Questions tagged [meaning]

Questions regarding the meaning of certain terms or 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. Please add specific tags as well: for the author (if known), the language (if not English), and either the work itself (if long) or the [poetry] or [short-stories] tags for short works.

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Difficulty understanding the meaning of the word "attitude" in Keats's "Ode on a Grecian Urn"

O Attic shape! Fair attitude! with brede Of marble men and maidens overwrought I am having trouble understanding Keats's use of the word "attitude" in these lines, and the explanation given ...
Thomas's user avatar
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4 votes
1 answer
18 views

Meaning of speech in Synge's "Deirdre of the Sorrows"

Near the beginning of J. M. Synge's play Deirdre of the Sorrows, Deirdre's nurse Lavarcham says: Who’d check her like was meant to have her pleasure only, the way if there were no warnings told about ...
Richard Hevener's user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
45 views

Meaning of description of Jim waking in "The Gift of the Magi"

Out of his trance Jim seemed quickly to wake. He enfolded his Della. For ten seconds let us regard with discreet scrutiny some inconsequential object in the other direction. Henry, O. "The Gift ...
Shaurya Kaushal's user avatar
6 votes
1 answer
433 views

Are there crossword puzzle clues in Roy Fuller's "News of the World"?

I've been reading some of Roy Fuller's poetry, and was very puzzled by his "News of the World": The seaweed-eating sheep of Ronaldsay; Don Giovanni set for wind octet; New Zealand hedgehogs ...
Barnaby's user avatar
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2 votes
1 answer
88 views

What does "the heathen" have to do with "horseback riding" here?

In I Am Homeless if This Is Not My Home by Lorrie Moore, Eliz narrates a conversation between her and Jack: “God has gone horseback riding,” I say, “and we are left behind to tend to one another.” “...
Seulgi So's user avatar
  • 339
7 votes
1 answer
505 views

Trouble understanding two lines from John Donne's poem "The Good Morrow"

I cannot work out how to parse these two lines from "The Good-Morrow": Let sea-discoverers to new worlds have gone, Let maps to other, worlds on worlds have shown Here's the whole stanza, ...
Thomas's user avatar
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9 votes
1 answer
794 views

What is a "sixpenny hop" in D. H. Lawrence's "Sons and Lovers"?

From chapter XII of Sons and Lovers: There was a long pause. Mrs. Radford readjusted the bacon in the Dutch oven. His heart beat fast, for fear he had offended her. “Me!” she exclaimed at last. “No, ...
Ethan's user avatar
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4 votes
1 answer
102 views

What is the "tin box" in D. H. Lawrence's "Sons and Lovers"?

In chapter VII of Sons and Lovers, the Morel family are about to go on holiday, and a tin box is mentioned: He [Paul Morel] was master of the party; his father was no good. And great tortures he ...
Ethan's user avatar
  • 867
8 votes
1 answer
491 views

Meaning of a passage in Milton's Sonnet 21

I'm reading Milton's Sonnet 21 and a couple of lines are unintelligible to me. Here is the full poem. The emboldened lines 5 and 6 are the ones I'm having trouble with: Cyriack, whose Grandsire on ...
Thomas's user avatar
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3 votes
1 answer
209 views

In Lord Byron's "Don Juan," what was the lead character "half-smother'd" by?

This would be the character's first adventure. Julia, a married woman, became his mistress. Her husband, Don Alfonso, was told that she was cheating on him and ran into the bedroom, accompanied by ...
Ricky's user avatar
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6 votes
2 answers
832 views

Francis Bacon's "The Advancement of Learning"

I'm trying to get a handle on a metaphor used by Francis Bacon in The Advancement of Learning, when expounding on the usefulness of Alchemy as a study. He writes: And yet surely to alchemy this right ...
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7 votes
0 answers
127 views

Meaning of "Ephete" in Seamus Heaney's "The Stations of the West"

So far, the only definition I've managed to get is "a member of an ancient Athenian court that tried certain murder cases" (Merriam-Webster), but since the poem is about traveling to the ...
bocwulf's user avatar
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1 vote
0 answers
57 views

In An Inspector Calls, is there any deeper meaning attached to the name Birling?

Several of the characters in J. B. Priestley's play An Inspector Calls have names of symbolic significance. Most notably, Inspector Goole plays on his potential supernatural aspects: "spectre&...
Matt Thrower's user avatar
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4 votes
1 answer
89 views

Why is Gatsby's house described as "ancestral"?

In chapter 8 of The Great Gatsby, Nick explains says: His gorgeous pink rag of a suit made a bright spot of color against the white steps, and I thought of the night when I first came to his ...
CDR's user avatar
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2 votes
1 answer
57 views

What does "the last act of baseness- the tasting of joys that were wrung from crushed hearts" mean?

From The Mill on the Floss: Day break came and the reddening eastern light, while her past life was grasping her in this way, with that tightening clutch which comes in the last moments of possible ...
MT MTESK's user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
92 views

Meaning of "Fifth Form at St Dominic's"

In James Hilton's Lost Horizon (1933), Rutherford says: I don't care much for Wyland. I can't stand his type—all that primness and mountainous self-importance. And the complete head-prefectorial mind—...
Olohigbe's user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
63 views

Meaning of "makes the margin of our deeper rest" in "The Mill on the Floss"?

From chapter XIV of The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot: When Maggie was gone to sleep, Stephen, weary too with his unaccustomed amount of rowing, and with the intense inward life of the last ...
MT MTESK's user avatar
7 votes
2 answers
2k views

What does it mean for a "bad eye" to "touch" something?

The poem Dance in Heytkah reads as follows, 12th September - Kurban Eid I saw the dance of Sama In the modern world Magic mirror on the wall My beloved hometown Kashgar From ancient history fill ...
EJoshuaS - Stand with Ukraine's user avatar
4 votes
2 answers
2k views

What do "fünf Tage Dicken" and "fünf Tage Kahn" mean in All Quiet on the Western Front?

In Im Westen nichts Neues (All Quiet on the Western Front), Remarque uses the phrases "fünf Tage Dicken" and "fünf Tage Kahn." Can anyone explain those phrases?
Maria Tatar's user avatar
6 votes
1 answer
968 views

What does "well may" mean in "Bleak House" by Charles Dickens?

Well may the court be dim, with wasting candles here and there; well may the fog hang heavy in it, as if it would never get out; well may the stained-glass windows lose their colour and admit no light ...
user20437's user avatar
3 votes
0 answers
33 views

How to parse "the release of the want of the want of release"?

In Justin Torres' Blackouts, which won the 2023 National Book Award for Fiction, the central character, Juan Gay, twice refers to "the release of the want of the want of release." In the ...
verbose's user avatar
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6 votes
2 answers
161 views

What does it mean to "wear my decoration" in the poem "Tomato & Lettuce"?

I can follow Monica Rico's poem "Tomato and Lettuce" (Internet Archive copy) until the last description/metaphor; the full sentence is: The bright split of my birth was to a woman who ...
bobble's user avatar
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8 votes
2 answers
1k views

Are Don Juan and Haidée both Greek, as this line in the poem seems to suggest?

Canto II of Don Juan contains the following, which I found absolutely hilarious: They look upon each other, and their eyes Gleam in the moonlight; and her white arm clasps Round Juan’s head, and his ...
CDR's user avatar
  • 2,735
4 votes
1 answer
487 views

How does the study of 'schoolmen' help in improving our distinguishing skills?

I have been reading the short essay "Of Studies" by Sir Francis Bacon. I couldn't understand the meaning of this sentence: If his wit be not apt to distinguish or find differences, let him ...
growknee's user avatar
4 votes
0 answers
84 views

"And there was yet a greater difficulty. I had read somewhere an aphorism that everything may be false to itself save human nature."

(From The Wrecker by Robert Louis Stevenson and Lloyd Osbourne, Chapter II, passage 36, published 1892) The house, by daylight, had proved to be six stories high, the same as ever. I could find, with ...
philphil's user avatar
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5 votes
0 answers
67 views

What is the meaning of "to go buy oil" in Manto's "Mummy"?

Toward the beginning of Saadat Hasan Manto's short story "मम्मी" (mammi / Mummy), the narrator and his wife find themselves abandoned to the tender mercies of a friend's slow-moving servant: ...
verbose's user avatar
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6 votes
0 answers
101 views

What is the meaning of the cabdriver's retort in Chandler's "The Long Goodbye"?

In Raymond Chandler's 1953 novel "The Long Goodbye" the following exchange occurs: I got into the taxi and we went the three-odd blocks to my parking lot and shifted to my car. I held out ...
Organic Marble's user avatar
8 votes
1 answer
1k views

What does "rob it of a few petrified spars" mean in "Pride and Prejudice"?

In Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, when the idea of visiting Derbyshire is first brought up to Elizabeth, she immediately thinks of Pemberley and Mr. Darcy, who lives there, and then makes a ...
Mithical's user avatar
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5 votes
1 answer
3k views

What does "I believe they’re superior to grandmothers" mean?

This is from Jean Webster's Daddy-Long-Legs (1912): Anyway, there he was, sitting in the reception room very proper with his hat and stick and gloves beside him; and Julia and Sallie with seventh-...
Yuuichi Tam's user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
91 views

In The Crying of Lot 49, why does Bortz feel he's "too young" to answer his son's questions?

Late on in Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49, Professor Bortz says the following to the protagonist, Oedipa, as they discuss a book related to the fictional Jacobean playwright Richard Wharfinger. "...
Matt Thrower's user avatar
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-1 votes
1 answer
90 views

English teacher may be misunderstanding a sentence from a commencement speech: "there's a good chance this began with your valedictorian also saying" [closed]

In Jason Reynolds's 2018 commencement speech, it has the sentence "In high school there's a good chance this began with your valedictorian also saying, We made it, then tearing into a borderline ...
Hendrix's user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
128 views

What does "much too full of lines under the words to be made public" mean?

In Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, after the regiment leaves Meryton, Lydia heads off to Brighton, where she promises to keep in touch with her family: When Lydia went away, she promised to write ...
Mithical's user avatar
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0 votes
0 answers
42 views

What did Stefan Zweig mean when he said "becoming old is no longer being afraid of the past"?

In 24 hours in the life of a woman, Stefan Zweig writes "becoming old is no longer being afraid of the past". What did he mean by this?
LMol's user avatar
  • 1
8 votes
1 answer
507 views

What is the meaning of the final stanza of The Rabbi's Song by Rudyard Kipling?

The final stanza of The Rabbi's Song by Rudyard Kipling goes as follows: Our lives, our tears, as water,       Are spilled upon the ground; God giveth no man quarter,       Yet God a means hath found,...
Betterthan Kwora's user avatar
15 votes
1 answer
3k views

What makes the Sydney barber's remark rude?

In Banjo Paterson's poem "The Man from Ironbark", a city barber makes a supposedly rude remark to his country bumpkin customer: And as he soaped and rubbed it in he made a rude remark: &...
Jeremy's user avatar
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9 votes
4 answers
3k views

What does "Catholic privilege" mean in Pym's Excellent Women?

The narrator of Barbara Pym's Excellent Women is Mildred Lathburn, a clergyman's daughter in 1950s London. Here, Mildred's Welsh cleaning lady, Mrs. Morris, is complaining half-humorously about the ...
verbose's user avatar
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4 votes
1 answer
67 views

What does this line from Stephen King "On Writing" mean?

I'm confused about the bolded part: We went on a bus, about forty kids and three chaperones, and spent the first night in New York, where the drinking age was then eighteen. Thanks to my bad ears and ...
user avatar
6 votes
1 answer
408 views

Meaning of "bunching ground" in Josephine Humphrey's "Nowhere Else On Earth"

On page 4 the narrator refers to "the bunching ground." I searched the web and found no definitions but a Bunching Ground Road near Jackson, Alabama. I called the Clarke County Historical ...
Richard Hevener's user avatar
5 votes
1 answer
107 views

How does "The Importance of Being Earnest" challenge the treatment of women in sterotypical Victorian society?

In The Importance of Being Earnest Algernon says: In the second place, whenever I do dine there I am always treated as a member of the family, and sent down with either no woman at all, or two. In ...
Dia's user avatar
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0 votes
0 answers
108 views

Does Mark Twain mean that it's not safe to leave your wife and a Frenchman alone?

Is it safe to leave your wife and a Frenchman alone? It would seem it isn't according to Mark Twain, or is there another way of interpreting this?: A Frenchman's home is where another man's wife is. ...
Ptah-hotep's user avatar
8 votes
2 answers
819 views

What does "Happy man be his dole" mean in The Taming of the Shrew?

In The Taming of the Shrew, after Baptista decrees that Bianca cannot marry while Kate remains single, Hortensio proposes to Gremio that they set aside their rivalry over Bianca and work together to ...
pygmalian's user avatar
5 votes
1 answer
197 views

What does Chapter XLVIII in Machiavelli's Discourses on Livy, Book I, mean?

I don't understand what Book I Chapter 48 of Machiavelli's Discourses on Livy is trying to convey: Chapter XLVIII He who would not have an Office bestowed on some worthless or wicked Person, should ...
max's user avatar
  • 153
1 vote
2 answers
560 views

Who is the "we" in the fifth stanza of Longfellow's "Haunted Houses"? The ghosts or the living humans?

To whom does the "we" in the fifth stanza of this poem refer? Is it the ghosts who haunt houses, or the humans who live in the haunted houses? Haunted Houses Henry Wadsworth Longfellow All ...
Annie Niharika's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
100 views

What does operatic conspiracy mean?

From Le Carre's Smiley's People: And when she opened the door to him, he slipped past her like a shadow: a little hobgoblin of a fellow, in a black overcoat with velvet tabs on the collar, giving him ...
Silent Sojourner's user avatar
3 votes
2 answers
218 views

Interpretation of W. B. Yeats' poem "All Things Can Tempt Me"?

I am working on Turkish translations of W. B. Yeats' poems and I need to compare the source text with the target text. In order to do that, first, I have to get a deeper understanding of the original ...
Batuhan Tas's user avatar
1 vote
2 answers
88 views

What does "we are not careful" mean in this context?

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the ...
user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
126 views

Does "State Security" have a specific meaning or is it just a generic name?

This sentence was taken from Le Carre's novel Smiley's People: As a condition of your application being favourably considered by the authorities, you signed an undertaking to the organs of State ...
Silent Sojourner's user avatar
3 votes
0 answers
78 views

What's the significance of this sentence in the tale "Ladri in chiesa" by Alberto Moravia?

The tale Ladri in chiesa (Thefts in church) belongs to the book Racconti romani (Roman tales) by Alberto Moravia. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find any translation to English of this short ...
Charo's user avatar
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14 votes
1 answer
1k views

Meaning of "furnished with a pipe and a supply of cold without" in Trollope's "Orley Farm"

In Trollope's Orley Farm we are told that Mr. Moulder was "furnished with a pipe and a supply of cold without." What does this mean? It appears a little later that Moulder also has a glass ...
Richard Hevener's user avatar
5 votes
1 answer
171 views

What is the meaning of Lord Vetinari's dungeon door in Terry Pratchett's "Guards! Guards!"?

The following passage is taken from the section of the book where Captain Vimes gets thrown into the dungeon, where he realizes that the Patrician is also being held captive: It was a perfectly ...
user1301428's user avatar

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