Victorian Prose Writers

English 203

Dr. Fike


Background on J.S. Mill


  1. The young JSM was


  1. On the other hand, the mature JSM


Mill's Autobiography


  1. Analogy to Blake:  Eden & Beulah.
    1. Very similar to Mill's life: 
    2. His wife was a kind of savior—
    3. Also parallel Blake: 
    4. POINT: 


  1. His autobiography sets two things in opposition:


  1. The key question appears on pages 885-86. 


  1. Mill realizes that analysis
    1. Page 102/888:  "All those to whom…"
    2. Last paragraph:  "mechanically"
    3. POINT: 


  1. By what means does Mill change?  See 889.
    1. He reads
    2. Plus the death of the father is
    3. The boy in the Memoirs becomes
    4. POINT: 
    5. RESULT: 


  1. What are the results of this change?
    1. You pursue happiness
    2. Mill begins to understand
    3. Mill's awakening corresponds to his growing interest in
    4. POINT:  






Digression on the Liberal Arts


Regarding poetry and music (things with no extrinsic value) Mill endorses a broad liberal arts curriculum.  It creates a well-balanced quality of mind, as Newman argues in "The Idea of a University":

See Newman's penultimate sentence of par. one on page 913 (top of page) for the quality of mind a liberal education engenders. 



Mill's "On Liberty"


  1. Questions:  True or False?
    1. The free expression of opinion must always be allowed. 
    2. Those who do anything because it is the custom make no choice at all. 
    3. Whatever is not a duty is a sin. 
    4. Man needs no capacity but that of surrendering himself to the will of God. 
    5. Whatever crushes individuality is despotism
    6. Only the cultivation of individuality can produce well-developed human beings. 
    7. Collective mediocrity rules America. 
    8. Calvinism patronizes (i.e., serves as a sponsor for) pinched, hidebound people. 
    9. Calvinist self-denial is better than pagan self-assertion. 
    10. Eccentricity is admirable and essential. 
    11. Women will never be the equals of men. 
    12. There are definite moral and rational differences between men and women. 
    13. You are more like a Dutch canal than a Niagara Falls. 


  1. Summary of Mill's points in "On Liberty":
    1. Accountability: 
    2. Things he values: 
    3. POINT: 
    4. Things he condemns: 
    5. POINT: 
    6. On governmental interference:

                                                               i.      It's okay as long as it

                                                             ii.      When an individual person can do a thing better,

                                                            iii.      Even if individuals can't do something better than government,

                                                           iv.      Don't give the government

                                                             v.      Government should encourage

  1. Conclusion:
    1. Before: 
    2. Now: