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BEGC-108: British Literature: 18th Century

BEGC-108: British Literature: 18th Century

IGNOU Solved Assignment Solution for 2021-22

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Assignment Code: BEGC-108 / TMA / 2021-22

Course Code: BEGC-108

Assignment Name: British Literature: 18th Century

Year: 2021- 2022 (July 2021 and Jan 2022)

Verification Status: Verified by Professor


Answer all questions.


Section A


Write short notes in about 200 words each/ answer with reference to the context: 4 × 5 = 20


Q1. (i) Whigs and the Tories

Ans) WHIGS AND TORIES are two words that come to mind while thinking of WHIGS and Tories From the middle of the seventeenth century, the terms "Whigs" and "Tories" were used to refer to political factions in Parliament held together by shifting combinations of patronage, personal loyalties, special interests, and political principles; they were not organised political parties in the modern sense. Even though the persons and issues changed throughout time, the names were kept in use. Broadly speaking, the Whigs favoured Parliamentary sovereignty and commercial expansion. They branded the Tories with the taint of royal absolutism beginning with the Revolution of 1688. After an attempt to disrupt the Hanoverian succession in 1715, Toryism finally fell apart.


During George I and II's reigns (1714–1760), politics became a competition to see who could wield the most authority and patronage. Principles were still vigorously discussed, but the major battleground was for preferment within an established political framework based on the king-in-dominance, Parliament's or "mixed government," as Englishmen termed it. With George III's ascension, some Whigs supported the king's prerogative to be more forceful in picking and regulating his ministers, as long as he had a majority in the House of Commons. Others argued that the ministers should be chosen and controlled by Parliament alone, which they hoped to govern. During the 1760s, George and his followers, known as the "king's friends," fought for the monarch to play a larger role, at tremendous expense to colony policy coherence. George finally found a prime minister with whom he could work after the appointment of Lord North in 1770.


Q1. (ii) A Tale of a Tub

Ans) A Tub Story is a storey about a tub. Jonathan Swift's first major work, written for the Universal Improvement of Mankind, is arguably his most difficult satire and perhaps his most masterful. The Tale is a prose parody broken into pieces, each of which delves into the English morality and ethics. It was written between 1694 and 1697 and published in 1704. It was famously attacked for its profanity and irreligion, beginning with William Wotton, who wrote that the Tale had made a game of "God and Religion, Truth and Moral Honesty, Learning and Industry" to show "at the bottom [the author's contemptible Opinion of every Thing which is called Christianity. Long into the nineteenth century, the work was still seen as a religious attack.


Through its humorously extravagant front matter and sequence of digressions throughout, The Tale presented both a satire of religious excess and a parody of modern writing in literature, politics, theology, Biblical exegesis, and medicine. The overall parody is one of zeal, pride, and bemusement. Politics and religion were still strongly interwoven in England at the time it was written, and the religious and political parts of the satire are frequently difficult to distinguish. " Swift's work became well-known, and it was frequently misconstrued, particularly by Queen Anne, who mistaken its purpose for profanity. " Even Swift considers it one of his best allegories. It "essentially disbarred its author from appropriate preferment" in the Church of England, yet it is regarded one of Swift's best allegories by himself.


Q1. (iii) The Neo- Classical Age

Ans) Between 1660, when the Stuarts reclaimed the throne, and the 1798 publication of Wordsworth's Lyrical Ballads, with its theoretical prologue and collection of poems that came to be considered as marking the beginning of the Romantic Age, Neoclassicism flourished in England. The Restoration Age (1660-1700), the Augustan Age (1700-1750), and the Johnson Age (1660-1750) are the three phases of the Neoclassical Age in English literature (1750-1798). Neoclassical authors based their works on classical texts and adhered to a variety of artistic standards that originated in Ancient Greece and Rome. Neoclassicism was a revival of ancient taste and sensibility in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, but it was not the same as Classicism. The neoclassicists focused on a smaller scaled concept of man as an individual within a larger social context, seeing human nature as dualistic, flawed, and needing to be curbed by reason and decorum, in part as a reaction to the Renaissance's bold egocentrism that saw man as larger than life and boundless in potential. Neoclassicists carried on the Renaissance values of balanced antithesis, symmetry, restraint, and order in terms of style.


They also wanted to achieve a feeling of refinement, good taste, and correctness. Their gardens were ornately groomed and geometrically constructed, and their garments were intricate and detailed. They considered their art as a tool to entertain and instruct, a picture of humans as social animals, as members of polite society, and they reintroduced the classical virtues of unity and proportion. They had an arrogant, scholarly, and sophisticated demeanour. The brooding social unrest that culminated in the revolutions in the American colonies and in France toppled this artificial refinement, and portraits of the single common worker or wanderer sketched against the vast natural landscape emerged as a result of those wars, a character who became one of the Romantics' chosen subjects in the nineteenth century.

Q1. (iv) The Graveyard School of Poetry

Ans) A group of eighteenth-century English poets who, in contrast to their "rational" neoclassical predecessors, stressed subjectivity, mystery, and melancholy in their poetry, as well as death, immortality, mortality, and gloom, which were frequently set in graveyards. This Gothic-style school is frequently credited with laying the foundation for English romanticism.


During this time, a number of young poets decided to write about death. The Churchyard School of Poets is a term used to describe this group of poets. Edward Young was one of them. His Night-Thoughts (1742), which was composed in good blank poetry, was immensely popular. He discusses life, death, the future world, and God in this book. It has a melancholy and ominous atmosphere, full of bizarre fantasies. Robert Blair employed the blank verse and wrote in the same tone. He asks the dead to return and explain about the grave in his poetry "The Grave" (1743).


Thomas Gray was the school's outstanding poet. One of the most beautiful and well-known English poems is his "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard" (1751). In this elegy, he expresses his sorrow as he gazes upon the graves of the poor inhabitants in Stoke Poges' churchyard. He imagines what they could have become if they had been given the chance. However, he feels terrible for them because they were unable to travel to the cities in order to become famous. His tribute, titled "The Bard," is a melancholy ballad written by a Welsh bard. He accuses King Edward I and his people of murdering all of Wales' bards.



Section B


Answer the following in about 300 words each: 4 X 7.5 = 30


Q1. Examine the theme of paternal disobedience plays in the plot of Robinson Crusoe?

Ans) The initial chapters of Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe feature the main protagonist in a family debate. Crusoe commits what he refers to as his "Original Sin," rejecting his father's recommendation to join the family company in favour of a career as a sailor. His deepest desire was to be at sea. Against his father's wishes, he opted to embark on a risky adventure with his friend's father.

Crusoe gives in to his temptation and joins the ship. Sadly, a storm develops, and their boat is sunk. While attempting to save himself from certain death, he remembered his father's words: "If you don't listen to me, that will be your fate." Robinson would be cursed as a result of his father's renowned prediction. Crusoe interprets his ordeal as a sign from the gods that he should abandon sea travel, and his friend's father warns him not to board another ship, repeating his own father's warning. Crusoe and the captain had an interesting talk, and the captain stated to Crusoe:


"If you do not return, you will encounter nothing but tragedies and disappointments wherever you go until your father's words are realised upon you."


(Source: Course Hero, 2016).


Crusoe was unconcerned with the captain's admonition. When Crusoe returns to London, he meets another sea captain who invites him to join him on an impending merchant journey. Crusoe sets out with forty pounds worth of trinkets and toys to sell overseas after writing to his family for investment money. Crusoe earns a net profit of 300 pounds on this journey, which he deems a huge success. Crusoe embarks on another trade journey, taking one hundred pounds with him and leaving the remaining 200 pounds with a widow he trusts. This time, he's being pursued by Moorish pirates off the coast of Sallee, North Africa. Because of his inherent skill, his ship is overtaken, and he is enslaved and assigned the chore of fishing. (1719, Crusoe)


Crusoe has difficulties, problems, and makes friends as he travels from adventure to adventure, but he is not happy. After twenty-eight years away from his family, he returned home. He married in London, but he doesn't seem to care about his wife, whose name he doesn't even mention. Crusoe appears almost as alone in England as he does on his island, with "no family" and "not many relations," and no interest in creating new ones. Crusoe's adventures are both an adventure novel with dramatic events and a moral tale that illustrates the right and bad ways to conduct one's life. Crusoe considers his greatest sin to be his rebellion against his father, which he refers to as his "original sin," similar to Adam and Eve's first disobedience of God.


Q2. What do you understand by the Restoration Period? Highlight some of the characteristics of the age.

Ans) The Restoration period, often known as the Dryden Age, lasted from 1660 to 1700. This period's representative writer was Dryden. The restoration of King Charles II in 1660 marked the start of a new era in England's life and literature. On his return from exile, the King was greeted with jubilation.


The Renaissance fascination with the world and the endless possibilities of adventure, as well as the moral zeal and earnestness of the Puritan age, could no longer attract the English people. There was a willingness to accept such limits and to take use of the possibilities of a strictly human environment. Historical events such as Charles II's Restoration in 1660, the religious dispute, and the revolution of 1688 had a significant impact on the social life and literary movements of the time.


The following characteristics distinguish this period:

Rise of Neo-classicism

The Restoration represents a complete departure from the past. Rules and literary conventions became more essential to writers of this era, both of prose and poetry, than the depth and gravity of the subject matter. They expressed aristocratic and urban society's surface manners and customs but did not delve into the depths of the human mind and heart.


Imitation of the Ancient Masters

The authors of the day were not known for their literary prowess. As a result, they sought advice and inspiration from ancient literature, particularly Latin writers. They focused on the slavish replication of rules while ignoring the significance of the subject matter.


Realism and formalism

Restoration literature is grounded in reality. It was primarily concerned with London life, as well as aspects of attire, styles, and etiquette. Dryden chose the heroic couplet and accepted the superb tule for his prose. It was partly because to Dryden that —writers created formalism of style - exact, almost mathematical beauty, erroneously dubbed classicism, which dominated English literature for the next century.


Correctness and Appropriateness

Because the authors of the Restoration period lacked innovation and inspiration, their work was imitative and of poor quality. The Restoration Literature strongly reflects this new trend, which peaked in the Age of Pope.


Q3. What purpose do the epigraph and the prologue serve in the play The Way of the World?

Ans) The Epigraph found on the title page of the 1700 edition of The Way of the World contains two Latin quotations from Horace's Satires. In their wider contexts they read in English:


"It is worthwhile, for those of you who wish adulterers no success, to hear how much misfortune they suffer, and how often their pleasure is marred by pain and though rarely achieved, even then fraught with danger."

"I have no fear in her company that a husband may rush back from the country, the door burst open, the dog bark, the house shakes with the din, the woman, deathly pale, leap from her bed, her complicit maid shriek, she fearing for her limbs, her guilty mistress for her dowry and I for myself."


The quotations offer a forewarning of the chaos to ensue from both infidelity and deception.


The Prologue was a conventional requirement for all plays. This one was delivered by the sixty-five-year-old Betterton, the grand old man of the Restoration stage. Congreve did not keep the promises he made in this prologue:


He swears he'll not resent one hissed-off scene,

Nor, like those peevish wits, his play maintain,

Who, to assert their sense, your taste arraign.


The dedicatory letter indicates that he did arraign the taste of his audience because it did not approve his play (although his scenes were not hissed).


His statement about what is in his play has more value: "some plot," "some new thought," "some humour too," but "no farce," the absence of which, he adds, ironically, would presumably be a fault. The fact that he describes his play as having no farce indicates that he planned the Wilfull-Witwoud scenes, and the Lady Wishfort scenes as less broadly burlesqued than some of his contemporaries might have wished.


Q4. What was the changed nature of poetry in the mid-18th century? Discuss why this age seems to be a ‘transitional period’?

Ans) For eighteenth-century poets, William Shakespeare and other Elizabethans supplied a third key exemplar. Both Pope and Johnson edited Shakespeare: Pope's edition was notable for restoring "prose" sections to their original blank verse form, while Johnson's was notable for his common-sense criticism. Other mid-century poets, such as Joseph Warton (1722-1800) and Thomas Warton (1728-1790), used Shakespeare's example to break free from the classical notion of the superiority of judgement and taste over the imagination. In Britain, the eighteenth century saw the flowering of seventeenth-century poetry styles as well as the emergence of modes that would later blossom into Romanticism. It was a time of reason and sentiment, political upheaval, growing colonialism and wealth, beautiful landscapes and parks, gin addiction and Evangelicalism, a burgeoning middle class and growing respect for middle-class values, increasing literacy and decreasing patronage dependence, and cantankerous Tories and complacent Whigs. As England grew in importance as a centre of global trade and power, it also grew in importance as a centre of literary success.


Although John Dryden died in 1700, his death did not signify a significant shift in poetry form. Poets followed in his footsteps, moving away from Metaphysical conceits—away from the style of those poets who glistened “Like glittering Stars the Miscellanies o'er”—to seek smoothness and a new way of thinking.


For eighteenth-century poets, William Shakespeare and other Elizabethans supplied a third key exemplar. Both Pope and Johnson edited Shakespeare: Pope's edition was notable for restoring "prose" sections to their original blank verse form, while Johnson's was notable for his common-sense criticism. Other mid-century poets, such as Joseph Warton (1722-1800) and Thomas Warton (1728-1790), used Shakespeare's example to break free from the classical notion of the superiority of judgement and taste over the imagination.


Section C


Answer the following questions in about 400 words each: 5 X 10 = 50


Q1. Comment on the rise of the genre of the novel with respect to Defoe's Robinson Crusoe.

Ans) The publishing of Robinson Crusoe in 1719 was a watershed moment in literary history. Robinson Crusoe was distinguished by qualities that are today considered essential to the novel as a genre. It portrayed the storey of a regular guy who went through remarkable circumstances. It placed a strong emphasis on his inner existence, which was primarily regarded in spiritual terms. Above all, the reader was asked to believe in the story's "plausibility" by the way it was told.


Around this time, the book began to supersede the courtly form of romance, a literary genre largely concerned with chivalric ideals. Romances were frequently written in an allegorical form, dealing with idealised figures of knights and women and tracing their magical journeys across lovely settings, and were mainly concerned with universal truths rather than the uniqueness of the experience. While courtly forms of writing demanded a sophisticated taste honed through classical education and leisure, the novel became identified with the middle class and its aspirations and values, which began to gain prominence in the 18th century. It is now widely believed that the realism novel developed in tandem with and clung to the modern secular materialist notion of "reality." In general, it can be described as a type of fiction writing that eschewed the mystical and the fantastic in favour of a very self-aware attempt at a faithful imitation of "social reality." As a result, the publication of Robinson Crusoe in 1719 marked a watershed moment in English literary aesthetics. There have certainly been prose narratives before Defoe, but this is one of the first few fictional accounts that consistently drew attention to the authenticity of an individual's experiences, and its narrative style encourages readers to believe in the "realism" it emphasises by highlighting minute details.


The difficulty with "realism" definitions is that they frequently associate the term with literary works that are intended to include a precise equivalent to a pre-determined socio-political reality. It's critical to understand that "realist" novels don't and can't possibly reproduce reality as it is. They will never be able to accurately reflect reality because any work of writing must consciously choose particular themes, select and arrange narrative material, determine point of view, narrative voices, and so on. As a result, it is a highly complex process incorporating the writer's ideological views, and it must not be reduced to just copying some kind of ossified reality/life.


Q2. What do you understand by the term Enlightenment? Does swift question the Enlightenment and modernity?

Ans) The Enlightenment was a philosophical and cultural movement that flourished in Western Europe throughout the 17th and 18th century. Its followers believed that “universal and uniform human reason was rapidly dispersing the darkness of superstition, prejudice, and barbarity, along with the belief that the application of such reason was gradually dissipating the darkness of superstition, bigotry, and barbarity.” Reason was widely seen as the remedy for world peace, happiness, and humanity's liberation from authority and unquestioned tradition.


Swift's satire encapsulates modernity's greatest paradox: reason and science have become tools for subverting the ideas of justice, equality, and democracy. As a result, as an Enlightenment critic, he questioned the idea that man was a logical creature who was superior to other animals. The authors were free to deal with any topic they wanted, but the method of recording conventional wisdom had to be unique. The form, rather than the content, was the source of originality. In Gulliver's Travels, Swift also dabbles in novel, travel storey, and science fiction genres. In the eighteenth century, the novel's popularity arose on its capacity to successfully persuade readers that they were witnessing truth, authentic stories of life. Swift tried everything he could to hide his authorship and make the book appear to be based on genuine events, but he couldn't persuade contemporaneous readers that the events detailed in the book were true. Although some may have believed his narrative, a priest instantly blasted it as a load of lies after it was published. Indignantly, he threw the book into the flames. Surprisingly, the priest disapproved of the fictional aspect in a work of fiction. This begs the question of whether Gulliver's Travels is a travelogue or a work of fiction.


Swift's humorous rebukes raise a slew of moral, intellectual, and religious issues. They are disturbing in that they address humanity's cultural past, while the twenty-first century's difficulties are germane to unaddressed ethical questions from the eighteenth century to modern-day politics. In today's news media, intolerance, xenophobia, and annihilation are themes that resound in analogous ways, projecting political fears about the faulty social order.


Q3. Examine the politico - historical circumstances of 17th and 18th Century England critically.

Ans) The seventeenth century saw massive political and social upheaval. The century witnessed years of conflict, horror, and carnage that engulfed the kingdom, as well as the execution of Charles I and the establishment of a republic. With the restoration of Charles II, all of this was toppled once more: a brief return to autocratic royal power was washed away with the installation of William and Mary as governing monarchs.


Congreve lived during the 17th century transitional period, when England was divided ideologically between the Whigs and the Tories. Charles I became increasingly devoted to a notion of divinely sanctioned monarchy, which drew criticism from supporters of a constitutional parliamentary monarchy. Even while the English Parliament did not have much power in terms of government, it had grown into a powerful political force over the ages that the king could not dismiss, especially because of its ability to increase taxes. With the trial and execution of Charles I in 1649, the exile of his son, Charles II, and the formation of the Protectorate under Oliver Cromwell from 1653 to 1658, and subsequently his son, Richard Cromwell from 1658 to 1659, the war ended. Richard Cromwell lacked the army's confidence, and a portion of the army deposed him, plunging England into political anarchy. Charles II returned from exile in 1660, marking the start of the Restoration Period.


Because Charles II was the most ardent supporter of this idea, it came to signify a particular level of devotion to the monarch and hence to monarchy. Libertinism became an upper-class ideology, and during the Restoration, it was used as an intellectual weapon to criticise Puritanism, which was prominent throughout Cromwell's rule. Following Charles II's restoration, a flood of sympathy for the Royalists swept the political and social landscape of England, as seen by plays by Etherege, Wycherley, Dryden, and Aphra Behn. As a result, even when Charles II was restored to monarchy in 1660, discussions concerning effective governance lingered. As a result, political philosophers and thinkers attempted to lay some sort of framework on which to engage with the ideological wars.


Following an eleven-year Commonwealth period during which the kingdom was administered by Parliament under the supervision of Puritan General Oliver Cromwell, the monarchy was restored when Charles II was restored to the throne of England. This political event occurs at the same time as developments in Britain's literary, scientific, and cultural life.


Q4. How is The Way of the World a quintessential comedy of manners?

Ans) 'The Way of the World' has all of the hallmarks of a classic comedy of manners. The goal of this play is to depict the etiquette of modern society's upper crust. The drama takes place entirely in Lady Wishfort's residence, a chocolate factory, and St. James' Park. The essence of London is infused in all of the characters. They are primarily fashionistas. They enjoy playing games of love intrigue. This is how the comedy of manners should be done.


In the comedy of manners, sex is treated with absolute candour and frankness. The personal relationship between men and women is the focus of the film. The couples enjoy the 'chase' game of love. They want to play the game of love all the way to the conclusion. Marriage is mocked by the dramatists. Love is fine, but marriage is a terrible disaster. All of this can be found in 'The Way of the World.'


Characters in a comedy of manners follow a predictable pattern. They're mostly types. Their names can sometimes reveal their personalities. We see fops and gallants in the company of gay ladies and fashion butterflies in such comedies. Giddy girls, insatiable women, fooled, jealous, and impotent spouses can all be found. Fops and women waste their time plotting against their romantic rivals. Here, the lovely heroine marries a rake who appears to be improving. Characters of this type can be found in 'The Way of the World.' They are members of society's highest echelon. Mirabell has a young widow with whom she has had an affair. He does, however, persuade her to marry Fainall. She has a sweet spot for Mirabell after her marriage. Fainall marries her just for the purpose of acquiring her property. He flirts with Mrs. Marwood behind her. Millamant is smitten with Mirabell, but she also has a warm spot for Petulant and Witwoud. Lady Wishfort, despite her advanced age, wishes to marry a young man. She conceals her wrinkles and faded beauty with cosmetics. As a result, "The Way of the World" is a true farce of manners.


As a result, "The Way of the World" is a delightful comedy of manners. It possesses all of the necessary traits. Congreve has introduced espionage and illicit love in this scene. His dialogue, on the other hand, is witty. Overall, this play provides a true portrayal of upper-class life at the time. Characters are well-developed. Its prose is clear and concise. Congreve is without a doubt the finest Restoration comedian. The comedy of manners has achieved its pinnacle in 'The Way of the World.'


Q5. Write a detailed note on Gray’s ‘pastoral’ representations of the city versus the country.

Ans) The pastoral elegy is a poetry that explores death as well as lovely country living. Shepherds are frequently featured in pastoral elegy. The poet's simultaneous acceptance of death's inevitability and hope for immortality are among the key features of this form of poetry, which include the invocation of the Muse, expression of the shepherd's (or poet's) grief, praise of the deceased, a tirade against death, a detailing of the effects of this particular death on nature, and finally, the poet's simultaneous acceptance of death's inevitability and hope for immortality.


The poem begins with a dismal tone as the bell tolls in the first line, setting the scene in a rural environment. The initial stanza, by mentioning the herd, also places itself in the pastoral tradition—a line of poetry based on shepherds' songs. The scenery is described until the fourth verse, when death is mentioned for the first time. As the poem progresses, Gray emphasises that no matter how highly placed a man was or what he accomplished, everyone will die at some point. He then goes on to lament the death of the common guy, rather than a noble or well-known figure. He emphasises the point that nothing can bring you back from the grave, thus it makes no difference how much money you have. This is demonstrated when he claims that returning to “its mansion” after being in an urn will not save someone (42). A person's wealth will not bring them back to life. Once one is dead, these possessions will be useless.


The reader is warned not to look down on the impoverished as the poem progresses, because everyone, rich or poor, will die. “. The boast of heraldry, the pomp of authority, and all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave, awaits alike the' inevitable hour,” Gray writes in the ninth verse. “All roads to greatness lead to the grave.” Gray's mourning circle is not well-known, wealthy, or influential, as the reader can see. His elegy is dedicated to the common folk who are buried in the churchyard. He fantasises about what they could have been and admires their simple and ethical way of life. Gray begins to consider how he wants to be remembered at the end of the poem. Finally, he concludes that he wants to be like the ordinary people who praise the average man and the work he has done.

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