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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Calvin & Hobbes names choice

Why did Bill Watterson name Calvin after the reformer, John Calvin and Hobbes after the philosopher Thomas Hobbes?
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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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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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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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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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319 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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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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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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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 ...
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An expression 'temporary absolution' from Maupassant's 'Confession'

What is 'temporary absolution' in the below phrase? It's from 'Confession' by Guy de Maupassant. She grew excited, sobbed, seemed enervated and worn out, as if she were still burning from her lover’...
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What is the difference between spatial and temporal paratext?

According to Gérard Genette, the paratext is what is beyond a text, e.g.: the cover, the title, the interviews about a novel... Paratext can be devided into two categories: spatial and temporal. The ...
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What does collachrimation mean?

The end Thomas Nashe's novel The Unfortunate Traveller takes a very antisemitic turn when both the novel's main character (Jack Wilton) and his concubine fall into the hands of a Jew named Zadoch. ...
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What does “have you no cacke a bed” mean?

In chapter VII of Thomas Deloney's novel Jack of Newbury an Italian merchant named Benedicke tries to woo Jone. After some time, Jone gets tired of this and tries to trick him into sleeping with a sow,...
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Meaning of “every dewdrop paints a bow” from In Memoriam, Section CXXII by Alfred lord Tennyson

And every dewdrop paints a bow A line by Alfred Lord Tennyson, from section CXXII of his poem In Memoriam. What is the poet actually trying to convey with this line? The verse in context: And all ...
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Why does Linus say “I think you finished it” to Sally in this Sunday strip?

So in December 22nd, 1985, Charles Schulz made this following Christmas themed Sunday panel featuring Linus and Sally. Linus is reading Sally the second chapter of the Book of Luke (from the Bible), ...
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What does it mean to be as good as George a Green?

In Thomas Deloney's novel Jack of Newbury, a woman wants to marry Iohn/John ("Jack" in the novel's title) and tricks him into going to church with her where she will be married. After the widow and ...
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What is a Pippin at Michaelmas?

In chapter X of Thomas Deloney's novel Jack of Newbury, a few characters want to take revenge on a "Mistresse Franke" (italics from the original, bold by me): Now certaine of the maidens of the ...
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What could “mouths deformed against stone” mean?

In Ted Hughes' "The Contender" (which I already asked about once), there's a phrase which I can't figure. Here are the lines: "All the women in the world could not move him They came their mouths ...
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What does “card” in the title “Gwydonius; The Card of Fancie” mean?

Robert Greene's novel Gwydonius; The Card of Fancie was first published in 1584. The novel's main character, Gwydonius, is the only son of the the duke of Mettelyne (presumably Mytilene). He travels ...
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What does Mother Cornelius tub refer to?

In chapter II of The Unfortunate Traveller, Thomas Nashe describes an outbreak of the sweating sickness. The cause of this disease is apparently still unknown. Below is a relevant paragraph from that ...
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What does ketha mean?

At the end of chapter VIII of Thomas Deloney's Jack of Newbury, Jack has a discussion with his wife about a certain "gossip" (an archaic term for "familiar acquaintance"), that he does not want to see ...
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What is a Cawdle?

At the end of the first chapter of Thomas Deloney's Jack of Newbury, Jack's unnamed wife makes him a "Cawdle": In the morning his wife rose betime, and merrily made him a Cawdle, and bringing it up ...
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Which of these sources is right about “The Tempest”?

This is part of a quote by Ferdinand in the beginning of scene 1 of act 3 of "The Tempest": But these sweet thoughts do even refresh my labours, Most busy, least when I do it. According to ...
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“The Apple Tree” ending and the meaning behind it

I've recently been tasked with analysing "The Apple Tree" by John Galsworthy. I've had no major issues with understanding the text, but i really can't grasp the ending. Up on the top of the hill, ...
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Meaning of “abandoned his grin to them” in Ted Hughes' “The Contender”?

In "The Contender" (a poem in Ted Hughes' Crow collection), there's a group of lines with peculiar syntax. Here are the lines: He abandoned his grin to them his grimace In his face upwards body ...
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The oldest tradition stopped before it got back to him

The following passage is taken from The Call of the Wild. What do the boldfaced parts mean? This lost mine was steeped in tragedy and shrouded in mystery. No one knew of the first man. The oldest ...
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How are “sin and love and fear” “just sounds” in Faulkner's “As I Lay Dying”?

I lighted upon this quote from Faulkner's novel As I Lay Dying on WikiQuote: He did not know that he was dead, then. Sometimes I would lie by him in the dark, hearing the land that was now of my ...
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What did Charlotte Brontë mean by "you would not be without friends”?

I lighted on this quote on BookRiot: [Helen Burns] went on— “If all the world hated you and believed you wicked, while your own conscience approved you, and absolved you from guilt, you would not ...
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What does Forster mean by “Suspicion in the Oriental”?

I'm Asian and read p. 114 of Critical Terrains: French and British Orientalisms by Lisa Lowe, but I'm still baffled by this quote at ThoughtCo. It feels too broadly generalized (and a shade ...
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Why isn't “white” related to colour and ''God save the King" with a god?

I first stumbled on this quote at ThoughtCo: he did not realize that 'white' has no more to do with a colour than 'God save the King' with a god, and that it is the height of impropriety to ...
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How to interpret “body that leaned stiffly” in H. P. Lovecraft's “Azathoth”?

I've just finished reading Lovecraft's fragment "Azathoth" (in Italian translation) and I am astonished by the beauty of the story. Nevertheless I am a little bit confused about the end of it. In my ...
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What does Obama mean by “running strain of innocence” in “Dreams from My Father”?

The introduction to Barack Obama's memoir Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance (1995) contains the passage: And yet what strikes me most when I think about the story of my family ...
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Why “all should cry, Beware! Beware!” in Coleridge's “Kubla Khan”?

Samuel Taylor Coleridge's incomplete poem "Kubla Khan" ends with a vision of a poet in an ecstatic state with "flashing eyes" and "floating hair". He is beyond the realm of mere mortals for he has ...
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What is “the light by which she had read the book” in “Anna Karenina”?

What does the following sentence from Anna Karenina mean? And the light by which she had read the book filled with troubles, falsehoods, sorrow, and evil, flared up more brightly than ever before, ...
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Meaning of “rubber” as a verb in O. Henry

"I'm one of the Sole Sanhedrims and Ostensible Hooplas of the Inner Pulpit," says I. "The lame talk and the blind rubber whenever I make a pass at 'em. I am a medium, a coloratura hypnotist and a ...
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What did the author of Moby Dick mean by the “Pythagorean Maxim”?

From Herman Melville's Moby Dick. For as in this world, head winds are far more prevalent than winds from astern (that is, if you never violate the Pythagorean maxim), so for the most part the ...
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In Penelope Fitzgerald’s short story The Prescription, significance of “Knowledge is good, but what is the use of knowledge without honesty?”

In Penelope Fitzgerald’s short story The Prescription (1982), Dr. Mehmet Bey almost kills his 14-year-old apprentice, Alecco, by forcing him to drink a poisoned prescription after discovering the boy ...
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What does ahn in Maggie: A Girl of the Streets mean?

I would like to know what ahn in "Maggie: A Girl of the Streets" by Stephen Crane means. It can be read from this link: https://english.hku.hk/courses/engl1039/Crane.pdf Here are some lines with it: ...
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Protagonist's comments on his student's essay in 'The Professor' by Charlotte Brontë

The protagonist in Charlotte Brontë's 'The Professor', who is employed as a teacher of English in a Belgian school, is surprised upon reading an unusually well-written creative essay by one of his ...