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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Meaning of "Illimba", "mani" and "acuminus" in "The God of Small Things" by Arundhati Roy?

I'm reading The God of Small Things, a novel by Keralan author Arundhati Roy. She masterfully plays with words, sometimes transforming them, mimicking the way a seven year old would (the main ...
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Understanding the plotline of “The Smile” by Ted Hughes

I'm reading Ted Hughes' "The Smile" (text version), and I'm trying to understand its plotline. More specifically: what's the nature of the scenes wherein the poem's protagonist, the smile, ...
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Brideshead Revisited: Prince Rupert’s Horse

Hooper, in Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited, was no romantic. He had not as a child ridden with Rupert's horse or sat among the camp fires at Xanthus-side; at the age when my eyes were dry to all ...
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What do these metaphors about hardship in "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay" mean?

I have been racking my brain with the meaning of three expressions: taut-jawed men - does it mean that they are stern looking, that their facial expression is tight and tense? brick-lipped, hard-...
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159 views

What does the final stanza of "Thrushes" by Ted Hughes mean?

Here is the third stanza of "Thrushes" by Ted Hughes: With a man it is otherwise. Heroisms on horseback, Outstripping his desk-diary at a broad desk, Carving at a tiny ivory ornament For ...
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What is the “presence” in Wordsworth’s ‘Tintern Abbey’?

In Wordsworth’s ‘Lines written a few miles above Tintern Abbey’ he describes a “presence”:                                 And I have felt A presence that disturbs me with the joy Of elevated ...
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39 views

What is the "hidden something" in Joseph Conrad's: Youth

In Joseph Conrad's short story Youth: A Narrative, Conrad writes What made them do it—what made them obey me when I, thinking consciously how fine it was, made them drop the bunt of the foresail ...
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35 views

In what way would windows appease or calm us?

Alain Bashung's song Sur un trapèze, with lyrics by Gaëtan Roussel (see the Wikipedia article about the album Bleu pétrole, released in 2008), begins with the following lines (emphasis and links ...
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507 views

In the given line, what is the relation between ‘short-sighted’ and ‘education’? What does it mean by strict views on education?

In Act II of The Importance of Being Earnest, Gwendolen says this in a conversation with Cecily: Gwendolen: [...] And certainly once a man begins to neglect his domestic duties he becomes painfully ...
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Why did "the human race became a small committee surrounded by affectionate animals" for Sartre in the Words?

What is Sartre's metaphor meaning in the Words when saying : "The human race became a small committee surrounded by affectionate animals." The context is when he begins to become familiar ...
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685 views

What does "Rebirth of Slick" mean when it quotes "On the Subway"?

Digable Planets' Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like That) ("Reachin' (A New Refutation of Time and Space)," 1993, track 06, released as a single in 1992) (genius.com link) quotes the "blink blink" passages ...
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What's all the blinking about?

On the Subway ("The Last Poets," 1970, track 02) (genius.com link) concludes with shouting the word "blink" a lot, and I'm not sure what it means. On the surface level, I figure it might be ...
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125 views

Nietzsche: It is improbable that you are not mistaken: double negative

In Beyond Good and Evil, chapter 1, #16, Nietzsche is criticizing idealism, and he says: He who ventures to answer these metaphysical questions at once by an appeal to a sort of intuitive perception, ...
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What does "in Twos and Threes" mean in this Robert Bly poem?

I'm reading Bly's book of poems Stealing Sugar from the Castle. I cannot understand the title of "Love Poem in Twos and Threes". Does "in Twos and Threes" mean small groups of ...
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Why is Romney’s pattern “on his nail” in “Aurora Leigh”?

In Aurora Leigh (1856) by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, the character Romney Leigh has a “pattern on his nail”: To think,—I have a pattern on my nail, And I will carve the world new after it, And solve ...
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646 views

Why did Halle have butter all over his face

In Toni Morrison's novel Beloved, Sethe's husband Halle never came back to Baby Suggs' house after planning to run away from Sweet Home. After Paul D arrives, he later blurts out to Sethe of what he ...
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The motif of Tom O' Bedlam

The 17th-century motif of Tom O' Bedlam has always been one that I hold much affection and wonder for (as can be assumed by the choice of username on my part.) The motif most famously makes an ...
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Meaning of ‘matted well’ and ‘silk gowns’ in Bleak House

I’ve come across the following passage in Chapter 1 of Bleak House by Charles Dickens: On such an afternoon the various solicitors in the cause, some two or three of whom have inherited it from their ...
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Meaning of wordplay on 'which' and 'witch' in Matt Ruff's Lovecraft Country

I'm reading Matt Ruff's horror novel Lovecraft Country (2016). The second chapter, entitled "Dreams of the Which House", is a story about a haunted house. I found the title plays on Lovecraft's ...
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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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Meaning of this line in Candida by Shaw

There is a speech by Lexy in the beginning of Act I when he is talking to Proserpine: LEXY. Ah, if you women only had the same clue to Man's strength that you have to his weakness, Miss Prossy, there ...
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In The Wall Jumper, what is the meaning of the very last line about walls still standing?

In The Wall Jumper by Peter Schneider the very last line is: The city outside, with its fire walls, garden walls, border walls - those walls will still be standing when no one is left to move ...
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What is the meaning of Izquierdo's ending statement?

In the very end (Act III, Scene 11) of Emmanuel Roblès's play Montserrat, Izquierdo replies to Father Coronil's, after asking if he had regretted his decision: ENGLISH: No. He only talked to ...
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What's the meaning of "you should worry" in the following lines from Pinter's Birthday Party?

What's the meaning of "you should worry" in the following lines from Pinter's Birthday Party (emphasis mine)? LULU. You’re tickling me! GOLDBERG. You should worry. LULU. I’ve always liked ...
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Catcher in the Rye - Chapter 1 "If I get a chance to remember that kind of stuff..."

In Catcher in the Rye, the narrator failed his school so he had to leave. Before leaving, he thought to say good-by to his history teacher. Then, he brought up his memory of playing football with his ...
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Does Rousseau say that men are slaves of governments and laws?

Jean-Jaques Rousseau wrote Discours sur les sciences et les arts. In the very first part, the third paragraph says the following: Original (French) L'esprit a ses besoins, ainsi que le corps. Ceux-ci ...
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What does "surface difficulty" mean here in "The Markenmore Mystery"?

In The Markenmore Mystery (1922) by J. S. Fletcher, a detective was answering his companion after the latter asked about how to find a mysterious man, whose identity was unknown for them But now, my ...
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In Effi Briest, what is the meaning and significance of a "wide field"?

I noticed a similar phrase recurring twice in the conversation between Effi's parents in Chapter V of Theodor Fontane's Effi Briest, which I'm reading online: Miss Hulda had clinked her glass too ...
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Meaning of three phrases from "An Elementary School Classroom in a Slum"

The poem "An Elementary School Classroom in a Slum" by Stephen Spender is given below Far far from gusty waves these children's faces. Like rootless weeds, the hair torn round their pallor: ...
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Interpretation of a Camus Quote

In The Plague, Rieux, the main character of the novel, in Chapter 15, claims that I've seen too much of hospitals to relish any idea of collective punishment. What does he mean by that? How exactly ...
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What does Saki mean by "the Fiscal Question"?

In Reginald on Tariffs, Saki writes: [Reginald]: I’m not going to discuss the Fiscal Question (said Reginald); I wish to be original. At the same time, I think one suffers more than one realises ...
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What is the meaning and significance of "urubutinga" in Mário de Andrade's "O lundu do escritor difícil"

The title is suggestive enough to elicit an understanding that Andrade probably purposefully made this poem difficult to read for people who are not familiar with Tupi culture. A conscious effort of ...
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Why do Albanians "take life whenever they get the opportunity"?

In Reginald on Tariffs, Saki writes: There are only two classes that really can’t help taking life seriously—schoolgirls of thirteen and Hohenzollerns; they might be exempt. Albanians come under ...
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50 views

Understanding the meaning of "Eructation of unhealthy souls" in T.S. Eliot's Burnt Norton

In the third section of Burnt Norton we find these lines Eructation of unhealthy souls Into the faded air, the torpid Eructation have two meanings Belching Eruption So, if we take up the second ...
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Why are Ibsen Dramas in particular mentioned in Reginald?

In Reginald on Besetting Sins: The Woman who told the Truth, Saki writes: [Reginald]: Children are given us to discourage our better emotions. That is why the stage, with all its efforts, can never ...
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What does James Baldwin mean by 'democratic' in his open letter to Angela Davis?

James Baldwin's open letter to Angela Davis contains the following sentence (emphasis added): The will of the people, in America, has always been at the mercy of an ignorance not merely phenomenal, ...
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What does Walt Whitman mean by "going in for my chances"?

From "Song of Myself" by Walt Whitman: What is commonest, cheapest, nearest, easiest, is Me, Me going in for my chances, spending for vast returns, Adorning myself to bestow myself on the first ...
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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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What does Lorca mean by ‘the oppressed reds’ and ‘garnet violence’ in his poem ‘The King of Harlem’?

I've already asked one question on this poem and I did think to include this question along with it but decided against it as the poem is quite long, though of course not as long as some ancient epics ...
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Obscure phrases in "Studies in Classic American Literature" by D. H. Lawrence

By suggestion, I was transferred here from english.stackexchange.com. I have some trouble understanding several unusual constructions D. H. Lawrence used in his Studies in Classic American Literature....
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876 views

What is the difference between emotions and feelings in Wordsworth's Preface to Lyrical Ballads?

In the Preface to the second edition of Lyrical Ballads (1800), Wordsworth famously wrote that all good poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: (...). He later adds (my emphasis): ...
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Meaning of "Her face, a revolving door, swings open and shut, open and shut"

First her ears hear; they open. Then her eyes can see; they open. Her face, a revolving door, swings open and shut, open and shut. She no longer sleeps at night; it’s too hard to breathe after four ...
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What happened to Mohini?

In Premchand's short story "The Desired Destination" (first published in 1911, available here in its original Urdu), the narrator is in love with a girl named Mohini and opens by saying that ...
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1answer
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Meaning of "seemed of their own will" and "man were whole"

In the short story "The Enemy" by Pearl S. Buck, there are two phrases that I'm not quite certain whether I have correctly understood. Here are the short passages which contain the phrases: ...
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What does "in flight from it" mean in the below text?

This is a passage in a book called Missing Out by Adam Phillips: But the outrageous, pragmatic strong reader in this account reads as if he knows what he wants, and not as though he is conflicted ...
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328 views

What does Smash Mouth mean when he writes "fed to the rules" in All-Star?

So the first two lines of the pre-chorus of All-Star by Smash Mouth the song goes: Well, the years start coming and they don't stop coming Fed to the rules and I hit the ground running What does ...
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The first line of "God's Grandeur"

The first line of Gerard Manley Hopkins's sonnet "God's Grandeur" is: The world is charged with the grandeur of God. What I found on the Internet regarding the analysis of this line was ...
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What's the significance of these odds in horse racing in "The Just Men of Cordova"?

In chapter 12 of The Just Men of Cordova (1917) by Edgar Wallace, the author is describing the situation of the odds of two horses, Timboilino, the owner of which is Isaac, and Nemesis, the owner of ...
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What does it mean when Faulkner says: “The will of man to prevail“?

I am reading Faulkner in the University (edited by Frederick L. Gwynn and Joseph L. Blotner. University of Virginia Press, 1995) and some parts are ambiguous for me. What does he mean when he says “...
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What is the reference to Kennedy in "Tomorrow Wendy" by Concrete Blonde meant for?

From the song "Tomorrow Wendy" by Concrete Blonde (link to full lyrics): Underneath the chilly gray November sky We can make believe that Kennedy is still alive And we're shooting for the moon ...