Questions tagged [meaning]

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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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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68 views

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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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 at the gate (Macbeth, Act II, Scene 3) on him when he was a boy: "it [...
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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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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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28 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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What does this passage from Aleister Crowley's “Moonchild” mean?

So I'm currently reading an obscure novel by English occultist, poet, self-appointed religious prophet, and all-round nut job Aleister Crowley called Moonchild. It's actually surprisingly good so far ...
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40 views

In Maya Angelou's “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”, what is the meaning of “His shadow shouts on a nightmare scream”?

Here is the stanza: But a caged Bird stands on the grave of dreams His shadow shouts on a nightmare scream His wings are clipped and his feet are tied So he opens his throat to sing What is ...
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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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292 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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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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203 views

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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Meaning of “beauty stands in the admiration only of weak minds led captive” in “Paradise Regained”

Here are lines 205–224 of book II of "Paradise Regained" by John Milton: But he whom we attempt is wiser far Then Solomon, of more exalted mind, Made and set wholly on the accomplishment Of ...
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71 views

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 is the meaning of this sentence by H.G. Wells about a “liberal heathen deity”?

It's from "The Empire of Ants" by H.G. Wells. Here is the paragraph it's in: Captain Gerilleau, who was Holroyd's sole distraction from these physical distresses, developed into a formidable bore,...
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Understanding two lines from “The Wound-Dresser” by Walt Whitman

Among the hospital poems, "The Wound-Dresser" by Walt Whitman is one of the best and finest. I wonder if anybody here can help me to understand two lines of this piece. But in silence, in dreams’ ...
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An undecipherable part of 'Goldfish' 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?" ...
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773 views

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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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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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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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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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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1answer
501 views

What do these prophetic lines in The Hidden Oracle mean?

So there are 2 lines in The Hidden Oracle The fall of the Sun The final verse Well obviously, the fall of the Sun refers to Apollo becoming mortal. but what about the final verse? A theory; It ...
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What does ‘Kung mapatay di madeadball ’ mean?

In Nick Joaquin's story "Cándido's Apocalypse", the 17-year-old Bobby starts behaving rather strangely. After going "stowaway" and being brought back home, he wakes up the next ...
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What does “raised waves in my mind” mean in Tagore's “At the End of the Day”?

In Rabindranath Tagore's "At the End of the Day", there's one stanza that goes like this: To you I only pray – Before I go let me know Looking at the sky Why mother earth so green Gave me a ...
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1answer
59 views

What is “the seventh sphere”?

In the second part (Helen Zimmern's translation) of the Shahnameh, the youngest son Irij is killed by his brothers, who send his head back to their father Feridoun: Now when they were come to the ...
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Meaning of Lorca's “Romance sonámbulo”?

What does Lorca mean in his poem "Romance sonámbulo" when he says: Tiny tin-leaf lanterns were trembling on the tiles. A thousand crystal tambourines were wounding dawn's dark sky. (...
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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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29 views

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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Why does the Phantom call both Christina and himself “Angel of Music?”

In the 1986 musical The Phantom of the Opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber, the Phantom seems to frequently refer to both himself and Christina as "Angel of Music". For example, in "The Mirror/Angel of Music ...
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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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559 views

What is the difference between emotions and feelings in Eliot's essay Tradition and the Individual Talent?

In his most famous essay, "Traditional and the Individual Talent", T. S. Eliot appears to make a distinction between emotions and feelings. Read especially the following passage (emphasis mine): ...
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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, ...
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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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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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Did “drink to someone” imply the same thing back then?

In a popular song Drink To Me Only with Thine Eyes, first published in 1616 as To Celia by Ben Jonson, did the phrase drink to someone mean the same thing as nowadays, i.e. to say cheers for someone? ...
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What does 'por bida man guid' mean?

In Nick Joaquin's story "The Order of Melchizedek", Sid and Mrs. Borja are trying to retrieve a card that Sid had pushed down an edge of the upholstery in a taxi. The girl who has washed the ...
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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 was the narrator left alone on the shore in Tagore's “Sonar Tari”?

Rabindranath Tagore's poem 'Sonar Tari', written in Bengali, was translated into English as 'The Golden Boat'. The last stanza reads: ঠাঁই নাই, ঠাঁই নাই! ছােট সে তরী আমারি সােনার ধানে গিয়েছে ভরি’। ...
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Meaning of this verse from “Someday”

So I was rereading through some of the songs from the Disney animated/live musical, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and there's a verse in "Someday" which goes, "Till then, on days when ...
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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 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 ...
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Can someone explain this excerpt of The Book of Lost Things of John Connolly?

I have some difficulties in understanding the meaning of this excerpt from The Book of Lost Things: David was aware of a change in the room as soon as he began to fill the empty spaces on the ...
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“…the gallant vessel on its course and wrecked it—thus!”

How do I understand explicitly the meaning of this last sentence from the fourth letter of Frankenstein? Why would the ship be "wrecked" when it was not? Also, how do I account for the usage ...