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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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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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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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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Deeper meaning of Richard Siken's quote

Eventually something you love is going to be taken away. And then you will fall to the floor crying. And then, however much later, it is finally happening to you: you’re falling to the floor crying ...
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What does T. S. Eliot mean in the poem The Hollow Men when he ended it with “This is the way the world ends/Not with a bang but a whimper”?

I once read a poem "The Hollow Men" by T. S. Eliot. The poet ended the verse like this: This is the way the world ends This is the way the world ends This is the way the world ends Not with a ...
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An undecipherable part of 'Gold Fish' 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?" This ...
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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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34 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 supposed to be here at ...
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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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What's the meaning of the last two sentences in Macbeth, Act 4, Scene 3?

Here, Malcolm is talking to Macduff as they are now determined to overthrow Macbeth. Generally speaking, I know what is going on but I'm not sure what Malcolm means by "cheer" and "night" that never ...
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What does “pick up shop” mean in “Hillbilly Elegy”?

Let me share some part of the book, and I would appreciate if you give me the answer to my question. There were undoubtedly many of these children and grandchildren, as hillbillies tended to have ...
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What does “get to” mean in “Hillbilly Elegy”?

I have been reading a book titled "Hillbilly Elegy," and I have its Korean translation too. But at some part, especially which I am curious about in meaning, the translation seems so uncertain, so I ...
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What does it mean when Ralph is thinking about Piggy's death in Lord of the Flies by Golding

I have a question about this quote: "He yearned for a bed and sheets- but the only whiteness here was the slow spilt milk, luminous round the rock forty feet below, where Piggy had fallen. Piggy ...
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What does abbreviation “nk” means in line spacing? [closed]

I see in some journals that mention the line spacing in MS Word in terms of "nk". What does that mean and how can I set that in the Word?
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What does Athena’s statement to Zeus at the beginning of The Odyssey reveal?

I was told to analyze this passage in book 1 of The Odyssey, having read only books 1-4: And sparkling-eyed Athena drove the matter home: “Father, son of Cronus, our high and mighty king, surely he ...
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In Kipps, what does H. G. Wells mean by “colonial meat by contract at threepence a pound”

I came across this following sentence in H. G. Wells' Kipps and I don't understand what it means. What he put into Kipps was chiefly bread and margarine, infusions of chicory and tea-dust, ...
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What does H. G. Wells mean by “ha'penny longcloth to sell, he put it thus to startled customers: 'Can DO you one, six half if y' like.”?

I'm having trouble deciphering what appears to be a string of colloquialisms in H. G. Wells' novel Kipps. The passage in question describes a business owner Mr. Shalford, and it goes as follows: He ...
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Meaning/translation of title “The Light Fantastic” by Terry Pratchett

I have read The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett in English and always interpreted the title as "The Fantastic (adjective) light (noun)". Mostly because I do not see "Fantastic" as noun. To my ...
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What does H. G. Wells mean by “He had added to exceptional business 'push', bankruptcy under the old dispensation, and judicious matrimony.”?

I encountered this following sentence while reading the second chapter of H. G. Wells' novel Kipps. He was an irascible, energetic little man, with hairy hands, for the most part under his coat ...
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In Master and Commander, why is the cook told to put his pans upside down?

In Patrick O'Brian's Master and Commander, during the encounter with the Cacafuego, Aubrey says the following to Ellis: "Cut along to the galley. Tell the cook to put all his dirty pans and coppers ...
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What does Neruda mean when he says ‘Maybe January light will consume My heart with its cruel Ray.’?

I’ve been a fan of Neruda for a while now. In his Sonnet LXVI: I Do Not Love You Except Because I Love You, he says: Maybe January light will consume My heart with its cruel Ray, stealing my ...
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What did H. G. Wells mean by “Manifestly their line lay straight along the lane to the sea”?

I've been reading Kipps by H. G. Wells, and I came across this sentence, which I am having trouble understanding. They (the protagonist Kipps and his friend Sid) proceeded to the question of how ...
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“to give a bloody for someone”? what does that mean?

There is a song: Fare Three Well (Dink's Song) performed by Marcus Mumford & Oscar Isaac for the movie ''Inside Llewyn Davis'' (...) If I had wings like Noah's dove I'd fly the ...
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What's the meaning of “give someone the lie” in Macbeth?

As I have noticed there are multiple interpretations of the following lines from William Shakespeare 's Macbeth. For example, "drink gave thee the lie" has been interpreted as diversely as "deceived ...
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What does “ought to make a good thing out of this” mean in “New Grub Street”?

I would like to know what "ought to make a good thing out of this" means in the following passage: His utterance of the name ‘Mr Fadge’ sufficiently intimated that he had some cause of personal ...
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The meaning of “Lovers' Food”

This question is regarding a dialogue of Hermia in Scene 1 of Act 1 of 'The Midsummer Night's Dream' by William Shakespeare where she mentions, "From lovers' food till morrow deep midnight." Please ...
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Who is Thomas o' Becket" in Tristram Shandy?

Who is Thomas o'Becket in chapter 2, vol.7 of The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman? In this chapter Tristram says he has never visited St. Thomas at Canterbury before. This Thomas is ...
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What effect did the knocking at the gate in “Macbeth” have on Thomas De Quincey?

In Thomas De Quincey's 1823 essay "On the Knocking at the Gate in Macbeth", he describes the effect of the knocking on him when he was a boy: "it [the knocking] reflected back upon the murderer a ...
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Origin of “give a watermelon a pure fit” in “Blood Meridian”

On page 334 of Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian, Elrod responds to the man’s assertion that the ears on his scapular were taken from Apaches by saying that the “Apaches would give a watermelon a pure ...
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What are “abortive sorrows” and “short-winded elations” in “The Great Gatsby”?

From chapter 1 of The Great Gatsby: No — Gatsby turned out all right at the end; it is what preyed on Gatsby, what foul dust floated in the wake of his dreams that temporarily closed out my ...
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Calvin & Hobbes names choice [duplicate]

Why did Bill Watterson name Calvin after the reformer, John Calvin and Hobbes after the philosopher Thomas Hobbes?
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58 views

In 'Pride and Prejudice',why was Mary's performance bad compared to Elizabeth's?

Mary, who having, in consequence of being the only plain one in the family, worked hard for knowledge and accomplishments, and was always impatient for display... had neither genius nor taste, and ...
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Why were Mr Darcy's discoveries “mortifying” in “Pride and Prejudice”?

What do the phrases in bold mean in this passage from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice? Mr. Darcy had at first scarcely allowed her to be pretty; he had looked at her without admiration at the ...
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What do “current words” mean in 'Roman Fever' by Edith Wharton?

The below paragraph is from "Roman Fever'. "Alida Slade's awfully brilliant; but not as brilliant as she thinks," would have summed it up; though she would have added, for the enlightenment of ...
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What is the logic in this quote about raids in 'Roman Fever' by Edith Wharton? [duplicate]

I am reading Edith Wharton’s Roman Fever. I have a question which is beyond my understanding, being not a native English speaker. The phrase is as below from the original text. "I'd rather live ...
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1answer
104 views

Meaning of ché in several French or Martiniquan Creole phrases in Wide Sargasso Sea

The first part of Jean Rhys' novel Wide Sargasso Sea is set in Jamaica, but the main character's mother is from Martinique, where French and the French-based Martiniquan Creole are spoken. The family'...
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100 views

In 'Roman Fever' by Edith Wharton, why would Grace be raided?

I am reading Edith Wharton’s 'Roman Fever'. I have a couple of question which are beyond my understanding, being not a native English speaker. "I'd rather live opposite a speakeasy for a change; at ...
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Analysis of “Liberty Tree” by Thomas Paine

I am having some trouble comprehending a portion of "Liberty Tree" by Thomas Paine, and was unable to find a decent analysis of it. It is my understanding that this poem is about the Liberty Tree that ...
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Meaning of “a ship saluting like a stuntman” in Ted Hughes' “In Laughter”

In Ted Hughes' "In Laughter" (A Crow poem. See it fully here), the first paragraph depicts "colliding" and "crashing" as the kind of events that happen "In laughter": In laughter Cars collide and ...
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Who's this African soldier? What does Conrad mean?

Joseph Conrad's short story "The Idiots": Millot was stumbling, laughing, swearing meaninglessly out of pure satisfaction, pleased with himself for having run down that fly-by-night. “As if there ...
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Why might Mr. Bingley “leave the next generation to purchase” in “Pride and Prejudice”?

From Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (volume 1, chapter 4): Mr. Bingley inherited property to the amount of nearly a hundred thousand pounds from his father, who had intended to purchase an ...
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Help understanding this quote/hymn by Isaac Watts

Recently heard this, and was trying to figure out what it means. It's by Isaac Watts and, I believe, from his book https://www.amazon.com/Arrangement-Psalms-Hymns-Spiritual-Songs/dp/024343913X Our ...
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What does this paragraph of “An Equal Music” by Vikram Seth mean?

I'm (re-)reading "An Equal Music" by Vikram Seth and encountered the following paragraph which I do not understand. For context, the book is written in first person perspective (although that isn't ...
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66 views

What is “a Man in the Top” in Crawford's 'The Screaming Skull'?

From 'The Screaming Skull' by F. Marion Crawford: I ought not to be nervous. I've sailed in a haunted ship. There was a Man in the Top, and two-thirds of the crew died of the West Coast fever ...
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What is the meaning of Samuel Butler's eulogy beginning “I fall asleep”?

I found this as a part of some frequently quoted poems in the eulogy (such as http://www.peopleinspirit.com/poems___quotes.html. I am not sure what exactly it tries to convey and how people use it, ...
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353 views

Use of “Poke” as Victorian slang in Fingersmith

Sarah Waters' award-winning Victorian crime novel Fingersmith makes liberal use of period underworld slang. Indeed the title is such slang for a petty thief. Most of it is unfamiliar to the modern ...
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58 views

What does “garn” mean?

In Rosemary's Baby: She asked him questions that had been unspeakable in Catholic High; he sent her to a night course in philosophy at NYU. “I’ll make a duchess ...
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60 views

What is a neckenger?

In Chapter IX of Thomas Deloney's novel Jack of Newbury, I found the following sentence (emphasis and links added): Thus lay the poore Draper a long time in prison, in which space, his Wife which ...
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394 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 ...
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What does “the gathers” mean?

In Chapter VIII of Thomas Deloney's novel Jack of Newbury, a woman schools Mrs. Winchcombe (Jack of Newbury's wife) on how to save money by being more economical with the food for her servants and ...