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 this William Faulkner quote

In a specific scene of Requiem for a Nun by William Faulkner, Temple Drake states that Temple Drake is dead. In response, Gavin, Nancy's lawyer, responds: The past is never dead. It's not ...
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Who are the Mephistophelians?

In Mark Dunn's "progressively lipogrammatic epistolary fable" Ella Minnow Pea, the populace of a small island are forbidden the use of certain letters of the English alphabet in speech and writing as ...
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What does Father Gur mean by “And then you'll be given back!”?

During the dinner at the king's palace, Rumata has a conversation with Father Gur, the poet. Rumata offers him a copy of the poets work, in exchange for a promise to write something new: “Very well ...
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Do the poisons in “Ode on Melancholy” have deeper meaning?

In "Ode on Melancholy", Keats uses the images of three poisons in the first stanza: Wolf's bane, nightshade, and yew-berries. Are these poisons simply meant to connote death/suicide, or might they ...
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Why is this adjective given in Ode on Melancholy

In Keats's Ode on Melancholy, he writes neither twist Wolf's bane, tight-rooted, for its poisonous wine; Why is Wolf's bane described as "tight-rooted"?
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Interpretation of a Churchill quote

This isn't quite literature, but a quote from Winston Churchill: History will be kind to me for I intend to write it. Is he referring to the fact that he will be writing a history of the time he ...
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Why did Martin Eden live at night with the gods in a colossal nightmare?

Re-reading Jack London's Martin Eden for my project, I've come across this passage: Martin had ascended from pitch to pitch of intellectual living, and here he was at a higher pitch than ever.  ...
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Why is “waistcoat” modified by “leering” in the poem “A German Requiem"?

In the fifth line from the third stanza of "A German Requiem", the word waistcoat is modified by leering. I can understand waistcoat is personified as a person here. Is this person the priest? And why ...
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Alternate meaning of “still” in 'Ode to a Nightingale'

This resource on 'Ode to a Nightingale' by Keats says that the word "still" in stanza 6 ("Still wouldst thou sing") might have more than one meaning. However, I can't see it meaning anything beyond '...
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What is the meaning of this paragraph from “And Then There Were None”?

I was reading this paragraph from this mystery of Agatha Christie And Then There Were None, this small paragraph is there which has no previous resemblance. By Jove, he'd sailed pretty near the ...
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What does “halter” mean here?

The following sentence occurs in Mark Twain's sketch Private History of a Campaign that Failed: The drenching we were getting was misery enough, but a deeper misery still was the reflection that ...
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What are the “old euphemisms” in The Great Gatsby?

In chapter 6 of The Great Gatsby, Nick describes Daisy's reaction to the people of West Egg: But the rest offended her—and inarguably, because it wasn’t a gesture but an emotion. She was appalled ...
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The author of a literary work disagrees with critics about meaning—who's right?

I've just come up with a conjecture on what a piece of literature means, but the author has said that they didn't mean for their work to suggest that. For example, Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 is ...
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Why is 'beer' used in ''a parson much bemus'd in beer"?

In 1735, Alexander Pope wrote Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot. There is a line "a parson much bemus'd in beer." What has beer to do with it? I came across this in Merriam-Webster: In 1735, British poet ...
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Why is Rousseau saying that “[…] Russia was civilized too soon”?

In The Social Contract, Jean-Jacques Rousseau says [...] Russia will never be really civilized, because it was civilized too soon What is he referring to, when saying it was civilized too soon, ...
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Is Deeper Magic something more than God (the Emperor beyond the Sea) in Narnia?

When Aslan is asked why he has to die in the The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, he answers something in the sense that there is a "deeper magic" that he has to obey. What exactly is this "deeper ...
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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 ...
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What do these espionage tradecraft phrases from Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy mean?

When Ricky Tarr is recounting his story to George Smiley, he speculates that Boris -- a Russian spy working undercover as a trade delegate -- was "waiting for a connect, working a letterbox, maybe, or ...
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Meaning of this line in “On seeing the Elgin Marbles”

And each imagined pinnacle and steep Of godlike hardship tells me I must die The "pinnacle and steep" represent the pillars of the Parthenon if I'm not mistaken. But the next line doesn't make ...
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What's the “Tower of Darkness” in the Rubaiyat referring to?

Stanza 26: (from the English version by FitzGerald) A Muezzin from the Tower of Darkness cries "Fools! Your reward is neither Here nor There!" What's the "Tower of Darkness" referred to? I'm ...
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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 ...
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What is Jack's crown?

The English nursing rhyme "Jack and Jill" has several verses. The first verse is: Jack and Jill went up the hill To fetch a pail of water. Jack fell down and broke his crown, And ...
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What does it mean to laugh like the letter k?

In Abuelito Who by Sandra Cisneros, the symbolic meaning of one line is quite confusing. The narrator is referring to her grandfather (abuelo), and she says he: who used to laugh like the letter k ...
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What does it mean to greet a guest with an unsheathed sword?

In A Game of Thrones, Chapter 24, when Tyrion Lannister visits Winterfell on the way back from the Wall: “Any man of the Night’s Watch is welcome here at Winterfell for as long as he wishes to ...
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What do these prophetic lines in The Hidden Oracle mean?

So there are 2 lines in The Hidden Oracle The fall of the Sun The final verse Well obviously, the fall of the Sun refers to Apollo becoming mortal. but what about the final verse? A theory; It ...