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BEGC-104: British Poetry and Drama : 14th- 17th Centuries

BEGC-104: British Poetry and Drama : 14th- 17th Centuries

IGNOU Solved Assignment Solution for 2022-23

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Assignment Code: BEGC-104/2022-23

Course Code: BEGC-104

Assignment Name: British Poetry and Drama - 14th and 17th Century

Year: 2022-2023

Verification Status: Verified by Professor


Max. Marks: 100

Answer all questions.


Section A


Write short notes on the following in about 200 words each. 2 × 5 = 10


a) Cultural Materialism

Ans) Cultural Materialism reflected the viewpoint of socially outcast groups by fusing a vision of social hierarchies with the concept of culture. The majority of early 20th-century criticism focused on the text as a closed unit, following Bradley and the New Critical theory. Shakespeare's plays had various interpretations as a result of the Marxist concept of class and later culture.


Shakespeare's plays were discussed in a way that was vibrant and dynamic because to the inclusion of a wide variety of topics by feminist critique, new historicists, and cultural materialist reading. The play has been interpreted by New Historicists and cultural materialists in light of the sociocultural and historical context of the time it was written and performed. Understanding the various methods of understanding the play's many facets requires placing Macbeth within the social history of the era.


The cultural materialist perspective enables us to understand how people who live on the periphery of society are made. The world of kings and queens can be understood just as well as that of women, commoners, and members of the lower classes. The monarch and his claim to the throne is one of the key themes of Macbeth. The drama is set in Jacobean England, which is the era after King James VI of Scotland succeeded King James I of England as the country's ruler. The result was the unification of the Scottish and English thrones.


b) Renaissance

Ans) Literature and the arts had a renaissance during the English Renaissance in the sixteenth century. The revolutionary movement that started in Italy during the mediaeval era as previously indicated and gradually engulfed all of Europe is referred to as the Renaissance. The movement placed a high value on self-development and reason. A new awareness was also fostered among people in England especially and throughout Europe as a whole by the unearthing of the long-lost works of classical Latin and Greek literature. It altered how Europe thought.


A new set of values was introduced during the Renaissance, and education was given top priority. The humanists had a strong belief in the ability of education and learning to help one become their best selves. As a result, Renaissance educators abandoned the previous educational paradigm in which knowledge was imparted. However, the Renaissance altered the paradigm for understanding current phenomena. As a result, it trusted in the influence of books.


In England, the Renaissance peaked in 1561. The book served as a guide for men at the time on how to become their "ideal selves," which would be skilled in both political and military issues as well as the arts and music. It makes sense that it would appeal to a Renaissance guy who was prepared to grow personally.


Section B


Answer the following reference to the context in about 300 words each: 3 X 10 = 30


a) That wear this world out to the ending doom.

So, till the judgement that yourself arise,

You live in this, and dwell in lover’s eyes.

Ans) The above lines are taken from the poem, ‘Not Marble, nor the Gilded Monuments’ is sonnet 55 of 154 sonnets written by Shakespeare. The poem's theme is that outstanding and decent people leave a lasting impression on those around them and will be remembered for a very long time. No matter how elaborate and expensive they are, monuments and statues cannot immortalise the wealthy and powerful.


The poet asserts in these lines that despite dying and the prejudice of your opponents, you would continue to be praised and would endure in people's memories. You would be cherished by future generations, and people would continue to think of you far after the end of the world. When the poet refers to "oblivious animosity," he implies the kind of enmity that causes one to lose sight of life's fundamental principles. These lines are directed to a friend of the poet who deserves appreciation.


The poet expresses through these two words that you will emerge from your grave on the day of judgement along with the other souls. You will continue to exist up until that point in the poet's writings and in the hearts of your lovers. The term "dwell in lover's eyes" suggests that even after "he" has passed away, he will survive in the memories of his admirers. The word "this" in the sentence "You live in this" stands for the poet's lyric that would keep his companion alive till the end of time.


He would emerge from his grave along with the other spirits on "the day of judgement," when each person would finally receive what is rightfully theirs from god Almighty.


b) Call country ants to harvest offices,

Love, all alike, no reason knows, nor clime,

Nor hours, days, months, which are the rags of time.

Ans) The above lines are taken from ‘The Sun Rising’ by John Donne. In this poem, Donne apostrophises (in a rhetorical fashion) the sun, as it peeps through the curtains in the morning, disturbing him and his lover as they lounge around in bed.


For the lover, as for Donne maybe, it upsets the couple when they spend time together in the privacy of a curtained room away from prying eyes. Humans generally have the freedom from having their personal affairs dictated to them by any outside power or organisation. Particularly, the couple would prefer quiet settings for their time together. In addition, the culture of the time does not provide explanations for the ethos' instability and ambiguity. Also keep in mind that Donne places tremendous value on the bonds of affection that people share with one another.


Just to be clear. There was never a metaphor that John Donne didn't enjoy. In line 8, he provides us a mini-metaphor by referring to peasant farmers as "country ants," even though we are already in this complex metaphor about the sun directing people what to do. He is reminding us that he and his lover are superior to these individuals by doing this. They hold more senior positions. Offices in this usage refers to a duty or responsibility rather than just a cubicle.


For his lists, Donne is renowned. He often uses lists to communicate his feelings when he starts to rage. The phrase "hours, days, months" here emphasises how consistent and steadfast his devotion is. The sun shedding light on an unlawful relationship is a common theme in traditional aubades, which are poetry delivered to a lover before dawn. More often than not, the lovers are conscious of the short-lived nature of their desire rather than their enduring connection.


Here, we also get another little glimpse of the Great Chain of Being philosophy. Take note of how Donne arranges the time units from smallest to largest. The last metaphor is incredibly catchy, and Donne actually used it in another speech. He contrasts hours, days, and months with eternity and (we suppose) his everlasting love for his beloved by referring to them as "rags of time." It's a brilliant way to boast: Baby, though hours, days, and months go by, my love for you never fades.


c) Stay, you imperfect speakers, tell me more.

By Sinel’s death I know I am Thane of Glamis;

But how of Cawdor? The Thane of Cawdor Lives,

Ans) The above lines are taken from Act I of ‘Imperfect speakers’ by Macbeth. In the context of the lines above, which Macbeth speaks after hearing the three witches' predictions. Macbeth's journey toward tyranny begins when he is appointed Thane of Cawdor. He presses the witches for additional information and queries the forecasts. When Ross and Angus proceed to tell Macbeth that he has been named the Thane of Cawdor, the prophecy comes to pass.


They express Macbeth's as of yet unspoken intention to rule Scotland. Banquo is expected to be "greater than Macbeth" and "lesser than Macbeth." As Macbeth and Banquo ponder how the witches' prophecies can be realised, an alternative framework is created.


Following Banquo, Macbeth now addresses the witches directly. He calls them "imperfect speakers," claiming that their forecasts are unfinished and half-formed. However, "imperfect" also connotes something incomplete, sinful, and immoral, as well as a distorted view of society, at least up to the middle of the 16th century.


With the command, "tell me more," Macbeth expresses his desire to learn more about the predictions. He admits the first truth, which is that the phrase "by Sinel's death" is based on the Holinshed Chronicles, in which Sinel is identified as Macbeth's father and his title of "Glamis" is an inherited title at odds with the tanistry concept, just like Malcolm will become Duncan's heir.


Banquo and Macbeth are speaking, and the witches inform Macbeth that he is the Thane of Cawdor and Glamis. He is enquiring as to how he is the Thane of Cawdor while the witches are still alive. They claim to be high on drugs and are puzzled about what the witches said. This is noteworthy because it demonstrates that the witches foretold that he would become the Thane of Cawdor and kill or overthrow the king.

Section C


Answer the following questions in about 800 words each: 3 X 20 = 60


Q1. How do you interpret the role of the witches in Macbeth?

Ans) Shakespeare employed witches in the play as symbols for the paranormal, evil, a destructive force, and an inversion of the natural order. People at the time the play was written held this belief and were afraid of witches. People used to think that witches had the ability to control the weather in addition to other supernatural abilities like the ability to predict the future and fly.


Shakespeare opens the play with the witches debating when their next gathering should be in Act 1 Scene 1. He uses this in an effort to pique the audience's interest in the witches and the role they perform. Macbeth bravely resisted the powerful force of the Norwegian troops in Act 1 Scene 2. Following the recent discovery of the former Thane of Cawdor's treachery, Duncan bestows upon Macbeth the brave title of "Thane of Cawdor."


Act 1 Scene 3 introduces Macbeth to the witches before he learns of this information. The witches are described as "Instruments of darkness" in this scene. The witches are planning to punish a sea captain whose wife offended them in thunderous weather. The witches, according to Banquo, are eerie, ugly, and wild because of their beards. The witches foretell Macbeth in three different ways. They laud him as the King of the hereafter, the Thane of Glamis, and the Thane of Cawdor.


Shakespeare made use of the witches in the play to convey to the audience that the witches are in charge and expert manipulators since they led Macbeth to commit wicked things. Shakespeare might have wished to add a bit of drama and excitement to the play. Fair is foul and foul is fair, which is the play's main action, is stated right at the beginning to evoke a sense of mystery.


Macbeth is more than capable of committing all the wrongdoing and terrible acts by himself. When they first encounter the witches, Macbeth and Banquo are on their way home from the battlefield. They foresee Macbeth becoming Thane of Cawdor and King of Scotland at this time. It is a thinking that is intriguing and the beginning of an idea. Although he has faithfully served his king and country, he thinks to himself, "The first step toward the ultimate aim, the throne," when the first prophecy is realised and he is appointed Thane of Cawdor. If he refers to the end result as a throne, he has previously entertained this notion.


He has set priorities for his goals in life, and he sees becoming king as the pinnacle. Macbeth is driven by ambition. To motivate him, he merely needs hints as to what might be his. He is not prevented from killing by a sense of moral obligation. He is just reluctant because he worries about the negative repercussions on Earth, not because it would be wrong. If the assassination might outweigh the repercussions.


Macbeth is not given any orders from the witches to kill Duncan or anybody else. He chooses to assassinate his king. He can only view this as the path to achieving his "Ultimate Goal." A murder triggers another one. He is caught in a web that Macbeth has woven that is paranoid-inducing. He quickly comes to think that everyone is out to get him. Every stone in his castle conceals traitors. He no longer has any reliable pals, and even his wife has descended into craziness. Killing and then killing some more is the only way to handle this. He again turns to the witches because he needs to know what his future holds. They might be able to reassure him.


Macbeth is in severe need of some level of security at this point in the play. The witches are more than willing to comply. They'll probably certainly grant his request. When Hecate informs the three witches, she had predicted Macbeth's frailty. Now they warn him to watch out for Macduff and say that Birnum Woods won't attack his fortress till then and that no man born of a woman will beat him. Macbeth is comforted. How is it that trees do not walk and men do not come from women? He has heard exactly what he was hoping to.


He focuses on the final two cautions and almost completely ignores the first: "Macbeth, Macbeth, Macbeth! Don't trust Macduff. Watch out for the Thane of Fife! He surely would have found a means of killing Macduff if he had paid close attention to the first warning. However, the witches once more provided Macbeth with what he believed he needed. The witches repeatedly show themselves in the drama. They foretell, forecast, and tempt, but they are powerless to stop Macbeth. He is in control of his own destiny. He has power over his life. Both the choices and the faults of his actions are his.


As a result, Macbeth's choices and deeds are greatly influenced by the Witches' activity. Their forecasts are what brought about the tragedy. They subtly dominate the entire play.


Q2. Discuss the ending of the play Dr. Faustus.

Ans) The play's audience often feels that Faustus shouldn't have received such a harsh penalty at the play's conclusion. It would have been wise to pay attention to his sincere apologies and prayers for God to have pity on him. And he shouldn't have been sentenced to hell for all eternity. Even the critics disagree on the play's conclusion. It is believed that Faustus had a noble character and that his only transgression was in daring to travel across uncharted territory and to heed the cries of his curious nature. They contend that he should have been treated warmly at the play's conclusion since his excessive ambition is not personal; rather, it is a product of Renaissance culture. But according to the Aristotelian definition of tragedy, Faustus' demise was consistent with the play's denouement or resolution.


The notion of cause and effect is likewise satisfied by Faustus' damnation. Here, the scientific spirit of the Renaissance comes to life. Dr. Faustus erred in judgement, and now he must pay the price. It would have gone against both the rules of a tragic drama and the spirit of the time if Faustus had managed to avoid the tragic damnation in the end. Here, the outcome is fairly predictable. The audience can clearly see Dr. Faustus's demise throughout the entire performance. The readers would have been perplexed if Faustus had been found not guilty and redeemed by God in the alternate ending because they had been expecting his damnation the entire time. Additionally, the denouement's purpose is to impart a moral lesson. If Faustus had been able to avoid his tragic conclusion, tragedy would have failed in its crucial role. Therefore, this is a fitting way for the play to end.


How could anyone fail to notice the outstanding performance of Dr. Faustus' final soliloquy at the conclusion of the play? The play's climax occurs in Faustus's final monologue. It portrays the heart-breaking sorrow of a lost soul with exquisite detail. Faustus's despair was too great to put into words, yet Marlowe managed to capture the deepest part of his soul and express it with words that are extremely hard to find.


The clock strikes eleven and Faustus says:

Ah Faustus,

Now hast though one bare hour to live,

And then thou must be damned perpetually (V, ii, 91)


His appeals to heaven, to earth, to nature for stopping their momentum so that he could repent are really moving:

Stand still, you ever moving spheres of heaven,

That time may cease, and midnight never come.

Fair nature’s eye, rise , rise again and make

Perpetual day, or let this hour be but

A year, a month, a week, a natural day,

That Faustus may repent and save his soul (V, ii, 91)


Faustus who had challenged the authority of God pleads for His compassion and mercy:

See, see where Christ’s blood streams in the firmament!

One drop would save my soul, half a drop: ah my Christ – (V,ii,92)


And finally, when the clock strikes twelve:

O it strikes, it strikes! Now body, turn into air,

Or Lucifer will bear thee quick to hell.

O Soul, be changed into little water drops,

And fall into the ocean, ne’er be found.

My God, my God, look no fierce on me! (V, ii, 92)


Faustus experiences visions and receives the resolution to all of his earlier questions. His delusions have been dispelled, and he can now clearly understand the effects of his actions. He gets very near to God in these last seconds. He talks about reaching out to God. He notices the blood of Christ in the firmament. He then observes God's "wrathful brows." In order to be protected from "the terrible wrath of God," he implores the mountains to collapse on him and swallow him up inside of themselves. As their spirit eventually "dissolves in elements," take into account the fact that he would like to vanish into a cloud before ascending to heaven. He would also like to change into a beast. He curses himself for falling into the devil's trap and his parents for giving birth to him. In order to finally be saved, he would prefer to spend a thousand years in hell.


The fact that it is never too late to turn to God and ask for forgiveness causes Faustus to continue to struggle theologically with his grasp of God's kindness. But even in the most vital moments, Faustus is more preoccupied with his damnation than with God's grace. He continues to doubt his chances of receiving a pardon. Perhaps Marlowe intended to demonstrate that Faustus could not, until the very end, free himself of pride. While Faustus is partially lost in God, he keeps his focus on the passing moment. He still has a shaky faith. He continues to defy his fate, concocts absurd ruses, and clings to every moment of his remaining existence. The closing soliloquy, though, makes one feel a lot of pity for Faustus, who is more deceived than guilty. This moment is still among the play's most impactful ones.


Q3. Critically appreciate “Sonnet 65”.

Ans) In Sonnet 65, the speaker offers his response to the query as well as his solution to the general issue. Naturally, the subject of this sonnet sequence—the speaker's ability, muse, and the "black ink" he continues to spread across the page in his masterful sonnets—will not be far from any solution to any problem for him. Once more, this witty speaker shows off his adaptability by imagining situations in which he can use his exceptional abilities. He is always conscious of the value of vibrant colours, luscious visuals, and smooth sounds. He frequently gave pictures that can be perceived by all five senses. Thus, the reader is compelled to engage in a full range of emotional reactions to each minor drama.

First Quatrain: Cosmic Strength

Since brass, nor stone, nor earth, nor boundless sea

But sad mortality o’ersways their power,

How with this rage shall beauty hold a plea,

Whose action is no stronger than a flower?


Shakespeare's Sonnet 65's speaker begins by enumerating some of the powerful natural elements of the universe, including "brass, stone, earth, and [the] limitless sea," but he then laments the fact that their destruction is always just around the corner. Even these seemingly durable and strong objects are all destroyed by the power of "mortality." The speaker might confront nature with a human reaction that attempts to transcend the ravages that nature inflicts on all natural objects, including the human form, by first admitting the true ways of nature. The speaker then asks how beauty can endure the effects of time as it seems to be a trait as delicate as a flower. Compared to a flower, which similarly depicts beauty but lacks the strength of battle, beauty moves less. The speaker has noticed the absence of effort in an object like a flower. Since he is used to seeing human fight, he wonders why lower-evolved species on the evolutionary spectrum don't exhibit the same level of struggle.


Second Quatrain: Summer as Symbol

O! how shall summer’s honey breath hold out

Against the wrackful siege of battering days,

When rocks impregnable are not so stout,

Nor gates of steel so strong, but Time decays?


The speaker continues to ponder the briefness of summer and how that joyous season came to be plagued with "battering." Even though summer only lasts for a few short months, it serves as a metaphor for all the happy, bright, and sunny things on earth. Even the seemingly impregnable and powerful rocks "are not that stout" in reality. Even "gates of steel" can't withstand the destructive Time, who makes all stuff decay. The speaker uses both natural and artificial objects to illustrate how everything is governed by duality, or the pairings of opposites.


Third Quatrain: Demanding an Answer

O fearful meditation! where, alack,

Shall Time’s best jewel from Time’s chest lie hid?

Or what strong hand can hold his swift foot back?

Or who his spoil of beauty can forbid?


The speaker cries, demanding strongly to know where Time keeps his "greatest treasure" and asking of his own musing. The speaker also questions whether there is a "strong hand" that can control the rapid rate of disintegration. The speaker's inquiries are not merely rhetorical because they make a strong assumption that there is a problem and a solution to it. The speaker then raises the possibility of the existence of a power that may prevent or slow down this "beautiful" from being spoiled. By asking these questions, the speaker is implying that he is aware of how to carry out these deeds that will halt Time's swiftly advancing foot and lessen Time's destruction of beauty. The speaker maintains humility while being insightful as he offers his probing questions and their obliquely implied responses.


The Couplet: Power of the Written Word

O! none, unless this miracle have might,

That in black ink my love may still shine bright.


The force of his sonnets, of course: he will keep dramatizing and immortalising his love in his "black ink," and that love will keep "shining bright," unhindered by Time's furious destruction. The speaker has established the idea that poetry can help a person attain some degree of immortality. Due to the importance of the mission, the speaker is forced to persevere, crafting his own mini dramas that not only display his own wonderful body of knowledge but also help listeners recall it through lovely, enduring language. His life is his art, and his work is his life. These two prized possessions drive him to do his greatest work. On his journey to transcendence, he keeps creating and developing, becoming more and more optimistic and spiritual.


With the use of several images, most of which are drawn from the natural world, William Shakespeare attempts to capture the power of mortality, the passage of time, and the power of writing in this lovely sonnet. He has expertly portrayed "mortality" as a "ferocious behemoth" and "time" as a powerful "maker" and "destroyer" of all things natural and human. This sonnet presents the creative writing's triumph over time and mortality in an intriguing way. The "Sonnet 65" by William Shakespeare has been ranked among the greatest sonnets of all time due to its broad appeal and excellent portrayal of the theme.

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