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LADY MACBETH. Who was it that thus cried?

Why, worthy thane,


LADY MACBETH. Ma chi gridava così? Mio nobile
40 You do unbend your noble strength, to think signore, tu demolisci la tua gran forza , se pensi
So brainsickly of things. Go get some water, alle cose in modo così dissennato. Va, trova un po’
And wash this filthy witness from your hand. d’acqua, e lava dalle tue maniquesta prova sudicia.
Perché portare fuori quei coltelli? Devono restare
Why did you bring these daggers from the place? lì. Su riportali e sporca di sangue le guardie che
They must lie there: go, carry them, and smear dormono.
45 The sleepy grooms with blood. MACBETH. No, lì dentro non ci vado più. Ho paura a
pensare ciò che ho fatto.
MACBETH. I’ll go no more: Guardarlo di nuovo non oso più.
I am afraid to think what I have done; LADY MACBETH. Uomo senza tenacia!
Look on’t again I dare not. Dammi qua i coltelli. Chi dorme e chi è morto son
98 come pitture e nient’altro. È l’occhio dell’infanzia che
LADY MACBETH. Infirm of purpose! teme un diavolo dipinto.
50 Give me the daggers. The sleeping and the dead Se perde ancora sangue ne vernicio le facce delle due
Are but as pictures. ’Tis the eye of childhood guardie, deve sembrare colpa loro.
[Esce. Bussano all’interno.]
That fears a painted devil. If he do bleed, MACBETH. Ma dove bussano?
I’ll gild the faces of the grooms withal; Che mi succede che ogni rumore mi spaventa?
For it must seem their guilt. E queste mani! Ah, mi strappano gli occhi!
Potrà tutto il grande oceano di Nettuno lavare questo
[Exit. Knocking within.] sangue via dalle mie mani?
55 MACBETH. Whence is that knocking? No, piuttosto questa mia mano tingerà di carne viva
How is’t with me, when every noise appals me? i mari innumerevoli mutando il verde in un unico
rosso.
What hands are here! Ha! they pluck out mine eyes! [Entra LADY MACBETH.]
Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood LADY MACBETH. Le mie mani hanno il tuo colore, ma
Clean from my hand? No, this my hand will rather avrei vergogna di avere un cuore così bianco.
[Bussano.]
60 The multitudinous seas incarnadine, Sento bussare al portone a sud. Ritiriamoci
Making the green one red. nelle nostre stanze. Un po’ d’acqua ci netta da
[Enter LADY MACBETH.] quest’azione; vedi com’è facile! La tua costanza t’ha
lasciato.
LADY MACBETH. My hands are of your colour, but I shame [Bussano.]
To wear a heart so white. Senti! Altri colpi. Metti la vesta da camera, che
[Knocking within.] non ci veda che siamo svegli, dovesse chiamarci
il caso. E non perderti più nei tuoi pensieri così
I hear a knocking meschinamente.
65 At the south entry; retire we to our chamber; MACBETH. Molto meglio non sapere chi sono, che
A little water clears us of this deed; sapere che cosa ho fatto.
[Bussano.]
How easy is it, then! Your constancy Sveglia Duncan col tuo picchiare! Ah se lo potessi!
Hath left you unattended. [Escono.]
[Knocking within.] Traduzione di Nemi d’Agostino
Hark! more knocking.
70 Get on your night-gown, lest occasion call us,
And show us to be watchers. Be not lost
So poorly in your thoughts.
MACBETH. To know my deed, ’twere best not know myself.
[Knocking within.]
Wake Duncan with thy knocking! I would thou couldst!
[Exeunt.]

A scene from Giuseppe Verdi’s Macbeth


based on William Shakespeare’s tragedy.

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OVER TO YOU
❶ Read the extract again and answer the following questions.
1. Macbeth has killed Duncan. Now he is worried because he cannot say ‘Amen’. What
does his wife advise him to do?
2. Macbeth hears a voice saying ‘Macbeth does murder sleep’. Again, what is Lady
Macbeth’s advice?
3. What did the guards do while Macbeth was in the king’s chamber?
4. What does Macbeth refuse to do? Why?
5. Lady Macbeth offers to do it. She says there is no need to be afraid. Why?
6. At the end of the scene in line 62 what colour are Lady Macbeth’s hands and why?
7. Why does she urge Macbeth to put his night gown on? 99

2 / The Renaissance and the Puritan Age


❷ Macbeth is tormented by his sense of guilt. Quote two examples from the text
which show this.

❸ Focus on Lady Macbeth. Consider what she says in lines 12, 23, 27-28 and 39-45:
when does she try to calm her husband down and when does she reproach him?
Can you find other reproaches from her?

❹ Who shows more cold-blooded determination? Lady Macbeth or her husband?


Support your answer with quotations from the text.

❺ The tragedy is pervaded by hallucinations and visions. Identify them in the text.
❻ The tragedy is also rich in imagery and symbols.
1. What does the owl represent in the drama?
2. Sleep is an important symbol used throughout the tragedy. How do you interpret
the sentence: ‘Sleep no more! Macbeth does murder sleep’? Choose from the
following (more then one is possible).
he feels too guilty to sleep
he is afraid to sleep in case he also becomes a victim
he can’t sleep because, as a king, he will have much to do
he doesn’t want to sleep in case he is persecuted by his victims’ spirits

REVIEW
❶ Answer true or false.
1. Macbeth is a simple soldier. T F
2. Macbeth and Lady Macbeth act together to kill Duncan. T F
3. Macbeth becomes king. T F
4. In the course of the play Macbeth kills other people. T F
5. In the play there are supernatural elements. T F
6. Macbeth is a positive hero. T F
7. Macbeth feels remorse for the crimes he has committed. T F
8. In spite of everything he enjoys his powerful position. T F

❷ Choose the correct alternative.


1. What do the three witches represent?
lust for power the power of evil the potential for
evil in man
2. What is the main theme of Macbeth?
love ambition social relations
3. What makes Macbeth comparable to a modern thriller?
the plot the characters the supernatural
elements

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Shakespeare’s sonnets
William Shakespeare wrote 154 sonnets between
1592 and 1600, when the theatres were closed by an
outbreak of the plague. They were published in 1609.
The collection does not focus on one specific person,
but on two different figures: a young man and a
mysterious ‘dark lady’. They are traditionally divided
into three sections:
100 ǞéèèàîíϲƸϲϸïìâàÜóéïèâçÜèîéçÜììóÜèßãÜðà
children;
ǞéèèàîíϲϹƸϲϳϷÜìàßàßäÞÜîàßîéÜóéïèâçÜèƭ
ǞéèèàîíϲϳϸƸϲ϶ϵÜìàßàßäÞÜîàßîéÜíéƸÞÜææàßDZßÜìå
lady’.
Their structure consists of 14 lines, each line has 10
syllables and the metre is iambic.

The themes
The themes of Shakespeare’s sonnets are
conventional: namely love, beauty, the passing
John Taylor, of time and its effects on people and things. Although Shakespeare’s themes are
Portrait of William conventional he deals with them with great originality and depth.
Shakespeare, 1610.
Oil on canvas; We know that Shakespeare did not invent the → sonnet form (derived from the
National Portrait Petrarchan model), but he did transform it into something completely new. They are
Gallery, London.
different to other sonnets written at the time, for example those by Sir Philip Sidney,
as they do not tell a story, unless you read them as a sequence, and they rarely refer
Look at the Genres to a specific incident or place. There is also no temporal perspective. His sonnets are
Portfolio to revise predominantly an expression of internal emotions and feelings in monologue form, a
the characteristics
of the sonnet. meditative moment in which the speaker seems to be thinking aloud.

Since most of
the sonnets are
‘Sonnet 18’
passionate and
intense, they ‘Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day...’ This is one of the most famous passages
have been seen in English literature, together with the soliloquy ‘To be or not to be’ from Hamlet and
by many critics as ‘What’s in a name? That which we call a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet’
referring to the
author’s personal from Romeo and Juliet. There are several reasons which contribute to its popularity: first
experiences, its simplicity; this sonnet is more direct and straightforward than many of the others
but there is no written by Shakespeare. It is also a hymn to Shakespeare’s originality. He begins with
evidence of this.
the conventional theme of love and the power of poetry. He then elaborates on these
themes making the friendship for his friend immortal, as it remains forever captivated
within the sonnet’s fourteen lines.
Being part of the second group of sonnets that Shakespeare wrote, this sonnet is
dedicated to a young male. The speaker in the sonnet not only celebrates the beauty and
perfection of his friend, but he also celebrates the power of poetry and of himself.

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1. Rough...May: Venti
tempestosi scuotono
CD 1 - TR 11 i cari boccioli di
‘Sonnet 18’ MP3 13 maggio.
2. And...date: E la
durata dell’estate ha
una scadenza troppo
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? breve.
Thou art more lovely and more temperate. 3. his...dimm’d: il
suo aspetto dorato è
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May1, oscurato.
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date2. 4. ev’ry...fair: ogni
bellezza dalla
5 Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines, bellezza.
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d3, 5. untrimmed: privata
di ornamenti. 101
And ev’ry fair from fair4 sometime declines , 6. thy: [your].

2 / The Renaissance and the Puritan Age


By chance or Nature’s changing course untrimmed5; 7. shall not fade: non
appassirà.
But thy6 eternal summer shall not fade7, 8. Nor…ow’st: né
10 Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st8; perderà possesso di
quella bellezza di cui
Nor shall Death brag thou wand’rest in his shade9, sei in debito.
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st10. 9. Nor…shade: né si
vanterà la morte che
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see, tu vaghi nella sua
ombra.
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee11. 10. thou grow’st: tu
crescerai.
11. thee: [you].

OVER TO YOU
❶ What does the poet wonder in the first line?
❷ In the second line he answers the question by saying that
......................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... .

❸ In the following four lines he explains why his friend is different from a
summer’s day. Explain it in your own words.

❹ In lines 7 and 8 the poet states that (choose):


all beautiful things are doomed to decline
all human beings are destined to die
poetry is immortal

❺ In the third quatrain the poet wants to underline the differences between his
friend and a summer’s day. In line 9 he compares him again to summer, but what
kind of summer is it?

❻ In the following lines of the quatrain the poet suggests that his friend’s beauty,
unlike the beauty of summer, will last forever. Why?

❼ What does the poet state in the final couplet?


❽ Focus on the form of the sonnet. How is it structured?
❾ What power is attributed to poetry?
10 The poem ends on a note of (choose):
triumph tragedy sadness

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‘Sonnet 130’
As we stated previously, ‘Sonnet 18’ was dedicated to a young man. The second sonnet
we are going to look at is dedicated to a mysterious ‘dark lady’. The lady in ‘Sonnet 130’
was by no means beautiful and Shakespeare does not hide this fact. He actually speaks
plainly about her defects. This was in contrast to most poets of the time who would
use the sonnet form to idealise their ladies and their beauty. It became almost a game
of prestige among sonneteers to try and demonstrate who had the most beautiful lady.
It was a game based on falsity and exaggeration and it was this falsity that Shakespeare
102 attacked in ‘Sonnet 130’. For this reason this sonnet can be seen as a satire against his
contemporaries as he makes a point of writing something true to his heart instead of
complying with the conventions of his time. For this reason Shakespeare’s poem stands
out for its originality. It is a sonnet which also poses some interesting questions about
why we love a person and also about beauty. Is beauty only something aesthetic?

CD 1 - TR 12
‘Sonnet 130’ MP3 14
1. her breasts are
dun: il suo seno è My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;
grigiastro.
2. wires: fili di ferro. Coral is far more red than her lips’ red.
3. damasked: If snow be white, why then, her breasts are dun1;
screziate.
If hairs be wires2, black wires grow on her head;
4. breath: alito.
5. reeks: puzzare. 5 I have seen roses damasked3, red and white,
6. grant: vi garantisco. But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
7. treads: calpesta. And in some perfumes is there more delight
8. As any she Than in the breath4 that from my mistress reeks5;
belied with false
compare: come una I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
donna mai tradita
da strambi paragoni. 10 That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant6 I never saw a goddess go –
My mistress when she walks treads7 on the ground.
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare8.

OVER TO YOU
❶ In the physical description of the woman the speaker concentrates on what she
does not have. Complete the following.
1. Her eyes are not .......................................................................................................................................................................................................... .
2. Her lips are not ............................................................................................................................................................................................................. .
3. Her breasts are not ................................................................................................................................................................................................. .
4. Her cheeks are not .................................................................................................................................................................................................. .
5. Her breath is not ........................................................................................................................................................................................................ .
6. Her voice is not ............................................................................................................................................................................................................ .
The only physical details we can be sure of concern her hair and the way she
walks. Complete.
7. Her hair is similar to .............................................................................................................................................................................................. .
8. She walks ............................................................................................................................................................................................................................... .

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❷ Now complete this summary of the sonnet by choosing a word from below.
 *)/-./.Ţ)*/Ţ(0.$Ţ!'. Ţ'4Ţ- '$./$Ţ" )0$) Ţ0) -'$) Ţ(*- Ţ..*$/ 
In this sonnet Shakespeare is describing a ........................................ (1) in ........................................ (2) terms.
He presents the usual romantic analogies normally ........................................ (3) with beauty, such
as the sun, roses and ........................................ (4) but then says how his mistress ........................................ (5)
completely with these ........................................ (6) images. He wants to ........................................ (7) that she
is .......................................... (8) perfect and concludes by saying that he loves her .......................................... (9)
because of this. His love is ........................................ (10) and not based on aesthetics.

❸ The final couplet contrasts with the rest of the sonnet. Why? 103
❹ With which two words does the whole meaning of the sonnet begin to change?

2 / The Renaissance and the Puritan Age


❺ What do you think could have been the lady’s reaction to this sonnet? Choose
from the following (more than one is possible).
amused angry upset

❻ In what way could it be seen as complimentary towards her?

COMPARE AND CONTRAST


❼ How does the tone of this sonnet differ from ‘Sonnet 18’?
❽ Look at the final couplet of each sonnet, the concluding message. Which sonnet
has the most complimentary conclusion?

❾ Identify the rhyme scheme and say whether it is typical of Elizabethan sonnets.
10 How would you react to such a poem if it were addressed to you? Discuss in class.
11 ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.’ Discuss this statement in groups. Compare
your own definitions of beauty.

WRITER’S CORNER
12 In pairs, using either ‘Sonnet 18’ or ‘Sonnet 130’ as a model, try and write an
amusing parody. Compare your results with the rest of the class and decide
which two are the funniest.
Begin: ‘Shall I compare thee to a ............................................................................ ’ or ‘My mistress’/master’s
eyes are nothing like ............................................................................ ’

REVIEW
❶ Answer true or false.
1. Shakespeare’s sonnets were all published posthumously. T F
2. He dedicated them to three women. T F
3. The sonnets are traditionally divided into two groups. T F
4. Shakespeare dealt with very original themes in the sonnets. T F
5. Shakespeare uses the traditional form of the sonnet. T F
6. In the sonnets there are a lot of biographical references. T F
7. Shakespeare’s sonnets are not set in a specific time or place. T F
8. ‘Sonnet 18’ is dedicated to a man. T F
9. Its main theme is beauty. T F
10. It is more simple and straightforward than other sonnets. T F
11. ‘Sonnet 130’ presents a flattering image of female beauty. T F
12. In this sonnet Shakespeare was praising his contemporaries
and their representation of perfection. T F

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John
(1572-1631)
Donne

104
Isaac Oliver,
Portrait of John
Donne, 1616. Oil on
canvas; National
Portrait Gallery,
London.
J ohn Donne was born in London in 1572 into
a Catholic family. He studied at Oxford for
three years, but left before obtaining a degree.
In 1591 he began to study law at Lincoln’s Inn in
London and in 1592 he became private secretary
to Sir Thomas Egerton, lord keeper of the great
seal. He then spent a period travelling through
Italy and Spain. In 1601 he was dismissed from
his post as private secretary and imprisoned
for having secretly married Thomas Egerton’s
niece, Anne More. This was the period in
which he converted to Anglicanism. Freed
from prison in 1602, he was forced to leave
London with his wife. The years between 1603
and 1610 were the most difficult of his life, mainly
due to financial problems. In 1610 he earned the
favour of King James I with the publication of the
treatise Pseudo-Martyr, which contained an attack on
Catholicism. He was appointed Royal Chaplain in 1615 and enjoyed the protection of
the king. He then began a successful career as a preacher. In 1621 he became Dean of
Saint Paul’s Cathedral, a position which he held until his death in 1631.

Main works
• Songs and Sonnets (1633)
• Sermons (1640, 1649 and 1661)

Songs and Sonnets


Only two elegies and two texts of minor importance were published when the poet was
While in the first alive. His Songs and Sonnets, which include about 55 poems, circulated in manuscript
part of his life
his poetry was form, copied by scribes, friends and poets when he was alive but only published
mainly inspired by posthumously. During his lifetime his poetry was considered extreme and bizarre by his
earthly love after contemporaries and was only known and appreciated in the sphere of religious poetry. It
his conversion
to Anglicanism was not until the beginning of the 20th century that his poetry enjoyed a revival and his
he composed reputation was restored. This change was mainly due to the interest of famous, modern
religious literature poets and critics such as T.S. Eliot.
and became
famous for his
sermons and John Donne’s poetic themes
poems. In his 19
holy sonnets, One of the major themes of Donne’s poetry is love, both the love of women and the love
in which he of the divine. He inherited this theme from the traditions of his period, but enriched
expresses his it in content and style. He detached himself from Elizabethan poetry by refusing to
fears, hopes and
internal conflicts, accept the medieval idea of a duality between the soul and the body and also the ascetic
his main themes attitude of the Petrarchan lover. Through his poetry, Donne expresses a variety of views
are sin, death and and attitudes towards love: from the physical to the spiritual, from the religious to the
salvation.
sensual, or a combination of all of these.

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Donne’s style John Donne
Complex and rich in imagery, his poems became famous for his use of unusual ‘conceits’ is generally
and a rhetorical style, which would establish parallels between two very different things. recognised as the
leading exponent
When portraying ‘love’, Donne connects it with every aspect of reality, especially from of the so-called
art and the sciences. His language is colloquial and direct but, at the same time, he mixes ‘metaphysical
hyperbole, puns and conceits, paradoxes and syllogisms, to form images that convey poetry’, a
poetry based
strong and intense emotions. on elaborate
concepts and
unusual symbols,
which his
105
‘The Sun Rising’ contemporaries
found

2 / The Renaissance and the Puritan Age


disconcerting.

BEFORE READING
‘The Sun Rising’ is in the tradition of poems dating back from medieval French
known as aubades, which focus on lovers parting at dawn. They are often adulterous
or illicit lovers, who do not want to separate but at the same time cannot risk
getting caught. Have you ever read any other poems which deal with this theme?
Why do you think parting from one’s lover could be a good topic for poetry?

Peter Paul
Rubens, Venus
and Cupid,
c.1606-11. Oil on
canvas; Thyssen-
Bornemisza
Museum, Madrid.

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CD 1 - TR 13
‘The Sun Rising’ MP3 15

Busy old fool, unruly Sun,


Why dost thou thus,
1. King: possibile Through windows and through curtains, call on us?
riferimento
a re James I, Must to thy motions lovers’ seasons run?
appassionato di
5 Saucy pedantic wretch, go chide
106 caccia.
2. country ants: in Late school boys and sour prentices,
senso metaforico,
come contadini o Go tell court-huntsmen that the King1 will ride,
braccianti. Call country ants2 to harvest offices;
3. Indias…mine: le
Indie orientali erano Love, all alike, no season knows nor clime,
famose per le spezie.
10 Nor hours, days, months, which are the rags of time.
4. Princes…
us: secondo
il paradigma
platonico, ogni Thy beams so reverend and strong
aspetto del mondo
non è che la copia Why shouldst thou think?
degli amanti; quindi I could eclipse and cloud them with a wink,
i Principi, che sono
al vertice della But that I would not lose her sight so long;
piramide politica
e culturale, sono 15 If her eyes have not blinded thine,
visti come attori
che recitano la Look, and tomorrow late, tell me,
parte dei personaggi Whether both th’ Indias of spice and mine3
autentici, degli
amanti. Be where thou left’st them, or lie here with me.
5. All honour’s… Ask for those kings whom thou saw’st yesterday,
alchemy: viene
ribadito il concetto 20 And thou shalt hear, All here in one bed lay.
dell’imitazione; ogni
onore mondano non
è che l’imitazione di
quello degli amanti; She’s all states, and all princes, I,
ogni altra ricchezza Nothing else is.
è alchimia, nel senso
di ‘inganno’. Princes do but play us4; compared to this,
All honour’s mimic, all wealth alchemy5.
25 Thou, Sun, art half as happy as we,
In that the world’s contracted thus;
Thine age asks ease, and since thy duties be
To warm the world, that’s done in warming us.
Shine here to us, and thou art everywhere;
30 This bed thy center is, these walls thy sphere.

Frans Francken II the Younger, Two Lovers


in a Garden. Oil on panel; Private Collection.

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OVER TO YOU
❶ Answer the following questions.
1. Who are the ‘I’, ‘she’, ‘thou’ of the poem? Where are they? What time of day is it?
2. Who does the poet address directly? Why?
3. What does the poet request, warn and invite the sun to do?
4. What does the poet say about his lover and himself?

❷ Complete the following summary using the words from below.


  '$+. Ţ$ƍ - )/Ţ2-(Ţ- ..Ţ0-./.Ţ.$($'-Ţ*+4Ţ )/- Ţ&$)".Ţ.$"#/.Ţ
.0)Ţ 
‘The Sun Rising’ is another kind of ‘morning poem’, ........................................ (1) to ‘The Good 107
Morrow’, but also ........................................ (2) because the poet does not ........................................ (3) his

2 / The Renaissance and the Puritan Age


lover but the ........................................ (4) itself which ........................................ (5) into the lovers’ room
and disturbs them. The poet could ........................................ (6) the sun, but he won’t (because
then he would not see his lover). The sun should realise that all the most beautiful
........................................ (7) in the world, including ........................................ (8) are there in that room,

on that ........................................ (9). The microcosmic world of love becomes larger and more
important than the macrocosmic world, and every other thing is but a .................................... (10)
of the lovers. So the old sun should shine and ........................................ (11) them: their bed has
become the ........................................ (12) of the universe.

❸ Underline the expressions referring to the sun and say what they suggest.
❹ Say in your own words what idea is expressed in the following lines.
1. ‘Love, all alike, no season knows nor clime, / Nor hours, days, months, which are
the rags of time’ (ll. 9-10)
2. ‘Thou sun, art half as happy as we, / in that the world’s contracted thus’ (ll. 25-26)
3. ‘This bed thy center is, these walls thy sphere’ (l. 30)

❺ Identify the poem’s structure and metric pattern.


❻ The language and style of the poem are rather complex and rich in figures
of speech. Match the following examples from the poem with the correct
definition.
1. ‘Busy old fool, unruly Sun, / Why dost thou thus’ (ll. 1-2) hyperbole
2. ‘She’is all states and all princes, I / Nothing else is’ (ll. 21-22) repetition
3. ‘... hours, days, months, which are the rags of time’ (l. 10) simile
4. ‘Busy old fool , unruly sun’ (l. 1); ‘Saucy pedantic wretch’ (l. 5) address
5. ‘Through windows, and through curtains’ (l. 3) personification
6. ‘Thou, Sun, art half as happy as we’ (l. 25) metaphor

REVIEW
❶ Answer true or false.
1. Most of Donne’s poetry was published posthumously. T F
2. Donne’s poetry followed the traditions of the period
both in content and in style. T F
3. There are elements of sensual love in his poetry. T F
4. He wrote 19 sonnets which were called ‘holy’. T F

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THE PURITAN AGE (1625-60)
THE HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

Charles I
Charles I (1625-49), a Stuart, like his father James I, believed in the divine right and
absolute power of the monarch. He alone ruled the country and paid little attention to
108 → Parliament. When he could not find a solution to the financial problems caused by the
The Parliamentarians cost of war abroad, he decided to dissolve Parliament in 1629 and did not call another
were also known as
‘The Roundheads’ for eleven years. This caused an uproar, particularly among the Puritans and was one of
because of their the main causes of the Civil War.
unique short
hairstyle; the fashion
of the time was for The quarrel between king and Parliament
men to have long In 1640 Charles I was forced to summon Parliament to try and solve increasing problems
hair.
at home (a rebellion in Scotland) and abroad. Parliament, however, due to the growing
opposition to the king, especially from Puritans, only lasted three weeks and became
known as the ‘Short Parliament’. The king called Parliament a second time that year,
but it continued to refuse the king financial support to solve his difficulties. This second
parliament lasted tenuously until 1642 and became known as the ‘Long Parliament’.
The Parliamentarians One of the members of this Long Parliament was Oliver Cromwell, a man who would
were supported by
the nobility and the play a very important role in the events to come. Charles I had become less and less
clergy. The middle willing to listen to Parliament and was gradually turning into a dictator, upsetting the
class and town balance of power between king and government.
dwellers supported
Oliver Cromwell
(commander of The Civil War
the army) and
Parliament. The Civil War broke out when, in 1642, Parliament demanded control of the army and
Charles I refused. It consisted of a series of armed → conflicts between two factions: the
Parliamentarians on the one hand and the ‘Royalists’, or ‘Cavaliers’ on the other.
The war ended with the king’s defeat and he was publicly executed in Whitehall,
London, in 1649.

Robert Walker, Oliver Cromwell, c.1649. Oil on canvas; National Portrait Gallery, London.

1625-49
King Charles I’s reign 1649-58
Oliver Cromwell’s
republic

1660
1642-48 King Charles
Civil War II’s reign

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Oliver Cromwell’s republic The Puritans:
After the victory against the king’s army, Oliver Cromwell became the political leader this is the name
of the new government (1649-58) and was given the title of ‘Lord Protector’. He was a given to a branch
of extreme
charismatic and able leader. England, for the first time in history, had no monarchy. It Protestants within
was called a republic, but, in reality, it was a dictatorship. During Cromwell’s republic the Church of
(or Commonwealth), theatres were closed, and every kind of entertainment was England in the
16th century. They
suppressed, seen as immoral and unrefined. encouraged direct
Cromwell died in 1658. His rule and → Puritan influences had brought a mood of austerity personal religious
and depression to the country and in 1660 the monarchy was restored.The people needed experience within
a strict moral
some light relief and found it with Charles II (1660-85).Theatres were re-opened and public code of conduct. 109
entertainment was re-introduced. Charles II became known as the Merry Monarch, but with Puritanism found

2 / The Renaissance and the Puritan Age


his restoration, and from then on, the monarchy would be very different.The king or queen fertile ground
amongst the
would have only a limited power as a ‘constitutional’ monarchy. middle class as
it underlined the
value of work and
OVER TO YOU individualism.
This credo was
❶ Complete the following passage about Charles I and the Civil War using one or at the basis of
more words. the Industrial
Charles I believed in the .............................................................. (1) therefore he ruled the country alone Revolution which
was to begin a
without the help of .............................................................. (2). In 1629 he .............................................................. (3). In 1640 hundred years
he was forced to ........................................................ (4) but it continued to refuse .................................................... (5). later.
In 1642 the Civil War broke out when Parliament demanded .............................................................. (6)
and Charles I refused. The two factions were: on one side .............................................................. (7), and
on the other side .............................................................. (8).

❷ Answer the following the questions.


1. Who was the political leader of the new government? Charles Landseer,
2. What form of government was created? Cromwell in the
3. When did it end? Battle of Naseby
4. What kind of mood did it bring into the country? Why? in 1645, 1851. Oil
on canvas; Alte
5. Who ascended the throne? Nationalgalerie,
6. What kind of monarchy was established? Berlin.

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PURITAN LITERATURE
THE LITERARY CONTEXT

Poetry
The poetry of the
time also included A new tradition began in poetry and it became known as the ‘poetry of wit’,
110 the Cavalier distinguished by a style rich in the use of simile and metaphor and by the use of
poets (Robert contradictory terms.
Herrick and
Richard Lovelace), It slowly abandoned the purely rhetorical conventions of the Elizabethan Age and
so called became more direct in order to express man’s new reality; a man aware of being at the
because of their centre of the world, but at the same time in search of his true identity.
associations with
Charles I and his John Donne was the first to adopt these new literary trends in the late 16th century.
exiled son Charles The other great poet and central figure of this age was John Milton (1608-74). In Paradise
II. Their themes Lost (first published in 1667), he abandoned the conventions of the Renaissance and
were mainly
loyalty, beauty ‘invented’ a new epic, in which he attempted to combine the classical and humanistic
and love. traditions with the Christian thought of the new Reformation.

Prose
The theatre
declined rapidly More varied than poetry, the prose of this period reflected a new style which aimed at
in the Puritan clarity and precision. This is evident in the writings of the philosopher Thomas Hobbes
Age. By 1648 strict (1588-1679), particularly in Leviathan (1651). This work supported absolutism in politics and
rules had been
passed by the is considered the foundation of modern political science.
Puritans which led
to the closing or
the pulling down
of most of the OVER TO YOU
theatres. When
Oliver Cromwell
❶ Complete these sentences about poetry in the Puritan Age.
died in 1660, 1. Poetry in the Puritan Age was characterised by .......................................................................................................... .
theatrical life 2. It became more direct in order to .................................................................................................................................................... .
started its slow 3. A great poet of the time was .................................................................................................................................................................. .
revival and was to
flourish once more 4. His most important work is ...................................................................................................................................................................... .
in the Restoration 5. The Cavalier poets were ................................................................................................................................................................................ .
period.
❷ Answer the following questions about prose of the Puritan Age.
1. What did the prose of the Puritan Age try to do?
2. Which work best illustrates this?

1667
John Milton
Paradise Lost

George Henry
Boughton, Andrew
Marvell visiting his
Friend John Milton.
Oil on canvas;
Private Collection.

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John
(1608-74)
Milton

B orn into a strict Protestant family in


London, Milton received an excellent
education which he completed at
Cambridge University. After Cambridge he
dismissed a career in the Church, shocked by
111

2 / The Renaissance and the Puritan Age


the corruption he saw there, and decided to
concentrate on writing and studying the
classics. At the outbreak of the Civil War
Milton, who was a passionate Puritan and
a great supporter of Oliver Cromwell, took
office for him as secretary.
Following the Restoration, however,
having been publicly on the side of the
Parliamentarians during the war, Milton
was imprisoned. After a short period he
was released and eventually granted a full
pardon.
William Faithorne,
By this time his eyesight had already begun to Portrait of
fail him and by 1652 he became completely blind John Milton.
and could continue writing only with the help of Oil on canvas;
Huntington
secretaries.This makes the completion of his greatest Library and Art
works, Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained, in these later years, Gallery, San
Marino (CA, USA).
even more extraordinary. He died in 1674.
Main works
• ‘Lycidas’ (1637)
• Sonnets (1650-60)
• Paradise Lost (1667)
• Paradise Regained; Samson Agonistes (1671)

Milton’s literary life


John Milton was undoubtedly the greatest poet of the 17th century and with Paradise
Lost he achieved his goal of writing an epic poem to the standards of Homer and Virgil.
Yet he was also one of the most controversial figures in English literature. He was
passionately anti-clerical and at the same time highly religious; in fact both he and his
works were deeply affected by the great political and social changes of the period. Milton
was passionately involved in all these events and his works combine the humanist and
classical traditions, which were the fruits of his studies and typical of the Renaissance.
His life and works can be divided into three distinct periods. In the first period (1629-39)
Milton concentrated on poetry. In the second period (1640-60), that of the Civil War, he
almost entirely abandoned poetry and dedicated himself to writing prose in favour of
Cromwell’s cause. He did, however, write 17 sonnets in this period, including one of his
most famous, ‘On His Blindness’.
Milton’s third period is marked by the restoration of the monarchy in 1660. This was a
great disappointment to the poet, who had dedicated himself to the Commonwealth
cause. Despite his disappointment (or because of it) this period marked Milton’s return
to poetry and his greatest literary achievements.

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Milton’s style
Milton’s style is by no means easy for the modern reader as it is the result of many years of
classical studies. It is also imbued with his strong religious beliefs. He believed that man
was put on earth to serve God and that every poet had the ‘divine mission’ of justifying the
ways of God to man. Blank verse, complex similes and long, Latinate sentences further
contributed to the grandeur of his work and became known as Milton’s ‘grand style’.

112 Paradise Lost (1667)


Milton planned his greatest poetical work as a Christian → epic, in keeping with his
Epic Poetry Puritan faith and classical Renaissance learning. Using Homer, Virgil and Dante as
It is a long poem models he also developed the idea of a divine plan. The plot centres around the biblical
which narrates
the story of one themes of man’s fall from grace and divine providence. Milton uses the Ptolemaic
or more heroic model of the universe in which there is a rigid hierarchy with God alone at the top then
figures. descending down to the lowest level, animals. The work is divided into 12 books. It
The first epic
poem in English begins with Lucifer and the fallen angels who are defeated by God in their rebellion and
literature is are driven from heaven into hell. Satan seeks his revenge on God by convincing Eve, in
Beowulf. the Garden of Eden, to eat from the Tree of Knowledge and so disobey God. Adam also eats
See → pp. 16-18.
the fruit to share Eve’s punishment. Although they both repent their sins they are forced
to leave Paradise forever and enter the world. Paradise Lost has also been interpreted as
an allegory of the political events of his time; Satan’s banishment from heaven being
compared with Charles I’s loss of the throne. In the world of literature parallels have
John Martin, been drawn between Milton’s Satan and Marlowe’s Faustus. Both are epic heroes who
Pandemonium, dare to challenge the religious and natural order.
1841. Oil on
canvas; Louvre,
Paris.

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BEFORE READING
Which of these words do you associate with hell, which with heaven?
-$. Ţ 1$'Ţ'*0.Ţ'$"#/Ţ- Ţ)" '.Ţ-$(./*) Ţ*Ţ.$).Ţ"**) ..Ţ/)Ţ+$)
Heaven Hell
..................................................................................................................................... .....................................................................................................................................

..................................................................................................................................... .....................................................................................................................................

..................................................................................................................................... .....................................................................................................................................

113

2 / The Renaissance and the Puritan Age


Paradise Lost CD 1 - TR 14
MP3 16

Satan and the rebel angels have arrived in hell. They are depressed at their tragic
circumstances. Satan first manages to arouse them from their resignation with an
inspiring speech and then reflects on their new environment, trying to convince them that
not everything is completely negative.

‘Is this the region, this the soil, the clime,’


Said then the lost archangel, ‘this the seat
«E questa la regione, è questo il suolo e il
That we must change for heaven, this mournful gloom clima», disse allora l’Arcangelo perduto, «è
For that celestial light? Be it so, since he questa sede che abbiamo guadagnato contro
5 Who now is sovereign can dispose and bid il cielo, questo dolente buio contro la luce
celestiale? Ebbene, sia pure così se ora colui
What shall be right: farthest from him is best, che è sovrano può dire e decidere che cosa sia
Whom reason hath equalled, force hath made supreme il giusto; e più lontani siamo da lui e meglio
Above his equals. Farewell, happy fields, è, da lui che ci uguagliava per ragione e che
la forza ha ormai reso supremo sopra i suoi
Where joy forever dwells: hail, horrors! hail, uguali. Addio, campi felici, dove la gioia regna
10 Infernal world! and thou, profoundest hell, eternamente! E a voi salute, orrori, mondo
Receive thy new possessor: one who brings infernale; e tu, profondissimo inferno, ricevi
il nuovo possidente: uno che tempi o luoghi
A mind not to be changed by place or time. mai potranno mutare la sua mente. La mente
The mind is its own place, and in itself è il proprio luogo, e può in sé fare un cielo
Can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven. dell’inferno, un inferno del cielo.
Che cosa importa dove, se rimango me stesso;
15 What matter where, if I be still the same, e che altro dovrei essere allora se non tutto,
And what I should be, all but less than he e inferiore soltanto a lui che il tuono ha reso
Whom thunder hath made greater? Here at least più potente? Qui almeno saremo liberi; poiché
l’Altissimo non ha edificato questo luogo per
We shall be free; the Almighty hath not built poi dovercelo anche invidiare, non ne saremo
Here for his envy, will not drive us hence: cacciati: vi regneremo sicuri, e a mio giudizio
20 Here we may reign secure, and in my choice regnare è una degna ambizione, anche sopra
l’inferno: meglio regnare all’inferno che servire
To reign is worth ambition, though in hell: in cielo.
Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven. Quindi perché lasciare gli amici fedeli, gli alleati
But wherefore let we then our faithful friends, e i partecipi di questa nostra perdita, giacere
così attoniti sull’acque immemoriali, e non
The associates and co-partners of our loss, chiamarli con noi a condividere la loro sorte
25 Lie thus astonished on the oblivious pool, in questa dimora infelice, o a tentare con noi
And call them not to share with us their part nuovamente, riprese le armi, ciò che ancora
può essere riconquistato in cielo, o ciò che
In this unhappy mansion, or once more ancora di più può essere perduto nell’inferno?»
With rallied arms to try what may be yet Traduzione di Roberto Sanesi
Regained in heaven, or what more lost in hell?’

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OVER TO YOU
❶ What is Satan called (line 2)?
❷ Satan talks about Hell. What words does he use to describe it (line 3)?
❸ In line 6 Satan says: ‘...farthest from him is best.’ Who is the ‘him’ he is referring to?
❹ Satan keeps talking to his companions. He bids farewell to ……….......................…… while he
‘hails’ the ……….......................…… world (lines 8-10).
114
❺ Read lines 10-19 again. Which of the statements are true/false?
1. Satan thinks that the infernal world will make him a different man. T F
2. He says that you can transform the place where you live with
the power of the mind. T F
3. He believes that God's punishment has made him more humble. T F
4. He tells his companions that Hell may mean freedom. T F
5. He says that God will envy them for their being in Hell. T F

❻ Pick out the lines spoken by Satan that tell us he has not lost his courage,
despite his new surroundings.

❼ Focus on the end of the passage (ll. 23-29). What is Satan asking the fallen to do?
Choose from the following.
to accept their fate
to be ready to fight again
to escape

❽ Choose the adjective that best describes Satan’s tone in this speech.
resigned
depressed
determined
heroic
melancholic

❾ In the extract we have several examples of Milton’s style. Which of these are
typical features of his style?
simple words
long sentences
a lot of adjectives and adverbs
rhetorical questions
exclamation marks

❿ In lines 13 and 14 Satan says: ‘The mind is its own place, and in itself / Can make
a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.’ Put these lines into simple English and say
whether you agree or disagree with Satan. Then, compare your ideas with the
rest of the class.
11 ‘Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven.’ (l. 22)
Do you have a similar expression in your own language? Discuss in class.

12 Do you agree with this statement as a philosophy of life? Think of the positive
and negative consequences of such an existence and discuss in class.

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REVIEW

❶ Choose the correct alternative.


1. Milton was a
Puritan
Catholic
2. During the Civil War he supported
the king
Parliament and Cromwell

❷ Complete these sentences. 115


1. Milton was unfortunate in that by 1652 he had become ............................................................. .

2 / The Renaissance and the Puritan Age


2. However, it was in these later years that he wrote his two greatest works:
............................................................. and ............................................................. .

3. Both these works are great examples of ............................................................. poetry.


4. They were based on the classical works of ............................................................., .............................................................
and ............................................................. .
5. Milton’s writing was very complex and became known as his ............................................................. .
6. What are the main themes of Paradise Lost?

❸ Milton’s work can be divided into three main periods. Match the period with his works.
1. 1st period (1629-39) He wrote his greatest works.
2. 2nd period (1640-60) He concentrated on poetry.
3. 3rd period (1660) He wrote for the cause of the Civil War but also
composed some famous sonnets.

❹ Why is Milton considered a controversial figure? (2 reasons.)

John Baptist Medina,


illustration for the fourth
edition of John Milton’s
Paradise Lost, 1688.
Engraving; Victoria and
Albert Museum, London.

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Today's
Perspective WELCOME TO ENGLAND!
BRITAIN! THE UNITED
KINGDOM!
What’s in a Name?
116 BEFORE READING
❶ What do these famous people have in common?

Ewan McGregor (Scottish) Catherine Zeta Jones (Welsh) Daniel Radcliffe (English)

They are all British.


......................................................................................

It confuses many people but Britain, or Great Britain, is actually the large island made
up of three different countries: England, Scotland and Wales. These countries are quite
different and have different histories, geographies and languages and each country
has its own capital, although London remains the central seat of power. The people of
Britain are all very proud of their diversity and history shows how much the Scottish,
Welsh and Irish fought for independence against the English. Nowadays most people
accept being called British. But be careful, it can cause a major controversy if you call
a Scottish person English or vice-versa, or if you call an Irish person Welsh. When in
doubt always use the word ‘British’ and you won’t risk offending anyone!

❷ What about the United Kingdom?


The United Kingdom is all of Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) and also
.....................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

includes the six counties which make up Northern Ireland and the small
.....................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

islands around the coast.


.....................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

All four countries – England, Scotland, Wales


and Northern Ireland – are governed by Parliament
in Westminster, London, but they also have their
own parliaments to decide on local affairs.
Southern Ireland, or Eire, became completely
independent in 1921.

Liam Neeson is from Northern Ireland.

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OVER TO YOU
❶ Find all 4 countries on the map and write their capital cities below.
1. England: .......................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
2. Scotland: .....................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
3. Wales: .............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
4. Northern Ireland: ............................................................................................................................................................................................................

117

2 / The Renaissance and the Puritan Age

❷ In pairs decide which of the following symbols we associate with each country:
 */')Ţ)"')Ţ' .Ţ
- ')

1. .............................................................. 2. .............................................................. 3. .............................................................. 4. ..............................................................

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Today's
Perspective

118

UK Fact File
Population: 62.7 million (5.295m Scotland, 3.064m Wales, 1.811m N. Ireland)
Capital City: London (population 8.174m)
Surface Area: 243.610 sq. km
Official Language: English
Form of Government: Parliamentary Democracy
Head of State: Constitutional Monarch (has no political power) − Queen Elizabeth II
Highest Mountain: Ben Nevis in Scotland = 1.344m
Longest River: The River Severn = 354 km
Total number of islands: 6.289

UK Fun File
1. There are 165 million cups of tea drunk in England every day.
2. Famous Irish Proverb: ‘A man is incomplete until he marries. Then he is finished!’
3. There are as many Scottish people living in the USA as there are in Scotland.
4. There are four times as many sheep in Wales as people.

OVER TO YOU
❸ Look at the information in the two Fact Files and complete the sentences with
similar facts about your country. Use the Internet if you’re not sure.
1. The population of the UK is 67.2 million but the population of ………...............….. is ……….................. .
2. The highest mountain in the UK is Ben Nevis at 1.344m but in my country it’s
………...............….. which is ………...............….. m high.

3. The longest river in the UK is the Severn which is 354 km but in my country the
longest river is ………...............….. and it’s ………...............….. km.
4. The most popular drink in England is tea but in my country it’s ………...............….. .
5. In my country the most common animal is ………...............….. but in Wales it’s the sheep.

❹ Tick true or false for the following statements and correct the false ones.
1. Britain is made up of Scotland, Wales and England. T F
2. The United Kingdom includes Southern Ireland. T F
3. London is the capital of the United Kingdom but not Great Britain. T F
4. The capital of Scotland is Edinburgh. T F
5. In the United Kingdom people only speak English. T F
6. Every country in the UK is governed by London but also has its
own parliament. T F

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London − the capital

video
History of London

119

2 / The Renaissance and the Puritan Age


With over 8 million people London is the biggest city in the United Kingdom.
Government meets here at the Houses of Parliament. The Prime Minister has his
residence here at 10 Downing Street and the Queen has her official residence in
Buckingham Palace. Britain’s financial centre can be found here in an area known
simply as The City. London is also the cultural centre of the country and has most of the
important museums and art galleries, receiving an estimated 26 million tourists a year,
half of them coming from abroad.
The underground system, or ‘Tube’ as it is sometimes called, is one of the oldest in the
world, celebrating 150 years of service and has 400 km of track.
London was founded by the Romans over 2,000 years ago and it was the Romans who
gave it the name, Londinium. Around 200 AC the Romans built the London Wall as a
means of defence. The wall was estimated to have been about 5 km long, 6 metres high
and 2.5 metres thick and it survived for another 1,600 years.

The City within the city


Interestingly the old London Wall corresponds to what we now know as the City of
London. It is the very centre and oldest part
of what is called Greater London, the modern
metropolis. The City is the financial centre of
banking and commerce and along with Tokyo
has become a leader in world finance. It is an
area which covers about one square mile and
is also known as the ‘square mile.’ It is also
indicated on maps and always written with
a capital ‘C.’ Like Wall Street in New York the
City is synonymous for world finance. On
the map you can see the ‘square mile’ clearly
indicated within the Greater London area
in red.
So, if someone standing in front of
Buckingham Palace says he is going to the
City he is not suffering from amnesia but just
needs to visit his bank!

❺ Is there a financial centre in your city?


❻ Compare London to Rome:
1. Population 3. Underground
2. Government 4. Number of tourists a year.

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Today's
Perspective WELCOME TO THE USA!

120

The Grand Canyon


in Arizona.

OVER TO YOU
❶ What do you know about the USA? See how many facts you can complete:
1. number of states ...........................................................................................................................................................................................................
2. the largest state .............................................................................................................................................................................................................
3. capital city ..............................................................................................................................................................................................................................
4. the 2 countries with which it borders …………………………………………………………………../………………………………………………………………….
5. the longest river .............................................................................................................................................................................................................
6. the highest mountain .............................................................................................................................................................................................
7. the number of time zones ................................................................................................................................................................................
8. the population ...................................................................................................................................................................................................................

Now check at the bottom of the page to see if your answers were right.

Welcome to the USA


The USA covers an area of over 9 million square kilometres and is the fourth largest
country in the world. Its size makes it extremely diverse geographically with its
high mountain chains in the west, great lakes in the east, deserts and swamps in the
south and extremely cold temperatures of Alaska in the north. As a country which has
developed through immigration its population comes from virtually every country in
the world. The original inhabitants, the Native Americans, now account for only about 2
million of the population and live mainly in reservations in the west.

A native American wearing The Rocky Mountains in the west.


a typical Indian costume.
1. 50 plus the federal district of Columbia; 2. Alaska; 3. Washington DC; 4. Canada and Mexico; 5. Missouri (3,767 kms); 6. Mount McKinley (Alaska, 6,194m); 7. 4; 8. 316,969,000.

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By far the largest city is New York with a population of over 8 million, followed by Los
Angeles which has almost 4 million. The capital, Washington DC, is relatively small with
only about 632,000 Inhabitants.

America’s second capital


Although New York is the biggest city in the USA (over 8 million people) it only covers a
relatively small area, 780 sq km. This is because the city has grown upwards and has some of
the tallest skyscrapers in the world. It is generally referred to as New York City to distinguish
it from the state of New York in the north west of the country. It is the home of American
finance with its stock exchange on Wall Street and is seen as being the centre of world 121
diplomacy with the United Nations headquarters. The centre of the city is on the island of

2 / The Renaissance and the Puritan Age


Manhattan, which was named by the native American Indians and means ‘island of many
hills’. Its symbol is the Big Apple, interpreted as something tempting and everyone can have
a bite (everyone can be successful here). Another famous symbol is its Statue of Liberty in
New York harbour. This was the first thing that the millions of immigrants saw when they
first arrived full of hope for a new future.

 # (*./+*+0'/ $/4ĺ 2*-&Ļ

❷ Does your country have a second capital?


Did you know? Interesting facts about the USA
ű# )#-$./*+# -*'0(0.2..$/*#1 $.*1 - ( -$$)8;@9$/$. ./$(/ /#//# 
population of the Native Americans was over 50 million. In Great Britain at the time the population was
only around 4.8 million!
ű /2 )8?@9)8@<;/# $(($"-/$*) )/- ĺ''$.
.')ĺ$) 2*-& -*0-ĺ+-* .. 89($''$*)
immigrants. The busiest year was 1907 when 1.25 million immigrants entered in just one year.
ű# -))4*)$)-$5*)*1 -.)- *!;ĺ@9=.,0- &$'*( /- .Ļ
ű# (*./+*+0'-/*0-$.///-/$*)$)/# $./# '/$.) 4*-' .*-/2#$#-  $1 ;<
million visitors in 1 year (2008)!

❸ Which tourist attractions would you like to visit?


OR
If you have visited the USA talk about your experience in class.

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Literature
and Language FIRST CERTIFICATE
IN ENGLISH
Practice Tests

122 FCE Reading Comprehension


Part 2
*0- "*$)"/*- ("5$) -/$' *0/'*1 )(--$" 
through history. Choose the most suitable heading from the list A-F
for each part 1-5 of the article. There is one extra heading which
you do not need to use.

Love and marriage from the Renaissance to today

[1 …...............] time was a very serious Austen’s time daughters


In 1964 the world business. A business in could not receive any
famous pop group, The which feelings, love or inheritance. It would
Beatles, had a great hit even compatibility was have to go to the first
with their song, ‘Can’t never even considered. male heir, which in
Buy Me Love’. The lyrics It was all about class, their case would have
are quite simple and blood relationships and been a cousin.
say things like: ‘I’ll financial and political
buy you a diamond power among the [4 …...............]
ring, my friend, to keep wealthy families of the It has only been in
you satisfied […] But I period. recent years that men
don’t care too much for and women could
money, cos money can’t [3 …...............] actually choose to
buy me love…’ Marrying out of a marry a person because
In the Renaissance, financial need or just of love. This has now
however, money could, for security has been become the most
and usually did, buy, if the case throughout important reason we
not love, at least a wife. history. Mrs Bennet, in have for marrying
Jane Austen’s Pride and someone – yet almost
[2 …...............] Prejudice, was so eager 50% of all marriages in
Marriage for the big and for her daughters to Britain end in divorce.
wealthy families of the marry because in Jane So, now that people

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don’t have to get more cigarettes (so Some people still have
married if they don’t consequently have a desperate need to get
want to, would it be more health problems) married at ‘the right
better to stay single? and have more weight time,’ in ‘the right
problems too because place’ and, hopefully,
[5 …...............] they tend to have to ‘the right person’.
According to recent irregular meals as they This can be seen 123
studies apparently not. don’t have to respect from the recent film

2 / The Renaissance and the Puritan Age


Studies have shown family meal times. It Bride Wars (2009), in
that ‘singles’ die earlier, would seem, then, that which even the best
drink more (because while marriage is a risk of friends will stop
they have to go out staying single is even at nothing to tie the
to socialise), smoke riskier! knot!

A Equal rights did not exist D Marriage and Health

B The proper proposal E Times have changed

C Money over love F Marriage and Status

Anne Hathaway and Kate


Hudson starring as Emma
and Liv in Gary Winick's
comedy Bride Wars (2009).

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Literature
and Language FCE Use of English
Part 3
For questions 1-10, read the text below. Use the word/words
given in capitals at the end of the line to form a word that fits
in the space in the same line.

124
Teaching Shakespeare through hip hop
is ‘viciously racist,’ says inner-city mentor
Attempts to make classic literature relevant to ethnic minority
1. inner cities: pupils in the inner cities1 through ‘youth-centric’ methods have
le zone povere nel
centro citta’. been ............................................................... (1) as ‘............................................................... (2) racist’ DENOUNCE/STRONG
2. cool: alla moda. by a delegate ............................................................... (3) at the Conservative party SPEAK
3. soundtrack:
colonna sonora. *)! - ) Ļ*0/#( )/*- $).4 *#).+-*/ ./ /#/$/2.
4. hip-hop beat: al ‘condescending’ to believe that children can only ........................................ (4) RESPONSE
ritmo hip-hop.
5. irrespective: senza
to Shakespeare’s plays if teachers are able to present them as
riguardo. ............................................................... (5) ‘cool .’ Mr Johns, who works with
2 INCREDIBLE
teenagers in south east London said: ‘Hamlet does not need a
hip-hop soundtrack3 for young people to enjoy it or understand it.
It’s been doing just fine for the last 400 years. […] it is also
............................................................... (6) to think black and brown kids in the inner RACIAL
cities will only understand a play by Shakespeare if the
............................................................... (7) has a hip-hop beat and it is presented in
4 PERFORM
a three-minute, MTV style. It is evil to deny kids access
to Shakespeare’s true voice because of a culture of low
............................................................... (8) […]. The sonnets of Shakespeare or the EXPECT
novels of Austen and Dickens are ............................................................... (9) to all RELEVANCE
young people in this country today, irrespective5 of their class,
colour or creed,’ he said.
‘To deny kids in the inner cities access to such mind-expanding,
life-affirming and ............................................................... (10) life-changing authors POTENTIAL
is positively wicked.’
(Adapted from The Independent, Wednesday 2nd October 2013)

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Speaking 3 MINUTES
Part 3
Below are the images of some of Shakespeare’s plays which
have been modernised and adapted for the cinema.
Talk to each other discussing the following:

1. Is it useful to modernise or make a parody of classical works? 125


2. a) Does it help people today have a better understanding of the classics OR

2 / The Renaissance and the Puritan Age


b) is it an insult to these masterpieces?
3. Have you seen any modern versions of Shakespeare or any other classical author?
4. If so, what did you think of it/them?

Macbeth, directed by Jamie Lloyd (2005). Much Ado About Nothing, directed
by Joss Wedon (2013).

Westside Story, the musical version


of Romeo and Juliet, directed by Jerome
Robbins and Robert Wise (1961).

Romeo and Juliet directed by Baz


Luhrmann (1996).

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In Short The Renaissance (1485-1625)

THE HISTORICAL BACKGROUND THE LITERARY CONTEXT

The Tudor dynasty The Renaissance, the rebirth of


• Henry VII, or Henry Tudor, (1485-1509). He increased classical antiquity
the power of the monarchy. His government, based on The Renaissance was a movement begun in Italy in the late
126 popular control, managed to make England a wealthier Middle Ages and spread throughout Europe. It was strictly
country. connected with humanism.
• Henry VIII (1509-47). Enthusiastic patron of arts, he had Main concepts of Renaissance:
eight wives. He brought about a turning point in English • moving away (scostamento) from the authority of the church
religion and culture by breaking with Rome when the • attempt to recover the ideas of classical culture
Pope refused to grant him a divorce from his wife so • the centrality of the individual
establishing the Church of England, in 1534 with the Act • a new concern for life on earth in contrast with the
of Supremacy. medieval concern for life after death.
• Edward VI (1547-53). A young and weak king. Outstanding elements of English Renaissance:
• Mary I (1553-58). A devoted Catholic, also called Bloody • was stalled by the Protestant Reformation
Mary because of the way she persecuted Protestants. • it started later in the second half of the 16th century to
• Elizabeth I (1558-1603). Her reign of 45 years was a great the early 17th century
success. She established a secure Church of England. She • visual arts were much less significant than literature,
encouraged many voyages of discovery. She established the most relevant form
the East India Company (1600). She fought against her • it was not so influenced as the Italian one by the classics.
cousin Mary Stuart who wanted the throne and against
Spain (1588 defeat of the Spanish Armada). Theatre
• James I (1603-25). He united the crown of England and The theatre enjoyed great popularity.
Scotland. He reigned as an absolute monarch. Many Professional players performed first on temporary stages,
attempts on his life, the most important the Gunpowder from 1578 in permanent theatres.
Plot of 1605. The most famous theatre was The Globe completed in 1599
but burnt down in 1613.
The English Reformation (the new The structure of public theatres: built in the style of
Church of England and Anglicanism) ancient amphitheatres, in the open air.
The Bible is the real word of authority, people can obtain The female roles were played by boys.
salvation only through the will of God. The private theatres were small, indoors and for a more
refined audience.
The Pilgrim Fathers
They left England in 1620 to escape religious persecution, William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
with the ship The Mayflower they set off to America where Playwright: considered one of the world’s greatest writers.
they founded New Plymouth. He wrote 38 plays. His career can be divided into 4 phases:
• 1590-1595 comedies following the Italian models (The
Taming of the Shrew)
• 1595-1599 historical dramas (Richard II) and tragedies
(Romeo and Juliet)
• 1599-1608 the great tragedies (Hamlet, Othello, King Lear,
Macbeth)
• 1608-1613 romances dedicated to a more select public (The
Tempest).

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The plots of his plays were mostly based on existing Metaphysical poetry (16th century)
stories. His plays usually consist of five acts and introduced The metaphysical poets used particular literary devices,
by a prologue. Unique use of language (2,000 words were dramatic language derived from everyday speech,
introduced by Shakespeare in the English language) and exploration of the human soul.
great variety of style. Extraordinary understanding of
human nature. Exploration of every conceivable human John Donne (1572-1631) 127
expression and feeling.
Main representative of metaphysical poetry. A new language

2 / The Renaissance and the Puritan Age


Poet: author of 154 sonnets (1592-1600). The collection
with unconventional images, expression of new feelings and
focuses on two figures: a young man and a mysterious
aspects of reality, mainly inspired by earthly love.
dark lady.
Main themes: conventional themes (love, beauty and the
Prose
passing of time) but treated with great originality and depth.
Sir Thomas More (1478?-1535)
Lord Chancellor of Henry VIII, he was imprisoned and
The sonnet and poetry
executed. Most famous work: Utopia (English version: 1551).
Following the model of the Petrarchan sonnet, the
Here he depicts an ideal republic.
Elizabethans transformed it into the English sonnet: three
Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626), another utopian work: The New
quatrains and a final couplet.
Atlantis (1627).

The Puritan Age (1625-60)

THE HISTORICAL BACKGROUND The Puritans


Main principles: they obeyed strict moral rules, wanted to
Charles I (1625-49) purify the Church from Catholicism, gave great value to
A Stuart, he ruled the country as absolute monarch. He work and to the individual.
dissolved Parliament in 1629. After which he summoned it
only twice. THE LITERARY CONTEXT
The Civil War Poetry
The Civil War broke out in 1642 when Parliament demanded Followers of the metaphysical poetry of John Donne:
control of the army, the king refused. The war was fought George Herbert (1593-1633) and Andrew Marvell (1621-78).
between the Roundheads (Parliamentarians) and the The greatest figure of this period:
Royalists or Cavaliers. It ended with the king’s defeat. He
was executed in 1649. John Milton (1608-1674)
Oliver Cromwell’s republic (1649-58) ruled the country. First In Paradise Lost (1667), a Christian epic work, using Homer
and only time in England there was no monarchy. It was and Virgil as models, he combined the classical and
called a republic or Commonwealth. humanistic traditions. It can also be seen as an allegory of
In 1660 the monarchy was restored. the political events of the time.

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Easy for you The Renaissance (1485-1625)

HISTORY

1. Metti i seguenti eventi in ordine cronologico.

128

The Gunpowder Plot was an attempt Bloody Mary was the Catholic Queen
on James I’s life. who had 300 Protestants burned.

The Pilgrim Fathers left England on their The Act of Supremacy broke with Rome
ship The Mayflower and arrived in New to establish the Anglican Church.
England in America.

The first English colony was founded, The Spanish fleet, The Invincible
Virginia. Armada, was defeated by the English.

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2. Unisci le frasi nella colonna A con quelle nella colonna B per formare delle
affermazioni corrette.

1. Henry VII did not trust the barons so


he
a. united the crowns of England
and Scotland.
2. Henry VIII was interested in sport, 129
music, literature and the arts and for

2 / The Renaissance and the Puritan Age


this reason was
b. increased the power of the
monarchy.

3. Henry VIII also

c. reigned for 45 years.


4. Elizabeth I was one of the most
famous queens in English history and
d. a perfect product of the
Renaissance.

5. James I

e. had 6 wives.

3. Chi è chi nel Rinascimento:

1. Henry VIII 2. Elizabeth I 3. Bloody Mary 4. Christopher 5. William 6. John Donne


Marlowe Shakespeare

1. His most famous work is Doctor Faustus. .................................................................................................................................................................

2. He is associated with Metaphysical poetry. .................................................................................................................................................................

3. This king formed the Anglican Church. .................................................................................................................................................................

4. She was known as the Virgin queen. .................................................................................................................................................................

5. He is considered one of the greatest writers. .................................................................................................................................................................

6. She had many Protestants burned. .................................................................................................................................................................

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Easy for you
LITERATURE

4. Sottolinea la risposta corretta.


1. The English Renaissance was dominated by the arts / the theatre / music.
2. The English Renaissance came before / after the Italian Renaissance.
130 3. The theatres were a form of upper class / popular entertainment.
4. The most famous theatre of the time was The Crown / The Globe.
5. The University Wits mixed latin texts with popular plays / Italian and English themes.
6. The Elizabethan sonnet was the same as / different from the Petrarchan sonnet.

5. William Shakespeare. Segna la risposta corretta alle seguenti domande.


1. Which plays did Shakespeare NOT write? Underline.
!! ¶'ɤ&½ ɤ%&½&!½ ¹$ &!  ɤ½
" ɤ% $ɤ
2. Where was Shakespeare born?
Stratford-Upon-Avon
London
Canterbury
Cambridge
3. How many plays did Shakespeare write?
56 110 38

The Puritan Age (1625-1660)

HISTORY

1. Perché scoppia una guerra tra i sostenitori del re e quelli del Parlamento?
Scegli una di queste ragioni:
Charles I persecuted the Catholics.
Charles I ruled as an absolute monarch.
Charles I gave too much power to Parliament.

2. Com’è chiamata questa guerra?


..................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

..................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

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3. La conseguenza di questa guerra è che:
Oliver Cromwell
became king
ruled the country
went abroad

4. Quali di queste parole sono connesse con il governo di Oliver Cromwell?


131

2 / The Renaissance and the Puritan Age


dictatorship
democracy

entertainment

philosophy

austerity
amusement

LITERATURE

5. Scrivi il nome del poeta più importante del Puritan Age e il titolo della sua
opera.
Name: ...........................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

Work: ..............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

6. Perché il teatro declina in questo periodo? Indica l’alternativa corretta.


Because of the lack of great playwrights.
Because all theatres had been destroyed by fire.
Because of the strict rules passed by the Puritans.

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General Overview

THE RENAISSANCE
THE HISTORICAL BACKGROUND WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE
❶ Answer the following questions. ❹ Answer the following questions.
1. What was Henry VII determined to restore? 1. What forms of literature did Shakespeare write?
132 2. Was his reign successful? 2. Were all the plots for his plays his original ideas?
3. Why was Henry VIII ‘a perfect man of the 3. Why is Shakespeare considered a genius? Give
Renaissance’? two reasons.
4. Why did he start the British Reformation?
5. Under her reign Elizabeth I encouraged voyages of JOHN DONNE
discovery. What were the advantages of these? ❺ Answer the following questions.
6. What were the results of the East India 1. What name is given to his poetic works?
Company, founded in 1600? 2. What is the main theme of his poetry?
7. Why did the Catholics dislike James I? 3. What elements characterise his style?
8. Why did the Pilgrim Fathers move
to America?
THE PURITAN AGE
THE LITERARY CONTEXT
THE HISTORICAL BACKGROUND
❷ Answer true or false.
1. The theatre was the most important ❻ Answer true or false.
form of entertainment during 1. Charles I believed in the absolute
the Renaissance. T F power of the monarch. T F

2. Women could not attend theatres 2. He dissolved parliament twice during


as spectators but they could his reign. T F

act in plays. T F 3. A civil war broke out between the


3. The sonnet form was first used Royalists and the Cavaliers, led by
in France by Sir Philip Sidney. T F Oliver Cromwell. T F

4. Spenser became famous for 4. Oliver Cromwell’s republic was


his sonnets. T F similar to a dictatorship. T F

5. John Donne is the most famous


representative of Renaissance prose. T F THE LITERARY CONTEXT
6. Sir Thomas More’s Utopia is a novel ❼ Answer the following questions about John Milton.
about the future. T F 1. What is the title of Milton’s main work?
2. His works are a combination of which traditions?
❸ Fill in the charts about the Renaissance in 3. In what way was he directly involved in
Europe and the English Renaissance. Cromwell’s republic?
1. The Renaissance
Origins of the name (time)
Place of origins
Other contemporary movements
Essential themes
2. The English Renaissance
Time span
Another name for this period
The differences between the English
and the Italian Renaissance

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THE RESTORATION
3 (1660-1714)
THE AUGUSTAN AGE
(1714-60)

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THE RESTORATION (1660-1714)
AND THE AUGUSTAN AGE (1714-60)
THE HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

134 The Restoration of the king


Charles II’s reign (1660-85) is known as the Restoration period because the king was
‘restored’ to the throne along with the reintroduction of the Commonwealth and the
previous system of government. His political adaptability and contacts enabled him to
steer his country through the complex struggle between Anglicans, Catholics and
dissenters that marked much of his reign. Many groups, however, refused to recognise
the Church of England as their religious guide and left England for the New World in
America. Puritan communities were founded there, thus providing the foundations for
the country we know today.

The Great Fire of


London (September
1666) with Ludgate
and Old St Paul’s,
English School,
c.1670 (17th century).
Oil on canvas; Yale
Center for British
Art, Paul Mellon
Collection (USA).
The Great Fire
destroyed most
of the buildings.
As a result London
had to be almost
completely rebuilt
and the city began
to take on the
appearance of the
London we know
today.

The Toleration
Act (1689) aimed at
introducing more
religious tolerance James II, the Glorious Revolution and political change
throughout the
country. James II succeeded Charles (his brother) in 1685. He was a Catholic and he wanted to
re-establish Catholicism as the main religion. He gave Catholics the most important
positions in government but met with strong opposition from Parliament.
The Bill of Parliament appealed to William of Orange, husband of James II’s daughter, and a
Rights (1689) is champion of the Protestant cause. He came from Holland to England and led an army
seen as the first
step towards a against the king in 1688. It was only a relatively small army, but it had the support of
constitutional the people and the king was finally forced to flee to France in 1689.
monarchy. In fact it This overthrowing of the king by Parliament and the people was known as the
made it impossible
for any monarch Glorious Revolution because of the important political changes which were introduced
to introduce peacefully and without any bloodshed. These changes essentially consisted of laws
changes without which limited the power of the king and introduced → more religious tolerance, like
first consulting
Parliament. the → Bill of Rights (1689), which is seen today as the starting point of a constitutional
monarchy in England.

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The political parties
The final years of the 18th century saw the rise of the two great political parties which
would dominate the future politics of England: the Tories and the Whigs. The Tories
represented the old aristocracy and the → Church of England, while the middle classes
According to the
supported the Whigs. It was the beginning of the two-party system which is still in Act of Settlement
force today. (1701) all future
monarchs must
be members of
The Augustan Age: George I, Sir Walpole and the Jacobites the Church of
George I (1714-27) was a member of the German House of Hanover, the closest England.
Protestant relation to the English throne. 135
He spoke no English and spent little time in England. Not surprisingly he was a very John Wootton,

3 / The Restoration and the Augustan Age


unpopular king, showing little interest in England but a great attachment to Germany. Portrait of Sir
Robert Walpole
As a consequence Parliament was left to rule and the Prime Minister Walpole acquired c.1682-1764.
great power. Robert Walpole, a Whig, despite Oil on canvas.
having been imprisoned for corruption in 1712,
was an efficient and popular politician. He was
called to power in 1721 in an attempt to bring
financial stability back to the country and under
his leadership, despite his political corruption
(for which he was severely criticised by writer
Jonathan Swift), he contributed towards the
growth of the manufacturing industries,
commerce in general and agriculture.
Generally regarded as the first British prime
minister, Robert Walpole was in power from 1721
to 1742, making him the longest running prime
minister in British history.
With the Jacobite Rebellions the Catholics tried
to restore to the throne the exiled Catholic, James
Stuart, also known as Jacobus and heir to James II.
Both rebellions failed (the first in 1715 and the
second, led by Charles Edward Stuard, also known
as ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’, in 1745) because there
was little support or interest from the people.

1721-42
Robert Walpole 1756-61
prime minister William Pitt the
Elder prime
1660-85 1685-88 minister
Charles II’s reign James II’s reign 1727-60
(Restoration of George II’s reign
the monarchy)

1715
1666 1689 First Jacobite 1745-46 1756-63
Great Fire of London Bill of Rights, rebellion Second Jacobite Seven
Toleration Act rebellion Years’ War
1665 1714-27
Plague 1688 George I’s reign
Glorious Revolution

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Few were sympathetic towards the Catholic cause or wanted the return of a Catholic
monarch. As a result James, alone in his challenge for the throne, was obliged to leave
England for the continent.

England under George II


George II came to the throne in 1727 following the death of his father George I. Like his
father, he also relied on the prime ministers, Robert Walpole and then William Pitt, to
govern the country. He ruled until 1760. During his reign England took part in two wars,
the Austrian War of Succession (1743-48), which ended in 1748 with no great advantages
136 for England, and the Seven Years’ War (1756-63) that helped England extend control over
North America and a large part of India.

The slave trade


The slave trade began in the second half of the 16th century. When the first settlement
From J.G. was founded in Virginia it soon became the main area for importing slaves from Africa.
Stedman’s The Here they were forced to work on American plantations.
Narrative of Five
Years Expedition Meanwhile the number of English colonies was progressively increasing and, despite
against the Rebelling continuing disagreements with France and Spain, England also gained control of the
Blacks of Surinam,
1772-77. Coloured slave trade from Africa to the Americas. Both the colonies and the slave trade were a
engraving; London. great source of wealth for England.

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The social situation
These years were marked by an improvement in the lives of some. Hospitals were built
in many towns and ‘rates’ (new taxes) were introduced to improve living conditions. In
the country farmers, who had benefited from the agricultural revolution, built better
homes and enjoyed a higher standard of living.
However, a series of → Enclosure Acts, passed by 1750, together with a general rural
The Enclosure
poverty, created a landless working class who were forced to move to the cities to find Acts (1750) had
work. In big cities like London many had to live in crowded rooms and often resorted to been passed
begging in order to survive. The poor lived in deplorable conditions. The people who did whereby open
farmland (the
work, including young children and women, did so for long hours. What’s more, health open-field 137
and sanitation structures were practically unknown. system), that

3 / The Restoration and the Augustan Age


was previously
used freely by
common people,
OVER TO YOU was enclosed
with hedges or
❶ Focus on the first paragraph and complete the following summary with one or fences. This land
more words. would now belong
This period was known as the Restoration because .......................................................................................... (1). to one or more
Many people were ............................................................... (2) and wanted to leave England. Thousands private owners,
who would then
found refuge in ............................................................... (3) where they founded ............................................................ (4). enjoy the fruits
of the land to the
❷ Answer true or false. exclusion of the
poor, who owned
1. James II wanted to re-establish Catholicism as the main religion. T F
no property.
2. Parliament did not really oppose him. T F

3. Parliament called William of Orange from Holland. T F

4. He came with a big army. T F

5. He defeated James II. T F

❸ Answer the following questions.


1. Why was it called the Glorious Revolution?
2. What were the main political changes of the time?
3. What are the names of the two political parties which were formed in this period?
4. Which social classes did they represent?

❹ Complete the following sentences.


1. George I was unpopular because ........................................................................................................................................................... .
2. The prime minister in the Augustan Age was ..................................................................................................................... .
3. He was accused of .................................................................................................................... and ......................................................................
.................................................................................... for a short period.

4. Under his government .......................................................................................................................................................................................... .


5. The Jacobite Rebellions were attempts to ............................................................................................................................... .
6. They both failed because .................................................................................................................................................................................. .

❺ Answer true or false.


1. George II reigned in a similar way to his father. T F

2. During George II’s reign England took part in two wars. T F

3. By this time the colonies had become very important to England. T F

4. England’s colonies helped the economy only through the slave trade. T F

5. The Enclosure Acts had positive effects for everybody. T F

6. The conditions for the poor in big cities were terrible. T F

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THE RESTORATION (1660-1714)
AND THE AUGUSTAN AGE (1714-60)
THE LITERARY CONTEXT

1719 1759-67
138 Daniel Defoe Laurence Sterne
Robinson Crusoe 1740-42 Tristram Shandy
Samuel Richardson
Pamela

1726 1749
Jonathan Swift Henry Fielding
Gulliver’s Travels Tom Jones

The Royal Society


In 1660 the foundation of the Royal Society exerted a strong influence on the cultural
life of the country, favouring the production of philosophical and → scientific works.
Isaac Newton
(1642-1727) was Members of the society aimed at gathering knowledge and, in particular, knowledge
recognised as which could be useful for the public good. At the same time they undertook the task
being one of the of reforming English prose, aiming at scientific clarity both in contents and language.
greatest scientists
of all times Their plain, linear and realistic style contributed to creating a model of English prose for
and the main philosophers, historians, critics and essayists.
representative of The motto of the Royal Society was ‘Nullius in Verba’, or ‘on the words of no one’. It
the Royal Society.
meant that the truth of scientific works had to be verified through experiment
(empirical evidence) and not by reference to a dominant authority, which for the time
was a revolutionary concept.

Prose in the Restoration


Prose in the Restoration period concentrated mainly on philosophy and religion.
Thomas Hobbes’s work Leviathan (1651) influenced John Locke (1632-1704) and
many other thinkers of this period. Hobbes’s work, which marked the beginning of
Empiricism, was pessimistic and strongly claimed the need for a monarchy which
was stable and undivided. There was a new style of writing which was clearer, more
precise and more suitable for describing the discoveries being made in science and the
development of new philosophical theories and ideas.

Joseph Wright
of Derby,
Planetarium, 1766.
Oil on canvas; City
Art Gallery, Derby.

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Among other famous works: The Pilgrim’s Progress by the preacher John Bunyan (1628-
88) and Samuel Pepys’s Diaries (1633-1703) which provide an extraordinary, first-hand
account of the life and customs of the time.

Drama
With the re-opening of the theatres in 1660 after the abolition of the Puritan laws which
had closed them, there was a decadent backlash represented by the comedy of manners. It
also led to an emphasis on light heartedness and apparent superficiality which, however,
disguised a strong criticism of the upper-class society for whom these comedies were
essentially written. They were characterised by brilliant and witty dialogues. One of the 139
greatest writers of this dramatic genre was William Congreve (1670-1729).

3 / The Restoration and the Augustan Age


The Augustan Age or the ‘Age of Reason’ Mock-heroic was
most commonly
The term, the Augustan Age, was inspired by the fact that as a period it could be found in poetry, but
compared to the years 43 BC-AD 14 when the Roman Emperor Augustus Caesar was in its influence was
power. It was a remarkable age for the literary production of the great poets Ovid, Virgil, also felt in drama,
in particular in John
and Horace, which was also characterised by order and stability. Other common terms Gay’s most famous
used for this period are the ‘Age of Reason’ or the ‘Enlightenment’. An intellectual work, The Beggar’s
spirit was spreading through Europe, expressing a desire to overcome old superstitions. Opera (1728), which
mixed elements
It reflected a new way of thinking in scientific and philosophical fields; clear, rational of the ballad and
methods became accepted as superior to the traditional, received knowledge. Italian opera. The
protagonists were
criminals and
Poetry prostitutes. This
Alexander Pope (1688-1744) together with John Dryden (1631-1700), the most important opera inspired
The Threepenny
poets of the Augustan Age, conformed to aesthetic principles and strived to create a Opera (Die
harmonious and polished style, thereby imitating classical models such as Cicero or Dreigroschenoper,
Virgil. The lyrical genre they used was also a further imitation of the classics, in fact 1928) by the
German playwright
the most wide-spread poetical genres of this period were the epic, the pastoral and Bertolt Brecht.
satire. Alexander Pope continued the Restoration trend of satire and → mock-heroic in
his poetry, a form of satirical writing in which commonplace subjects are ridiculed. An
example of this is his most famous work, The Rape of the Lock (1712-14).

The reading public


The Augustan Age saw an increase in prose writing of every genre: from journalism
to essays, from political writings to novels.
Several factors contributed to this. First and foremost was the rise in a new reading
public. The rapidly growing middle class was made up of wealthy merchants and
professionals, most of whom could read and write, providing a readership for these
‘new’ forms of literature which writers were aware of.
Those from the middle class also felt a need to improve their education, for
professional reasons and also simply to have a better understanding of the world
– thus encouraging an expansion of the education system. In addition,
printing technology was becoming more refined which meant that books
and all reading material could be re-produced quicker and better. This
helped give rise to circulating libraries, where people could borrow
books, newspapers and magazines freely. All these factors resulted in a
rapidly expanding market for all forms of literature.
There were many women among this new reading public as they
gradually became more educated and wanted to improve themselves.

Benjamin Ferrers, Group portrait of a family in the grounds of a country house


(detail), 18th century. Oil on canvas; Private Collection.

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London and the coffee houses
The economic and cultural heart of England was London. Between 1660 and 1780 it was
transformed from a late medieval city into one which was beginning to modernise. It
maintained a growing reputation as an important centre for literature, offering great
social and intellectual opportunities. Journalists, novelists and writers met in coffee
houses, taverns, theatres and clubs, which had become the pulsating heart of literary
and commercial England.
The first London coffee house opened in 1652 and by 1739 there were 551 coffee houses in
the city. They became the meeting places for politicians, people of fashion, merchants,
140 clergymen and lawyers; representatives from every profession. In coffee houses they
could exchange opinions and do business transactions. It was also due to them that
To read more public opinion was given a voice and journalism evolved.
about journalism
and newspapers Journalism
see → pp. 158-159.
The number of → newspapers on sale grew quickly and they were often influenced
by political parties who would create their own. Periodicals were also very popular,
satisfying the interests of the emerging middle class.

The rise of the novel


The novel, a word which derives from the Italian ‘novella’, dating back to the 14th
century, is a long prose narrative. Although it was not ‘invented’ by 18th-century
writers, they certainly gave birth to the novel as we know it today. The rise of this
particular literary genre was connected to the rise of the middle class. An example
of this can be seen in the novel Robinson Crusoe. In contrast with the characters that
appeared in the literary works of the past, most of whom were kings, princes, or nobles,
Robinson Crusoe came from a middle-class family.
The new readers, belonging to that same social class, did not want to read about
the medieval adventures of knights, kings and old legends, subjects typically found
in previous works, they wanted to read about themselves, their world and their
environment.

Figures in a Tavern General features of the novel


or Coffee House, This new type of fiction aimed at providing the reader with a greater understanding of
c.1725. Oil on
board; Yale Center reality, and imitating life became a central theme. Everyday settings and situations
for British Art. that would be easily recognisable for the reader were introduced. The characters of these

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novels were ordinary people, usually belonging to the middle class. The social, cultural
and moral conditions of the times formed the background to these works. The use of
prose instead of verse also brought the text closer to the reader. The language became
simple and factual, almost journalistic in style. Daniel Defoe, who is regarded as the
founder of the novel, also worked as a journalist.

The five great novelists of the century


Daniel Defoe, Jonathan Swift, Samuel Richardson, Henry Fielding and Laurence Sterne
are the five great novelists of this period. Each of them moulded the novel in a different
way and contributed to creating the new genre which has remained dominant up to the 141
present day, providing more bestsellers than any other literary genre.

3 / The Restoration and the Augustan Age


Daniel Defoe (1660-1731) is generally considered the creator of realist fiction in the 18th
century.
Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) used satire and humour in his works to criticise the political
situation in England at that time.
Samuel Richardson (1689-1761): his most famous novel is Pamela, a novel of letters, in
which he mirrors the real, everyday life of the main character but in a fictional setting.
Henry Fielding (1707-54), the author of Tom Jones, became famous for his humour and
satire. Tom Jones also contains many features of the picaresque novel: its length, its
loosely linked episodes almost complete in themselves, its intrigue, fights, amorous
adventures, and so on.
Laurence Sterne (1713-68) with his anti-novel Tristram Shandy experimented with the
novel and had a strong influence on the future development of this genre.

OVER TO YOU
❶ Answer the following questions.
1. When was the Royal Society founded?
2. What were the aims of its members?
3. What kind of style did they adopt in their writing?
4. What was revolutionary about their motto?

❷ Answer true or false.


1. Religion and philosophy were the main arguments of prose. T F
2. The style of writing changed along with the new
developments in science and philosophy. T F
3. Theatres had been closed due to the laws influenced by Puritanism. T F
4. The ‘comedy of manners’ portrayed the poorer classes. T F
5. The new drama was characterised by intelligent and humorous dialogue. T F

❸ Answer the following questions.


1. What were the different terms used to describe this age and why were they used?
2. What was the predominant style in Augustan poetry?
3. Which was Alexander Pope’s most famous work?
4. What factors contributed to the rise in literary publications?
5. Why did the reading public increase remarkably?
6. What were coffee houses and why were they significant for the period?

❹ Summarise the key concepts of the novel focusing on the following.


1. The social reasons which led to the ‘rise of the novel’
2. How man’s environment was changing
3. The interests of the new reading public

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Daniel
(1660-1731)
Defoe

142
D aniel Defoe was born in London. The son of a
merchant, he was educated at a school of Dissenters
(Puritans). After travelling for some years in Europe,
he returned to England, where he tried his hand at several
different businesses without success, finally going
bankrupt. In 1684 he married Mary Tuffley and together
they had two sons and five daughters.
Around 1700 they returned to London and here Defoe
turned to journalism and became particularly
interested in politics, writing pamphlets and essays
on the political issues of the time. In 1704 he founded
and directed the periodical The Review showing
extraordinary qualities as a journalist.
He turned to prose very late in life, in 1719, when he
was almost sixty years old and published the novels
which have since made him famous, the first of which
was Robinson Crusoe. He died in 1731 in London.

Main works
• Robinson Crusoe (1719)
• Moll Flanders (1722)
M. Vander Gucht, • A Journal of the Plague Year (1722)
Portrait of Daniel
Defoe. Engraving. • Roxana (1724)

Robinson Crusoe: the plot


→ Robinson Crusoe is a young man living in England and dreams of going to sea.
Robinson Crusoe,
the first modern Although his father tries to stop him, Robinson sails away and after many adventures
novel, a ‘true and misadventures, lands in Brazil where he buys a plantation and becomes quite rich.
story’: Robinson While he is travelling to Africa there is a terrible storm, he is shipwrecked and is the
Crusoe is generally
regarded as the first only survivor. He manages to reach the shore of an island where he remains for twenty-
modern novel. eight years. Most of the plot of this second part centres around his life on the island and
Defoe, in fact, is written in the form of a journal. After several years he meets the native Friday and
based the novel
on the true story lives happily with him for some time.
of the Scottish In the last part of the novel Crusoe and Friday are taken to England. He marries, but
seaman Alexander when his wife dies some years later, he decides to go back to sea.
Selkirk and tried
to make the
story realistic The legendary figure of Robinson Crusoe
by introducing Robinson Crusoe has by now become a legendary figure: thanks to his hard work,
details concerning
time, setting, the determination and creative skills, Robinson manages to organise his daily life
characters and their perfectly. He becomes a hunter, a builder and a shepherd, he creates a shelter, eats and
actions. works regularly. He battles to survive and wins that battle: ‘Robinson’s life that could
be turned into a drama of solitude, appears as a perfect treaty of natural education’
(J.J. Rousseau).

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An expression of European colonial aspirations
After ‘colonising’ the island on which he lands, Robinson behaves as a colonist even
with the native he meets, Friday. The first stages of their relationship can be read as
a metaphor for the process of colonisation during which the ‘master’ gives a name to
the slave, teaches him his language and new techniques and tries to convince him
to embrace his religion. This can be seen as a mirror of colonisation in which the
colonisers, convinced of their superiority, impose their own language and religion on
the natives without respecting their diversity.

A manifesto of economic individualism 143


Born into the English middle class, Daniel Defoe expressed the economic and political

3 / The Restoration and the Augustan Age


aspirations of his class; he was active and industrious, different from the aristocrats
who lived on a private income and therefore didn’t need to work. Although Robinson
Crusoe has a modest and secure life in England, he leaves in order to improve his
financial situation and seek adventure. Shipwrecked on the deserted island he does
not lose heart. On the island he recreates the kind of micro-social structure which is
as close as possible to the one he left. For him the island becomes a property to which,
eventually, even Friday will become part.

The success of Robinson Crusoe


Several reasons account for the success of this novel. First of all Robinson Crusoe is an
adventure story with an exotic setting which satisfied the tastes of the people of the
time; a taste which had been stimulated by the great British colonial expansion. Secondly
it is easy to read because it is written in a simple, clear style. Because of the wealth of
material details it contains, it was greatly appreciated by the rising middle class. Thirdly
the protagonist, Robinson, was a character with whom the reader could identify. Finally, 1719, Robinson
Crusoe and Man
continuous references to the Bible, seen as a weapon against loneliness and desperation, Friday on the
give the novel a decidedly ‘moral’ tone. In an age in which religion played such an desert island. The
idea for Daniel
important role in an individual’s life, this could not help but enhance its popularity. Defoe's novel
came from the
real life story
of marooned
Scottish sailor
Alexander Selkirk.

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Robinson Crusoe (1719)
1. comely: attraente.
2. straight: lineare. BEFORE READING
3. limbs: membra, arti. If you were stranded on a deserted island like Robinson Crusoe what would you take
4. I reckon: credo. with you? The island has trees, fruit, water and harmless animals. List the objects,
5. countenance: not more than seven.
espressione.
6. not a fierce and
surly: non selvaggia
e scontrosa.
144 7. curled: ricci.
8. sparkling
sharpness: vivace
acutezza.
9. tawny: bruno. Robinson Crusoe MP3 17
10. dun: bruno.
11. well set: dritti.
12. ivory: avorio.
Robinson has saved the life of a native on the island by helping him escape from a group of
13. he had slumbered: cannibals who kept him prisoner and were going to kill and eat him.
aveva sonnecchiato.
14. just by: vicino.
15. espy’d: vide. He was a comely1 handsome fellow, perfectly well made; with straight2 strong
16. humble: umile. limbs3, not too large; tall and well-shaped; and, as I reckon4, about twenty-six
17. likewise: allo stesso years of age. He had a very good countenance5, not a fierce and surly6 aspect; but
modo.
18. earthen pot: vaso seemed to have something very manly in his face, and yet he had all the
di terracotta.
5 sweetness and softness of a European in his countenance too, especially when he
19. sop: immergere/
inzuppare. smiled. His hair was long and black, not curled7 like wool; his forehead very high
20. the like: lo stesso. and large, and a great vivacity and sparkling sharpness8 in his eyes. The colour
21. he quickly
comply’d with: of his skin was not quite black, but very tawny9; and yet not of an ugly yellow
accondiscese nauseous tawny, as the Brazilians, and Virginians, and other natives of America
rapidamente.
22. beckoned: feci 10 are, but of a bright kind of a dun10 olive colour, that had in it something very
cenno.
agreeable, tho’ not very easy to describe. His face was round and plump; his nose
23. stark naked:
completamente small, not flat like the negroes, a very good mouth, thin lips, and his fine teeth
nudo.
well set11, and white as ivory12.
After he had slumbered13, rather than slept, about half an hour, he waked again,
15 and comes out of the cave to me; for I had been milking my goats, which I had
in the enclosure just by14; when he espy’d15 me, he came running to me, laying
himself down again upon the ground, with all the possible signs of an humble16
Illustration for thankful disposition, making a many antick gestures to show it. At last he lays
Robinson Crusoe,
19th century. his head flat upon the ground, close to my foot, and sets my other
20 foot upon his head, as he had done before; and after this, made all the signs to
me of subjection, servitude, and submission imaginable, to let me know how he
would serve me so long as he lived. I understood him in many things, and let him
know I was very well pleased with him; in a little time I began to speak to him,
and teach him to speak to me; and first, I made him know his name should be
25 Friday, which was the day I saved his life; I called him so for the memory of the
time; I likewise17 taught him to say Master and then let him know, that was to
be my name; I likewise taught him to say yes and no, and to know the meaning
of them; I gave him some milk in an earthen pot18, and let him see me drink it
before him, and sop19 my bread in it; and I gave him a cake of bread to do the
30 like20, which he quickly comply’d with21, and made signs that it was very good for him.
I kept there with him all that night; but as soon as it was day, I beckoned22 to
him to come with me, and let him know I would give him some cloaths; at
which he seemed very glad, for he was stark naked23.

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OVER TO YOU
❶ For each question, choose the correct alternative about Friday’s physical appearance.
1. good-looking normal ugly
2. strong average weak
3. tall medium height short
4. young middle aged old
5. dark skin fair complexion blond hair
6. black hair brown hair

❷ We can understand Robinson’s attitude towards people of a different race by 145


some expressions and words which he uses when talking about Friday.
Go through the passage and see if you can find them.

3 / The Restoration and the Augustan Age


❸ What is Friday’s attitude towards Crusoe? Explain briefly with reference to the text.
❹ Why does Robinson decide to call him ‘Friday’? And what does Robinson give him?
❺ Which aspect of Robinson’s personality is the most dominant: his emotional or
practical side?

❻ Although it is fiction the text seems to be realistic. What contributes to its


realism? Choose from the following (more than one is possible).
the detailed descriptions the setting
Robinson’s behaviour the simple and plain language

❼ Robinson and Friday are together on the island. In spite of this, the relationship
they establish is not on equal terms. Find the parts of the text which express
this disparity.

❽ Robinson calls the man Friday. Why do you think he doesn’t ask for his real
name? Discuss in class.

➒ Robinson teaches Friday his language, but he doesn’t try to learn Friday’s
language. Why, in your opinion? Discuss in class.

10 What do you think Robinson and Friday’s relationship can be compared to?
two friends a captain and a sailor in teacher and pupil
father and son his crew master and servant
Give reasons for your choice.

REVIEW
❶ Choose the correct alternative.
1. Robinson Crusoe is
a sailor the commander of a ship the ship’s doctor
2. Alone on the island, Robinson Crusoe
is desperate works hard in order to tries to save his
live comfortably companions
3. Crusoe writes
a novel a diary some letters
4. He is presented as a man who is
practical and intellectual and stupid but brave
sensible sensitive
5. The relationship between Robinson and Friday is
on equal terms on unequal terms full of rivalry

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On Screen CAST AWAY
Directed by Robert Zemeckis (2001)
Starring Tom Hanks.

Cast Away (2001)


by R. Zemeckis The story on screen so far...
Tom Hanks plays Chuck Noland, an ambitious
146 engineer for the delivery company Fed Ex. His
life is ruled by the clock; ‘We live or die by the
clock,’ he says in the film, but his own clock-work
routine ends suddenly when, on a business trip,
he is involved in a plane crash which leaves him
stranded and alone on a remote island in the
Pacific Ocean, where he will remain for four years.

OVER TO YOU
❶ You are going to watch the scene in which Chuck has just been washed up onto
the shore in his life-raft. Before you watch imagine yourself in this situation and
put the following survival tasks in your order of priority (1, 2, 3, etc.). Compare
your lists in class explaining your choice.
find food make a fire
look for inhabitants on the island find fresh water
build a raft build a shelter

❷ Now watch the scene and fill in the gaps with the words below.
 .$'#*0 // Ţ2.# ļ0+Ţ . -/ Ţ.0). /Ţ2 /Ţ+#*/*Ţ #Ţ.0-1$1 Ţ! /Ţ
+') ļ-.#Ţ+0''.Ţ.)Ţ2/#Ţ+') Ţ.$")
Chuck Noland has just been ........................................................... (1) on to the island.
He ........................................................... (2) the life-raft onto the ........................................................... (3) while carrying
some boxes he found from the ........................................................... (4). He then takes off his
........................................................... (5) clothes under the trees and shouts for help. The island seems

to be completely ........................................................... (6) so Chuck then ‘writes’ a big HELP


........................................................... (7) in the ........................................................... (8) with his ........................................................... (9)

hoping that a ........................................................... (10) might see it. Later we see him looking at the
........................................................... (11) of his girlfriend inside an old ........................................................... (12) which has

........................................................... (13) the crash with him. The scene ends with Chuck’s

........................................................... (14) sitting on the beach in the ........................................................... (15).

❸ In this scene do you think the island looks exotic or hostile? Why?

❹ What two things does Chuck do in this scene from the list of survival priorities
in exercise 1?

❺ From what you read about Chuck in the introduction why do you think he looks
after the boxes (which were being delivered by his company)?

❻ Why is it also ironic for him that he still has his pocket watch, which no longer works?
❼ If you found yourself in this situation what do you think you’d miss the most
from your present life?
family friends little luxuries TV other
(bed, etc.) (specify)
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On and Off Screen

MADAGASCAR Madagascar (2006)

DreamWorks Animation (2006)

The story on screen so far...


Marty, a zebra in New York’s Central Park Zoo, is starting to get tired of his easy, 147
pampered life and dreams of living in his natural habitat of wild open spaces. His

3 / The Restoration and the Augustan Age


friends Alex, Melvin and Gloria are quite happy where they are but when Marty
escapes from the zoo one night, they go out looking for him. It’s difficult for a zebra,
hippopotamus (Gloria), giraffe (Melvin) and lion (Alex) to go unnoticed in New York
City, so they are soon captured and the zoo officials decide it would be better to ship
them back to their native Africa. However, their crates fall off the ship and they find
themselves on a desert island. The situation is apparently similar to Chuck Noland’s in
Cast Away but in actual fact it couldn’t be more different!

❽ Here’s a list of animals. If you don’t know any of them look them up in a bilingual
dictionary. Now watch the extract and tick the animals you see in the scene (you
should see 7).
whale star fish hippo lion
deer horse rhinoceros monkey
giraffe dolphin crab zebra
shark cat bear parrot

❾ Can you describe how Alex intends to get Melvin out of the crate? What does he
pretend he’s playing?

10 How does the zebra, Marty, get to the beach?


11 Who seems to be the most intelligent character? And the most stupid? Why
do you think the writers made this choice?

12 Watch and listen to the scene and write who says the following. Put
‘M’ for Marty, ‘G’ for Gloria, ‘A’ for Alex and ‘Mel’ for Melvin.
1. ‘Alex is that you?’ .............
2. ‘I got you buddy’ .............
3. ‘Giraffe corner pocket’ .............
4. ‘All right boys the fun’s over’ .............
5. ‘I really don’t have anything on me right now’ .............
6. ‘We’re all here together, safe and sound’ .............

13 How do you say ‘buddy’ and ‘safe and sound’ in


Italian?

14 In what ways does this island seem more


hospitable than the one in ./24?

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Jonathan
(1667-1745)
Swift

148
J onathan Swift was born in Dublin in 1667, son of an
Irish father and English mother. He was studying at
the Trinity college in Dublin when political troubles in
Ireland linked to the Glorious Revolution forced him to go to
England in 1688. Here he obtained a position as secretary and
personal assistant to Sir Temple, an ex-diplomat and scholar.
In 1694 he was ordained an Anglican priest and took a post
in Ireland, where he began to write.
In 1710 he moved back to London, where he became editor
of the newspaper The Examiner, and joined the Scriblerus
Club, to which other writers like Pope, Gay, and Congreve
belonged. When the Tories lost political power to the
Whigs, Swift moved back to Ireland and became the dean of
St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin, where he lived for the next
thirty years. He died in 1745 after a long period of illness.

Main works
• The Battle of the Books (1697)
• A Tale of a Tub (1704)
Charles Jervas, • Gulliver’s Travels (1726)
Portrait of Jonathan • A Modest Proposal (1729)
Swift. National
0''$1 -ŷ.-1 '.: the plot
Portrait Gallery,
London.
In each of its four books the hero, Lemuel Gulliver, a ship’s surgeon, embarks on a
voyage; but shipwreck or some other hazard inevitably casts him up on a strange land.
Lemuel Gulliver is both the narrator and the protagonist of the story.
ǞÜìî
îÜåàíãäçîé äææäêïîƪ àìàãàçààîíîãà äææäêïîäÜèíŌíçÜææêàéêæàDZèéîíäò
inches high’. They name him Quinbus Felstris, the Man Mountain. After many
adventures he leaves the island.
Ǟ
èÜìî

ãàȂèßíãäçíàæáÜÝÜèßéèàßäèìéÝßäèâèÜâŌñãàìàîãàêàéêæàÜìàâäÜèîíÜèß
call him ‘homunculus’. His stay here ends when a Brobdingnag eagle carries him off.
Ǟ
èãäíîãäìßðéóÜâàdžÜìî

LjïææäðàìðäíäîíîãàäíæÜèßéá ÜêïîÜŌñãäÞãäíÜäìÝéìèàƪ
îí
inhabitants are absent-minded people who devote their lives to music, mathematics
and abstract speculation.
Ǟ
èÜìî
ãàßäíÞéðàìíÜïîéêäÜèæÜèßñãàìàîãàÜãééíÜèß éïóãèãèçíæäðàƪ
The Yahoos are stupid and vicious, but similar to human beings in appearance,
the Houyhnhnms are intelligent horses. Even though he’s treated well by the
Houyhnhnms, they regard him only as a kind of Yahoo and therefore they send him
away. After so many diverse adventures he returns to England, where he finds he can
no longer tolerate the society of his fellow human beings.

What is 0''$1 -ŷ.-1 '.?


Gulliver’s Travels was an instant success when it was published. Despite the depth and
satirical vein of the novel, it also became a children’s classic, mainly because of the
section on Lilliput, and the novel’s plain and simple style. But the novel has also been

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defined in many different ways: as a travel book, an adventure story, one of the first
science-fiction stories, a political satire and a forerunner of the modern novel.
Its success may be explained by the fact that it appeals to different people for different
reasons, which is the essence of any classic.

Gulliver, the European


At the beginning of his first voyage Gulliver is presented as a typical European. He
is middle-aged and educated, sensible and scrupulous about his family. If, in Part I,
Gulliver believes in and supports the world in which he lives, in the course of his travels
he undergoes a transformation. By the end of the novel he has completely changed his 149
moral perspectives and realises that British institutions and the world into which he

3 / The Restoration and the Augustan Age


was born are not the ‘best of possible worlds’.

The satire
Gulliver’s travels to fantastic places in the novel become a pretext for → satire.
He manages to transform the familiar into the ridiculous with continual surprises. The purpose of
any satire is to
The objects of Swift’s satire were essentially European governments of the time, human invite the reader
corruption, and society in general. to laugh at a
The Lilliputians, for example, are shown as vicious and unscrupulous, while the King of particular defect
or vice of human
Brobdingnag sees Europe in exactly the same way. The Brobdingnagians are not perfect nature, or, as
either since they enjoy public executions and do nothing to fight poverty in their in Swift's case,
country. institutions of
societies. Swift
The Laputans can be seen as a parody of theoreticians who have no regard for reality and does it with wit,
are a symbol of the futility of abstract knowledge. In the final part of the book, with the humour and comic
depiction of the Yahoo savage, similar in appearance to human beings, Swift is in fact distortion.
suggesting that humans are no different from the Yahoos. Their apparent refinement is
only a mask which hides their barbaric side.

Lemuel Gulliver
awakens to find
himself tied
down by the tiny
Lilliputians, in
an illustration by
A.E. Jackson for
Jonathan Swift's
Gulliver's Travels.

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Gulliver’s Travels (1726)
BEFORE READING
❶ Which of them do NOT belong to 0''$1 -ŷ.-1 '.?
Lilliputians Elves Brobdingnagans Trolls

❷ What kind of novel do these creatures appear in: science fiction, psychological,
fantasy novels? Can you name other fantastic creatures?

150

Gulliver’s Travels MP3 18

1 They beheld: mi […] I was surrounded with a crowd of people, but those who stood nearest
osservavano.
2 countenances: seemed to be of better quality. They beheld1 me with all the marks and
modi.
circumstances of wonder; neither indeed was I much in their debt, having
3 outward garments:
abiti all’esterno. never till then seen a race of mortals so singular in their shapes, habits, and
4 interwoven: countenances2.
ricamato.
5 a blown bladder: 5 Their heads were all reclined, either to the right, or the left; one of their eyes
vescica. turned inward, and the other directly up to the zenith. Their outward garments3
6 fastened like a
flail to the end of were adorned with the figures of suns, moons, and stars; interwoven4 with
a stick: attaccata
alla punta di una those of fiddles, flutes, harps, trumpets, guitars, harpsichords, and many other
bacchetta. instruments of music, unknown to us in Europe. I observed, here and there,
7 dried peas, or little
pebbles: fagioli 10 many in the habit of servants, with a blown bladder5, fastened like a flail to the
secchi o sassolini.
end of a stick6, which they carried in their hands. In each bladder was a small
8 flapped:
picchiavano. quantity of dried peas, or little pebbles7, as I was afterwards informed. With these
9 without being bladders, they now and then flapped8 the mouths and ears of those who stood near
roused: senza essere
svegliato/risvegliato. them, of which practice I could not then conceive the meaning.
10 whereof: di cui. 15 It seems the minds of these people are so taken up with intense speculations,
that they neither can speak, nor attend to the discourses of others, without
being roused9 by some external taction upon the organs of speech and hearing;
for which reason, those persons who are able to afford it always keep a flapper
(the original is climenole) in their family, as one of their domestics; nor ever walk
20 abroad, or make visits, without him. And the business of this officer is, when
two, three, or more persons are in company, gently to strike with his bladder
the mouth of him who is to speak, and the right ear of him or them to whom the
speaker addresses himself. […] At last we entered the palace, and proceeded into
the chamber of presence, where I saw the king seated on his throne, attended
25 on each side by persons of prime quality. Before the throne, was a large table
filled with globes and spheres, and mathematical instruments of all kinds. His
majesty took not the least notice of us, although our entrance was not without
sufficient noise, by the concourse of all persons belonging to the court. But he
was then deep in a problem; and we attended at least an hour, before he could
30 solve it. There stood by him, on each side, a young page with flaps in their
hands, and when they saw he was at leisure, one of them gently struck his
mouth, and the other his right ear; at which he startled like one awaked on
the sudden, and looking towards me and the company I was in, recollected the
occasion of our coming, whereof10 he had been informed before. He spoke some

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35 words, whereupon immediately a young man with a flap came up to my side,
and flapped me gently on the right ear; but I made signs, as well as I could, that
I had no occasion for such an instrument; which, as I afterwards found, gave his
majesty, and the whole court, a very mean opinion of my understanding. The
king, as far as I could conjecture, asked me several questions, and I addressed
40 myself to him in all the languages I had. When it was found I could neither
understand nor be understood, I was conducted by his order to an apartment
in his palace (this prince being distinguished above all his predecessors for his
hospitality to strangers), where two servants were appointed to attend me.
From Laputa Part III
151

3 / The Restoration and the Augustan Age


OVER TO YOU
❶ The passage is told from the point of view of
an external narrator the king Gulliver

❷ The protagonist is surrounded by people who observe him with curiosity. He also
observes them with curiosity. Why? What do they look like?

❸ He also sees servants. What are they carrying? How do they use it?
❹ Where do these servants follow their masters?
❺ Lemuel is now in the palace in the presence of the king. Complete the passage
which summarises this part:
 +-/( )/Ţ')"0" Ţ/#-*) Ţ/' Ţ+-*' (Ţ// )/$*)
The king is seated on his …..............................................……. (1). Before the throne, there was a large
…..............................................……. (2) with globes and spheres, and mathematical instruments

of all kinds. The king doesn’t pay attention to Lemuel because he is solving a
…..............................................……. (3). They wait one hour and then the servants arouse his

…..............................................……. (4) by striking his mouth and his right ear. He then begins to talk to

Lemuel but he doesn’t understand his …..............................................……. (5). Then he is conducted to


an ….............................................……. (6) in the palace where two servants are appointed to look after him.

❻ The Laputans, as they are described by Gulliver, are educated people. What are
they fond of?
architecture and art mathematics, music sport and adventure
and astronomy

❼ What/who do you think the Laputans are parodies of?


inventors and theoreticians and politicians and kings
technicians philosophers

❽ Discuss in class. Could this critique of the Laputans be applied to today’s world?
Who could be the Laputans of today?

REVIEW
❶ Answer the following questions.
1. What kind of novel is Gulliver’s Travels?
2. What lands does Gulliver ‘visit’ during his voyages?
3. What does the author aim to do in the novel?
4. Why is Gulliver so attracted to travel?

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Samuel
(1689-1761)
Richardson

152
B orn in Derbyshire in 1689 Samuel Richardson had what he called ‘only Common
School-Learning’ (a very basic education). He started his working life as an
apprentice in a printer’s shop and six or seven years later set up a printing press of
his own. He married, but his wife died as did all of his six children. He married again in
1733 and fathered six more children, of which only four survived him. At the age of 51 he
wrote his first novel, Pamela, which became an immediate success. He followed this with
two more epistolary novels, which were also very successful. He died in London in 1761.

Main works
• Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded (1740-42)
• Clarissa, or The History of a Young Lady (1747-48)
• The History of Sir Charles Grandison (1753)

( ': the plot


Mason Fifteen-year-old Pamela Andrews, the protagonist, is a maidservant who works in a
Chamberlin, wealthy household. The son of the household, Mr B., is passionately attracted to her
Samuel Richardson,
1754 or before. and repeatedly tries to seduce her, but she defends herself, never giving in to him and
Oil on copper; she successfully manages to protect her virtue. In the first part of the novel Pamela
National Portrait
Gallery, London.
writes letters to her parents speaking about her moral problems and asking for advice.
In the second part Mr B. abducts her and imprisons her in his country house. Here
Pamela continues writing, but she cannot be sure that her parents will ever receive her
letters. The happy ending sees Pamela married to the rich Mr B. The marriage is the
reward mentioned in the subtitle of the novel, ‘Virtue Rewarded’, because in this
way she obtains a social position which only women from the upper classes could
normally aspire to.

The epistolary novel


Pamela was written in epistolary form, as a series of letters written
by the protagonist (some also by her parents). Richardson stated
that this kind of writing allowed the reader greater access to the
character’s inner world. The writer could also record Pamela’s
thoughts as they occurred at the time of her actions.
Although written in the form of letters, Pamela is far from
being a ‘static’ narrative. It is full of images and contains
much action and dialogue.

A great success
Pamela was one of the greatest literary success stories
of the 18th century. In today’s market it would have
been known as a ‘bestseller’, the first example of
this phenomenon in the history of English fiction.
Everybody read it: there was a ‘Pamela’ obsession,
and objects connected with her story started to
appear on teacups, fans, etc.

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The aim of the book
Richardson wanted to amuse, entertain and also to teach. The moralising nature
of the book was linked with the Puritan middle-class idea of ‘reward for virtue and
punishment for sins’, which played a decisive role in the book’s popularity. However,
some readers saw Pamela as a scheming young woman who was trying to gain a higher
social status by making a nobleman marry her. Among those who doubted Pamela’s
‘morality’ was the novelist Henry Fielding who parodied Pamela in some of his works.

A pioneer in psychological characterisation


Pamela marks an important moment in the rise of the modern novel because of its 153
deeper, psychological character analysis. This was something almost completely

3 / The Restoration and the Augustan Age


lacking in previous novels. In contrast with Defoe’s characters, Pamela seems to have
an inner world of feelings and thoughts that Richardson explores with great sensitivity,
drawing the reader into her world. In this sense Richardson can be defined as a pioneer Round characters
are complex and
in the field of characterisation. often undergo
some form
Pamela and Mr B. of change or
development in
Pamela is one of the first great English heroines who works to earn her living, and rebels the course of
against the social attitudes of the time, according to which lower-class girls were not the story, while
supposed to aspire to greater things. In novels it was unusual for the leading character flat characters
are built around
to be an ‘ordinary’ person. Other novels before Pamela focused on characters who were a single idea or
either kings, queens or great leaders. Many writers could only deal with characters quality. They can
belonging to the lower classes with irony. Richardson, on the other hand, presented his also be defined
as types or
characters seriously. caricatures.
Pamela is a → ‘round’ character who develops in the course of the story showing us the
different aspects of her personality. Mr B. is also presented as a round character, even
Joseph Highmore,
though the reader only sees him through Pamela’s eyes. He adopts many roles in the course Mr B. finds Pamela
of the story: alternating between aristocratic, friendly, arrogant, overbearing and sweet, writing (detail),
rational and impulsive. Both characters share this continuously fluctuating state of being. from Four Scenes
from Samuel
By the end of the novel, their relationship is one of admiration and love, and eventually ends Richardson's
in marriage. This happy ending transforms the novel into a kind of fairy tale. Pamela, 1743-4.
Oil on canvas;
Tate Britain
Museum, London.

Pamela (1740-42)
BEFORE READING
As you read in the introduction, the
epistolary novel is a novel made up of letters.
You also read some of the features of this
genre. Which other features do you think
characterise this kind of novel? Tick.
It allows the author to present a more
complex character.
It allows the author to describe the
environment in a more complete way.
It has a brave and intelligent hero or heroine.
It brings a sense of immediacy to the work,
you feel like you’re in the middle of the
action.

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Pamela MP3 19

1. needle: ago. Pamela tells her mother about an incident with Mr B.


2. I was much out of
countenance: ero
fuori di me. And one day he came to me, as I was in the summer-house in the little garden, at
3. faithful: fedele.
work with my needle1, and Mrs. Jervis was just gone from me; and I would have
4. eagerness:
passione. gone out; but he said, ‘Don’t go, Pamela; I have something to say to you; and you
5. to wait upon: always fly me, when I come near you, as if you were afraid of me.’
154 servire.
6. hastily: 5 I was much out of countenance2 you may well think; and began to tremble, and
affrettatamente.
the more when he took me by the hand; for no soul was near us.
7. don’t stand in your
own light: non fate ‘Lady Davers’, said he, (and seemed, I thought, to be as much at a loss for words
l’orgogliosa.
as I,) ‘would have had you live with her; but she would not do for you what I am
8. wickedness:
malvagità. resolved to do, if you continue faithful3 and obliging. What say you, my girl?’
9. benumbed: 10 said he, with some eagerness4; ‘had you not rather stay with me, than go to Lady
paralizzata.
10. fit: attacco, Davers?’ He looked so, as filled me with fear; I don’t know how; wildly, I thought.
convulsion.
I said, when I could speak, ‘Your honour will forgive me; but as you have no lady
11. I burst from him:
mi strappai da lui. for me to wait upon5, and my good lady has been now dead this twelvemonth, I
12. farthing: una had rather, if it would not displease you, wait upon Lady Davers, because –’
monetina.
13. hussy: donnaccia. 15 I was proceeding, and he said, a little hastily6, ‘– Because you are a little fool, and
14. I sobbed: know not what’s good for yourself. I tell you I will make a gentlewoman of you,
singhiozzai.
15. demeaning if you be obliging, and don’t stand in your own light7’. And so saying, he put his
yourself: arm about me, and kissed me.
umiliandovi,
abbassandovi. Now, you will say, all his wickedness8 appeared plainly. I struggled, and trembled,
16. bold: audace.
20 and was so benumbed9 with terror, that I sunk down, not in a fit10, and yet not
myself; and I found myself in his arms, quite void of strength; and he kissed me
two or three times, with frightful eagerness.
At last I burst from him11, and was getting out of the summer-house; but he held
me back, and shut the door.
25 I would have given my life for a farthing12. And he said, ‘I’ll do you no harm,
Pamela; don’t be afraid of me.’
I said, ‘I won’t stay.’
‘You won’t, hussy13! said he: Do you know whom you speak to?’
I lost all fear, and all respect, and said, ‘Yes, I do, sir, too well! Well may I forget
30 that I am your servant, when you forget what belongs to a master.’
I sobbed14 and cried most sadly. ‘What a foolish hussy you are!’ said he: ‘Have
I done you any harm?’ ‘Yes, sir,’ said I, ‘the greatest harm in the world: You
have taught me to forget myself, and what belongs to me; and have lessened the
distance that fortune has made between us, by demeaning yourself15, to be so free
35 to a poor servant. Yet, sir, I will be bold16 to say, I am honest, though poor: and if
you was a prince, I would not be otherwise than honest.’

OVER TO YOU
❶ Read the first three lines and answer:
1. Where is Pamela?
2. Why is she alone?
3. Who goes to her?

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❷ Answer the following questions.
1. What does Mr B. tell Pamela?
2. Pamela doesn’t answer but she begins to tremble (l. 5). Why do you think she trembles?
3. Mr B. tells Pamela that Lady Davers wants her as a servant (l. 8). What does he ask
Pamela? Does he respect her decision?
4. Mr B. tells Pamela that he ‘will make a gentlewoman’ of her (l. 16). What do you
think he means by this? He will:
marry her let her live an independent life
make her his lover

❸ Put the events that follow in the right chronological order. 155
He holds her back and shuts the door.

3 / The Restoration and the Augustan Age


He takes her in his arms and kisses her again.
Pamela struggles and she sinks down.
Mr B. tries to kiss Pamela.
She flees from him and tries to get out of the summer house.

❹ What does Pamela accuse Mr B. of (ll. 31-36)?


❺ What feelings does Pamela show towards Mr B. in the text you have read?
love submission
fear anger
indignation determination (to defend her virtue)
hatred

❻ Richardson’s ‘Preface’ to the novel suggests that it will offer ‘practical examples,
worthy to be followed in the most critical and affecting cases, by the virgin, the
bride, and the wife’. Does the passage you have read give any examples of these?

WRITER’S CORNER
➐ Writing letters is generally seen as old-fashioned these days. Now we write to
each other with other means: emails and text messages with our computers and
mobile phones. In the email you are about to write you will describe an event
that has happened to you. Remember to:
 Š relate an interesting but short event. It doesn’t have to be true. It can be
completely fictional!
 Š identify the addressee (it can be a friend, relative, etc.)
 Š choose the tone you want to use for your story (serious, dramatic, ironic, witty, etc.)
 Š choose the style you want to adopt for your story. You can include: dialogues,
memories, descriptions.
Write no more than 200 words.
Some help needed? No imagination, no ideas? Here are some suggestions about
the content.
 ŠA quarrel between you and your girlfriend/boyfriend.
 Š You met someone interesting at a party.
 Š An argument with one or both of your parents.
 Š Something great that happened to you at school.
Is there any way in which the old form of letter writing is better than the new
forms of communication listed previously?

REVIEW
❶ Fill in the missing information in this short summary of the novel ( '.
The protagonist is Pamela, a ............................................. (1) who works in a wealthy household.
The young man of the family, Mr B., tries to ............................................. (2) her but she never gives
in to him and manages to protect her ............................................. (3). The novel is made up of
letters mostly written by Pamela to her ............................................. (4).

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Literature
Around the World THE EPISTOLARY NOVEL
→ The epistolary novel enjoyed great popularity from the mid-1700s to the end of the century
The epistolary all over Europe. Samuel Richardson wrote one of the first and certainly the most famous
novel is a novel
made up of epistolary novel in English literature: Pamela (1740-42). Also the other novels by Richardson’s,
letters written Clarissa (1747-8) and The History of Charles Grandison (1753) are epistolary novels.
156 by the various
characters. It
reveals in detail In Europe
the emotions and ǞìÜèÞàƪãàȂìíîàêäíîéæÜìóèéðàæñÜíãÜìæàí éïäíßàéèîàíëïäàïdzíLettres Persanes
thoughts of the
character. (1721), which speaks about two Persians travelling to Paris. While staying in France
they have the chance to observe the customs, lifestyle and traditions of French people.
Then followed Jean Jacques Rousseau’s La Nouvelle Heloise (1761), about marriage and
the conflict between love, passion and social conventions and Choderlos de Laclos’s Les
Liaisons Dangereuses (1782), dealing with the adventures of libertines in 18th-century
France.
ǞàìçÜèóƪThe Sorrows of Young Werther (1774) by J.W. Goethe was hugely successful
throughout Europe, making its author one of the first true literary celebrities in Europe.
Ǟ
îÜæóƪâééíÞéæéÝàÞÜçàðàìóêéêïæÜìñäîãîãàêïÝæäÞÜîäéèéáLe Ultime Lettere di Jacopo
Ortis (1796-1802), an epistolary novel along the lines of The Sorrows of Young Werther, but
also containing a bitter condemnation of Italy’s social and political situation.

Here are two passages. The first is an extract from Le ultime Lettere di Jacopo Ortis by
Ugo Foscolo and the other is from Clarissa by Samuel Richardson.
Werther, the
main character
of The Sorrows
of Young Werther
(Die Leiden des
jungen Werthers)
Le ultime lettere di Jacopo Ortis
by J.W. Goethe.
Engraving. Jacopo is at Teresa’s house, the woman with whom he has fallen in love. He’s writing to
his friend about his feelings and his intentions.
Suo padre giuoca meco a scacchi le intere serate: essa lavora seduta accanto
a quel tavolino, silenziosissima, se non quanto parlano gli occhi suoi; ma di
rado: e chinandosi a un tratto non mi domandano che pietà. – E qual altra
pietà posso mai darle, da questa in fuori di tenerle, quanto avrò forza,
5 tenerle occulte come più potrò tutte le mie passioni? Né io vivo se non per
lei sola: e quando anche questo mio nuovo sogno soave terminerà, io calerò
volentieri il sipario. La gloria, il sapere, la gioventù, le ricchezze, la patria,
tutti fantasmi che hanno fino ad or recitato nella mia commedia, non fanno
più per me. Calerò il sipario; e lascierò che gli altri mortali s’affannino per
10 accrescere i piaceri e menomare i dolori d’una vita che ad ogni minuto
s’accorcia, e che pure que’ meschini se la vorrebbero persuadere immortale.
Eccoti con l’usato disordine, ma con insolita pacatezza risposto alla tua
lunga affettuosissima lettera: tu sai dire assai meglio le tue ragioni: – io le
mie le sento troppo; però pajo ostinato. – Ma s’io ascoltassi più gli altri che
15 me, rincrescerei forse a me stesso: – e nel non rincrescere a sé, sta quel po’
di felicità che l’uomo può sperar su la terra.

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Clarissa
The following passage is from Clarissa. Clarissa is the beautiful and honest
protagonist of the novel who comes from a middle-class family. In spite of this she
has an unhappy life which ends tragically. She rebels against her parents who want
to force her to marry a man for whom she feels nothing. In the following extract she
talks to her mother.
[Clarissa] Madam, I would rather die, than – 157
She put her hand to my mouth – No peremptoriness1, Clary Harlowe! Once 1. peremptoriness:

3 / The Restoration and the Augustan Age


imperiosità.
you declare yourself inflexible, I have done. 2. grasping views:
I wept for vexation. This is all, all, my brother’s doings – His grasping il suo modo di
impuntarsi.
5 views2 – No reflections upon your brother. He has entirely the honour of the 3. hitherto: finora.
family at heart. 4. trial: prova.
I would no more dishonour my family, madam, than my brother would.
I believe it; but I hope you’ll allow your papa and me and your uncles to
judge what will do it honour, what dishonour!
10 I then offered to live single; never to marry at all; or never but with their
full approbation.
If I meant to show my duty and my obedience, I must show it in their way;
not in my own.
I said, I hoped I had not so behaved myself hitherto3 that there was no need
15 of such a trial4 of my obedience as this.

OVER TO YOU Joseph Highmore,


The Harlowe
❶ Answer these questions. Family (detail),
from Samuel
1. In the extract by Ugo Foscolo, what does Jacopo want to do? Why? Richardson's
2. Clarissa thinks that a person is guilty for her situation. Who? Clarissa, 1745-47.
3. What is her mother’s attitude? Is she sympathetic or hostile? Oil on canvas,
Yale Center for
4. Clarissa doesn’t want to marry the man her parents have chosen for her. What does British Art.
she propose to do instead?

❷ Compare the two passage.


Similarities
1. In both texts the writer
speaks with spontaneity aims at creating
and sincerity poetical images
speaks formally and coldly
2. Both texts are focused on (more than one alternative)
practical problems relationships between
feelings people
thoughts social questions
Differences
3. The narrator in Le Ultime Lettere di Jacopo Ortis is …........................................................... ,
while in Clarissa is ......................................................................................................................................................... .
4. The content: in Le Ultime Lettere di Jacopo Ortis there are some
philosophical considerations, while the text in Clarissa is focused
essentially on ...................................................................................................................................................................... .
5. The language in Le Ultime Lettere di Jacopo Ortis is literary and refined,
while in Clarissa ............................................................................................................................................................... .

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Today's
Perspective NEWSPAPERS NOW
AND THEN

158

video
Newspapers

1 2

Newspapers then
The first successful English daily newspaper, The Daily Courant, was published from 1702
to 1735 while → Daniel Defoe, the author of Robinson Crusoe, founded and directed the
See → p. 142 for periodical The Review.
Daniel Defoe.
As far as magazines are concerned, The Gentleman’s Magazine (see picture 1) was first
published in 1731 in London and it is generally considered to have been the first general-
interest magazine.
Newspapers dealt with subjects of general interest and also informed people of the latest
events but they were not exactly the same as those of today.

Read this passage from a newspaper of the 18th century.

1. gallows: forza,
patibolo.
2. drest...chins: 29 March 1737
avvolti nei loro On Monday last, between twelve and one, James Blade alias John Johnson,
sudari, con i berretti
da sepoltura cuciti John Painter alias Hall, and William Wright, were executed on a gallows1
sotto il mento.
3. stockings: calze.
set up for them on the Castle-Hill: they all went drest in their shrouds,
4. wretches: with the burial-caps stitched under their chins2, and without shoes and
miserabili,
disgraziati. 5 stockings3; but surely three such stupid and indolent wretches4 hardly ever
5. swung out: sono swung out5 of the world together before.
stati appesi/
impiccati. Daily Gazetteer

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Newspapers now
Traditionally, newspapers in Britain are divided into the ‘quality press’ and the ‘popular The Sun is the
press’. The quality newspapers usually deal with home and overseas news, with most popular
detailed and extensive coverage of sports and cultural events. Besides these newspapers newspaper in
Britain with
carry financial reports, travel news and book and film reviews. almost 8 million
The popular newspapers are known as tabloids because they are smaller in size. readers, followed
They are characterised by large headlines, have a lot of photographs and focus on the by the Daily Mail
and the Daily
sensational and juicy bits of the events. Also the language is different from that of the Mirror. Among
quality newspaper: it is simpler and more colloquial. the quality
The Times is maybe the most famous English newspaper. Founded in 1785, it is the oldest newspapers the 159
most widely
national daily newspaper. Together with The Sunday Times it is famous for the high quality read are the

3 / The Restoration and the Augustan Age


éáäîíèàñíÜèßÞéççàèîéè ÜèßäèîàìèÜîäéèÜæäííïàíŌÝïíäèàííŌÜèßÞïììàèîÜȊÜäìíƪ Daily Telegraph,
The Times, The
Guardian and The
Read this passage from a newspaper of today. Independent.

4 March 2008
Staff nurse Colin Norris was jailed for life1 today for the murder of four
patients and told he would serve a minimum of 30 years. 1. jailed for life:
Norris, 32, from Egilsay Terrace, Glasgow, killed vulnerable women in 2002 by condannato
all’ergastolo.
giving them massive doses of insulin while working at two Leeds hospitals. 2. four counts
5 Jailing him at Newcastle Crown Court, Mr Justice Griffith Williams said: of murder:
quadruplice
‘You are, I have absolutely no doubt, a thoroughly evil and dangerous man.’ omicidio.
Norris was convicted of four counts of murder2 and one attempted murder
yesterday following a lengthy trial.
He was given four life sentences with a minimum term of 30 years for each of
10 the murders and a 20-year sentence to run concurrently for attempted murder.
He was described by West Yorkshire Police as ‘extremely arrogant’.
Detectives said he showed no remorse for killing Doris Ludlam, 80, Bridget
Bourke, 88, Irene Crookes, 79 and Ethel Hall, 86, while he worked at the
Leeds General Infirmary (LGI) and the city’s St James’s Hospital.
15 He also tried to kill Vera Wilby, 90, but she survived the coma which
followed the unnecessary insulin injection.
Police began an investigation after Dr Emma Ward noticed in November
2002 that Mrs Hall had slipped into a hypoglycaemic coma despite not
being a diabetic.
The Independent

OVER TO YOU
❶ Choose the correct alternative.
1. Having read the article from the 18th-century newspaper, what
do you think were the expectations of the public at that time?
They wanted to be informed about what had happened.
They wanted to know that the criminals had been justly punished.
They wanted to understand how the crime had been committed.
They wanted to know a great deal of details about the crime.
2. What impression do you get of the society?
Justice was tougher.
Punishments were much harder.
People were more interested in crime.
People were more afraid of criminals.

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Literature
and Language FIRST CERTIFICATE
IN ENGLISH
Practice Tests

160 FCE Reading Comprehension


Part 1
You are going to read a passage about women in the 18th century.
For questions 1-8, choose the answer (A, B or C) which you think
fits best according to the text.

T he advent of the Enlightenment in the 18th century changed the rules


of Western society and within the society women gradually began to
acquire more importance and play a greater role. We can understand
this by the way in which novelists started to place women at the centre of their
stories, not as weak or silly individuals, but as real heroines, endowed with
determination and intelligence. Fiction, however, also shows how far women
actually were from any real status of independence and, given the impossibility
of supporting themselves by their own means, marriage was considered every
woman’s vocation. If a woman from the lower classes didn’t marry she had few
chances of leading a happy life. The situation of upper-class women was also
far from ideal. They were often not allowed to choose their own husbands, this
being done for them by their parents, usually on the basis of the man’s wealth
and social standing, even if he were old and disagreeable. No wonder then, that
many women often found themselves unhappy, dissatisfied and frustrated.
Virginia Woolf once wrote, ‘All women together ought to let flowers fall upon the
tomb of Aphra Behn, for it was she who earned them the right to speak their minds.’
Aphra Behn is believed to be the first woman in England (and probably also
in Europe) to earn her living as an author of plays and novels and is often
quoted as the ‘mother’ of the novel. She lived in the 17th century when writing
was not considered an acceptable art for women, who instead were expected
to dedicate themselves to the running of the home and care of the children.
But when Behn’s husband died and her money ran out, she defied common
standards and turned to writing to support herself. Her plays, and in particular
her novel Oroonoko 1688, were successful with the public of the time.
Oroonoko is set in the West Indies and tells of the tragic love of an enslaved
prince in 1660s. A very romantic story…

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1. Within the society of the 18th century women played
A a very important role
B a less important role than before
C a more important role than before
2. The changing role of women is suggested by
A literature
B politics 161
C theatre

3 / The Restoration and the Augustan Age


3. Women in this time
A were becoming independent and autonomous
B were clever and determined
C were still dependent on men
4. Women usually climbed the social ladder thanks to
A work
B marriage
C the help of friends
5. Women from lower classes
A were usually unhappy
B didn’t live well if they didn’t marry
C could live well only if they worked
6. Upper-class women married
A mostly men of their choice sometimes because of the social position
B mostly men chosen by their parents
C mostly old and disagreeable men
7. Aphra Behn is believed to be the first woman in England
A who was successful as a novelist
B who worked in order to support herself
C who didn’t devote herself to her family in order to write her books
8. She wrote
A only novels
B novels and poetry
C novels and plays

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Literature
and Language FCE Use of English
Part 3
Read the text about Isaac Newton. Use the word given in capitals at the end
of some of the lines to form a word that fits into the gap in the same line.

Isaac Newton’s work was based on observation and


162 experiments that were repeated time and time again until
he was sure they were correct. His method of testing
theories was previously ...................................................................... (1) of and has HEAR
established the form of research we know today as ‘empirical
observation’.
Newton’s theory of gravitation stemmed from his observation
of an apple falling from a tree. By ...................................................................... (2) DIRECTION
sunlight through a hole and then passing it through a prism
to ...................................................................... (3) a sprectrum of colours on a screen PRODUCTION
he understood the nature of white light.
This ...................................................................... (4) him to build a new kind of LEAD
telescope ...................................................................... (5) as the reflecting telescope KNOW
as it substituted lenses with mirrors.
All telescopes used today are based on this prototype of
Newton’s.
After the ...................................................................... (6) of Principia Newton’s life PUBLISH
changed and he became an important public figure. He was
elected Member of Parliament for Cambridge and President
of the Royal Society in 1703 which he remained for the rest of
his life.
Despite his success and fame and ...................................................................... (7) in KNIGHT
1705, he was always a reserved and distant figure and never
MARRIAGE
...................................................................... (8).

Writing
Part 2

Write an answer to one of the questions 1-4 in this part. Write your
answer in 120-180 words in an appropriate style.

1. You have had a class discussion on literature. Write an essay giving your opinion
about the advantages and disadvantages of studying literature at school.

2. You have recently visited a museum. Write a report, focusing on the most
interesting works, what you liked and what you didn’t like about it.

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3. You have been asked to write a story for the school magazine. The story must
begin with the following words.
When I left I had no idea of what was going to happen.

4. Answer one of the following two questions.


a) Read this part of an email from your English-speaking friend, who has read
the same book as you.
163
I prefer stories told by an external narrator who never intervenes in the story to

3 / The Restoration and the Augustan Age


stories told by an intrusive narrator. What do you think?

Write an email to Robert, giving your opinion.


b) You have had a discussion in class about the innovative elements in a book.
Now your English teacher has asked you to write an essay about it for
homework.

Listening FCE
Part 2
CD 1 - TR 15
MP3 20
You will hear an interview with Jane Reilly talking about the Enlightenment.
For questions 1-9, complete the sentences.

Jane talks about the Enlightenment.


really European intellectual movement (0) .
She says it is the first …….....................................................................................................................................
The Enlightenment developed during ……...................................................................…….. (1) century.
The central ideas of this movement were ……...................................................................…….. (2), reason, nature
and man.
It developed in France, …..................….................................................…….. (3) and Germany.
The Church and the aristocracy became ……...................................................................…….. (4) .
The ideas of the Enlightenment also influenced the French ……..................................................................…….. (5)
and American colonists.
The philosopher John Locke, initiator of this movement in England, lived in
……...................................................................…….. (6) century.
He elevated judgment and the function of analysing and ……...................................................................…….. (7)
ideas over imagination.
Since the previous century was a turbulent one, in the 18th century people wished
……...................................................................…….. (8), clarity and harmony. This desire was also reflected in

literature and in culture in general.


The triumph of science gave ……...................................................................…….. (9) a new importance in the
18th century Enlightenment.

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In Short Titolo
The Restoration (1660-1714)

THE HISTORICAL BACKGROUND THE LITERARY CONTEXT

Charles II (1660-85) The Royal Society (1660)


The king was ‘restored’ to the throne after the end of the Members of the society were mainly philosophers and
Commonwealth. He had to steer the country in the struggle scientists.
between religious groups (Anglicans, Catholics, dissenters). They aimed at:
164
Many Puritans went to America and founded new • gathering knowledge useful for the public good
communities. • reforming English prose to make it clearer both in contents
and language
Events • verifying truth through experiment and not relying on
The plague broke out in 1665 and decimated the population. tradition.
The Great Fire of London (1666) destroyed a large part of the city. The most famous representative of the Royal Society was
Isaac Newton (1642-1727).
The Glorious Revolution
James II (1685-88) gave power to the Catholics and met Prose
with strong opposition from Parliament. Parliament appealed • Philosopher John Locke (1632-1704). His work marked the
to William of Orange. He came from Holland and defeated beginning of Empiricism. He wrote in a new style which
the king’s army. was clear and precise.
Other important authors of this time: the preacher John
Bills and Acts Bunyan (1628-88) and Samuel Pepys (1633-1703) with his
After the Glorious Revolution: Diaries.
• The Bill of Rights (1689) limited the power of the king.
• The Toleration Act (1689) aimed at introducing more Theatre
religious tolerance. The comedy of manners was the most popular kind of play.
• According to the Acts of Settlement (1701) all future Main representative: William Congreve (1670-1729). Beneath
monarchs must be part of the Church of England. an apparent superficiality lies a strong criticism of the upper
class. His plays are characterised by a brilliant and witty
After the Glorious Revolution dialogue.
William III and his wife Mary reigned jointly from 1689 to 1702.
Rise of the political parties: Whigs and Tories.

The Augustan Age (1714-60)

THE HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

George I (1714-1727) The Jacobite Rebellions


From the house of Hanover, he was German and unpopular as The aim of the rebels was to restore to the throne the exiled
king because he showed little interest in England. Catholic James Stuart. The first rebellion took place in 1715 and
the second in 1745. They failed due to little support from the
Prime minister Robert Walpole had great power. He was an people.
efficient and popular politician. Despite his alleged political
corruption he contributed to the growth of the English George II (1727-60)
economy. He governed from 1721 to 1742 and is the longest The successor to George I was George II who relied on his prime
running prime minister in British history. ministers, first Robert Walpole, then William Pitt.

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Wars Coffee houses
England took part in the Austrian War of Succession (1743-48) London, an important centre for literature, offered great social
then in the Seven Years’ War (1756-63). It helped England extend and intellectual opportunities.
control over North America and a large part of India.
The rise of the novel
Slave trade The novel is a long prose narrative connected to the rise of 165
It also gained control of the slave trade from Africa to the the middle class.

3 / The Restoration and the Augustan Age


Americas. Both the colonies and the slave trade became a great Main features:
source of wealth for England. • everyday settings and situations
• the characters portrayed were ordinary people usually
Social situation at the time belonging to the middle class
Positive aspects: improvement of living conditions for many people. • the language used was simple and factual.
Negative aspects: 1750 Enclosure Acts were passed. Open
farmland that had been used freely by the people was enclosed Daniel Defoe (1660-1731)
and became the private property of the wealthy. Birth of a Main works: Robinson Crusoe (1719), Moll Flanders (1722).
landless working class, forced to move to the city where they Usually considered the creator of realistic fiction. His
lived in deplorable conditions. novels are full of the Puritan spirit and the characters can
be seen as examples of the Puritan idea of the self-made
THE LITERARY CONTEXT man.

The Augustan Age Jonathan Swift (1667-1745)


The Augustan age is also called the Age of Reason or Main work: Gulliver’s Travels (1726). In it Swift attacks British
Enlightenment. institutions and laughs at the defects or vices of human nature.
Main concepts: He used satire and humour in his works to criticise the
• a desire to overcome old superstitions political situation of the England of his time.
• a new way of thinking in scientific and philosophical fields
• the application of rational methods. Samuel Richardson (1689-1761)
He is author of epistolary novels (novels of letters).
Poetry Main works: Pamela (1740-42), Clarissa (1747-8).
Poets strived to create a harmonious and polished style, He accurately depicted the real, everyday life of his characters
imitating classic models such as Cicero and Virgil. Main but in a fictional setting.
representatives: John Dryden (1631-1700) and Alexander Pope
(1688-1744). The Rape of the Lock (1712-14) is considered his
greatest achievement.

The reading public


There was an increase in a literate public, people who
could read and write. They wanted to improve their
education and required a new form of literature. A more
refined printing technology resulted in a more rapid
and improved production of texts. Circulating libraries
contributed to the diffusion of books.
Journalism and newspapers became a new form of literary
expression.

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Easy for you The Restoration (1660-1714)

HISTORY

1. Metti questi eventi del periodo della Restoration nel giusto ordine cronologico.
The Great Fire
166 James II gave power to the Catholics
The Puritans went to America and founded communities
The Glorious Revolution
The Plague
1 Charles II’s Restoration

2. Inserisci i nomi dei documenti con le corrette informazioni.


  °ɤ! ɤ&%½  !$&ɤ! &½&!
&& &%
1. It aims at introducing more religious tolerance. .................................................................................................................................................................
2. All future monarchs must be part of the Church of England. ...................................................................................................................
3. It limits the power of the king. .............................................................................................................................................................................................................................

LITERATURE

3. Completa la tabella riferita alla Royal Society.


Aim (scopo) ........................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ (1)
Motto ........................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ (2)
Main representative: Isaac
........................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ (3)

4. Evidenzia quali di questi elementi caratterizzano la prosa del periodo della


Restoration.

focus on philosophy and religion


clearer and precise style of writing

PROSE

unconventional images rich in irony

suitable for describing ideas and theories

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The Augustan Age (1714-60)
HISTORY

1. Indica quali di queste affermazioni


possono essere riferite a George I
e quali a Robert Walpole.
167
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!$$'"&ɤ! ½)% ɤɤ & "!"'$

3 / The Restoration and the Augustan Age


"!ɤ&ɤɤ ½)%&!$ɤ ɤ  ɤ%&ɤɤ&+
½)%($+' "!"'$½ɤ ã&&!%&
ɤ"!$& &"!ɤ&ɤɤ%ɤ! %
King,
1. George I – ...................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
Prime Minister,
2. Walpole – .....................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

2. Ci furono due guerre durante il regno di George II. Quali?

1. ............................................................................................................................................................ 2. ..........................................................................................................................................................

3. Riporta i fenomeni associati alla situazione sociale del tempo.

..................................................................................................................................
Enclosure Acts
..................................................................................................................................

.................................................................................................................................. ..................................................................................................................................

SOCIAL SITUATION

.................................................................................................................................. ..................................................................................................................................

.................................................................................................................................. ..................................................................................................................................

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Easy for you
LITERATURE

168

4. Completa queste frasi riguardo l’Augustan Age.


Age of Reason
1. Common terms for Augustan Age: ………...........................................................................………… (or the Enlightenment)
2. Inspired by the poets Virgil, .......................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
3. Ideas: overcome old superstitions, new way of ………..................................………… , clear and rational ………................................

5. Completa la tabella.
MOST FAMOUS POETS of the Augustan Age
John
1. .....................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
2. ....................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

6. Completa la lista dei fattori che portano all’aumento dei lettori.


1. rapidly growing ..................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
2. expansion of ...........................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
3. printing ..............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

7. Abbina i concetti.
1. CIRCULATING LIBRARIES meeting places for representatives of every profession

2. COFFEE HOUSES became an important centre of literary and commercial


England

3. JOURNALISM people could borrow books and newspapers


4. LONDON the number of newspapers grew quickly

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8. Indica in queste coppie di concetti quali si riferiscono alla nascita del romanzo.
1. The birth of the novel was
connected to the rise of the middle class
connected to the aristocracy
2. The most famous example is
Robinson Crusoe
Hamlet 169

3 / The Restoration and the Augustan Age


3. The new readers wanted to read about
themselves, their world and their environment
medieval adventures of knights, kings and old legends
4. The novel aimed at providing the reader with
information about science and philosophy
a greater understanding of reality
5. Imitating life
was not so important as inventing beautiful stories
became a central theme
6. The language was
simple and factual, almost journalistic in style
complicated and rich in metaphors

9. Scrivi i nomi dei cinque grandi romanzieri del tempo.


Daniel Defoe
1. ......................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
2. ......................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

3. ......................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

10. Riporta per ogni romanziere il titolo dell’opera più importante.


1. ......................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

2. ......................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

3. ......................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

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General Overview

THE HISTORICAL BACKGROUND 4. What was the rise in literary production due
to?
❶ Answer true or false. 5. What were coffee houses?
1. Charles II’s reign was marked
by religious struggles. T F 6. What were some of the features of the novels
of this period?
2. Two great disasters occurred during
this period. T F 7. What was the Royal Society?
170 3. James II gave great power
to the Catholics. T F
DANIEL DEFOE
4. The Glorious Revolution was so called
because it was led by important people. T F ❺ Answer true or false.
5. The Glorious Revolution had no effect 1. Defoe was a journalist as well as
on English history. T F a writer. T F

6. The main political parties of this time 2. The novel, Robinson Crusoe, tells the
were the Tories and the Whigs. T F story of a man who leaves his country
to work on a plantation. T F

❷ Choose the correct alternative. 3. When Crusoe is shipwrecked on the


desert island he meets Friday in
1. George I came from
the first month. T F
Britain
Germany 4. He never manages to leave the
island. T F
Holland
5. Robinson Crusoe has been interpreted
2. Robert Walpole was successful in as an allegory of capitalism. T F
economic affairs 6. The language used in the novel is
foreign policies straightforward and direct. T F
his relationship with the lower classes
3. The Jacobite Rebellions were so called because JONATHAN SWIFT
they were
attempts to restore the exiled Catholic
❻ Complete the following summary.
James to the throne Jonathan Swift was born in ................................. (1). He was
rebellions against King George a member of the ................................. (2) Club to which
religious wars led in the name of Saint many important writers belonged. When the
Jacobus Tories lost political power, he became
4. George II the ................................. (3) of St Patrick’s Cathedral in
was more interested in England than his Dublin. He died in 1745 after a long period of
father
................................. (4).
depended heavily on the prime minister
did not live in Britain His most famous work is ................................. (5).
It speaks of the ................................. (6) of Gulliver which
❸ Answer true or false. become a way of satirising ................................. (7). Most
1. England did not gain any advantages of the criticism is directed against Britain’s
from the Seven Years’ War. T F
................................. (8).
2. The economy was beginning to
change. T F
3. The Industrial Revolution began. T F SAMUEL RICHARDSON
4. The lower classes lived comfortably. T F
❼ Answer true or false.
5. Women and children were not 1. Samuel Richardson was a journalist. T F
allowed to work. T F
2. The work which made him famous
was Clarissa. T F
THE LITERARY CONTEXT 3. His novels are made up of a series
of letters.
❹ Answer the following questions. 4. Pamela, one of Richardson’s most
T F

1. What are the different names used to refer to


the Augustan Age? famous characters, is an aristocratic lady. T F

2. What are the characteristics of this age? 5. The novel has a happy ending. T F

3. What was the prevalent literary genre in this 6. The author aims at entertaining the
century? public but also at educating them. T F

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4 THE ROMANTIC AGE
(1760-1837)

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THE ROMANTIC AGE (1760-1837)
THE HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

1775-83 1814-15 1830-37


American War of Congress William IV’s reign
172 Independence of Vienna
1776 1789 1820-30 1833
American French George Factory Act
1760-1851 Declaration Revolution IV’s reign
George III’s reign of Independence

1792-1815
1783-1801 Napoleonic
William Pitt Wars
the Younger
prime minister 1834
Poor Law
1804-1806 Amendment Act
William Pitt the
Younger prime
minister
1832
First Reform Bill

1833
Britain abolishes
slavery

Revolutionary
popular print: The years of revolution
‘Live free
or die’, 18th The early Romantic age is also known as the ‘Age of Revolutions’ because in this
century. relatively short period three revolutions took place: the American Revolution by which
the American colonies gained independence, the French Revolution of 1789 and the
Industrial Revolution that was slowly changing Britain from a rural to an industrial
society.

George III and William Pitt the Younger


George III (1760-1820) increased his control over the country by surrounding himself
with loyal supporters. One such supporter was William Pitt the Younger, prime
minister from 1783 to 1801 and again from 1804 to 1806. During his time in office,
Pitt the Younger strengthened the position of prime minister by increasing his
power. He distinguished himself as a political guide against the French hegemony in
Europe in the last years of the French Revolution and during Napoleonic rule.
He supported the conservative ideas of the king and his defence of the aristocracy.
The result was a rigid governing policy that aimed at repressing any form of revolt.

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The French Revolution
The French Revolution broke out in 1789 and the ideas which created it spread all
through Europe and England. In its first phase the revolution found supporters
amongst intellectuals and poets like
Blake, Wordsworth and Coleridge. But as
the revolution became bloody and violent,
the general attitude changed and only a
few continued to defend it. Furthermore
French troops invaded the Rhineland and
the Netherlands. England began to fear the 173
increasing power of France, a power which

4 / The Romantic Age


became real with the Napoleonic wars.

The Napoleonic Wars


From 1792 to 1815 a series of wars between
France and the other European powers
took place. General Napoleon Bonaparte
proclaimed himself Emperor of France
in 1804 and led France in a bitter race to
conquer Europe. His fleet was defeated by Napoleon at
Admiral Horatio Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, but it was not until 1815 that the Battle of
Waterloo, 18th
Napoleon was finally defeated at the Battle of Waterloo by the Duke of Wellington. June 1815. Colored
At the Congress of Vienna (1814-15) the victors – England, Austria, Prussia and Russia – engraving.
drew up a new political map of Europe.

After the war – The Industrial Revolution gains momentum


By the end of the war the English felt oppressed by heavy taxation, unemployment
and a myriad of social problems. The Industrial Revolution, which began around 1760,
was transforming the agrarian and handicraft economy into one based on machinery.
Production increased dramatically but so did unemployment and frustration among
workers which exploded with the Luddite Riots (1811-12). The Luddites (who took their
name from an 18th-century Leicestershire workman, Ned Ludd) destroyed machines
all over England, as they saw them as a threat to their jobs. The disruption they caused
was so bad that an Act of Parliament was passed stating that any man found destroying
machinery would be sentenced to death.
This general unrest reached a climax in 1819 with the Peterloo Massacre. Eleven people
were killed in St. Peter’s Fields, Manchester, by the local militia who charged a peaceful
gathering of 60,000 people who had met to discuss the rise in bread prices. This unrest in
towns was paralleled by poverty and suffering in the countryside due to the → Enclosure
Acts. In addition to this the poor harvests of the period resulted in high prices. As a
consequence many people were driven towards towns and cities to look for work. Two
new social classes began to emerge: entrepreneurs and workers.

Poverty and exploitation


This mass exodus to the towns resulted in an unrestricted exploitation of the workers
who were made to work in extreme conditions with long hours and low wages.
Children were also employed in the same harsh conditions, as schooling was still not
compulsory. Women also worked in factories along with men but they were subject to
discrimination, lower wages for the same hours. In contrast, middle and upper class
women did not work and could receive a basic education.
While the middle classes gradually became more important thanks to their increasing

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wealth and quality of life, the vast majority of the population remained poor.
The prevailing attitude of ‘laissez-faire’ meant no state intervention in the economy.
As a consequence of Adam Smith’s work The Wealth of Nations (1776), it was thought that
unregulated competition would bring about the best economic results. But housing and
factory building was also unregulated and many people lived in slums, neighbourhoods
which had been quickly built to accommodate the mass migration into towns (the
population of Manchester increased five-fold in the space of two decades).

A time of reform
174 George IV became king on the death of his father in 1820 followed by William IV (1830-
37). This became a time of important reforms despite his disinterest in government. In
1832 the First Reform Bill was passed, extending the vote to the new middle classes. The
Factory Act, passed in 1833, made it illegal to employ children under the age of nine to
See Oliver Twist work in factories and restricted the hours in a working day for children from ages nine
by Charles Dickens to seventeen. The Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834 gave the homeless lodgings and
→ p. 258.
work in the infamous → workhouses. But the harsh conditions in these houses meant
that they came to be seen as the ‘last-resort’ for most poor people.

video
Boston and the The American War of Independence and the birth of the
American War of
Independence United States
America’s War of Independence broke out in 1775, after years of discontent in the 13
British colonies and a growing demand for greater administrative and economic
independence. On 4th July 1776 the Declaration of Independence announced the
separation of the 13 North American British colonies from Great Britain and saw the
first formulation of human rights based on: freedom and independence. The war which
ensued lasted eight years and saw the defeat of the British. In 1783 Britain acknowledged
the independence of the United States of America with the signing of the Treaty of Paris.
George Washington became the first President of the United States (1789-97).
In the first years after independence there was a gradual increase in migration towards
the West, especially after the discovery of gold. This move to the west brought about
conflict with the Native Americans who, theoretically, had the same rights as the
colonists but were gradually almost exterminated by them and were not actually given
full American citizenship until 1924.

English colonies
In spite of the Napoleonic Wars and the American War of Independence, England’s
John Trumbull, colonial expansion accelerated. In 1820 about 200 million people lived in countries
Declaration of under British control. Slavery, which was one of Britain’s most profitable trades
Independence,
c.1817. Oil on due to its colonies, became one of the main concerns of new humanitarian movements
canvas; United in this period. As a result of the rigorous campaigning of one such humanitarian
States Capitol,
Washington D.C. movement, the total abolition of slavery in the British colonies was brought about in
(USA). 1833, making Britain the first country in Europe to abolish slavery.

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OVER TO YOU
❶ Complete the following sentences.
1. This period is also known as the ‘Age of Revolutions’, because ....................................................................
................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... .

2. Name them: .............................................................................................................................................................................................................................


................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... .

3. George III wanted to ....................................................................................................................................................................................................


................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... .

4. The policy of the government was .........................................................................................................................................................


175
................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... .

4 / The Romantic Age


❷ Answer the following questions.
1. Who was William Pitt the Younger?
2. How did most of Europe react to the French Revolution? Why did this reaction
change?
3. What were the after-effects of the Napoleonic wars?

❸ Complete this table about the key steps of the Industrial Revolution.
Economy of the Effects Birth of new social
countryside on population classes
............................................................................... ............................................................................... ...............................................................................

............................................................................... ............................................................................... ...............................................................................

............................................................................... ............................................................................... ...............................................................................

............................................................................... ............................................................................... ...............................................................................

❹ List the problems related to the first phase of the Industrial Revolution.
❺ Put these events in chronological order.
Defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo Battle of Trafalgar
Peterloo Massacre Beginning of George III’s reign
Luddite Riots

❻ Answer the following questions.


1. What is Admiral Horatio Nelson famous for?
2. Which countries combined efforts to win the Napoleonic wars?
3. What was the cause of the Luddite riots and how were they stopped?
4. What happened at the Peterloo Massacre and what caused it?
5. Who reigned England from 1820-30?
6. What reforms were introduced from 1830-34?
7. Which of these reforms aimed at improving the living conditions of the poor?
Was it effective?
8. How did the position of women from the lower and upper classes differ?

❼ Focus on American history and answer these questions.


1. When was the American War of Independence?
2. How many British colonies were there in America at that time?
3. When was the Declaration of Independence?
4. Who was George Washington?
5. What happened to the Native Americans after the Declaration of Independence?

❽ Focus on ‘English colonies’ and answer these questions.


1. What was one of the main concerns of the new humanitarian movements?
2. Which of the reforms from this period had an influence on the colonies?

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THE ROMANTIC AGE (1760-1837)
THE LITERARY CONTEXT

1818
1813 Mary Shelley
1789-94 Frankenstein
William Blake Jane Austen
Songs of Innocence Pride and 1840
and of Experience Prejudice 1819-24 Edgar Allan
176 Lord Byron Poe Tales of the
Don Juan Grotesque and
the Arabesque

1751 1817
Thomas Gray Percy Bysshe
‘Elegy Written Shelley 1819
in a Country 1798-1800 ‘Ozymandias’ John Keats
Churchyard’ William ‘La Belle Dame sans Merci’
Wordsworth 1819
Lyrical Ballads Walter Scott
Ivanhoe

Towards the age of sensibility


In the second half of the 18th century literary styles were changing. Sensibility and
imagination began to replace rationality and harmony. The intellectual, social and
political changes at the end of the century resulted in writers looking for new ways of
expressing themselves.
Pre-Romantic and Romantic tendencies in England were anticipated by the German
literary movement ‘Sturm und Drang’ (Storm and Stress) of the late 18th century.
The poets belonging to this movement (Herder, Goethe and Schiller) rebelled against
Classicism, focusing on the individual, feelings and nature.

Key Concepts
The German critic Friedrich Schlegel’s (1772-1829) definition of ‘Romantic’ as ‘emotional
matter in an imaginative form’ highlights the key concepts of the literature of the
age: emotions and imagination. By opposing all the norms which came from the
Enlightenment, the Romantics built a new theory of knowledge.
The inner self was given the power to interpret and reshape reality, resulting in a more
subjective interpretation. The Romantics did not want to obey established rules of
decency, rationality and poetic value. They believed in freedom of the individual and
equality of all human beings. As the century advanced, this concept became stronger.
Dreams and visions, sometimes evoked with the help of drugs such as opium, became
the favourite source of inspiration and creativity for many poets. The poets’ main
interest became the workings of their minds, thus introducing a strong autobiographical
element. The poet became a prophet and a teacher who did not want to speak to a
See William selective group of intellectuals but wanted to be understood by everybody. This was
Wordsworth why the Romantic poet also turned to fresh means of expression, to popular literary
→ p. 192.
forms such as ballads, and a language ‘really used by men’, as → William Wordsworth
wrote in his ‘Preface’ to Lyrical Ballads.

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John Martin,
Manfred on the
Jungfrau, 1837.
Watercolour
on paper;
Birmingham
Museums and
Art Gallery,
Birmingham.

177

4 / The Romantic Age


Romantic themes
Although focused on the inner self, poets also developed a greater interest in nature,
seeing it as a source of inspiration. This is why they preferred country to town as
towns, due to the Industrial Revolution, were rapidly becoming uglier and more hostile
places. Nature, on the other hand, offered the poets solitude where they could shape
their romantic visions. The need to form a fresh image of the world also brought about
a strong interest in childhood. The poet learnt to look at the world from a child’s
perspective. ‘The Child is father of the Man’, is Wordsworth’s famous phrase from his
poem ‘My Heart Leaps Up’.

The pre-Romantic poets


Two writers in particular represent this complex age of transition.
The first was Thomas Gray (1716-71). His poetry is classical in form, but his famous
The romantic
‘Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard’, introduced certain novelties, one being a new poets all died
interest in the lives of humble people. The second writer, William Blake (1757-1827), both young, far from
a poet and a painter, was a forerunner of the Romantic poets (Wordsworth and Coleridge England, and they
defy any form of
in particular). Most of his poetry is easy to understand, but at the same time presents generalisation.
visionary elements and symbolism that have made him unique. His most famous work Lord Byron
is Songs of Innocence and of Experience. represents the
satanic poet,
rebellious
The Romantic poets towards any
The poets of this period are usually divided into First Generation; William Wordsworth social and moral
norm. Percy B.
(1770-1850) and Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834), and Second Generation; Lord Shelley embodies
Byron (1788-1824), Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822) and John Keats (1795- 1821). the Romantic
Wordsworth and Coleridge created what is considered to be the Manifesto of English poet, critical of
every form of
Romanticism: Lyrical Ballads, published in 1798 followed by the addition of the famous tyranny, political
‘Preface’ in 1800. These two poets were different as individuals, but bound by the need or ideological.
to define a new type of poetry. They both rejected the 18th-century spirit in poetry and John Keats
was unrivalled
both became bitterly disillusioned, with the consequences of the French Revolution. in his ability to
The poets of the Second Generation remained revolutionary throughout their lives, reproduce moods
both in their poetry and in their lifestyles. Although different in their personalities they and sensations in
his poetry.
were similar in their desire for a better world, a world of justice, freedom and beauty.

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Important gothic
Fiction during the Romantic Age
novels include Fiction was not the main literary form of this period as the new tendencies were best
The Castle of expressed in poetry. → The gothic novel, however, fully absorbed the Romantic passion
Otranto (1764) by
Horace Walpole, for the supernatural and mysterious. These novels were set in gothic buildings like
The Mysteries of castles, mansions and monasteries.
Udolpho (1794) The most important writers of the first part of the 19th century were Jane Austen (1775- 1817),
by Ann Radcliffe,
The Monk (1796) whose novels of manners connect her to the 18th-century novelists, and
by Matthew Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832). Unknown during her lifetime, Austen is now regarded as one
Gregory Lewis and of the greatest novelists in English literature.
Mary Shelley’s
178 Frankenstein
(1818), one of Other literary forms
the most famous In the field of non fiction, the Romantic age witnessed an increasing popularity in
novels in English
literature, which, → the essay which, in contrast with previous forms, now tended to be more
despite certain introspective and freer in expression to reflect the more subjective mood of the period.
differences, can Drama was not so popular during the Romantic Age, being considered an ‘inferior’ and
still be considered
part of the gothic vulgar form of art. The works produced were usually ‘closet dramas’, plays not meant to
tradition. be staged and usually written in verse.

The rise of American literature


Accomplished
writers such as The first half of the 19th century saw the rise of a new literature in the English language:
Charles Lamb American literature. Although they were writing in English, the new authors (essentially
(1775-1834), of fiction) tried to distinguish themselves from the English literary models. This need
William Hazlitt
(1778-1830) and to differentiate themselves from British writers went hand in hand with a reinforced
Thomas De awareness of a separate American historical and social identity which began with the
Quincey (1785- American War of Independence.
1859) contributed
to the success of American culture and literature were strongly influenced by Puritanism. Hard work, a
the essay. spirit of adventure, a sense of duty and honesty were the principles of Puritan thought.
From this came the origins of the idea of the ‘self-made man’, someone who could build
a successful future for himself from nothing, which later developed into the idea of the
‘American Dream’.
The gothic tradition was interpreted by one of the most famous American writers: Edgar
Allan Poe (1809-49). In his Tales of the Grotesque and of the Arabesque (1840) he explored the
psychology of anguish and terror.

OVER TO YOU
❶ Focus on the first four paragraphs.
1. What nationality was the movement that anticipated pre-Romantic and Romantic
tendencies?
German Italian French American
2. What did the poets belonging to the Sturm und Drang movement focus on?
3. What were the key concepts of the literature of the time?
4. The Romantics opposed the aesthetic and social norms of the Enlightenment. How?
5. How did the role of the poet change during the Romantic period?
6. The Romantics were particularly interested in two major themes. What were they?

❷ Answer the following questions about Romantic poets and writers.


1. Who were the pre-Romantic poets?
2. Who were considered the most important Romantic poets of the First Generation?
3. What was the Manifesto of Romanticism?
4. Who were the poets of the Second Generation and what did they have in common?

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Thomas Gray
(1716-71)

T homas Gray spent most of his life


at Cambridge University, where
he became professor of Modern
History. He was a brilliant scholar, called
by one of his friends ‘the most learned
John Giles Eccardt,
Portrait of Thomas
Gray (detail),
1747-1748. Oil on
canvas; National
Portrait Gallery, 179
London.

4 / The Romantic Age


man in Europe’. However, he did not
produce many literary works as he was
mainly conditioned by the neo-classical
search for precision and perfection in
writing which was typical of the first half
of the century. He is most remembered
for his ‘Elegy Written in a Country
Churchyard’, composed after the death
of his friend, Richard West, in 1742 and
published in 1750.

Main works
• ‘Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College’ (1742)
• ‘Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard’ (1742-50)
• ‘The Bard’ (1757)
• ‘On Lord Holland’s Seat Near Margate, Kent’ (1769)

‘Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard’: structure


Thomas Gray’s scholarly interest in alternative verse forms, along with his travels and
appreciation of the Lake District and the Alps in Europe – characteristics of the Romantic
Look at the
poets and their search for the sublime – may explain how Gray, in his writings, and above all definition and
in the ‘Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard’, moves away from the neo-classical themes characteristics
towards a more Romantic sensitivity. of the Elegy form
in the Genres
Made up of thirty-two quatrains with an abab rhyme scheme, the structure of Gray’s Portfolio.
→ ‘Elegy’ is decidedly neo-classical with a rich and complex language throughout.
Iambic pentameter is used along with internal rhyme, alliteration and onomatopoeia,
all working together effectively to produce the tone, mood and atmosphere which have
made Gray’s ‘Elegy’ so famous.

Themes
In keeping with the classical idea of an elegy, Gray’s poem is a meditation on death, but
not only; the poet’s thoughts move from the moment of death back to the lives which
preceded it and he ponders how social differences, fame and fortune are all destined to
be extinguished by man’s mortality. Gray’s sympathies seem to lie mainly with the poor
villagers and their humble but dignified lives. In the ‘Epitaph’ at the end of the poem he
feels at one with the villagers and desires their anonymity: ‘A youth to fortune and to
fame unknown’ and ‘No farther seek his merits to disclose’, and by focusing on the lowly See Literature
and not the elevated in society Gray seems to be questioning the social hierarchy. Around the
Although preceded by the ‘graveyard’ poetry of Edward Young (‘Night Thoughts’, 1742-45) World – Gray and
Foscolo
and Robert Blair (‘The Grave’, 1743), Gray’s ‘Elegy’ was much more influential. The Italian → pp. 182-183.
writer, → Ugo Foscolo, for example, was inspired by it for Dei Sepolcri (1807).

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‘Elegy Written in a Country
Churchyard’ (1742-50)

CD 1 - TR 16
MP3 21 ‘Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard’1
180
1. churchyard: cimitero.
The curfew tolls2 the knell3 of parting day,
2. curfew tolls: la The lowing herd4 wind slowly o’er the lea5,
campana batte il
coprifuoco (per The ploughman homeward plods6 his weary way,
segnalare la fine della And leaves the world to darkness and to me.
giornata).
3. knell: lento suono di
campana (di solito per 5 Now fades the glimmering7 landscape on the sight,
funerali).
4. lowing herd: And all the air a solemn stillness holds,
le mucche che
muggiscono. Save8 where the beetle9 wheels his droning10 flight,
5. lea: prato. And drowsy11 tinklings12 lull13 the distant folds14; […]
6. plods: cammina
pesantemente (per
stanchezza). Beneath those rugged elms15, that yew-tree’s shade16,
7. glimmering:
affievolisce. 10 Where heaves the turf17 in many a mouldering heap18,
8. save: eccetto. Each in his narrow19 cell forever laid,
9. beetle: scarabeo. The rude20 forefathers of the hamlet21 sleep.
10. droning: ronzante.
11. drowsy: che inducono
sonno. The breezy call of incense-breathing morn,
12. tinklings: suoni
metallici (le campane The swallow22 twittering from the straw-built shed,
delle mucche). 15 The cock’s23 shrill clarion or the echoing horn,
13. lull: cullano.
No more shall rouse24 them from their lowly bed.
14. folds: greggi.
15. rugged elms: olmi
robusti. For them no more the blazing hearth25 shall burn,
16. yew-tree’s shade:
l’ombra del tasso. Or busy housewife ply26 her evening care;
17. heaves the turf: la No children run to lisp27 their sire’s return28,
terra viene spinta
verso la superficie 20 Or climb his knees the envied kiss to share. […]
(dall’albero).
18. mouldering heap:
tumuli che marciscono.
19. narrow: stretto.
20. rude: poco colti.
21. hamlet: piccolo
villaggio.
22. swallow: rondine.
23. cock: gallo.
24. rouse: svegliare.
25. blazing hearth: fuoco
vivace.
26. ply: impegnata a.
27. lisp: salutare (ma
con il linguaggio dei
bambini).
28. sire’s return: il rientro
del padre.

Francis S. Walker,
Thomas Gray –
English Poet’s
Home and Garden,
1771. Mary Evans
Picture Library,
London.

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OVER TO YOU
❶ Read and listen to the poem again then answer the following questions.
1. Who is ‘me’ in line 4?
2. Where is the poem set?
3. What is the poet doing?
4. What time of day is it?
5. Who does ‘them’ refer to in the 4th and 5th stanzas?
6. What is their ‘lowly bed’?
7. What type of life does the poet imagine the villagers had? Give examples.

❷ How does the rhythm of the poem help to reinforce the tone? 181

4 / The Romantic Age


❸ From the first two stanzas of the poem underline the words which tell us that
the day is ending.

❹ The ‘Elegy’ represents a subtle break with the neo-classical style and the link
with new themes in poetry and what we now regard as characteristics of the
Romantic period. Below we can find the main characteristics of the two literary
styles. Tick the ones we can find in Gray’s poem.

Neo-classical Romantic

The poet must use an elegant The language of ordinary men can be
language which is specific to poetry. used by the poet.

The poet is not directly involved in The poet is looking for originality in
his poetry as he is writing on behalf self-expression, his thoughts and
of all men. feelings are present in his poetry.
A good poet can find an elevated A good poet should find a clear way
language for commonly accepted to express his spontaneous feelings.
ideas.
Poetry should have a didactic aim. Nature is one of the main sources of
inspiration.
Famous people and their lives are Simple people in their rural
often used as subject matter. environments are often the subject
matter.

REVIEW
❶ Complete the passage by underlining the correct alternative.
Thomas Gray’s ‘Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard’ is often considered the link
/ continuation (1) between one literary period and another. Although his contents /
style (2) is typical of the neo-classical period in that he uses a simple / an elevated (3)
language, regular rhyme scheme and iambic pentameter, his themes show similarities
with the Romantic period / Victorian period (4) of a later date. In his ‘Elegy’ he focuses on
the lives of the wealthy / humble (5) people in the village and his subtle praise / criticism (6)
of the social hierarchy gives the poem a slightly conservative / radical (7) feel which is
again similar to the poetry of a later date. The opening lines, with their descriptions
of the graveyard as night is falling, can also be described as quite gothic / modern (8)
in tone, another element which distinguishes it from other, neo-classical writers of
the period. The fact that the poet himself has a ‘presence’ within the poem makes it
much more subjective / objective (9) and introduces thoughts and feelings which help to
create a sensitive, meditative mood, breaking with the usual didactic / humorous (10)
tone of the literature of Gray’s times.

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Literature
Around the World GRAY AND FOSCOLO

Graveyard poetry
The Graveyard poets were a group of poets of the 18th century. Their poetry was
characterised by meditations on mortality in the context of a graveyard. Many of the
182 graveyard school poets were Christian clergymen and their writings often regarded the
contemplation of human mortality and the question of man’s relation to the divine.
Mostly elegiac in tone, these poems made frequent use of gloomy and funerary images.
Graveyard poetry exerted an important influence also on the following century and in
particular on the movement of the Gothic novel. It contributed to the dark and mysterious
elements of the plots typical of this kind of narrative. It can also be seen as early precursor
of the Romantic movement. Not only did Graveyard poetry influence English literature but
also European literature, and in particular the Italian poet Ugo Foscolo.

Graveyard poets
The main representative of graveyard poetry is Thomas Gray, author of ‘Elegy Written
in a Country Churchyard’. Other important graveyard poets were Edward Young (Night
Thoughts), Thomas Parnell (‘A Night-Piece on Death’) and Thomas Percy (Reliques of
Ancient English Poetry).

Sepulchral poetry (poesia sepolcrale)


The Italian poet Ugo Foscolo was inspired by Gray’s ‘Elegy’ when he wrote Dei Sepolcri
Jacques-Henri (1807). Foscolo had come into contact with and read a great deal of English
Sablet, Roman
Elegy, 1791. Oil on literature, having lived in the country for many years. Dei Sepolcri
canvas; Museum helped him establish his literary reputation. It was not only a
of Fine Arts, Brest.
graveyard poem but also a patriotic poem written as a protest
against Napoleon’s decree forbidding tomb inscriptions.

Similarities and differences between


the two works
While both poets consider the grave crucial for the
commemoration of dead people, Foscolo sees the grave
as the symbol of the illusion of life after death and
as the link between the dead and the living, (as he
writes: ‘la celeste corrispondenza di amorosi sensi’).
According to Foscolo the memory of the dead is kept
alive thanks to those living who remember them.
The dead people of his poem are the strong ones,
those who will be remembered for their deeds. On
the contrary, in Gray’s poem death is seen as having
a ‘democratising’ effect in that it brings all people
down to the same level. It doesn’t matter, therefore,
if we have an impressive monument or a humble
tomb, in the end death takes us all.
We’re going to look at the first part (ll. 1-15) of Dei
Sepolcri and compare it to Gray’s ‘Elegy Written in a
Country Churchyard’.

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Dei sepolcri
All’ombra de’ cipressi e dentro l’urne
confortate di pianto è forse il sonno
della morte men duro? Ove piú il Sole
per me alla terra non fecondi questa
5 bella d’erbe famiglia e d’animali,
e quando vaghe di lusinghe innanzi
a me non danzeran l’ore future,
né da te, dolce amico, udrò piú il verso
183
e la mesta armonia che lo governa,

4 / The Romantic Age


10 né piú nel cor mi parlerà lo spirto
delle vergini Muse e dell’amore,
unico spirto a mia vita raminga,
qual fia ristoro a’ dí perduti un sasso
che distingua le mie dalle infinite
15 ossa che in terra e in mar semina Morte?

‘Elegy Written
in a Country Churchyard’ 
The curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
The lowing herd wind slowly o’er the lea,
The ploughman homeward plods his weary way,
And leaves the world to darkness and to me.

5 Now fades the glimmering landscape on the sight,


And all the air a solemn stillness holds,
Save where the beetle wheels his droning flight,
And drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds.

OVER TO YOU
❶ Read the first 8 lines of each poem. What references in Foscolo’s lines are to be
found in Gray’s ‘Elegy’?

❷ Compare lines 6-11 of Dei Sepolcri with stanza 5 of Gray’s ‘Elegy’ on page 241. How
are they similar?

❸ The most famous line of Gray’s ‘Elegy’ comes in stanza 8 when he writes ‘The
paths of glory lead but to the grave.’ What do you think Gray means with these
words? Choose from the following:
Famous people are remembered more when they die.
Everyone, even those who are famous, must die one day.
A wealthy person has a better death.

❹ How do lines 12-15 of Dei Sepolcri echo this message?


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William
(1757-1827)
Blake

184
W illiam Blake was born in 1757 in London and was given a strict religious
upbringing by his parents. He did not go to school but began engraving
when he was very young, reproducing drawings of Greek antiquities.
From 1772 he started work as an apprentice and by 1782 had established himself as an
independent engraver.
During this period he also began to write poetry and produced his own books. Each page
was hand-printed and coloured by Blake himself with the help of his wife, Catherine
Boucher. He used a method which he called ‘illuminated printing’. He accompanied his
poetry with beautiful illustrations and this linking of words and images is indeed central
to the understanding of Blake’s poetry. It was, however, principally his engravings for other
artists which made him a living while his poetry went practically unrecognised during his
lifetime. He was often also regarded as a madman due to his interest in and experiments
with visions. At the time of his death, in 1827, he was engraving Dante’s Inferno.

Main works
• Songs of Innocence (1789)
• The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1790)
• Songs of Innocence and of Experience (1794)
• Milton (1804-08)
• Jerusalem (1804-20)
William Blake,
Dante Running
from the Three
Beasts, illustration
to Dante’s Divine
Comedy, 1824-27.
Watercolour on
paper; Felton
Bequest, 1920;
National Gallery
of Victoria,
Melbourne
(Australia).

Blake’s style
Blake made use of simple vocabulary and syntax, a traditional metrical pattern and used
repetition, alliteration and assonance to create a musicality in his verse, believing that
the sound of a word was just as important as the meaning it conveyed.
He would accompany all these poetic ingredients with a series of images and his poetry
has a strong visionary quality which he achieved thanks to certain recurrent symbols,
such as the child and the lamb.

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Songs of Innocence and of Experience
Blake’s main works, Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience were published together
in 1794. This collection of poetry aimed at conveying ‘the two contrasting states of the
human mind’: a poem from his works on innocence would correspond to another from
his works on experience, complementing each other in meaning. Blake believed that:
‘Without contraries there is no progression. Attraction and Repulsion, Reason and
Energy, Love and Hate, are necessary to human existence’.
To Blake the two states of innocence and experience coexist in man’s outer and inner
world. Innocence is symbolised by childhood, a state of happiness and freedom. In the
world of innocence God is loving and caring. Children can dream of better lives and are 185
cared for and protected. Blake uses the lamb and its purity to symbolise this world. This

4 / The Romantic Age


state, however, coexists with that of experience which may bring sadness and suffering.
Experience is the world of the Tyger, representing the dangerous and frightening forces See Blake’s
‘London’ → p. 190.
which can be found in cities like → London, with its injustices and exploitation. It is also
the world of adult reason and conscience which has substituted childish faith and trust.
In the state of experience man has lost his childlike ability to imagine and grasp the
essence of things beyond the surface.
Experience and innocence are two contrary but complementary states and are necessary
to achieve real knowledge. In fact they give a different view of the same reality: ‘A fool
sees not the same tree as a wise man sees’, Blake says.

Imagination and the poet


In his choice of themes Blake’s poetry anticipated the Romantic Movement and
represented a definite break with the past. His visionary skills led him to
distrust reason and to give greater importance to imagination, which
enabled him to see what lies behind the surface. For Blake every
poet is both a visionary and a prophet with the ability to create
but also to expose the evils and corruption of society. A society
which in Blake’s time reflected great indifference towards the
many inequalities and exploitations of the period.

Social involvement
Despite living a rather isolated existence, Blake was
nevertheless perfectly aware of the issues that troubled
the society of his time and his poetry reflects
this. He supported the American and
French Revolutions because for him
they symbolised an aspiration towards
freedom and justice and the fight against
oppression and the establishment.

Thomas Philipps, Portrait


of William Blake, 1807.
Watercolour; The Morgan
Library and Museum, New York.

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‘The Lamb’ (c. 1789)
BEFORE READING
Listen to the following poem while looking at the image Blake designed to
accompany it. Does the poem sound difficult to you? What kind of poem does it
remind you of? What connotations does a lamb have for you?

186

‘The Lamb’ CD 1 - TR 17
MP3 22

In this apparently simple poem from Songs of Innocence Blake questions


creation and the role of the poet.
1. thee: [arc., you]. Little Lamb who made thee1?
2. dost thou: [arc., do Dost thou2 know who made thee?
you].
3. bid...feed: ti ha Gave thee life and bid thee feed3,
fatto mangiare. By the stream and o’er4 the mead5;
4. o’er: [arc., over].
5. mead: campo 5 Gave thee clothing of delight,
erboso. Softest clothing woolly bright;
6. vales: valli.
Gave thee such a tender voice,
7. rejoice: esultare;
risuonare di gioia. Making all the vales6 rejoice7:
8. thy: [arc., your]. Little Lamb who made thee?
9. meek: docile.
10. mild: mite, delicato. 10 Dost thou know who made thee?

Little Lamb I’ll tell thee,


Little Lamb I’ll tell thee;
He is called by thy8 name,
For he calls himself a Lamb;
15 He is meek9 and he is mild10,
He became a little child:
I a child and thou a lamb,
We are called by his name.
Little Lamb God bless thee,
20 Little Lamb God bless thee.

William Blake,
illustration to
the poem ‘The
Lamb’ from Songs
of Innocence, 1789.
Miniature; Tate
Gallery, London.

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OVER TO YOU
❶ Answer the following questions.
1. What questions does the speaker ask the Lamb in the first stanza?
2. Does the second stanza answer the first one directly?
3. Who does ‘he’ refer to (l. 13)?
4. Who is the ‘I’ of the second stanza?

❷ Answer the following questions.


1. Read the poem again: is the rhyme scheme regular? Describe it.
2. Look at the first stanza, underline the actions of the Creator: what did he do for the 187
Lamb?

4 / The Romantic Age


3. Now focus on the qualities of the Lamb: what do these qualities have in common?
4. In The Book of Revelation 5, 11-12 you read: ‘Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to
receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength.’ Who was sacrificed and
called ‘The Lamb of God’?
5. Can you now explain who ‘I’ and ‘we’ (ll. 17-18) are and what name and quality they
share?
6. Find examples of repetition and alliteration in this poem. What does the choice of
words such as ‘rejoice’ and ‘delight’ suggest?

FCE ❸ Use of English, Part 1. Read the short text below on ‘The Lamb’ and decide which
word A B C or D best fits.
With the same sense of wonder as a ............................................................ (1) the poet contemplates
the mystery of ............................................................ (2), in the form of a little ............................................................ (3).
Its creator was good, generous and ............................................................ (4), and the lamb lived in
a ............................................................ (5) world.
The lamb shares the qualities of its ............................................................ (6), it is good, tender, and
innocent. The creator and the lamb become in this way the same being, and their
qualities are also transferred to the ............................................................ (7) himself. By the end of the
poem one is aware that the lamb is a symbol of ............................................................ (8) and creation.
Blake makes his vision of life and ............................................................ (9) clear. Innocence is the quality
the poet must possess to ............................................................ (10) the mysteries of creation.

1. A person B child C parent D teacher


2. A creation B formation C the universe D imagination
3. A animal B creature C lamb D object
4. A loving B helpful C caring D childish
5. A joyful B sad C violent D mysterious
6. A maker B provider C benefactor D creator
7. A writer B poet C reader D listener
8. A joy B maturity C understanding D innocence
9. A literature B poetry C writing D books
10. A relate B understand C contemplate D analyse

❹ Discuss in pairs. What does innocence mean to you? Can you think of any other
symbols of innocence? Does it have a positive or negative connotation for you?

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‘The Tyger’ (c. 1793)
BEFORE READING
What do you find strange about the title of the poem? What images or feelings do
you associate with a tiger? Discuss in class, then read and listen to the poem: how
would you define the rhythm of the poem? Choose from the following (more than
one is possible).
soft pounding compelling melodious
sweet dream-like repetitive
188

‘The Tyger’ CD 1 - TR 18
MP3 23

A powerful image is at the centre of this poem from Songs of Experience: that of a
‘burning’ tiger, making the reader question the mysteries of creation and God’s powers.

1. frame: forgiare, dare Tyger Tyger burning bright


forma.
2. deeps: mari.
In the forests of the night;
3. thine: [arc., your]. What immortal hand or eye
4. seize: afferrare. Could frame1 thy fearful symmetry?
5. twist: intrecciare.
6. sinews: tendini.
7. dread: spaventosa. 5 In what distant deeps2 or skies
8. thy: [arc., your]. Burnt the fire of thine3 eyes?
9. anvil: incudine.
On what wings dare he aspire?
10. clasp: afferrare.
11. threw...spears: What the hand dare seize4 the fire?
gettarono i loro
dardi.
And what shoulder and what art
10 Could twist5 the sinews6 of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread7 hand and what dread feet?

What the hammer? What the chain?


In what furnace was thy8 brain?
15 What the anvil9? What dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp10?

When the stars threw down their spears11


And watered heaven with their tears
Did he smile his work to see?
20 Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

Tyger Tyger burning bright


In the forests of the night:
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

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OVER TO YOU
❶ In the first stanza the Tyger is presented through a strong contrast of light and
darkness. Underline the expression the poet uses.

❷ In the following stanzas find references to the following:


1. fire 2. strength 3. fear

❸ What expressions hint at a divine creator?


❹ Now focus on stanzas 2, 3 and 4 and describe in your own words how the eyes, 189
the heart and the brain of the Tyger were created. Complete the following.
1. Eyes: .

4 / The Romantic Age


................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

2. Heart: ............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................. .
3. Brain: .............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................. .

❺ What is the rhyme scheme of the poem? William Blake,


illustration to the
poem ‘The Tyger’
❻ Answer the following questions. from Songs of
Experience, 1794.
1. Which different qualities are combined in the description of the Tyger? Miniature; Tate
2. The expression ‘fearful symmetry’ sums up the qualities of the Tyger: what does it mean? Gallery, London.
3. If the Lamb mentioned in line 20 stands for good, what does this verse imply?
4. Is there any mention in the poem of the creator’s reaction to his creature? If so, where?
5. The first and the last quatrains differ in one word: which one? What does this
change suggest?
6. Is the image of the Tyger evoked in the poem realistic? Why? Why not?

❼ In stanza 4, to which revolution of the period could the poet’s choice of words
describing the Tyger be linked?

COMPARE AND CONTRAST


❽ ‘The Lamb’ and ‘The Tyger’ are considered complementary poems.
Indicate the theme they deal with and explain how they complement
each other.

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‘London’ (c. 1793)
BEFORE READING
FCE Writing, Part 2. A local newspaper is focusing on the changes in city life in the
past two hundred years. Write a short article of 120-180 words for the newspaper,
focusing on the main changes you think have occurred in major cities.

190

CD 1 - TR 19
‘London’ MP3 24

This poem is from Songs of Experience and describes a journey around 18th-century
London, offering a glimpse of what the speaker sees as the terrible conditions faced by the
inhabitants.

1. chartered: affittate, I wander through each chartered1 street


date in concessione
dalle corporazioni. Near where the chartered Thames does flow2,
2. does flow: [flows] And mark in every face I meet
scorre.
3. mind-forged Marks of weakness, marks of woe.
manacles: catene
forgiate dalla mente.
4. appalls: sbigottisce. 5 In every cry of every Man,
5. hapless: sfortunato. In every Infant’s cry of fear,
6. harlot: prostituta.
7. blasts: attacca con
In every voice, in every ban,
violenza. The mind-forged manacles3 I hear.
8. blights: devasta.
9. plagues: infezioni
epidemiche. How the Chimney-sweeper’s cry
10. hearse: carro 10 Every black’ning Church appalls4,
funebre.
And the hapless5 Soldier’s sigh
Runs in blood down Palace walls.

But most through midnight streets I hear


How the youthful Harlot6’s curse
15 Blasts7 the new born Infant’s tear,
And blights8 with plagues9 the Marriage hearse10.

William Blake, illustration to the poem


‘London’ from Songs of Experience, 1794.
Miniature; Tate Gallery, London.

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OVER TO YOU
❶ Read the poem and answer the following questions.
1. What is the poet doing in the first stanza?
2. What can he see apart from the urban setting?
3. What can he hear in the second stanza?
4. In the third stanza what colours does he underline? What do they refer to?
5. At what time of day does the poem end?
6. Who and what does he see at this time of day?

❷ Work out the rhyme scheme of the poem. Is it regular? 191

4 / The Romantic Age


❸ What does the adjective ‘chartered’ say about Blake’s London? How are the
streets described? Use the words below to complete the explanation for the
metaphor in line 8.
 +*1 -/4Ţ$("$)-4Ţ$(+-$.*)( )/Ţ.*$'Ţ#$).
Manacles are metal ......................................................... (1) that were locked onto the hands and
feet of prisoners. Even if Blake’s manacles are ......................................................... (2) they
are just as strong and restraining as the real ones. The manacles represent
the ......................................................... (3) and restraint which was a result of the poverty in which
millions lived at that time, and their suffering and fear which were a consequence
of this ......................................................... (4). This sense of imprisonment derived from
the ........................................................ (5) structures which existed and which were the product
of reason.

❹ Focus on the 3rd stanza. Who does Blake blame for these social problems?
Underline the words and phrases he uses to illustrate this.

❺ What illness is hinted at in the expression ‘Harlot’s curse’?


❻ What connection is established between the Harlot and the baby’s cries?
❼ In Blake’s imagination why does the wedding carriage transform itself into a
hearse? Try to explain this shocking metaphor.

REVIEW
❶ As the poem ‘London’ illustrates, Blake’s attitude to the society of his time was
one of strong criticism. In your own words point out the targets of his attacks.

❷ State and develop the following:


1. when William Blake lived
2. what he did for a living
3. the title of his most important work.

❸ What do the Tyger and the Lamb symbolise in his poems?


❹ Identify who or what Blake criticises in his poetry.
❺ Explain Blake’s conception of complementary forces.

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William
(1770-1850)
Wordsworth

192
W ordsworth was born in the Lake District and
remained attached to this area throughout his life.
After attending Cambridge University he went on a
walking tour of Italy, the Alps and France. He came to share in the
hopes of the French Revolution and lived in France for three years.
He fell in love and had a daughter with a French woman, Annette
Vallon, but later abandoned them to return to England. His hopes
for the French Revolution turned to disillusionment and a period
of depression followed which lasted about five years. He finally
recovered with the help of his friend, Samuel Taylor Coleridge. In
1795 they began work on the famous collection, Lyrical Ballads.
He married Mary Hutchinson in 1802 and had five children
but then began a period of artistic decline. His best poetry is
considered to be the works written before 1808.
He was made Poet Laureate in 1843 and died in 1850. His legacy is
some of the finest poetry in English literature.

Henry William Main works


Pickersgill, William • Lyrical Ballads (1798)
Wordsworth
(detail), unknown • ‘Preface’ to the Lyrical Ballads (1800)
date. Oil on • Poems in Two Volumes (1807)
canvas; National
Portrait Gallery, • The Excursion (1814)
London. • Miscellaneous Poems (1815)
• The Prelude, written between 1798-1839 with regular revisions (1850)

Wordsworth’s poetry
The neoclassical characteristics in poetry were completely over-turned by Wordsworth.
The contents of poetry, the way in which these were expressed and the role of the poet
were all changed by him. The result was a new type of poetry, forged by the Romantics
but idealised principally by Wordsworth in his Lyrical Ballads.
From the point of view of contents the shift went full circle, from objectivity and the
‘commonly accepted idea’, to complete subjectivity and a poetry of the ‘inner self’.
Wordsworth brought a ‘self-consciousness’ into his poetry which had never existed
before. From Wordsworth onwards it was no longer necessary to choose a subject to
write poetry about, the poet himself became the subject; his thoughts, feelings and
emotions. The poet encourages the reader to observe and enjoy nature instead of
analysing it as previous poets did.

Themes
Wordsworth praised the commonplace: a natural landscape, the lives of humble people
and their context together in rural life. He placed an emphasis on what was simple
and unadulterated and for this reason children and childhood were popular themes in
his poetry. He appealed to the purer feelings of man, which he defined as ‘the essential
passions of the heart’.
Childhood was important in his work also because it presented a link with the past, his

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B.S. Kelton,
William
Wordsworth’s
House, Rydal
Mount, from The
Story of Some
English Shires
(1897) by Mandell
Creighton, c.1897.

193

4 / The Romantic Age


own past, and his works are very often a contrast between past and present; memories
and emotions ‘recollected’ at a later date but with the same intensity of feeling.
Above all he felt that man should look to nature as his moral and spiritual guide, an
inspiration for everyone, not only poets; ‘Let Nature be your Teacher’ he wrote in The
Tables Turned (1798).

Style
Wordsworth’s poetry was also innovative in style. Again the emphasis was on simplicity
and common language for how could worship of the commonplace be expressed in an
elevated language? He saw the poet as being a prophet whose role was to communicate
to as many people as possible in a language they would understand. This clarity of
language along with a spontaneous appeal to human emotions meant that poetry could
be read and appreciated by a wider audience and not just an intellectual elite.

Lyrical Ballads (1798)


Lyrical Ballads (which included Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner) was first
published in 1798 and then again in 1800 to include the famous prose ‘Preface’. It was
considered to be the most important volume of verse in English since the Renaissance.
The ‘Preface’ expresses Wordsworth’s aims in writing Lyrical Ballads – and has since been
regarded as a Manifesto for Romantic poetry which broke with the previous neoclassical
style of poetry and questioned the role of the poet. It also stated that there need not be
an essential difference between the language of prose and the language of poetry, thus
breaking the rigid division which existed between the two genres.

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‘Preface’ to Lyrical Ballads (1800)
BEFORE READING
The following is a small piece from the extracts you are going to read. Read the
piece and say in what ways you think Wordsworth’s work will be different from the
poetry you have read so far in this anthology, focus on subject matter and language.

194
‘Preface’ to Lyrical Ballads MP3 25

The principal object, then, which I proposed to myself in these poems was to
choose incidents and situations from common life and to relate or describe them,
throughout, as far as was possible, in a selection of language really used by men
and, at the same time, to throw over them a certain colouring of imagination,
1. whereby: per mezzo 5 whereby1 ordinary things should be presented to the mind in an unusual way; [...]
della quale.
2. purpose: scopo. Now read some further extracts from the ‘Preface’ and see how many other ways
3. overflow:
profusione. Wordsworth proposes changes in his poetry.
4. therein: riguardo a
ciò.
5. blunt: attutire. PART 1 A NEW POETRY
6. unfitting…
exertion: [...] the poems in these volumes will be found distinguished at least by one mark
privandola (la of difference, that each of them has a worthy purpose2 [...] For all good poetry is
mente) della
capacità di the spontaneous overflow3 of powerful feelings [...] it takes its origin from emotion
ragionare in modo
autonomo. recollected in tranquillity [...] I should mention one other circumstance which
7. invaluable: preziosi. 5 distinguishes these poems from the popular poetry of the day; it is this, that the
8. frantic: frenetici.
feeling therein4 developed gives importance to the action and situation, and not the
9. endued: dotato di.
action and situation to the feeling. [...] For a multitude of causes, unknown to former
times, are now acting with a combined force to blunt5 the discriminating powers of
10 the mind, and unfitting it for all voluntary exertion6 to reduce it to a state of almost
savage torpor [...] The invaluable7 works of our elders [...] are driven into neglect by
frantic8 novels...and deluges of idle and extravagant stories in verse. [...]

PART 2 THE POET AND HIS ROLE


What is a poet? [...] He is a man speaking to men: a man [...] endued9 with more lively
sensibility, more enthusiasm and tenderness, who has a greater knowledge of human
nature, and a more comprehensive soul, than are supposed to be common among
mankind; [...] What then does the poet? [...] He considers man and nature as
5 essentially adapted to each other, and the mind of man as naturally the mirror of the
fairest and most interesting qualities of nature [...] the poet is chiefly distinguished
from other men by a greater promptness to think and feel [...] How, then, can his
language differ in any material degree from that of all other men, who feel vividly and
10 see clearly? [...] the poet must [...]express himself as other men express themselves.

PART 3 THE ROLE OF THE READER


I have one request to make of my reader, which is, that in judging these poems
he would decide by his own feelings genuinely, and not by reflection upon what
will probably be the judgment of others [...]

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OVER TO YOU
❶ In part 1 what does Wordsworth claim all the poems in this volume will have?
❷ In part 3 what does Wordsworth urge readers to do?

❸ In part 1, lines 7-11, Wordsworth speaks of ‘a multitude of causes’ which ‘blunt


the discriminating powers of the mind’ to reduce it ‘to a state of almost savage
torpor’. What historical event is he referring to here which was changing the
face of England?

❹ In part 2 Wordsworth asks, ‘What is a poet?’. Underline the qualities he 195


associates with a poet. Do you agree? Are poets in your opinion ‘special’ people?

4 / The Romantic Age


❺ In part 3 Wordsworth states that the reader should judge these poems ‘by his
own feelings [...] and not by reflection upon what will probably be the judgment of
others’. Who are the ‘others’ he refers to?

❻ Consider the language in Wordsworth’s ‘Preface’, do you think it is easy to


understand?

❼ ‘...poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings [...] it takes its origin
from emotion recollected in tranquillity’ (part 1, ll. 2-4). Edward
This expression is often quoted with reference to Wordsworth’s work but Rippingille, The
what does ‘emotion recollected in tranquillity’ mean exactly? Choose from the Travelers’ Breakfast
following: (detail), 1824. Oil
on canvas; British
experiencing things in a calm state of mind Museum, London.
controlling your feelings and imagination The scene takes
place in an inn
re-living an emotion in all its intensity at a later date in Bristol and
includes the
❽ Have you ever had a similar experience? If so relate to the rest of your class. portraits of
William and Mary
Wordsworth and
➒ Is all poetry born from ‘tranquillity’? Can you think of any poetry which does not Samuel Taylor
follow Wordsworth’s description? Discuss in class. Coleridge.

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‘Sonnet Composed upon
Westminster Bridge’ (1802)
BEFORE READING
❶ Westminster Bridge, as you probably know, is in the heart of London. Think of the
city of London for one minute and write down all the images which come to mind.

196 ❷ Listen to and read the poem and say whether its rhyme scheme is regular or irregular.

‘Sonnet Composed upon CD 1 - TR 20


MP3 26

Westminster Bridge’
Earth has not anything to show more fair:
1. dull: noioso.
Dull1 would he be of soul who could pass by
2. doth: [arc., does].
3. domes: cupole. A sight so touching in its majesty:
4. did...steep: pervase, This City now doth2, like a garment, wear
inondò.
5 The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
5. glideth: scivola.
6. mighty: grande. Ships, towers, domes3, theatres, and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky;
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
Never did sun more beautifully steep4
10 In his first splendour, valley, rock, or hill;
Ne’er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep.
The river glideth5 at his own sweet will –
Dear God! The very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty6 heart is lying still!

OVER TO YOU
❶ Go through the poem finding the words which correspond to the different
aspects of nature: earth, sky, water and air.

❷ Were you surprised with your results from question one? List at least three ways
in which the city of London will have changed since Wordsworth’s day.

❸ The poet is viewing the city from Westminster Bridge. List all the things he can see.
❹ Which lines tell us it is early morning?
❺ What does the poet mean in lines 2 and 3? Explain in your own words.
❻ Underline the words which illustrate the effect the view has on the poet.
❼ Find examples of personification in the poem and write them (verbs, nouns,
adjectives) next to the relative headings.

Earth City Sun River Houses

....................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

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❽ Underline all the words Wordsworth uses to evoke the senses and put them next
to the correct headings.
1. Sight ............................................................................................ 2. Hearing .....................................................................................................
3. Smell ............................................................................................ 4. Touch ...........................................................................................................

❾ Read lines 2, 4 and 11 again and say what you notice about the word order. What
effect does it have on the meaning?

10 How would these lines read in modern English? Can you re-write them?
11 The poem has an irregular rhyme scheme. What effect does this have on the 197
overall style of the poem? Choose from the following.
more formal more spontaneous more structured

4 / The Romantic Age


and conversational

12 ‘And all that mighty heart is lying still’ (l. 14). What is the ‘heart’ the poet refers
to? What things, in your opinion, make up the heart of a city? Discuss in class.

COMPARE AND CONTRAST


13 Re-read Blake’s poem ‘London’ and compare it with Wordsworth’s ‘Sonnet
Composed upon Westminster Bridge’. Find at least 5 differences between the
poems. Focus on:
1. rhyme scheme 2. subject matter 3. mood.
and language
Which poem do you prefer?

WRITER’S CORNER
14 A bird’s eye view of your city.
In small groups, imagine you were overlooking your city from a strategic
viewpoint. Decide exactly where you are and work together to produce a ‘bird’s
eye’ view of what you can see. Here’s a list to guide you.
 Š main buildings  Š famous roads
 Š important landmarks  Š what lies in the distance, etc.
In what ways does your city of today differ from Wordsworth’s?

FCE 15 Writing, Part 2. A group of 15 American tourists (all adults) are coming to your
city for one week in July. In 120-180 words prepare an itinerary for them to
include all the main attractions, recommending any important museums and
also something to do in the evening.

REVIEW
❶ Complete the following paragraph about Wordsworth with a suitable word from
the list below.
 *0)/-4.$ Ţ- ! Ţ.$(+' Ţ+' .0- Ţ-0-'Ţ)/0- Ţ+-*+# /Ţ
)0./-$'
 1*'0/$*)Ţ.$) - Ţ#$'#**Ţ+-*.
Wordsworth underlined a need for change in poetry and explained and defended his
ideas in his famous ...................................................... (1) to Lyrical Ballads. In this work he stated the
importance of ...................................................... (2) language and a ...................................................... (3) background as the
best inspiration for writing communicative and ...................................................... (4) poetry. He was very
much aware of the changes taking place in England as a result of the ...................................................... (5)
and this made him even more appreciative of the rapidly changing ...................................................... (6).
Because of his emphasis on simplicity ...................................................... (7) became an important subject
in his work along with the predominant theme of ...................................................... (8). Stylistically
he felt that the language of poetry should not be so different from the language of
...................................................... (9). The poet, he felt, had become a kind of ...................................................... (10)

and had a duty to communicate to the reader but to also give ...................................................... (11).

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Samuel
(1772-1834)
Taylor Coleridge

198
C oleridge was a fine poet, speaker, journalist and great literary critic. He was
born in Devonshire, in the south-west of England, and was the tenth child of
Reverend John Coleridge. He received an excellent education in the classics but
failed to finish his degree at Cambridge University. During these years he sympathised
with the French revolutionaries and in 1794 he and Robert Southey, a well-established
poet, planned to move to America and found what they called a ‘Pantisocracy’ – an ideal
democratic community of twelve families, in which there was no private property and
all work was shared. The project, however, failed and Coleridge gradually abandoned
his revolutionary sympathies. In 1797 he met William Wordsworth and his sister
Dorothy, joining them in the Lake District in 1799. The friendship and collaboration
with Wordsworth proved to be crucial for Coleridge’s creativity: together they devised
the Lyrical Ballads, in which Coleridge wrote his most important poetic works. Later this
friendship came to an end. Coleridge gradually became addicted to opium, which he had
started taking as a pain reliever. He died in 1834.

Main works
• The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (1798)
• Christabel and Other Poems (1816)
• ‘Kubla Khan’ (1798; 1816)
• ‘Frost at Midnight’ (1798)
Refer to the • ‘Dejection: An Ode’ (1802)
Genres Portfolio • Biographia Literaria (1817)
to revise the
characteristics of
the ballad form. # $( *!/# )$ )/-$) -: the story
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner is a long poem written in the form of a → ballad and is
made up of seven parts. Each is introduced by a short summary of the following story.
In the first part the mariner begins to tell his story to a man on his way to a wedding.
He describes how he killed an albatross, the shooting of which is the turning point in
his story and seen as a great act of cruelty. This act also brings bad luck to the ship and
its crew who blame the mariner for their misfortunes. When the ship is driven to the
equator by the south wind, the good weather makes the crew change their minds and
they thank the mariner, but the crime has angered the supernatural spirits who follow
the ship. The ship is then blocked in a calm sea, under a burning sun. The mariner and
the crew are tortured by thirst and again the crew blame the mariner for this. As a sign
of his guilt they hang the dead albatross around his neck. Suddenly a ship approaches
from the west: on board death, a skeleton, and the nightmare death-in-life, a pale
woman, are playing dice. Death wins the crew’s souls, while death-in-life wins the
mariner’s, which she considers more valuable. The crew die and the mariner is the only
survivor. By finding the strength to pray, the mariner has partially expiated his sin. The
ship sinks but the mariner is saved: on land he is approached by a good hermit and faces
the final penance for his deed. He must bear the burden of guilt for the rest of his days,
forced to travel ‘from land to land’ to tell his story to the people he meets, so that they
learn, through his example, to love and respect all God’s creatures.

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Coleridge’s concept of imagination and fancy
Central to Coleridge’s poetry are his conceptions of imagination and unity, which he
defined in Biographia Literaria. He identifies two kinds of imagination: primary and
secondary. Primary imagination is at the basis of the process of knowledge: thanks to
this ability our perceptions are transformed into ideas, concepts and images so that we
can communicate, it gives shape and order to our perceptions. Secondary imagination is
set in motion by an act of conscious will, it is akin to the primary but is more powerful
because it not only gives the world an ordered and comprehensible shape it can also
create new worlds. The creative power of poetic imagination, however, may sometimes
give way to an idealised view of reality, unifying the many different aspects of the 199
natural world. Unity, and consequently, harmony, for Coleridge, is the essence of beauty

4 / The Romantic Age


in art.
Both primary and secondary imagination differ from fancy. Imagination belongs to the
infinite, it is close to the act of divine creation. Fancy, on the contrary, is only connected
with things which already exist and can find connections and similarities with these
things. Fancy is not a creative power, it merely transforms what we perceive.
Washington
Allston, Samuel
The supernatural Taylor Coleridge,
Coleridge believed that the magical, even nightmarish, incidents of a supernatural world 1814. Oil on
canvas; National
are set within the recognisable context of the natural world. His love for the strange and Portrait Gallery,
the gothic and his close attention to the details in nature come together in his imagery, London.
which varies from realistic to wildly imaginative.
The mariner is on the boundaries of the natural and the supernatural world and is
therefore able to participate in both. In fact it seems that the two worlds really
do exist, one beside the other. For example, elements and images from the
natural world are transformed into supernatural pictures, and common
colours assume magical nuances that have a spell-binding effect on
the reader.

The summaries
The captions, or summary that comments on the story through
the point of view of an external narrator, keeps the story in
a fixed framework. In theory these should be objective and
reliable; at least that is what we are supposed to think. But
who is this narrator? We do not know: the poet? the reader?
The captions might represent an older Coleridge who added
them some years after the first edition of the ballad and
wanted to give a more moralistic meaning to his poem;
or they might be the echoes of the numerous listeners
who have been mesmerised by the mariner since
their first encounter with him. More probably,
however, we, the reader, are asked to give in to
‘poetic faith’ so that we can appreciate the
point of this beautiful yet unusual poem.
Coleridge, in Biographia Literaria, says
that poetic faith is attainable only if we
believe in the unbelievable and ‘suspend
disbelief’.

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The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (1798)

200

Noel Paton,
illustration to the
1863 edition of
The Rime of the
Ancient Mariner
by Samuel Taylor
Coleridge.

BEFORE READING
❶ Read the following text.

‘Argument’
1. Line: equatore. How a Ship having passed the Line1 was driven by storms to the cold Country
2. from thence: da
quel luogo. towards the South Pole; and how from thence2 she made her course to the tropical
3. befell: arc., accadde. Latitude of the Great Pacific Ocean; and of the strange things that befell3; and in
what manner the Ancyent Marinere came back to his own Country.

❷ Now summarise Coleridge’s ‘Argument’ in your own words: how much


information about the whole story is missing in this short summary?

❸ What unusual and archaic words can you find? Can you translate them into
modern English?

❹ What do you expect this $( to be about?

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The Rime of the Ancient Mariner CD 1 - TR 21
MP3 27

This is the beginning of the poem: an ancient mariner appears from nowhere and meets
three people on their way to a wedding feast. He stops one of them to tell him his story. 1. bidden: arc.,
invitati.
2. detaineth: trattiene
An ancient Mariner meeteth three Gallants bidden1 to a wedding-feast, (qui e altrove il
‘th’ è la desinenza
and detaineth2 one. della terza persona
singolare del verbo).
3. glittering: che 201
It is an ancient Mariner, brillano.
4. wherefore: perché.

4 / The Romantic Age


And he stoppeth one of three. 5. stopp’st thou me:
‘By thy long beard and glittering3 eye, mi fermi.
6. quoth: [arc., said].
Now wherefore4 stopp’st thou me5?
7. unhand me:
lasciami andare.
5 [...] He holds him with his skinny hand, 8. loon: pazzo.
‘There was a ship,’ quoth6 he. 9. eftsoons:
immediatamente.
‘Hold off! unhand me7, grey-beard loon8’ 10. spell-bound:
Eftsoons9 his hand dropt he. ammaliato.
11. hath: [arc., has]
possiede.
The Wedding-Guest is spell-bound10 by the eye of the old seafaring man, 12. mast: albero
and constrained to hear his tale. maestro; sottinteso
fu.
13. bassoon: fagotto,
He holds him with his glittering eye– strumento musicale.
10 The Wedding-Guest stood still, 14. storm-blast:
tempesta.
And listens like a three years’ child : 15. struck: colpì,
percosse.
The Mariner hath11 his will.
16. o’ertaking:
travolgenti.
[...] The Mariner tells how the ship sailed southward with a good wind and fair weather,
till it reached the Line.

The Sun came up upon the left,


Out of the sea came he!
15 And he shone bright, and on the right
Went down into the sea.

Higher and higher every day,


Till over the mast12 at noon–’
The Wedding-Guest here beat his breast,
20 For he heard the loud bassoon13.

The Wedding-Guest heareth the bridal music; but the Mariner continueth his tale.

[...] The Wedding-Guest he beat his breast,


Yet he cannot choose but hear;
And thus spake on that ancient man,
The bright-eyed Mariner.

The ship driven by a storm toward the south pole.

25 ‘And now the storm-blast14 came, and he


Was tyrannous and strong:
He struck15 with his o’ertaking16 wings,
And chased us south along.

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17. wondrous: estremo, [...] And now there came both mist and snow,
incredibile.
18. drifts: nebbia. 30 And it grew wondrous17 cold:
19. dismal sheen: un And ice, mast-high, came floating by,
bagliore lugubre.
20. ken: [arc., knew]
As green as emerald.
distinguevamo,
vedevamo. The land of ice, and of fearful sounds where no living thing was to be seen.
21. swound:
svenimento.
22. at length: alla fine. And through the drifts18 the snowy clifts
23. thorough: [arc. Did send a dismal sheen19
through] attraverso.
24. hailed: salutammo.
35 Nor shapes of men nor beasts we ken20– 35
202 25. thunder-fit: con un The ice was all between.
boato di tuono.
26. helmsman:
timoniere. The ice was here, the ice was there,
27. omen: presagio. The ice was all around:
28. hollo: oilà. It cracked and growled, and roared and howled,
29. fiends: diavoli.
30. look’st: [arc., do you
40 Like noises in a swound21!
look?].
31. cross-bow: balestra. Till a great sea-bird, called the Albatross, came through the snow-fog, and was received with
great joy and hospitality.

At length22 did cross an Albatross,


Thorough23 the fog it came;
As if it had been a Christian soul,
We hailed24 it in God’s name.

45 It ate the food it ne’er had eat,


And round and round it flew.
The ice did split with a thunder-fit25;
The helmsman26 steered us through!

And lo! the Albatross proveth a bird of good omen27, and followeth the ship as it returned
northward through fog and floating ice.

And a good south wind sprung up behind;


50 The Albatross did follow,
And every day, for food or play,
Came to the mariner’s hollo28!

[...] The ancient Mariner inhospitably killeth the pious bird of good omen.

‘God save thee, ancient Mariner!


From the fiends29, that plague thee thus!–
60 Why look’st30 thou so ?’–‘With my cross-bow31
I shot the Albatross.’

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OVER TO YOU
❶ Describe the ancient mariner referring to the text. Which of his physical features
are emphasised?

❷ Now concentrate on the wedding guest and describe his attitude to the mariner
and his story.

❸ In this poem Coleridge adopted the stanza form of the ballad, but modified it. Is
the use of archaic words relevant to this stylistic choice?

❹ Are all the literary characteristics of a typical ballad present here? 203

4 / The Romantic Age


❺ Find and report examples of the following in the poem:
1. alliteration 2. repetition 3. onomatopoeia

❻ What effect do these characteristics have? Choose from the following (more
than one is possible).
They create a strong musical atmosphere.
They are simply decorative.
They urge the reader to continue reading.
They make the natural descriptions more vivid and realistic.
They draw the reader’s attention to strange words or images.
They underline the surreal aspects of the events.
They help to create a supernatural atmosphere.
They are strongly unifying elements.

❼ What does the pronoun ‘he’ refer to in line 14?


❽ The rich imagery from the natural world results in an image of nature as
(choose):
aggressive and sweet and delicate similar but also
violent adverse to humans

❾ The albatross was ‘a bird of good omen’, the fact that the mariner kills it is
symbolic: can you understand why?

10 How do Coleridge’s aims in writing poetry differ from Wordsworth’s? Refer back
to the ‘Preface’ to Lyrical Ballads and the commentary for help.

REVIEW
❶ Mention at least two important facts about Coleridge’s life and his main works.
❷ What are the main themes of his poetry?
❸ What is ‘poetic faith’ according to Coleridge?
➍ Answer the following questions about # $( *!/# )$ )/-$) -.
1. Who is the main character?
2. What was the mariner’s crime?
3. What setting is described in the Rime?
4. What literary features can you point out?

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Lord
(1788-1824)
Byron

204
G eorge Gordon Byron was born in 1788, in
London. Educated at Harrow and then
at Cambridge University, he wrote and
published his first volume of poetry in 1807.
In 1809 he set off on his Grand Tour of Europe.
He visited Spain, Portugal, Malta and Albania.
In 1812 he published the first two cantos of
Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage which met with great
success. Other works from this period, The
Giaour, The Corsair, and Lara (1813-1814) increased
his fame. In 1815 he married, but his marriage
ended some years later due to an incestuous
relationship with his half-sister Augusta Leigh.
The society that so much admired him now
ostracised him; he left England in 1816 and
spent the rest of his life abroad. He moved
first to Geneva where he associated with the
Shelleys, then went to Venice and Rome. The
1820s were years of upheaval for Italy and
Greece, fighting for national liberation. In 1823
Lord Byron decided to support the Nationalist
cause in Greece against the Turks but, before
becoming involved in any fighting, he died.

Main works
• Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage (1812-18)
• The Giaour, The Corsair, Lara (1813-14)
• Manfred (1817)
• Don Juan (1819-24)

Richard Westalloil,
George Gordon
Byron, a contrasting figure
Byron (detail), Byron is often seen as a contrasting figure to earlier Romantics such as Wordsworth
1813. Oil on and Coleridge. He was of a different generation and had a different political outlook
canvas; Primary
Collection, and poetic style. He did not completely reject classicism. His epic Don Juan attacks
National Portrait much of what Wordsworth stood for. In this work Byron used the witty style of 18th-
Gallery, London.
century poetry to convey humour and satire; two things which contrasted with the
dramatic tension of Wordsworth’s poems. Byron wrote about life within society while
Wordsworth wrote more about living in isolation from society.

Lord Byron’s success


Byron became famous, not only in England, but all over Europe. He satisfied the demands
of his public with tales rich in gothic and Romantic elements of love and passion. His
characters, along with his own life-style, provided a saga that people loved to follow.
He set the ‘trend’ for a European icon which became known as the ‘Byronic hero’.

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205

4 / The Romantic Age


The Byronic hero The characters
of Molière’s Don
The Byronic hero is someone intelligent, more so than the average man, confident and Juan.
proud. He also has a spirit of rebellion, and is gifted with an abnormal sensitivity and
an overriding urge to reject the rules of society. He may often find himself isolated – as
a wanderer or in exile, as, for example in Byron’s work Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, Oriental
Tales or in the drama Manfred. The Byronic hero often carries the burden of a terrible Matthew Burns
memory or guilty secret. Women find him irresistible but he rejects their love. interpreting
Leporello, Don
Byron did not only create the Byronic hero, he also tried to embody this ideal. Juan’s servant
In fact, throughout his life he worked to create an image of himself which in a theatrical
befitted this character. His love for adventure and his involvement in the representation
of Mozart’s Don
political and military movements of the time contributed to making Juan in April
him a legendary and heroic figure. 2009 at the Citi
Performing Arts
Center, Shubert
Don Juan, the myth Theatre, Boston.
The character of Don Juan was and is the symbol of a ‘sexual libertine’.
He first appeared in El burlador de Sevilla by Tirso de Molina (1584-
1648). A ‘burlador’ was known in Spain as a person who mocked the
conventional codes of morality and religion. Tirso de Molina’s work
was followed by many stories in which Don Juan was the leading
character. The most famous is Don Juan ou Le Festin de Pierre (1665)
by the French playwright Molière (1622-73). Don Juan was also
represented in Mozart’s famous opera Don Giovanni (1787).

Lord Byron’s Don Juan (1819-24)


Don Juan is an unfinished poem, made up of 16 cantos and composed in
ottava rima.
Don Juan is a young man brought up in Spain. In this epic satire
the poet tells us about his life, travels and sexual adventures. Byron,
however, moves away from his own, personal interpretation of the idea
of a hero and also from the long-lasting myth of Don Juan. The Romantic
or Byronic hero, as described above, was ‘dark’ and exceptional; Byron’s
Don Juan is a young, friendly character who becomes involved in many
different adventures. Can we say that Byron’s Don Juan is a kind of anti-hero?
He is still a character who goes against conventional restraint but Byron
adds a dose of satire and irony which were not present in previous works and
neither were they present in the previous poetry of the period.

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Don Juan CD 1 - TR 22
MP3 28

This extract is taken from the first canto. Don Juan at the age of sixteen has fallen in love
with the beautiful Donna Julia, an older married woman.
1. ’twas: [arc., it was].
2. clatter: rumore. ’Twas1 midnight, Donna Julia was in bed,
3. fasten’d: chiusa. Sleeping, most probably, when at her door
206 4. fist: pugno.
5. hist: attenzione.
Arose a clatter2 might awake the dead,
6. curst: terribile. If they had never been awoke before,
7. alack: ahimé. 5 And that they have been so we all have read,
8. undo the bolt:
fa’ scorrere il And are to be so, at the least, once more.
chiavistello. The door was fasten’d3, but with voice and fist4
9. in a crack:
d’improvviso. First knocks were heard, then ‘Madam – Madam – hist5!
10. wived: sposati.
11. slumber: sonno. ‘For God’s sake, Madam – Madam – here’s my master
12. wicked: malvagia. 10 With more than half the city at his back.
13. contrived: riusciva.
14. by...encumber:
Was ever heard of such a curst6 disaster!
mettere le corna al ’Tis not my fault – I kept good watch – alack7!
marito.
15. outrageous: Do, pray undo the bolt8 a little faster.
sbadigliare. They’re on the stair just now and in a crack9
16. ye: [you].
15 Will all be here. Perhaps he yet may fly.
17. seized: afferrarono.
18. ere: [before]. Surely the window’s not so very high!’
19. betide: significare.
20. fit: attacco. By this time Don Alfonso was arrived
21. spleen: rabbia. With torches, friends, and servants in great number.
22. rummaged:
frugarono. The major part of them had long been wived10
23. chest: baule. 20 And therefore paused not to disturb the slumber11
24. linen: biancheria. Of any wicked12 woman, who contrived13
25. lace: pizzi.
26. stockings: calze.
By stealth her husband’s temples to encumber14.
27. arras: arazzi. Examples of this kind are so contagious,
28. pricked: Were one not punished, all would be outrageous15.
punzecchiavano.
29. shutters: imposte.
25 […] Now Julia found at length a voice and cried,
30. boards: tavole.
‘In heaven’s name, Don Alfonso, what d’ ye16 mean?
Has madness seized17 you? Would that I had died
Ere18 such a monster’s victim I had been!
What may this midnight violence betide19,
30 A sudden fit20 of drunkenness or spleen21?
Dare you suspect me, whom the thought would kill?
Search then the room!’ Alfonso said, ‘I will.’

He searched, they searched and rummaged22 everywhere,


Closet and clothespress, chest23 and window seat,
35 And found much linen24, lace25, and several pair
Of stockings26, slippers, brushes, combs, complete,
With other articles of ladies fair,
To keep them beautiful or leave them neat.
Arras27 they pricked28 and curtains with their swords,
40 And wounded several shutters29, and some boards30.

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Under the bed they searched, and there they found – 31. gazing: guardando /
osservando.
No matter what; it was not that they sought. 32. nought: [nothing].
They opened windows, gazing31 if the ground 33. odd: strano.
Had signs or footmarks, but the earth said nought32; 34. blunder: grosso
errore.
45 And then they stared each others’ faces round. 35. relinquish’d:
lasciata.
’Tis odd33, not one of all these seekers thought,
36. closet: ripostiglio.
And seems to me almost a sort of blunder34, 37. slip: intrufolarsi.
Of looking in the bed as well as under.

[…] Don Alfonso has left the room. Julia hides Juan, moving him from the bed, where he’d
been all this time, to the closet. Just in time: her husband is coming back. 207

4 / The Romantic Age


He left the room for his relinquished35 sword,
50 And Julia instant to the closet36 flew.
‘Fly, Juan, fly! For heaven’s sake, not a word!
The door is open. You may yet slip37 through
The passage you so often have explored.
Here is the garden key. Fly – fly – adieu!
55 Haste – haste! I hear Alfonso’s hurrying feet.
Day has not broke, there’s no one in the street.’

OVER TO YOU
❶ Define the setting of the poem.
1. time ............................................................................................. 2. place ............................................................................................................

❷ What role do these characters play and wat does each character do?
the wife
1. Donna Julia: ............................................................................................................................................................................................................................
2. Alfonso: ........................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
3. Don Juan: ...................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

❸ Which is the only place that is not searched?


❹ Why is Don Juan in Donna Julia’s room?
❺ Alfonso leaves the room, but after a while he comes back. What does Donna Julia
do in the meantime?

❻ What do you think Donna Julia thinks of Don Alfonso?


❼ Consider the structure of the poem. How many lines are there in each stanza?
What is the rhyme scheme?

❽ Define the tone of the poem.


dramatic witty melancholic
sentimental humorous

❾ Which of the following elements contribute to the tone of the poem?


characterisation the situation the rhythm of the
the characters’ the emphasis dialogues
actions given to hypocrisy

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10 From whose point of view is the episode narrated?
Don Juan’s
Donna Julia’s
the narrator’s
Don Alfonso’s

11 In the text there are several humorous incidents. Can you quote at least two?
12 Don Juan is a satiric poem. What or who is the target of Byron’s satire? Find
examples of satire.
208
13 Do you know anyone who you consider a hero? Discuss in class.
14 Does the Byronic hero correspond to your idea of a hero? Discuss in class.

COMPARE AND CONTRAST


15 Don Juan is a famous literary figure satirised by Byron. Can you find some
modern examples of famous people who are often held up to satire?

16 Can you name a famous Italian ‘ Don Juan’ who lived in the second part of the
eighteenth century?

REVIEW
❶ Choose the correct alternative.
1. Byron is seen as a contrasting figure to
Don Juan
Wordsworth
Keats
2. In his poems he introduces elements of
humour
horror
love and friendship
3. Byron became famous because (more than one alternative)
he wrote popular stories
he died abroad
he became a role model for many
he wrote epic works
4. Byron’s style was
purely Romantic
a mixture of Romanticism and Classicism
completely innovative
5. Which of these adjectives suit the Byronic hero?
clever rebellious very sensitive
strong confident sensible
brave proud

❷ Answer true or false.


1. The myth of Don Juan was created by Lord Byron. T F

2. Byron’s Don Juan is an unfinished epic. T F

3. Byron presents his Don Juan according to tradition. T F

4. Don Juan is a typical Byronic hero. T F

5. Byron adds a satirical element to the presentation of the character. T F

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John
(1795-1821)
Keats

J ohn Keats was the youngest of the


major Romantic poets, but was
destined to be the first to die, at the
early age of 25. He was born in London, on
31st October 1795 to a middle-class family.
209

4 / The Romantic Age


Being the eldest son, and orphaned by
the age of 15, Keats had to find a job to
support the family and was apprenticed to
a surgeon. At the same time he continued
to write, having always known he wanted
to become a poet. In 1816 he met Leigh
Hunt, a well-established poet, who would
help him develop his talent. In the same
year he interrupted his medical studies
and in 1817 his first collection of poems
was published. In 1818 he set off on a tour
of the Lake District and Scotland. When he
came back to London he found his brother
George dying from tuberculosis. He looked
after him until his death. The year 1818-19
witnessed the coming of age of Keats as
a poet: his major works were completed.
However, in 1820 the first symptoms of
tuberculosis struck and Keats, realising he only had a short time to live, left Fanny Joseph Severn,
Brawne, with whom he had fallen in love two years earlier, and went to Italy in the hope John Keats, 1819.
Oil on ivory
of recovery. He died in Rome in 1821. miniature;
National Portrait
Gallery, London.
Main works
• ‘Hyperion’ (1818)
• ‘The Eve of Saint Agnes’ (1819)
• ‘La Belle Dame sans Merci’ (1819)
• The Great Odes: ‘Ode to Psyche’, ‘Ode to a Nightingale’, ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’,
‘Ode on Melancholy’, ‘Ode on Indolence’, ‘Ode to Autumn’ (1819)

Style
One cannot help but feel bewildered by Keats’s great poetic achievements in such a
short lifetime. It has been said that when he died his poetry had reached such heights
of perfection that not even Milton or Shakespeare could compare with his talent when
they were his age.
Between January and September 1819 Keats composed a great many poetic masterpieces,
among which are his odes. In these poems we can find all the distinctive qualities of
Keats’s poetry: the slow and reflective rhythm of his verse, his drawing on all the
senses in order to fully convey an experience, his rich and refined language and clever
use of imagery. All these elements give his poems a sensuous feel that reveal his delight
at observing the world around him.

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He longed for beauty in life but understood that life was full of contradictions that could
not always be reconciled: he felt love but could see only death; he was attracted to the
imaginative world of art and dreams but at the same time was concerned with social
responsibilities. His letters – as remarkable as his poetry – are a reflection of how he
experienced these conflicts in his life and how he was conscious of and deeply worried
by the existence of evil in the world.

Beauty
Keats believed that art could make all sorrow and pain ‘evaporate’, because all art is
210 connected to beauty. The contemplation of beauty was central to Keats’s poetry:
particularly the beauty of the world around him. But it was the spiritual quality which
he found in beauty which was much more important to him. Beauty could reveal the
essential truth of things and for Keats beauty is equal to truth. In ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’,
in one of the most famous English verses, Keats writes: ‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty’.
Beauty is a form of knowledge, maybe the only form of knowledge because it reveals
truth and expresses Keats’s poetical aspiration for permanence in a world of change.

Negative capability
Johann Heinrich The artist is someone who can transform any subject matter into an aesthetic form that
Füssli, Artist Moved appeals to our ‘sense of beauty’. The poet’s main quality, Keats believed, was ‘negative
by the Grandeur of
Antique Fragments, capability, that is, when a man is capable of living in uncertainties, mysteries and
1778-9. Pencil doubts without having to search for fact or reason.’ Negative capability is the capacity
and black ink on
paper; Kunsthaus, of the artist to reserve judgement on his source of inspiration, not to ‘explain’ but to
Zurich. explore the mysteries of life. This quality allowed the poet to deny his real ‘self ’ and to
take on the many different selves he needed to
recreate in his works. What matters in poetry
is not the logical understanding, the rational
judgement about its being true or false, but its
intensity in rendering a ‘thing of beauty’. The
real achievement in poetry is obtained when
the poet does not feel imprisoned by rational
doubts, is capable of facing and accepting
mysteries and of simply trusting his visions of
beauty.

Imagination
If a poet is able to adopt a ‘negative’ approach
towards his subject then his inspiration is
free to carry his imagination to a heightened
perception of reality which Keats called
‘Truth’. This truth can be seen as a kind
of ‘epiphany’, a sudden revelation, which
remains intact even after the thoughts which
created it have disappeared because the
source of inspiration will always remain. A
place providing solace, where nothing ever
changes. This stress upon art as something
valuable in its own right and the sensuous and
luxurious aspects of Keats’s poetry made him
the forerunner to the Pre-Raphaelites and
the Aesthetic Movement, a movement which
chose the motto ‘Art for Art’s sake’ as its credo.

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‘La Belle Dame Sans Merci’ (1819)
BEFORE READING
❶ The title of this lyrical ballad by Keats (in English, ‘The beautiful lady without
pity’) prepares the reader for a Romantic hero and in this work we can find
all the ingredients of the Romantic gothic: a medieval setting, a quest and a
supernatural atmosphere. Look at the painting below, inspired by the poem and
answer the questions:
1. Where does the scene take place?
211
2. Who can you see?
3. What is the man’s ‘profession’?

4 / The Romantic Age


4. What is the lady doing?
5. Who seems to be in control?

❷ What qualities do you normally associate with the man’s profession?

CD 1 - TR 23
‘La Belle Dame Sans Merci’ MP3 29

1. ail: affliggere.
O, what can ail1 thee, knight-at-arms2,
2. knight-at-arms:
Alone and palely loitering3? cavaliere.
The sedge has withered4 from the lake, 3. palely loitering:
indugiando.
And no birds sing. 4. the sedge has
withered: il carice è
appassito.
5 O, what can ail thee, knight-at-arms, 5. haggard: afflitto.
So haggard5, and so woe-begone6? 6. woe-begone:
abbattuto.
The squirrel’s granary is full, 7. lily: giglio (simbolo
And the harvest’s done. di morte).
8. moist: umida,
sudata.
I see a lily7 on thy brow, 9. fever dew: sudore
febbrile.
10 With anguish moist8 and fever dew9; 10. meads: prati.
And on thy cheeks a fading rose 11. zone: cinta.
Fast withereth too. 12. steed: cavallo.

I met a lady in the meads10,


Full beautiful – a fairy’s child,
15 Her hair was long, her foot was light,
And her eyes were wild.

I made a garland for her head,


And bracelets too, and fragrant zone11;
She looked at me as she did love,
20 And made sweet moan.
John William
I set her on my pacing steed12, Waterhouse,
And nothing else saw all day long; La Belle Dame
Sans Merci, 1893.
For sidelong would she bend and sing Oil on canvas;
A fairy’s song. Hessisches
Landesmuseum,
Darmstadt.

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13. relish: sapore. 25 She found me roots of relish13 sweet,
14. manna dew:
secrezione dolce And honey wild, and manna dew14,
prodotta dalle And sure in language strange she said –
piante.
15. elfin grot: grotta ‘I love thee true.’
fatata.
16. full sore: in modo
angosciato. She took me to her elfin grot15,
17. lulled: cullava. 30 And there she wept and sighed full sore16,
18. Woe betide:
esclamazione di And there I shut her wild wild eyes
tristezza. With kisses four.
19. hath thee in thrall:
ti ha reso schiavo.
212 20. gloam: crepuscolo. And there she lulled17 me asleep,
21. gaped wide: aperte.
And there I dreamed – Ah! Woe betide18!
35 The latest dream I ever dreamed
On the cold hill’s side.

I saw pale kings, and princes too,


Pale warriors, death-pale were they all;
They cried-‘La Belle Dame Sans Merci
40 Hath thee in thrall!19’

I saw their starved lips in the gloam20,


With horrid warning gaped wide21, And I
awoke and found me here
On the cold hill’s side.

45 And this is why I sojourn here


Alone and palely loitering,
Though the sedge is withered from the lake,
And no birds sing.

OVER TO YOU
❶ There are two speakers in the poem. Who is the first speaker? Choose:
the knight the lady an anonymous
person

❷ In which stanza does the second person begin to speak?


❸ Who is the second speaker? Choose:
the knight the lady an anonymous
person

❹ Read the first three stanzas again and complete the following with the words
used to describe the knight:
1. The knight is a……..................................……. and p……..................................……. / l……..................................……. .
2. He looks h……..................................……. and w……..................................…….-……..................................……. .
3. His brow is a……............................……. / m…….............................……. and full of f…….............................……. /……...............................……. .
4. The red rose of his cheeks is f……..................................……. / w ……..................................……. .

❺ Does this knight have any of the qualities you listed in question 2 of Before
Reading?

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❻ How does this knight differ from the stereotypical figure of a medieval knight?
❼ Complete the following sentences.
1. The knight made ……..................................……. (1), ……..................................……. (2) and ……..................................……. (3) for
the Belle Dame.
2. She gave him ……..................................……. (1), ……..................................……. (2) and ……..................................……. (3).

➑ Where did the knight put the Belle Dame?


➒ Where did she take the knight and what did she do to him there? 213

4 / The Romantic Age


10 Make a note of the adjectives used to describe the Belle Dame:
1. Face: ..................................................................................................................................................................................

2. Hair: ..................................................................................................................................................................................

3. Eyes: ..................................................................................................................................................................................

4. Movements: ..................................................................................................................................................................................

11 When the knight fell asleep in the grot he had a vision and received a warning.
1. Who warned him? 2. What did they tell him?

12 Who do you think these men were and how are they connected to ‘La Belle Dame
Sans Merci’ and her past?

13 Why is she ‘sans merci’?


14 What has happened to the knight? Why can’t he stop ‘palely loitering’? What is
he waiting for?

15 How does Keats create a supernatural and mystical atmosphere in the poem?
16 Make a note of all the references to death you can find in the poem.
17 Many see La Belle Dame as a temptress (tentatrice) and the knight as her victim.
What do you think? Discuss in pairs and then relate to the rest of the class.

18 Looking at the poem in the context of Keats’s life we may find a different
reading. At the time of writing Keats had just discovered he was suffering from
tuberculosis, a disease which had already killed his brother and mother. At
the same time he had also recently fallen in love with a young woman, Fanny
Brawne. The loss of his brother, the discovery of his own illness and his love for
Fanny, which almost certainly had no future, created an inner torment, sadness
and frustration. In view of this, the lady and her relationship with the knight
may change. Is she still a temptress or does she represent something more?
Could the knight now be seen as the poet himself, and if so how? Discuss.

REVIEW
❶ Name some of Keats’s masterpieces.
❷ Say what the main features of Keats’s poetry are with regard to the following:
1. rhythm of his verse 2. use of imagery and synaesthesia

❸ How does he conceive beauty?


❹ What is ‘negative capability’?
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Literature
and Language FIRST CERTIFICATE
IN ENGLISH
Practice Test

214
FCE Reading Comprehension
Part 1
You are going to read an article about falling in love. Choose the most suitable heading
from the list A-I for each part of the article. There is one extra heading which you do not
need to use.There is an example at the beginning (0).

Falling in Love – What is Really Happening?


A
[0 ….........] with falling in love and will then help researchers
According to recent is it involved at all? The understand what happens
research carried out by answer is yes, but not when we fall ‘out’ of
Stephanie Ortigue of the quite as much as we would love, when people suffer
University of Syracuse it like to believe. Although from depression and
only takes one fifth of a an ‘attraction’ is initially stress because they are
second to fall in love! And triggered by stimuli to ‘heartbroken,’ (there’s that
when it does happen 12 the brain – visual and word again).
different areas of the brain sensory (e.g. smell) – the
are involved, releasing brain, in turn, needs the [4 ….........]
certain chemicals such as heart to pump stronger in Helen Fisher from Rutgers
dopamine, oxytocin and order to contribute to an University (USA) speaks
adrenaline. increase in blood levels. more clinically in her
This increase in blood research about three
[1 ….........] flow produces a certain distinct stages of love,
Researchers have also nerve growth factor (NGF) each stage reflecting a
established that different typically found in those different ‘type’ of love. The
parts of the brain are also who have recently fallen first stage is that of lust
engaged in different kinds in love. when the sex hormones
of love. For example the testosterone and oestrogen
mother’s love for a child [3 ….........] drive us all out there to
involves a more general ‘Not so romantic,’ you find a partner.
part of the brain while may say but these studies
passionate love involves can have significant [5 ….........]
those parts of the brain implications for the The second stage is that
connected to body image, treatment of mental of attraction when we are
reward and appraisals and health. It is important ‘love-struck’ and find it
goal achievement. to understand which difficult to eat, sleep and
areas of the brain come work. This is the most
[2 ….........] into play when we fall talked about stage, the
So what about the heart? in love and the chemical stereotypical stage of love
Why do we associate it reaction provoked as this we hear so much about

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in songs and books. Here in which bonding takes and science are involved
we have the release of place. Oxytocin and in what has always been
dopamine, adrenalin and vasopressin are associated considered a heart-felt,
serotonin. with this stage and are romantic affair! Clearly
chemicals produced when falling in love takes on a
[6 ….........] a mother is nurturing her whole new meaning in
The third stage is that of baby. the laboratory. I’d prefer
attachment and it is in to stick with red roses and 215
this stage that it becomes [7 ….........] chocolates.

4 / The Romantic Age


clear if a relationship It seems that a lot of
will last or not, the stage brain work, chemicals

A A quick process D Helpful research G Is it forever?


B The brain makes E More defined periods H A more traditional
distinctions approach
C Making us useless F Not only brain power I A couple meet

Francesco
Hayez, The Kiss,
1859-67. Oil on
canvas; Milano,
Pinacoteca di
Brera.

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Jane
(1775 -1817)
Austen

216
J ane Austen lived a quiet and uneventful life in Steventon and then Chawton,
Hampshire, in the English countryside. The second daughter of a reverend, she
never married and spent her time between domestic duties and writing novels.
Austen’s writings date back to as early as 1787. Her
first novel to be published, anonymously, was Sense
and Sensibility in 1811. At the time she was writing,
England was at war with France, but she always
chose to focus on the psychological and social
aspects of the smaller provincial environment.
Jane Austen’s main interest was people and their
relationships. Over the years Jane Austen’s novels
have gained enormous popularity, a popularity
which, unfortunately, she never achieved in her own
lifetime.

Main works
• Sense and Sensibility (1811)
• Pride and Prejudice (1813)
• Mansfield Park (1814)
• Emma (1816)
• Persuasion (1817)
• Northanger Abbey (1817)

Society in Jane Austen’s time


In Jane Austen’s time there were great differences
between the social classes.
Portrait of Jane The aristocracy remained at the top of the social ladder, owning lands and estates that
Austen, from were passed from generation to generation so they did not have to work to earn a living.
The Memoir by
J. E. Austen- Their main occupations were going to parties, giving balls and arranging marriages.
Leigh. Coloured Jane Austen underlined how the aristocracy tended to keep its distance from people who
engraving.
belonged to other social classes, considering them inferior.
Below the aristocracy came the gentry, to which most of the characters in Jane Austen’s
novels belong. People of this class owned land but they were not as wealthy as the
aristocracy.

video
Literary Bath Style and themes
and Jane Austen
Jane Austen’s polished and elegant style is characterised by wit, irony and well-
structured sentences. Her great skill at orchestrating conversation plays an important
part in bringing the characters alive to the reader.
This was her way of dealing with important social matters, such as the role of money,
property and marriage in a society where women had little or no economic power.
Chronologically her works belong to the Romantic age, a time in which feelings and
passion for the world and what was happening in it were paramount for many writers.
Austen, however, remained untouched by the upheavals which affected other artists of
her time, even though she was a close contemporary to the greatest Romantic poets,

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Wordsworth and Coleridge. She was certainly not ignorant
of the power of feelings but believed they should be
controlled. Her novels are a balance between reason and
feelings and her female characters may be independent,
but they do not aspire to individualism and real
unconventionality like Romantic heroes.

-$ )- %0$ Įthe plot


The Bennet family (Mr and Mrs Bennet and their five
daughters: Jane, Elizabeth, Mary, Kitty and Lydia) live in 217
Longbourn, Hertfordshire. They discuss the expected arrival

4 / The Romantic Age


of Charles Bingley, a rich young man who’ll soon be living
at a nearby estate called Netherfield. Mrs Bennet wants
her husband to go and meet him, as he might make a good
husband for one of her daughters. Marrying them off is her
main concern in life.The Bennets soon meet Mr Bingley
at a ball organised by their neighbours. He arrives with Illustration to
his sister and a friend, Mr Darcy. While all agree that Mr Bingley is a very nice man, the 1896 edition
of Sense and
Mr Darcy is recognised as being snobbish and conceited. From this moment, however, Sensibility by Jane
Elizabeth and Darcy meet several times on different occasions and while a love story Austen.
develops between her sister Jane and Mr Bingley, Elizabeth does not seem to notice the
increasing interest that Darcy has for her as she is more conditioned by the negative
Pride and Prejudice
gossip she hears about him. Her prejudice towards him becomes almost unbearable is a typical novel
when she hears that Darcy convinced Mr Bingley not to marry her sister Jane. of manners,
Darcy’s first attempt at proposal and Elizabeth’s bitter refusal represent the central clearly illustrating
how people
point of the plot. From this moment on Elizabeth begins to learn more about Mr Darcy interact, and how
and his real nature. the feelings you
She begins to put the pieces together of a complicated story and in the end is forced to show in public
can often be very
realise how Darcy has acted in a dignified and generous manner towards her family on different to your
more than one occasion. Darcy later tells her that it was all done in an attempt to win true feelings.
her love. By now Elizabeth is forced to look inside herself and acknowledge how her own Property, social
class and the
feelings towards Darcy have changed. The novel ends with Darcy’s second proposal. This need to marry to
time both characters confess their mistakes and openly express their feelings for one maintain both are
another. It is a happy ending all round: for Elizabeth, Darcy, Jane, Mr Bingley and for at the heart of
this novel. This
everyone in the Bennet family. heart, however, is
cleverly disguised
by a complicated
interweaving
Pride and Prejudice (1813) of events,
misunderstandings
and jealousies, all
coated in a patina
of wit and irony
BEFORE READING which is typical
Read the following opening sentence of the novel, then say what it tells us about the of Jane Austen’s
role of women in the social context of the beginning of the 19th century. style.

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good 1. be in want of: aver
bisogno di.
fortune, must be in want of1 a wife.

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Pride and Prejudice MP3 30

1. is let: è (stato) The Bennets have a big problem: they have five unmarried daughters and no sons. In Jane
affittato.
2. it is more than
Austen’s time girls could not inherit property so the daughters had to find a husband to
I engage for: è ensure a comfortable future for themselves.
superiore alle mie
forze.
3. chuses: [chooses] ‘My dear Mr Bennet,’ said his lady to him one day, ‘have you heard that
sceglie.
218 4. abuse: (qui) è troppo Netherfield Park is let1 at last?’
severo. Mr Bennet replied that he had not.
5. get over it:
superare. ‘But it is,’ returned she ‘for Mrs Long has just been here, and she told me all
5 about it.’
Mr Bennet made no answer.
‘Do not you want to know who has taken it?’ cried his wife impatiently.
‘You want to tell me, and I have no objection to hearing it.’
This was invitation enough.
10 ‘Why, my dear, you must know, Mrs Long says that Netherfield is taken by a
young man of large fortune from the north of England. […]’
Keira Knightely ‘What is his name?’
starring as ‘Bingley.’
Elizabeth Bennet
in a scene from ‘Is he married or single?’
the film Pride and 15 ‘Oh! Single, my dear, to be sure! A single man of large fortune; four or five
Prejudice (2005) by thousand a year. What a fine thing for our girls!’
Joe Wright.
‘How so? How can it affect them?’
‘My dear Mr Bennet,’ replied his wife, ‘how can you be so tiresome! You must
know that I am thinking of his marrying one of them.’
20 ‘Is that his design in settling here?’
‘Design! Nonsense, how can you talk so! But it is very likely that he may fall in
love with one of them, and therefore you must visit him as soon as he comes.’
‘I see no occasion for that. [….]
‘But, my dear, you must indeed go and see Mr Bingley when he comes into the
25 neighbourhood.’
‘It is more than I engage for2, I assure you.’
‘But consider your daughters. Only think what an establishment it would be for
one of them.’ […]
‘You are over-scrupulous surely. I dare say Mr Bingley will be very glad to see
30 you; and I will send a few lines by you to assure him of my hearty consent to his
marrying which ever he chuses3 of the girls; though I must throw in a good word
for my little Lizzy.’
‘I desire you will do no such thing. Lizzy is not a bit better than the others; and I
am sure she is not half so handsome as Jane, nor half so good humoured as Lydia.
35 But you are always giving her the preference.’
‘They have none of them much to recommend them,’ replied he; ‘they are all
silly and ignorant like other girls; but Lizzy has something more of quickness
than her sisters.’
‘Mr Bennet, how can you abuse4 your own children in such way? You take delight
40 in vexing me. You have no compassion on my poor nerves.’
‘You mistake me, my dear. I have a high respect for your nerves.[…]
‘Ah! You do not know what I suffer.’
‘But I hope you will get over it5, and live to see many young men of four thousand
a year come into the neighbourhood.’

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45 […] Mr Bennet was so odd a mixture of quick parts6 sarcastic humour, reserve, 6. odd...parts: una
strana mescolanza
and caprice, that the experience of three and twenty years had been insufficient di astuzia,
intelligenza.
to make his wife understand his character. Her mind was less difficult to develop. 7. she...nervous: si
She was a woman of mean understanding, little information, and uncertain agitava.
temper. When she was discontented, she fancied herself nervous7. The business
50 of her life was to get her daughters married; its solace was visiting and news.

OVER TO YOU 219


❶ Why does Mrs Bennet insist on the subject of ‘marriage’?

4 / The Romantic Age


❷ What opinion is expressed by the narrator about Mr and Mrs Bennet at the end
of the text?
1. Mr Bennet is defined as ........................................................................................................................................................................................ .
2. Mrs Bennet is presented as a ....................................................................................................................................................................... .

➌ Go back to the opening sentence and see if your first impressions were right.
➍ What is the function of this first chapter? Choose from the following.
It creates an atmosphere.
It amuses the reader.
It presents the main characters and situations.
It permits the author to express her opinion.

➎ The first page also sets the tone for the rest of the novel. How would you
describe it? You may choose more than one.
serious sad ironic
playful light-hearted dramatic

➏ What kind of narrator is employed here? Support your answer with evidence
from the text.

➐ Focus on the character of Mr Bennet.


1. Can you find examples in the text of his irony and sarcasm?
2. With the exception of Lizzy, Mr Bennett describes his daughters as ‘silly and ignorant
like other girls.’ How does this attitude compare with the way he treats his wife?

➑ Jane Austen did not deal with the social and historical issues of her age in her
novels. Here below are two statements about ‘the role of the artist’. Which one
do you agree with? Why? In small groups discuss and compare your ideas.
1. It is wrong for an artist to ignore the problems of his/her age and simply write for
his / her own pleasure. An artist has a moral duty to communicate and comment on
the problems of his/her period.
2. In writing about his/her milieu, and what is familiar to the artist, the reader also
gains greater insight into the period as a whole. It is therefore not necessary for
the artist to be involved in the historical/political events of his/her time or to refer
to them in his / her works.

REVIEW
❶ Answer the following questions.
1. Which type of novel is Jane Austen the main representative of?
2. What are the characteristics of this novel?
3. To which social classes do the characters from the extracts you have read belong?
4. What words would you use to define Jane Austen’s style?

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On Screen PRIDE AND
PREJUDICE
Directed by Joe Wright (2005)
Starring Keira Knightley and
Matthew Macfayden.

220
Pride and Prejudice
(2005) by Joe Wright Four Oscar nominations went to this
production of Pride and Prejudice directed
by Joe Wright. This manicured version
of the novel manages to respect the
Keira Knightley
(Elizabeth) intricacies of Austen’s text while at the
and Matthew same time giving the film a modern
Macfayden (Mr appeal, especially with the casting of Keira
Darcy) in a film
scene. Knightley as Elizabeth (Lizzie) Bennet. The
stunning photography, which concentrates
on the English countryside and its stately homes, also
captures the mood of the period.

The story on screen so far...


Tensions have been rising, along with Lizzie’s prejudice towards Mr Darcy. As you will
remember from the extracts you read, Elizabeth holds Darcy responsible for her sister’s
unhappiness, Mr Bingley having jilted her following Darcy’s advice. However, Lizzie
seems to find Darcy around every corner, little knowing that his love for her has been
growing all this time until he can no longer resist displaying it in this first, rather
clumsy and arrogant attempt at proposal.
Now watch the film extract and answer the following questions.

OVER TO YOU
❶ Watch and listen to the first part of the dialogue twice, then fill in the missing
words.
‘Miss Elizabeth, I have .............................................. (1) in vain and I can .............................................. (2) it no
longer. These .............................................. (3) have been a torment. I came to Rosings for the
single object of seeing you. I ................................................... (4) you. I’ve fought against my better
.............................................. (5), my family’s expectations, the ............................................ (6) of your birth,

my rank, circumstance, all these things and I’m willing to put them ......................................... (7)
and ask you to end my .............................................. (8).’

❷ Listen to the whole scene again and write down who says the following lines,
put D for Darcy or E for Elizabeth.
1. ‘I don’t understand.’ ........................
2. ‘I’m very sorry to have caused you pain.’ ........................
3. ‘Are you laughing at me?’ ........................
4. ‘...why with so little endeavour of civility I’m thus repulsed?’ ........................
5. ‘...you chose to tell me you like me against your better judgement.’ ........................

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❸ ‘I have other reasons. You know I have’. What are the other reasons for
Elizabeth’s rejection of Mr Darcy?

❹ Who do you sympathise with most in this scene, Darcy or Elizabeth?


❺ Are the characters of Darcy and Elizabeth in the film how you imagined them to
be? Explain why or why not.

On and Off Screen 221

4 / The Romantic Age


ETIQUETTE, DATING Etiquette, Dancing
and Dating in
Austen's Time
AND DANCING IN AUSTEN’S TIME
In this second film extract we will see the film’s director, Joe Wright, actor Matthew 1. dating:
corteggiamento.
Macfayden (Mr Darcy) and actress Keira Knightley (Elizabeth Bennet) talking about the 2. etiquette: il
rules of dating1 and etiquette2 and the importance of the dance in Jane Austen’s time. protocollo da
rispettare in
società.

➏ Before watching the extract look at the following words and expressions used by
the speakers and match them with their definition on the right.
1. code of conduct to bend forward in a sign of respect
2. courting a formal gesture when saying hello
3. to throw off the shackles rules of behaviour
4. to bow physical contact
5. to form collisions attracting the opposite sex
6. charged a form of transportation using horses
7. to shake hands to free oneself of restrictions
8. a carriage full of excitement and anticipation

➐ Now watch the extract and answer true or false.


1. Joe Wright feels that there are still rules of courting today. T F
2. Matthew Macfayden thinks that the rules of conduct in Jane Austen’s
time were very restrictive. T F
3. Socialising between the sexes was very easy in Jane Austen’s time. T F
4. Dancing was a very important way of meeting people. T F
5. Women and men would always shake hands when they met. T F

➑ Watch the extract again and answer the following questions in your own words.
1. What does Matthew Macfayden like about the etiquette of Jane Austen’s time?
2. Give two reasons why the dance was so important as a social occasion.
3. Why was it a significant moment when Darcy helped Elizabeth into the carriage?

➒ Visual activity.
1. Matthew Macfayden is ‘on set’ as he speaks. What can you see in the background?
2. In the dance scene, although Elizabeth and Darcy are still cold with each other how
can we tell that there is a ‘chemistry’ developing between them?

10 Dancing today: discuss in small groups the following and then compare your
answers with the rest of the class.
1. How important is ‘the dance’ today as a way of meeting people?
2. What is the accepted etiquette of courting today among teenagers. How do you
attract the opposite sex?
3. Do you think ‘breaking the ice’ today is easier, more difficult or just the same as in
Jane Austen’s time?

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Mary
(1797-1851)
Shelley

222
M ary Shelley was born in 1797, the daughter of Mary Wollstonecraft, a
writer and a forerunner of the feminist movement and William Godwin,
a philosopher and writer. As a child Mary was an avid reader and showed
literary talents at an early age. In 1812 she met the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley and
although he was married at the time they fell in love and eloped in 1814. Mary Shelley
was only nineteen years old when she wrote Frankenstein and was living in Switzerland
with Percy Shelley, Lord Byron and other friends. Mary and Percy married in 1816, after
Shelley’s first wife committed suicide, and lived in Italy with her child, but in 1822
Shelley died in a storm while sailing with a friend. Alone with her child, Mary returned
to England. She published the writings of her husband and wrote novels in order to
support herself and her son. She died in 1851 in London.

Main works
• Frankenstein (1818)
• Valperga (1823)
Samuel John • The Last Man (1826)
Stump, Mary
Shelley (detail),
1831. Oil on Frankenstein
canvas; National
Portrait Gallery, Set at the end of the 18th century, Frankenstein is told in the first person by three
London. different narrators. These are: Robert Walton, an explorer on his way to the North
Pole; Victor Frankenstein, a scientist obsessed with discovering the secret of how to
create life; and the Monster, his unnamed creation. The book is written in the form
of letters from Walton to his sister back in England, re-telling events told to him after
rescuing Frankenstein in the Arctic. These tell of the construction of the Monster and
Frankenstein’s abandoning of it – an action that leads to his death and the deaths of
those he cares for.

The origins of the book


In 1816 Percy and Mary Shelley passed most of the summer with Lord Byron and
physician William Polidori at Lake Geneva. One evening Lord Byron suggested that
they should each write a ghost story. Mary Shelley decided to participate, saying she
had been inspired by a nightmare she had had that night. It took her many months
to write her story and she did not complete it until she had left Switzerland. It was
the best ghost story of the group and when it was published in 1818 it became an
immediate success.

The structure
Frankenstein has the structure of an epistolary novel, but is
actually a combination of different voices and texts.
In the novel we can find letters, notes, journals and
inscriptions sometimes placed one after the other. This
variety of texts is an important aspect of the narrative
structure because the various writings come across
to the reader as an objective documentation of the
characters’ attitudes and emotions.

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Not only a gothic novel
For many years Frankenstein was classified simply as a ‘gothic novel’. Yet, despite its
elements of suspense and horror, it differs from the ‘typical’ gothic novel in that it does
not contain supernatural elements and its setting is neither a castle nor a monastery. It
is also often considered an early example of science fiction.

The themes
The central theme of Frankenstein is the pursuit of knowledge: Victor tries, in fact, to go
beyond human limits to obtain the secret of life, but this pursuit brings only death and
destruction. Linked with this is the theme of the scientist’s responsibility which is 223
clear from the book’s subtitle, The Modern Prometheus. This subtitle refers to the figure in

4 / The Romantic Age


Greek mythology who, in order to help mankind, stole Zeus’s fire from the sun. Humans
benefited from this but Prometheus was severely punished by the god who chained
him to a rock. The novel also refers to the story of Prometheus plasticator who was said
to have created and animated man out of clay. These two myths were eventually fused
together.
Victor Frankenstein can indeed be seen as the modern Prometheus. Victor tries to
substitute God to become ‘the creator’. At first he means well, but from the moment his
monster comes to life he shirks all responsibility for him. In the end, like Prometheus,
Victor is punished for what he did, not by the gods, but by his own creation.
Another important theme is the one of neglect and development – the fact that this
huge and ugly monster is rejected by everybody, above all by his creator (who he in
fact calls ‘father’). Thus the creature can be seen as a neglected child. He has to grow up
alone and educate himself. The heart of the novel becomes the creature’s description of
his own development. The creature himself, realises that a child who grows up without
a loving parent becomes a monster. He repeatedly insists that he was born good, but was
compelled by others to do evil.

Frankenstein (1818)
Boris Karloff
starring as the
BEFORE READING monster in James
Whale’s film
Read the text below. The narrator here is the young Victor Frankenstein. Can you Frankenstein (1931)
explain the ‘secrets’ he is referring to? based on Mary
Shelley’s novel.

I confess that neither the structure of languages, nor the 1. whether: se.
2. outward: esterno.
code of governments, nor the politics of various states,
3. inner: interno.
possessed attractions for me. It was the secrets of
heaven and earth that I desired to learn; and whether1
it was the outward2 substance of things or the inner3
spirit of nature and the mysterious soul of man
5 that occupied me, still my inquiries were directed to the
metaphysical, or, in its highest sense, the physical
secrets of the world.

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Frankenstein MP3 31

1. dreary: cupa.
TEXT 1
2. I...toils: vidi la
realizzazione delle
mie fatiche. Victor Frankenstein, a young Swiss student, is studying at Ingolstadt university. Here he
3. a spark of being: ‘meets’ his creation for the first time, but this being turns out to be very different from the
scintilla di esistenza.
4. pattered...panes: creature Victor had imagined.
picchiettava lugubre
224 contro i vetri.
5. by the glimmer: It was on a dreary1 night of November that I beheld the accomplishment of
luce.
6. dull: privo di
my toils2. With an anxiety that almost amounted to agony, I collected the
espressione. instruments of life around me, that I might infuse a spark of being3 into the
7. limbs: membra.
lifeless thing that lay at my feet. It was already one in the morning; the rain
8. wretch: infelice.
9. I had endeavoured: 5 pattered dismally against the panes4, and my candle was nearly burnt out, when,
avevo cercato. by the glimmer5 of the half-extinguished light, I saw the dull6 yellow eye of the
10. features: fattezze.
11. beneath: sotto.
creature open; it breathed hard, and a convulsive motion agitated its limbs7.
12. flowing: folti. How can I describe my emotions at this catastrophe, or how delineate the
13. luxuriances: wretch8 whom with such infinite pains and care I had endeavoured9 to form? His
caratteri rigogliosi.
14. dun-white sockets: 10 limbs were in proportion, and I had selected his features10 as beautiful. Beautiful!
orbite di colore – Great God! His yellow skin scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries
bianco sporco.
15. shrivelled beneath11; his hair was of a lustrous black, and flowing12; his teeth of a pearly
complexion: pelle whiteness; but these luxuriances13 only formed a more horrid contrast with his
raggrinzita.
16. filled: riempiva. watery eyes, that seemed almost of the same colour as the dun white sockets14 in
17. at length: alla fine. 15 which they were set, his shrivelled complexion15 and straight black lips.
18. a cold dew: un
sudore freddo. The different accidents of life are not so changeable as the feelings of human
19. forehead: fronte. nature. I had worked hard for nearly two years, for the sole purpose of infusing
20. chattered: life into an inanimate body. For this I had deprived myself of rest and health. I
battevano.
21. dim: pallida. had desired it with an ardour that far exceeded moderation; but now that I had
22. the window 20 finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust
shutters: imposte
della finestra. filled16 my heart.[…] At length17 lassitude succeeded to the tumult I had before
23. jaws: mascelle. endured; and I threw myself on the bed in my clothes, endeavouring to seek
24. a grin wrinkled
his cheeks: un a few moments of forgetfulness. But it was in vain: I slept, indeed, but I was
sorriso gli corrugò le
guance. disturbed by the wildest dreams.[…] I started from my sleep with horror; a
25. courtyard: cortile. 25 cold dew18 covered my forehead19, my teeth chattered20 and every limb became
convulsed: when, by the dim21 and yellow light of the moon, as it forced its way
through the window shutters22, I beheld the wretch – the miserable monster
whom I had created. He held up the curtain of the bed; and his eyes, if eyes they
may be called, were fixed on me. His jaws23 opened, and he muttered some
30 inarticulate sounds, while a grin wrinkled his cheeks24. He might have spoken,
but I did not hear; one hand was stretched out, seemingly to detain me, but I
escaped and rushed downstairs. I took refuge in the courtyard25 belonging to the
house which I inhabited; where I remained during the rest of the night, walking
up and down in the greatest agitation, listening attentively, catching and fearing
35 each sound as if it were to announce the approach of the demoniacal corpse to
which I had so miserably given life.

Boris Karloff starring as


Frankenstein, in James
Whale’s film (1931) based
on Mary Shelley’s novel.

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OVER TO YOU
❶ Complete the table with the following information from the text.
1. The time of year: ............................................................................................................................................................................................................
2. The time of day: ..............................................................................................................................................................................................................

3. Weather: .....................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

❷ Underline the words used to describe the creature then use them to complete
this table.
1. Eyes: .................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
225
2. Skin: ..................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

4 / The Romantic Age


3. Hair: ..................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

4. Teeth: ..............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
5. Lips: ...................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

➌ Now focus on the ‘creator’ (ll. 19-23). Complete this sentence.


1. The creator passes from the ‘ardour’ of the creation to ...................................................................................... .

➍ What is this reaction caused by? Choose.


his guilty complex
the disgust caused by the creature’s appearance
disappointment
his wish to destroy it

➎ Victor hates what he has created. What does he do? Use the following key
sentences to write a short summary.
He leaves the ....................................................... (1) and goes to the ....................................................... (2) where he
....................................................... (3). Then he throws himself on the ....................................................... (4) in order to

....................................................... (5). But he falls asleep and has a ....................................................... (6).

➏ When Victor wakes up he sees the creature observing him. What does the
creature try to do? Choose.
to kill him to communicate to insult his creator
with him

➐ Why do you think Mary Shelley chose to set her story in the month of
November? What associations are usually linked with this month?

➑ Does Victor try to establish any kind of relationship with his creature? Why?
➒ How would you define Mary Shelley’s style? Choose from the following.
formal basic easy to read
Latinate matter-of-fact passionate
emphatic realistic poetic

10 Victor hints at how he has created his ‘creature’. Explain briefly how you imagine
he has managed it.

11 Victor’s teeth ‘chattered’ and ‘every limb became convulsed’ when he saw the
creature from his bed. Do you think that his reactions are natural or are they
romantically exaggerated?

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TEXT 2 MP3 32

1. specimen: modello, Since Victor doesn’t maintain his promise, the monster swears to take revenge and kills
es emplare.
2. worthy: degno.
Victor’s loved ones. Victor then spends the rest of his life pursuing the creature. They finally
3. I have pursued: l’ho meet in the Arctic but Victor has, by now, died from exhaustion. The creature speaks for the
spinto.
last time in front of Victor’s body.

‘But it is true that I am a wretch. I have murdered the lovely and the helpless; I
226 have strangled the innocent as they slept, and grasped to death his throat who
never injured me or any other living thing. I have devoted my creator, the select
specimen1 of all that is worthy2 of love and admiration among men, to misery;
5 I have pursued3 him even to that irremediable ruin. There he lies, white and
cold in death. You hate me; but your abhorrence cannot equal that with which I
regard myself.’

OVER TO YOU
❶ The monster speaks about his ‘creator’ as ‘the select specimen of all that is
worthy of love and admiration among men, to misery’. What does this suggest
about the creature’s feelings?

❷ What does the final sentence tell us about the monster?


COMPARE AND CONTRAST
➌ In his poem ‘My Heart Leaps Up’ Wordsworth wrote: ‘The Child is father of the
Man.’ How can this be linked to the monster and more generally to child abuse
and neglect today? Discuss in class.

FCE ➍ Writing, Part 2. Imagine you are filming the scene in which Victor is dying.
Describe the scene in 120-180 words Where is he? How is he dressed? Is he
standing, lying, sitting?

REVIEW
❶ Explain the circumstances which gave birth to the novel Frankenstein.
❷ Choose the correct alternative.
1. Frankenstein has the structure of
an epistolary a historical novel a modern novel
novel
2. Frankenstein is a gothic novel
containing dealing with presenting
elements of horror different themes different types of
characters
3. The central theme of Frankenstein is
relationships the pursuit of the relationship
knowledge between parents
and children
4. What symbolic value can be attributed to Victor’s creature?
He is a kind of He represents He is the symbol
negative hero pure evil of scientific
research

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Edgar
(1809-49)
Allan Poe

B orn in Boston in 1809, Poe lost his parents


when still a child. Adopted by a family in
Virginia, he went to university but had to
leave because of gambling debts. After a short stay
Original
daguerreotype
taken by Edwin
H. Manchester,
photographer
employed by
227

4 / The Romantic Age


in Boston, where he began publishing without the Masury and
success, he went to the military academy of West Hartshorn firm,
Point. He left after a few months, travelled around 1848.
for a few years working on various publications
until 1835 when he settled in Richmond as editor
of the Southern Literary Messenger. There he made
his name as a critical reviewer and married his
young cousin Virginia Clemm, who was only 13 at
the time. He managed to sell some of his stories to The short story
Poe became
magazines during this period, but he had drinking famous for his
problems and suffered from nervous disorders. tales of horror and
These problems worsened when Virginia died in terror, he was an
influential literary
1847. In 1849 he went to Baltimore where, in October of that same year, he was found critic, the founder
unconscious in a street and died in hospital some days later. of the crime novel
and a master of
the short story.
Main works In one of his
• The Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque (1840) main works
• The Murders in the Rue Morgue (1841) The Philosophy
of Composition
• ‘The Raven’ (1845) (1846), he strongly
• ‘The Philosophy of Composition’ (1846) supports the
short story. Short
stories were, in
fact, considered
The tales of terror vulgar and a low
Poe’s name has been made popular by his tales of terror which were partly influenced by art form in Poe’s
time, like the
the British gothic tradition and partly by the fantastic stories by the German E.T.A magazines that
Hoffman (1776-1822), who created a form of terror born, not from supernatural events, published them.
but from the human mind and depths of the soul. He stated that
short stories
Poe’s characters all have certain similarities. Enigmatic and mysterious, they are driven have the same
by their emotions, show symptoms of madness and are haunted by their own obsessions. dignity as novels
His stories often take place in dark, confined spaces that help to create a frightening or epic poems
and developed
atmosphere. a theory which
The plots of his stories aim at creating a single and intense experience for the reader, he applied to
with a mood of melancholy, suspense or horror. There are no extra elements: no sub- his short stories
which stated that
plots, no minor characters, and no digressions. the author should
The themes that weave their way through Poe’s stories are those of madness, murder, aim at creating
revenge, horror and nightmare. He is one of the first writers to attempt an exploration a story that can
be read ‘at one
of the subconscious and to reveal the darker side of man. sitting’ and that
must be ‘well
constructed and
sustained up to
the end’.

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‘The Black Cat’ (1843)
This is one of Poe’s most popular stories and in it Poe uses some
conventional elements of the Gothic tradition but then goes
beyond it as the ‘horror’ does not come from the outside, but
from inside the self. It is a study of the psychology of guilt, often
compared with Poe’s ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’.
The narrator of ‘The Black Cat’ presents himself, at the beginning
of the story, as a man gifted with ‘docility and humanity’ who
is very fond of animals. He and his wife have many pets, his
228 favourite being a large, beautiful black cat, whose name is Pluto.
Their friendship lasts for many years until the narrator becomes
an alcoholic. One night, returning home drunk, he thinks the
cat is avoiding him and becomes mad with anger. He grasps the
cat by the throat and using a pen-knife cuts one of its eyes out.
After that day the cat slowly recovers, but it is always scared of
his master. The narrator is first seized by horror and remorse,
but then these feelings give way to irritation and a spirit of
perverseness which lead the man to hang the cat from a tree in
the garden. After some time he begins to regret the loss of his cat
and looks for another one similar.

Aubrey Beardsley,
Black Cat, 1894-
1895. Illustration to
the Short Stories by
Edgar Allan Poe. ‘The Black Cat’ CD 1 - TR 24
MP3 33

For my own part, I soon found a dislike to it arising within me. This was just the
1. reverse: contrario. reverse1 of what I had anticipated; but I know not how or why it was – its evident
2. the bitterness of fondness for myself rather disgusted and annoyed.
hatred: l’amarezza
dell’odio. By slow degrees, these feelings of disgust and annoyance rose into the
3. unutterable 5 bitterness of hatred2. I avoided the creature; a certain sense of shame, and the
loathing:
indescrivibile remembrance of my former deed of cruelty, preventing me from physically
ripugnanza.
4. deprived: privo. abusing it. I did not, for some weeks, strike, or otherwise violently ill use it; but
5. pertinacity: gradually – very gradually – I came to look upon it with unutterable loathing3,
ostinazione.
6. crouch:
and to flee silently from its odious presence, as from the breath of a pestilence.
rannicchiarsi. 10 What added, no doubt, to my hatred of the beast, was the discovery, on the
7. loathsome:
disgustose. morning after I brought it home, that, like Pluto, it also had been deprived4 of
8. withheld: one of its eyes. This circumstance, however, only endeared it to my wife, who, as
trattenuto.
I have already said, possessed, in a high degree, that humanity of feeling which
9. dread: terrore.
10. feeble remnant of had once been my distinguishing trait, and the source of many of my simplest
the good: quell poco 15 and purest pleasures.
di buono.
With my aversion to this cat, however, its partiality for myself seemed to
increase. It followed my footsteps with a pertinacity5 which it would be difficult
to make the reader comprehend. Whenever I sat, it would crouch6 beneath my
chair, or spring upon my knees, covering me with its loathsome7 caresses. […] At
20 such times, although I longed to destroy it with a blow, I was yet withheld8 from
so doing, partly by a memory of my former crime, but chiefly – let me confess it
at once – by absolute dread9 of the beast.
This dread was not exactly a dread of physical evil – and yet I should be at a loss
how otherwise to define it. […] Beneath the pressure of torments such as these,
25 the feeble remnant of the good10 within me succumbed. Evil thoughts became
my sole intimates – the darkest and most evil of thoughts. The moodiness of my

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usual temper increased to hatred of all things and of all mankind; while, from
the sudden, frequent, and ungovernable outbursts of a fury11 to which I now 11. outbursts of a fury:
scoppi di furia.
blindly abandoned myself, my uncomplaining wife, alas! was the most usual and 12. household errand:
30 the most patient of sufferers. faccenda domestica.
13. throwing me hea
One day she accompanied me, upon some household errand12, into the cellar of dlong: facendomi
ruzzolare a capofitto.
the old building which our poverty compelled us to inhabit. The cat followed me
14. uplifting an axe:
down the steep stairs, and, nearly throwing me headlong13, exasperated me to sollevando un’ascia.
madness. Uplifting an axe14, and forgetting, in my wrath15, the childish dread 15. wrath: furia.
16. goaded: spinto.
35 which had hitherto stayed my hand, I aimed a blow at the animal which, of 17. groan: lamento.
course, would have proved instantly fatal had it descended as I wished. But this 18. loosely: in modo
sconnesso. 229
blow was arrested by the hand of my wife. Goaded16, by the interference, into a
19. crow-bar: piede di

4 / The Romantic Age


rage more than demoniacal, I withdrew my arm from her grasp and buried the porco.
axe in her brain. She fell dead upon the spot, without a groan17. 20. propped it: lo
puntellai.
40 This hideous murder accomplished, I set myself forthwith, and with entire
deliberation, to the task of concealing the body.[…]
For a purpose such as this the cellar was well adapted. Its walls were loosely18
constructed, and had lately been plastered throughout with a rough plaster,
which the dampness of the atmosphere had prevented from hardening. […]
45 By means of a crow-bar19 I easily dislodged the bricks, and, having carefully
deposited the body against the inner wall, I propped it20 in that position, while,
with little trouble, I re-laid the whole structure as it originally stood.[…]

OVER TO YOU
❶ Fill in with the details of the murder.
Place ......................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

Victim ......................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

Weapon ......................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

Reason ......................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

❷ Answer true or false.


1. The narrator is very fond of the second cat. T F
2. The cat is deprived of one eye. T F
3. The narrator’s wife grows attached to the cat. T F
4. The cat inspires joy in the narrator. T F
5. The narrator strikes the cat with an axe. T F
6. The narrator decides to wall the corpse up in the cellar. T F

➌ In what ways was the new cat similar to Pluto?


➍ Where do you think the new cat could be?

REVIEW
❶ Answer the following questions.
1. What Romantic genre influenced Poe’s writing?
2. What form of writing did Poe triumph in?
3. What elements are always present in his tales?
4. Poe’s short story The Balck Cat can be said to be a psychological study of what?

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Today's
Perspective BRITISH AND AMERICAN
LIFESTYLES

230

Popular BBC
British sitcom1
Outnumbered.

Does the ‘typical family’ exist?

BEFORE READING
Try to guess the answers to the following questions about Britain and the US.
Then read the text and see if your predictions were correct.
1. sitcom: telefilm. British American
2. average: media. 1. Size of average2 family …………................................................. ………….................................................
3. rates: tassi. 2. Do they live in apartments or houses? …………................................................. ………….................................................
4. rough idea: un’idea
di massima. 3. What are their favourite
foods and drinks? (3 for each) …………................................................. ………….................................................

4. Most popular sport to watch …………................................................. ………….................................................

5. Most popular sport to practice …………................................................. ………….................................................

6. Most popular hobbies …………................................................. ………….................................................


The characters
of the American
TV show Modern
Family.
Families or households?
In Britain and America it is not easy to find statistics which refer to the ‘average’ family
as the idea of what a family is, or should be, has changed
considerably over the last fifty years. The divorce rates3
in Britain and America now stand at about 40% and 50%
respectively while many couples simply decide not to
marry at all and many women no longer feel the need
to marry to have children. The result is that instead
of speaking of the number of people in a family we
speak more and more of how many people there are
in a ‘household’, that is, how many people live in a
house – this may be a single person/parent, extended
family, divorced parent etc. Lifestyles, therefore, have
changed and are changing constantly. However a rough
idea4 of the average ‘family’ can still be found and it seems
that the number in Britain is 2.3 people, and in the US 3.14.

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231

4 / The Romantic Age


American Film
Little Miss
Sunshine, 2006.

Somewhere to put your feet up


People in Britain and America much prefer to live in houses rather than apartments. 5. patch: pezzetto.
In Britain, in fact, only about 15% of the population live in apartments – or flats as the 6. row: fila.
British call them. The overall tendency is also to buy a house rather than rent and the
money is normally obtained by taking out a loan from a bank, called a mortgage, which
is then paid back over 20 or 25 years. In Britain especially, houses are more popular
because of the British love for their gardens. Even a small patch5 of green will be looked
after with the greatest care and respect and there are endless books and programmes
on TV all advising people how to get the best from their plants and flowers. Gardens in
America are extremely popular too but the Americans generally call a garden a yard.
They tend to be much bigger than those in Britain, especially in the suburbs.
The structure of housing between countries also differs in that the most common
British solution is a semi-detached house. This is a unit of two houses together. There are
then detached houses, which are completely independent and town houses which are
normally a row6 of many houses joined. A young, first-time-buyer may opt for a smaller
solution which is a bed-sit, a small, one-room flat. In the States some people prefer to
live in mobile homes which are literally houses on wheels and can be moved from place
to place. American houses are also often made of wood.
It is very rare for British and American people to stay in the same house all their lives. They
generally move every few years into a bigger house as their mortgages become smaller. It is
quite common for people to move house 4 or 5 times within a 40-year period.

OVER TO YOU
❶ Write the correct description under each house. video
Houses
  /# #*0. Ţ. ($ļ /# #*0. Ţ/*2)#*0.

1. …………………......................................……………. 2. …………………..........................................…………. 3. …………………........................................…………….

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Eat to live or live to eat?
Traditional English food such as roast beef dinners and fish and chips, the
original English take-away served from newspaper with salt and vinegar,
have now been overtaken in popularity by dishes from other countries as
Britain has become more and more cosmopolitan. Indian dishes, along
with Chinese and Italian cuisine, are now just as popular and regularly
eaten by all. The fast food invasion from the USA has also had an impact.
A recent article in the newspaper The Daily Mail speaks of a survey which
revealed how the most popular British meal is now a Chinese stir-fry (fresh
232 vegetables and noodles quickly fried together) which one in five British
people eat at least once a week. This may seem surprising but what is even more
‘Fish nd Chips’ surprising is that this dish pushed into second place an Indian meal, chicken tikka
– the British masala, which had been Britain’s favourite for more than a decade! So what has happened
take-away.
to the traditional dishes? Well, they are still eaten regularly but people are more willing
now to experiment and growing ethnic communities mean that supermarkets are full of
ingredients from all over the world. One of the top British favourites, however, remains
7. lettuce: lattuga. the BLT, or, Bacon’ Lettuce7 and Tomato sandwich which many may have for lunch.
8. on the face of it:
a giudicare dalle The most popular drink in Britain is still tea, generally served with cold milk and sugar,
apparenze. although the popularity of coffee has grown considerably. Beer is still popular above all
9. waistlines: girovita.
with men while wine consumption is growing rapidly as Britain has become one of the
biggest wine importers in the world.
The USA has long had a bad tradition for its consumption of fast foods and take-away dishes
but is this necessarily true? Well, on the face of it8 the average American drinks 30 gallons
of milk a year and 22.5 gallons of bottled water a year – which is good. BUT, the average
American also drinks 50 gallons of soft drinks a year (Coca-cola, Pepsi etc.) which, as we
know, are full of sugar. The top favourite foods for Americans are also not so healthy – cakes,
cookies and doughnuts are the number one favourite. These are closely followed by pizza and
chicken. It is no wonder, then, that American waistlines9 are expanding and an estimated
45-50% of the population is considered obese (obese: at least 15 kg over your optimum
weight).
President Obama’s wife, Michelle, has recently launched a 150 million dollar campaign
against childhood obesity with the aim of introducing one hour of physical activity
every day into 50,000 schools.
‘Only one in three of our kids is active every day,’ said the first lady. ‘That’s not just bad
for their bodies. It’s also bad for their minds, because being less active can actually hurt
kids’ academic performances.’ (from news.com.au)

OVER TO YOU
Michelle Obama
promoting her ❷ Make a list of your 5 favourite dishes then do a class survey and find out the top
program ‘Let’s ten foods for your class.
Move!’
❸ Do some research and find out the percentage of Italians who are obese.
❹ Do you agree with Michelle Obama that physical inactivity can also affect the
mind? Discuss in class and give reasons to justify your answer.
❺ Is there enough opportunity for physical activity in your school or would you
prefer to have more? Discuss.

Sports to watch and sports to do


While Britain gave birth to a range of international sports such as football, rugby, cricket
and boxing these now remain mainly popular spectator sports and about 25 million
people watch football on a regular basis. This is followed by rugby and cricket which
Britain exported to the Commonwealth countries of Australia and India. Sports which

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are practiced regularly are, above all, fishing, swimming, athletics and cycling while 10. workouts:
allenamento.
workouts10 in the gym are becoming more and more popular. 11. stand-off: stallo.
In the USA it is not easy to state the most popular spectator sport as it’s basically a
stand-off11 between baseball and American football. Although millions regularly go to
watch baseball games the Super Bowl football game is the most viewed sporting event
in the country with over 108 million people tuning in for the 2013 game. Basketball and
hockey are also followed by large audiences but when it comes to practising
sports walking, gym workouts and swimming are tops.

Free time is Me time 233


45% of British people’s free time is spent in front of the television. Although this may

4 / The Romantic Age


seem a lot their American counterparts spend even more time ‘in front of the box,’
with a high of 56%, watching more TV than anyone else in the world. When they are not
watching the latest episode of Downtown Abbey both British and Americans spend
their time socializing – 23% and 26% of their time respectively. Quite a significant
number of British people practise sport, taking up 23% of their free time and also
gardening is quite popular. Many Americans, on the other hand, like to play
computer games and will dedicate 8% of their time to this.

REVIEW
➊ Answer true or false.
1. Families have changed a lot in Britain in the last 50 years. T F
2. Marriage is more popular now than in the past. T F
3. American families are bigger than British families. T F Sport to do –
the growing
4. Most people in America live in apartments. T F
popularity of
5. British people like their gardens. T F gyms.
6. A ‘town house’ is a single house. T F
7. The British and Americans often move house. T F
8. The most popular dish in Britain is roast beef. T F
9. A BLT is a popular sandwich. T F
10. The most popular drink in America is milk. T F
11. Michelle Obama is trying to help American kids lose weight. T F
12. Cricket comes from India. T F
13. The Super Bowl is a famous American baseball game. T F Sport to watch –
14. Americans spend most of their free time watching TV. T F a cricket match
in England.
❷ Match an expression on the right with its definition on the left.
1. first English take-away mortgage
2. an apartment with just one room bed-sit
3. the American word for garden fish and chips
4. a funny TV series waistline
5. the people who live in a house (not necessarily the family) sitcom
6. a loan from a bank to buy a house household
7. when you put on weight this increases yard
8. a house on wheels mobile home

❸ Write a paragraph describing the differences and similarities between the


British and American way of life and the Italian way of life. Use the Internet
to compare the Italian statistics.

❹ Which things do you like about the Anglo-saxon lifestyle and which do you
dislike?

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Literature
and Language FIRST CERTIFICATE
IN ENGLISH
Practice Tests

234 FCE Listening


Part 2
CD 1 - TR 25
MP3 34
You are going to hear a talk comparing two inventions which changed the world.
For questions 1-9 complete the notes which summarise what the speaker says.
You will need to write a word or short phrase in each box.

The computer revolution and the Industrial Revolution both resulted in similar
......................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 1

James Watt did not invent the steam engine but he did
......................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 2

Watt’s machine had the advantage of being able to function


......................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 3

The steam engine changed distribution and travel as it was used in


......................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 4

The building of factories meant that workers could no longer


......................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 5

The steam engine did not only change people’s lives but also improved their
......................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 6

In many cases computer technology has completely replaced


......................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 7

In some ways computers have ‘put back the clock’ as people can now work again
......................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 8

The speed of change brought about with computer technology is


......................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 9

Weiner feared that individuals would eventually be controlled by


......................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 10

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Use of English
Part 1
For questions 1-14, read the text below and decide which answer A, B, C or D
best fits each space.

The Slave Trade


235
The slave trade ............................................................... (1) Britain’s colonies ............................................................... (2)

4 / The Romantic Age


in the second half of the 15th century and gradually developed into a profitable market.
Slaves from West Africa were ............................................................... (3) for goods and transported to North
America. Cotton, tobacco and other ............................................................... (4) were then brought back to
England. This triangular route was known
............................................................... (5) the middle-passage and by the 1750s between 80,000 and

100,000 Africans were being taken ............................................................... (6) their villages every year,
making England the world’s biggest slave ............................................................... (7) country.
The rise of humanitarian groups during the Industrial Revolution, demanding social
(8) throughout the lower classes, began to nag at the country’s
...............................................................

ever-growing conscience and draw ............................................................... (9) to this issue.


The Anti-Slavery Society was one such group, ............................................................... (10) in 1787, and the
member of parliament William Wilberforce became ............................................................... (11) leading
spokesman. Wilberforce was a friend of the prime minister, William Pitt the Younger,
and ............................................................... (12) despite Pitt’s support the slave trade was not totally
abolished ............................................................... (13) 1833. In the end it was Wilberforce’s moral and
not political argument which ............................................................... (14) Parliament.

1. A under B around C in D for


2. A was B began C first D initial
3. A taken B changed C stolen D exchanged
4. A goods B examples C specimens D objects
5. A similar B like C as D for
6. A out B from C into D near
7. A buying B selling C dealing D trading
8. A difference B reform C need D help
9. A attention B attraction C focus D emphasis
10. A initiated B formed C made D started
11. A our Ba C its D this
12. A yet B though C with D as
13. A in B when C until D after
14. A determined B stated C convinced D warned

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Literature
and Language Use of English
Part 4
For questions 1-15, read the text below and look carefully at each line.
Some of the lines are correct and some have a word which should not be there. If a line
is correct put a tick (√) at the end of the line. If a line has a word which should not be
there write the word in the space at the end of the line. There is one example at the
beginning.
236

Romanticism: a controversial word


0. The term ‘Romantic’ nowadays today has come to mean
so many things today
...................................

1. that it almost seems to void of any true meaning.


By briefly tracing the ...................................

2. origins of this word we can see so why it is often misinterpreted. ...................................

3. In the Middle Ages ‘romance’ was the word given to the vernacular ...................................

4. languages, by this we mean those the languages derived from Latin. ...................................

5. ‘Romancar’ was one of the terms used for the person who he wrote ...................................

6. in those languages, and, as of a consequence, ‘romance’ and ‘romanzo’...................................

7. were the works they produced. A ‘romance’ was an imaginative, ...................................

8. popular work. By the 17th century the term ‘romance’ had been
become ...................................

9. associated with the fanciful and bizarre. In France ‘romantique’ ...................................

10. meant tender, gentle, sentimental or sad and it was by in this


way that it ...................................

11. came to be was used in English in the second half of the 18th century. ...................................

12. Some critics held that Romanticism started in England, when


Wordsworth ...................................

13. and Coleridge published then the ‘Preface’ to Lyrical Ballads in 1800. ...................................

14. But it was not until 1860 that the term was all accepted as a
collective ...................................

15. definition for the poetry of both Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge,


Byron, ...................................

Shelley and Keats.

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Speaking FCE
Part 4
Be prepared to speak about 1 of the following for 4 minutes.
The countryside was the ideal place for the Romantic writers
to obtain inspiration and the observation of beautiful, natural
landscapes gave the poets pleasure and joy.

237
1. What do you find particularly inspiring? Choose from the following.

4 / The Romantic Age


1. certain things in nature (specify)
2. a particular kind of music
3. playing a musical instrument
4. being in a particular place
5. anything else.

2. Look at these two photos. How would you describe the effects the snow
has on buildings, objects and landscapes in the town and country?

3. Which of these scenes do you find more ‘inspiring’ and why?

1. Lake in Canada 2. A Tropical beach 3. New York at night

4. a) How much time do you spend in the real outdoors surrounded by nature?
1. every day (my family has a garden)
2. only at weekends
3. only sometimes (on holiday)
b) Would you like to have more contact with nature or do you feel more
attracted to the city?

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In Short The Romantic Age (1760-1837)

THE HISTORICAL BACKGROUND THE LITERARY CONTEXT

The Age of Revolutions Towards the age of sensibility


ű/# American Revolution (1775) Late 18th-century literary styles began to change. Pre-
ű/# French Revolution (1789) Romantic and Romantic tendencies were anticipated by
ű/# Industrial Revolution the German revolutionary movement known as Sturm und
238 Drang (Storm and Stress), late 18th century, which rebelled
George III (1760-1820) against Classicism, focusing on the individual and on
Aimed at increasing control over the country with the help feelings and passion.
of prime minister William Pitt the Younger. Policies were An intellectual, social and political ferment encouraged writers
conservative at home and abroad. to seek new modes of expression; they gave great relevance
to emotions and imagination; the inner self had the power to
Napoleonic wars interpret reality; dreams and visions, sometimes evoked with
British victories at Battle of Trafalgar (1805) and Battle the help of drugs, became a source of inspiration.
of Waterloo (1815). But wars left England depressed with Central topics: nature and childhood.
unemployment and poverty. Poet took on the role of a prophet or teacher, but at the
same time wanted to be understood by everyone.
Industrial Revolution
The Pre-Romantic poets
Less work in the countryside led to more workers in the
towns. Thomas Gray (1716-71)
Two new social classes began to emerge: the ‘Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard’ (1751) is classical in
entrepreneurs and the workers. Both groups had no land form but has novelties, such as a new interest in the lives
and were therefore not represented in Parliament. The of humble people, which became typical of Romanticism.
new entrepreneurs were also new employers. Workers
were exploited, made to work in extreme conditions often William Blake (1757-1827)
for up to 16 hours a day. Wages were low and children Poet and painter, was a forerunner of the Romantic
were also employed in the same conditions as adults. poets. Poetry is easy to understand, but includes visionary
The entrepreneurs and proletariat soon became hostile elements and symbolism. Best-known for work Songs of
enemies. Innocence and of Experience (1794).

William IV (1830-37) First Generation Romantic poets


Time of reforms: William Wordsworth (1770-1850)
Ų%./0!"+.)%(( (1832) Main work: the Lyrical Ballads (1798), together with Coleridge.
Ų0+.50(1833) It became the manifesto of English Romanticism.
Ų++.3)!* )!*00(1834) Key concepts: in his poetry the poet becomes the subject.
The poet is a prophet and a spiritual guide for everyone.
The American War of Independence Language: clear, the common language of all men.
Broke out in 1775. Causes: discontent in the American Topics: childhood, the life of humble people, memories
colonies and a growing demand for greater administrative and emotions recollected.
and economic independence. Things began to precipitate
when the British government passed a series of restrictive Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834)
laws against the colonies. The war lasted eight years and Main work: The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (1798), written in
saw the defeat of the British. the form of a ballad and made up of seven parts.
The Treaty of Paris (1783). With this Britain acknowledged Key concepts: primary imagination (at the basis of
the independence of the United States of America. knowledge) and secondary imagination (it can shape new
worlds), fancy (it transforms what we perceive).
Gothic and supernatural elements. The mariner can be
interpreted as the wandering Jew.

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Second Generation Romantic poets American literature
Lord Byron (1788-1824) Strongly influenced by Puritanism.
Main work: Don Juan (1819-1824) an unfinished poem. Juan is Main themes: the concept of the self-made man and the
a friendly character, represented with satire and irony. still wild and unexplored environment of the country.
Became famous all over Europe. His tales are rich in gothic
and Romantic elements. Edgar Allan Poe (1809-49)
He created and tried to embody the figure of the Byronic Main work: Tales of the Grotesque and of the Arabesque (1840).
hero: intelligent, confident, proud rebellious and Influenced by the gothic tradition, he explored the
abnormally sensitive. psychology of anguish and terror. Master of the short
story. 239
John Keats (1795-1821)

4 / The Romantic Age


Main work: ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’ (1819). A rich and
refined language, the poet is seen as endowed with
negative capability (capable of living in uncertainties and
doubt) and having a heightened perception of reality.
Central theme: the contemplation of beauty. Beauty is
also seen as a form of knowledge.

Prose
The gothic novel typically includes terror, mystery and the
supernatural. Gothic buildings like castles, mansions and
monasteries create the setting for the action in the Middle
Ages, and in foreign countries. Main characters: usually
simple and ‘one dimensional’ or flat, divided into good
and evil. Most famous work: The Castle of Otranto (1764) by
Horace Walpole. The gothic novel had a great influence on
the history of literature with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein,
Edgar Allan Poe’s Tales, etc.

Mary Shelley (1797-1851)


Main work: Frankenstein (1818). It belongs to the Gothic
tradition, but differs from it in several ways (it does not
contain supernatural elements and is not set in a castle).
Structure: a combination of different voices and texts.
Themes: the pursuit of knowledge, the responsibility of
scientists, the solitude of the monster (who can be seen as
a symbol for all those alienated in some way from society).

Jane Austen (1775-1817)


Main work: Pride and Prejudice (1813). Representative of the
novel of manners. Characterisation and plot play a major
role in this novel.
Austen employs a polished and elegant style characterised
by wit and irony and is extremely skilful at orchestrating
conversation.
Main themes: the complexities of people and their
relationships.

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Easy for you The Romantic Age (1760-1837)

HISTORY
1. Le seguenti immagini rappresentano alcuni importanti eventi storici del
Romanticismo. Scrivi sotto ogni immagine l’evento a cui si riferisce scegliendo
tra le alternative proposte.
 M KFF³&!$+&Þ¹ɤ ɤ&ɤ&!"!+ɤ$ ' $L½ ³$  (!'&ɤ! !MJKL
240 ½ !ɤ&ɤ! !
($+MKFF½ $ɤ $! "  MJJH½  '%&$ɤ
(!'&ɤ! ½"!! ɤ%&&&°&&!&$!!MKMH

1. ............................................................................................................................................................ 2. ..........................................................................................................................................................

3. ............................................................................................................................................................ 4. ..........................................................................................................................................................

5. ............................................................................................................................................................ 6. ..........................................................................................................................................................

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2. Sottolinea le alternative corrette nelle seguenti frasi.
1. As there were so many revolutions in this period the prime minister of the time, William Pitt
the Younger, repressed any form of revolt in England / was in favour of revolution.
2. The Industrial Revolution of the time meant that people moved from the country to the towns
/ more people worked in agriculture.
3. The poor conditions in factories finally resulted in the passing of many reforms to improve the
workers’ conditions / a revolution from the workers.
4. After the American War of Independence Abraham Lincoln / George Washington became the
first president. 241

4 / The Romantic Age


5. England began to reduce its colonial power / expand its colonial power in this period.

3. Scegli la risposta corretta.


1. Many people moved to towns and cities in this period to
escape from the plague (la peste)
find work in the factories
find better houses
2. Women in this period
were paid lower wages than men
were paid higher wages than men
did not need to work
3. Homeless people often went to live in
hostels
workhouses
factories
4. The Native American Indians were
almost exterminated
treated with respect
integrated into society
5. Slavery for Britain had become
a profitable trade
an unimportant trade
Britain did not sell slaves
6. During this period social problems
decreased
were easy to solve
increased
7. At first the government believed it was better
to help the people working in factories
to only help poor people
not to help anyone

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Easy for you

8. The conditions of houses in this period were


much better
very bad
improving
242

LITERATURE
4. Rispondi alle seguenti domande.
1. What was the most predominant artistic expression in this period? Choose:
Prose
Art
Poetry
2. Which Romantic writer accompanied his work with paintings and illustrations?
................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

3. Which Romantic writer was called ‘Lord’?


................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

4. Which famous gothic novel featuring a monster was written by Mary Shelley?
................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

5. Name a famous female writer of the period who wrote ‘novels of manners’.
................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

6. The three poets of the Second Generation, Byron, Shelley and Keats all had two things in
common. What?
................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

5. Quali tra le seguenti immagini avrebbero ispirato gli scrittori del Romanticismo?

1. 2.

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243

4 / The Romantic Age


3. 4.

6. Rispondi True (vero) oppure False (falso).


1. For the Romantics imagination was more important than reason. T F

2. These writers wanted to write objectively. T F

3. They were against all forms of freedom. T F

4. They wanted their writings to be understood by everyone. T F

5. Drama was a very important feature of the period. T F

6. The gothic novel focused on the supernatural. T F

7. American literature became less important in this period. T F

8. Puritanism influenced American literature in the period. T F

CLASS SURVEY
7. Scopri chi è il poeta romantico più conosciuto nella tua classe e perché.

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General Overview

THE HISTORICAL BACKGROUND and ................................................ (4) landscapes. His style was
❶ Answer the following questions. innovative: he adopted a ................................................ (5) and
1. What were the three important revolutions common language in order to make his poetry
that occured in this age? comprehensible to everybody.
2. Who defeated Napoleon’s navy at the Battle of
Trafalgar? SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE
3. What were England’s problems after the
244 Napoleonic wars? ❻ Answer true or false.
4. What were the positive and the negative 1. He wrote the Lyrical Ballads together
consequences of the Industrial Revolution? with John Keats. T F

5. Who was the first president of the United 2. The Rime of the Ancient Mariner was
States of America? written in the ballad form. T F

6. Did the Native Indians have the same rights as 3. The poem’s language is rich in archaisms. T F

the Americans? 4. The Ancient Mariner is a young man. T F


5. In the poem an albatross appears. T F
THE LITERARY CONTEXT
LORD BYRON
❷ Answer the following questions.
1. Which German movement anticipated English ❼ Answer true or false.
Romanticism? 1. Byron had an uneventful life. T F
2. What were the two key words of the Romantic 2. He became very famous in Europe
movement? as well as England. T F
3. What role did the poet have in the Romantic Age? 3. He created the figure of the Byronic hero. T F
4. What were the most important themes? 4. Don Juan is a dark and mysterious
5. Which three types of novel developed in this period? figure like Byron himself. T F

6. Who were the most important representatives


of Romantic American literature? JOHN KEATS

THOMAS GRAY ❽ What characterises Keats’s poetry? Choose


(more than one is possible).
❸ Answer true or false. refined language
1. Thomas Gray’s poetry was entirely interest in the world of art and dreams
Romantic. T F
supernatural elements
2. The language of the poem ‘Elegy Written everyday life
in a Country Churchyard’
is complex and rich in imagery. T F
personal relationships
3. The poem is a meditation on death. T F
4. It centres on the lives of aristocratic JANE AUSTEN
people. T F
❾ Answer true or false.
1. Austen concentrated on historical
WILLIAM BLAKE events in her novels. T F

❹ Answer true or false. 2. She had a very adventurous life. T F

1. During his lifetime Blake was recognised 3. She dealt with human relationships
as a famous poet. T F in her novels. T F

2. Blake used simple and direct language 4. Her works are still very popular today. T F
in his poetry. T F
3. His poetry is rich in symbols. T F MARY SHELLEY
4. Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience
were two separate unrelated collections 10 Answer the following questions.
of poetry. T F 1. What genre does Frankenstein belong to?
2. What are the main themes of Frankenstein?
WILLIAM WORDSWORTH 3. What form does the novel take?

❺ Complete the following passage. EDGAR ALLAN POE


Wordsworth collaborated with the poet
............................................... (1). His main work was
11 Answer the following questions.
1. What sort of stories did Poe write?
................................................ (2), and deals with the following
2. What does his work often deal with?
themes: ................................................ (3) of humble people 3. What nationality was he?

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5 THE VICTORIAN AGE
(1837-1901)

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THE VICTORIAN AGE (1837-1901)
THE HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

The key words


A period of optimism
for the period Queen Victoria reigned from 1837-1901 and is Britain’s longest reigning monarch.
were: optimism, Her reign is one of the most interesting and complex periods of British history due to its
respectability
246 and modernity. internal contrasts and transformations. During the Victorian Age Britain was to become
the wealthiest and most powerful nation in the world, with an empire that would cover
one quarter of the earth’s surface and was inhabited by around 400 million people. In 1876
Queen Victoria took the title Empress of India, another expression of Britain’s might.
The Battle of Waterloo in 1815 saw Napoleon’s final defeat leaving Britain in an
unchallenged position of dominance that was to last until the 20th century. Britain was
also one of the few countries to remain relatively untroubled by the revolutions which
affected many European countries in the 1800s.

Victorian society
At the beginning of the 19th century the upper class was built upon the old
aristocracy. It still held major political power in the country although the middle class
was slowly gaining more and more power. The working class remained excluded
from the political process and grew hostile towards the upper class.
In the course of the century the middle class expanded, covering a broad spectrum
of professionals, it soon became divided into sub-strata, lower-middle class,
Queen Victoria, mid-middle class and upper-middle class.
official portrait The sub-strata reflected the importance of a person’s professional status and
during the Golden
Jubilee, 1887.
earning ability. So we would have the shopkeeper in the lower-middle class
Oleography. section, lawyers and doctors in the upper-middle section and factory owners and
entrepreneurs in the middle section.
Those belonging to the working class were exploited and lived in extreme poverty.
This stratification of society remained intact until the outbreak of the First
World War, but even today English people are haunted by the class system
which seems, by now, to be rooted in their culture.
As far as women are concerned the prevailing ideology of the time
portrayed women as ‘angels of the home’. The woman was expected to be
the perfect mother, wife and hostess.

1859
Darwin’s
On the Origin of Species

1837 1848
Queen Victoria comes Chartism ends
to the throne at the
age of 18

1851 1853-56
Great Exhibition Crimean War
1838 at Crystal Palace
Chartist Movement
established

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William Clark, The
Millyard, from Ten
Views in the Island
of Antigua, 1823.
Hand-coloured
lithograph; Private
Collection.
The attitude of the
British towards
the people living in
their colonies was
one of superiority
(they saw it
as their ‘duty 247
to civilise the
savages’) but there

5 / The Victorian Age


was obviously
a very practical
reason for this:
the dominated
countries could
supply resources,
labour and new
The Victorian compromise markets which
The Victorian Age was a complex and contradictory era, an age which saw on the one England needed
for its growing
hand prosperity and economic ease, on the other poverty and huge social problems. industries.
The middle class showed optimism and faith in progress, but as the century unfolded
it became more and more evident that progress could not solve all of society’s problems
and could actually give rise to many more. As a result this became a period of great
compromise; not only for those who did not want to see the negative aspects of the The Enclosure Acts
(1750) had been
reality around them, but also between middle-class morality and corruption, between passed whereby
faith and science (in particular, the theory of evolution), between an exasperating open farmland (the
liberalism and the conditions of the working class and finally between widespread open-field system),
that was previously
industrialisation and a nostalgic desire to return to nature and the countryside. used freely by
common people,
Economic development and social change was enclosed with
hedges or fences.
The growth of industry and manufacturing went hand in hand with the increasing This land would
difficulties in agriculture. These difficulties were essentially due to the earlier now belong to one
or more private
→ Enclosure Acts and the Corn Laws, which kept the price of bread artificially high. owners, who would
As a result people in need of work were forced to migrate from the country to the towns. then enjoy the
By 1890 England became the first country in the world to have more urban than rural fruits of the land to
the exclusion of the
dwellers, only 50 years earlier it had been predominantly rural. Industry employed many poor, who owned
of these workers but such an intensive movement of people in such a relatively short no property.
period of time had dramatic social consequences. Housing was scarce, badly built and

1870
Forster Education Act 1893
(elementary education Independent Labour
becomes compulsory Party formed
and free) 1880-81 1901
First Boer War Queen Victoria dies

1884 1899-1902
1876 Third Reform Act Second Boer War
Queen Victoria (extends the vote
1867 named Empress of India
Second Reform Act to working men)
(extends the vote
to householders and landowners)

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sanitation practically non-existent. Working conditions were also extreme as, despite
the Factory Acts, workers still had few rights. Towns became associated with illness,
drink and prostitution. The doctrine of ‘laissez-faire’ of the previous century was still
sacrosanct and there was little or no state interference in the lives of individuals, a
principle defended by respected Victorian intellectuals such as John Stuart Mill. Karl
Marx (1818-83) and Friedrich Engels (1820-95) drew attention to the injustices and
inequalities in society as the growing scale of these problems made them impossible
to ignore. Their words did not go unnoticed and many important social reforms were
introduced in this period.
248
The political parties of the period
The Victorian era was dominated by two main political parties, the Whigs and the
The final years of Tories. Both parties changed their names during the period: the Whigs becoming
the Victorian Age
were politically known as the Liberal party and the Tories as the Conservative party. The two outstanding
absorbed by the Liberal leaders were Lord Palmerston (1784-1865) and William Gladstone (1809-98).
many problems The Conservative party had two prominent leaders in this period, Sir Robert Peel (1788-1850)
connected to Irish
Home Rule and and Benjamin Disraeli (1804-81), who encouraged his party to become more open
the complicated towards social and parliamentary change.
path towards a
political settlement
between England Workers’ rights and Chartism
and Ireland. Although the class system was never questioned, the working class did begin to demand
more rights, especially the right to vote. The First Reform Bill of 1832 had excluded
them by giving the vote exclusively to property owners. The workers began to organise
themselves into a movement to demand the vote for all men, this movement became
known as Chartism because of the petitions, or charters, which they presented to the
government. Theirs was a hard battle with many violent clashes against the forces of
law and order. However, despite the government’s rejection of three of their charters the
Third Reform Bill of 1884 finally gave the right to vote to all male workers – labourers,
farmers and miners. It was a big step for democracy but it was not until 1918 that all men,
regardless of their occupation, would have the right to vote.
More equality was also given in reforms such as the Married Women’s Property Act (1882),
the Matrimonial Causes Act (1857) and the Right to Vote in Borough Elections (1888).
The right to vote in general elections, however, would not be granted until 1928.

British colonialism and the making of the Empire


The 19th century saw British colonial expansion in Africa. This had originally begun
with slave trading posts but was later, after the abolition of slavery, developed by
To know more missionaries and commercial activities. These activities spread to Egypt and the Sudan
about Australia see
→ pp. 302-303. but South Africa was more difficult to control because of hostility from the Afrikaaners
(Dutch settlers) which led to the Boer Wars (1880-81, 1899-1902). → Australia was initially
colonised as a penal settlement for criminals. New Zealand was colonised in 1840
just before the French took hold, followed by Hong Kong in 1841 which, along with
Singapore, were fast becoming the greatest ports in Asia. With Gibraltar, Malta and
Cyprus Britain had a protected sea passage right through to the Suez Canal, which
Britain partly owned from 1875. The colonies were supervised from 1801 by the India
Office and the Colonial Office, which became a separate government department in
1854. They were generally self-governing and in each territory there was a governor who
represented the British Crown and would appoint local officials to help introduce laws
and advise on government issues.

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The railways
Stephenson’s building of the first locomotive (the Rocket) in 1829 not only affected
industry but contributed to bringing about the → ‘railway revolution’ which exploded In America the
in the Victorian period. By the 1870s trains could arrive virtually anywhere in Britain. trans-continental
This had an effect not only on the transportation of goods but on the lives of every railway of 1869
opened up the
individual in the country. The railways broke down the barriers between town and area even more
country, making both more accessible. Travel, for the sake of recreation, influenced all to new settlers.
social classes with seaside towns, such as Brighton and Blackpool, becoming more and This had tragic
consequences
more popular. It was thanks to the railways that the Great Exhibition of 1851 at Crystal for the Native
Palace in London was so popular. Indians who saw 249
their territory and

5 / The Victorian Age


lifestyle being
snatched away from
The beginnings of the United States them.
During the early 1800s new settlers in America began to occupy the southwest areas
and extensively farm cotton, sugar and tobacco. To do this they depended on slaves
for labour. By 1804 many northern states began to abolish slavery, as public opinion
began to condemn it worldwide, but the southern states were adamant that it should
continue. In 1860 Abraham Lincoln won the presidential elections on the grounds of
his strong opposition to slavery. The southern states saw seccession as their only option.
Eleven southern states left the Union and formed the Confederacy. This division
resulted in the Civil War which broke out in 1861. Thousands of lives were lost before
the south surrendered in 1865. The slaves were freed but prejudices lingered, white man
against black man, southerner against northerner. Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in
1865 was evidence of the on-going tensions.
The new president, Ulysses Grant, elected in 1868, aimed at restoring peace and unity
and the years leading up to the 1900s saw a quickly evolving country. The north was by
now fully industrialised and the south had re-built its economy. Foreign immigration
intensified and aided continuous growth.
The west, which had seen a → rapid flow of settlers following the ‘gold rush’ of 1848, saw
its population expand around its industries and large companies. People moved in to Cattle rearing,
on the extensive
mine not only gold but also other minerals. prairies, saw the
In the last years of 1800 Hawaii was peacefully annexed in 1898 but in the same year golden age of the
McKinley was forced to declare war with Spain over its increasing oppression in Cuba. As cowboy.
a result, America gained the Philippines and Puerto Rico but chose to leave Cuba to form
its own republic. It was the beginning of American Imperialism.

Henry Pyall after


Thomas Talbot
Bury, View of the
Railway across Chat
Moss, the crossing
of Chat Moss by
the Liverpool
and Manchester
Railway, 1831.
Aquatint;
Stapleton
Collection
(the original
watercolour
picture by T.T.
Bury is in the
National Railway
Museum).

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OVER TO YOU
❶ Choose the correct alternative.
1. Queen Victoria reigned from
1837 to 1920 1801 to 1837 1837 to 1901
2. The Victorian period for Britain was one of
wealth and decline and little economic
prosperity stagnation change
3. By the 1900s the British Empire covered
1/5 of the earth 1/4 of the earth 1/2 of the earth
250
4. During this period there was mass migration
from the countryside to the towns
from the towns to the countryside

❷ What were the three main social classes which existed in the Victorian Age?
1. ...................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

2. ...................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

3. ...................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

❸ How long did this stratification in Victorian society last?


❹ What were the main political parties?
❺ Read the passages regarding the workers’ rights, British colonialism and the
railways. Choose the correct alternative.
1. Chartism was
a government a working class a system of laws
policy movement
2. The Boer Wars originated in
Australia India South Africa
3. The prevailing image of the Victorian woman was
unrealistic realistic scandalous
4. The expansion of the railways
affected everyone affected industry affected rich
people

❻ Read the part regarding the United States and tick true or false.
1. The states which wanted to abolish slavery were in the south. T F

2. Civil War broke out in 1861. T F

3. Abraham Lincoln wanted to abolish slavery. T F

4. The last state to be annexed was Alaska. T F

WRITER’S CORNER
❼ Which aspect of the Victorian period do you find the most interesting? In pairs,
choose one to research on the Internet or divide the class into groups, each
group developing one of the following.
 ű0 )$/*-$ĺ# -'$! )!($'4
 ű# .*$'*)$/$*).$)$/*-$)/*2).)$/$ .
 ű# .+- *!/# (+$-
 ű-2$)Ɔ.$(+/
 ű-*0/$*))/# $)0./-$'**(
 ű# -$'24.

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VICTORIAN LITERATURE
THE LITERARY CONTEXT

The novel
The novel is the literary genre which best represents the ethical, religious and
social values of the Victorian Age. The major novels dealt with the most important
themes of the time such as the problems associated with industrialisation and
philanthropy. The typical Victorian novel had an omniscient narrator and the plots
251
were long, complicated but linear. The characters were also central to the plot and the

5 / The Victorian Age


Bildungsroman was a form adapted in different ways by Victorian novelists such as
Charlotte Brontë, Charles Dickens and George Eliot.
The novel was seen as the most valid instrument in literature to interpret the human
condition in the modern world. At the same time, however, it maintained its role of
entertainment for the middle-class reader, who showed a preference for stories that
depicted reality but also offered a certain amount of escapism from daily life.
The great success of the novel in this period can be put down to two main factors. To
begin with there was an ever-growing number of people who were able and wanted
Francis Donkin
Bedford, The Book
Shop, from The
Book of Shops,
1899. Coloured
litograph;
Stapleton
Collection.

1838 Charles Dickens 1847 Emily Brontë 1860 Emily Dickinson


Oliver Twist Wuthering Heights ‘A Narrow Fellow
in the Grass’
1841 Robert Browning
‘My Last Duchess’ 1851 Herman Melville 1865 Walt Whitman
Moby Dick ‘O Captain! My Captain’

1847 Charlotte Brontë 1860-61 Charles Dickens


Jane Eyre Great Expectations
1871-72
1841 Alfred, Lord 1855 Walt Whitman George Eliot
Tennyson ‘Ulysses’ Leaves of Grass Middlemarch

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to read. The popular idea of publishing works in installments in newspapers and
magazines reduced their costs, making them more accessible. It also created an on-
going interest in the plot and how it would develop (similar to today’s TV soap operas).
Increasing profit was another factor contributing to the success of the novel. To satisfy
public taste there were many different genres available: from historical to psychological,
from philosophical to sentimental, from adventurous to social.
Victorian writers can be divided into three groups: the early Victorians like Charles
Dickens who dealt with social and humanitarian themes; the mid-Victorians among
whom the most outstanding writers were women such as the Brontë sisters, George
Eliot and Elizabeth Gaskell; the late Victorians, whose best representatives are Thomas
252
Hardy and Oscar Wilde.

The early and mid-Victorians


Charles Dickens (1812-70) is the best example of an early Victorian writer. He is also
one of the most famous writers in English literature and one of the most outstanding
novelists of the 19th century. In his novels he used realism to deal with the social
Robert William
Buss, Dickens’s problems of his time; problems stemming from poverty, bad housing and inadequate
Dream, 1875. education. Despite these oppressive themes his novels are rarely tragic as they had a
Watercolour and
pencil; Dickens’s strong moralistic purpose that almost inevitably led to a happy ending, as good would
House, London. triumph over evil.
Other famous early Victorian writers were: William Makepeace Thackeray (1811-63)
who, in his novel Vanity Fair, portrayed the society of the time by focusing on the
upper-middle class and Elizabeth Gaskell (1810-65) who wrote novels dealing with the
conflicts between employers and workers.
The most important mid-Victorians were the Brontë sisters, Charlotte (1816-55) and
Emily (1818-48), who did not focus their interest on social issues; their novels, partly
influenced by the gothic tradition, explored the sphere of individual feelings
and emotions. Charlotte wrote Jane Eyre (1847), the story of a poor orphan who
goes through many trials and tribulations before finally marrying happily at
the end of the novel. Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights (1847) is considered one
of the greatest novels in English literature.
George Eliot (1819-80), author of the novel Middlemarch is the other great
female writer of the Victorian Age and her novels dealt with ethical conflicts
and social issues. She is often considered the pioneer of psychological fiction.

1886 R.L. Stevenson


Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

1876 Mark Twain 1891 Oscar Wilde 1913


Tom Sawyer The Picture of Dorian Gray George Bernard Shaw
1894 Rudyard Kipling Pygmalion
The Jungle Book

1881 Henry James 1891 Thomas Hardy


The Portrait of a Lady Tess of the d’Urbervilles

1890 Emily Dickinson 1895 Oscar Wilde


Poems The Importance of Being Earnest

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The late Victorians
In the later years of the century the literary atmosphere underwent a profound change.
With Thomas Hardy (1840-1928), Victorian optimism which had characterised the first
half of the century was replaced by a bleak fatalism. His most famous novel is Tess of
the d’Urbervilles (1891) in which the protagonist, the beautiful Tess, becomes the victim
of the powers of fate. American author, Henry James (1843-1916), interpreted in novels
like The Portrait of a Lady (1881), the complex relationship between English and American
society. With Henry James the novel took on a rare psychological depth. He anticipated
the modernist movement of the 20th century questioning works and narrative
principles such as point of view and the role of the narrator. Several of his novels were 253
experimental in style.

5 / The Victorian Age


Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-94) became popular for his adventure novels, the most
famous being Treasure Island (1883). He also wrote one of the most memorable novels in
English literature, the mysterious and, for the Victorian period, symbolic story Dr Jekyll
and Mr Hyde (1886). Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) was born in Bombay and studied in
England. His experiences in India became, for him, the basis of his literary production.
In his famous The Jungle Book (1894), he focuses on the theme of the ‘native’ who is
forced to adapt to western civilisation. He is considered one of the main representatives
of the colonialist view that the British had the duty of ‘civilising’ other peoples they
considered inferior, and often against their will.

Aestheticism
During the last decade of the 19th century a literary and artistic movement developed
in England: the Aesthetic Movement, which had started in the 1870s with the Pre-
Raphaelites (a group of painters).
Aestheticism was not only a literary movement in search of new forms of expression,
but it also represented an attempt to draw attention to the hypocrisies of Victorian
values and institutions. ‘Art for art’s sake’ became the motto of this movement which
saw beauty and art as being above all else.
The most outstanding representative of this movement in English literature was
→ Oscar Wilde (1854-1900). His literary brilliance and eccentricity made him one of the
most dominant personalities in the fashionable salons of London and Paris. Tragically Oscar Wilde’s
novel The Picture
he was destined to end his life alone and in poverty after being tried and imprisoned for of Dorian Gray
homosexuality. (1891) is generally
considered the
manifesto of
the Aesthetic
Movement. His
witty comedies,
such as The
Importance of
Being Earnest
(1895) are among
the finest
achievements of
Victorian theatre.

Dante Gabriel
Rossetti,
The Bower
Meadow, 1872.
Oil on canvas;
Manchester
Art Galleries,
Manchester.

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Victorian poetry
In contrast with the Romantic Age, which saw poetry as the predominant literary
genre, the Victorian period does not have a cohesive group of poets. The two main poets
of the time were → Alfred, Lord Tennyson and Robert Browning.
Alfred, Lord
Tennyson Other important poets of the time were the Jesuit priest, Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-89),
(1809-92) was not one of the most experimental of the Victorian poets, Christina Rossetti (1830-94), the
only one of the artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s sister, Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-61) married to
greatest poets
of the Victorian Robert Browning, whose most famous poems, however, are those inspired by the love
era, but also for her husband.
254 one of the most
representative
figures of the Victorian theatre
time. In spite of the advances in stage design and the popularity of the theatres, which were
Robert Browning attended mainly by the city workers, the theatre in the Victorian Age cannot boast any
(1812-89) was
the creator of great playwrights except for the two dramatists writing at the end of the century, Oscar
the dramatic Wilde (1854-1900) and George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950). It is interesting to note that the
monologue, most popular plays at the time were those by Shakespeare.
which aimed at
producing an
objective yet The American Renaissance
moving form of The period between 1850 and 1855 is commonly called the American Renaissance as
poetry in which
he wanted to some of the greatest American works of literature were published at this time.
express man’s Nathaniel Hawthorne’s (1804-64) works focus on the theme of the origins of evil and of
life and inner the struggle between good and evil. Set against the background of 17th-century America
conflicts. The
use of different his great novel, The Scarlet Letter (1850), centres on the relationship between a judge and
registers in his a witch – sin and the need of expiation.
poetry detaches After spending two years completely alone near the river Walden, Henry Thoreau (1817-62)
him from the
Romantic describes his experience of solitude and reflection in his work Walden or The Life in the
tradition of Wood (1854).
poetry and makes The most famous novel published in this period was by Herman Melville (1819-91).
him a precursor
of 20th-century Moby Dick (1851) narrates the story of the captain of a ship, Ahab, and his race to capture
poets like T.S. and kill a mysterious white whale.
Eliot.
Novelists in the second half of the century
While the United States was transforming with incredible rapidity, slowly taking on the role
of a world power, new authors asserted themselves such as Mark Twain and Kate Chopin.
Mark Twain, a pseudonym for Samuel Langhorne Clemens (1835-1910), started work as
a journalist but later went on to write novels, successfully publishing Tom Sawyer (1876)
and Huckleberry Finn (1884), in which he tells the picaresque stories of two boys during
their happy but dramatic childhoods in pre-civil war America.
In The Awakening (1899) → Kate Chopin (1851-1904) speaks of one woman’s desire to free
Kate Chopin,
born Katherie herself of the social restrictions of her period. It is a lucid and beautiful analysis of the
O’Flaherty (1851- condition of women at the time, provoking huge scandal.
1904) was an
American author
of short stories Poetry
and novels. Walt Whitman (1819-92) was a believer in democracy, inspired by the Romantic idea
of the poet as a prophet and bard. In his Leaves of Grass (1855) he spoke of his emotional
and sexual experiences through the use of free verse and a language which is generally
considered non conventional.
Emily Dickinson (1830-86), probably the greatest American female poet and one of the major
modern poets, dealt with themes such as love, nature and death transforming everything
which may seem overpowering and remote into something humble and familiar.

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OVER TO YOU
❶ Answer true or false.
1. In the Victorian Age the novel was the most popular genre. T F

2. Poetry played a minor role in comparison with prose. T F

3. The Aesthetic Movement started in the second part of the century. T F

4. All Victorian writers concentrated on realism in their novels. T F

❷ What were the functions of the novel? Complete the following using one or
more words.
The novel dealt with ...................................................................... (1), it interpreted .................................................................. (2)
and it maintained the role of ................................................................................ (3). 255

5 / The Victorian Age


❸ Why was the novel so successful?
❹ What was the attitude of most Victorian novelists?
❺ Complete the following using one or more words.
The most important early Victorian writer was .......................................................... (1). He used
.......................................................... (2) to deal with the outstanding .......................................................... (3) problems.
Other important writers were .......................................................... (4) and .......................................................... (5).
Among the mid Victorians three female writers are to be remembered:
the .......................................................... (6) sisters and George .......................................................... (7). Towards the end
of the century the literary ‘feeling’ changed; with Thomas Hardy Victorian optimism
was replaced by .......................................................... (8). Henry James interpreted the complex
relationship between ........................................................ (9). He anticipated the ........................................................ (10).

❻ Link each author with the title of his work.


1. Henry James The Jungle Book
2. Robert Louis Stevenson The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
3. Rudyard Kipling The Portrait of a Lady

❼ Answer the following questions.


1. What were the aims of the Aesthetic Movement?
2. Write and explain the motto of this Movement.
3. Who was the most outstanding representative of this movement in English
literature?
4. What made him famous?
5. Name his most famous novel.

❽ Name at least two poets of the time.


❾ Answer true or false about the theatre in the Victorian period.
1. The theatre was popular in Victorian times. T F

2. The most important authors of the time were two women playwrights. T F

3. Shakespeare’s plays were often performed. T F

10 Which American novel and writer do these following statements refer to?
1. He created a symbolic form of the novel. ..................................................................................................................................
2. The protagonist is a woman who wants independence. ......................................................................................
3. This work is about the relationship between man and nature. .................................................................
4. His main work is set in the times of the colonists. .....................................................................................................
5. This work is about the struggle between good and evil. .....................................................................................
6. It describes the adventures of two boys. ...................................................................................................................................

11 Who are the two main American poets of this period?


1. ..................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

2. ..................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

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Charles
(1812-70)
Dickens

256
B orn in Hampshire, in the south of England, the young Charles
Dickens moved with his family to London where Charles, at
the age of 12, was sent to work 12 hours a day in a factory. His
education up to this moment had been scarce but the factory owner,
a friend of his father’s, took pity on him and gave him some private
tuition. His father’s financial situation, however, was so bad that
the whole family was committed to debtors’ prison. Fortunately
the family’s situation improved slightly when Dickens’s
grandmother died and left the family a small amount of money
which helped clear their debts and release them from prison.
Dickens obtained a formal education, and in 1827 began to work,
first as a solicitor’s clerk and then as a freelance journalist. He
also began to write various papers anonymously.
The success of his first works led him to publish, in instalment form,
his first novels. He then went on to produce work relentlessly until
his death, also giving public readings of his works not only in England
but also in America. It was after a reading tour of the US in 1868 that he
became ill and died in 1870.
Charles Dickens.
Main works
• The Pickwick Papers (1836-37)
• Oliver Twist (1837-38)
• A Christmas Carol (1843)
• David Copperfield (1849-50)
• Hard Times (1854)
• Great Expectations (1860-61)

Charles Dickens is one of the most prolific writers in English literature. His works are
also amongst the most popular, being adapted for radio, theatre, cinema and television
still today. His childhood poverty had a profound effect on him and his writing and also
seems to have given him an acute sensitivity towards his environment, his age and
those who peopled it. It also provided him with first-hand knowledge of the other, darker
Dickens often face of the Victorian Age which he then transformed into material for his works, producing
chose names for unforgettable characters and situations which blatantly exposed the inhumanities of his
his characters day. Yet, despite his social criticism, Dickens did not propose revolutionary changes for
which would
either tell the his period as he was, after all, a true Victorian. Rather, he advocated a moral solution as,
reader something more often than not, in his tales good would overcome evil.
about their
character or about
their physical Dickens’s most famous novels
appearance. The While most critics regard Great Expectations as Dickens’s best work his most popular
beadle’s name is
Mr Bumble which works include:
describes both his A Christmas Carol, which is the story of a cold-hearted and mean man, Ebenezer Scrooge,
character and his who, after being visited by ghosts who reveal his selfish character to him, is transformed
appearance as it
is the name of an by the end of the novel into a generous and kind being.
insect. Oliver Twist tells the story of the orphan Oliver who becomes the victim of a gang of
boy thieves in London led by one of Dickens’s most famous villains, Fagin. The most

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important themes of this novel are the exploitation of children and the deplorable
conditions of the workhouses.
Hard Times takes place in a fictitious industrial northern town called Coketown, coke
being a form of coal. It focuses on the oppressive effect that factory-life has on the
characters in the novel and the unscrupulous factory owner, Mr Bounderby.

Features of Dickens’s novels


It is true that Dickens’s novels are full of pathos, sentimentality and melodrama, which
would have appealed to Victorians but less so to the modern reader. It is his humour, wit,
brilliant dialogues and the vast array of characters in his novels, representing almost
257
every human characteristic, however, which still attract readers today. His characterisation

5 / The Victorian Age


can be compared to that of Shakespeare, but unlike Shakespeare’s characters those we
find in the works of Dickens are caricatures, deliberately accentuating one specific human
feature, be it avidity (Scrooge in A Christmas Carol), pride (Mr Bounderby in Hard Times), evil
(Bill Sikes in Oliver Twist) or good (Little Nell in The Old Curiosity Shop). They are consequently
‘flat’ characters, often either all good or all bad but nevertheless they still remain
unforgettable, due to Dickens’s animated and vibrant writing.

Dickens’s popularity
As a writer Dickens also exploited, and indeed became the champion of, the popular
medium of the time, which was the novel in instalments. Families would gather
together in the evenings to read the latest episodes and discuss the possible outcome of
events before next week’s issue, a popularity similar to the TV soap operas of today. This
made these works a potentially powerful tool for social and political propaganda and
one, as we have already mentioned, Dickens used repeatedly.

Oliver Twist (1837-38)


Oliver Twist is one of the first novels in the English language to focus on a child
protagonist. Set in the backstreets and slums of London, this novel exposes the
appalling situation of the workhouses and the exploitation of children as a cheap
form of labour and as criminals.
Extreme poverty, hunger, murder and blackmail are all major elements in this tale
and, combined with the fear that accompanies Oliver right to the end, make it a gripping
story highlighted with moments of comic relief.

The plot
Oliver Twist is an orphan who lives until the age of nine in the parish orphanage but
is then taken back into the workhouse where he was born to work for his food. In the
workhouse Oliver shocks everyone by asking for more food, something never done
before by any other child. As a consequence he is sold for £5 to work as an apprentice at
an undertaker’s, but this situation is no better than the workhouse so he decides to run
away to London. There he makes friends with the Artful Dodger, a talented pick-pocket,
who takes him back to his ‘home’, Fagin’s den, in the slums of London. Fagin keeps a
gang of homeless boys and trains them to steal for him, helped by the brutal burglar Bill
Sikes and his girlfriend, Nancy, a prostitute.
Oliver is forced to work for Fagin as a thief and one night is shot when trying to steal
from a rich family. When the lady of the house, Mrs Maylie, realises he is only a child she
is shocked and decides to take care of him. Nancy visits Mrs Maylie as she would like to
help Oliver and eventually, with the help of a kind gentleman who befriended Oliver, Mr
Brownlow, they discover Oliver’s true identity and he is adopted by Mr Brownlow. Nancy is
murdered by Bill Sikes for helping Oliver but Sikes also dies and Fagin is finally captured by
the police and hanged. The innocent young Oliver is saved and the villains are all punished.

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Oliver Twist (1837-38)
BEFORE READING
Comment on this image
from the film Oliver Twist.
The place where the action
takes place is London.
A scene from What can you see in the
Roman Polanski’s image? How does London
film Oliver Twist differ from the London of
258 (2005) based on today? What is happening?
Charles Dickens’s What part of the plot does
novel. it refer to?

Oliver Twist MP3 35

The situation of the boys in the workhouse had become unbearable as their hunger was now
at its limit. One particularly tall boy had said that if he did not have something more to
eat he would eat the boy who slept next to him during the night! It was decided that one of
them should ask for another bowl of gruel and so they drew lots. Unfortunately Oliver gets
the short straw and is made to ask for more.
1. pauper: indigente.
2. grace: preghiera The evening arrived: the boys took their places; the master in his cook’s uniform
prima del pasto.
3. commons: un pasto
stationed himself at the copper; his pauper1 assistants ranged themselves
magro. behind him; the gruel was served out, and a long grace2 was said over the short
4. whispered:
bisbigliavano. commons3. The gruel disappeared, and the boys whispered4 to each other and
5. winked: 5 winked5 at Oliver, while his next neighbours nudged6 him. Child as he was, he
schiacciavano
l’occhio (come was desperate with hunger and reckless7 with misery. He rose from the table, and
segnale).
advancing, basin8 and spoon in hand, to the master, said, somewhat alarmed9 at
6. nudged: davano
delle gomitate. his own temerity –
7. reckless: incauto. ‘Please, sir, I want some more’.
8. basin: scodella.
9. alarmed: scioccato.
10 The master was a fat, healthy man, but he turned very pale. He gazed in stupefied
10. astonishment: astonishment10 on the small rebel for some seconds, and then clung11 for support
sorpresa.
to the copper. The assistants were paralysed with wonder, and the boys with fear.
11. clung: si aggrappò.
12. faint: appena ‘What!’ said the master at length, in a faint12 voice.
percettibile. ‘Please, sir,’ replied Oliver, ‘I want some more.’
13. blow: colpo.
14. ladle: mestolo.
15 The master aimed a blow13 at Oliver’s head with the ladle14, pinioned15 him in his
15. pinioned: arms, and shrieked aloud for the beadle16.
immobilizzò. The board17 were sitting in solemn conclave18 when Mr Bumble rushed into the
16. beadle: sagrestano.
17. board: il comitato room in great excitement, and addressing the gentleman in the high chair, said –
direttivo ‘Mr Limbkins, I beg your pardon, sir; – Oliver Twist has asked for more.’ There
(dell’ospizio).
18. conclave: consiglio. 20 was a general start19. Horror was depicted on every countenance20.
19. start: sobbalzo. ‘For more!’ said Mr Limbkins. ‘Compose yourself, Bumble, and answer me
20. countenance: viso. distinctly. Do I understand that he asked for more, after he had eaten the supper
21. allotted by the
dietary: prevista dal allotted by the dietary21?’
regime dietetico.
‘He did, sir,’ replied Bumble.
22. will be hung: finirà
impiccato. 25 ‘That boy will be hung22,’ said the gentleman in the white waistcoat23; ‘I know
23. waistcoat: that boy will be hung.’
panciotto.

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OVER TO YOU
❶ Answer true or false.
1. It was morning. T F
2. The boys were having their meal. T F
3. They were given lots of food. T F
4. They finished the meal quickly. T F
5. Oliver had to ask for more. T F
6. He was given some more food. T F
7. Everyone was shocked by Oliver’s request. T F
8. The gentleman on the board wanted to send him to bed. T F
259
❷ Put the following sentences in the right order. The first has been done for you.

5 / The Victorian Age


1. All the boys signalled to Oliver to ask for more. ........................

2. Mr Bumble, the beadle, was called. ........................

3. One man said Oliver would be hung for his actions. ........................

4. The gruel was served to the boys. 1


........................

5. Mr Bumble told the board about Oliver. ........................

6. The master hit Oliver on the head with his ladle. ........................

7. Before eating the boys had to say a long prayer. ........................

8. Oliver went to the master with his basin and spoon and asked for more. ........................

❸ What effect did Oliver’s words have on the master?


❹ The word ‘more’ is repeated five times in the passage. Oliver does not, however,
say ‘more food’, but simply ‘more’. From what you know about the conditions in
the workhouse why is this significant? What does Oliver need ‘more’ of?

❺ Despite the tragic situation described, Dickens gives the reader comic relief with
his use of irony. Can you say what is ironic about Oliver being described as a
‘small rebel’ (l. 11).

❻ What feelings do the adults and children have in the passage? Choose from the
following and put into the correct columns of the table.
 )/$$+/$*)Ţ#++$) ..Ţ.#*&Ţ '/$*)Ţ$)$")/$*)Ţ! -Ţ.0-+-$. Ţ .+ -/$*)
Children Adults
Ciao
................................................................................................................................. .................................................................................................................................

................................................................................................................................. .................................................................................................................................

................................................................................................................................. .................................................................................................................................

❼ Referring to Dickens’s biography, what possible autobiographical elements can


you find in the text? Discuss in class.

REVIEW
❶ Underline the correct answer.
1. Charles Dickens’ childhood was comfortable / difficult.
2. His works are no longer popular / still very popular.
3. His stories and characters are often based on his own experiences / mainly fictitious.
4. The characters in his novel are generally caricatures / three dimensional.

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Charlotte
(1816-55)
Brontë

260
Portrait of the
English writer
Charlotte Brontë.
C harlotte Brontë together with Emily,
Anne and their brother Patrick Branwell
were the children of an Irish clergyman
who lived on the Yorkshire moors. It was an
isolated and lonely place, the children were
often alone and were educated principally
at home. After working for a short time
as a governess, Charlotte went to learn
French and then teach in Brussels. In
1854 she married Reverend A.B. Nicholls,
but died the following year, aged only 39.
Her most famous novel, Jane Eyre, was
published in 1847 and was an immediate
success although it sparked a great
deal of scandal, focusing as it did on the
passions of a respectable woman.

Main works
• Jane Eyre (1847)
• Villette (1853)
• The Professor (published in 1857)

Jane Eyre: the plot


Written in the first-person narrative by the protagonist, Jane Eyre, the novel tells the
story of a poor orphan girl who grows up in a hostile environment. After spending her
childhood with her aunt and then at a boarding school for the poor, Jane Eyre, alone
in the world and without any means of support, becomes a governess (as Charlotte
herself had been) to a child at the home of the wealthy Mr Rochester. She soon falls
in love with her employer and they are about to marry when, just before the wedding,
she discovers that he is already married and keeps his wife hidden in the attic of his
home. Not wanting to become Rochester’s mistress, Jane leaves him and only goes back
The German term to him after his wife’s death, when she also comes into an inheritance.
Bildungsroman
indicates a novel of
growth. It focuses
The protagonist: Jane Eyre
on the intellectual In the Victorian world in which the woman was seen as the ‘angel in the home’,
and spiritual expected to devote herself exclusively to her family, Charlotte Brontë presents a new
developement of
the main character kind of heroine: an independent and unconventional woman for, as she wrote
and the problem in the ‘Preface’ to Jane Eyre: ‘conventionality is not morality’. Jane is a courageous
he faces from woman who struggles alone to overcome her problems and improve her situation. The
childhood to adult
life. Other novels autobiographical elements of the novel seem to suggest that through the character
by Dickens are of Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë is expressing her own desire to be loved, to live more
Bildungsroman, fully and to go beyond the accepted roles attributed to women at that time. She is also
for example David
Copperfield. criticising a society which offered few opportunities to women who were educated
but poor. Jane Eyre can also be seen as a → ‘Bildungsroman’, a novel in which the main
character evolves through the course of the story; Jane eventually learns to control her
passions in favour of reason.

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Mr and Mrs Rochester
The other outstanding character of the novel is Mr Rochester. A sullen hero, hard, rough
and not at all handsome: certainly not the typical romantic hero one would expect
to find in a love story. Yet, probably because of his dark and mysterious appearance,
he is fascinating and seems to exert a certain power over people, including Jane, to
whom he reveals another aspect of his personality, his uncommon sensitivity and
thoughtfulness. Bertha Rochester is presented as a mad, aggressive and dangerous
woman – to both herself and others. At the end of the novel she actually sets fire to the
house.
More recently, however, Bertha’s character has been reviewed and presented in a 261
completely new light by Jean Rhys in her novel Wide Sargasso Sea (1966), in which Rhys

5 / The Victorian Age


narrates the story of Mr Rochester’s wife as a Creole, in the context of the Caribbean, an
example of the new literary trend of intertextuality.

A gothic atmosphere
Jane Eyre is not a → gothic novel in the complete sense of the word but it is filled with
many elements which are typical of the gothic novel of the 18th and 19th centuries: The Gothic novel
is often set in the
there is mystery in the novel concerning Mr Rochester’s past, there is a ghostly past or in some
atmosphere as the novel is set in a castle (Mr Rochester’s home) and there is the far-away land. It
appearance of a fortune teller and the presence of a secret – Mrs Rochester being presents features
of terror, of
hidden away in the attic. The romantic love between Jane and Mr Rochester can also mystery and the
be interpreted as a typically gothic element. supernatural. The
founder of this
genre is Horace
Walpole with the
Castle of Otranto
Jane Eyre (1854) (1765).

BEFORE READING
Throughout the Victorian period, thousands of orphans existed on the fringes of
society. It was the consequence of the precariousness of the lives of most people
living at the time. Mothers often died in or following childbirth from illness and
young men too could be carried away by the great epidemics. Consequently, it
is estimated, ‘half of all children would have lost one parent before completing
adolescence.’ Jane Eyre is one of these children but not the only one.
There is a famous example also in fairy tales. Which of these characters is an
orphan?
Snow White
Cinderella
Sleeping Beauty
Red Riding Hood

Cinderella, an American animated


fantasy film produced
by Walt Disney in 1950.

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Jane Eyre MP3 36

Jane is ten years old and an orphan. She lives with her aunt and her family, but her cousin,
John Reed, a fourteen year old schoolboy, bullies and torments her.

1. bullied: faceva il
bullo. John had not much affection for his mother and sisters, and an antipathy to me.
2. every...shrank: mi He bullied1 and punished me; not two or three times in the week, nor once or
si accapponava ogni
262 lembo di pelle. twice in the day, but continually: every nerve I had feared him, and every morsel
3. I was bewildered: of flesh in my bones shrank2 when he came near. There were moments when I
ero confusa.
4. I had no appeal 5 was bewildered3 by the terror he inspired, because I had no appeal whatever4
whatever: non against either his menaces or his inflictions; the servants did not like to offend
avevo nessun modo
di reagire. their young master by taking my part against him, and Mrs Reed was blind and
5. blind and deaf: deaf5 on the subject: she never saw him strike6 or heard him abuse me7, though
cieca e sorda.
6. strike: picchiarmi. he did both now and then in her very presence, more frequently, however, behind
7. abuse me: 10 her back.
maltrattarmi.
8. he struck: colpì. Habitually obedient to John, I came up to his chair […] all at once, without
9. I tottered: barcollai. speaking, he struck8 suddenly and strongly. I tottered9, and on regaining my
10. how to endure the equilibrium retired back a step or two from his chair.
blow: come reggere
il colpo. ‘That is for your impudence in answering mama a while since,’ said he, ‘and for
11. fetched it thence:
lo portai da lì. 15 your sneaking way of getting behind curtains, and for the look you had in your
12. you ought to eyes two minutes since, you rat!’
beg: dovresti fare
l’elemosina. Accustomed to John Reed’s abuse, I never had an idea of replying to it: my care
13. to rummage: was how to endure the blow10 which would certainly follow the insult.
frugare.
14. aware: coscienti. ‘What were you doing behind the curtain?’ he asked.
15. I saw him lift 20 ‘I was reading.’
and poise: lo
vidi sollevare e ‘Show the book.’
soppesare. I returned to the window and fetched it thence11.
16. to hurl it: lanciarlo.
17. was flung: fu
‘You have no business to take our books; you are a dependant, mama says; you
lanciato. have no money; your father left you none; you ought to beg12, and not to live here
18. cut...sharp: il taglio
prese a sanguinare, 25 with gentlemen’s children like us, and eat the same meals we do, and
il dolore era acuto. wear clothes at our mama’s expense. Now, I’ll teach you to rummage13 my
19. wicked: malvagio.
20. slave-driver:
bookshelves: for they are mine; all the house belongs to me, or will do in a few
schiavista. years. Go and stand by the door, out of the way of the mirror and the windows.’
21. thus: così.
I did so, not at first aware14 what was his intention; but when I saw him lift and
22. ran headlong: si
precipitò. 30 poise15 the book and stand in act to hurl it16, I instinctively started aside with a
23. a drop...neck: cry of alarm: not soon enough, however; the volume was flung17, it hit me, and I
una goccia o due
di sangue che mi fell, striking my head against the door and cutting it. The cut bled, the pain was
scorreva giù dal
collo. sharp18: my terror had passed its climax; other feelings succeeded.
‘Wicked19 and cruel boy!’ I said. ‘You are like a murderer – you are like a slave-
35 driver20 – you are like the Roman emperors!’
I had read Goldsmith’s History of Rome, and had formed my opinion of Nero,
Caligula, & c. Also I had drawn parallels in silence, which I never thought thus21
to have declared aloud.
‘What! what!’ he cried. ‘Did she say that to me? Did you hear her, Eliza and
40 Georgiana? Won’t I tell mama? but first –’
He ran headlong22 at me: I felt him grasp my hair and my shoulder: he had
closed with a desperate thing. I really saw in him a tyrant, a murderer. I felt a
drop or two of blood from my head trickle down my neck23, and was sensible of
somewhat pungent suffering: these sensations for the time predominated over

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45 fear, and I received him in frantic sort. I don’t very well know what I did with my 24. bellowed out: urlò.
25. aid: aiuto.
hands, but he called me ‘Rat! Rat!’ and bellowed out24 aloud. Aid25 was near him:
26. subjoined:
Eliza and Georgiana had run for Mrs Reed, who was gone upstairs: she now came subentrò.
upon the scene, followed by Bessie and her maid Abbot. We were parted: I heard 27. lock her in: chiudila
a chiave.
the words – 28. borne: portata.
50 ‘Dear! dear! What a fury to fly at Master John!’
‘Did ever anybody see such a picture of passion!’
Then Mrs Reed subjoined26: ‘Take her away to the red-room, and lock her in27
there.’ Four hands were immediately laid upon me, and I was borne28 upstairs.
263

5 / The Victorian Age


OVER TO YOU
❶ What impression does the reader have of John Reed? Choose from the following.
a violent and unpleasant boy
an unhappy boy
an aggressive but sensitive boy

❷ Answer the following questions.


1. John can be recognised as a typically spoilt child. What elements make him spoilt?
2. How does he behave towards Jane? Why?
3. Why does Jane read her book behind the curtains?
4. How does John hurt Jane?
5. The reader would expect John to be punished, instead Jane is punished. Why?
6. How is she punished?

❸ What feelings does Jane Eyre, here only a child, express in this passage?
❹ Since the story is told in the first person the reader can understand something
about the narrator, the ‘adult Jane Eyre’, who is telling the story. How would you
describe her? Choose from the following.
self-conscious
perceptive
objective
superficial
systematic
moral
self-assured

❺ Choose the correct alternative. Eventually, Jane fights back when John torments
her. Why?
She tries to attract her aunt’s attention.
She refuses to accept things passively, even if it is expected of her.
She hates John and wants to hurt him.

❻ Why do you think the first-person narrator is used?


It is easier for the reader to identify with the heroine.
It makes the narrative more credible.
It makes the story more vivid.

❼ How does this passage make you feel about the following characters?
1. young Jane ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
2. John .....................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
3. the aunt ........................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

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❽ What are the main themes of this passage? Choose from the following.
family relationships
education
working conditions
class conflict
gender differences

❾ Jane likes reading. Why do you think she spends her time reading?

264
REVIEW
➊ Answer true or false.
1. Charlotte Brontë had a short life. T F
2. Her novel was published posthumously. T F
3. Jane Eyre focuses on the life of an orphan. T F
4. The protagonist becomes a governess. T F
5. Mr Rochester is the master of the house where she works. T F
6. Jane Eyre’s life is uneventful and happy. T F

➋ Choose the correct alternative.


1. Jane Eyre is a woman who
perfectly fits into the Victorian context
desires a family more than anything else
tries to be independent and live her own life
2. Jane Eyre is
completely autobiographical
not autobiographical at all
partially autobiographical
3. The criticism implicit in the novel is addressed
to a society that does not allow women to work and live independently
to women who live with men without being married
to men who want women to be good wives and ‘angels of the home’
4. Mr Rochester is
a typical romantic hero
a negative hero
an unusual hero
5. Bertha Rochester is presented as insane and
dangerous
powerful
moody
6. Jane Eyre has a gothic atmosphere due to
the characters
several elements present in the novel
the setting

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Thomas
(1840-1928)
Hardy

T he son of a mason, Thomas Hardy was


born and spent most of his life in Dorset
in the south of England. He started
his career as an apprentice architect but
by 1862 had also begun to write. His first
Thomas Hardy.

265
great success, Far From the Madding Crowd

5 / The Victorian Age


(1874), gave him the financial security
he needed. Hardy continued to produce
work consistently for most of his life
and, like Dickens, he also published
his major works in instalments. The
public’s reaction to Jude the Obscure (1896),
however, convinced him to abandon novel
writing completely.
From that moment Hardy dedicated
himself to his poetry and his literary success
made him an honoured man of letters in
England and he received many literary titles
(and was also received by the king). He died in 1928
at the age of 87 and was buried in Westminster Abbey.

Main works
• Far From the Madding Crowd (1874)
• Tess of the d’Urbervilles (1891)
• Jude the Obscure (1896)
• Wessex Poems (1898)
• The Dynasts (1903-08)

As a writer much of Hardy’s strength came from his love of Dorset, a county with
which he felt a great affinity and which, under the name of Wessex, the original Anglo-
Saxon name for the area, affected and inhabited his major works. In contrast with
Dickens, who was a great urban novelist, Hardy was a countryman and spoke about his
awareness of a disappearing world without regret or sentimentality.
He wanted to change the myth many writers of the Industrial Revolution had perpetrated,
which tended to condemn most things industrial and idealise all things in the
countryside. The 1870s-1880s, when most of Hardy’s novels were written, was a period of
agricultural depression and he had first-hand experience of the hardship of farm labour.
Hardy saw how changes in agriculture forced labourers and their families to move about
from one farm to another. He did not, however, see these changes in purely negative
terms as he saw how greater mobility often brought with it a more independent
mentality.

The role of fate


Hardy’s view of the countryside was not nostalgic and was often quite pessimistic. He
was not a religious man, having admired and been influenced by Darwin’s ideas of

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evolution. He saw the lives of people as being a struggle against the natural order. In
his day this was an evolving economy, a change in social and sexual attitudes and the
→ relentless role of fate in the lives of all people. Fate seems to be a looming power in
Hardy's Hardy’s works, ready at any moment to change an individual’s destiny.
characters,
especially Tess,
were often Hardy’s style
outsiders or in
conflict with their Hardy’s language is often distinguished by a poetic quality, especially when describing
environment and the details of the countryside which he knew so well. There is a beauty in his imagery
its rigid moral and his detailed perception of the natural world is very accurate. When speaking about
codes and so
266 more vulnerable Hardy there is a tendency to emphasise only the pessimistic elements in his works
to the powers of but there is, in most novels, also humour, in particular when Hardy describes the
fate. simple country people, or rustics, as they are called. He knew them well and brilliantly
reproduces their dialect.

 ..*!/# ŷ- -1$'' . (1891)


Tess of the d’Urbervilles is Hardy’s most famous novel primarily because of its
unforgettable protagonist, Tess. She is described with such sensitivity yet she has
great courage and strength of character, fighting back against the many hardships
fate puts in her way, never wanting to be a victim.
The other two main characters are Alec d’Urberville, a heartless aristocrat who
George Clausen, seduces Tess and ruins her life, while Angel Clare is her true love but represents the
Breton Girl Carrying
a Jar, 1882. establishment and morality of the time. For this reason he can only forgive Tess her
Oil on canvas; past mistakes when it is too late. Although it was Hardy’s most successful novel it did
Victorian and cause a scandal at the time and was at first refused publication because it presented a
Albert Museum,
London. sympathetic portrayal of a woman who would have been considered immoral in Hardy’s
day. Tess was a ‘fallen woman’, having had a child out of marriage
but Hardy’s subtitle is unequivocal, he admired Tess and saw her as
a genuinely good person, a victim of her circumstances who tries
to fight back.

The plot
Tess is the daughter of a poor peddlar. She is sixteen years old
when she starts working on the estate of the d’Urbervilles to help
her family but the d’Urberville’s son, Alec, seduces her and
makes her pregnant. She returns home and, after the death of her
small child, finds work as a milkmaid at a dairy. There she meets
Angel Clare and the two fall deeply in love. Tess agrees to marry
him but is haunted by her past. It is first on their wedding night
that Angel hears of Tess’s past. Unable to forgive her he leaves for
Brazil. Suffering and financial hardship force Tess to return to Alec
d’Urberville as his mistress. Once again, Tess becomes the victim
of fate when Angel returns from Brazil and begs her to forgive him.
They are both still passionately in love but it is too late. The only
way out Tess sees is by murdering Alec d’Urberville. Angel helps
her to escape and the novel ends with the couple taking refuge at
Stonehenge until a search party arrives to take Tess away and she
is finally hanged.
Hardy uses an omniscient, third-person narrative to tell his story
which allows for a more complex fictional world and enables him
to add his subtle judgement or opinion of the characters along
with detailed description.

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Tess of the d’Urbervilles MP3 37

It’s the evening after the wedding. Tess has confessed to having had a baby with Alec
d’Urberville. On the following morning…

She looked absolutely pure. Nature, in her fantastic trickery1, had set such a seal of
maidenhood2 upon Tess’s countenance that he gazed at her3 with a stupefied air. 1. trickery: inganno,
imbroglio, raggiro.
‘Tess! Say it is not true! No, it is not true!’ 2. maidenhood:
verginità, innocenza.
267
‘It is true.’
3. he gazed at her:

5 / The Victorian Age


5 ‘Every word?’ fissò lo sguardo su di
‘Every word.’ lei.
4. abruptly:
He looked at her imploringly, as if he would willingly have taken a lie from her all’improvviso,
repentinamente.
lips, knowing it to be one, and have made of it, by some sort of sophistry, a valid
5. cheeks: guance.
denial. However, she only repeated – 6. husky: roca.
10 ‘It is true.’ 7. get rid of me:
liberarti di me.
‘Is he living?’ Angel then asked.
‘The baby died.’
‘But the man?’
‘He is alive.’
15 A last despair passed over Clare’s face.
‘Is he in England?’
‘Yes.’
He took a few vague steps. William Hatherell,
Tess of the
‘My position is this,’ he said abruptly4. ‘I thought – any man would have thought D’Urbervilles or,
20 – that by giving up all ambition to win a wife with social standing, with fortune, The Elopement,
19th century.
with knowledge of the world, I should secure rustic innocence as surely as I should Private Collection.
secure pink cheeks5; but – however, I am no man to reproach you, and I will not.’
Tess felt his position so entirely that the remainder had not been needed.
Therein lay just the distress of it; she saw that he had lost all round.
25 ‘Angel – I should not have let it go on to marriage with you if I had not known
that, after all, there was a last way out of it for you; though I hoped you would
never…’
Her voice grew husky6.
‘A last way?’
30 ‘I mean, to get rid of me. You can get rid of me7.’
‘How?’
‘By divorcing me.’
‘Good heavens – how can you be so simple! How can I divorce you?’
‘Can’t you – now I have told you? I thought my confession would give
you
35 grounds for that.’
‘O Tess you are too, too childish-unformed-crude,
I suppose! I don’t know what you are. You don’t
understand the law – you don’t understand!’
‘What – you cannot?’
40 ‘Indeed I cannot.’
A quick shame mixed with the misery upon his
listener’s face.

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‘I thought – I thought,’ she whispered. ‘O, now I see how wicked I seem to you!
Believe me – believe me, on my soul, I never thought but that you could! I hoped
45 you would not; yet I believed, without a doubt, that you could cast me off if you
were determined, and didn’t love me at-at-all!’
‘You were mistaken,’ he said.
‘O, then I ought to have done it, to have done it last night! But I hadn’t the
courage. That’s just like me!’
50 ‘The courage to do what?’
As she did not answer he took her by the hand.
‘What were you thinking of doing?’ he inquired.
268
‘Of putting an end to myself.’
‘When?’
55 She writhed under this inquisitorial manner of his. ‘Last night,’ she answered.
‘Where?’
‘Under your mistletoe.’
‘My good –! How?’ he asked sternly.
‘I’ll tell you, if you won’t be angry with me!’ she said, shrinking. ‘It was with the
60 cord of my box. But I could not – do the last thing! I was afraid that it might cause
a scandal to your name.’
The unexpected quality of this confession, wrung from her, and not volunteered,
shook him perceptibly. But he still held her, and, letting his glance fall from her
face downwards, he said, ‘Now, listen to this. You
65 must not dare to think of such a horrible thing! How could you! You will promise
me as your husband to attempt
that no more.’
‘I am ready to promise. I saw how wicked it was.’
‘Wicked! The idea was unworthy of you beyond
70 description.’

OVER TO YOU
❶ Angel gazed at Tess with a stupefied air as though he could hardly believe that
her story was true. Why?

❷ Choose the correct alternative.


1. When Angel asks if he’s still alive, he’s referring to
the baby the man
2. Tess says that the baby is
dead alive
3. Tess says that he can still get rid of her, if he wants to, by
killing her divorcing her leaving her
4. But he says it would be impossible because
at the time it was impossible to get divorced
it had happened before their marriage

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❸ Now complete this summary of the last part of the passage.
 +-*($. .Ţ#)"$)"# -. '!Ţ"0$'/4Ţ/*$1*- Ţ&$'' 
Tess feels terribly ………..............................................................…… (1), and says that if she hadn’t thought
he’d be able ………..............................................................…… (2) her if he wanted, she would never have
married him, and would have ………..............................................................…… (3) herself the night before, as
she had planned.
He asks what she means – apparently she had considered ………..............................................................…… (4)
from the bedstead, but had lost her courage.
He tells her never to think of such a thing again, and she ………..............................................................…… (5).
269
❹ In this passage an aspect of Tess’s personality emerges. How does she appear

5 / The Victorian Age


here? Choose from the following.
cowardly insincere
dignified aggressive
courageous

❺ Angel rejected Tess on their wedding day, despite deeply loving her. What do
you think about Angel and Tess’s behaviour? Is it important to ‘forgive and
forget’? Discuss in pairs and then relate your opinions to the rest of the class.

❻ What do you think of the language in this passage? Choose:


elaborated and easy and colloquial poetic and full of
complex rhetorical figures

REVIEW
❶ Complete the following sentences.
1. Thomas Hardy’s novels are all set in ............................................................................................................................................... .
2. Like the novels of Dickens, most of Hardy’s novels were first published ................................... .
3. His last famous novel was .............................................................................................................................................................................. .
4. He stopped writing novels after this because ................................................................................................................... .
5. For the rest of his literary career he concentrated on ........................................................................................... .

❷ Answer true or false.


1. Hardy believed that the countryside was an ideal world. T F
2. He saw people’s lives as being conditioned by fate. T F
3. Many of the protagonists in his novels are in some way outsiders. T F
4. Hardy’s view of the world remained predominantly optimistic. T F
5. Tess is one of Hardy’s most famous protagonists. T F

❸ Choose the correct alternative.


1. Tess is not an example of the typical Victorian woman because
she is fragile and delicate she is strong and courageous
2. She accepted work at the d’Urberville house
to help her family to become rich
3. Angel Clare abandoned her after their wedding because
he discovered she was poor he discovered her past
4. At the end of the novel
he regretted what he’d done he married another woman

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On Screen
TESS
Directed by Roman Polanski (1979)
Starring Nastassja Kinski and Peter Firth.
Tess (1979)
by R. Polanski - Winner of three Academy Awards, Roman Polanski’s Tess was praised for Polanski’s
Scene 1
convincing and faithful portrayal of Hardy’s novel on screen. His choice of Nastassja
Kinski as Tess, who was only 16 years old at the time and virtually unknown in the
270 film industry, was a contributing factor to the film’s success as she gave the role an
innocence and sensitivity which mirrored almost exactly Hardy’s heroine.

The story on screen so far...


The first film extract we are going to watch is the moment which describes the cruel twist
1. lessen: ridurre.
2. fault: colpa.
of fate in the story which will affect the rest of Tess’s life. Tess is now working at the dairy
3. guilty: colpevole. and she and Angel have fallen in love. He desperately wants to marry her but she feels the
4. saw fit: gli sembrava need to unburden her conscience first by revealing her past to him: the fact that she was
giusto.
5. conquer: Alec d’Urberville’s mistress and had had a child to him. In the scene you are going to watch
conquistare. Tess has just made her first, weak attempt to tell her story but Angel interrupts, saying
6. tremble: tremo.
‘None of that matters, Tess’. She then decides to write him a letter before the wedding.
The second scene comes from the very end of the novel. Tess has murdered Alec
d’Urberville and is being hunted by the police. Angel is helping her flee although they
know it will not be long before she is captured. In this final scene the police have
arrived and there is no escape.
A scene from
Roman Polanski’s
film Tess (1978): OVER TO YOU
Tess (Nastassja
Kinski) holding
her illegitimate
SCENE 1
child.
❶ Watch the scene the first time concentrating on the visual aspects and answer
the following questions.
1. What time of day is it? How do you know?
2. Where is Tess when she writes the letter?
in her study
in a sitting room
in her shared accommodation
3. What are the other people in the room doing?
4. How does director Roman Polanski help the viewer to understand the following?
it was difficult for Tess to write this letter
she took a very long time to write it (Look for clues in the scene.)

❷ Now watch the scene again and listen closely to the dialogue, underlining the
correct word to complete Tess’s letter.
‘My youth, my eccentricity / simplicity (1) and the strangeness of my situation / life (2)
may perhaps lessen1 my fault2 but since I committed it / fulfilled it (3) I am guilty3. I must
be weary / guilty (4) because the Lord saw fit4 to take my child / baby (5). If what I have
just written failed to pass my mouth / lips (6) in your presence when I had repeated
it a thousand times in my heart / mind (7) it was for fear of punishing / losing (8) you
forever. For love of you I shall conquer5 that feeling / fear (9) and bring you this letter /
note (10). Once you receive it, Angel, you will hold / keep (11) the rest of my life in your
hands. I need / hope (12), I tremble6, I love you.’

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❸ In the letter why is Tess convinced that she must be guilty of her past actions?
❹ Why is Tess so frightened to tell Angel the truth about her past?
❺ What power does Tess say Angel will have over her when he reads the letter?
❻ Does Angel read the letter? If you don’t remember, re-read the plot summary
(see page 51).

❼ When does Angel discover the truth? Again, go back to the plot summary. 271

5 / The Victorian Age


Tess (1979)
SCENE 2 by R. Polanski -
Scene 2

❽ Watch the second scene the first time looking for the following observation
details.
1. What time of day is it do you think?
2. What is Tess doing initially?
3. What is the weather like?
4. Compare how Tess’s appearance has changed since the first scene you watched.
(Note her clothes, hair, facial expression.) Fill in the chart:

In the first scene In the second scene

She is wearing .................................................................................................. ..................................................................................................

Her hair is .................................................................................................. ..................................................................................................

She seems .................................................................................................. ..................................................................................................

5. Where are Tess and Angel in this final scene?

❾ Now watch the scene again and answer the following.


1. Tess only says two things in this scene. Complete what she says.
Have ……………………....................................................................…………….? I ……………………....................................................................……………..
2. Who do you think ‘they’ refers to?
3. How would you describe her attitude at this moment of her capture? Choose:
angry hysterical composed resigned
4. Why is Stonehenge a very suitable setting for this scene? What took place here
thousands of years ago? If you don’t know find out on the Internet.

Nastassja Kinski
(Tess) and Peter
Firth (Angel) in
Tess (1979).

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On and Off Screen

Polanski and
Seymour on Tess POLANSKI AND SEYMOUR ON TESS
Now we are going to see the director of Tess, Roman Polanski, talking about why he
decided to make this film and listen to writer and researcher, Claire Seymour, speaking
about the parallels between Tess and what was actually happening in English agriculture
272 at the time of the story. She also speaks about the critical response to Hardy’s novel.

OVER TO YOU
FIRST EXTRACT

10 From the short scene you saw in the first extract would you say that his
portrayal of  ..*!/# ŷ- -1$'' . is traditional or unconventional?

11 Now watch and listen twice to Roman Polanski talking about Tess and answer
the questions.
1. Why is the film dedicated to Sharon?
2. In what way might she have been connected to the film?
3. What happened to her?
4. Find out in what way she was connected to Roman Polanski from the Internet.

SECOND EXTRACT

12 Now watch and listen to Claire Seymour speaking about the parallels between
film and novel.
Nastassja Kinski
starring as Tess in
Roman Polanski’s 13 There are some agricultural scenes shown in the film. Write the names of each
film. activity, first in Italian and then in English, after referring to a dictionary.

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14 Claire Seymour says that Hardy spent a lot of time (in his novels) focusing on
‘the minutiae of agricultural traditions’. What does this mean?

15 She also speaks of Tess’s ‘passive decline in the face of certain pressures.’
From what you know of the story, in what ways would you say Tess is
passive
active
in trying to change her circumstances?

16 Seymour also goes on to speak about the ‘incomprehensible danger or threat 273
in terms of a new, modern, urban way of life [...] mimicked in Tess’s own tale.’
While farms depended on labourers to survive, Tess and many others would

5 / The Victorian Age


always find work but this became gradually harder with the introduction of new
technology. Look again at the scenes from the film. How would these activities
be done today?

THIRD EXTRACT

17 Here Claire Seymour speaks about the critical response to the novel. Answer true
or false.
1. Critics liked the novel. T F

2. It was Hardy’s most successful novel. T F

3. ‘It was criticised for being sordid.’ T F

18 Look ‘sordid’ up in the dictionary. Discuss in pairs what Victorian critics might
have found sordid about the story of Tess.
On the set of Tess
with the director
19 How do you think reactions today would differ? Roman Polanski.

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Robert Louis
Stevenson
(1850-94)

274
R obert Louis Balfour Stevenson was born in Edinburgh
in 1850. He gained a law degree but never practised.
He left and never lived in Scotland again, due to his
interests and to his health problems (he was all his life long
‘consumptive’ as they used to say in that time).
At the age of 30 he married Fanny Osbourne, American
and divorced, mother of two children. They went to
California where they lived on very limited means. In
1883 Stevenson published his first novel, Treasure Island.
It was written for young people but became popular
with adults as well. Three years later he published
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, which was an
immediate success.
From 1888 he and his family embarked on a series of
journeys around the Pacific islands, hoping that he could
benefit from the good climate. Eventually they decided to
settle on the island of Upolu in Samoa. Here he went on writing
John Singer
Sargent, Robert until his death (he died of a sudden stroke) in 1894.
Louis Stevenson
and His Wife Main works
(detail), 1885. Oil
on canvas; Private • Treasure Island (1883)
Collection. • The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886)
• Kidnapped (1886)
• The Black Arrow (1888)

Good and evil Robert Louis Stevenson is not only known as the author of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll
Henry Jekyll, the and Mr. Hyde but also as the author of the children’s classic Treasure Island.
respectable and
generous London The two novels, though very different, share Stevenson’s key theme: the impossibility
doctor, is the of identifying and separating good and evil. John Silver in Treasure Island is at the same
symbol of good time a courageous friend and a treacherous cutthroat; Dr. Jekyll is not totally good but a
while wicked
Mister Hyde mixture of → good and evil and is eventually dominated by Mr. Hyde owing to his moral
represents the weakness. Stevenson’s rendering these enigmatic characters with their duplicity and
evil that is hidden dark sides was one of his greatest contributions.
(Hyde!) beneath
the surface in
every human # /-)" . *!-Ĭ &4'')-Ĭ 4 (1886)
being. As such the
split characters The story is narrated from several points of view: for most of the novel from Utterson’s
of Doctor Jekyll who is Dr. Jekyll’s friend, and in the last two chapters from Lanyon's and Jekyll’s.
and Mister Hyde Doctor Jekyll is a scientist who invents a potion that can separate the good and evil parts
have become a
universal symbol of the human mind. He experiments this potion on himself and, when he drinks, he
for the duality of becomes another man: Mister Hyde. Small and primitive, Mr. Hyde is the embodiment
human beings, of of evil and progressively begins to lead a life of his own, becoming the more dominant
the relationship
of man with good of the two. He commits evil deeds, even murder. When the effects of the potion wear
and evil and of the off, Mr. Hyde becomes once again the respectable Dr. Jekyll. Fascinated, but at the same
constant conflict time horrified by his ‘materialised’ dark side, Dr. Jekyll decides to put an end to the
between the two.
experiment by killing Mr. Hyde. However, by doing so he also kills himself.

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The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde MP3 38

This passage is taken from the final part of Stevenson’s novel. Behind Doctor Jekyll’s
respectability and seriousness he hides a more ‘impatient gaiety of disposition’ a frivolous
and indecent side. Therefore he feels a disturbing duplicity within himself and his good side
feels constantly guilty for the wishes and transgressions of the bad side. He carries out
some scientific experiments which he thinks can help him find a solution: to separate the
good and the evil in a human being. After producing the potion he drinks it and…
275
The most racking1 pangs succeeded: a grinding in the bones, deadly nausea, and

5 / The Victorian Age


a horror of the spirit that cannot be exceeded at the hour of birth or death. Then
these agonies began swiftly2 to subside, and I came to myself as if out of a great
sickness. There was something strange in my sensations, something
5 indescribably new and, from its very novelty, incredibly sweet. I felt younger,
lighter, happier in body; within I was conscious of a heady recklessness3, a
current of disordered sensual images running like a mill race4 in my fancy, a
solution of the bonds5 of obligation, an unknown but not an innocent freedom of
the soul. I knew myself, at the first breath of this new life, to be more wicked,
10 tenfold6 more wicked, sold a slave to my original evil; and the thought, in that
moment, braced7 and delighted me like wine. I stretched out my hands, exulting
in the freshness of ‘these sensations’; and in the act, I was suddenly aware that I
had lost in stature.
There was no mirror, at that date, in my room; that which stands beside
15 me as I write, was brought there later on and for the very purpose of these
transformations. The night, however, was far gone into the morning – the
morning, black as it was, was nearly ripe8 for the conception of the day – the
inmates9 of my house were locked in the most rigorous hours of slumber10; and I
determined, flushed11 as I was with hope and triumph, to venture in my new
20 shape as far as to my bedroom. I crossed the yard12, wherein the constellations
looked down upon me, I could have thought, with wonder, the first creature
of that sort that their unsleeping vigilance had yet disclosed to them; I stole
through13 the corridors, a stranger in my own house; and coming to my room, I
saw for the first time the appearance of Edward Hyde.
25 I must here speak by theory alone, saying not that which I know, but that which 1. racking: strazianti.
2. swiftly:
I suppose to be most probable. The evil side of my nature, to which I had now velocemente.
transferred the stamping14 efficacy, was less robust and less developed than the 3. heady
recklessness:
good which I had just deposed. Again, in the course of my life, which had been, spensieratezza
after all, nine-tenths a life of effort, virtue and control, it had been much less inebriante.
30 exercised and much less exhausted. And hence, as I think, it came about that 4. mill race: turbine.
5. bonds: legami.
Edward Hyde was so much smaller, slighter, and younger than Henry Jekyll. Even 6. tenfold: dieci volte.
as good shone upon the countenance15 of the one, evil was written broadly and 7. braced: abbracciò.
plainly on the face of the other. Evil besides (which I must still believe to be the 8. ripe: maturo.
lethal side of man) had left on that body an imprint of deformity and 9. inmates: coloro che
vivevano in casa con
35 decay. And yet when I looked upon that ugly idol in the glass, I was conscious me.
of no repugnance, rather of a leap16 of welcome. This, too, was myself. It seemed 10. slumber: sonno.
natural and human. In my eyes it bore a livelier image of the spirit, it seemed 11. flushed: inebriato.
12. yard: cortile.
more express and single, than the imperfect and divided countenance I had been
13. I stole through:
hitherto accustomed to call mine. And in so far I was doubtless right. I have attraversai furtivo.
40 observed that when I wore the semblance of Edward Hyde, none could come 14. stamping: concreto
(la capacità di
near to me at first without a visible misgiving17 of the flesh. This, as I take it, was produrre forme
because all human beings, as we meet them, are commingled out of good and concrete).
15. countenance:
evil: and Edward Hyde, alone, in the ranks of mankind, was pure evil. aspetto.
16. leap: moto.
17. misgiving: paura.

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OVER TO YOU
❶ Doctor Jekyll drinks the potion. What does he experience at first?
❷ Line 4, Doctor Jekyll says: ‘There was something strange in my sensations.’
What is ‘strange’?

❸ Since there is no mirror in his room he must walk through the corridors of his
house to his bedroom. He is sure he will not meet anyone. Why?

❹ When he looks at himself in the mirror, does Jekyll (having now turned into
276 Hyde) feel repulsed by his new form? Why? Why not?

❺ Choose the correct answer.


1. Doctor Jekyll is aware that Mister Hyde is
totally evil
partly evil and partly good
more good than evil
2. Here he sees that Edward Hyde is really different from Doctor Jekyll. What are
these differences?
a) He is less / more robust.
b) He is younger / older.
c) He is more / less pleasant than Doctor Jekyll.
3. In the last lines of the passage Dr Jekyll says: ‘when I wore the semblance of
Edward Hyde, none could come near to me at first without a visible misgiving of
the flesh.’ Why do people feel repulsed and horrified by Hyde?
Because he is ugly and small.
Because he is the embodiment of evil.
Because they don’t understand his real nature.
4. In the passage the theme of the novel is clearly stated. What is this theme?
The wickedness of human nature
The attraction of human beings to evil
The duality of human nature

❻ Dr. Jekyll interprets his relationship with Mr. Hyde in a particular way. Do you
agree with his understanding? Discuss in class.

❼ Good and evil: good is Dr. Jekyll, evil is his alter ego Hyde. He should hate him
but he does not. On the contrary he likes him and – as he says later – when he
is Hyde, he feels freer than he has ever felt in his life. Do you think that evil can
actually give a person a feeling of freedom? How? Discuss.

REVIEW
❶ Answer true or false.
1. Stevenson was born in Scotland. T F

2. He also wrote adventure novels. T F

3. Dr. Jekyll is totally bad. T F

4. One of the themes in Docktor Jekyll and Mr Hyde is love. T F

5. At the end Dr. Jekyll flees to a foreign country. T F

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Oscar
(1854-1900)
Wilde

O scar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde was born in Dublin where he attended
Trinity College. He completed his studies at Magdalen College, Oxford, where
he was noted both for his brilliance and his eccentricity. During this period he
came into contact and was influenced by John Ruskin (1819-1900), who was lecturing
in art, and especially Walter Pater (1839-94) and his ideas on Aestheticism. It was in
277

5 / The Victorian Age


this period that Wilde began to write. In 1882 he married Constance Lloyd with whom
he had two children. His popularity and success as a writer increased, especially with
the productions of his plays, culminating with his comic masterpiece, The Importance
of Being Earnest (1895). The year 1895, however, was a turning point in Wilde’s life as he
was arrested for homosexuality. His courtcase became one of the most sensational news
events of his time. The trial concluded with a verdict of guilty and he was sentenced
To know
to two years’ hard labour in Reading Jail. When he was released from prison, however, more about
he was a broken man and spent the last years of his life in Italy and France. He died in Aestheticism go
poverty in Paris in 1900. back to → p. 253.

Main works
• The Happy Prince and Other Tales (1888)
• The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891)
• Salomé (1893)
• An Ideal Husband (1895)
• The Importance of Being Earnest (1895) Oscar Wilde
• De Profundis (1905) in March 1892;
photography
by Alfred Ellis &
Wilde and Aestheticism Walery.
Wilde adopted as his own personal creed Walter Pater’s theory of Aestheticism, which
stated that the meaning of life was to be found in beauty and that beauty, in its refined
forms, is reflected in art. The motto for the followers of this → Aesthetic Movement became
‘art for art’s sake’. This idea was in direct contrast with the major tendencies of the
time which were dominated by rational, scientific thought and an emphasis on what
was useful. Works which were didactic or expressed a high moral value were praised,
while entertainment for its own sake was not. The French intellectuals who developed
the Aesthetic Movement, people such as Baudelaire, Mallarmé and Flaubert, strongly
believed that a work of art is important for humanity exactly because it may serve no
specific purpose other than its own beauty and perfection; it exists and that is all. Wilde,
in fact, ends his ‘Preface’ to The Picture of Dorian Gray by saying: ‘All art is quite useless’.

The dandy
In his personal life Oscar Wilde carried this theory to extremes, rejecting
seriousness for the role of the dandy. He became famous for his elaborate way
of dressing and his enchanting and witty conversation, making him the
most popular socialite and dandy of the period. His lifestyle also provided
endless material for the gossip journalists of satirical magazines such as
Punch, in which he was quoted and caricatured regularly.
His intellect and writing skills are undeniable and his brilliant wit,
humour and epigrammatic style still enchant people today. On arriving in
America he famously stated: ‘I have nothing to declare except my genius.’

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The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891)
First published in instalments, The Picture of Dorian Gray was Wilde’s only novel. The
Aesthetic theme of the importance of art and beauty is a central theme in the novel and
becomes a daring portrayal of hedonism in which the protagonist devotes his life to
the pleasures of the senses. There is an added Faustian twist to the plot as the main
character, Dorian Gray, is encouraged to pursue his life without suffering any of the
consequences or responsibilities having sold his soul to maintain his youth and beauty.
Interestingly, Wilde points out the dangers of this ethos when taken to extremes;
278 art cannot be a substitute for life itself, it is merely something that can make our life
more pleasurable. The novel, then, becomes an allegory for the consequences of
pure narcissism and the fact that → we are all, sooner or later, held responsible for our
Wilde writes actions. The novel’s decadent scenes and sinister atmosphere place it in the genre of
in third-person
narrative, enabling the gothic novel.
the reader to
understand not The plot
only the words and
behaviour of each Lord Henry Wotton becomes the mentor for a young and beautiful would-be-
character but also socialite, Dorian Gray. Wotton is, above all, interested in his own pleasure and
their innermost
thoughts. We amusement and educates Dorian on how to behave in the social world of London’s
are guided on a wealthy at the end of the 19th century. He encourages him to fall in love with his
journey which own beauty and when his friend, Basil Hallward, paints Dorian’s portrait Dorian is
relates Dorian’s
moral decline and confronted with the power of his beauty for the first time. But later he realises that, by a
are able to witness strange twist of fate, his portrait, the painted Dorian, begins to strangely absorb the
his thoughts while consequences of all his actions while his own beauty remains untouched.
doing so.
Under Lord Henry’s encouragement and guidance Dorian experiments with
the different aspects of a life of vice while observing with fascination his own
transformation in the portrait, which he keeps hidden. The painter, Basil Hallward,
who symbolically represents Dorian’s conscience, notices Dorian’s moral decline and
warns him that sooner or later he will be made to pay. Irritated by Basil’s constant
criticism, Dorian murders him and destroys the painting but, by doing so, destroys
his own conscience and consequently also destroys himself. When dead, he physically
absorbs all the consequences of his immoral life and ages horrifically while the painting
returns to its original state, portraying Dorian in his youthful innocence and splendour.

BEFORE READING
In Wilde’s famous ‘Preface’ to his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray he states, among
other things:

There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or
badly written. That is all. [...] All art is quite useless.

❶ In small groups discuss these two points. Do you think books are free from any
moral responsibility? Can you think of any books which have had a big influence
on the public, either positively or negatively?

❷ Do you agree that art is useless? What is the role of art in our society? Does
it play an important part in people’s lives, or do you agree with Wilde? Give
examples to back up your opinions.

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The Picture of Dorian Gray MP3 39

Basil Hallward has just finished his portrait of Dorian and invites him to look at it for the
first time. Basil’s friend, Lord Henry Wotton, is also present.

The lad started1, as if awakened from some dream. ‘Is it really finished?’ he 1. started: sobbalzò.
2. murmured:
murmured2, stepping down from the platform. mormorò.
‘Quite finished,’ said the painter. ‘And you have sat splendidly today. I am awfully 3. listlessly: 279
fiaccamente.
obliged to you.’ 4. flushed: arrossì.

5 / The Victorian Age


5 ‘That is entirely due to me,’ broke in Lord Henry. ‘Isn’t it, Mr Gray?’ 5. dimly conscious:
vagamente
Dorian made no answer, but passed listlessly3 in front of his picture, and turned consapevole.
towards it. When he saw it he drew back, and his cheeks flushed4 for a moment 6. merely: soltanto.
with pleasure. A look of joy came into his eyes, as if he had recognised himself for 7. penegyric: elogio.
8. warning:
the first time. He stood there motionless and in wonder, dimly conscious5 avvertimento.
10 that Hallward was speaking to him, but not catching the meaning of his words. 9. stirred him: lo
aveva scosso.
The sense of his own beauty came on him like a revelation. He had never felt 10. shadow: ombra.
it before. Basil Hallward’s compliments had seemed to him to be merely6 the 11. wrinkled: rugosa.
charming exaggerations of friendship. He had listened to them, laughed at them, 12. wizen: raggrinzita.
13. dim: offuscati.
forgotten them. They had not influenced his nature. 14. steal: svanire.
15 Then had come Lord Henry Wotton with his strange panegyric7 on youth, his 15. mar: rovinare/
danneggiare.
terrible warning8 of its brevity. That had stirred him9 at the time, and now, as
16. dreadful:
he stood gazing at the shadow10 of his own loveliness, the full reality of the terrificante.
description flashed across him. Yes, there would be a day when his face would be 17. hideous: orribile.
18. uncouth: rozzo.
wrinkled11 and wizen12, his eyes dim13 and colourless, the grace of his figure
19. pang: fitta.
20 broken and deformed. The scarlet would pass away from his lips, and the gold 20. quiver: tremare.
steal14 from his hair. The life that was to make his soul would mar15 his body. He
would become dreadful16, hideous17 and uncouth18.
As he thought of it, a sharp pang19 struck through him like a knife, and made
each delicate fibre of his nature quiver20. His eyes deepened into amethyst, and
25 across them came a mist of tears. He felt as if a hand of ice had been laid upon
his heart.
‘Don’t you like it?’ cried Hallward at last, stung21 a little by the lad’s silence, not
understanding what it meant.
‘Of course he likes it,’ said Lord Henry. ‘Who wouldn’t like it? It is one of the greatest
30 things in modern art. I will give you anything you like for it. I must have it.’
‘It is not my property, Harry22.’
‘Whose property is it?’
‘Dorian’s, of course,’ answered the painter.
‘He is a very lucky fellow.’
35 ‘How sad it is!’ murmured Dorian Gray, with his eyes still fixed upon his own
portrait. ‘How sad it is! I shall grow old, and horrible, and dreadful. But this
picture will remain always young. It will never be older than this particular day
of June... If it were only the other way! If it were I who was to be always young,
and the picture that was to grow old! For that – for that – I would give everything!
40 Yes, there is nothing in the whole world I would not give! I would give my soul
for that!’

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OVER TO YOU
❶ Choose the correct alternative.
1. Who is the artist?
Dorian Gray Basil Hallward Lord Henry (Harry)
2. Who is depicted in the portrait?
Dorian Gray Basil Hallward Lord Henry
3. The artist
has just finished is in the process of has just started the
the painting painting painting
4. The painting has
280 a vague likeness not a true likeness a true likeness of
of the sitter of the sitter the sitter
5. What effect does the painting have on the sitter?
He is very satisfied He thinks it is a It makes him feel
with the result. poor painting. very sad.

❷ Answer the following questions.


1. What does Lord Henry want to do with the painting?
2. Who does the painting now belong to?

❸ At the beginning of the text Dorian Gray is described as behaving ‘as if


awakened from some dream’ (l. 1) and he ‘passed listlessly in front of his picture’
(l. 6). What impressions do these descriptions give to the reader about how
Dorian feels? Choose from the following.
excited about bored by the worried about the
seeing his portrait painting painting

❹ What is Dorian’s first reaction to the painting? Give examples from the text.
❺ In which lines do his feelings begin to change?
❻ What two things does the painting make him realise?
❼ Referring to Dorian the passage says: ‘...a sharp pang struck through him like a
knife’ and ‘He felt as if a hand of ice had been laid upon his heart’. Why?

❽ What literary technique do these sentences contain? Choose from the following.
simile alliteration metaphor

❾ What influence has Lord Henry Wotton already had on Dorian?


10 What is Dorian most afraid of? Give examples from the text.
11 Having already read the plot, explain why the following sentences are ironic,
‘The life that was to make his soul would mar his body. He would become
dreadful, hideous and uncouth.’

12 What would Dorian give his soul for?


13 We know that the Victorian period was one which tried to reinforce high moral
values. Is this novel in complete contrast with the ideas of the time? Why? Why
not? (Focus on the ending of the novel.) Discuss in class.

14 In today’s society people seem obsessed with youth and beauty. Trying to
remain young has almost become a full-time occupation for many people. In
groups, discuss the many things people do today to keep their youth and beauty.

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The Importance of Being Earnest (1895)
A play in three acts, The Importance of Being Earnest is generally considered Oscar Wilde’s greatest
work. It was first performed at the St James Theatre, London, in February 1894 and confirmed
Wilde’s position as the ‘darling’ of London’s high society.This was a position Wilde had
longed for all his life, but unfortunately one which he would soon lose when dragged into the
scandal of his homosexual relationship with the son of an aristocrat. The Importance of Being
Earnest,with its brilliantly witty plot and absurd characters, is a subtle yet ferocious attack
on the superficiality of the late-Victorian Age. It can also be interpreted more generally as a
criticism of the superficiality of men, their lying and arrogance. 281

5 / The Victorian Age


The language
The Importance of Being Earnest is one of the wittiest comedies ever written in the English
language. The dialogue is full of → aphorisms, producing a light-hearted, comic effect.
Aphorism =
The sharp language is stylised and completely unrealistic since it is a language ordinary a short and clever
people would never use. Nevertheless it is this language that gives life to the characters saying generally
as the action in the play becomes merely an accessory to dialogue. The importance of expressing
a well-held truth.
language in the play also reflects its importance in society; not everyone’s society but
London’s high society, in which everything was about pure style and an opportunity
to flaunt one’s social class through elegant conversation.

The characters
The characters in The Importance of Being Earnest can be defined as ‘literary caricatures’,
or stereotypes, without any great psychological depth. Jack Worthing represents the
fashionable young men of the time, Algernon the dandy, Cecily the happy-go-lucky
picture of naivety, Gwendolen the sophisticated young woman of high society and Lady
Bracknell is the archetypal ‘battle-axe’, a strong and domineering woman.

A theatrical
representation of
The Importance of
Being Earnest by
Oscar Wilde.

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The dandy
The role of the dandy is particularly highlighted in this play. Generally speaking, the
dandy is a man who is vain, pays excessive attention to his appearance and is, more
often than not, rather effeminate. In this comedy the dandy is also extraordinarily
witty and intelligent, speaking in epigrams and paradoxes. Many have seen, in Wilde’s
representation of the dandy, a self portrait of the writer himself.

The plot
Jack Worthing, a young man who divides his life between the town and the
282 countryside, has invented a brother whose name is Ernest and lives in London. By
doing so Worthing has given himself an excuse to travel to London periodically. Jack
is known as Ernest by his friends in London and as Jack when he’s in the countryside.
Jack is in love with Gwendolen Fairfax, his friend Algernon’s cousin, and the love is
reciprocal but when Jack talks to Gwendolen’s mother (Lady Bracknell), she objects
to his marrying her daughter because of his obscure origins. Algernon soon discovers
that Jack has a double life and he too goes to the countryside and there meets the
pretty Cecily, Jack’s young ward, and falls in love at first sight. After a series of
misunderstandings revolving around the name Ernest (in English the name is written
without an ‘a’; Wilde thus creates a pun on the word ‘earnest’ which means serious of
mind and intention) and the discovery of Jack’s origins – in the end we discover that he
is Algernon’s older brother. All the misunderstandings are cleared and the two couples,
Jack and Gwendolen, and Algernon and Cecily are finally married.

The Importance of Being Earnest CD 1 - TR 26


MP3 40

Jack Worthing is talking to Lady Bracknell. He has asked to marry her daughter but Lady
Bracknell is anxious to find out more about him before giving him her permission.

LADY BRACKNELL. [...] I have always been of opinion that a man who desires to
get married should know either everything or nothing. Which do you know?
JACK. [After some hesitation.] I know nothing, Lady Bracknell.
Lady Bracknell. I am pleased to hear it. I do not approve of anything that tampers
1. tampers with: 5 with1 natural ignorance. Ignorance is like a delicate exotic fruit; touch it and
corrompe.
2. bloom: il fiorire. the bloom2 is gone. The whole theory of modern education is radically unsound3.
3. unsound: malsano. Fortunately in England, at any rate4, education produces no effect whatsoever. If
4. at any rate: in ogni it did, it would prove a serious danger to the upper classes, and probably lead to
caso.
5. income: reddito. acts of violence in Grosvenor Square. What is your income5?
6. chiefly: 10 JACK. Between seven and eight thousand a year.
principalmente.
7. duties: doveri. LADY BRACKNELL. [Makes a note in her book.] In land, or in investments?
8. prevents one from: JACK. In investments, chiefly6.
impedisce di.
9. as far as I can make
LADY BRACKNELL. That is satisfactory. What between the duties7 expected of
out: da quanto posso one during one’s lifetime, and the duties exacted from one after one’s death, land
capire.
10. the poachers: 15 has ceased to be either a profit or a pleasure. It gives one position, and prevents
bracconieri. one from8 keeping it up. That’s all that can be said about land.
JACK. I have a country house with some land, of course, attached to it, about
fifteen hundred acres, I believe; but I don’t depend on that for my real income. In
fact, as far as I can make out9, the poachers10 are the only people who make
20 anything out of it.

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LADY BRACKNELL. A country house! How many bedrooms? Well, that point can
be cleared up afterwards11. You have a town house, I hope? A girl with a simple, 11. can be cleared up
afterwards: può
unspoiled12 nature, like Gwendolen, could hardly be expected to reside in the essere chiarito
successivamente.
country. […] Are your parents living? 12. unspoiled: non
25 JACK. I have lost both my parents. rovinata.
13. carelessness:
LADY BRACKNELL. To lose one parent, Mr Worthing, may be regarded as a disattenzione.
misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness13. Who was your father? He was 14. wealth: ricchezza.
15. in the purple
evidently a man of some wealth14. Was he born in what the Radical papers call of commerce:
the purple of commerce15, or did he rise from the ranks16 of the aristocracy? nella classe dei
commercianti.
30 JACK. I am afraid I really don’t know. The fact is, Lady Bracknell, I said I had lost 16. ranks: strati
(sociali). 283
my parents. It would be nearer the truth to say that my parents seem to have lost
17. handles: manici.

5 / The Victorian Age


me... I don’t actually know who I am by birth. I was... well, I was found. 18. cloak-room:
LADY BRACKNELL. Found! guardaroba.
19. bewildered:
JACK. The late Mr Thomas Cardew, an old gentleman of a very charitable and perplessa.
35 kindly disposition, found me, and gave me the name of Worthing, because he 20. bred: allevato.
happened to have a first-class ticket for Worthing in his pocket at the time. 21. to display a
contempt: mostrare
Worthing is a place in Sussex. It is a seaside resort. disprezzo.
LADY BRACKNELL. Where did the charitable gentleman who had a first-class
ticket for this seaside resort find you?
40 JACK. [Gravely.] In a hand-bag.
LADY BRACKNELL. A hand-bag?
JACK. [Very seriously.] Yes, Lady Bracknell. I was in a hand-bag – a somewhat large,
black leather hand-bag, with handles17 to it – an ordinary hand-bag in fact.
LADY BRACKNELL. In what locality did this Mr. James, or Thomas, Cardew come
45 across this ordinary hand-bag?
JACK. In the cloak-room18 at Victoria Station. It was given to him in mistake for
his own.
LADY BRACKNELL. The cloak-room at Victoria Station?
JACK. Yes. The Brighton line.
50 LADY BRACKNELL. The line is immaterial. Mr Worthing, I confess I feel
somewhat bewildered19 by what you have just told me. To be born, or at any rate
bred20, in a hand-bag, whether it had handles or not, seems to me to display a
contempt21 for the ordinary decencies of family life that reminds one of the worst
excesses of the French Revolution. And I presume you know what that
55 unfortunate movement led to? As for the particular locality in which the hand-
bag was found, a cloak-room at a railway station might serve to conceal a social
indiscretion – has probably, indeed, been used for that purpose before now – but
it could hardly be regarded as an assured basis for a recognised position in good
society.

A scene from
Oliver Parker’s
film adaptation
of Oscar Wilde’s
novel The
Importance of Being
Earnest (2002).

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OVER TO YOU
❶ Read the text and indicate the lines where Lady Bracknell asks about the
following.
1. Education