquy, she brings herself to believe in her daughter's innocence and wants to hear Fainall's proof. After she finishes speaking, however, Mrs. Marwood urges her to reconsider and think about how damaging a public scandal would be to the family's reputation. Lady Wishfort agrees, and notes that she will "give up" her fortune rather than become a public joke.

Fainall enters and begins to dictate the terms he is demanding to keep his secret. He says that he has decided to let her keep her own estate as long as she lives, provided she does not marry. He insists that he be given all of his wife's fortune, along with the six thousand pounds that would have gone to Millamant if she had agreed to marry Sir Wilfull. Although Lady Wishfort is shocked by the severity of Fainall's demands, he insists that she sign a contract he is preparing.

Fainall leaves and Lady Wishfort expresses regret that her daughter had agreed to marry him at all. She adds that Mrs. Fainall's first husband would never have done this, and that she cannot find any comfort in the world. Sir Wilfull Witwoud and Millamant then enter. Sir Wilfull apologizes for anything he might have done when he was drunk and says he is now ready to marry Millamant. Millamant says she and Mirabell are willing to destroy their marriage contract. Sir Wilfull asks if Mirabell can come in, and when he goes to get him Mrs. Marwood leaves quickly.

Mirabell enters and offers sincere apologies for all of his trickery against Lady Wishfort. Sir Wilfull argues on Mirabell's behalf and urges Lady Wishfort to forgive him like a good Christian. Lady Wishfort agrees as long as Mirabell is willing to tear up his marriage contract with Millamant, which he agrees to do. As she looks at Mirabell, Lady Wishfort notes that although she could have killed him just a short while ago looking at him stirs up old passions within her.

Act 5, Scene 3 Summary
Mrs. Marwood and Fainall enter and demand that Lady Wishfort sign the papers turning over the money to Fainall. Lady Wishfort replies that she cannot sign it because Millamant has agreed to marry Sir Wilfull. Fainall does not believe Millamant is sincere, but argues that Lady Wishfort must still turn over his wife's fortune or risk public disgrace. Lady Wishfort laments the fact that Fainall is blackmailing her. Mirabell offers his advice, and asks that Lady Wishfort allow Millamant to marry him as "compensation" for his help. However, he adds that he will help her no matter what.

Lady Wishfort agrees, and offers Millamant to him if he can save her from Fainall's accusations. Mirabell then exposes Fainall's affair with Mrs. Marwood with testimony from Mrs. Fainall, Foible and Mincing. This does not deter Fainall, who threatens once more to expose Mrs. Fainall as an adulteress. Waitwell arrives with a black box and Witwoud and Petulant follow him. Mirabell asks them to remember a document he had them witness. They recall signing it, and Mirabell produces an agreement Mrs. Fainall signed before her marriage placing her fortune in Mirabell's trust. Fainall admits he has been fooled, running at his wife with his sword, only to be stopped by Sir Wilfull.

Fainall threatens Mirabell and then exits, followed quickly by Mrs. Marwood who vows to be avenged. Lady Wishfort praises Mrs. Fainall, who thanks Mirabell for his advice. Lady Wishfort forgives Waitwell and Foible, and notes that she must give Millamant to Mirabell. Sir Wilfull resigns his claim, noting that Mirabell and Millamant love one another and he himself wants to go traveling. He adds that he wants to take Witwoud and Petulant with him. Lady Wishfort blesses the union of Mirabell and Millamant.

Sir Wilfull says that they should have a dance, but Lady Wishfort says she is too tired. She worries that Fainall will try some other mischief. Mirabell tells her that Fainall will have no grounds for protest. He gives the deed of trust back to Mrs. Fainall, remarking that this could end the fighting with Fainall. Mirabell ends the play with a quatrain (two rhyming couplets) warning the audience to avoid falsehood and adultery in marriage.

Act 5, Scene 3 Summary
Mrs. Marwood and Fainall enter and demand that Lady Wishfort sign the papers turning over the money to Fainall. Lady Wishfort replies that she cannot sign it because Millamant has agreed to marry Sir Wilfull. Fainall does not believe Millamant is sincere, but argues that Lady Wishfort must still turn over his wife's fortune or risk public disgrace. Lady Wishfort laments the fact that Fainall is blackmailing her. Mirabell offers his advice, and asks that Lady Wishfort allow Millamant to marry him as "compensation" for his help. However, he adds that he will help her no matter what.

Lady Wishfort agrees, and offers Millamant to him if he can save her from Fainall's accusations. Mirabell then exposes Fainall's affair with Mrs. Marwood with testimony from Mrs. Fainall, Foible and Mincing. This does not deter Fainall, who threatens once more to expose Mrs. Fainall as an adulteress. Waitwell arrives with a black box and Witwoud and Petulant follow him. Mirabell asks them to remember a document he had them witness. They recall signing it, and Mirabell produces an agreement Mrs. Fainall signed before her marriage placing her fortune in Mirabell's trust. Fainall admits he has been fooled, running at his wife with his sword, only to be stopped by Sir Wilfull.

Fainall threatens Mirabell and then exits, followed quickly by Mrs. Marwood who vows to be avenged. Lady Wishfort praises Mrs. Fainall, who thanks Mirabell for his advice. Lady Wishfort forgives Waitwell and Foible, and notes that she must give Millamant to Mirabell. Sir Wilfull resigns his claim, noting that Mirabell and Millamant love one another and he himself wants to go traveling. He adds that he wants to take Witwoud and Petulant with him. Lady Wishfort blesses the union of Mirabell and Millamant.

Sir Wilfull says that they should have a dance, but Lady Wishfort says she is too tired. She worries that Fainall will try some other mischief. Mirabell tells her that Fainall will have no grounds for protest. He gives the deed of trust back to Mrs. Fainall, remarking that this could end the fighting with Fainall. Mirabell ends the play with a quatrain (two rhyming couplets) warning the audience to avoid falsehood and adultery in marriage

Top of Form
Bottom of Form
Epilogue Summary
The epilogue is said in the text to have been delivered by Mrs. Bracegirdle, the actress who played Millamant in one of the play's earliest productions. In the epilogue, Congreve notes that there are three types of critics. The first type of critics, he says, are always going to dislike the plays they see. The second group of critics is failed poets who will find fault with the play even though they lack the qualifications to judge another writer's work.

The final type of critic is almost like a tabloid reporter who will be looking for ways to connect Congreve's characters with real celebrities. Congreve adds that these critics should all be the subject of on-stage satire, but that doing so would inflate their sense of self-importance. He ends by saying that a good satirist (such as himself) keeps his subjects anonymous in order to make broad comments about society

Social Convention
Congreve's "comedy of manners" takes the fashionable or conventional social behavior of the time as the principle subject of satire. Conflicts that arise between and among characters are prompted by affected and artificial social mores, especially with respect to relationships between the sexes. Social pretenses and plot complications abound in The Way of the World. Women are compelled to act coyly and to dissemble in courtship, couples deceive one another in marriage, friends are double-dealing, and conquests have more to do with dowries and convenience than love. All moral principle is risked for the sake of reputation and money. However, what makes the action comic is the subterfuge. What one says is hardly ever what one really thinks or means. To judge by appearances, for example, no one could be happier in his marriage than Fainall, who in reality disdains his wife and is carrying on an adulterous affair with his wife's close friend. Congreve intimates that, in fashionable society at the turn of the eighteenth century, it is crucial to preserve the outer trappings of beauty, wit, and sophistication no matter how egregious one's actions and words might prove.

Dowries, Marriage, and Adultery
In the male-dominated, patriarchal society of Congreve's time, a woman was little more than property in a marriage transaction. Her dowry (money, property, and estate) was relinquished to her husband at marriage and she became, by law, his chattel. In the upper classes, women had little voice in their own fate, and marriages were usually arranged according to social status, size of fortune, and family name. In the play, Millamant's dowry is at the center of the struggle that pits Mirabell, her true lover, against Fainall and Mrs. Marwood, the two adulterers plotting to gain control of Millamant's fortune as well as Fainall's wife's. Cunningly, Mrs. Fainall has had a large part of her estate signed over in trust before her marriage to prevent her husband from acquiring it.

While marriages are important economic contracts, they are also convenient vehicles for protecting social reputations. Mrs. Fainall has made such a marriage, which is socially acceptable and even expected, as long as the pretense of civility is maintained. However, getting caught in an adulterous relationship puts both reputation and fortune at risk. Hence when the relationship between Fainall and Mrs. Marwood is discovered, the two become social outcasts. Fainall has staked his reputation on a plot to disinherit his wife. As punishment, he will have to bear the humiliating exposure, continuing to live with his wife and depend on her for his livelihood. Mrs. Marwood's reputation is ruined, her future hopes destroyed. Congreve's intent is to reflect the way of the world in all its manifest greed. The lesson is that those who cheat get their just desserts in the end.

Decorum and Wit
Congreve invents several characters who, as fops, dandies, and fools, provide fitting foils to the romantic hero and heroine. He pits these purported "wits" against Mirabell and Millamant to comment on the social decline of manners. Since the play is a comedy, audiences are to take it both as serious social satire and also as an amusing romp. No one, of course, escapes Congreve's satirical pen entirely. All people are sometimes fools, Congreve suggests, or sometimes too earnest or too busy inventing counterfeit personas in order to hide their own moral turpitude. Petulant and Witwoud make good fools for they epitomize the shallowness and silliness of fashionable society, but they both also are capable of voicing through their wit the real motivations behind people's actions. They mistake fashionable behavior for decorum and good manners, but they are basically harmless. The comic hero, Mirabell, unscrupulously uses blackmail and trickery to promote his own interests, yet he also represents what is wise and decent in society, and he protects and thoughtfully provides for his friends. Millament, while she acts capriciously and spends time with fops, is inherently thoughtful and able to distinguish between fashion and principles. Lady Wishfort is perhaps the most sympathetically comic character in that, for all her desperate attempts to preserve decorum and for all the power she wields as the wealthy matriarch of the family, she is at heart a lonely widow who will do anything for a husband.

Passion and Puritanism
It has been noted that this final Congreve play was, in effect, a dramatic answer to Puritan Pastor Jeremy Collier's vilification of the theatre world, in which he publicly denounced the English stage as morally bankrupt. As comic heroes, Millamant and Mirabell represent characters who are most in touch with their own natural passions and creative spirits, free of both a fashionable sexual freedom and overwrought piety. Lady Wishfort symbolizes the tyranny and hypocrisy with which society constrains these natural, creative passions in the name of Puritanism. In contrast to the true lovers, she pretends to an elegance and pretentious demeanor at odds with the emotions and passions raging inside her. In a strict and amusingly eccentric Puritanical education in the ways of the world, she has served as a "model" by which to teach her daughter to despise men and lewd behavior, including "going to filthy Plays." It is no coincidence that, in order for the two lovers to finally come together, they must reduce Lady Wishfort's logic and principles to the transparent artifice that it has so clearly become by the end of the play.

Sexual Politics
The war between the sexes in this dramatic comedy is played with wit and artistry, treachery and complex design, tenderness and teasing, passion and charm, and, above all, precise timing. In Congreve's play, it is safe to say that in this particular struggle—the high stakes of which are love, money, and social survival—men and women are equally proficient and powerful. Gender behavior is proscribed within the limits of social convention. Thus male and female attitudes and actions are expected to be very different and those differences are to be strictly maintained. The prenuptial "negotiation" scene between Mirabell and Millamant amusingly yet sincerely establishes the rules by which the couple will manage their marriage, preserving independence and privacy as well as intimacy and love. While the conditions of their agreements seem petty at first glance, it is clear that they reflect prohibitions against the "evil" tendencies of each sex. The bottom line is that Millamant will not be unduly dominated or possessed by her husband and her husband will not be vexed with the wiles of intrigue or the vain fashions of the time. It is a good exchange: it preserves the respect of each party as well as the distinctions and charms perceived to be natural and unique to men and women. Mirabell and Millamant's union is certainly intended as a corrective to the deceitful adultery of Fainall, the pathetic loneliness of Lady Wishfort, and the emptiness and debauchery of the life of the dandy.

Restoration Comedy
Congreve's plays belong to a genre known as Restoration comedy. The Restoration refers to the reestablishment of the monarchy in England with the return of Charles II to the throne in 1660 after a period of social upheaval. In English literature, the Restoration "age" parallels the political period, covering roughly the years from 1660 to the revolution in 1688 when Parliament regained power. The genre is characterized by its satirical view of the times, with its particular focus on the relationship between conventional morality and the individual spirit. Its comic characters are often reflections of the shallow aristocrats of court society; they are peopled with libertines and wits, gallants and dandies. The hero is usually sophisticated and critical of convention and fashion: In The Way of the World, for example, Mirabell is able to out-rascal the other rogues and thereby wins the love and prosperity he seeks as well as the respect and admiration of the other characters. The plays of George Etherege, William Wycherley, Sir John Vanbrugh, and George Farquhar also belong to the English tradition of Restoration comedy.

Congreve's play takes place in London, an apt setting since the play's action revolves around the ways of the fashionable world. Indeed, the play reflects the manners and customs of London life in 1700, when it was first performed. Within the play, Congreve contrasts the pretentious, artificial (and often reprehensible and barbaric) manners of "Town" life with the rough, untutored but more natural country manners reflected in the character of Sir Wilfull. The play's five acts include just three settings: a chocolate house, St. James Park, and Lady Wishfort's London house. Each setting allows a glimpse of the way in which characters comport themselves in public and private.

In the chocolate house, the major male characters meet to drink and gamble in act 1. This is the domain where men seem to rule, and Congreve orients the audience to the social dictates by which they speak and act together. In act 2, the action moves to St. James Park, a more open and public place where men and women interact. In this setting, the intrigues of plot multiply. Couples are on display in the park, to see and be seen. The park is central to the plot because it allows Congreve to show the gap between the outward appearance of good manners and the scheming dialogue between couples in which slander, deceit, and trickery hold sway and where reputations are being ruined or advanced. In the following three acts, the scenes shift to Lady Wishfort's house. Again, the setting is appropriate since it is Lady Wishfort's fortune and her central position as the matriarch of the family that drives the action of the play. The house plays an important role in the development of the action because it has both public and private spaces—closets where characters may hide and overhear, rooms that can be locked, chambers where the private habits of the characters come into sharp contrast with outward appearances. It is in the private world of the house where the management or mismanagement of domestic affairs—marriage, dowry arrangements, match-making, and sexual intrigues—most properly belong.

Five-Act Play
Congreve is following a long tradition of dramatists who, since the classical period, used a formula of dividing the play into five acts of approximately the same length and playing time. The action rises, where it climaxes in the third act, and falls to its denouement. Typically, and it is true in Congreve's play, the first act introduces the characters and sets up the plot, giving background information that helps the audience understand relationships between characters as well as thematic direction. For example, in the first act of this play, Congreve introduces the major male characters, sets up a romantic conflict, establishes the hero as antithetical to the shallow mannerisms of the times, and indicates that the dramatic action will revolve around the play of courtship. The second act complicates the action, increases the conflict, and leads the audience to the crisis of the third act, where the action reaches its most exciting turning point.

The women converge with the men in the second act where the park is the setting for intrigue, the revelation of extramarital affairs, and the hatching of the plot to trick Lady Wishfort into agreeing to the marriage of Mirabell and Millamant. The action leads naturally to the third act where all characters meet in Lady Wishfort's house and where Fainall and Marwood plan their devious plot to exploit Lady Wishfort. It is in the third act that suspense is greatest. The action falls in the fourth act with the resolution of the various plots. The merriment is at its height here: Millamant and Mirabaell negotiate their famous prenuptial agreement, Sir Wilfull performs his finest drunken hour, and the fake Sir Rowland plights his troth to Lady Wishfort only to be undone by the evil machinations of Marwood and Fainall. In the fifth act, the various plots are unraveled and the final event is a happy marriage contract between the two heroes.

Dramatic Devices
Congreve uses several dramatic devices to good purpose. Of particular importance here are impersonation (and disguise), the foil, comic relief, counterplot, and hyperbole. Without these devices, the action could not go forward and the comedy would fall flat.

Impersonation is, of course, a ploy by which Mirabell plans to trick Lady Wishfort into surrendering her niece. With Waitwell disguised as Sir Rowland, Mirabell hopes to inflame Lady Wishfort's passion, persuade her to marry Sir Rowland, and then, when the hoax is revealed, to force her into agreeing to his marriage with Millamant. Disguise is also used in two other instances—when Marwood dons a mask to escape attention in the park after her quarrel with Fainall, and when she hides in the closet and overhears Mirabell's plot. Pretense and disguise are the raw materials of comedy, and they abound in this play. Everyone is pretending, from Lady Wishfort, who must wear layers of paint to hide her age and layers of self-righteousness to feign her disinterest in men, to Mrs. Fainall, who appears to be a wife at the mercy of her husband and turns out to be a shrewd businesswoman. Mirabell plays at being Lady Wishfort's lover; Fainall appears to be an honest husband; Foible is not the loyal waiting woman she seems; and Sir Wilfull good-naturedly feigns his pursuit of Millamant, who, in turn, demonstrates that the shallow and capricious "femme fatale" is in reality an intelligent, passionate, and worthy match to Mirabell.

A character may serve as foil to a protagonist or hero by representing unattractive traits or immoral behavior, thereby causing the hero to shine in a comparatively brighter, superior light. It's easy to see how Fainall, for example, acts as a foil to Mirabell. Both are gentlemen, both are scheming to achieve their own ends. However, Fainall's treachery, his willingness to sacrifice everyone to win, makes him a villain. From the shadows cast by Fainall's evil, Mirabell emerges as a true gallant, saving Mrs. Fainall and Lady Wishfort's reputation and fortune, winning his bride as a reward, and generally succeeding in bringing the action to a happy ending. A similar comparison can be made between Marwood and Millamant.

Comic relief signifies precisely what its name suggests—the introduction of laughter to break the tension over a conflict arising in the action. Paradoxically, comic relief is designed both to ease emotional intensity and to heighten the seriousness of the potential crisis or action. In Congreve's play, as in all good dramatic comedy, tragedy figures largely. It is the reverse side of the coin, the tension, that makes the comedy work. In this play, a funny remark or observation relieves many serious moments of suspense. For example, in act 5 Mirabell first enters Lady Wishfort's presence having been cast out as an object of scorn. His future depends on this moment. He must complete his scheme to liberate Lady Wishfort from her foes and win Millamant. Enter Sir Wilfull by his side, and stepping into the serious breach between them offers words of encouragement:

"Look up Man, I'll stand by you, 'sbud an she do
frown, she can't kill you;—besides—Hearkee she
dare not frown desperately, because her face is none
of her own; 'Sheart an she shou'd her forehead wou'd
wrinkle like the Coat of a Cream-cheese."
Sir Wilfull has managed both to remind the audience of the seriousness of the undertaking and to immediately relieve any prospect of danger by alluding to Lady Wishfort's by now generally-acknowledged vanity and her desperate attempts to maintain her looks.

Using counterplots or subplots, Congreve echoes the themes being played out in the main drama. Subplots complicate the drama and are intended to further engage the audience in the action, vary the theme, and convey the sense of a real and larger world beyond the life of the heroes. Marwood and Fainall conspire in a subplot to ruin Lady Wishfort that provides a counter to Mirabell's own scheme to win the hand of her niece. Lady Wishfort also secretly plans to marry her niece to Sir Wilfull while she herself marries Sir Rowland (Mirabell's pretended uncle) hoping at one and the same time to foil Mirabell's prospects of marriage and have him disinherited.

Hyperbole (deliberate and obvious exaggeration) works together with understatement (deliberately restrained and therefore ironic expressions of reality) to make comedy potent. Such devices also serve to expose cultural stereotypes and, especially in this play, deeply held assumptions about male and female behavior. Examples of hyperbole and understatement abound in Congreve's play. The two "experts" are Witwoud and Petulant, although each character is endowed with a witty energy that is often employed to insult or outsmart a foe. In act 3, Petulant hopes to insult Sir Wilfull by remarking how obvious it is that he's been traveling. "I presume," he says, "upon the Information of your Boots." Petulant's attitude and speech are patently silly and pretentious. But Sir Wilfull is not taken aback. He matches Petulant at his own game by replying in just as exaggerated and deliberate a fashion, "If you are not satisfy'd with the Information of my Boots, Sir if you will step to the Stable, you may enquire further of my Horse, Sir." In the same act, a servant entering the scene with Sir Wilfull conveys the deliberately understated information that Lady Wishfort is growing so old that it takes her all morning to prepare herself for public examination. It is afternoon, and Sir Wilfull has asked the servant if he would even recognize the Lady since he has only been in her employ a week. The servant replies, "Why truly Sir, I cannot safely swear to her Face in a Morning, before she is dress'd. 'Tis like I may give a shrew'd guess at her by this time."

Historical Context
The period in English history from 1670 to 1729, when Congreve lived and worked, was marked by a dramatic political event, which gave its name to the literary tradition known as Restoration drama. In 1660, Charles II came to the throne, and the monarchy, which had been in exile, once again ruled England. Although that restoration period was short-lived (Parliament regained power in 1688), it was important to western culture in that it provided a perfect milieu for the comedy of manners.

The English comedies of this time, Congreve's included, take the manners of high society and the aristocracy as material for satire, focusing their attention, as Henry T. E. Perry writes in The Comic Spirit in Restoration Drama "upon the surface of a highly polished and fundamentally insecure civilization." The merry licentiousness that characterized the new court was itself a reaction against the civil war of the 1640s, which resulted in the dissolution of the monarchy and led to the subsequent Puritanical mood that settled over the country. As Joseph Wood Krutch observes in Comedy and Conscience After the Restoration, the court of Charles II

wished to make the time to come in every way the
reverse of the time that was past, and the sin of
regicide of which the preceding generation had been
guilty made it seem a sort of piety to reverse all that
had been done; to pull down all that had been set up,
and set up all that had been pulled down; to hate all
that had been loved and love all that had been hated.
King Charles loved the theatre, and the Restoration comedies that flourished in this period contain ample cultural evidence of the sophisticated decadence of the times during which he ruled. In the theatres, playgoers did their best to prove the point that the dramatic characters had indeed been modeled on them. High society gentlemen were loud and lewd, more interested in the appearance of their wigs than the play itself, keen to appear witty and cruel and willing to preserve their reputations as gallants by any means necessary, be they ever so barbaric. Krutch notes that it is no wonder that language and actions that would shock modern audiences would merely amuse a seventeenth-century audience. He writes,

"Dramatists were not perverse creatures creating
monsters to debase the auditors, but . . . were merely
holding the mirror up to nature, or rather, to that part
of nature which was best known to their fashionable
Of course, not all of England was peopled by creatures of fashion or high society. Plenty of Puritans lived among the middle and lower classes, and most of the literature written in this period was either religious in nature or scientific and philosophical. John Bunyan had published "Pilgrim's Progress" in 1684, and John Locke published his "Essay Concerning Humane Understanding" in 1690. The epistemology of Locke and the religious passion of Bunyan were far cries from the London stage. It is interesting to note that critics such as the Puritan moralist Jeremy Collier—whose criticism of the stage best expresses the dogmatic protest against it—led the charge to "reform" the English theatre world. Collier's attack on the theatre came two years before the performance of The Way of the World. This play, then, can be read as an amusing retort to the criticism leveled against the stage as well as a symbolic maker at the historical juncture when Restoration comedy was giving way to the next incarnation of English drama, the socalled Sentimental comedy

Anil Pinto said...

Somebody should treat Swati!

Anil Pinto said...

Satyam, will try to answer your qestion after 13. Please do remind me

satya said...

If you mean Satya...... I will definitely remind you :)

Swathi said...

thank yu..

Aishwarya said...

thanks swathi:)

Aishwarya said...

hi sir..i know u r extremely busy and i have no excuses for adding to your workload except that loking at these questions creates panic. what do i write if u happen to ask such questions???????????

1)What function does the poem's supernatural machinery serve?

2)Is Pope being ironic when he treats Belinda's beauty as something almost divine?

3)To what degree can the poem be read as a sexual allegory?

4)What are the distinctive formal features of Pope's poetry?

5)How is the heroic couplet suited to Pope's subject matter, or to satire more generally?

these are in reference to the rape of the lock naturally.

Anonymous said...

Sir,in the poem 'Ozymandias' there is a line that goes "The hand that mock'd them and the heart that fed". To whom does the 'heart' belong?

Anil Pinto said...

can i know what others think of this question on Ozymandias?

The Juvenile Journo said...

Sir, i believe that the "heart" belongs to KIng Ozymandias.By his use of the word "heart",Shelley attempts to portray Ozymandias as a king who although proud of his power and scornful of other kings("the hand that mocked them"), still keeps the well being of his people in mind and takes ample care of them("the heart that feeds them").

Anonymous said...

Hey juvenile journo thank you.. thats the explanation that i found on the net but i still cant figure out how the owner of the heart who fed them is also the owner of the hand that mocked them....what is the logic behind him doing that?? sir,your views on this??

Anonymous said...

juvenile journo, i once again went through what you said and your answer seems logical if the king is mocking other kings...what i now have a doubt is the identity of 'they'........

satya said...

sir, this is a reminder for answering our questions, as you said you would answer them after the 13th.

Anil Pinto said...

My reading, which is not THE reading or the final reading of the lines, is that both the hand and heart are of the sculptor. I am trying to locate the meaning of 'mock' in the Romantic period as well as recall the general attitude of romantics to literary representation. Of course, if i had read Shelly's Defence of Poetry that would have been more useful. But I haven't. If the artist is somebody who is able to see beyond, like the sculptor of Ozymandias, then the heart must be the sculptor's heart, which disapproves the attitude and acts of the king, and represents it while sculpting the statue. Well, can't say more on this now. It's quite tricky!

Anil Pinto said...

The Urn because it still looks so fresh, despite almost two thousand years gap, the poet calls it a foster child of silence and slow time, that it looks so, as if it has been adopted by not time which destroys everything, but slow time, which is extremely slow in destruction. Silence, perhaps because the kind of quiteness that the urn is able to evoke by its very look.

Anil Pinto said...

Satya, it is extremely difficult for me to answer your five question unless i go through the entire text where these sentences appear. I could write making some guesses. But would not like to do that.

Regarding history of essay, you could look up in the encyclopedias in the library or in the library in the English section there is a Bangalore University IBA Optional English textbook titled 'Explorations'. The write up on essay in that book is good. you will find it in the introduction to Bacon's essays.

The last question will not be repeated this time

Anil Pinto said...

Aishwaya, the kind of comparative quesitions that came in mid-sem may not repeat here. Hence, you can ignore the questions 1 and 2 you have asked.

Reg 3. you can look up in the following link in Wiki:

Regarding mystery plays you can look up at the following link:

or at

Anonymous said...

thank you sir........glad you answered because i remember you telling us the same in class but the net versions are different...hence the question. Sir, if you find a better answer please do share the same..........

Anil Pinto said...

U r welcome. Will do

Aishwarya said...

this is a link to a powerpoint presentation on ulysses. its very good and pretty helpful. do check it out.

Aishwarya said...

this is another good link on ulysses i found.
hope it helps

Aishwarya said...

sir this line clears the date confusion we had today
"“Ulysses” was written in 1833 but not published until 1842, in Tennyson’s Poems."

Aishwarya said...

Alfred Tennyson’s “Ulysses” Critical Analysis
Alferd Tennysons’s “Ulysses ”Alfred Tennyson’s ‘Ulysses’ is both a lament and an inspiring poem. Even modern readers who are not so familiar with the classics, can visualize the heroic legend of Ulysses, and so is not prepared for what he finds in the poem— not Ulysses the hero but Ulysses the man. Tennyson brings out the agony felt by Ulysses at his old age, The influence of the Industrial age can be seen in Tennyson’s usage of the word ‘profits’ in the very first line. The character calls himself ‘idle’ showing his disillusionment at this ripe stage of life.
The “still hearth” and “the barren crags” symbolize death. He continues complaining about his hapless state and the reader begins to detect the shallowness of character of this otherwise larger than life legend. He is so self-centered and full of self pity that he shows scant respect for those close to him and those that he rules as seen in lines 4-5. His pride keeps him from calling himself old, in that many words ; He has to allude to his wife’s age to let the reader in on his own advanced years. The wisdom and grace of old age seem to elude him completely as he metaphorically claims “I will drink life to the lees.”Tennyson uses vivid imagery in lines 10 - 11, the “rainy Hyades”again bringing out the fear of death in the narrator . The lines “I am become a name”, and “ myself not least , but honored them all” reflects the awareness Ulysses has of his legendry fame . The reader begins to identify with the character as he seems fraught with the same faults that afflict normal men . “A hungry heart’ is a personification used to highlight the character’s insatiable desire to travel and explore “ I am part of all that I met “, portray the swelling pride of one who knows he is a legend. In lines 22-25 the character laments at having to , ‘pause’ and “ to make an end” symbolizing imminent death. He hates his infirm state as can be seen in lines 24- 30.”For some three suns “ is a connotation suggesting he has been in bed for three days, which for him is the most demeaning of all . Ulysses can see death at his doorstep , yet feels every hour can be used for the unending quest for knowledge. Tennyson uses a powerful simile in line 31 equating ‘knowledge ‘ to ‘the sinking star’ which is the most elusive and the most difficult to discern in the sky. In line 32 he uses a hyperbole to dramatize the extent of the character’s desire for the unknown and the unexplored. The second part of the poem, lines 33-43 are devoted to the contrast between father and son, one can feel the heavy sarcasm in the words “ slow prudence” “blamelessness” and “decency” of his son. He is contemptuous of these traits, which maybe harmless and noble, yet are hardly worthy of a great king. Ulysses’ wandering spirit looks upon any kind of softness as a failing. He sneers at the more ‘centered’ personality of his son who governs his people in a mild and orderly manner .In lines 37-38 he reveals his paradoxical personality as he feels soft handling is a form of subjugation that “ subdues them to the useful and the good”. Here the reader can peer into the maverick character of Ulysses and his complete disregard of anything normal and routine. Another character trait that shows through in lines 41- 42 is that of an agnostic or to put it less strongly, he shows a “jovial agnosticism”. (Landow) .The poem is a dramatic representation of a man who has faith neither in the gods nor in the necessity of preserving order in his kingdom and his own life (Landow). Just as the reader is wearing down under the relentless spate of negative traits of Ulysses, Tennyson brings respite in the third stanza reminding one of the past glories of this fabled soldier of the Trojan war. With rich usage of symbols and visual imagery, he manages to finally make a connection between the character and the reader . The last stanza is directed to his mariners as also to the readers who after visiting upon all the negative traits of his character realized that he too was human like them . He calls upon them, “souls that have toiled ,and wrought ,and thought with me”(46),immediately connecting them to his struggle. Tennyson uses symbolism all through this last stanza.” The port” symbolizes the final place(44),the “vessel puffs her sail” symbolizes the soul ready to leave.“ There gloom the dark, broad seas”(45) denote the unknown nature of the final journey. Ulysses calls upon his friends to take up the challenge in the face of death and like a true soldier, to fight till the end. He refuses to give in to the vagaries of old age and extols the readers to join him in the final battle. “this open invitation to join Ulysses in his last heroic attempt seals the bond between reader and speaker” ( Cleverly) .The hero in us rises to the fore as he implores us with his appeal in line 56-57 “come , my friends .’Tis not too late to seek a newer world”. In lines 60 - 65 Ulysses is not certain where death will take him. “Maybe that the gulf will wash us down”(62) symbolizes the possibility of hell but “Happy Isles” (63) stand for heaven where he feels he will be greeted by his old friends like Achilles .In line 67 Tennyson uses the hyperbolic expression “Moved earth and heaven”, to highlight the legendry strength of Ulysses. “That which we are , we are”, indicate the coming to terms with life or maybe it could even mean the final realization that the soul is more powerful that the body . In the end there is a strong message for the reader - more than a message it is a model to base ones life on -“Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will .To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.(66-70).As the last lines unfold a realization far beyond what is apparent starts emerging. In the initial stanzas of the poem was Ulysses lamenting at his sorry state because he couldn’t gracefully accept old age or was it an appeal to those who pod along, “That hoard, and sleep, and feed” to take notice of life. In that light Ulysses seems to be an enlightened soul, who saw far ahead of the normal people. His quest for knowledge like a ‘sinking star’ was unquenchable. Was he seeking the higher truth. Did he know something that the others were not aware of? “Beyond the utmost bound of human thought” (32). He was seeking something beyond death is evident in “for my purpose holds .To sail beyond sunset.” What does he mean by “ seek a newer world”(57). When we see Ulysses in this light we realize that the faults we sought in him in the initial stages of the poem are failings only as perceived by a society “centered in the sphere of common duties”(39). Otherwise they were not faults but relentless endeavors of a restless soul to seek that which is beyond the realms of human thought.

Cleverly , Rachael . “A Hero Among Men, A Man Among Heroes.” Critical Analysis of Tennyson’s ”Ulysses”
Landow, George . “Literature, history and culture in the age of Victoria”

Aishwarya said...

this is another helpful site...

Anil Pinto said...

Aishwarya, really appreciate your work. There might be more beneficiaries if you repost your comments under the Ulysses main that I have made.

Went through all your links. They are really good.

Keep up

Aishwarya said...

thanks sir:)

Aishwarya said...

could u put in a separate main for
" my last duchess "
i have information to include...

Anil Pinto said...


Aishwarya said...

oh thats great sir..thank you...:)