DEPARTMENT OF ENGLISH AND COMPARATIVE LITERARY STUDIES
THE ENGLISH NINETEENTH CENTURY NOVEL
FIRST ASSESSED ESSAY 2011
Write an essay of about 5,000 words on one of the following topics. One hard copy of the essay and an electronic copy should be submitted to the English Department Office by 12.00 noon on Tuesday 10th January 2012.
1. How does the position of the narrator(s) affect the nature and impact of the tale? Discuss with particular reference to Castle Rackrent and
2. Doors, windows, gates, hedges, walls … Explore the treatment of barriers and boundaries in any two novels studied.
3. Stevie Davies suggests that Wuthering Heights is ‘impervious to the literary interpreter’s immemorial desire to break codes’. Consider the means by which two of the novels studied this term invite interpretation. In what ways do they elude it?
4. Sarah Stickney Ellis advised ‘the women of England’ that ‘a nation’s moral wealth is in your keeping’. To what extent do the writers studied this term endorse, adapt or challenge this assertion? Discuss with reference to at least two texts.
5 Analyse the relationship between love and power in any two novels studied.
6. ‘Between masters and men th’wheels fall through’ (Gaskell, North and South). How successfully do the writers studied this term deal with the questions of class division and difference? Discuss with reference to at least two texts.
7. Engels and Gaskell see the same city, but do they see the same place? Compare and appraise the portrayal of the industrialised city in The Condition of the Working Class in England and North and South.
8. Hardy claimed in his notebook that he wanted ‘to see the deeper reality underlying the scenic’. Is there a deeper reality to be discerned behind the scenic landscapes of nineteenth century fiction? Discuss with particular reference to two texts.
9. ‘Imperialism and the novel fortified each other to such a degree that it is impossible, I would argue, to read one without in some way dealing with the other’ (Edward Said). Consider two novels studied in the light of this statement.
10. Analyse the treatment of ‘the foreign’ and/or ‘foreigners’ in two texts studied.
11 It has often been suggested that one of the tasks of the literary critic is to ‘make the silences speak’. Explore the significance of silence and/or secrets in two texts studied .
12. ‘This is the true nature of home – it is the place of Peace’ (Ruskin, Sesame and Lilies). How far do the ‘homes’ in the novels studied bear out this assertion?
13. What is ‘English’ about the English nineteenth century novel? Discuss the idea of nation in two novels.
14. ‘It is the Age of Machinery, in every outward and inward sense of that word’ (Carlyle, ‘Signs of the Times’). How (and how successfully) do two novels we’ve studied represent the effects of the industrial revolution?
If you would like to suggest a different title, or a modified version of one of the titles given above, you are welcome to do so, but your title must be approved by your tutor before the end of week 9.