Section I: (Suggested Time: 22 Minutes): Choose three of the following four quotations. Identify the excerpt (author and text), then state the significance of the quotation (5 points each; 3 X 5 = 15 points).
Sometimes it suits me better to invent
A tale from my own heart, more near akin
To my own passions and habitual thoughts.
This excerpt is taken from Wordsworth's Prelude. The passage is a significant representation of Wordsworth's Prelude and Romantic writing because of its personal focus. Romanticism represented a shift from Neo-Classicism's vanity and decorum toward more introspective thoughts and ideals. The excerpt also represents a shift in scope of the epic form from the grand scales of Homer's massive journey in the Odyssey to a more common, everyday scale. Wordsworth thought the scale of common life was significant due to the technological and political revolutions of the 18th century, and composed his prose in blank verse to appeal to the mass market of the common readers. Also, the personal nature of this passage leads to the beginning of autobiography as a form of literature. (Grade: 5+)
"Which way I fly is hell, myself am hell."
(blank verse). This quotation comes from Paradise Lost by John Milton. Milton was writing during the Renaissance in the 17th century, a guilt culture. During this time period, the shame of public humiliation was replaced with the guilt of personal sin. Christianity taught original sin, and so the people were consumed with guilt within themselves. This quotation portrays the inward ontaking of guilt in this culture as Satan proclaims himself to be hell. Unlike the Odyssey, where hell is a physical place, Milton writes hell as a concept residing within Satan, and within all men after the Fall. The guilt of original sin is reflected in that Satan cannot escape hell because it is within him, as man cannot escape the guilt within himself. (Grade: 5+).
Telemachus' reply was keen and wise:
"Dear friend, I cannot be more frank than this.
My mother says I am his son, but none
can know for sure the seed from which he's sprung
This quote is from Homer's The Odyssey. This quote shows how misogyny is used by epic poets. This quote serves to show how men are insecure and fear that women are unfaithful. In Homer's Odyssey there are other references to this misogyney and insecurity through references to Agamemnon and Clytemnestra. Telemachus is referred to as "keen and wise," two words that are used in epithets for his father, Odysseus, thereby linking the two together. (Grade: 5+). [Note: one could also say that Telemachus' epithet is distinct from his father: Telemachus is always represented as (too) "frank" unlike the wiley and ever conniving Odysseus.]
Here files of pins extend their shining rows,
Puffs, powders, patches, Bibles, billet-doux.
Now awful beauty puts on all its arms.
This quotation is presented in Alexander Pope's Rape of the Lock. It is a mock-epic using heroic couplets. Heroic couplets use iambic pentameter with rhymed couplets at the end of each line. In this case Pope is mocking the epic tradition of catalogs, as well as using zeugma. He lists off Belinda's toilette set as a contrast to traditional epic's lists of heros and armor. Zeugma involves yoking two things that are unalike together, usually one being grand and the other being trivial. Thus, it is zeugma when Pope intertwines Bibles (grand) and puffs (trivial). The heroic couplet form Pope uses is very symbolic of the type of society existing at this time. It involved order, balance, and closure, all exhibited through the couplet form. (Grade: 5+).
Section II (Suggested Time: 22 minutes): Choose three of the following four terms and explain the significance of each (5 points each; 3 X 5 = 15 points).
Helen of Troy
Helen of Tory is significant because she is one of the poeple (the other is Clytemnestra) that Penelope, Odysseus' wife, is often compared to. Helen of Troy was beautiful, as was Penelope, and had many suitors, as did Penelope. Helenn of Troy is supposedly the one who caused the Trojan War, because she left her husband to go and be with Paris. Helen was unfaithful to her husband and it is thought that it was because of her beauty. Many people throughout the Odyssey thought that Penelope was just like Helen of Troy and thought that she would be unfaithful to Odysseus as soon as he was out of the picture. Odysseus thought this as well, which was why he disguised himself when he returned. (Grade: 5+)
This is a term used as a play on the word, pathos, which is the feeling one has of identifying with the epic hero. Bathos means the opposite, it's the distancing of oneself from the epic "hero" because he appears ridiculous. This was a popular method of writing in the 18th century because it put the "hero" in his/her "place." The epic was scorned during this time period because decorum, appearance and order were considered to be important. The epic had too much grandeur of style to be appropriate. Pope employs the concept of bathos in his Rape of the Lock (Grade: 5+)
The machinery of an epic were the gods or supernatural forces who helped (or punished) the epic hero. In the Odyssey, there were multiple gods, as it was created during a polytheistic era, polytheism meaning having several gods. In Milton's Paradise Lost, the machinery consisted of one God and in Wordsworth's The Prelude, nature and the soul of man (or the mind, in other words) made up the machinery. This is called pantheism, meaning God is perceived to be the essance of all of Nature and the mind of man. The Muse, whose help is invoked usually at the beginning of an epic, is part of the machinery. (Grade: 5+).
In the traditional epic form, nekuia typically involves the protagonist's journey into the underworld. For example, Odysseus journeys into Hades in Book XII [Book XI actually] and converses with his friend, Agamemnon. The idea of a nekuia has evolved over the centuries in literary works. By Milton's time, nekuia has become an internalized state, as depicted in Satan's private hell: "which way I fly is hell, myself am hell." Wordsworth, however, feels that nekuia is that of the very mundane city, because of which people are deprived of certain feelings or forced into thoughts or actions. The significance of nekuia's change as civilization evolved is that the idea of hell has changed. The concept of nekuia as an internalized state has its parallel in the Renaissance distinction between the public and private self. In that sense, especially by Wordsworth's time, the perception is that each individual is within him/herself an epic journey, worthy of writing about. (Grade: 5+).
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