Study Questions

ENGL 203:  Major British Authors

Dr. Fike


"Deor's Lament"

"The Wanderer"

"The Battle of Maldon"


"The Dream of the Rood"

Chaucer, "General Prologue"

Chaucer's Wife's "Prologue" and "Tale"

Chaucer's Pardoner's "Prologue" and "Tale"

Marlowe's Doctor Faustus

Sidney's Defence of Poesie


Milton's "Lycidas"

Milton's Paradise Lost


Swift's "A Modest Proposal"


Swift's Gulliver's Travels


Wordsworth's "Preface to Lyrical Ballads"

Wordsworth's "Tintern Abbey"

Wordsworth's The Prelude



  • 1.How does the poem relate to Dante's Inferno, Canto 26?
  • 2.How does the poem relate to Milton's Paradise Lost, I.105-09?
  • 3.In what way is Ulysses a typical Victorian man?
  • 4.How are Achilles and Telemachos parallel to Tennyson's late friend Arthur Hallam?
  • 5.Do you view Ulysses as positive, negative, or some combination of both?
  • 6.How do you read the lines "Yet all experience is an arch where through / Gleams that untravelled world, whose margin fades / For ever and for ever when I move"?  Is this an image of purposeful imagination or of futility?


  • 1.What is the dramatic situation in the poem?  What is happening?
  • 2.What do we know about the duchess?
  • 3.What is the overall structure of the poem?  In other words, how might you divide it into sections.
  • 4.What does the poem say about art?
  • 5.What technical things reinforce the meaning of the poem?
  • 6.Form
  • 7.Loaded words
  • 8.Why does the duke conclude with the image of Neptune taming a seahorse?
  • 9.How is "My Last Duchess" parallel to "Porphyria's Lover"?


  • 1.What is the poem's setting?
  • 2.What does Arnold say about the sea?
  • 3.How does he connect the sea at Dover to the Sea of Faith?
  • 4.According to this poem, what is the solution to alienation?
  • 5.Is "Dover Beach" similar or different from the following poem by Yeats?
  • 6.How is "Dover Beach" similar to "Tintern Abbey"?
  • 7.Is "Dover Beach" a Greater Romantic Lyric?
  • 8.In "The Dover Bitch," what is the speaker's criticism of Arnold?  Is it a fair one?
  • What is the relationship between Arnold's poem and the following one by Yeats?

    The Nineteenth Century and After

    Though the great song return no more
    There's keen delight in what we have:
    The rattle of pebbles on the shore
    Under the receding wave.
  • What do "Tintern Abbey" and "Dover Beach" have in common?

Mill's Autobiography

  • How does Mill view human nature?
  • According to Mill, what is the source of personal happiness?
  • What does he realize about reason and emotion?  How does he change?
  • What is the role of Marmontel's Memoirs in Mill's life?
  • What does Mill suggest about balance in one's life?
  • What connections can you make between Mill's Autobiography and WW's "The World Is Too Much with Us"?
  • Does Mill endorse WW's poetic theory?  See page 892.
  • Does Mill favor the liberal arts?


  • What types of utility are mentioned?
  • What type of education does Newman favor?

Mill's "On Liberty"

  • What does Mill favor?
  • What does he condemn?
  • What does he think about governmental interference?


  • 1.References to women appear on 1623, 1624, 1626, 1630, 1655, 1665, 1671, and 1675ff.  Do you agree with Johanna M. Smith that "the whole of his [Marlow's] story is seen to be a manful effort to shore up imperialism through patriarchy, through the nineteenth-century ideology of separate spheres"?  (The quotation is from her essay "'Too Beautiful Altogether':  Patriarchal Ideology in Heart of Darkness.“)
  • 2.According to Marlow, how does one overcome darkness? 
  • 3.What do you make of Kurtz's report on 1656-57?
  • 4.What does the presence of the Russian add in section III (1658ff.)? 
  • 5.What do you make of "The horror!" on 1672?  What does Kurtz mean?  Is Marlow right to call it "a moral victory“ on 1673?
  • 6.Marlow lies to Kurtz's fiancée, the Intended.  What do you make of this?
  • 7.What has Marlow learned from his experience?


  • What is Eliot's point on page 2014 in the par. that starts, "Yet if the only form of tradition..."?
  • What happens in this poem?  In the literal sense, what does Prufrock DO?
  • What allusions did you notice in the poem?  Think, in particular, about Dante, Lazarus, Michelangelo, and Hamlet.
  • Why is the epigraph appropriate?  What connection can you make between Guido and Lazarus (line 94)?"
  • Regarding the first stanza:  To whom is P referring when he says "you and I"?  What kind of associations do you have with "a patient etherised upon a table"?  What is P doing here?  What is P's problem here?  How is this a love song gone wrong?  How does the poetry act out its meaning?
  • What things in the poem suggest that P's problem involves the conflict between energy and restraint?  Which wins?


  • "The Lake Isle of Innisfree":  What do we know about the speaker?  Do you hear echoes of WW here?  Of Thoreau?  What about the Bible?  What does the poem say about time?
  • "The Song of Wandering Aengus":  What Romantic poems lie in the background?
  • "Among School Children," "Sailing to Byzantium," "The Wild Swans at Coole":  What does Yeats have to say about mortality?
  • What examples of "antinomies" do you find in Yeats's poems, especially in "Crazy Jane Talks to the Bishop"?
  • What is the moral of "Crazy Jane"?
  • How does "Leda and the Swan" enact or act out its meaning?  Do you see any antinomies here?  What kind of poem is this?  What marks the major break in the poem?  What creates a sense of violence and motion?  What is the relationship between the poem and classical myth?  What is the answer to the final question?
  • How does "The Magi" differ from Eliot's "The Journey of the Magi"?
  • "The Second Coming":  What is the key image here?  What is "Spiritus Mundi"?  What connection might there be to WWI?


  • See the separate handout of questions on A Room of One's Own.


  • How does Krapp's Last Tape illustrate the characteristics of the postmodern period?
  • Are there comic elements in this play?
  • From a technical standpoint, does Beckett's use of the tape recorder make good sense?
  • Is the play's vision of human life totally bleak?
  • The final paragraph ("Here I end this reel") can be spoken by either Krapp or the tape.  What difference would it make if the statement were Krapp's?
  • Can you make connections to the Camus piece in the HMXP anthology?
  • Is Krapp's situation tragic or pathetic?  If it is merely pathetic, might the play still be tragic from the audience's point of view?  Consider Arthur Miller's claim that tragedy "brings us [the audience] not only sadness, sympathy, identification and even fear; it also, unlike pathos, brings us knowledge or enlightenment."