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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133 views

What does George Orwell mean with “vague reverence”?

In Chapter 2 of Part 2 of Nineteen Eighty-Four, Orwell writes this: Sometimes it stopped for a few seconds, spread out and resettled its wings, then swelled its speckled breast and again burst into ...
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Why is Aurora Leigh proud of “colonising beehives” in the poem by Elizabeth Browning?

In book 2 of Aurora Leigh by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Aurora’s cousin Romney doubts there is any value in women writing poetry:                                               ‘Who has time, An ...
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What game are they playing in Elizabeth Moody’s ‘The Temptation’?

Here’s an extract from ‘The Temptation; or, Satan in the Country’ by Elizabeth Moody: The verdant table Satan spy’d, And took his seat by Lydia’s side; Soon as he hovers o’er her hand, Lydia ...
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What's the meaning of 'Spring' in “The Fellowship of the Ring”?

From book 1, Chapter 6, of The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien: Then another clear voice, as young and as ancient as Spring, like the song of glad water flowing down into the night from ...
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What is the children's Ark?

But the central object in the whole of this chamber of horrors was the engine known as the Iron Virgin, which stood near the centre of the room. It was a rudely-shaped figure of a woman, ...
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Meaning of 'bar a scrap' in “Squaw” by Bram Stoker

"Wall!" he said, "I guess I've not had enjoyment like this since I left Noo York. Bar a scrap with a French sailor at Wapping-an' that warn't much of a picnic neither-I've not had a show fur ...
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Can someone explain this excerpt of The Book of Lost Things of John Connolly?

I have some difficulties in understanding the meaning of this excerpt from The Book of Lost Things: David was aware of a change in the room as soon as he began to fill the empty spaces on the ...
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1answer
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What's the meaning of Tom Bombadil's poem?

From book 1, Chapter 6,of The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien: Tom Bombadil's Song Hey dol! merry dol! ring a dong dillo! Ring a dong! hop along! fal lal the willow! Tom Bom, ...
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What is ‘the secret of Da Vinci’s drains’ in ‘Aurora Leigh’?

In book I of Aurora Leigh by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, the speaker sketches the character of her father: My father was an austere Englishman, Who, after a dry life-time spent at home In ...
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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." ...
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797 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 ...
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1answer
55 views

Meaning of a sentence from “The Crying of Lot 49”

What does the sentence “But were Oedipa some single melted crystal of urban horse” mean? Here is the full quote: What the road really was, she fancied, was this hypodermic needle, inserted ...
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What is the meaning of “Yet the way of the Ring to my heart is by pity, pity for weakness and the desire of strength to do good.”?

From Book 1, Chapter 2, of The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien: Don't tempt me! For I don't wish to become like the Dark Lord himself. Yet the way of the Ring to my heart is by pity, pity ...
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Meaning of “He deserted me for others” in “The Veiled Lodger”

I’d like to ask about this sentence from the Sherlock Holmes story "The Adventure of the Veiled Lodger" (1927) by Arthur Conan Doyle: From that day I was in hell, and he the devil who tormented me. ...
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What's the meaning of “ leave him open to the summons ” in The Lord Of The Rings?

From book 1|Chapter 2 of The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien The Ring of the Enemy would leave its marks,too, leave him open to the summons. What is the meaning of the phrase in bold?
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Explain the third stanza of Donne's “A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning”?

This is the third stanza of John Donne's "A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning": Moving of th' earth brings harms and fears, Men reckon what it did, and meant; But trepidation of the spheres, ...
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What does “once removed either way” mean?

From Book I Chapter 1 of The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien: Mr. Drogo married poor Miss Primula Brandybuck. She was our Mr. Bilbo's first cousin on the mother's side (her mother being ...
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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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1answer
131 views

What do “nothing that lived” and “doughty at bay” mean?

The following quote is from the chapter "Concerning Hobbits" in The Fellowship of the Ring: Though slow to quarrel, and for sport killing nothing that lived, they were doughty at bay, and at need ...
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What does “rough handling by grief” mean in “The Fellowship of the Ring”?

From the Prologue ("Concerning Hobbits") to The Fellowship of the Ring (1954) by J. R. R. Tolkien: Nonetheless, ease and peace had left this people still curiously tough. They were, if it came to ...
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What does “they were in name his subjects” mean?

While there was still a king they were in name his subjects, but they were, in fact, ruled by their own chieftains and meddled not at all with events in the world outside. What does "they were in ...
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What does “reckoning of years” mean?

About this time legend among the Hobbits first becomes history with a reckoning of years. What does "reckoning of years" mean in this passage from The Lord of the Rings?
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Meaning of “tally” in Whitman's “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d”

From "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d" by Walt Whitman: To the tally of my soul, Loud and strong kept up the gray-brown bird, With pure deliberate notes spreading filling the night. ...
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Meaning of these dialect words and phrases from Artemus Ward, “On Forts”

I'm not a native English speaker and cannot get the full meaning of this part of Artemus Ward's work named "On Forts". I have highlighted difficult words: It is rarely seldum that I seek ...
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Meaning of “cloudless at dawn” and connection with Shakespeare's head?

I was reading one of the master-pieces by Stephen Spender, "An Elementary School Classroom in a Slum". Following are the starting lines of the second of four octaves: Our sour cream walls, ...
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What is the meaning of “editorial novelist” and “literary dude”?

Could someone please answer the following questions? 1- What is an “editorial novelist”? 2- What does “dude” and “literary dude” mean in the following passages: All are mentioned in a New Yorker ...
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What does “hold” mean in this context from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein?

his grief only became more deep and rankling when he had leisure for reflection, and at length it took so fast hold of his mind that at the end of three months he lay on a bed of sickness What does "...
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meaning of 'dash about'

"That is a very dreadful story," said the Padre. "Very," said I, "and there are some rather odd points about it. Did commercial travellers dash about in motorcars when Popper ...
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1answer
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What does “cold died beyond knowledge” mean in Ted Hughes' “Owl's Song”?

In Ted Hughes' "Owl's Song" (in Crow collection), the last line of the first verse seems quite obscure: He sang how the swan blanched forever How the wolf threw away its telltale heart And ...
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1answer
119 views

What does H. G. Wells means by “Subject Races” in The War in the Air?

The term "Subject Races" is used a few times in H. G. Wells's novel The War in the Air. I have been looking around but only found a paper called "The Treatment of Subject Races", is this related?
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1answer
173 views

Conclusion of 'The Trial for Murder' by Charles Dickens

What does the last quote of the short story 'The Trial for Murder' mean? Why did the 'Murderer' says [...] Before I was taken, he somehow got to my bedside in the night, woke me, and put a rope ...
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How to understand these expressions in Kevin Barry's OX Mountain Death Song?

The following excerpts are taken from Kevin Barry's OX Mountain Death Song. There are some expressions that I can't find in any dictionary, and I really want to know what do they mean. Question 1: ...
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What does Walt Whitman mean by “going in for my chances”?

From "Song of Myself" by Walt Whitman: What is commonest, cheapest, nearest, easiest, is Me, Me going in for my chances, spending for vast returns, Adorning myself to bestow myself on the first ...
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1answer
54 views

What is the meaning of “decorator” and “got up in”?

The following text is an excerpt from "Wifey Redux" by Kevin Barry: I sighed and left the den. The way it worked, Ellie had the use of the sitting room down back of the ground floor; no teenager ...
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1answer
63 views

How to understand “ eight million quids’ worth of dental work”

The following sentence is taken from Wifey Redux by Kevin Barry: "He was seventeen, six two, with blonde, floppy hair, and about eight million quids’ worth of dental work." How to understand the ...
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2answers
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How to understand the title “Wifey Redux”

"Wifey Redux" is a short story by Kevin Barry and I am at a loss as to what the author meant by that title. Literally, it means Wifey Brought Back, but there is no indication in the story which ...
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1answer
136 views

“inlooped flags” in Whitman's poem

What is the meaning of "inlooped flags" in a poem of Whitman (When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd)? He is describing the Lincoln funeral: Coffin that passes through lanes and streets, ...
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1answer
50 views

What is the Distracted Preacher never anxious to do in this long sentence?

In Hardy's The Distracted Preacher, the first page has this really long sentence: But when those of the inhabitants who styled themselves of his connection became acquainted with him, they were ...
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“…the gallant vessel on its course and wrecked it—thus!”

How do I understand explicitly the meaning of this last sentence from the fourth letter of Frankenstein? Why would the ship be "wrecked" when it was not? Also, how do I account for the usage ...
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1answer
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What is meant by 'patient' in Hamlet's famous soliloquy?

The insolence of office and the spurns That patient merit of the unworthy takes, When he himself might his quietus make With a bare bodkin? Is there a veracious etymological basis for the ...
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56 views

How to understand the meaning of “ Columbine types” and “sniper material”?

The following is an excerpt from Wifey Redux by Kevin Barry: "He wasn’t her usual type, so immediately I was worried. The usual type – so far as it had been established – was black-clad, pale-...
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1answer
145 views

What does “ongtray” mean?

In "The Bird with a Broken Wing," part of Agatha Christie's story collection, The Mysterious Mr Quin, Inspector Winkfield tells Mr Satterthwaite: Must find out what terms they were on. That’s ...
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71 views

How to understand “made a picture” and “dates can work out”?

The following sentence is an excerpt from "Wifey Redux" by Kevin Barry: And we made a picture – I was a gorgeous kid myself. A Matt Dillon-type, people used to say, which dates me. But your dates ...
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The meaning of the poem “Crucified” by Kahlil Gibran

I am a high school student, and my assignment was to find intertextuality of the crucifixion of Christ and write a reflection about it. I was surfing on the web, and found a poem called "Crucified" ...
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1answer
55 views

Who does “he” refer to in this passage from Les Miserables?

In the following passage from Les Miserables, with characters Mr. Thenardier and Jean Valjean, who does the bold "he" refer to? Be that as it may, on entering into conversation with the man, sure ...
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1answer
699 views

In “Howl”, what does “Blake-light tragedy” mean?

In the passage from Ginsberg's Howl: who passed through universities with radiant cool eyes hallucinating Arkansas and Blake-light tragedy among the scholars of war How does the hyphen in Blake-...
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2answers
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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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What does “fail us” mean in the book “Pachinko”?

I just began reading the book "Pachinko," and it starts thus: History failed us, but no matter. At the turn of the century, an aging fisherman and his wife decided to take in lodgers for ...
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1answer
41 views

Why is the be-verb here infinitive in “the Female Persuasion”?

I have been reading a book titled "the Female Persuasion." There is a phrase with a infinitive be-verb, which I am curious about why "be" should be instead of am. "I wasn't ...
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1answer
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Meaning of “and a good halfpenny where 'twas a bad one” in Thomas Hardy's “Far from the Madding Crowd”

From Far from the Madding Crowd, from the scene in which Bathsheba is paying her workers their wages: "What do you do on the farm?" "I do do carting things all the year, and in seed time I shoots ...

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