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Questions tagged [meaning]

For questions regarding the meaning of certain terms of phrases used in a work of literature. If your question concerns the symbolic significance of something whose surface meaning is clear, use the [symbolism] tag instead.

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What's the meaning of “my censures” as in Coleridge's “Biographia Literaria”

In Chapter Four: This fact of itself would have made me diffident in my censures, had not a still stronger ground been furnished by the strange contrast of the heat and long continuance of the ...
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What is “the well known story of the picture” in Coleridge's “Biographia Literaria”?

From Chapter 4 of Biographia Literaria by Samuel Taylor Coleridge: I am indeed convinced in my own mind, that could the same experiment have been tried with these volumes, as was made in the well ...
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Explanation of “We The Women” By Grace Nichols

I need help with a line by line thought by thought for the poem "We the Women" by Grace Nichols. We the women who cut clear fetch dig sing We the women making something from this ache-and-pain-...
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What does “the cause” refer to in Coleridge's “Biographia Literaria”?

From Chapter 4 of Biographia Literaria by Samuel Taylor Coleridge: At present it will be sufficient for my purpose, if I have proved, that Mr. Southey’s writings no more than my own furnished the ...
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What is “the sin which ruined our first parents” in The Count of Monte Cristo?

The opening of Chapter 12 of The Count of Monte Cristo describes a meeting between Villefort and his father Noirtier, on which a servant apparently attempted to eavesdrop. The passage (translation ...
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What's the meaning of “preceding” as in Coleridge's Biographia Literaria

From Chapter 13 in Coleridge's Biographia Literaria (italics added): I could add to these arguments one derived from pecuniary motives, and particularly from the probable effects on the sale of ...
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In the Sonnet 29 by Shakespeare, does the speaker pity himself over lack of skill as an artist or contentment?

Here is the "Sonnet 29" by Shakespeare. When in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes, I all alone beweep my outcast state, And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries, And look upon ...
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What does “rushy bed” mean in this context?

The poem 'The Song of the Reed' by Rumi includes the lines: Hearken to this Reed forlorn, Breathing, even since 'twas torn From its rushy bed, a strain Of impassioned love and pain. (From ...
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How does Dee Raain use the Mirrors to highlight negative human traits in the poem “Mirror of Truth”?

The poem "Mirror of Truth" by Dee Raain is as follows: What is seen in the mirror is nothing more than a person with lies and hate. With sadness and traits Of discrimination and disgrace. ...
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What is the meaning of these lines about love from “Desiderata”?

What is the message being delivered through these lines in "Desiderata" by the poet Max Ehrmann? Especially do not feign affection Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity ...
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What is the difference between emotions and feelings in Wordsworth's Preface to Lyrical Ballads?

In the Preface to the second edition of Lyrical Ballads (1800), Wordsworth famously wrote that all good poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: (...). He later adds (my emphasis): ...
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Is “for eating” a joke?

Matthew and Maggie came with their two children and a sackful of chickens. Maggie emptied the sack into the yard and three red banty chickens clucked and scattered. "They are for you," she ...
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What does Aldous Huxley mean by 'death control is achieved very easily'?

In chapter I of Brave New World Revisited, Aldous Huxley writes: […] there are nowhere any religious traditions in favor of unrestricted death, whereas religious and social traditions in favor ...
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Interpretation of “The Catcher in the Rye” by J. D. Salinger

In "The Catcher in the Rye" by J. D. Salinger, there are two topics that, in my opinion, are metaphors. The first topic is the one of the ducks in the pond and where they go in winter. Looking on the ...
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Is the man about to die in “Meditation on the A30”?

John Betjeman's poem "Meditation on the A30" is about a man driving his car and fuming about his unloving wife. In the final verse, he finally turns to action: "You're barmy or plastered, I'll pass ...
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What is the meaning of “funny sort” in Jerome K. Jerome's “Passing Of The Third Floor Back”?

In "Passing Of The Third Floor Back" a short story by Jerome K. Jerome (available on Project Gutenberg) we have the following dialogue, without further explanation: Mrs. Pennycherry pondered. “He’s ...
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What did John Betjeman mean by “You kiddies have crumpled the serviettes/And I must have things daintily served”?

From Fox, Kate: Watching the English (2014 ed). p. 499 Bottom. The Self-deprecating Insult Rule Speaking of privileged schoolchildren and the English art of indirectness, here is a quote I ...
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What does this Boris Spassky quote mean?

This is a quote by Boris Spassky: A man who is willing to commit suicide has the initiative. Is this something that is just related to chess or is it a wider statement about people?
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What is the meaning of “Not even Jonah’s wife would swallow that story” in Marquez's “Love in the Time of Cholera”?

In the book of the Colombian novelist García Márquez Love in the Time of Cholera there is the following phrase: She said: “Not even Jonah’s wife would swallow that story.” I tried to find some ...
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What does “rather vaguely conceived sweetness and light” mean in this context?

I would like to know what "rather vaguely conceived sweetness and light" means in the following sentences: The other girls in her dormitory marveled at the slightness of her body when they saw ...
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What does “Am I sick?” mean in this context?

I would like to know what "Am I sick?" means in the following sentences: “I mustn't! I mustn't! I'm nervous this afternoon. Am I sick? . . . Good Lord, I hope it isn't that! Not now! How people ...
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What does this line mean, about Anna Karenina amounting to false papers?

What does Kundera mean by this line, towards the end of chapter 2 in The Unbearable Lightness of Being? The copy of Anna Karenina under her arm amounted to false papers; it had given Tomas the ...
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What does “snow in the crevices of a boggy bank” mean here?

I would like to know what "snow in the crevices of a boggy bank" means in the following sentences: Her cheek near his sleeve, she studied a dozen village pictures. They were streaky; she saw only ...
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In what way is Dussel an unflattering nickname?

From 16 November 1942 onwards, Anne Frank had to share her room with the dentist Fritz Pfeffer, who had a number of habits that Anne couldn't stand. In the German biography Anne Frank (Reinbek bei ...
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What does “advertisements in mother-of-pearl letters upon the glass-covered back” mean here?

I would like to know what "advertisements in mother-of-pearl letters upon the glass-covered back" means in the following sentences: She glanced through the fly-specked windows of the most ...
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What does “mannered whimsy” mean?

What does "mannered whimsy" mean in the following passage taken from Eucharist and the Poetic Imagination in Early Modern England by Sophie Read? Marvell does, it is true, come off better from this ...
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What does this passage of 1984 mean? [closed]

There were also memories of another kind. They stood out in his mind disconnectedly, like pictures with blackness all round them. He was in a cell which might have been either dark or light, ...
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Meaning of “may I be twice damned for a bank-clerk or store hand” in “I hight Don Quixote”, a poem by Jack Parsons

From I Hight Don Quixote by Jack Parsons: They said I was crazy, ambiguous, lazy, disgusting, fantastic, obscene; So I hied for my sagebrush and cactus and corn mush, To see if the air was ...
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Meaning of “And do not drop in for an after-loss” in Shakespeare's sonnet 90

Sonnet 90 by Shakespeare: Then hate me when thou wilt; if ever, now; Now, while the world is bent my deeds to cross, Join with the spite of fortune, make me bow, And do not drop in for an ...
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What does the dedication “To The Other Three” mean?

The book Beast and Man in India by John Lockwood Kipling (father of the more famous Rudyard Kipling), which is freely available on Project Gutenberg, has the following cryptic dedication: TO THE ...
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Are the words 'putter' and 'chop' some kind of mimetic words or what in this context?

I've come accross the expressions 'putter, putter!' and 'chop, chop' in the novel 'The Arrangement' by Elia Kazan. I need interpretation. Here is the paragraph: He'd continue his joking, fixing me ...
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Meaning of this line from “Birches”

I was reading "Birches" by Robert Frost. I am having difficulty in understanding the meaning of a line. Please refer to this link for the full poem: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/44260/...
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Meaning of “How can one admire a girl…so young she doesn't know how to bite her fingers”

In a book of short stories by Maasthi Venkatesa Iyengar, translated from Kannada to English, there is a story set in colonial India in which two male characters are discussing marriage. One character ...
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What does “getting soaked” mean in this text?

What does "getting soaked" mean in the following excerpt from Valeria Luiselli's novel The Story of My Teeth? I get off the bus not far from the gates, at a lovely median strip with life-size ...
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What is the literal meaning of this line in “Birches”

I was reading "Birches" by Robert Frost. I am having difficulty in understanding the meaning of a part of a line. Please refer to this link for the full poem: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/...
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Does Auden contradict himself in “children might well appear to be more rational than adults, for a child is not, by nature, more anything”?

I first saw this quote here: Philip Johnson-Laird BA PhD Psychology (UCL), Stuart Professor of Psychology Emeritus at Princeton. How We Reason (1st edn 2008). p. 245. I emboldened. “Walter de la ...
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What is the meaning of these lines in Albee's Three Tall Women?

Can anyone please let me know the meaning of the following lines taken from Edward Albee's play Three Tall Women. The lines are spoken by character A, an elderly woman, expressing her view of the "...
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What does “the surface tension held” mean?

Consider the following passage from Six Wakes, a science fiction novel by Mur Lafferty: She and a good quantity of the synth-amneo fluid floated out of her vat, only to collide gently with the orb ...
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What is the function of comedy for Frye?

I have come across this quote from Northrop Frye: the social judgment against the absurd is closer to the comic norm than the moral judgment against the wicked. What is meant by it? Can anyone ...
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Meaning of “We make the wise distinction still, soever made in vain” in a poem by Dickinson

A poem by Emily Dickinson: We send the Wave to find the Wave— An Errand so divine, The Messenger enamored too, Forgetting to return, We make the wise distinction still, Soever made in ...
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How can readers ascertain that they have identified the author's intent?

We currently have several questions about auhorial-intent, for example, How much weight is given to authors' intentions in literary analysis? and How much weight should we give authors' declarations ...
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Why did Emerson choose 'hobgoblin' in his quote 'A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds'?

Source: Yes!: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive (2009). p. 80. According to Oscar Wilde, “Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative.” A similarly disdainful Ralph Waldo ...
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Explain “If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you”

In Kipling's poem IF, there is this line: If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you To achieve that, it seems you would have to be so closed off, insulated, and emotionally barricaded that ...
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Meaning of “I'm almost three-score” in “The Idiot Boy” by Wordsworth

From Wordsworth's The Idiot Boy: And now she's high upon the down, And she can see a mile of road, "Oh cruel! I'm almost three-score; Such night as this was ne'er before, There's not a ...
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Meaning of “dim blue match” in “The Female Vagrant” by Wordsworth

From "The Female Vagrant": But ill they suited me; those journeys dark O'er moor and mountain, midnight theft to hatch! To charm the surly House-dog's faithful bark, Or hang on tip-toe at ...
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Meaning and significance of “vaultlike door” and “contract around the object in a single yawn of appetite” in Egan's A Visit From The Goon Squad?

What is a vaultlike door? Is this a common adjective for a door? What does yawn of appetite mean? Would you please paraphrase/rephrase these sentences and explain their relevance? From Chapter 1, "...
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In Anne Frank's Diary, what does this quote mean? “Who besides me will ever read these letters? From whom but myself shall I get comfort?…”

Full quote: Who besides me will ever read these letters? From whom but myself shall I get comfort? As I need comforting often, I frequently feel weak, and dissatisfied with myself; my ...
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What's the meaning of the line “9 Parts of Desire” in this song?

There is a partially Hindi (there is only a couple of lines in Hindi; rest is in English) song titled as "9 Parts of Desire". Here is the YouTube link to that song. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=...
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Explanation of a line from the poem “I do not love you ” by Pablo Neruda

I loved her like certain dark things are to be loved, in between shadow and soul. Can someone explain this? What dark things are being talked about? Full text in Spanish and English Alternate ...
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Equestrian statues and wooden logs, what's the connection?

Here's a quote from Tomas de Quincey's "Confessions of an English Opium-Eater": Turkish opium-eaters, it seems, are absurd enough to sit, like so many equestrian statues, on logs of wood as stupid ...