Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Essay Titles 2


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 24th April 2012. Please make sure that you are aware of the department guidelines for the presentation of essays and of the regulations on plagiarism.

At least one of the texts discussed in detail should be from this term’s work, but if you wish you may also discuss a text studied last term if you did not write about it in your first essay. Within these limits, you may also choose a title from last term’s list if you haven’t done it already.

1. ‘Fog everywhere’. Identify and discuss the kinds of ‘fog’ explored (and experienced by the reader) in Bleak House.

2. Anthea Trodd suggests that ‘the secrecy of the home and its problematical relationship with the public sphere’ was the real theme of Victorian fictionalisations of domestic crime. Discuss.

3. ‘ So magnificent an achievement as the good half of Daniel Deronda could not have failed to compel an admiration that would have established it, not the less for the astonishing badness of the bad half, among the great things in fiction’ (F.R. Leavis). How successful is Daniel Deronda?

4. Compare the treatment of origins, identity and inheritance in two novels studied.

5. Analyse and compare the significance of one or more of the following in two novels studied:



keys (and locks)




objets d’art


6. Examine and compare the implications of watching and being watched in two novels studied.

7. Compare the depiction and role of servants and/or servant-narrators in two novels studied.

8. ‘They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only Beauty’ (Oscar Wilde). With particular reference to two or more texts, analyse the interaction between:

art and life

or culture and modernity

or aesthetics and ethics

9. Explore the relationship between gender and performativity in two novels studied.

10. ‘The letter killeth’. How do you interpret the subtitle of Jude the Obscure?

11. ‘In the last decades of the Victorian era, especially, an ideological break occurs which is mirrored in the novel’s aesthetic, particularly in areas of points of view, the representation of reality, the construction of character, and the relationship to the audience’ (Linda Shires). Discuss.

12. 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.