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BEGC-108: British Literature: 18th Century

BEGC-108: British Literature: 18th Century

IGNOU Solved Assignment Solution for 2022-23

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Assignment Code: BEGC-108/2022-23

Course Code: BEGC-108

Assignment Name: British Literature: 18th Century

Year: 2022-2023

Verification Status: Verified by Professor


Max. Marks: 100


Answer all questions.

Section A


1. Write short notes on the following in about 200 words each: 5X4=20


(i) Political Debates of 17th Century England.

Ans) England was split between the Whigs and the Tories, who had different ideas. Even though the Parliament of England didn't have much power when it came to running the country, it had grown over the years into an important political force that the monarch couldn't just ignore, especially since it could raise taxes. Charles I's one-sided policies made people angry and unhappy, which led to a series of armed conflicts and political moves between Parliamentarians (Round heads) and Royalists (Cavaliers).


The war ended with the trial and execution of Charles I in 1649, the exile of his son Charles H, the establishment of the Protectorate under the rule of Oliver Cromwell from 1653 to 1658 and then his son Richard Cromwell from 1658 to 1659, and the eventual return of Charles II to the throne in 1660. Even when Charles II was in charge of England, people still argued about how to run the country well. This was especially true after it became clear that Charles II had no children and that his pro-Catholic brother, James, would take his place. James ran away when he saw that things were getting worse, and the changes in politics eventually led to the Glorious Revolution.


(ii) Satire in New Classical Age.

Ans) "The real goal of satire is to change bad habits through correction. John Dryden wrote in the introduction to his verse satire Absalom and Achitophel that "he who writes honestly is no more an enemy to the offender than the doctor is to the patient when he prescribes harsh cures for a disease that won't go away." A satirist treats society's problems the way a doctor treats a sick person. In the same way, Samuel Johnson's Dictionary says that satire is "a poem that criticises evil or foolishness." Like Dryden and Johnson, Swift's satires were built around the idea of change. "I wrote for their correction, not their approval," Swift said in Gulliver's Travels when he talked about why he had written this book.

To reach his goal of fixing society's problems, the Anglo-Irish priest didn't mind upsetting the rich and powerful or letting everyone know he didn't like people in general. He is often called a misanthrope because of his cutting satire and dislike of humans, especially in Book IV of Gulliver's Travels, where Gulliver concludes that horses are better than humans.


(iii) Features of Restoration Comedy

Ans) The features of Restoration Comedy are as follows:

  1. There are a lot of sexual jokes in Restoration comedy.

  2. It shows the relationships and plots of men and women from a high-class part of society.

  3. It's about how men and women act when they live in a society with strict rules.

  4. A classic rake-hero is known for his charm and his ability to break hearts. It tries to figure out what gender roles are, how people act sexually, how class politics work, and how important it is to find a good partner.

  5. The plays are cynical and satirical, and they use sexually explicit language and actions.

  6. Characters are driven by lust, greed, and revenge, and their goals are limited to courtship, gulling, and cuckoldry.

  7. The complicated plots add to the feeling of lying and moral confusion.

  8. It gives us a clear picture of how people in the upper class of London society behaved at the time of the Restoration. And their actions, morals, manners, love, and other things are shown in a satirical way.

  9. There was a difference between the cultured behaviour that was expected and the Dionysian excesses that the characters would eventually give in to.


(iv) Broad features of literature in the ‘long 18th Century.’

Ans) The broad features of literature in the ‘long 18th Century’ are as follows:


  1. Politically and socially, the poems of these later mid-eighteenth-century poets show a different culture.

  2. From the beginning to the middle of the 18th century, writers looked at politics and culture as a way to make money.

  3. During this time, there were no crises, except in the business world. The upper class of aristocrats had a lot of power over all social and political events at the time.

  4. It was against the ideas of individuals in art, science, and social progress.

  5. It was a time when people gave the impression that they were acting in their own best interests.

  6. The Age put a lot of value on reason, intelligence, logic, and wit. It was against being too emotional, too sentimental, too enthusiastic, or even too imaginative.

  7. It also stressed how important it is to follow the rules of literature. It put a lot of emphasis on being right and didn't like enthusiasm or feeling.

Section B


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


1. Critical comment on the binarisation of the ‘savage’ and the ‘civilized’ in Defoe’s Crusoe. Does the story also blur this rigid binarisation sometimes?

Ans) Crusoe seems to know very little about how hard it was for the natives to deal with Britain's imperial projects. Even though this new way of looking at things doesn't excuse Crusoe's racist and overbearing attitude, it does give us a chance to re-evaluate Britain's dominant ideas about imperialism in the early 18th century. When Crusoe goes back to the island, there is a lot of evidence of a thriving community. In this storey, the changes to the island over time show how the Eurocentric ideals of bringing the benefits of "civilization" to a barren and undeveloped land are put front and centre, foreshadowing what will happen to many similar imperial projects.


In a nutshell, Crusoe seems almost as alone in England as he does on his island. He has "no family" and "not many relations," and he has little desire to make new friends. This ending also gives readers a chance to think about and question the value of Crusoe's return to "civilization," which he always thought he wanted. Even though the storey is all about the dichotomies of "self" and "Other" and "civilised" and "savage," a closer look shows that, for all the ways it reinforces these two-way divisions of humanity, it is also possible to pull out moments and episodes from the book, no matter how tenuous, that show how uncomfortable these clear-cut compartments make the characters feel.


The storey mostly sticks to the dichotomies of "savage" and "civilised," with the west representing reason, enlightenment, and morality and non-white people representing barbarism, violence, immorality, lack of emotion, etc. For example, Crusoe doesn't feel bad about going on a slave-hunting expedition; in fact, he takes part in them. But there are also times in the book when these binaries are temporarily thrown off. For example, when Crusoe gets to know Friday better, he finds out that many of the stereotypes he had about him were wrong. But the storey never takes these blurred lines between opposites to their logical end.


2. Does Swift help us question the binary between a man and an animal in Gulliver’s Travels? Comment.

Ans) In fact, from the Anglo-Irish priest's point of view, man was an animal. He had seen how cruel colonial rule was in Ireland and how corrupt the Whig government was in England. So, in Book IV of Gulliver's Travels, he gives horses human traits while giving humans, who are called Yahoos in this part of the book, animal traits. Swift instead says that man is "rationiscapax," which means that man can sometimes act like a rational creature. As he writes more, he shows that his biting satire was built on this base of dislike for people. Since man is both smart like angels and sensual like animals, he didn't completely trust the species. The general hatred comes from anger at a race that "refuses to acknowledge the need for harmony, proportion, and a balance between its rational capacity and its animal instincts."

In Book IV of Gulliver's Travels, Swift uses a clever plan to prove that horses are smarter than people. In his world, horses are smarter and more civilised than people, while the Yahoos, which are made-up versions of people, are barbarians. He seems to flip what Butler said on its head and say that a horse is not a man. In Swift's storey, the line between an animal and a person is not clearly drawn. At the beginning of the storey, Gulliver is a proud Englishman, but as the storey goes on, his pride starts to get in the way.


His Eurocentric view of the world is shattered, and by the end of the storey, he starts to dislike not only English people but all people, including his own family. In contrast to Robinson Crusoe, his travels and adventures don't make him rich or wise. On the contrary, he loses everything, including his love for his family and country. So, Gulliver can't find comfort anywhere else but with the horses. Since Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe is also a part of this course and can also be read as an adventure storey, and because the two authors lived at the same time, it would be natural to compare the two.


3. What role and purpose does Mrs. Fainall serve in the play ‘The Way of the World’?

Ans) In the play, Mrs. Fainall plays some important roles. She is the key to Fainall's counterplot. When she finds out about Mirabell's plan, she talks too freely with Foible and is overheard. In Restoration comedies, the cast mistress, who is now sadder but wiser, is a common character. She isn't as well-drawn as the other characters, and it might be easier to see why Mirabell got tired of her than why he loved her in the first place.


Mrs. Fainall is a widow. She is the daughter of Wishfort. Mr. Languish, her first husband, had died. She got married to Mr. Fainall again. This marriage was made out of need, not love. Mirabell slept with her without her permission, and she got pregnant. Mirabell helped her get married to Mr. Fainall so that the child could legally have a father. She doesn't care about Mr. Fainall. Mr. Fainall loves Mirabell and wants to marry her, but Mrs. Fainall is still having an affair with Mrs. Marwood.


The way Mrs. Fainall's character is portrayed shows how hard it was for women to find happiness in the "beau monde." Her affair with Mirabell had sealed her fate and made her a penitent woman who had no choice but to make peace with it. Mrs. Fainall has no place in the happy ending of the play, and her presence works against Millamant, who has been careful to keep her "virtue" intact.


Mrs. Fainall is a global woman. She seems to know a lot about men and have strong opinions about who they are and how they act. Lady Wishfort, her mother, taught her to hate people when she was young. It is a psychological fact that extremes make people act in ways that are the opposite of what they were before. When she got older and became sexually aware, she went to the other end of the spectrum in how she treated men.


4. What is the setting of the Gray’s poem ‘Elegy Written In a Country’s Churchyard’?

Ans) Gray's "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard" is, you guessed it, set in a country churchyard. And that means it was written on the gravestones of all the church members who had died. Elm and yew trees provide shade, and an owl hoots in the background. But the poem isn't supposed to be scary. It's not about ghosts coming back to haunt the living. Instead, it's about how people remember the dead. As the speaker thinks about what these people's lives were like, the poem's setting changes. The speaker thinks about what they did every day in their country cottages. Most of these people were farmers, so he imagines them ploughing their fields and going home at night to their wives and children.


The setting of the poem changes again when the speaker thinks about what people will say about him after he dies. Now we're in the place of a person who walks by the poet's grave and asks someone about him because they saw his name on the tombstone. The speaker thinks that most people will remember him as a thoughtful, nature-loving guy who was often found thinking under a tree or by a creek. So, even though the title of the poem is "Creepy Town," that's not where it takes place. The setting is in a "country," but the focus is on the everyday, simple, "country" life. There are many trees, creeks, and farms, but there are no ghosts in the graveyard, unless you count the memories, we all carry with us.

Section C


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


1. Critically comment on Crusoe’s Sojourn on the island.

Ans) Crusoe is at first confused about his safety on the island, but he soon realises that what really bothers him is a feeling of chaos. In a similar way, Crusoe realises that God's gifts will remain useless and unproductive if they are not improved by human labour. So, when he starts keeping a journal, he starts to feel clearer and more organised. He proves that he has the right to rule the island by being persistent and putting things in order himself, instead of just waiting for God to help him. In fact, he turns the island into a productive farm by working hard on it.


When Crusoe sees barley growing outside his hut, he at first thinks it is a miracle and attributes it to God's help. But then, all of a sudden, he remembers that he had thrown away a bag of seeds, and he realises that this is a good example of how a logical chain of events led to this happening. Watt says that his creativity and resourcefulness on the island, as well as the exact way he keeps track of his daily tasks, are "distinctive technical features of modern capitalism."


Crusoe tries to make a home for himself on an unfamiliar island. He is almost forced by his situation to also learn how to take care of a home, which includes things like making beer, baskets, pottery, and bread. So, it has become a saying that Crusoe has a sense of restlessness and a desire for adventure. However, the other side of his island experience is his desire to make a fake version of a normal British life, especially in the episodes where Crusoe talks about eating dinner with his "little family," which consists of a parrot, a dog, and two cats. Even though Crusoe is often called a capitalist entrepreneur, when he goes to get food from the shipwreck, he is more like a good manager of the home with the resources he has.


So, he sometimes seems like a proto capitalist, but if you look at his time on the island, you can see that he was also trying to make it more like a comfortable middle-class life. As Crusoe starts to try out the tools he can find on the island, he also starts to act more like a gentleman. The most well-known things he did on the island were make clothes out of goat skin, an umbrella, and try to build a boat. Aside from these, he knows how to take care of animals, create a well-kept garden with good management, and put a double hedge around his country retreat. His efforts to make a comfortable and well-kept space for himself remind me of what people were doing on English estates in the 18th century.


2. Gulliver’s Travels Book III is a satire against the abuse of science and reason. Critically discuss.

Ans) It would be too simple and oversimplified to say that Swift's satirical take on science in Gulliver's Travels was a full rejection of the science of his time. Swift liked science in some ways, but he was very angry when he thought it was being abused or used for money. In Gulliver's Travels, Swift makes fun of science in a way that is more complicated than a simple rejection of the scientific way of thinking that was becoming more and more popular during Swift's time. Swift doesn't seem to have a problem with science in general. Instead, he seems to have a problem with one type of scientific research. In Gulliver's Travels, Swift mostly talks about this type of science and scientist.


Swift criticises "pure theory" or "irrelevant science," which is research that doesn't seem to have any practical use. Even in the past, the roots of the current divide between theory and practise were already there. This difference is an important part of science today, where scientists who work on pure theory problems are seen as more valuable than those who work on problems with real-world applications. Swift's satire in Gulliver's Travels is only aimed at people who think "pure science" is all that matters and don't need to worry about the real world.


During Gulliver's trip to the town of Balnibarbi, Swift touches on another part of science that doesn't make sense by itself that Swift criticises. Gulliver sees that the people in the town are dirty and unhappy, and that they are always coming up with new ways to live. He also notices that the people have lost respect for the learned knowledge that is the basis of tradition, ritual, and heritage. People in Balnibarbi haven't put what they've learned into proper historical perspective because they don't care about their traditions. They haven't thought carefully about how their new ideas might be better than the ways they've always lived in the past. Due to this lack of critical thinking, the people of the town can't tell the difference between the potential value of "new" and "old."


Instead, they automatically thought that new meant better value. In this way, Swift shows that he is worried that people will get so caught up in the big promises of the new Baconian empiricism that they will forget about all the old traditions of European culture without giving them enough thought.


3. Critically analyze Gulliver’s Travels Book IV as the critique of English colonialism.

Ans) The renaissance and neoclassical poets wrote about this again and again with a lot of energy. Self-discovery requires being able to step back and think about yourself. When Gulliver goes on his first trip, he is so crazy about England that he can't think about how bad the English are. But at the end of Book IV, when he finds out that man's essence has been degraded, he loses the balance of his mind and always goes to extremes. It is a time when Gulliver is not being narcissistic. He is easy to influence, so he starts to think about himself from the Houyhnhnms' point of view. He still thinks this way when he goes back to England and sees his wife and kids. Seeing them makes him feel hate, disgust, and contempt.


He doesn't get military victories or money from his adventures abroad. Instead, they give him fear, vulnerability, repeated captures, and, most of all, a change in himself. But Gulliver does not lose his humanity, or rather, he gets it back. To call all humans Yahoos and still be a good person may sound like two opposite ideas, but they are not. Gulliver says that he is against both war and settling new lands. He doesn't want England to take over, enslave, and kill the people who live on the new islands. He seems to be speaking for Swift, who was against war because he was a Tory. Whenever there was a war in England, the landed aristocracy who backed the Tories had to pay more taxes.


On the other hand, people who were getting into business and liked the Whigs made money. Edward Said was especially impressed by how Swift, who was a Tory, didn't try to make war look good. So, Gulliver's experiences on these voyages may not have made him rich or famous like Robinson Crusoe's did, but they did make him a better person. His biggest accomplishment is that he can stay human even when he's not around people. Even though Gulliver has many flaws and hates people, he is a hero because he can understand the people who live on the new islands he claims to have found. No matter what, he wants to keep the British from taking over their land. In the end, Gulliver turns out to be a better person than both English people and several other people he meets on his travels.


4. Does the play ‘The Way of the World’ uphold bourgeoisie ideology and mercantile capitalism? Comment.

Ans) After the Glorious Revolution and the consolidation of the constitutional monarchy under William III and Mary II, The Way of the World shows how people think and what they value in the new age. On the one hand, the monarchy's power was limited. On the other hand, the bourgeoisie was becoming an important part of the economy, and their moral values slowly started to seep into 18th-century society. If monarchy was based on a sense of contract and agreement, then all human relationships were the same. The growing merchant class had to deal with money and property in their daily lives. Because of this, they put contractual obligations ahead of inherited rights.


Congreve, who was influenced by John Locke's ideas, thought that we live in a society with a lot of dividing forces and contentious issues, but that legal contracts and agreements can make it possible to live in. The plotting and counterplotting of the characters are what drives the play, and this sort of Hobbesian power struggle is brought to the forefront. But the ending shows that these traits could be controlled and regulated through contracts. In Congreve's plan for society, money and property are the most important things. On the one hand, this contract is a very practical way to look at relationships, showing that love doesn't always win. On the other hand, this is a step toward making marriage fair for both men and women. Given how the play goes and where it takes place in time and space, the contract also shows that the only way for people to live together peacefully is through legally binding agreements.


In Congreve's plan for society, having money and property are the foundations of a civilised society, and people should learn how to manage their money and way of life by following the rules of decorum, propriety, and prudence. Denying human desires will only lead to repression, which will later show up in very troubling ways, but giving in too much will also lead to chaos. It seems to show that neither radically upsetting things nor just letting things be is the answer. But finding a balance between extremes of behaviour is very important if you want to deal with these everyday problems in society. Given how the play's storey goes and how it ends, "The Way of the World" is the only title that makes sense. By using irony and sarcasm, Congreve is celebrating 18th-century society in all of its contradictory rhythms.


5. Analyze the pastoral elements in Gray’s Elegy.

Ans) Because Gray's poem takes place in a churchyard and is written in the style of graveyard poetry, the nostalgic feeling of the countryside is mixed with the melancholy mood of today. In light of what we said above about contemplative prospect poetry, it is important to note that in Gray's poem, the poet does not sit above or control the landscape. Instead, he is on the same level as the graves, which remind him and everyone else of how powerless they are. The poetry of the graveyard school focused on hopelessness, death, mortality, and how short life is. There were deep undertones of sadness and melancholy in this poetry. Often, the poems, like this one, are about the poet himself or herself. So, the poetry of the middle of the 18th century was different from the writing of the Augustans who came before them because it was more personal, liked being alone, and had a mood of gloomy meditation.


So, the fact that the poem is set in a "churchyard," or graveyard, adds complexity to the Elegy's use of the pastoral convention of the countryside as an idealised place for retirement and leisure. So, this setting fits with the moralising that was popular at the time, which is why fashionable people used fake ruins as architectural elements and urns and hourglasses as garden decorations on their estates. However, the macabre and gloomy mood that this neighbourhood of the dead creates doesn't seem like the best place for the poet to be.


Gray had always been sad, but he saw this as a source of inspiration and wisdom and called it his "white melancholy." The fact that he clearly linked this personal trait to his heightened sensitivity shows that he and the poet-figure in the poem both look for quiet places to be alone and an audience among the dead. The irony of this solitary attitude and his retreat to the countryside is that, as a poet who wants to play a public role and speak to an ideal audience, he won't be able to connect different cultures. He will always be alone, like the poet in the poem, who only talks to himself while "muttering his wayward fancies."


Dissatisfied with both his own mercantile bourgeois class and his aristocratic friend Horace Walpole's glittering, sophisticated circles (with whom he had fought before), the poet looks to the villager, who represents the third class of society, for comfort. However, the villager will not understand him. By doing this, he makes what has been called a "version of pastoral" that shows how he feels about poetry and who he is. Literary critics are right when they say that pastoral is a fantasy and not a true picture of life in the country. But Gray's fears and the problems he talks about in the Elegy are real enough.

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