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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6
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2answers
246 views

What does “toby” mean, in London slang of Orwell's time?

In the George Orwell poem "A Dressed Man and a Naked Man", two men are haggling for the clothes of one of them (the other is naked). After a little research into the pounds/shillings/pence system for ...
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1answer
161 views

What does Beatty mean by “Life becomes one big pratfall, Montag; everything bang; boff, and wow!” in Fahrenheit 451

What does Beatty mean in the following quote from Fahrenheit 451: “Life becomes one big pratfall, Montag; everything bang; boff, and wow!” Does this quote imply that Beatty himself realizes that ...
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1answer
56 views

What is the meaning of this sentence: …for there was nearly half as much of the entertaining as of the contemptible about the man

It is a line of one of Edgar Allan Poe's short stories, and it says: We gave him a hearty welcome; for there was nearly half as much of the entertaining as of the contemptible about the man... I ...
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1answer
116 views

What does Camus mean by this sentence?

I read 'A happy death' by 'Albert Camus' . In this book , Mersault once said: Believe me, there is no such thing as great suffering, great regret, great memory . . . Everything is forgotten, ...
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86 views

Meaning in Margaret Atwood's “My mother dwindles”

The second stanza of Margaret Atwood's "My mother dwindles", in which there is a boat metaphor, has gotten me a bit confused as I analyze this poem. If she were a boat, you’d say the moon shines ...
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1answer
117 views

What does Camus mean by “the disastrous fact that love and desire must be expressed in the same way”?

Here is a set of lines from the book A Happy Death by Albert Camus: In the past, whenever Mersault had spent any time with one woman, he made the first gestures of commitment, he was conscious of ...
5
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2answers
189 views

A quote from the introduction of Mary Wollstonecraft's A Vindication of the Rights of Women

Here is a sentence from her introduction. I earnestly wish to point out in what true dignity and human happiness consists - I wish to persuade women to endeavour to acquire strength, both of mind ...
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54 views

What do the first two lines of this rap by Public Enemy mean?

The rap group "Public Enemy", in their first album It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (released in 1988), had a track titled Don't Believe the Hype. Its first stanza is: Back Caught ...
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1answer
323 views

Opening lines of Gwendolyn Brooks' poem “Riot”

Please explain the following opening lines of Gwendolyn Brooks's poem "Riot": John Cabot, out of Wilma, once a Wycliffe, all whitebluerose below his golden hair, wrapped richly in right linen ...
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3answers
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Is there any other definition or sub-meaning of the term 'marines'?

I've come across the term 'marines' in the book 'The Arrangement by Elia Kazan' twice; however I couldn't get what it may refer. I know it is like 'nautical' or something but it seemed different to me ...
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1answer
145 views

What's polybdenum?

In The Dharma Bums, Ray buys "a polybdenum bottle, with screw top" at the Berkeley Ski Shop (chapter 14), saying he plans to use it "to carry honey up to the moutains" but that he mostly "used it as a ...
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1answer
83 views

Meaning of “I'm sorry for blaming you for everything I couldn't do”

From Christina Aguilera - "Hurt": I'm sorry for blaming you for everything I couldn't do. What does it mean? I'm sorry for blaming you and I'm also sorry for everything I couldn't do or I'...
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1answer
165 views

Meaning of sentence from “A Tale of Two Cities”

Reins and whip and coachman and guard, however, in combination, had read that article of war which forbade a purpose otherwise strongly in favour of the argument, that some brute animals are endued ...
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108 views

What is “Protean Ubiquity” in Proust's “Swann's Way”?

I have started reading Proust's Swann's way. On page 66 the narrator, after providing a very vivid description of aunt Leonie's house and its atmosphere, describes her state. She has gradually left ...
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1answer
109 views

“The impostor magician Smerdis” from Borges

In the Jorge Luis Borges short story Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius the only historical name the narrator and Bioy recognize from the cyclopaedia entry on Uqbar is that of the impostor magician Smerdis,...
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1answer
225 views

Why did Johnson scoff those “who toil at the lower employments of life” in the preface to his dictionary?

Brooks Landon M.A. Ph.D., University of Texas at Austin. Building Great Sentences: How to Write the Kinds of Sentences You Love to Read (Great Courses) (2013).     In a fitting close to ...
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1answer
172 views

What is “the fabled obelisk” alluding to in The Boy at Mugby?

In this fragment from The Boy at Mugby within paragraph 60: The swelling tumult was arrested in its rise. Sniff, bore away by his servile disposition, had drored up his leg with a higher and a ...
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2answers
237 views

The House Was Quiet And The World Was Calm by Wallace Stevens quote interpretation

I'll give the whole poem for context, but I'm having trouble making complete sense of a line in the poem. What exactly does Stevens mean by the phrase "wanted much most to be / The scholar to whom ...
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42 views

What does Lorca mean by ‘the oppressed reds’ and ‘garnet violence’ in his poem ‘The King of Harlem’?

I've already asked one question on this poem and I did think to include this question along with it but decided against it as the poem is quite long, though of course not as long as some ancient epics ...
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1answer
193 views

What did Lorca mean by ‘crocodiles’ in his poem ‘The King of Harlem’?

The poet Federico García Lorca, when he was studying at Colombia University visited Harlem with a friend of his, Nella Larsen, a black novelist. It made a tremendous impression upon him and its ...
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1answer
147 views

Meaning of lines explaining Hrothgar's ruling in Heorot

I'm reading Seamus Heaney's translation of Beowulf and when the poet talks about Heorot Hall (lines 71 through 73) he says it would be his throne-room and there he would dispense his God-given ...
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1answer
146 views

What do these lines mean in 'The Importance of Being Earnest'?

Miss Prism: (Recoiling in indignant astonishment) Mr Worthing! I am unmarried! Jack: Unmarried! I do not deny that is a serious blow. But after all, who has the right to cast a stone against one ...
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1answer
72 views

Meaning of Lady Bracknell's phrasing in The Importance of Being Ernest

Lady Bracknell (to Cecily): Pretty child! your dress is sadly simple, your hair seems almost as Nature might have left it. But we can soon alter all that. A thoroughly experienced French maid produces ...
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1answer
392 views

Meaning and implication of these lines in The Importance of Being Ernest

Lady Bracknell: There are distinct social possibilities in your profile. The two weak points in our age are its want of principle and its want of profile. The chin a little higher, dear. Style largely ...
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1answer
142 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 ...
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Obscure phrases in “Studies in Classic American Literature” by D. H. Lawrence

By suggestion, I was transferred here from english.stackexchange.com. I have some trouble understanding several unusual constructions D. H. Lawrence used in his Studies in Classic American Literature....
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1answer
198 views

What does the raven say to Ged when he first enters the school at Roke?

In the Wizard of Earthsea when Ged first enters the school at Roke, he meets with the Archmage Nemmerle, and a "raven of Osskil" wanders towards the Archmage (his familiar, maybe?) and when the ...
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1answer
39 views

What is Baldwin referring to by the “magnificent twenties”?

In his Many Thousands Gone, James Baldwin wrote We cannot, to begin with, divorce this book from the specific social climate of that time; it was one of the last of all through the thirties, ...
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2answers
159 views

What do these lines mean in Tennyson's poem “Northern Farmer - Old Style”?

What does But summun ’ull come ater meä mayhap wi’ ’is kittle o’ steam Huzzin’ an’ maäzin’ the blessed feälds wi’ the Divil’s oaän teäm. mean in modern English?
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What does the line “Excellent, i' faith, of the chameleon's dish. I eat the air, promise-crammed. You cannot feed capons so.” mean, from Hamlet?

“Excellent, i' faith, of the chameleon's dish. I eat the air, promise-crammed. You cannot feed capons so.” Hamlet, act 3, scene 2 What does this sentence mean? What are the chameleon, air and ...
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1answer
104 views

What is the humour behind these lines in 'The Importance Of Being Earnest'?

In Act II of Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest, Algernon and Cecily have this exchange: Cecily: I can't understand how you are here at all. Uncle Jack won't be back till Monday ...
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1answer
74 views

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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2answers
104 views

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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155 views

In the given line, what is the relation between ‘short-sighted’ and ‘education’? What does it mean by strict views on education?

In Act II of The Importance of Being Earnest, Gwendolen says this in a conversation with Cecily: Gwendolen: [...] And certainly once a man begins to neglect his domestic duties he becomes painfully ...
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174 views

What is “ache-and-pain-a-me back-o-hardness” in “We the Women”?

I need an explanation for what Grace Nichols is trying to say in the following stanzas from her poem "We the Women": We the women who cut clear fetch dig sing We the women making something ...
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1answer
125 views

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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2answers
224 views

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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1answer
51 views

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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1answer
385 views

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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1answer
69 views

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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2answers
2k views

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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240 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): ...
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91 views

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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1answer
105 views

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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289 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 ...
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1answer
173 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 ...
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1answer
108 views

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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2answers
139 views

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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2answers
241 views

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?