BEGC-133 Solved Assignment 2024 | BRITISH LITERATURE | IGNOU

Explain the following passages with reference to the context.

1. “I have no spur
To prick the sides of my intent, but only
Vaulting ambition, which o’erleaps itself
And falls on th’ other.”

Expert Answer

This passage from William Shakespeare's "Macbeth" is part of Macbeth's soliloquy in Act 1, Scene 7, where he contemplates the murder of King Duncan. It reveals his internal conflict and the driving forces behind his contemplation of regicide.

Contextual Explanation

Macbeth's Inner Conflict

At this point in the play, Macbeth is deeply conflicted about the idea of killing King Duncan. He recognizes Duncan's virtues and his own duties as a kinsman and subject. This soliloquy occurs after Lady Macbeth has challenged his manhood and ambition, urging him to seize the crown through murder.

The Metaphor of the Spur

"I have no spur to prick the sides of my intent" uses the metaphor of a spur (a device used to urge a horse forward) to describe his lack of motivation for the deed. Macbeth acknowledges that he has no justifiable reason to kill Duncan, who is a good king and his relative. The only thing that could drive him (his "spur") is his ambition.

Vaulting Ambition

"Vaulting ambition, which o'erleaps itself and falls on th' other" is a critical line. Macbeth recognizes that his ambition is excessive ("vaulting") and that it might lead to his downfall. The imagery suggests that his ambition is like a person trying to jump over something but leaping too high, losing control, and falling down on the other side. This metaphor foreshadows the potential consequences of his actions – that his ambition might not only fail to achieve his goals but also lead to his ruin.

Thematic Significance

The Dangers of Unchecked Ambition

This passage is central to one of the play's major themes: the dangerous nature of unchecked ambition. Macbeth's acknowledgment of his "vaulting ambition" as his sole motivator for contemplating Duncan's murder highlights the moral and ethical decay that can result from ambition without restraint.

Foreshadowing Macbeth's Downfall

The imagery of ambition that "o'erleaps itself" foreshadows the trajectory of Macbeth's own story. His overreaching ambition will indeed lead to his temporary success but ultimately his tragic downfall, as he becomes increasingly tyrannical and disconnected from reality.

Contrast with Lady Macbeth

This soliloquy also sets up a contrast between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. While Macbeth shows hesitation and moral contemplation, Lady Macbeth is resolute in her ambition, willing to cast aside moral and societal norms to achieve power. This difference in their characters becomes a pivotal point in the play's development.


In this passage, Shakespeare masterfully encapsulates the essence of Macbeth's internal struggle and the play's exploration of ambition. Macbeth's recognition of his ambition as both the driving force and potential downfall in his quest for power serves as a critical moment in the play, setting the stage for the tragic events that follow.

Verified Answer

“Out, damned spot: out I say! One, Two: Why then ’tis time to do’t. Hell is murky. Fie, My Lord, fie! A soldier, and affear’d? What need we fear who knows it, when none can call our power to accompt”?

Expert Answer

This passage is from Act 5, Scene 1 of William Shakespeare's "Macbeth," commonly known as the sleepwalking scene. It is a crucial moment that reveals Lady Macbeth's profound guilt and mental unraveling following the series of murders she and Macbeth have committed.

Contextual Explanation

Lady Macbeth's Guilt and Desperation

In this scene, Lady Macbeth, who has been sleepwalking and exhibiting signs of deep psychological distress, is observed by a doctor and a gentlewoman. The lines "Out, damned spot: out I say!" refer to her hallucination of a bloodstain on her hand, a symbolic representation of her guilt over the murders she has been complicit in, particularly the murder of King Duncan.

The Imaginary Bloodstain

The "damned spot" she is trying to remove is an imaginary bloodstain that she cannot cleanse, representing the indelible guilt that haunts her. Her repeated attempts to wash it away signify her inability to escape the consequences of her and Macbeth's actions.

"One, Two: Why then 'tis time to do't"

These lines suggest that she is reliving the moments leading up to Duncan's murder. The counting could imply the ticking of the clock or her counting the steps as Macbeth approaches Duncan's chamber. It reflects her anxious state of mind during the execution of their plan.

"Hell is murky"

This line indicates her awareness of the moral darkness of their deeds. It's as if she's acknowledging the hellish nature of their actions and the murky, inescapable moral abyss they have plunged into.

"Fie, My Lord, fie! A soldier, and affear'd?"

Here, Lady Macbeth is likely recalling her earlier taunting of Macbeth, where she questioned his manhood and bravery to goad him into committing the murder. It shows her internal conflict and how she is haunted by her own words that pushed Macbeth into committing regicide.

"What need we fear who knows it, when none can call our power to accompt?"

This line reflects the initial belief that their power would protect them from the consequences of their actions. However, it is deeply ironic because, despite their rise to power, they are both plagued by guilt and paranoia, unable to escape the psychological ramifications of their deeds.

Thematic Significance

Guilt and Conscience

The scene is a powerful exploration of guilt and the way it can consume an individual. Despite her earlier show of strength and ruthlessness, Lady Macbeth cannot escape her conscience, which manifests in her sleepwalking and hallucinations.

The Consequences of Ambition

The passage also underscores the central theme of the destructive nature of unchecked ambition. Lady Macbeth's ambition led her to orchestrate Duncan's murder, but she did not anticipate the lasting impact it would have on her psyche.

The Role of Gender

Lady Macbeth's earlier manipulation of gender norms (challenging Macbeth's masculinity to spur him into action) comes back to haunt her in these lines. Her guilt-ridden state contrasts sharply with her earlier portrayal as a cold and calculating figure.


In this passage, Shakespeare vividly portrays Lady Macbeth's descent into madness, driven by guilt and the realization of the true cost of her and her husband's ruthless ambition. Her sleepwalking scene is a poignant reminder of the psychological toll of their actions, serving as a powerful commentary on the themes of guilt, ambition, and the human conscience.

Verified Answer

“He did it like an operatic tenor-a regular handsome fellow, with flashing eyes and lovely moustache, shouting a war-cry and charging like Don Quixote at the windmills. We nearly burst with laughter at him; but when the sergeant ran up as white as a sheet, and told us they’d sent us the wrong cartridges, and that we couldn’t fire a shot for the next ten minutes, we laughed at the other side of mouths.”

Expert Answer

This passage is from George Bernard Shaw's play "Arms and the Man," a satirical comedy that critiques romanticized notions of war and heroism. The speaker is Captain Bluntschli, a Swiss mercenary fighting for the Serbian army, who finds himself seeking refuge in the bedroom of Raina, a young Bulgarian woman.

Contextual Explanation

Bluntschli's Description of Sergius

Bluntschli describes an incident involving Sergius, a Bulgarian officer and the fiancé of Raina. Sergius, depicted as a traditionally handsome and brave soldier, is likened to an "operatic tenor" and Don Quixote for his dramatic and somewhat foolish charge at the enemy. This comparison paints Sergius as more of a theatrical figure than a practical soldier, emphasizing the absurdity and impracticality of his actions.

The Don Quixote Comparison

The reference to Don Quixote is particularly telling. Don Quixote, the protagonist of Miguel de Cervantes' novel, is known for his delusions of grandeur and his tendency to mistake mundane objects for fantastical enemies. By comparing Sergius to Don Quixote, Bluntschli suggests that Sergius' heroics are misguided and based on a flawed understanding of reality, much like Don Quixote's battles with windmills he believes to be giants.

The Turn of Events

The humor of the situation quickly turns to danger when Bluntschli reveals that they were unable to fire their weapons due to being supplied with the wrong cartridges. This twist highlights the chaos and unpredictability of war, contrasting sharply with the glorified image of battle often held by characters like Raina and, initially, Sergius.

Thematic Significance

Critique of Romanticized War

Shaw uses this passage to critique the romanticization of war. Through Bluntschli's pragmatic and unromantic view of battle, Shaw challenges the notion of war as a glorious and noble endeavor, presenting it instead as chaotic, absurd, and often futile.

Reality vs. Illusion

The play frequently contrasts realistic and pragmatic views of war (embodied by Bluntschli) with romantic and idealized ones (embodied by Raina and Sergius). This passage exemplifies this theme, showing how actual combat can be far removed from the heroic fantasies often associated with it.

Character Development

This scene also sets the stage for character development, particularly for Sergius, who later comes to a realization about the true nature of war and his own role in it. It also influences Raina's perception of both Sergius and Bluntschli, contributing to her growing attachment to the latter.


In this passage from "Arms and the Man," Shaw uses Bluntschli's account of Sergius's foolhardy charge to underscore the play's central themes: the disparity between the romanticized image of war and its harsh realities, and the evolution of characters as they confront these realities. The humorous yet poignant critique of traditional heroism serves as a cornerstone for the play's satirical examination of war and love.

Verified Answer

“The old order changeth, yielding place to new, And God fulfils himself in many ways, Lest one good custom should corrupt the world. Comfort thyself: what comfort is in me? I have lived my life, and that which I have done May He within himself make pure!”

Expert Answer

This passage is from Alfred Lord Tennyson's poem "The Passing of Arthur," which is part of his larger work, "Idylls of the King." The poem draws upon the Arthurian legends, particularly the events following King Arthur's final battle with Mordred, as recounted in Sir Thomas Malory's "Le Morte d'Arthur."

Contextual Explanation

King Arthur's Reflection on Change and Continuity

In this passage, King Arthur, mortally wounded and nearing the end of his life, speaks to Sir Bedivere. He reflects on the inevitable nature of change and the cyclical progression of time and societal orders. "The old order changeth, yielding place to new" suggests that the era of Arthur and the ideals of Camelot are giving way to a new era. This change is part of a divine plan, as indicated by "And God fulfils himself in many ways."

Acceptance of the End of an Era

Arthur's words acknowledge that even good customs and societal structures must evolve to prevent stagnation and corruption: "Lest one good custom should corrupt the world." This line implies that adherence to old ways, even if they were once noble and just, can become detrimental if they are not allowed to evolve.

Resignation and Hope for Redemption

In "Comfort thyself: what comfort is in me?" Arthur expresses his resignation to his fate and the limited solace he can offer as his life ends. His statement "I have lived my life, and that which I have done May He within himself make pure!" reflects a hope for spiritual redemption and purification of his actions and legacy by a higher power.

Thematic Significance

The Inevitability of Change

The passage underscores a central theme in Tennyson's Arthurian poems: the inevitability of change and the transient nature of power and glory. It reflects the understanding that all eras, no matter how glorious, must eventually come to an end.

The Complexity of Leadership and Legacy

Arthur's reflections also delve into the complexities of leadership and the burden of legacy. His acknowledgment of his own imperfections and the hope for divine purification suggest a nuanced view of his reign and the fallibility of even the most idealistic rulers.

The Role of Divine Providence

The mention of God's role in the unfolding of events and the purification of deeds adds a layer of religious and philosophical depth to the poem, suggesting that human endeavors and histories are part of a larger, divine tapestry.


In this passage, Tennyson captures the poignant moment of King Arthur's farewell, blending themes of change, legacy, and divine providence. Arthur's acceptance of the end of his era and his reflective, almost penitent attitude towards his life and actions offer a somber yet hopeful perspective on the cyclical nature of history and the enduring quest for moral and spiritual integrity. This passage, and "The Passing of Arthur" as a whole, serves as a meditation on the rise and fall of great leaders and the enduring impact of their legacies.

Verified Answer

Write short notes on the following:

a. Characterisation in Far from the Madding Crowd.

Expert Answer

Characterisation in Far from the Madding Crowd

Thomas Hardy's "Far from the Madding Crowd" is a novel that explores the nature of love, independence, and fate through its richly drawn characters. Set in the rural countryside of Wessex, the novel delves into the lives and relationships of its central characters, each of whom is distinctively portrayed with depth and complexity.

Bathsheba Everdene

Bathsheba Everdene, the protagonist, is a young, spirited woman who inherits her uncle's farm. She is characterized by her independence, vanity, and capriciousness. Bathsheba's character evolves significantly throughout the novel. Initially, she is headstrong and somewhat naive, particularly in matters of love and relationships. However, as she faces various challenges, including romantic entanglements and the responsibilities of managing a farm, she matures and gains a deeper understanding of herself and the world around her. Her interactions with the three central male characters – Gabriel Oak, William Boldwood, and Sergeant Troy – reveal different facets of her personality and contribute to her development.

Gabriel Oak

Gabriel Oak is a shepherd and the epitome of steadiness and loyalty. He is the first to propose to Bathsheba, and despite her refusal, he remains a loyal friend and confidant throughout the novel. Oak's character is marked by his resilience, moral integrity, and unyielding devotion to Bathsheba. He is the moral center of the novel, often serving as a voice of reason and stability in the midst of the emotional turmoil that surrounds the other characters. His steadfast nature and unwavering support play a crucial role in Bathsheba's life and in the resolution of the novel's plot.

Sergeant Francis Troy

Sergeant Francis Troy is a handsome, charming, but reckless and selfish soldier who becomes entangled with Bathsheba. Troy's character is characterized by his impulsiveness, deceitfulness, and lack of moral fortitude. He is driven largely by his desires and whims, often at the expense of others' feelings and well-being. His relationship with Bathsheba and his previous involvement with Fanny Robin, a young woman who bears his child, demonstrate his irresponsible and fickle nature. Troy's actions serve as a catalyst for much of the drama and conflict in the novel.

William Boldwood

William Boldwood is a wealthy, middle-aged bachelor who becomes obsessively in love with Bathsheba after she playfully sends him a valentine. Boldwood's character is complex, marked by his initially reserved demeanor, which gives way to an intense and ultimately destructive passion for Bathsheba. He is portrayed as a respectable and successful man, but his unrequited love for Bathsheba leads him down a path of emotional instability and tragedy. Boldwood's character arc highlights the theme of uncontrolled passion and its potentially devastating consequences.


In "Far from the Madding Crowd," Thomas Hardy masterfully develops his characters, each embodying different aspects of human nature and emotion. Bathsheba's evolution from a headstrong young woman to a more mature and reflective individual, Gabriel Oak's unwavering loyalty and moral strength, Sergeant Troy's charismatic yet destructive impulsiveness, and William Boldwood's descent from a dignified gentleman to a man driven by obsessive love, all contribute to the novel's exploration of love, responsibility, and the complexities of human relationships. Through these characters, Hardy paints a vivid picture of rural Victorian society and the timeless struggles and joys of the human experience.

Verified Answer

The ‘Banquet Scene’ in Macbeth.

Expert Answer

The 'Banquet Scene' in Macbeth

William Shakespeare’s "Macbeth" is a play steeped in tragedy, supernatural elements, and profound psychological insights. One of the most pivotal scenes in the play is the Banquet Scene, also known as Act 3, Scene 4. This scene is crucial for its dramatic portrayal of Macbeth’s deteriorating mental state and the impact of his actions on his psyche and his reign.

1. Setting the Stage

The Banquet Scene occurs at a pivotal moment in the play. Macbeth has ascended to the throne of Scotland, but his rule is marred by the guilt and paranoia stemming from his murder of King Duncan. The scene is set during a royal banquet, intended as a public display of Macbeth’s power and stability as the new king. However, it quickly turns into a spectacle of Macbeth’s unraveling sanity.

2. The Ghost of Banquo

The central element of this scene is the appearance of Banquo’s ghost. Only visible to Macbeth, the ghost is a manifestation of his guilt and fear. Banquo, Macbeth’s former friend and ally, was murdered on Macbeth’s orders because he posed a threat to Macbeth’s newly acquired throne. The ghost’s appearance at the banquet, where Macbeth is surrounded by his nobles, symbolizes the inescapable nature of his guilt and the consequences of his treachery.

3. Macbeth’s Psychological Turmoil

Macbeth’s reaction to the ghost reveals his deep psychological turmoil. His behavior becomes erratic and unhinged, causing concern and suspicion among the guests. Macbeth’s dialogue with the ghost, whom no one else can see, exposes his inner conflict and paranoia. This scene is a turning point in the play, as Macbeth’s façade of a strong and legitimate ruler begins to crumble, revealing the corrupt and tormented man beneath.

4. Lady Macbeth’s Role

Lady Macbeth’s role in this scene is significant. Initially, she tries to maintain control of the situation, dismissing Macbeth’s behavior as a momentary ailment and urging the guests to ignore his outbursts. However, as Macbeth’s hallucinations intensify, even she cannot contain the situation. This scene marks a shift in their relationship; the once dominant and manipulative Lady Macbeth is rendered powerless in the face of Macbeth’s descent into madness.

5. The Thematic Significance

The Banquet Scene is rich in thematic significance. It highlights the themes of guilt, power, and the psychological consequences of unchecked ambition. The supernatural element of Banquo’s ghost serves as a moral reminder of the cost of Macbeth’s ruthless pursuit of power. Additionally, the scene underscores the idea that actions have consequences, and even the mightiest can fall victim to their own misdeeds.


In conclusion, the Banquet Scene in "Macbeth" is a masterful depiction of the tragic consequences of ambition and guilt. Through Macbeth’s interactions with Banquo’s ghost and the reactions of the guests, Shakespeare explores the depths of Macbeth’s psychological decline and the impact of his actions on his rule and his soul. This scene is a turning point in the play, setting the stage for Macbeth’s eventual downfall and serving as a powerful commentary on the nature of guilt and the corrupting influence of power.

Verified Answer

Tennyson as a representative poet of Victorian England.

Expert Answer

Tennyson as a Representative Poet of Victorian England

Alfred Lord Tennyson, one of the most prominent figures in Victorian literature, encapsulates the spirit, concerns, and characteristics of the Victorian era through his poetry. His works reflect the complexities and contradictions of the period, making him a quintessential representative of his time.

1. Reflection of Victorian Values and Concerns

Tennyson's poetry mirrors the predominant values and concerns of Victorian society. The era was marked by rapid industrialization, scientific progress, religious doubt, and a strong sense of moral responsibility. In poems like "In Memoriam A.H.H.", Tennyson grapples with the loss of his friend Arthur Hallam, which leads him to explore themes of mortality, faith, and the search for meaning in an era of scientific advancement and religious skepticism. This poem, in particular, reflects the Victorian conflict between faith and doubt, a struggle that was central to the era's intellectual discourse.

2. The Influence of the Industrial Revolution

The Industrial Revolution, a defining aspect of the Victorian era, brought about significant social and economic changes. Tennyson’s work often reflects the impact of these changes on society and the natural world. In poems like "Locksley Hall", he expresses both fascination and apprehension about the future, foreseeing the global impact of technological advancement. His portrayal of industrialization’s effects on the natural environment and the human spirit is emblematic of the Victorian era’s anxieties about progress and its consequences.

3. Tennyson’s Treatment of Heroism and Morality

Victorian England was characterized by a strong sense of morality and a fascination with medievalism and heroism, as seen in the popularity of Arthurian legends. Tennyson’s "Idylls of the King" is a series of narrative poems that reimagines the Arthurian legends. Through these poems, Tennyson explores themes of chivalry, honor, and moral integrity, reflecting the Victorian idealization of medieval virtues and the era’s preoccupation with moral standards.

4. Response to the Condition of Women

The condition and rights of women were significant issues in Victorian society. Tennyson’s portrayal of women in his poetry often reflects the era's attitudes and debates regarding women's roles. In "The Princess", Tennyson explores themes of women's education and their place in society. While the poem grapples with progressive ideas about women's roles, it also reflects the limitations and contradictions of Victorian views on gender.

5. Stylistic Elements and Innovation

Tennyson’s style is marked by its lyrical quality, mastery of language, and use of rich imagery and symbolism, which are characteristic of Victorian poetry. His innovation in poetic forms and techniques, as seen in his use of blank verse and experimentation with narrative structures, contributed significantly to the development of Victorian literature. His ability to blend traditional forms with new ideas made his work both accessible and intellectually engaging to the Victorian audience.


Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poetry embodies the essence of the Victorian era, making him a representative poet of his time. His exploration of the era’s predominant themes—such as the conflict between faith and doubt, the impact of industrialization, the ideals of heroism and morality, the condition of women, and stylistic innovation—captures the spirit of Victorian England. Tennyson’s work not only reflects the complexities of his era but also contributes to our understanding of the Victorian mindset and its cultural and intellectual landscape.

Verified Answer

Bernard Shaw and the ‘discussion play’.

Expert Answer

Bernard Shaw and the 'Discussion Play'

George Bernard Shaw, a prominent figure in 20th-century theater, is renowned for his unique contribution to drama, particularly through the development of the 'discussion play'. This form of play focuses on debating ideas and social issues, often challenging conventional norms and beliefs.

1. Definition and Characteristics of the 'Discussion Play'

The 'discussion play' is a genre of drama where the primary focus is on the discussion of ideas, philosophies, and social issues rather than on action or plot. Shaw's plays often feature extended dialogues and debates among characters, serving as a platform for exploring various viewpoints. These plays are characterized by their intellectual rigor, witty dialogue, and the absence of a conventional storyline. Shaw used this format to challenge his audience’s perceptions and provoke thought about prevailing societal issues.

2. Shaw's Use of the 'Discussion Play' to Explore Social Issues

Shaw was deeply interested in social issues and used his plays as a means to explore and critique societal norms. He addressed topics such as class struggle, gender roles, and the inadequacies of the legal and political systems. In plays like "Mrs. Warren's Profession", Shaw discusses the hypocrisy surrounding prostitution and the limited opportunities available to women. In "Major Barbara", he explores the moral dilemmas associated with poverty and wealth. Through these plays, Shaw encouraged audiences to question and rethink their beliefs and societal norms.

3. Characterization in Shaw’s Plays

In Shaw’s 'discussion plays', characters are often archetypes or representatives of certain ideologies or social classes. They are crafted with depth and complexity, allowing for the thorough exploration of different perspectives. For example, in "Pygmalion", Professor Henry Higgins represents the intellectual elite, while Eliza Doolittle embodies the working class. Their interactions provide insights into class dynamics and the nature of transformation. Shaw’s characters are not just individuals but are also symbols of larger ideas, contributing to the discussion-centric nature of his plays.

4. Shaw’s Writing Style and Dialogue

Shaw’s writing is marked by its sharp wit, humor, and use of paradox. His dialogue is not only a vehicle for character development but also for the articulation of complex ideas and arguments. Shaw had a talent for making intellectual debates engaging and accessible to a broad audience. His use of irony and satire adds a layer of entertainment while also serving a didactic purpose. The dialogue in Shaw’s plays is crucial in advancing the 'discussion' aspect of the narrative.

5. Legacy and Influence of Shaw’s 'Discussion Plays'

Shaw’s 'discussion plays' had a significant impact on modern drama. He shifted the focus of theater from entertainment to a medium for intellectual and social discourse. His plays inspired future playwrights to use the stage as a platform for discussing ideas and advocating for social change. Shaw’s legacy lies in his ability to combine entertainment with education, making theater a space for challenging and reshaping societal views.


Bernard Shaw’s contribution to the genre of the 'discussion play' marked a significant shift in the purpose and nature of modern drama. Through his plays, Shaw engaged audiences in intellectual debates about important social issues, using his characters and dialogue as tools for exploring and challenging conventional beliefs. His innovative approach to drama not only entertained but also educated, leaving a lasting impact on the world of theater and on society at large. Shaw’s 'discussion plays' remain relevant for their insightful commentary on human nature and social structures, continuing to provoke thought and discussion among contemporary audiences.

Verified Answer

Write short essays on the following:

a. “Arms and the Man is considered to be an ‘anti-romantic comedy'”. Do you agree?

Expert Answer

Arms and the Man as an 'Anti-Romantic Comedy'

George Bernard Shaw's "Arms and the Man," first performed in 1894, is often described as an 'anti-romantic comedy.' This label stems from Shaw's approach to challenging the romanticized notions of love and war prevalent during the Victorian era. In this essay, we will explore various aspects of the play to understand why it is considered an 'anti-romantic comedy.'

1. Challenging Romanticized Notions of War

One of the central themes of "Arms and the Man" is the critique of the romanticized view of warfare. Shaw, through his character Captain Bluntschli, a pragmatic and professional Swiss mercenary, presents a realistic and unglamorous portrayal of war. Bluntschli’s character is in stark contrast to the other male protagonist, Sergius, who embodies the traditional romantic hero – brave, dashing, and somewhat foolhardy. Sergius's charge at the enemy lines, initially seen as a heroic act, is later revealed to be a reckless and futile endeavor, ridiculed by Bluntschli. This juxtaposition serves to debunk the glorified image of war and heroism.

2. Subversion of Romantic Love

Shaw also subverts the traditional notions of romantic love. The play's female protagonist, Raina, is initially caught up in the romantic ideals of love and heroism. She is engaged to Sergius, who she believes to be the epitome of a gallant war hero. However, her interactions with Bluntschli unveil her naivety and lead her to question her feelings and the authenticity of her romantic ideals. The development of Raina’s character from a starry-eyed girl to a woman who recognizes the superficiality of her initial feelings for Sergius is a critical element of the play’s anti-romantic stance.

3. Realism and Practicality over Idealism

Shaw’s preference for realism over idealism is evident throughout the play. Bluntschli’s character, who prefers carrying chocolates instead of ammunition and values life over false bravado, symbolizes practicality and realism. This is in direct opposition to the romantic ideals of bravery and sacrifice for one's country, often glorified in contemporary literature and theater. Shaw uses Bluntschli’s pragmatic outlook not only to inject humor but also to critique the impracticality and absurdity of romantic idealism.

4. Satire and Irony

The use of satire and irony is a key element in "Arms and the Man," contributing to its classification as an anti-romantic comedy. Shaw employs these literary devices to mock the absurdities of the romantic notions of both love and war. The play's dialogue, character interactions, and situations are replete with ironic twists and satirical commentaries, which serve to expose the fallacies of romanticism.

5. The Ending: A Rejection of Romantic Conventions

The conclusion of "Arms and the Man" further solidifies its status as an anti-romantic comedy. The play ends not with the triumph of traditional romantic ideals but with their rejection. Raina’s choice of Bluntschli, a man who represents realism, over Sergius, the quintessential romantic hero, signifies a break from conventional romantic endings. The resolution of the play is not only humorous but also a commentary on the practicality and authenticity of relationships.


In conclusion, "Arms and the Man" can indeed be considered an 'anti-romantic comedy.' Shaw skillfully subverts the romanticized notions of both love and war, presenting a more realistic and pragmatic perspective. Through his characters, particularly Bluntschli and Raina, Shaw challenges the audience to reconsider their preconceived notions about heroism, love, and the nature of true bravery. The play’s satirical tone, combined with its realistic portrayal of characters and situations, makes it a quintessential example of an anti-romantic comedy. Shaw’s work remains significant for its ability to humorously yet incisively critique the romantic ideals of its time, making it a timeless piece in the canon of modern drama.

Verified Answer

What are the main themes of Tennyson’s poem “Morte d’Arthur’? Briefly explain the allegorical significance of the poem.

Expert Answer

Main Themes of Tennyson's "Morte d'Arthur"

Alfred Lord Tennyson’s "Morte d'Arthur" is a seminal work in Victorian literature, encapsulating the essence of the Arthurian legend. The poem delves into several profound themes, reflecting on the nature of heroism, the inevitability of change, and the quest for eternal truth.

1. The Heroic Ideal and Its Transience

Tennyson’s portrayal of King Arthur embodies the quintessential heroic ideal. Arthur is depicted as a figure of nobility, bravery, and moral integrity. However, the poem also contemplates the transient nature of such heroism. Arthur’s fall, despite his virtues, underscores the fleeting nature of human glory and the inevitable decline of even the greatest heroes. This theme reflects on the impermanence of human achievements and the ephemeral nature of power and glory.

2. The Inevitability of Change and the End of an Era

"Morte d'Arthur" is steeped in the theme of change. The fall of Camelot signifies the end of an era and the inevitable passage of time. Tennyson uses the Arthurian legend to explore how all things, no matter how grand or seemingly enduring, are subject to the inexorable forces of time and change. This theme resonates with the Victorian era’s anxieties about the changing social, political, and technological landscape.

3. The Quest for Eternal Truth and Values

Amidst the themes of transience and change, Tennyson also explores the human quest for eternal truth and values. The ideals that Arthur and his knights strive for – justice, honor, and chivalry – are presented as timeless virtues. The poem suggests that while human endeavors may be temporary, the values they embody can endure and continue to inspire future generations.

4. The Struggle Between Fate and Free Will

The tension between fate and free will is a recurring theme in "Morte d'Arthur." Arthur’s struggle against his prophesied end and his efforts to uphold his ideals in the face of inevitable decline highlight this theme. The poem raises questions about the extent to which individuals can shape their destinies in the face of larger, uncontrollable forces.

Allegorical Significance of "Morte d'Arthur"

"Morte d'Arthur" is rich in allegorical significance, with its themes and characters representing broader moral and philosophical concepts.

1. King Arthur as an Allegory for Ideal Leadership

King Arthur’s character can be interpreted as an allegory for ideal leadership. He embodies virtues such as bravery, honor, and justice, making him a symbol of the ideal ruler. His downfall, however, serves as a reminder of the fragility and impermanence of even the most noble human endeavors.

2. The Fall of Camelot as a Reflection of Societal Decay

The fall of Camelot in the poem can be seen as an allegory for societal decay and the loss of moral and ethical values. Tennyson uses the Arthurian legend to comment on the social and moral issues of his own time, particularly the anxieties of the Victorian era about the changing social order and the erosion of traditional values.

3. The Quest for the Holy Grail as a Symbol of Spiritual Aspiration

Though not the central focus of "Morte d'Arthur," the quest for the Holy Grail serves as a powerful allegory for spiritual aspiration and the human pursuit of higher ideals and truths. The Grail symbolizes the eternal quest for meaning and enlightenment, transcending the temporal concerns of the material world.


"Morte d'Arthur" is a profound exploration of themes such as heroism, the transient nature of glory, and the quest for eternal values, rich in allegorical significance. Tennyson’s poem remains a timeless reflection on the human condition, capturing the enduring struggle between the temporal and the eternal, the material and the spiritual. Through the legend of King Arthur and the fall of Camelot, Tennyson eloquently expresses the universal themes of human aspiration, the inevitability of change, and the enduring nature of true ideals.

Verified Answer

Write a brief critical appreciation of Thomas Hardy’s novel Far from the Madding Crowd, bringing out the significance of the landscape of Wessex in the novel.

Expert Answer

Critical Appreciation of Thomas Hardy's "Far from the Madding Crowd"

Thomas Hardy's "Far from the Madding Crowd," published in 1874, is a seminal work in Victorian literature, notable for its pioneering portrayal of rural life and the landscape of Wessex. The novel is celebrated for its complex characters, intricate plot, and particularly its vivid depiction of the Wessex countryside, which plays a pivotal role in the narrative.

1. Introduction to Wessex and Its Significance

Wessex, a fictional representation of the rural areas in South West England, is more than just a setting in "Far from the Madding Crowd." Hardy transforms the landscape into a living, breathing entity that significantly influences the characters and the plot. The novel opens with a detailed description of the Wessex countryside, setting the tone for the intimate relationship between the land and the characters.

2. The Landscape as a Reflection of Characters

Hardy skillfully uses the Wessex landscape to mirror the emotions and journeys of his characters. The changing seasons and the varying conditions of the farm and countryside parallel the inner turmoil and growth of characters like Bathsheba Everdene, Gabriel Oak, Sergeant Troy, and William Boldwood. For instance, the lushness of spring reflects Bathsheba's initial independence and optimism, while the storm that destroys the hayricks corresponds to the turmoil in her life caused by her relationships with Troy and Boldwood.

3. Wessex as a Character in Its Own Right

In "Far from the Madding Crowd," Wessex is more than a backdrop; it is a character in its own right. Hardy imbues the landscape with a sense of permanence and continuity that contrasts with the transient joys and sorrows of the human characters. The enduring nature of the Wessex hills, valleys, and farms serves as a reminder of the larger forces and cycles of nature that govern human life.

4. Symbolism of the Rural Landscape

The rural landscape of Wessex is laden with symbolism. It represents a world that is far removed from the hustle and bustle of city life – a world governed by natural rhythms and traditional ways of life. This setting allows Hardy to explore themes of nature, fate, and the human condition away from the artificial constraints of urban society. The pastoral setting also symbolizes a simpler, more authentic way of life, though Hardy does not shy away from depicting the hardships and realities of rural existence.

5. The Social and Economic Realities of Wessex

Hardy's depiction of Wessex also serves to highlight the social and economic realities of the time. Through the lives of his characters, he explores the changing social hierarchy, the plight of the agricultural community, and the impact of industrialization on rural life. The landscape of Wessex thus becomes a canvas on which the broader social and economic changes of the Victorian era are painted.

6. The Interplay of Nature and Human Emotions

Hardy's Wessex is not just a physical landscape but also a canvas for the interplay of nature and human emotions. The natural world in "Far from the Madding Crowd" often acts as an echo chamber for the characters' feelings and experiences. For instance, the turbulent weather mirrors the tumultuous relationships and emotional upheavals in the novel. The serene beauty of the Wessex countryside contrasts with the intense, often chaotic, human dramas that unfold, highlighting the smallness of human concerns in the grand scheme of nature.

7. Hardy's Use of Pastoral Elements

Hardy employs pastoral elements in his depiction of Wessex, but he does so with a realistic touch that sets his work apart from idealized pastoral narratives. While the pastoral tradition often romanticizes rural life, Hardy presents a more nuanced picture that includes the beauty and tranquility of the countryside as well as the harsh realities and labor involved in rural living. This balanced portrayal adds depth to the novel, making it a significant commentary on rural life in Victorian England.

8. Wessex as a Microcosm of Victorian Society

Through the landscape of Wessex, Hardy presents a microcosm of Victorian society. The social dynamics, class structures, and gender roles within the rural communities of Wessex reflect the broader societal norms and issues of the time. The novel explores the impact of these societal structures on individual lives, using the rural setting to delve into themes of love, independence, and moral choices. Wessex, in this sense, becomes a lens through which Hardy examines and critiques Victorian society.


In "Far from the Madding Crowd," Thomas Hardy masterfully intertwines the landscape of Wessex with the narrative, using it to reflect and influence the characters' lives and emotions. The interplay of nature and human drama, the realistic portrayal of pastoral life, and the depiction of Wessex as a microcosm of Victorian society all contribute to the novel's richness and depth. Hardy's Wessex is not just a backdrop but a vital, living part of the story, making "Far from the Madding Crowd" a seminal work in the portrayal of rural life and landscapes in literature.

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