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 “All spirits are enslaved that serve things evil” in "Prometheus Unbound"

The line “all spirits are enslaved that serve things evil” can be found in the play Prometheus Unbound by Percy Bysshe Shelley. My initial interpretation is, spirits that serve evil are enslaved by ...
BinaryPatrick's user avatar
9 votes
3 answers
4k views

Meaning of "the way they used to use up old women, in Russia, sweeping dirt" in "The Handmaid's Tale"

I think of my mother, sweeping up deadly toxins; the way they used to use up old women, in Russia, sweeping dirt. Only this dirt will kill her. What does this mean?
Alexander's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
189 views

Meaning of "Am I clear? Have I a certificate, or what have I to do to get one? And when will it be dated? You can't think what hangs by it!"

(From The Wrecker by Robert Louis Stevenson and Lloyd Osbourne, Chapter XVIII, published 1892) Passage 286 “Even so, Jim. My questions,” I repeated. “I put questions as well as yourself; and however ...
philphil's user avatar
  • 309
0 votes
1 answer
84 views

What does Anthony Burgess mean about "the State is all that matters and no one has a right to hear Beethoven"?

That’s what I believe in – mind, free mind, trying to understand itself as well as the world without, and to hell with the little men who try to stop free enquiry and the State is all that matters and ...
Abw's user avatar
  • 131
25 votes
2 answers
7k views

Meaning of "the field was found to be plowed as thoroughly as any young man at Oxford" in 'The Book of Dragons'

E. Nesbit, in The Book of Dragons, toward the end of the chapter titled 'The Island of the Nine Whirlpools', wrote: The nine rubies were used afterwards in agriculture. You had only to throw them out ...
Winky's user avatar
  • 355
3 votes
1 answer
143 views

Meaning of Shell, Remove, and Hundreds in Alice Winn's In Memoriam (and other novels with public school settings)

Alice Winn's In Memoriam (2023) is partly set in an English public school around the outbreak of World War I. Toward the beginning of the novel, the narrator states: Preshute was a younger public ...
verbose's user avatar
  • 27.6k
4 votes
2 answers
700 views

Meaning of "My owners'll have to rank with the rest on their charter-party"?

(From The Wrecker by Robert Louis Stevenson and Lloyd Osbourne, Chapter XVI, published 1892) Passage 256 “All the same,” continued Nares, “you went into the opium-smuggling with your head down; and a ...
philphil's user avatar
  • 309
4 votes
1 answer
260 views

Greek Alexander Romance - Plot device or other function of Alexander's surreptitious stealing of Persian drinking cups?

In one of the more common form factors of the Greek Alexander Romance (by Pseudo-Callisthenes), we have this passage, located in Book II, 15: As they began to drink more deeply, Alexander had an idea:...
Arash Howaida's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
213 views

Symbolism in saying that a grove, in the agitation of a storm, cannot be delineated from its picture in water

In the book The Information - A History, A Theory, A Flood by James Gleick, there is a portion of text which speaks about the gradually increasing meanings/senses attached to verbs like go, make, take ...
Anirban Chakraborty's user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
99 views

What did W M Praed mean by 'see if he turns out his toe'?

I had the pleasure of coming across one of Winthrop Mackworth Praed's better-known poems the other day, his 'A Letter of Advice', which purports to be a verse epistle from one young woman to another, ...
Tom Hosker's user avatar
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8 votes
1 answer
311 views

Did Humbert kill a female pedestrian towards the end of Lolita?

Towards the end of the novel Lolita when Humbert has just killed Quilty and starts driving like a maniac, he says this: I turned off the road, and after two or three big bounces, rode up a grassy ...
Paajnah -'s user avatar
3 votes
2 answers
126 views

What does "Christnique" mean in "1985" by Anthony Burgess?

This word appears twice in 1985 by Anthony Burgess: ‘That’s it. Without us how would the Christniques get on?’ They go out wanting to be cracked. Then they practise the Christnique of loving your ...
Abw's user avatar
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1 vote
1 answer
111 views

What is the meaning of the following sentence of The Swimmer by John Cheever?

What is the meaning of the following sentence of The Swimmer by John Cheever? His life was not confining, and the delight he took in this thought could not be explained by its suggestion of escape.
Wawrzyniec Pruski's user avatar
4 votes
2 answers
583 views

What is the "slow wheel" in Frost's "Into My Own"?

Into My Own, by Robert Frost (first two stanzas): One of my wishes is that those dark trees, So old and firm they scarcely show the breeze, Were not, as 'twere, the merest mask of gloom, But ...
RobC's user avatar
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2 votes
1 answer
148 views

In George Meredith's "Ode to the Comic Spirit", what does "Thou guardian issue of the harvest brain !" mean?

The Internet Archive (see my tips for using this website at the end of this question) has in it's entirety J. B. Priestley's biography of George Meredith. On page 115 Priestley says that the first ...
Matthew Christopher Bartsh's user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
223 views

What did J. B. Priestley mean by, "Comedy, we may say, is society protecting itself—with a smile."

One of the most popular J. B. Priestley quotes is: Comedy, we may say, is society protecting itself—with a smile. Source: https://www.brainyquote.com/authors/j-b-priestley-quotes https://literature....
Matthew Christopher Bartsh's user avatar
4 votes
2 answers
138 views

What are "devices of orthodoxy" in this context?

White always mates because the better player has opted for the white pieces. But black is free to win if he can. In that its citizens are free to play the game of memory control, of working out the ...
Abw's user avatar
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2 votes
1 answer
140 views

Meaning of "No turban walks across the lessened floors" in Wallace Stevens' "The Plain Sense of Things"

In Wallace Stevens' "The Plain Sense of Things", the meaning of every sentence, the sense of every verse, every image, is clear and straightforward; nothing is impressionistic or vague - ...
Denkof Zwemmen's user avatar
6 votes
3 answers
229 views

What is a “sawney tea” in Kingsley Amis’ “The Riverside Villas Murder”?

From The Riverside Villas Murder by Kingsley Amis: ‘Good.’ The colonel worked his bell-push. ‘Thank you for coming, Peter.' ‘Oh no, sir, thank you for a sawney tea. And the music.’ Kingsley Amis (...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
112 views

Meaning of "a bride high-mated with the spheres" in Sarojini Naidu's 'To India'

Sarojini Naidu's To India uses a nurturing mother as a metaphor for the country throughout the poem. The first few lines run so: O young through all thy immemorial years! Rise, Mother, rise, ...
CDR's user avatar
  • 2,735
6 votes
2 answers
976 views

Meaning of "twist of felt" in "The Tiger in the Smoke"

I found this description of the character Meg Elginbrodde in Margery Allingham's The Tiger in the Smoke: A swathe of flax-white hair protruded from a twist of felt, and underneath was something not ...
Seulgi So's user avatar
  • 339
0 votes
2 answers
369 views

Meaning of "her parish and her poultry" in "Pride and Prejudice"

From volume 2, chapter 5 of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen: Elizabeth could safely say that it was a great happiness where that was the case, and with equal sincerity could add, that she firmly ...
Sutanuka Pal's user avatar
3 votes
2 answers
203 views

What did Mrs. Lippett say to her?

In imagination she followed first one equipage then another to the big houses dotted along the hillside. She pictured herself in a fur coat and a velvet hat trimmed with feathers leaning back in the ...
Yuuichi Tam's user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
98 views

What does "Which do you want — the truth or my resignation? I won’t lie for you" in this context from Asimov's book I, Robot indicate?

The politician straightened out of his chair. “Then we shall see what the insides of Mr. Byerley look like. It will mean publicity for U. S. Robots — but I gave you your chance.” Lanning turned ...
Yuuichi Tam's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
183 views

What are the "sirisha-bowers" in Sarojini Naidu's 'Indian Love Song'?

This is the first stanza of Sarojini Naidu's wonderfully evocative poem Indian Love Song:                         She Like a serpent to the calling voice of flutes, Glides my heart into thy fingers, ...
CDR's user avatar
  • 2,735
3 votes
1 answer
104 views

What does "the clustering keovas" mean in Sarojini Naidu's "The Snake Charmer"?

In Sarojini Naidu's "The Snake Chamer", the poem opens like this: Whither dost thou hide from the magic of my flute-call? In what moonlight-tangled meshes of perfume, Where the clustering ...
Mithical's user avatar
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4 votes
1 answer
346 views

Meaning of "Bore many gentlemen" in Shakespeare's "Measure for Measure"?

In act I, scene 5, of Measure for Measure, Lucio says: Lucio. This is the point. The Duke is very strangely gone from hence; Bore many gentlemen (my selfe being one) In hand, and hope of action: but ...
John Smith's user avatar
  • 1,595
1 vote
1 answer
72 views

What scene is "To the west the Park dripped wretchedly...about its affairs" describing?

The fog was like a saffron blanket soaked in ice-water. It had hung over London all day and at last was beginning to descend. the sky was yellow as a duster and the rest was a granular black, ...
Seulgi So's user avatar
  • 339
3 votes
0 answers
121 views

Meaning of Proust's "Real life, life at last laid bare and illuminated ... is literature"

Marcel Proust writes in The Past Recaptured (English translation by Andreas Mayor, 1970): Real life, life at last laid bare and illuminated—the only life in consequence which can be said to be really ...
Caleb's user avatar
  • 31
2 votes
1 answer
85 views

The distinction between the Orwell's belief about real world and his imagination

Orwell seemed to believe that the real world, as opposed to that of his feverish and genuinely diseased imagination, was moving in the direction of bigger and worse cacotopias. 1985 by Anthony Burgess ...
Abw's user avatar
  • 131
11 votes
1 answer
2k views

What does the clown mean by saying that brothels in the cities "shall stand for seed" in the second scene of "Measure for Measure"?

In act I, scene 2, of Measure for Measure, the clown uses the word seed: Clow. All howses in the Suburbs of Vienna must bee pluck'd downe. Bawd. And what shall become of those in the Citie? Clow. ...
John Smith's user avatar
  • 1,595
3 votes
1 answer
118 views

Two Questions About Peter Pan (Grammar Term and French Heraldry Term), J. M Barrie novel and not play [closed]

The first unknown sentence (Chapter 5): Feeling that Peter was on his way back, the Neverland had again woke into life. We ought to use the pluperfect and say wakened, but woke is better and was ...
Fomalhaut's user avatar
  • 573
11 votes
1 answer
1k views

Did Poirot fabricate a fingerprint in "The ABC Murders"?

"I just can't believe it," said Meagan Barnard. "Could it be true?" "It does explain why our murderer had two personalities," I said. "It's great that you got Clarke'...
Yuuichi Tam's user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
186 views

How should we understand care and nature as laid out by Seneca?

Seneca writes in one of his letters: Unius bonum natura perficit, dei scilicet alterius cura hominis. Which is something like: God is fulfilled by his Nature; but that of the other, man, is ...
Arash Howaida's user avatar
11 votes
1 answer
3k views

What does "grinning" mean in Hans Christian Andersen's "The Snow Queen"?

At the beginning of Hans Christian Andersen's "The Snow Queen", when describing the distorting mirror that would then shatter, the word "grin" is used: If a good thought passed ...
Mithical's user avatar
  • 24.1k
5 votes
1 answer
525 views

What does 'sheers' mean in scene 2, act I of "Measure for Measure"?

In act I, scene 2, of Measure for Measure, one of the gentlemen uses the word sheer: Luc. I, why not? Grace, is Grace, despight of all con-, trouersie: as for example; Thou thy selfe art a wicked ...
John Smith's user avatar
  • 1,595
0 votes
0 answers
118 views

Ending of Joyce Carol Oates story "Lady with a pet dog"

This is a rewritten Chekhov story. This is the epiphany moment for Anna, when she accepts their love, but the ending is still quite ambiguous. Their love beginning again, in spite of them? “How can ...
adso76's user avatar
  • 11
6 votes
1 answer
365 views

A question about sewing a collar in Tom Sawyer

In the opening chapter of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, we find Aunt Polly trying to dupe Tom into revealing that he skipped school to go for a swim. To preempt a potential line of questioning, Tom ...
Vasting's user avatar
  • 223
2 votes
2 answers
106 views

Antecedent of a pronoun in Byron's "The Bride of Abydos"

What is the antecedent of the pronoun they in the context below, from Byron's The Bride of Abydos, Canto I, stanza 5? He is an Arab to my sight, * Or Christian crouching in the fight. – (145) But ...
balteo's user avatar
  • 781
2 votes
1 answer
140 views

Meaning of dashes and "no more" in Byron's "The Bride of Abydos"

I came across this verse in Canto I, stanza 5, of Byron's The Bride of Abydos: That blood – he hath not heard – no more – Can someone explain the use of the dashes here and the meaning of no more? ...
balteo's user avatar
  • 781
3 votes
2 answers
72 views

Meaning of "work me more annoy" in Byron's "The Bride of Abydos"

I am reading Byron's The Bride of Abydos and I came across this sentence in Canto I, stanza 5: 'Much I misdoubt this wayward boy Will one day work me more annoy – (133) How are we to understand the ...
balteo's user avatar
  • 781
2 votes
2 answers
49 views

Meaning of "let the old and weary sleep" in Byron's "The Bride of Abydos"

I am unsure about the meaning of a passage from Lord Byron's The Bride of Abydos (Canto I, stanza 3). How are we to understand the sentence between dashes: let the old and weary sleep below? What ...
balteo's user avatar
  • 781
3 votes
1 answer
44 views

Meaning of the word "award" in a stanza of Byron's "The Bride of Abydos"

I am reading a poem by Lord Byron: The Bride of Abydos and I am unsure about the meaning of the word award in Canto I, stanza 3, quoted below. Does it mean a sum of money such as a tip or does it have ...
balteo's user avatar
  • 781
11 votes
1 answer
2k views

What could be the meaning of "doctor-testing of little girls" by Steinbeck?

I was reading East of Eden by John Steinbeck, where I came across the sentence: A man’s mind vagued up a little, for how can you remember the feel of pleasure or pain or choking emotion? You can ...
Pedro Gomes's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
154 views

How should I understand the poem Paul Muldoon's Incantata?

I am reading Paul Muldoon's poems, and I am sometimes left confused and in limbo about the meanings of the many of out-of-the-way place names and terms I do not understand. What should I do in these ...
Frank Booth's user avatar
7 votes
1 answer
212 views

"The legend of the oyster and the pearl" by Dario Fo

A poem written by Dario Fo, "The legend of the oyster and the pearl", text here (included in the play Isabella, tre caravelle e un cacciaballe) ends with the lines di morte nel pallore lei ...
exp8j's user avatar
  • 171
4 votes
1 answer
158 views

What does Tennyson mean by "by the bird's song ye may learn the nest"?

In Tennyson's The Marriage of Geraint, the protagonist, Geraint, has just heard the song of Enid, the daughter of his host, Yniol. When Enid's song concludes, Yniol says the following to Geraint: '...
Doubt's user avatar
  • 237
1 vote
0 answers
189 views

What is the meaning of this excerpt from "The Scarlet Letter"?

What is the meaning of this excerpt from chapter 3 of The Scarlet Letter (1850) by Nathaniel Hawthorne? They were, doubtless, good men, just and sage. But, out of the whole human family, it would not ...
michaelgs's user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
143 views

What did David Hume mean by saying experimental philosophy should be applied to moral philosophy “after to natural”?

In A Treatise of Human Nature by David Hume it’s written: As the science of man is the only solid foundation for the other sciences, so the only solid foundation we can give to this science itself ...
John Smith's user avatar
  • 1,595
1 vote
1 answer
112 views

What does this "slow leave" mean exactly in Hamlet?

In Hamlet Act 1, Scene 2, Polonius said: He hath, my lord, wrung from me my slow leave By laborsome petition, and at last Upon his will I sealed my hard consent. What does it mean by slow?
MT MTESK's user avatar

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