53 votes

In Ozymandias, who is the "ye" in the line "Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!" meant to be addressing?

"Look on my works ye mighty and despair." First point: you are correct, the ye is equivalent to you. Second point: the reason he uses ye instead of you is because it is supposedly an ...
Pete's user avatar
  • 2,271
36 votes
Accepted

Why does Ray Bradbury use "flounder" for an action with a positive outcome?

While "flounder" is a negative term, it denotes a process, not an end result. If you flounder ashore after a shipwreck, that you have escaped drowning does not make your motion ...
Mary's user avatar
  • 6,035
34 votes

Use of "pounds" instead of "roubles" in passage of "The Idiot"

According to Wikipedia, Eva Martin's translation was published in 1915. At this period, it is likely that few British readers would have a reason to know the value (in Sterling) of the Russian Rouble ...
mikado's user avatar
  • 1,957
31 votes

Why do the Pern novels use regular words as profanity?

There are two issues here. Using real world profanity may make books fall afoul of censors. This was even more of an issue back in the 60s and 70s when the first books were published, especially ...
Mary's user avatar
  • 6,035
28 votes
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Why do the Pern novels use regular words as profanity?

Minced oaths, from well-known ones like "gosh" and "darn" and "heck" and "fricking", to more obscure ones, are common in the real world, but even more so in ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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28 votes
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Why are all the schoolchildren referred to as guns in Clint Smith's "The Gun"?

The use of "gun" as a noun to refer to all the children in the school serves three linked purposes. Initially it purposefully confuses the reader as to what's happening in the poem, while ...
Matt Thrower's user avatar
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27 votes
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"Miss" as a form of address to a married teacher in Bethan Roberts' "My Policeman"

Bethan Roberts is British, and My Policeman is set in Britain. In British schools, it's still the norm today to refer to all female teachers as "Miss" regardless of their marital status. As ...
Matt Thrower's user avatar
  • 22k
26 votes
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Where did the term Kwisatz Haderach in Dune originate?

Kefitzat Haderech is a Jewish phrase that means "contracting the path". Herbert defines Kwisatz Haderach as "the Shortening of the Way" (Dune: Appendix IV), clearly meaning to reference the Hebrew ...
Himarm's user avatar
  • 1,313
25 votes

Why is a "cucumber sandwich" specifically used as what English faith has "only just enough teeth to get through"?

Even though cucumber sandwiches were at one point associated with poshness, as Rand al'Thor writes, I don't think this is the association on which the passage is based. Nothing in the passage ...
Tsundoku's user avatar
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24 votes
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Why Pallas in "The Raven"?

Poe himself offers a brief answer to this in his 1846 essay The Philosophy of Composition. He states: I made the bird alight on the bust of Pallas, also for the effect of contrast between the marble ...
Matt Thrower's user avatar
  • 22k
23 votes

Did Philip Larkin use a swearword while quoting from Pym's Excellent Women?

The most likely answer is (e), something else entirely. The heading to this letter says that it was transcribed from manuscript (MS) rather than typescript (TS). The transcriber has probably misread ...
verbose's user avatar
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22 votes

In Ozymandias, who is the "ye" in the line "Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!" meant to be addressing?

My impression is that "ye noun" was regularly used as a vocative (i.e., a direct address) in English in the 19th century. See Google Ngrams. (Although you shouldn't entirely trust this Ngram ...
Peter Shor's user avatar
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18 votes
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Why are there three different versions of the "solid/sullied/sallied flesh" line in Hamlet?

Since Hamlet was published in several editions during the Jacobethan era, it is worth looking at how these early editions rendered these lines, using the old-spelling editions published by Internet ...
Tsundoku's user avatar
  • 44.5k
18 votes

Why are all the schoolchildren referred to as guns in Clint Smith's "The Gun"?

The technique conveys that guns are all-pervasive in schools. By one measure, there were 303 gun-related incidents in American schools in 2022. That is more than one per school day. And so far this ...
verbose's user avatar
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15 votes
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In Macbeth, why is Fleance 'scaped?

The murderer’s choice of words here is an attempt to deflect or minimize his responsibility for the failure to kill Fleance. He knows that he and his fellows failed Macbeth (“We have lost best half of ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
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14 votes
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Why does the Lady of Shalott stay instead of stray?

The word stay here means stop or pause. From Merriam-Webster: intransitive verb 1: to stop going forward : pause 2: to stop doing something : cease Or from the Macmillan dictionary: ...
verbose's user avatar
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14 votes
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What does Lady Macbeth mean by "what thou art promised"?

The other answers have explained the meaning of the line—that Macbeth shall be king, as he was promised by the witches—but there is more to say about the choice of wording. The difficulty here arises ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
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14 votes

Why does Ray Bradbury use "flounder" for an action with a positive outcome?

This is an interesting observation. Checking definitions of the word "flounder" reveals that they are, as the OP claims, mostly very negative. The key to the usage in this sentence is, I ...
Matt Thrower's user avatar
  • 22k
14 votes

What can be gleaned from Lovecraft's usage of the words "obscene" and "blasphemous"?

The central theme of Lovecraftian horror is that the rest of the universe beyond our flat little neighborhood is so alien as to be practically incomprehensible to us, often in ways that are harmful to ...
Tom's user avatar
  • 684
13 votes
Accepted

Origin and significance of E-I-E-I-O in the Old MacDonald song

As with any folk song, the origins of the lyrics can be a bit murky, but given transcriptions collected by folklorists in the early part of the twentieth century of this or related songs, we see that ...
D. A. Hosek's user avatar
  • 3,045
12 votes
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"Marry, in her buttocks: I found it out by the bogs."

Stanley Wells's edition of the play (The New Penguin Shakespeare, 1972) has the following gloss for "bogs": bawdy; it is not certain whether bog meant "privy" in Shakespeare's ...
Tsundoku's user avatar
  • 44.5k
12 votes
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Why is a "cucumber sandwich" specifically used as what English faith has "only just enough teeth to get through"?

Cucumber sandwiches, specifically, are a stereotypical part of English "posh" culture, along with afternoon tea and "More tea, vicar?" From Wikipedia: Cucumber sandwiches formed ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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11 votes
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Why does Shelby Foote use the phrase "airline miles" in The Civil War: a Narrative?

This is the original sense of the word airline. Now obsolete, it survived in works on surveying and military history into the 1960s. The OED says: airline, n. 1. a. Chiefly U.S. A direct line through ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
  • 55.1k
11 votes
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Harry Potter German translation - use of word "Eingeweide"

The first example in Der Orden des Phönix seems to be Solch wilde Gedanken wirbelten durch Harrys Kopf, und seine Eingeweide verknoteten sich vor Zorn The original English is These ...
Juhasz's user avatar
  • 675
11 votes

Why are all the schoolchildren referred to as guns in Clint Smith's "The Gun"?

You do need to remember that private gun ownership in the US is (politically) a higher priority than the lives of children. All material relating to that subject must be viewed through this social ...
Graham's user avatar
  • 339
10 votes
Accepted

Language in A View from the Bridge

Not only does it cast doubt on Rodolpho's masculinity, the context in which this quote comes from suggests a lot more of Eddie and his attitude towards Rodolpho. While I quite agree with the word ...
Jia Ming جيا ميڠ's user avatar
10 votes

Language in A View from the Bridge

TL:DR - The language has been carefully chosen to cast doubt on Rodolfo's adulthood and masculinity Eddie is a traditional, older, blue collar dock worker with a conservative attitude to masculinity ...
Matt Thrower's user avatar
  • 22k
10 votes
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Why is snow compared to "ash" in the poem "Snowfall"?

Ash particles are not the opposite colour from snow. Ash is generally pale grey to white in colour. The products of burning that are black are the heavier bits, the cinders, and the soot that deposits ...
Spagirl's user avatar
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