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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Meaning of “What important truth…?” in “Zero to One”

At the beginning of Zero to One: Notes on Start Ups, or How to Build the Future, Peter Thiel writes: Whenever I interview someone for a job, I like to ask this question: "What important truth do ...
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How can he be “so shabbily dressed” and “must have been a millionaire”?

In "The Song of the Flying Fish" by G. K. Chesterton, the author was describing a group of neighbours, a collector, a priest, a biologist, a bank manager and a traveller, that usually got together in ...
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An undecipherable part of 'Goldfish' by Raymond Chandler

"Listen," Sunset complained. "I don't know you from last Sunday's sports section. You may be all to the silk. I just don't know." "Why'd you brace me?" I asked. "You had the word, didn't you?" ...
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Meaning of “Give me some credit” in “Anne of Green Gables”

In Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery, Marilla criticizes Anne for talking too much: "Well, I guess I'll light the lamp and get to work," said Marilla. "I see plainly that you don't want to ...
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Meaning Red vs Blue [closed]

How can we explain : Red is Red, Blue is Blue and never the two shall Glue. What thing can we understand with this with some facts.
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Meaning of «Ah! les Bazaine» in La chute / The Fall

In Albert Camus's novel La chute / The Fall, the main character talks about his life to an unnamed listener. In the second chapter, he makes the following statement while talking about friends and ...
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1answer
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How to interpret this “temptation”?

I’d like to ask about the sentence I’m not really sure how to interpret in The Boscombe Valley Mystery by Conan Doyle, preferably to someone who’s already read the story. “Well, it is not for me to ...
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804 views

What are “abortive sorrows” and “short-winded elations” in “The Great Gatsby”?

From chapter 1 of The Great Gatsby: No — Gatsby turned out all right at the end; it is what preyed on Gatsby, what foul dust floated in the wake of his dreams that temporarily closed out my ...
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What is the difference between souteneur and proxénète in Maupassant's Bel-Ami?

In the first chapters of Guy de Maupassant's novel Bel-Ami, the main character, Georges Duroy, is trying to learn the craft of journalism. The end of the book's fourth chapter tells us that he meets ...
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What does “atomies” mean here?

In Walt Whitman's The Voice of the Rain from his book Leaves of Grass, he writes: I descend to lave the droughts, atomies, dust-layers of the globe... What does "atomies" mean here? I could ...
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Meaning of “look about you: know you any here?” in “All's Well That Ends Well”

Shakespeare's All's Well That Ends Well, Act IV, Scene 3, contains the following line (Online Shakespeare, line 2390): so, look about you: know you any here? What is the meaning of these words?
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Summer Wine: what was the 'unfamiliar line' with which the girl reassured her lover?

The song "Summer Wine", written by Lee Hazlewood, describes a girl seducing a man with her 'summer wine'. At some point the man tells us "She reassured me with an unfamiliar line". What can it ...
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In “Paradise Lost”, how can a fleet of ships “hang in the clouds”?

In book II of Paradise Lost, Milton makes an elaborate simile comparing Satan’s flight in Hell to the voyage of a fleet of ships in the Indian Ocean: Meanwhile the Adversary of God and Man, Satan ...
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What does it mean to have teeth in the English style?

In Chapter VI of Maupassant's novel Bel-Ami, the journalist Robert de Varenne describes the Baroness de Livar as follows (emphasis added): Une grande sèche, soixante ans, frisons faux, dents à l'...
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Meaning of “the throbbing air about him” in “The Fellowship of the Ring”?

This phrase is taken from The Fellowship of the Ring, book II, chapter 1 (page 261): At first the beauty of the melodies and of the interwoven words in elven-tongues, even though he understood them ...
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Why did Bilbo tell himself “Wake up, indeed”?

This phrase is taken from The Fellowship of the Rings, Book II, Chapter 1 (page 258): Why, sitting and thinking. I do a lot of that nowadays, and this is the best place to do it in, as a rule. Wake ...
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What does “in the way of business” mean in “The Oracle of the Dog” by G. K. Chesterton?

In "The Oracle of the Dog" by G. K. Chesterton, the daughter of a murdered rich colonel was talking about her husband, a nobleman and skilled surgeon, who wanted to challenge the secretary to a duel, ...
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What does “after something had really happened” mean in this G. K. Chesterton story?

In "The Oracle of the Dog" by G. K. Chesterton, the author was talking about a secretary of a murdered colonel, who was very active and always doing everybody’s work, saying (emphasis added): "It ...
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Meaning of “spelt backwards” in “The Oracle of the Dog”

The story "The Oracle of the Dog" by G. K. Chesterton begins like this: “YES,” said Father Brown, “I always like a dog, so long as he isn’t spelt backwards.” What is meant by "so long as he isn’t ...
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Why both “noticed” and “thought noticeable” in “The Oracle of the Dog”?

In "The Oracle of the Dog" by G. K. Chesterton, Father Brown was talking about someone, saying: "To be found with a weapon, let alone a blood-stained weapon, would be fatal in the search that was ...
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Meaning of “vision of the world’s desire” in “The Oracle of the Dog”

(Spoilers for the solution to "The Oracle of the Dog".) In "The Oracle of the Dog" by G. K. Chesterton, Father Brown was talking about Brown said (emphasis added), It is the megalomania of the ...
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What would Mr Aylmer resent in “The Dagger with Wings”?

In "The Dagger with Wings" by G. K. Chesterton, Father Brown went to someone, Mr Aylmer, asking for protection against another one who wants to kill him, but the priest wasn't sure whether this man ...
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What is “negative” and “positive whiteness” in “The Dagger with Wings”?

In "The Dagger with Wings" by G. K. Chesterton, the author was describing the falling of snow,that appeared through a barely opened door, saying: What he had seen shining through the crack was not ...
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What's meant by “in the symbol of windows and of doors” in “The Dagger with Wings”?

In "The Dagger with Wings" by G. K. Chesterton, the author was describing a situation where Father Brown was sitting in a central room with a staircase leading up from it on one side and a door ...
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What's meant by “all things return” in “The Dagger with Wings”?

In "The Dagger with Wings" by G. K. Chesterton, Mr Aylmer was talking to Father Brown, trying to convince him by mesmerism Don’t you feel in your heart that these contradictions do not really ...
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What connects “dripping with gore” and Buddhism & Christianity in “The Dagger with Wings”?

In "The Dagger with Wings" by G. K. Chesterton, Father Brown was explaining some philosophical aspects of the murderer, saying: It was his whole game with me to be as idealistic as possible; and ...
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What does “other light” mean in “The Fellowship of the Ring”?

This phrase is taken from The Fellowship of the Ring, Book II, Chapter 1 "Many Meetings" (page 258): The doors were thrown open, and they went across a wide passage and through other doors, and ...
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Meaning of “ethical fellowship” in “The Secret of Father Brown”?

In "The Secret of Father Brown" by G. K. Chesterton, Father Brown said: If you try to talk about a truth that’s merely moral, people always think it’s merely metaphorical. A real live man with two ...
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Does “think” mean “think about” or “think by” in “The Secret of Father Brown”?

In "The Secret of Father Brown" by G. K. Chesterton, Father Brown was saying that he prefers studying the murder from inside not outside: I don’t try to get outside the man. I try to get inside ...
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What effect did the knocking at the gate in “Macbeth” have on Thomas De Quincey?

In Thomas De Quincey's 1823 essay "On the Knocking at the Gate in Macbeth", he describes the effect of the knocking at the gate (Macbeth, Act II, Scene 3) on him when he was a boy: "it [the knocking] ...
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Why doe Martin Luther King use the word “flesh” in his speech?

What is the significance and the intention of King using the word "flesh" halfway through his speech? and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together Is it related ...
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Two Interpretations of Robert Herrick's “To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time”

In his "To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time", Robert Herrick concluded his carpe diem plea with: For having lost but once your prime, You may forever tarry. There seems to be two ways to ...
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The meaning of the poem “Be Different to Trees”

I'm studying the poem "Be Different to Trees" (1924) by Mary Carolyn Davies: The talking oak To the ancients spoke. But any tree Will talk to me. What truths I know I garnered so. ...
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What's the meaning of “give someone the lie” in Macbeth?

As I have noticed there are multiple interpretations of the following lines from William Shakespeare 's Macbeth. For example, "drink gave thee the lie" has been interpreted as diversely as "deceived ...
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What is Robert Frost 'owning' in these lines?

I read the poem "A Roadside Stand" by Robert Frost, and I have accumulated a few questions through the poem. So, I will be posting some questions from the same poem, if you can please answer my other ...
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What is the meaning of this sentence by H.G. Wells about a “liberal heathen deity”?

It's from "The Empire of Ants" by H.G. Wells. Here is the paragraph it's in: Captain Gerilleau, who was Holroyd's sole distraction from these physical distresses, developed into a formidable bore,...
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“The Apple Tree” ending and the meaning behind it

I've recently been tasked with analysing "The Apple Tree" by John Galsworthy. I've had no major issues with understanding the text, but I really can't grasp the ending. Up on the top of the hill, ...
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What does Hanns Heinz Ewers mean in this quote about Edgar Allan Poe?

There are men who radiate a special charm. They attract without wanting to, —one must believe in their personality, and then there is a certain quality which repels. One is not conscious what it ...
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Meaning of “temporary absolution” in Maizeroy's “The Confession”

What is "temporary absolution" in the quoted passage from "The Confession" by René Maizeroy? She grew excited, sobbed, seemed enervated and worn out, as if she were still burning from her lover’s ...
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What does “set out fair and square” mean in the characterization of the Hobbits?

This is taken from from The Fellowship of the Ring prologue where JRRT lays out some of the characteristics of Hobbits: The genealogical trees at the end of the Red Book of Westmarch are a small ...
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Does “the” only serve to preserve metre in “The Tyger”?

William Blake's poem “The Tyger” from Songs of Experience utilizes "the" in an interesting manner in two separate couplets of the 4th stanza, lines 9 and 11: What the hammer? what the chain, In ...
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What does the “with eyes so dark” line of Halsey's “Graveyard” mean?

In the song "Graveyard" by Halsey, there's one line that goes like this: You look at me With eyes so dark, don't know how you even see You push right through me The song overall is about ...
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Meaning of “the matrons are very Sabines” in Fitzstephen's description of London

William Fitzstephen wrote a biography of Thomas Becket in the 1170s, which included a description of London: The citizens of London are everywhere noted above all others, for the polish of their ...
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How can a “desk” be considered a secret keeper?

I was reading Hamlet, Act II, scene 2, when I encountered the following lines: .....what might you, Or my dear majesty your queen here, think, If I had play'd the desk or table-book, Or given ...
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Why does Belle mean in this part in “A Change in Me”

In the musical Beauty and the Beast (composed by the legend Alan Menken himself), Belle sings the song "A Change in Me" after she returns to her father when the Beast lets her go. She tells (or rather ...
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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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“By the lives of all who’d come to console and assist the stricken” What does it mean?

I was reading the poem "The Miracle at Sea" by Shmuel HaNagid (translated from Hebrew by Peter Cole), and I came across a passage that really confused me. This is the second stanza of the poem: By ...
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Why does the Phantom call both Christina and himself “Angel of Music?”

In the 1986 musical The Phantom of the Opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber, the Phantom seems to frequently refer to both himself and Christina as "Angel of Music". For example, in "The Mirror/Angel of Music ...
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Meaning of “A phantasy which sometimes seizes warriors, unless they are game as bull-dogs and fox-terriers” in Byron's “Don Juan”

From Byron's Don Juan: The Russians, having built two batteries on An isle near Ismail, had two ends in view; The first was to bombard it, and knock down The public buildings and ...
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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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