Skip to main content

Questions tagged [meaning]

Questions regarding the meaning of certain terms or 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. Please add specific tags as well: for the author (if known), the language (if not English), and either the work itself (if long) or the [poetry] or [short-stories] tags for short works.

Filter by
Sorted by
Tagged with
16 votes
4 answers
9k views

What does this quote from The Great Gatsby mean?

Here's the quote: My commutation ticket came back to me with a dark stain from his hand. That any one should care in this heat whose flushed lips he kissed, whose head made damp the pajama ...
Frank's user avatar
  • 263
20 votes
6 answers
43k views

The meaning of "The rest is silence" in "Hamlet"

Hamlet's very last words are The rest is silence. What do they actually mean? This being Shakespeare, I reckon the significance of these words cannot be only the banal comparison between death and ...
ΥΣΕΡ26328's user avatar
14 votes
3 answers
9k views

What are the "dark Satanic mills" in Blake's Jerusalem?

The short poem Jerusalem by William Blake - not to be confused with his much longer epic poem of the same title; I'm talking about the "did those feet in ancient times" one - contains the following ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
  • 74.1k
9 votes
1 answer
2k views

What does "rob it of a few petrified spars" mean in "Pride and Prejudice"?

In Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, when the idea of visiting Derbyshire is first brought up to Elizabeth, she immediately thinks of Pemberley and Mr. Darcy, who lives there, and then makes a ...
Mithical's user avatar
  • 26.1k
7 votes
2 answers
2k views

How am I supposed to parse the "...she might have passed over more..." line in "Emma"?

I'm having trouble parsing this excerpt from Jane Austen's Emma, particularly the bolded sentence: He was not a great favourite with his fair sister-in-law. Nothing wrong in him escaped her. She was ...
Mithical's user avatar
  • 26.1k
6 votes
1 answer
534 views

The second line of "God's Grandeur"

The second line of Gerard Manley Hopkins's sonnet God's Grandeur is: It will flame out, like shining from shook foil. What I found on the Internet regarding the analysis of this line was rather ...
CREATIVITY Unleashed's user avatar
5 votes
6 answers
4k views

Can someone explain what "corrupt without being charming" means?

From Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray (emphasis added): those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault. Those who find beautiful meanings ...
Ana's user avatar
  • 51
4 votes
2 answers
277 views

Who is saying "what was a man to do?" from the following passage in "Little Dorrit"?

Then you see, some people as was better off said, and a good many such people lived pretty close up to the mark themselves if not beyond it so he’d heerd, that they was ‘improvident’ (that was the ...
anjan 's user avatar
  • 791
3 votes
1 answer
257 views

What does, "The period of exaggerated reaction consequent on all public wrongdoing..." mean?

It says in Great Expectations, The period of exaggerated reaction consequent on all public wrongdoing—and which is always its heaviest and longest punishment—was still far off. What is this "...
yogazefish's user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
188 views

What does "Hoo's fully resolved t' sew up meawth an' eend" mean in "Mary Barton"?

I would like to know what "Hoo's fully resolved t' sew up meawth an' eend" means in the following stanza: Eawr Marget declares had hoo cloo'as to put on, Hoo'd goo up to Lunnon an' talk to ...
Pasta Addict's user avatar
  • 2,217
2 votes
1 answer
243 views

Why does George Eliot call night "bright" and "radiant"?

"The Radiant Dark" by George Eliot - Hello Poetry Should I long that dark were fair? Say, O song. Lacks my love aught that I should long? Dark the night with breath all flow'rs And tender ...
user avatar
15 votes
2 answers
23k views

Why did the stars throw down their spears?

William Blake's poem “The Tyger” from Songs of Experience contains one couplet whose meaning has always puzzled me, lines 17–18, the first two lines of the fifth stanza: When the stars threw ...
Torisuda's user avatar
  • 2,083
15 votes
1 answer
4k views

"My father declared he should invent a slip button"

From Lady Saba Holland's memoir of her father the Rev. Sydney Smith, published circa 1855: The reigning bore at this time in Edinburgh was ——; his favourite subject, the North Pole. It mattered not ...
Quuxplusone's user avatar
13 votes
3 answers
398 views

What is a bootless oath?

In Book X (10) of The Illiad Hector (edition: Britannica Great Books of the Western World (The Illiad and The Odessey together), rendered into English prose by Samuel Butler) swears the following oath ...
Mirte's user avatar
  • 3,043
12 votes
1 answer
654 views

Krazy language in Krazy Kat, 25 July 1936

The eponymous hero (or heroine) of George Herriman's Krazy Kat cartoons uses a very peculiar language. Most of the time, it's simply phonetical and is easy to understand, but in the strip that ...
Tsundoku's user avatar
  • 47.3k
10 votes
1 answer
1k views

What does "crammle aboon the grees" mean?

At some point in Bram Stoker's Dracula, Mina - Jonathan Harker's fiancée/wife - encounters an old man, and strikes up a conversation. The old man is depicted as speaking a rustic dialect, with that ...
Mithical's user avatar
  • 26.1k
10 votes
1 answer
2k views

What does "...they had all been born on their backs with their hands in their trousers-pockets..." mean?

It says in Great Expectations, To five little stone lozenges, each about a foot and a half long, which were arranged in a neat row beside their grave, and were sacred to the memory of five little ...
yogazefish's user avatar
10 votes
1 answer
310 views

What does "minds her helium like a lady" mean in "The Terrible Voyage of the Toad"?

I have the following passage from 'The Terrible Voyage of the Toad' (1878) by Edward Page Mitchell: "Without intendin' to disperidge," continued the deacon, "her bottom's more putty'n timber." ...
Dewton's user avatar
  • 203
10 votes
2 answers
2k views

What is a "three-part moon"?

This is from Book 2, Chapter 23 of Salamandastron. Samkin, Arula, and Spriggat are sneaking at night into a vermin camp, planning to steal back the sword of Martin the Warrior. Under a burgeoning ...
bobble's user avatar
  • 9,864
9 votes
3 answers
3k views

"Too too sullied flesh" in Hamlet. Why twice?

Oh, that this too too sullied flesh would melt, Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew (Hamlet, Act I, Scene II) Why does "too" occur twice? It is one in a series of repetitions which occur ...
apg's user avatar
  • 349
8 votes
1 answer
2k views

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 ...
JackI's user avatar
  • 261
8 votes
2 answers
1k views

Who are these crescent saints?

In the Decameron Day 2 Story 7, the protagonist is a princess of "Babylon" who has numerous sexual misadventures after getting shipwrecked on the way to be married. She is, I believe, ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
  • 74.1k
8 votes
3 answers
7k views

What are the "mind-forged manacles"?

From "London", a short poem in William Blake's Songs of Experience collection (free to read online): In every cry of every man, In every infant’s cry of fear, In every voice, in every ban, ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
  • 74.1k
8 votes
2 answers
1k views

What does "precious rascals" mean in "The Blue Scarab"?

In "The Blue Scarab" in Dr. Thorndyke's Case-Book by R. Austin Freeman, Mr. Blowgrave, whose deed-box was stolen, was talking to Dr. Thorndyke: "The story concerns my great-grandfather ...
Ahmed Samir's user avatar
  • 4,191
7 votes
2 answers
1k views

What is the meaning of this sentence from A Retrieved Reformation?

This is a line from O. Henry's A Retrieved Reformation. The detective Ben Price is confident that Jimmy, now out on parole, has been to crack safes and: He'll do his bit next time without any ...
Barid Baran Acharya's user avatar
7 votes
3 answers
35k views

The meaning of the line "and from your lips she drew the Hallelujah" in "Hallelujah"

"Hallelujah" contains a mix of Biblical themes. The first stanza mentions (King) David by name, and the first three lines of the second seem to refer to one of King David's stories (II Samuel 11). The ...
Shokhet's user avatar
  • 6,000
6 votes
2 answers
629 views

What do these two segments mean in Milton's "On Shakespeare"?

I find two amphibolous segments in Milton's poem "On Shakespeare" when translating into Chinese, and thus need some help. In first stanza What needs my Shakespeare for his honored bones, ...
J. Wu's user avatar
  • 157
6 votes
2 answers
738 views

What does the poem "Philosophy" by Nissim Ezekiel mean?

Here is the poem "Philosophy" by Nissim Ezekiel. What do the parts in bold mean? There is a place to which I often go, Not by planning to, but by a flow Away from all existence, to a cold ...
user392289's user avatar
6 votes
4 answers
8k views

What does Wordsworth mean by "A pagan suckled in a creed outworn"?

I have two questions regarding this sonnet by William Wordsworth, first published in 1807: The world is too much with us; late and soon, Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers: Little we ...
user avatar
5 votes
1 answer
581 views

What does "I'll be D.D. before I have done!" mean?

I was reading Jude the Obscure, and I came across this line in Part First, VI: "...I must save money, and I will; and one of those colleges shall open its doors to me—shall welcome whom now ...
Mithical's user avatar
  • 26.1k
5 votes
1 answer
317 views

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?..."

What does this quote from Anne Frank's Diary mean? 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 ...
RazeLegendz's user avatar
5 votes
2 answers
483 views

Meaning of "and light shows between his tightly buttoned torso and his father’s leg."

It is a photo of a family. The wind puffs out the huge stiff curved sleeve of the woman’s dress, and brushes back off his forehead the long hair of the father’s boy who is turned towards the drama of ...
Viser Hashemi's user avatar
5 votes
1 answer
541 views

Meaning of "moralize over every morning visit" in Pride and Prejudice

In the final chapter of Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen writes Mary was the only daughter who remained at home; and she was necessarily drawn from the pursuit of accomplishments by Mrs. Bennet's ...
Kimball's user avatar
  • 1,073
4 votes
1 answer
643 views

Understanding the second section of first part of Burnt Norton by T.S. Eliot

The first section of first part of Burnt Norton seems to be focused on "time", although it is too abstract and as I say "beyond my perceptible sense" but in the least we understand ...
Knight wants Loong back's user avatar
4 votes
2 answers
249 views

Meaning of "abandoned his grin to them" in Ted Hughes' "The Contender"?

In "The Contender" (a poem in Ted Hughes' Crow collection), there's a group of lines with peculiar syntax. Here are the lines: He abandoned his grin to them his grimace In his face upwards body ...
HeyJude's user avatar
  • 1,594
4 votes
2 answers
1k views

What do the fourth tempter's words mean, from “Murder in the Cathedral”?

In the play Murder in the Cathedral by T.S. Eliot, the fourth tempter comes to Thomas Becket and after some conversation between them the fourth tempter says You know and do not know, what is it to ...
Knight wants Loong back's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
651 views

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 ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
  • 74.1k
4 votes
1 answer
494 views

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 Poetry Foundation for the full poem. What is the meaning of ...
MrAP's user avatar
  • 293
4 votes
3 answers
2k views

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 ...
Vincent Han's user avatar
3 votes
2 answers
310 views

What is a Pippin at Michaelmas?

In chapter X of Thomas Deloney's novel Jack of Newbury, a few characters want to take revenge on a "Mistresse Franke" (italics from the original, bold by me): Now certaine of the maidens of the ...
Tsundoku's user avatar
  • 47.3k
3 votes
1 answer
123 views

What does it mean to declare "on a weak red suit"?

In Reginald on Tariffs, Saki writes: [Reginald]: I should like, for instance, a really prohibitive duty put upon the partner who declares on a weak red suit and hopes for the best. What does it ...
TomDot Com's user avatar
  • 1,227
2 votes
1 answer
278 views

Meaning and historical reference in "Ind Aff"

In Fay Weldon's short story "Ind Aff or Out of Love in Sarajevo" I found the following passage: “The Hungro-Austrarian Empire,” said Peter to me, “didn't so much collapse as fail to exist ...
999's user avatar
  • 33
2 votes
0 answers
2k views

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): ...
Tsundoku's user avatar
  • 47.3k
2 votes
1 answer
705 views

What did Goethe mean by "each situation, each moment, is of infinite worth"?

Each situation, each moment, is of infinite worth; for each represents a whole eternity. ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. I lit upon this on p. 395 of National Geographic Stunning Photographs. I can't ...
user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
144 views

What does "raised waves in my mind" mean in Tagore's "At the End of the Day"?

In Rabindranath Tagore's "At the End of the Day", there's one stanza that goes like this: To you I only pray – Before I go let me know Looking at the sky Why mother earth so green Gave me a ...
Mithical's user avatar
  • 26.1k
2 votes
2 answers
197 views

What's the significance of "at least" here?

In "In the Midst of Alarms" (1894) by Robert Barr, Yates is flirting with a rural Canadian girl in her kitchen. “No such motive drew me into the kitchen. But I will tell you. You shall have ...
Ahmed Samir's user avatar
  • 4,191
2 votes
1 answer
136 views

What is the hidden meaning of "Bad News" known to Egbert and Lady Anne?

In The Reticence of Lady Anne, Saki writes: Both Egbert and Lady Anne would have preferred something from The Yeomen of the Guard, which was their favourite opera. In matters artistic they had a ...
TomDot Com's user avatar
  • 1,227
2 votes
1 answer
2k views

Meaning of "take trains like the Twentieth Century"

In the short story 'The Third Level' By Jack Finney, there is a sentence given as such: I turned into Grand Central from Vanderbilt Avenue, and went down the steps to the first level, where you take ...
Hrishi's user avatar
  • 53
2 votes
1 answer
67 views

What does "I was paralysed by possibility, caught between the vertigo of fulfilment and the abyss of uncertainty." mean here?

I would like to know what "I was paralysed by possibility, caught between the vertigo of fulfilment and the abyss of uncertainty." means in the following sentences: ‘Goodnight,’ you said ...
Pasta Addict's user avatar
  • 2,217
1 vote
1 answer
158 views

Help understanding this Arcadia abstract referencing "Ted Chiang’s Story of Your Life (1998) and its filmic adaptation Arrival (2016)"

Israel Noletto and Sebastião Lopes's June 1, 2019 Heptapod B and the Paradox of Foreknowledge: Confronting Literature and its Filmic Adaptation in Arcadia is already challenging for me to read and ...
uhoh's user avatar
  • 276