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From Queen Anne to Queen Victoria

Study Guide


Note: before the exam read also the study guides for individual texts.


1.      Jonathan Swift – Ireland and Irishness, attitude to colonialism, humankind as depicted in Gulliver’s Travels, the use of horses as exemplary figures.  Utopia and dystopia

2.      John Gay – the political and social context, The Beggar’s Opera – ‘Newgate pastoral’, the parody of Italian opera, views on love and marriage

3.      The birth of the novel. – social and historical context.  First vs. third-person narrative. Epistolary novel.  Fielding’s “moral architecture”.  Richardson’s ‘virtue rewarded’ vs. Fielding’s attitude

4.      Fantomina as an example of pre-Richardsonian novel. The reversal of the seduction narrative. Multiple personalities and the question of Fantomina’s identity. The use of multiple personas and its links with the masquerade. The social roles of men and women. A narrative of female empowerment or female subjection?

5.      Tristram Shandy as a self-reflexive novel.  The historical context.  Locke’s theory of associations.  The novel about writing a novel and its parallel in the process of child birth.

6.      The Gothic novel – the sublime vs. the beautiful, Shakespearian allusions in The Monk  The psychoanalytic readings of the Gothic novel. 

7.      Mansfield Park - the meaning of the title, the pastoral elements, the oblique elements of social criticism (slavery issue).  Nature vs. nurture.  Free indirect speech.  Why is the staging of the play so subversive?  The end of each volume and its role in the structure of the novel.

8.      Coleridge’s Christabel – symbols, sources, the characteristic metre, finished or unfinished?  Geraldine as Christabel’s alter ego or the messenger of evil?

9.      Frankenstein – two versions, the frame story vs. Frankenstein’s story, the Gothic, literary and mythological allusions (Paradise Lost, Prometheus), political and social conservatism

10.  Middlemarch as the social microcosm.  Eliot’s omniscient narrator.  Fielding’s influence on the narrative techniques.  Scientific metaphors. The story of St Theresa and its relevance for the novel.

11.  Browning and the dramatic monologue. The philosophy of “imperfect perfection”.

12.  Victorian poetry – medievalism, dramatic monologue, King Arthur as a Christ figure.  The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and its influence on literature.  The use of terza rima by Morris.

13.  Colonialism and imperial ideology in Kipling.  “White man’s burden”.  The use of slang and jargon in poetry.  Kipling’s multiplicity of voices.

14.  Thomas Hardy’s poetry and its main themes.  The connections between Hardy’s novels and poetry.

15.  G.B. Shaw – Ibsen’s influence, the figure of a “New Woman”.  “Unpleasant” and pleasant” plays as breaking with the traditional division of drama into comedy and tragedy.  Elements of ancient tragedy and comedy in Mrs Warren’s Profession. Vivie’s anagnorisis.  The pastoral elements.


Sample questions


1.      Swift’s attitude to colonization in Gulliver’s Travels

2.      In what way are Gulliver’s Travels indebted to the travel narrative as a genre?

3.      Why is Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera called ‘a pastoral’?

4.      The differences between the epistolary novel and the novel with the omniscient narrator

5.      The relationship between the narrator and the reader in Tom Jones

6.      Explain the idea of “moral architecture” as used by Henry Fielding

7.      The sublime in Lewis’s The Monk

8.      The characteristic features of the Gothic novel in The Monk

9.      The dualism of human nature in Coleridge’s Christabel

10.  Can Geraldine be in some way Christabel’s alter ego?

11.  Symbols in Christabel

12.  What kind of metre does Coleridge employ in Christabel?

13.  Should Christabel be treated as a poem left unfinished through some fault of Coleridge or as a complete work of art?

14.  The sources of Christabel

15.  The elements of the pastoral in Mansfield Park

16.  The role of religion in Mansfield Park

17.  The importance of the house in Mansfield Park

18.  Why is staging the play in Mansfield Park such a subversive act?

19.  The use of free indirect speech by Jane Austen

20.  What are the differences between two versions of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and why did she introduce them?

21.  What are the similarities between Frankenstein’s monster and Milton’s Satan?

22.  The structure of Frankenstein

23.  Explain the subtitle The Modern Prometheus in Frankenstein

24.  Ice and fire as symbols in Frankenstein

25.  Frankenstein as a politically conservative novel

26.  In what way is King Arthur in Tennyson’s Idylls similar to Christ?

27.  William Morris used terza rima in “The Defense of Guenevere” to commemorate another very famous work of literature.  Which one?

28.  Characterize Kipling’s attitude towards the role of the British Empire

29.  How can we read Kipling’s “The Widow at Windsor” – as the criticism or eulogy of the British Empire?

30.  Name three elements that Heart of Darkness and Kipling’s “The Man Who Would be King” have in common




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