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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Questions on the meaning of a passage about friendship in Frankenstein, Letter 4

I've just started reading Frankenstein. I really want to make sure that I understand everything I read, so I want to make sure of what these sentences mean. I already did google them, but didn't find ...
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Is “by the iron rods of soil and season” in Graham Hancock's “The Sign and The Seal” an idiom?

Is it an idiom or should it be understood literally? It is from "The Sign and The Seal" by Graham Hancock. The full quote runs thus: The peasant whom we met and talked to were poor, in some cases ...
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117 views

What is the meaning of “melt wives into sealing wax” in Dick's “The Man in the High Castle”?

“…we can deplore,” the radio, the voice of the little yellow-bellies from Tokyo was saying. God, Frink thought; and we called them monkeys, these civilized bandy-legged shrimps who would no more set ...
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What exactly is the “No Ordinary Sun”?

The poem "No Ordinary Sun" by the Maori poet Hone Tuwhare is about a tree's reaction to some kind of deadly threat, the titular "no ordinary sun". Addressing the tree in the second person, the poem ...
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Why does Susan say her “eyes are hard” when suffering an emotional breakdown in the Waves (Virginia Woolf)?

"I love," said Susan, "and I hate. I desire one thing only. My eyes are hard. Jinny's eyes break into a thousand lights. Rhoda's are like those pale flowers to which moths come in the evening. [...
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What does the phrase “the silent imputation of parsimony” mean in The Gift of the Magi by O.Henry?

What does the phrase "the silent imputation of parsimony" mean? It appears in the first paragraph of "The Gift of the Magi," which I've quoted below. One dollar and eighty-seven cents.That was all. ...
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What is the author trying to convey in this passage from “Gates of Fire” by Steven Pressfield?

I am reading Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield. I encountered this passage, to which, I cannot wrap my head around the context that author is trying to convey. We had reached the river now. We ...
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What does this 'Each that we lose takes part of us' quote from Emily Dickinson mean?

Each that we lose takes part of us; A crescent still abides, Which like the moon, some turbid night, Is summoned by the tides. Emily Dickinson What does this mean?
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What does the line “The magi brought valuable gifts, but that was not among them.” mean in The Gifts Of The Magi?

What was not among whom? What did O'Henry want us to know from this line? The author says this line after Jim hugs Della out of affection after seeing the magnitude of her sacrifice (her hair, which ...
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What do these lines in Edward Thomas's 'This is No Case of Petty Right or Wrong' mean?

Than in the storm smoking along the wind Athwart the wood. Two witches' cauldrons roar. From one the weather shall rise clear and gay; Out of the other an England beautiful And ...
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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 ...
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What does this sentence mean (from 'Dracula')?

To one thing I have made up my mind: if we find out that Mina must be a vampire in the end, then she shall not go into that unknown and terrible land alone. I suppose it is thus that in old times one ...
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What does “the orchestra broke out” mean?

The short story The Man, the Maid and the Miasma by P.G. Wodehouse ends with the following paragraphs: He bent across the table. 'Isn't this like the old times?' he said. 'Do you remember the ...
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In “The Importance of Being Earnest”, what does 'Or they come in the evening, at any rate' mean?

In The Importance of Being Earnest, when Lady Bracknell asks Jack about his politics, he answers "Liberal Unionist". Here's the exchange: Lady Bracknell: What are your politics? Jack: Well, I ...
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What is the quote “We do not describe the world we see, we see the world we can describe” trying to convey?

We do not describe the world we see, we see the world we can describe. I need help with understanding this quote and what it's trying to convey.
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On the use of the word “thief” in Imagine Dragons' “Thief”

The chorus of Imagine Dragons' "Thief" (from the deluxe version of the album Smoke + Mirrors), written by Clare Reynolds and Natalie Maree Dunn, goes like this: So take me back When I believed ...
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In To Kill a Mockingbird, what does “let the dead bury the dead” mean?

In the ending chapter of "To Kill a Mockingbird", Atticus and Mr Heck Tate (the Sheriff) are deciding who is responsible for the death of Mr Ewell. Atticus thinks Jem killed Mr Ewell but Heck knows it ...
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In the song “Ja is Playing Jazz” (Джа играет джаз), who is Ja?

While listening to Splean's last album Ключ к шифру (The Key to the Cipher) again, I've wondered about a particular line from the song "Джа играет джаз" ("Ja is Playing Jazz"): Сегодня Джа играет ...
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What is the meaning of the second line of this sher?

asar bhī le rahā huuñ terī chup kā tujhe qaa.il bhī kartā jā rahā huuñ I'm researching on Urdu shayars and it's a part of my assignment to collect 500 urdu shers with their meaning. The original ...
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What's the meaning of “a knife in your throat held after dark” in the Silly Walk Song?

The so-called Silly Walk Song by the Monty Python troupe (lyrics and video here, lyrics in text form here) is mostly a lament of the tedium and futility of a life of money-induced drudgery. But there ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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What does the narrator really mean by the following quote from the novel Cranford?

In the novel Cranford, there's a particular line that I'm having trouble understanding: If a married couple come to settle in town, somehow the gentleman disappears. I thought about it, and I came ...
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What specifically is being described as stupid and old-fashioned in this passage on arranged marriage?

I'm trying to rhetorically analyze a passage in Amy Tan's novel titled The Joy Luck Club, where a character, Lindo Jong, describes her experience with the arranged marriage process. I've included the ...
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Explanation of the line 'But you don't really care for music, do you' in “Hallelujah”

In the first verse of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah", there are these lines: Now, I've heard there was a secret chord That David played and it pleased the Lord But you don't really care for music,...
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What could be the possible reason behind “live in fear” and “move at liberty” in the fourth stanza of “A German Requiem”?

The fourth stanza of the poem "A German Requiem" indicates that the widow lived in fear and the young man could not move at liberty between the armchairs. I cannot figure out why. What does the widow ...
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What does this Pablo Neruda quote mean?

Let nothing unite us, so that nothing can separate us. This quote is from the second stanza of the poem "Farewell" (English translation) — the original Spanish text is Para que nada nos amarre que ...
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389 views

Meaning of “shade to shade”

In "Ode on Melancholy," Keats writes For shade to shade will come too drowsily, And drown the wakeful anguish of the soul What is meant by "shade to shade will come too drowsily"?
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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 ...