victorian period

Due before Sunday, November 1

Due before Sunday, November 1

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Instructions: Choose Five (5) of the following questions/prompts and write a brief response of approximately 200 words (or ½ page double spaced) to each. Answers should be in one Word document and numbered as the question or prompt is numbered so that I can tell what you are answering. Remember to give examples and quotes from the poems to illustrate what you are saying in your answer. You don’t need to use outside sources, but if you do, please mention in your answer who and where the material came from—don’t plagiarize, but you can borrow as long as you give credit to the author of the work (by saying “According to (author) in (title), …”). Using the library’s databases, particularly EBSCOHOST>Literary Reference Center, to look up Magill Masterplots analyses of the poems, story and play might be very helpful!


DEFINITION: To explicate [called an explication de texte in French] is to provide a close reading of a text, and, literally, to “unfold” the meaning of the text, to explain it in detail. You might start by providing a line by line or stanza by stanza paraphrase (putting the author’s words into your own, plain language—what, in your words, is she or he saying?), but you go on to point out elements in the text such as use of language or poetic form, and how the author makes meaning in the text. It is a sort of “analysis light”, as analysis more nearly involves looking in detail at those elements and pointing out patters or discussing how they work. In explication, you simply point them out and discuss briefly how the author is using them to help make meaning for the reader. Basically (very basically), this is a close reading of a poem, story, or other text.


Explicate one of the poems by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. If you choose “Cry of the Children,” perhaps discuss how this poem addresses social problems of her day. Why do you think Elizabeth Barrett Browning has lost popularity since her death?

What is a dramatic monologue? Use your own words here, and make sure to cite or credit outside sources. Explicate Robert Barret Browning’s poem “My Last Duchess” and show how it works as dramatic monologue. Why might Robert Browning prefer to write poems that involve a character speaking rather than himself, or his persona as a poet?

This may be more difficult as the poems are longer, but provide an explication of one of the poems of Alfred, Lord Tennyson. One question might be, what statement is he making about art or the place of the artist in society?

Explicate a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins, and try to point to some of his unique poetic elements such as sprung rhythm, abbreviated syntax, or neologisms (made-up words).

What is “pied” beauty? What are some examples of it? Why does Hopkins find it important to praise God for it? Explicate “Pied Beauty” looking for the answers to those questions.

Explicate “Dover Beach” by Matthew Arnold. How are the questions he is asking and the mood he is in look forward to the Modern Period following Victorianism?

What is farce? What is a comedy of manners? Give some examples from Oscar Wilde’s play “The Importance of Being Earnest” that exemplify farce and comedy of manners. How is Wilde questioning the prevailing thoughts of his time, critiquing the Victorian period and its morality in the play (Lady Bracknell is a good character to look at, here)?

In “A Scandal in Bohemia,” what do the men’s feelings about Irene Adler, including Sherlock Holmes, seem to say about perceptions of women during the Victorian era? For instance, what makes her seem so remarkable to all the men in the story? Why is she “the” woman to Holmes? Point to some specific passages in the story to show what the men think about her.

What are some of the supernatural and/or gothic elements found in “The Signal-man” by Charles Dickens? We tend to associate the gothic and a love of the supernatural with Romantic literature, but are there ways in which Dickens blends these elements with elements or concerns that seem more in line with the Victorian period? (Maybe think about industrialism in England and its effects on the period.)

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