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

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

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Assignment Code: BEGC-104/TMA/2023-24

Course Code: BEGC-104

Assignment Name: British Poetry and Drama

Year: 2023-24

Verification Status: Verified by Professor

Section A

Write short notes on the following in about 200 words each.

Qa) Alison and Jankins

Ans) Alison, a woman with a series of life experiences behind her, remembers the challenges and confusion she encountered while navigating four different marriages. She understands her youthful charm has faded, and her journey into adulthood has been marked by numerous hurdles. However, despite the struggles, she emerged as a victor. Both Alison and Jankin possess the skill to devise strategies to achieve their respective goals, displaying a clear sense of assertion.

Alison, a natural lover, views love as a complex interplay of both mind and body, unburdened by shyness, societal expectations, or fidelity. She is a worldly woman with a penchant for earthly pleasures, particularly when it comes to matters of the senses.

However, her relationship with Jankin, her current husband, proves to be a source of constant harassment. Jankin disapproves of her wild and carefree ways, often condemning her as wicked. His preferred method of torment involves reading passages from his book that paint women in a negative light, exacerbating Alison's resentment toward him.

The miraculous turn of events marks a happy ending to a prologue that commenced with sharp arguments, discussions on freedom, irreligiosity, and a strong assertion of one who lived life guided by instinct rather than conventional morality. From then on, Alison and Jankin coexist peacefully and contentedly until Jankin's eventual passing. It is a testimony to the unpredictable and complex nature of human relationships, where conflicts can lead to unexpected resolutions and newfound happiness.

Qb) The sonnet form

Ans) The sonnet is a timeless poetic form characterized by its adherence to iambic pentameter, where each metrical foot comprises, an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed one. This structured verse form is defined not only by its metrical pattern but also by a specific rhyme scheme, making it a compact and tightly structured vehicle for poetic expression.

The classical sonnet, as we know it today, owes its formal structure to the Italian scholar Petrarch, and it is often referred to as the Petrarchan sonnet. This sonnet is divided into two stanzas: the first, an eight-line stanza known as the octave, and the second, a six-line stanza called the sestet. The rhyme scheme in a Petrarchan sonnet is abba, abba for the octave and cdecde or cdcdcd for the sestet. This form offers a clear thematic progression.

In the Petrarchan sonnet, the initial eight lines introduce a problem, an argument, or an observation. The sestet that follows marks a significant shift, a "volta," in the sonnet, where the direction changes, and a counterargument, answer, or clarification is presented. This volta is crucial in the overall structure, as it transforms the sonnet's trajectory and narrative.

The introduction of the sonnet into English literature is credited to the poet Thomas Wyatt in the early sixteenth century. Having been influenced by Petrarch's sonnets during his time in Italy, Wyatt was eager to introduce this form to England. He translated Petrarch's sonnets and composed his own. In his English adaptations of the Petrarchan sonnet, Wyatt closely followed the model—a distinctive octave with two rhymes and a sestet split into a quatrain and a final couplet.

Section B

Answer the following reference to the context in about 300 words each.

Qa) That wonder is how I should live a jot,

Seeing my hart through--launched everywhere

With thousand arrowes, which your eyes have shot:

Ans) The quoted lines are from Sir Philip Sidney's sonnet sequence "Astrophil and Stella." In these lines, the speaker, Astrophil, expresses a sense of wonder and bewilderment at how he can continue to live even though his heart has been pierced and wounded by the thousand arrows shot from Stella's eyes.

Contextually, this sonnet sequence is a classic example of English Petrarchan sonnets, influenced by the Italian poet Petrarch's work. It follows a distinct structure with fourteen lines, and the rhyme scheme is ABABABAB CDCDCD, adhering to the traditional Petrarchan format.

The central theme of the "Astrophil and Stella" sonnet sequence is unrequited love and the intense emotions it stirs. Astrophil, the speaker, is deeply in love with Stella, who is often seen as a representation of Penelope Devereux, a woman Sidney was enamoured with in real life. However, Stella is unattainable, as she is already married to another man. These sonnets serve as Astrophil's personal confessions, exploring the agony and ecstasy of his love for Stella.

The particular lines that are presented are when Astrophil recounts the great effect that Stella's attractiveness has had on him. He compares her eyes to a formidable weapon that is capable of shooting a thousand arrows, which symbolise the penetrating looks and charms that she possesses. He says that her eyes are like a thousand arrows launched from the weapon. These arrows pierce Astrophil's heart in a metaphorical sense, representing the severe emotional scars that have been caused by his love being unrequited.

The amazement that Astrophil feels at his own perseverance is communicated through the sensation of awe that he displays in these lines. Even though he is put through unending torment as a result of his hopeless love for Stella, he continues to live his life and bear the burden of his feelings. This represents the torturous aspect of unrequited love, in which the lover is both wounded and sustained by the affection of the other, and it serves as a major motif in the sonnet sequence as a result.

Qb) I graunte it wel , I have noon envie,

Thogh maidenhead preferbigamie.

It liketh hem to be clene, body and goost;

Ans) The cited passages come from "The Canterbury Tales" by Geoffrey Chaucer, most notably "The Wife of Bath's Tale." The Wife of Bath, one of Chaucer's most colourful and multifaceted characters, is the one who is doing the speaking in these lines. These sentences encapsulate the spirit of the Wife of Bath's prologue, in which she discusses her perspectives on marriage, sexuality, and her own life experiences in an open and honest manner.

In the context of the Wife of Bath's prologue, she is expressing her viewpoint on marriage, specifically focusing on the topics of virginity and monogamy. She brazenly states that she does not oppose to either monogamy or celibacy, and that she has no preference between the two (virginity). She does not feel envy toward those who choose to keep their virginity or who are committed to monogamous relationships.

The Wife of Bath, on the other hand, has a number of husbands, which is why she jokes about "preferring bigamy" over virginity. She has had several spouses. She gives the impression that she does not look down on others who take alternative approaches to their romantic relationships.

The character of The Wife of Bath is well-known for her forceful, free-thinking, and often divisive perspectives on marriage and relationships. Her personal experience, which includes marrying five times, has influenced the way she thinks about and approaches these issues. She is an advocate for women embracing their sexuality and exercising their agency in all aspects of life.

The lines are also a reflection of the Wife of Bath's yearning for cleanliness on both a physical and a spiritual level. She is of the opinion that it is pleasing to God when people keep their bodies and their spirits as pure as possible. Nevertheless, her perspective on what constitutes impurity is distinctive in that she considers sexual fulfilment and enjoyment to be permissible within the context of a married relationship. She contests the prevalent notion that maintaining one's virginity is the highest form of morality and promotes the view that it is perfectly appropriate to satiate one's sexual needs within the confines of a legitimate marriage.

Qc) She is all states, and all princes I.

Nothing else is:

Princes do but play us: compar’d to this,

Ans) The lines "She is all states, and all princes I. Nothing else is: Princes do but play us: compar'd to this," are from John Donne's poem "The Sun Rising." These lines capture the intense and exclusive love that the speaker feels for his beloved, elevating her to a position of supreme importance and dismissing all worldly matters, including states and princes, as insignificant in comparison.

In the context of the poem, the speaker is addressing the sun, which has rudely interrupted his intimate moment with his lover. He rebukes the sun for intruding into his world and tries to convince it that his love and the privacy of their bedroom are more significant than anything else in the world.

The lines in question underscore the idea that the love he shares with his beloved is so profound and all-encompassing that it makes all other concerns, even the affairs of states and the grandeur of princes, seem trivial and inconsequential.

The phrase "She is all states, and all princes I" signifies that the speaker sees his beloved as the embodiment of all the world's nations and all its rulers. In her, he finds everything he desires or values. This statement reflects the timeless theme of love's ability to transcend and overshadow all other aspects of life. The speaker is declaring that the love he shares with his beloved is a realm, one that renders worldly matters and power structures insignificant in comparison.

The phrase "Princes do but play us" suggests that, in the grand scheme of things, even the most powerful figures on the world stage are merely playing roles or engaging in frivolous games when compared to the genuine and profound love he experiences with his beloved. It underscores the idea that love is the most potent force in the universe, making everything else seem like child's play.

Section C

Answer the following questions in about 800 words each.

Q1) Discuss the theme of sin and redemption in the play Dr. Faustus.

Ans) Christopher Marlowe's play "Doctor Faustus" explores the profound theme of sin and redemption, examining the consequences of making a pact with the devil and the human desire for ultimate knowledge and power. The central character, Dr. Faustus, represents the archetype of the ambitious individual who seeks knowledge and power at any cost, grappling with the moral implications of his actions.

The Pact with the Devil:

The deal that Dr. Faustus makes with the devil, Mephistopheles, is perhaps the most notable example of the concept of sin and redemption that is explored in the book. Faustus, a scholar who is both very clever and ambitious, has the impression that the traditional boundaries of human knowledge restrict him. In his pursuit of absolute power and knowledge, he calls upon Mephistopheles and makes a bargain with Lucifer, in which he agrees to give up his soul in exchange for 24 years of service from Mephistopheles and the satisfaction of all of his whims.

This covenant represents the human ambition to achieve more than what is possible through natural methods, both in terms of knowledge and power, and to overcome the restrictions that prevent them from doing so. In addition, it lays the groundwork for Faustus' final moral decline and the necessity of his being redeemed.

The Consequences of Sin:

Faustus's journey is marked by a series of sinful actions, including his use of magical powers to indulge in worldly pleasures, his humiliation of the Pope, and his manipulation of people for his amusement. These actions illustrate the corruption and degradation of his soul as he is ensnared by the devil's temptations.

Faustus's sinful behaviour is further evident in his interactions with the seven deadly sins personified. In a memorable scene, he calls upon these vices to entertain him, highlighting his descent into moral depravity. This descent is central to the theme of sin in the play.

The Struggle for Redemption:

Faustus has moments of moral clarity and regret despite the fact that he is falling deeper and deeper into sin. He struggles with the knowledge that he has doomed himself to an eternity of damnation by his actions. As the conclusion of his bargain draws near, Faustus is overcome with anxiety and shame and begins to search for salvation.

The soliloquy that Faustus delivers in Act V, Scene 2 exemplifies the internal conflict that he is going through in order to be redeemed. In it, he begs God for mercy and pardon. He is fully aware of the gravity of his transgressions, and he longs for the opportunity to make amends. This moment highlights the theme of redemption as a central aspect of Faustus's character arc.

The Role of Religion:

The concepts of sin and redemption are heavily intertwined with religious beliefs and practises. Both Christian doctrine and imagery are prevalent throughout the entirety of the performance. The religious concepts of sin and damnation are inextricably intertwined with Faustus' agreement to make a contract with the devil. The struggle that Faustus faces between his earthly aspirations—such as power and knowledge—and his fear of being damned for all of eternity exemplifies the conflict that exists between spiritual salvation and earthly desires.

The religious nature of the theme is given even more emphasis by the participation of angels and devils in the storey. Angels try to convince Faustus to change his ways by presenting him with opportunities for repentance, while demons, especially Mephistopheles, are determined to steal his soul for Lucifer.

The Tragic Downfall:

Faustus’s story is a tragic one. Despite his moments of remorse and the possibility of redemption, he fails too fully repent. His reluctance to seek salvation until it is too late leads to his inevitable damnation. This tragic downfall emphasizes the theme of sin's consequences and the idea that redemption must be actively pursued.

The Role of Free Will:

The theme of sin and redemption in "Doctor Faustus" is closely linked to the concept of free will. Faustus's choices and actions are driven by his free will. He willingly enters a pact with the devil, indulges in sinful behaviour, and, in the end, chooses damnation over salvation. The play raises questions about the nature of human agency and whether redemption is possible for a person who willingly chooses sin.

Ambiguity in the Ending:

The play concludes with ambiguity regarding Faustus's fate. As the clock strikes midnight, he cries out in despair, and the chorus suggests that the devil claims his soul. However, the final scene leaves room for interpretation, and some productions have depicted Faustus's fate differently. This ambiguity underscores the ongoing debate surrounding the theme of redemption and whether Faustus's final moments offer a glimmer of hope or serve as a cautionary tale.

"Doctor Faustus" by Christopher Marlowe is a complex exploration of the theme of sin and redemption. The play delves into the consequences of making a pact with the devil, the moral degradation of the central character, Dr. Faustus, and his struggle for redemption. It highlights the conflict between earthly desires and spiritual salvation, the role of free will in human choices, and the ambiguity surrounding the character's fate. The play serves as a cautionary tale, warning of the perils of unchecked ambition and the potential for redemption, even in the face of grave sin.

Q2) Discuss the significance of Hecate’s monologue in the play Macbeth.

Ans) Hecate's monologue in William Shakespeare's play "Macbeth" is a significant and intriguing moment that adds depth to the themes and motifs of the play. Hecate, the goddess of witchcraft, addresses her fellow witches in Act 3, Scene 5. This monologue serves several key purposes within the play, contributing to the overall atmosphere, characterization, and thematic development.

Reassertion of the Supernatural:

The monologue that Hecate delivers further emphasises the supernatural aspects of "Macbeth." The witches, who represent different aspects of the supernatural, play an important part in the play as well. The presence of Hecate, who is the leader of the witches, contributes even more firmly to the atmosphere of the uncanny. The ubiquitous impact of the supernatural, which is shaped by the events of the play, is highlighted by her incantations and her understanding of witchcraft. Her monologue stresses the concept that the witches are responsible for organising the supernatural occurrences that have an effect on the realm of the living.

Characterization of Hecate:

The speech that Hecate delivers sheds light on her personality. She is portrayed as a strong and authoritative woman who exercises control over the activities that the other witches partake in. Her position as head of the coven draws attention to the authority she possesses as well as her mastery of the magical arts. The character of Hecate, who appears in "Macbeth," exemplifies the devious and mysterious nature of the supernatural forces that are at work throughout the play.

Foreshadowing and Manipulation:

Hecate's speech foreshadows future events in the play, particularly the tragic downfall of Macbeth. She describes the witches' plan to deceive Macbeth with prophecies that will lead him into overconfidence and self-destruction. This manipulation is a significant plot point as it drives Macbeth to make fateful decisions, leading to his demise. Hecate's role in orchestrating Macbeth's fate adds depth to the concept of fate and free will explored in the play.

Thematic Significance:

The monologue that Hecate delivers is significant from a thematic perspective since it reaffirms the play's primary ideas. These include the repercussions of having unfettered power as well as the impact that comes from having ambition. Hecate and the other witches act as a shadowy reflection of Macbeth's own avarice and desire.

The fact that they were able to manipulate his passions and take advantage of his unbridled ambition exemplifies the catastrophic potential that exists in human nature when it is enticed by the supernatural. The idea that one's ambition can bring about one's own demise is one that recurs frequently throughout the play; the monologue focuses attention on this idea.

The Ambiguity of Fate:

Hecate's monologue raises questions about the nature of fate in "Macbeth." The witches' prophecies and Hecate's manipulation of events suggest that fate is not predetermined but can be influenced and manipulated.

This ambiguity underscores the idea that Macbeth's choices, fuelled by his ambition and the witches' deception, play a significant role in his downfall. Hecate's control over the witches reinforces the notion that the supernatural is a powerful but unpredictable force that can shape the course of events.

The Role of Women:

The presence of Hecate and the part she plays in determining Macbeth's destiny both draw attention to the play's central gender-based topic. She is a strong female character, much like the witches themselves are strong female characters. The play "Macbeth" depicts a society that is patriarchal, and it shows how the impact of women in matters of power and destiny undermines the established gender roles that are expected of people. Because of their access to magical powers, Hecate and the other witches wield a type of authority that shakes up the established power dynamics of the play.

The Duality of the Supernatural:

Hecate's monologue underscores the duality of the supernatural in "Macbeth." While it can be a source of malevolence and destruction, it can also be a means of revealing hidden truths and exposing the depths of human ambition. The witches and Hecate serve as both catalysts for Macbeth's descent into darkness and conduits for his tragic self-discovery. The supernatural forces in the play embody this complex duality.

The Play's Structure:

Hecate's monologue serves as a turning point in the play. It marks the transition from Macbeth's earlier success and power to the escalating series of challenges and crises he will face. The witches' manipulation of Macbeth's fate intensifies, setting the stage for the unfolding tragedies in the latter acts of the play. Hecate's involvement in the plot enhances the dramatic tension and propels the narrative toward its tragic conclusion.

Hecate's monologue in "Macbeth" is a pivotal moment that contributes significantly to the play's atmosphere, characterization, and thematic development. Her character serves as a representation of the supernatural, and her manipulation of Macbeth's fate exemplifies themes of ambition, power, and the corrupting influence of unchecked ambition. The monologue reinforces the idea that fate can be influenced and manipulated, and it challenges traditional gender roles in the play. Hecate's presence and her role as the head of the witches add depth and complexity to Shakespeare's exploration of the supernatural in "Macbeth."

Q3) Critically analyze the poem ‘Death Be Not Proud.’

Ans) The poem "Death, be not proud" by John Donne is a metaphysical sonnet that confronts the concept of death and challenges its perceived power. Written in the early 17th century, during a period when death was often depicted as a fearsome and inescapable force, Donne's poem takes a defiant stance against this conventional view

Structure and Form:

The sonnet format, which is often associated with poets like Shakespeare and Petrarch, is utilised here, and the poem has a total of fourteen lines. It is composed of three quatrains (parts of four lines each) and a couplet as the conclusion (a two-line section). This form is important because it enables Donne to present a logical and rhetorical argument that develops as the poem progresses. This argument builds throughout the poem.

Tone and Speaker:

The speaker of the poem adopts an attitude of defiance and even mocking at certain points during the poem. He confronts death head-on, anthropomorphizing it as a being, and he questions the authority and pride it possesses. Throughout the entire piece, the speaker's self-assurance and lack of dread is readily apparent, as he challenges the authority of death and makes an effort to weaken it.

Personification of Death:

Donne gives death a personality by imbuing it with human traits and features. He describes death as "Mighty and horrible" and implies that it possesses a feeling of pride in his writings. The speaker is able to address death as if it were an actual foe thanks to the poem's use of personification, which is an essential component of the fundamental thesis of the poem.

Paradox and Irony:

The poem has a lot of contradictory and ironic statements. The use of paradoxical words by Donne, such as "Death, be not proud, though some have named thee/ Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so," challenges conventional knowledge as well as the widespread conception of death as an all-powerful and terrifying entity. This usage of paradox is intended to stimulate thought and intellectual engagement on the part of the reader.

Religious Imagery:

Throughout the poem, Donne employs religious imagery and allusions. The opening lines, "Death, be not proud, though some have called thee / Mighty and dreadful," echo the concept of pride as a sin, which is significant in Christian theology. The poem also alludes to biblical themes of resurrection and eternal life, emphasizing the speaker's Christian faith and his belief in the triumph of the soul over death.

Argument and Structure:

The poem unfolds as an argument against the fear of death. In the first quatrain, the speaker challenges death's power and questions its right to be "proud." In the second quatrain, the speaker asserts that death is not the ultimate end; instead, it is merely a temporary state of rest before the soul's journey to an eternal afterlife.

The third quatrain shifts to a more confrontational tone, as the speaker mocks death's traditional associations with poison, war, and sickness. The final couplet delivers the poem's resounding message: "One short sleep past, we wake eternally, / And death shall be no more: Death, thou shalt die!" Here, the speaker asserts that death itself will face annihilation.

Artistic Devices:

Donne employs various artistic devices to strengthen his argument. He uses alliteration, assonance, and consonance to create a musical and memorable quality to his verses. For example, in the lines "From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be," the repetition of the "s" sound enhances the musicality of the poem. Donne's use of rhetorical questions, such as "Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me," engages the reader and encourages critical thinking.

Historical and Cultural Context:

The poem was written during a period marked by high mortality rates due to disease, war, and religious persecution. In this context, death was a constant presence, and the fear of dying was pervasive. Donne's poem, rooted in this historical context, challenges the prevailing attitudes, and offers a different perspective on the inevitability of death.

Philosophical and Theological Dimensions:

The song "Death, Be Not Proud" explores a number of philosophical and spiritual concepts. The meaning of the human soul, the afterlife, and the essence of life itself are all topics that are investigated. In addition to this, the poem poses significant concerns regarding the connection that exists between the fleeting and the eternal, as well as the material and the ethereal.

Interpretations and Legacy:

The poem written by Donne has, over the course of its existence, been subjected to a variety of interpretations. Other readers perceive it as a reflection on the strength of faith and the Christian belief in resurrection, while still others regard it as a meditation on human mortality and the enduring essence of the soul. The poem has been anthologized, researched, and admired for a long time because of the intellectual depth and lyrical beauty it possesses. It has also left behind a legacy.

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