1. Lennard J. Davis, in FACTUAL FICTION, wrote that in Defoe's novels "there is no 'art' about them, no dazzling plots, not much in the way of form - just...the cumulative details to getting the story on record." Is this an accurate description of MOLL FLANDERS, and does this accumulation of details impede the modern reader in understanding the development of Moll's character? (Sara Elizabeth Watson)
2. Virginia Woolf admired Moll Flanders' character. Writing from a distinctly feminist perspective, she claimed that as a heroine Moll fully realized one of the ideals of feminism: freedom from "any involuntary involvement in the feminine role." What are the feminine roles you see Moll escaping and what are the ones you see her engaging? (Dr. Wiens)
3. The title page of this novel does not present a particularly savory character--assuming that this novel is supposed to perform a moralizing function for the reader, as Defoe indicates in his Preface. What technical problems in the way the novel is put together contribute to the ambiguity of moral judgment on Moll's character? (Dr. Hackler)
The Sheldon Sacks book is on in-house reserve at the library. A summary of TOM JONES, with an attached chapter for you to read, can be picked up now outside Dr. Hackler's office door.
1. In Chapter 6 of Sheldon Sacks' book _Fiction and the Shape of Belief_ the author describes how authors attempted to legitimate their work through the inclusion of moral conclusions and assumptions about the characters about their novel. To what degree or in what ways do Defoe and Fielding do this process of legitimization? (Mike Dunn)
2. What does the ability of novels with no moral imperative and no moral design say about the change in "truth and nature" as it is described in earlier times? Is human nature constant? If not, what is causal relationship between a lack of moral imperative and a change in "nature" as it is used in Sack's article? (Mike Dunn)
3. We have seen an example of a picaresque novel in MOLL FLANDERS--a series of adventures connected primarily by the presence of the protagonist. In TOM JONES we see an example of a similar adventure series, this time wrapped up in the form of an epic (!). How would these structural formats for early English novels create different expectations for the readers of their time than they do for readers of our time, accustomed as we are to the 19th-century novel "shape" of the novel popularized by Dickens and his contemporaries? (Hackler/Wiens)
I will be sending back via e-mail comments on your first response essay (to _Moll Flanders_ question). If what you see in my comments leads you to want to revise that first essay--or even the one on _Tom Jones_ if you've already sent it, please do. This is a special privilege on these first two essays.
You might also want to check out these Web links on Fielding:
1. In PAMELA, not only does Pamela fight to stay virtuous, but she also fights for her dignity again a man who would tear her down. In this respect, Pamela might be considered a feminist. Margaret Anne Doody suggests that Pamela uses the act of writing to create a self--that the act of writing in this novel is essentially an act of self-making, identity establishment, convention defiance, and establishment of self as authority. She also suggests that the blocking characters in the story partly attempt to exert their authority over Pamela by confiscating, destroying, or intercepting her writing. What do you see as the connections between the act of writing and Pamela's creation of her own authoritative self? (Maureen R. Myers/Gwen Hackler)
2. Many critics suggest that Pamela's psyche reveals inner conflicts over love and fear, sexual attraction and sexual fear. 1) Do you agree with this description of Pamela's character? (i.e., how psychologically true is this description of Pamela's character in the novel--does she exhibit both an attraction and repulsion from Mr. B.?), and 2) if so, is her character developed in such a way that this female psychological dynamic, portrayed by a male writer, rings psychologically true? (Dr. Hackler)
3. Margaret Doody also suggests that Richardson focuses in this novel on "major conflicts of sex and class." In what ways is this novel about negotiations culminating in marriage also a novel about property relations (including Pamela's question, "How came I to be his Property?") and marriage as related to social and economic hierarchies? In this respect, how does the novel compare to or provide a commentary on MOLL FLANDERS? (Gwen Hackler)
These questions on EMMA only presupposed that you have _begun_ reading the book. All ask you to do what is in effect a "close reading" or a chapter or episode of your choice. This coming Monday we'll talk about chapters 1-16 and watch the first half of the film version.
1. Pick any one of the first 16 chapters and describe the narrative perspective at work in it (refer to Booth's article for background on how the narrator in Austen's fiction has been typically described). Include in your remarks any instances of irony and moral judgment, as well as comments on the narrator's distance from/closeness to various characters.
2. Booth notes that often Austen makes use of dramatic irony (255 ff.). Select and discuss a single scene thus far in the novel where dramatic irony appears. Explain the irony in the scene and discuss the techniques through which it is achieved.
3. Emma "giv[es] herself away with every word} (258), claims Booth. Choose a chapter including both Emma and Mr. Knightly where you as the reader see a great deal that Emma reveals unknowingly. Discuss a) what she gives away, b) to whom (which characters "get it" or are oblivious to it), and c) how--the means--through which she reveals herself.
EMMA II: issues of moral judgment in the novel
1. According to Craik there are distinct groups of comic characters in _Emma_. He points out that Austen used many minor characters to help make moral judgments. Discuss Austen's use of a minor character, such as Mrs. Elton or Mrs. Bates, whose actions (or treatment by other people) provoke us to make moral judgments about characters in the novel. (Courtney Locke)
2. Craik argues that "Just as Mr. Woodhouse brings out the best in people, Frank Churchill brings out the worst." Identify another "touchstone" character in the novel who helps to draw out and show more clearly the moral qualities of all the other characters who associate with him/her. Discuss the ways in which this character makes it possible for the reader to form moral judgments.
3. Which characters in the novel share most closely the narrator's sense of moral values, and how do these particular characters contribute to the reader's formation of a set of moral values in the novel against which all characters' actions are measured?
CASTLE OF OTRANTO
1. In Fred Botting's book _Gothic_, he commented that with the advent of the Gothic Novel, "fiction was becoming less a mode of moral instruction, a guide to proper behaviour, a way of representing society as natural, unified and rational, and more an invitation to pleasure and excitement, a way of cultivating individual emotions detached from the obligations of the everyday world." In light of this statement, what elements of Horace Walpole's _The Castle of Otranto_, which is considered the original Gothic Novel, help to define the genre and how do they differentiate the Gothic Novel from earlier forms of the English Novel? (Melanie Mercer)
2. Contrast the elements of the irrational, subconscious, mystical, emotional that are found in _Castle_ as a work of Romanticism with the elements of the rational, conscious, empirical, and intellectual in _Emma_ and any other previous novel we have read. (Drs. Hackler & Wiens)
3. There are different expectations at work in _Castle_ about realism, that is, how much the story and characterization must be "true to life." How would you describe the amount and kinds of realism (as we have seen it used in earlier novels) in _Otranto_? (Drs. Hackler & Wiens)
TENANT OF WILDFELD HALL
1. In _The Tenant of Wildfeld Hall_ we return to a narrative with more than one teller. How does the organization of the novel imply the concept of readership (perhaps in multiple ways, as the epistolary novel _Pamela_ did)? Is there what Wolfgang Iser referred to as an "implied reader"? What effect does this produce?
2. The nature of relationships between men and women have been examined in almost every novel that we have read so far. What "ideals" of love, marriage, and relating are condoned in Anne Bronte's novel? How might these compare with earlier models (with Austen's, for example, or Richardson's)?
Discussion Questions over Bronte's THE TENANT OF WILDFELD HALL
What effect does the narrative framework of the novel-the diary within a letter-have on you as a reader? What does the novel lose/gain from this structure? How does it play with the perspectives of gender in the novel? *How different would the story have been if diary entries or letters from Huntingdon had been added?
What are the major traits of the heroine Helen? What are her strengths and weaknesses? Did you find that you liked her? Why does she allow herself to fall in love, despite all warnings? Do you find her love for Gilbert Markham believable? sufficiently motivated? realistic? romantic? How are characters like Millicent Hargrave or Annabella Wilmont foils to Helen?
Themes: Gender/Relationships/Marriage/Social Customs
What social commentary on marriage does Anne Bronte seem to be making with The Tenant? What does the conversation in Chp 32 reveal about the 19th century's "psychology of the sexes"? How does Hattersly, for example, compare "sugar plums? to "sour oranges"? What is clear about Huntingdon's perceptions of a "wifely role"? What do Helen's observations about relationships reveal about her idea of the "ideal relationship"? How do her ideas compare to Gilbert's (particularly evident as he talks about good wife material in an early conversation with his mother)? Why are Gilbert and Helen more compatible partners? Or are they? Do you find their attraction believable? (In other words, is their sufficient psychological motivation for Helen falling in love with Gilbert?) What role does Helen play in her husband's life? How does she almost literally become his "divinity"?
What characteristics does this novel share with earlier novels we have read? Are there Gothic elements? How is this novel "realistic" or unrealistic? There are many melodramatic elements in the novel (highly rhetorized love proclamations, dramatic death bed scenes, one-dimensionally villanous characters, etc.). In what ways is The Tenant more romantic than realistic?
WIDE SARGASSO SEA
1. What elements of WIDE SARGASSO SEA make it a gothic novel? Are there any of these elements in THE CASTLE OF OTRANTO? Is this a gothic novel by the definitions and standards we used last week?
2. Teresa O'Connor talked of the way setting (the island versus England) enabled contrasts and shifts in attitude and actions How do characters' attitudes, motives, actions and perceptions of their lives others change as they arrive at, live in, or move to different locale?
3. How do the names Bertha and Edward use and take for themselves reflect upon their personalities? How does this desire to be called by something other than what the other calls them reflect upon the status of their relationship? Does this double identity, or lack thereof, constitute or introduce an element of the gothic genre?
4. How does the way in which this novel is presented, specifically that of the changing voice of the narrator compare with the things we have already read? Does that change serve to strengthen or weaken your opinion of any of the characters?
5. What is Obeah and how does it fit in the gothic genre?
6. In what ways and do what degrees are Bertha's behavior and final actions determined by her mother's actions before her? To what degree are they determined by Bertha's husband? By bertha herself? (is her suicide and the arson predetermined by others or by Bertha's inability inside herself to deal with life?)
Film Viewing Questions for JANE EYRE
In what ways does the Orson Welles/Joan Fontaine version of Jane Eyre accomplish aspects of the Gothic?
How is the black/white version of the 1930s actually better suited to the dark, gloomy interior spaces of Gateshead, Lowood, or Thornfield?
How do Welles/Fontaine and Hurt/Gainsboro compare to your imagined versions of Jane and Rochester? recall Iser's comment that "with the novel the rader must use his imagination to synthesize the information given him, and so his perception is simultaneously richer and more private; with the film he is confined merely to physical perception, and so whatever he remembers of the world he had pictured is brutally cancelled out" (Iser, THE IMPLIED READER, 283).
How is the point of view of the novel accommodated in either cinematic version? What is lost/gained in the movie versions?
Is Jane Eyre depicted as rebellious in either cinematic interpretation, at least rebellious in ways suggested by Gilbert's and Gubar's analysis of the heroine in the chapter "A Dialogue of Self and Soul" from their book THE MADWOMAN IN THE ATTIC?
How is Jane's story in some ways deeper and more satisfying because we see her developed in the pattern of the bildungsroman, knowing her as a child and understanding the process of her maturity?
How is love depicted and declared in the film? How do notions of marriage, companionship, society, and equality compare in this story (even in its cinematic forms) with those espoused in other novels we have read (EMMA, THE TENANT OF WILDFELL HALL, or WIDE SARGASSO SEA, for example)?
How is your response to the film versions of Jane Eyre affected by your reading of Jean Rhys's "prequel," WIDE SARGASSO SEA? What do you feel for Bertha Mason?
1. What elements of THE MOONSTONE would have appealed to the growing reading population, which made books more accessible to the lower classes? How would characters, plot and narrators have contributed to this? (Sara Watson)
2. How is religion pictured in THE MOONSTONE especially in characters like Miss Clack? How does this view compare/contrast with the representation of religion and religious people in other novels we have read? (Sarah Watson)
3. In what respects is this novel similar to other Victorian detective fiction, such as the Sherlock Holmes stories by Arthur Conan Doyle, and in what ways does it raise questions about some of the assumptions and characteristics of typical Victorian detective fiction? (Dr. Hackler)
THE GOOD SOLDIER
1. In his article, "The Epistemology of THE GOOD SOLDIER Samuel Hynes identifies the novel's main problem as "the problem of knowledge." What drawbacks are there to the form of narration Ford chose for THE GOOD SOLDIER (a novel of tragic/melodramatic circumstances told from the viewpoint of a deceived husband who presents the events in retrospect)? In addition, how does the novel's structure compare to those of previous novels such as MOLL FLANDERS, PAMELA, or EMMA?
2. Compare/Contrast the characters of Dowell and Ashburnham or Florence and Leonora. Pay particular attention to their capacity for love versus their preoccupatioon with passion. Do you agree with Hynes' statement that Dowell "performs the two acts of wholly unselfish love in the book" (53)?
3. Schorer suggests in Samuel Hynes' article that THE GOOD SOLDIER is "a comedy of humor" due to three enormous inadequacies of Dowell (I. his failures, II. his moral doubt, and III his capacity for love). In light of Schorer's opinion, do you feel that Ford's novel is a tragic tale or a comedy of humor? Explain.
1. In the critical essay for this week, Lee Whitehead suggests that PINCHER MARTIN is written in a "bracket" in order for the reader to be able to believe in the reality of the story. How was this form effective? How was it more or less effective than the form (or lack of form) used in THE GOOD SOLDIER?
2. Whitehead suggests that there are "overtones of Christian
symbolism" in PINCHER MARTIN. Do you agree, and if so, what are
some of the symbols of Christianity that you discovered in the novel?