Friday, December 19, 2014

Essay-01 My Watch by Mark Twain

Class Notes - English - XI - Elective - Woven Words - Essay:01


  1. What was the importance of the watch to the author?

    The watch was important to the author as it showed him the correct time thus keeping him punctual. He had it working properly for 18 months until he let it run down. He had staunch faith on its judgement and its prediction. It worked perfectly until then without gaining or losing any part of it.
  2. What were the attempts made by the author to get his watch repaired?

    After a possession of 18 months, the author let his watch run down. Devastated, the author went to all possible watch makers starting from the chief jeweller, the very next day. The head of the establishment pushed the regulator of the watch a little too much, which did no good, rather worsened its condition. Then the author went to another watch maker who kept it for a week and slowed it down, however, too much. Then he went to another one who kept it for three days; and then couple of more. Even after having spent thousands dollars, none of the watch makers could fix the watch. Hopeless, the author gave it a last shot and went to a watch maker who turned out to be an erstwhile, not a good, steam-boat engineer. It was now that the author realised that "a good horse was a good horse until it had run away once, and that a good watch was a good watch until the repairers got a chance at it. "
  3. Why did the author finally give up on his watch?

    The author got the watch repaired seven times. By the end, he realised that the watch, with its original cost being two hundred dollars, had cost him two to three thousand on repairs itself. And the watch was still malfunctioning. It was when he reached the seventh watch maker and acknowledged the mechanic to be an old acquaintance, a steam-boat engineer of other days and not a good engineer. He gave his verdict like all other watch makers, the author was not gullible and this time he perceived what his uncle William used to say that a good horse was a good horse until it had run away once, and that a good watch was a good watch until the repairers got a chance at it. So, he finally gave up the repairing and decided to let the watch be.
  4. What was Uncle Williams’ comment on the ‘tinkerers’ of the world?

    Uncle William is not a character in the story; however, the author gives a glimpse of him. When the author gave the watch for mending the last time, he reckoned that it was costing him more than the original cost. All the attempts so far have been futile and the verdict of the last watch maker made him remember what uncle William used to say that a good horse was a good horse until it had run away once, and that a good watch was a good watch until the repairers got a chance at it. The author perceived what his uncle had known with all his knowledge and experience. All the unsuccessful tinkers in the world are not specialists. They are the 'Jacks' of all trades and masters of none. Uncle William used to wonder what became of all those gunsmiths, shoe-makers, engineers and blacksmiths who never could be successful in their work sphere. It is important to acquire specialisation at least in one particular field, else one is left being a tinker, an apprentice, and not a specialist.
  5. Explain these lines
    a. ‘I seemd to detect in myself a sort of sneaking fellow-feeling for the mummy in the museum, and a desire to swap news with him.’
    b. ‘Within a week it sickened to a raging fever and its pulse went up to a hundred and fifty in the shade.’
    c. ‘She makes too much steam—you want to hang the monkey wrench on the safety valve!’


    (a) After being oiled and cleaned and 'regulated' for the second time, the watch came home to the author after a week. However, the watch was slowed down to such a degree that the author missed all his appointments, his dinner. He felt like he was drifted in the past somewhere. Gradually the watch slowed even more, he felt like he was living in the previous week. The author felt like he missed all that was happening in the world. He was solitary and lingered in the past all because of his watch. The author here compares his situation to that of a mummy, who belongs to bygone ages. He felt it ideal to find a fellowship with the mummy in some museum he probably had been to or an imaginary one. He felt travelling in the past just like the mummy due to the slow time projected by his watch.

    (b) When the author let his watch run down after eighteen months, he took it to chief jeweller's to set it by the exact time. The head of the establishment however, despite being stopped by the author, pushed the regulator. This gave the watch, probably, a kick and the watch shot ahead of its time. It gained faster and faster, day by day. Post two months, it appeared to be having some sort of a fever with an extremely high pulse rate. It moved 13 days ahead of the actual date and when the year touched October, the author commented, the watch was enjoying the snow fall of November already. This erratic behaviour annoyed the author a lot and so he decided to get it doctored once again.

    (c) The seventh time the author took the watch to a watch maker, he reckoned the apprentice to be an old acquaintance, a steam-boat engineer of other days and not a good engineer. Like all watch makers, he diagnosed and gave his verdict. The author observed keenly and judged him at his very verdict when he said, "She makes too much steam-you want to hang the monkey wrench on the safety valve! The author immediately remembered what his uncle William used to say and perceived that a tinker is a tinker after all, this being an unsuccessful engineer and wondered like his uncle what became of all the unsuccessful tinkers.


  1. Replacing old machines with new is better than getting them repaired.
  2. It is difficult to part with personal items like a watch which have a sentimental value attached to them. 


  1. How is humour employed to comment on the pains that the author took to get his watch set right?

    It is funny how the author and his dear watch had to go through all the pain that was delivered by seven watch makers. In the end, it was all futile and no good was done to the watch. The seven episodes with the watch makers are humorous as while all the watch makers tried their hand on the watch, toying it all up and operating and exploring and dissembling and then assembling every inch of it, it all gave sheer pain to the author to whom the watch was so dear. Every time with all the hope and strength he took it to a new watch maker; however, not a single of all the tinkers could put it all back to place to make it function all properly. How strange it is that none of the seven watch makers could mend the watch while they all experimented and did all sorts of research and development on it.
  2. ‘The author’s treatment of the subject matter makes the readers identify themselves with the experience.’ Comment on this statement.

    Samuel L. Clemens, Mark Twain, had less than ten years of schooling. He worked as a printer's apprentice, a steamboat pilot, a prospector and a journalist. All this gave him varied experiences and a wide knowledge of humanity. In all his works, he brings in elements from his own experiences and his own life creating a replica of his own self. All his stories have a combination of realistic and make believe world. What he presents are the situations that any ordinary human might face in her/his daily life; thus, making them all appear very realistic and hence the readers easily connect to the story and identify themselves with the experiences. For instance, in the story, the author faced a problem that is so ordinary. Any of us might have a watch that malfunctions and has a simple error. However, the problem rather than being mended, aggravates every time we take it to be doctored. This is a typical example of how an ordinary human faces problems with not just gadgets; it might be a medical condition or as simple as an argument with a known face.
  3. Identify some of the improbable images the author has used to effect greater humour. 

    There are instances when the author goes on exaggerating the actual situation to add humour to the story. For example, when the watch is repaired for the second time, it slowed down. The description is a hyperbole of the actual happening. No matter how slow a watch is, it will show the time according to 12 hours, it cannot literally travel in the past. However, the way the author describes its watch enjoying snowfall before the season arrives is humorous. Also, the citation of the mummy is funny, plus it describes the mental state of the poor author.

Essay-02 My Three Passions by Bertrand Russel

Class Notes - English - XI - Elective - Woven Words - Essay:02


  1. Why does Russell call the three passions ‘simple’?

    The essay actually is the preface to Bertrand Russell's autobiography. Every human is driven by a force, a passion all her/his life. It keeps her/him going. Some desire money, other, fame. There are some who desire simple satisfaction. Bertie's desires that he chased through his life were simple as well. He was driven by passions that any ordinary man or woman might feel for. For one, he wished love and got it too; he believed that it brought ecstasy. He got married four times to tell. Second, he hungered for knowledge and of course we all seek for it. He was a mathematician, a logician, political activist and wrote vastly on philosophy and contributed to literature, for which he received Nobel Prize as well. Third, he shared "an unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind". He took a stand against World War 1 and Vietnam war. Any human will pity a suffering man or a woman for they have a heart and feel, and so did Russell. Russell was a man who did not lust after materialistic gains; he was born in a prominent aristocratic family of Britain and gave away much of what he inherited. He rose his voice in favour of suffragists and world government. He believed in free thought in religion and morals.

  2. Why has he compared the three passions to great winds?

    Russell compared his three passions to great winds as they were the driving force in his life. They directed his life and gave him the reason for his existence. These great winds are: the love, the knowledge and the pity for the suffering of the mankind. He found ecstasy in the first two that took him to heaven while the third brought him back to the earth with the practical reality. It appears from the words of the author, these are essential parts of his life. It was because of his passions, he found his life to be worth living and that he would gladly live it again if the chance were offered to him. So, his passions are like the great winds of his life directing him all along.
  3. What, according to Russell, is the importance of love in life?

    Bertrand Russell is of the opinion that love brings ecstasy in one's life. He believes that the bliss that love brings is so magnificent that he could sacrifice the rest of his life for this joy of few hours. It relieves one of loneliness of this world. Russell says that in love he has seen the heaven that the great saints and poets have imagined. Here, Russell has given a spiritual dimension to love. He reached beyond through love and it was pity that brought him back.
  4. How does Russell’s definition of knowledge differ from what is commonly understood by the term?Why is the quality of pity earth-bound while the other two passions are elevating?

    Knowledge is a treasure and Russell was a seeker of it. He craved to know and understood the Pythagorean power by which a number holds sway over the flux. He was a much learned man. He did believe that he achieved a little of it as well and yet he yearned for more. The understanding of the higher subjects, why the stars shine? He beseeched beyond all this and it in turn took him upward toward the heavens.
  5. Why is the quality of pity earth-bound while the other two passions are elevating?

    Bertrand Russell had three passions governing his life all through. The first two being love and knowledge, which elevated him and took him higher to the heavens that great poets and saints have imagined. However, he said that the third one, i.e., pity, brought him back to the Earth, the reality. The pain in the echoing cries reverberated in his heart. All the sorrow in the wide world forced him to return to the Earth; the children in famine, victims tortured by oppressors, helpless old people that become a hated burden to their children. Russell was moved by the loneliness and poverty and pain that mocked human life. He imagined the ideal life of a human without any suffering and sorrow. So, he longed to alleviate the evil, however, he too suffered. He yet respected the human life and found it worth living and fought throughout his life against all evils. Bertrand fought against the Vietnam war and supported suffragists. Throughout his life he fought in favour of mankind to make this world a better place to live.
  6. How have the three passions contributed to the quality of Russell’s life?

    The three passions, the great winds, in the Russell's life contributed immensely to its making. He found his life worth living and had he been given a chance, he would have lived it again. It were not just passions but the three vital virtues governing his life. These gave him directions and were behind all his actions. Bertrand Russell believed in love, knowledge and pity. Whether it was his relationships with women, or fighting against Vietnam war, his stand on Israel, or his support to suffragists it was always these three ideals that ruled all his actions.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Arms and the Man - Notes for XI Elective English

Class Notes - XI - Elective English - Arms and the Man

Play Summary | Central Idea | Characters

Play Summary

The play begins in the bedroom of Raina Petkoff in a Bulgarian town in 1885, during the Serbo-Bulgarian War. As the play opens, Catherine Petkoff and her daughter, Raina, have just heard that the Bulgarians have scored a tremendous victory in a cavalry charge led by Raina's fiancé, Major Sergius Saranoff, who is in the same regiment as Raina's father, Major Paul Petkoff. Raina is so impressed with the noble deeds of her fiancé that she fears that she might never be able to live up to his nobility. At this very moment, the maid, Louka, rushes in with the news that the Serbs are being chased through the streets and that it is necessary to lock up the house and all of the windows. Raina promises to do so later, and Louka leaves. But as Raina is reading in bed, shots are heard, there is a noise at the balcony window, and a bedraggled enemy soldier with a gun appears and threatens to kill her if she makes a sound. After the soldier and Raina exchange some words, Louka calls from outside the door; she says that several soldiers want to search the house and investigate a report that an enemy Serbian soldier was seen climbing her balcony. When Raina hears the news, she turns to the soldier. He says that he is prepared to die, but he certainly plans to kill a few Bulgarian soldiers in her bedroom before he dies. Thus, Raina impetuously decides to hide him. The soldiers investigate, find no one, and leave. Raina then calls the man out from hiding; she nervously and absentmindedly sits on his gun, but she learns that it is not loaded; the soldier carries no cartridges. He explains that instead of carrying bullets, he always carries chocolates into battle. Furthermore, he is not an enemy; he is a Swiss, a professional soldier hired by Serbia. Raina gives him the last of her chocolate creams, which he devours, maintaining that she has indeed saved his life. Now that the Bulgarian soldiers are gone, Raina wants the "chocolate cream soldier" (as she calls him) to climb back down the drainpipe, but he refuses to; whereas he could climb up, he hasn't the strength to climb down. When Raina goes after her mother to help, the "chocolate cream soldier" crawls into Raina's bed and falls instantly asleep. In fact, when they re-enter, he is sleeping so soundly that they cannot awaken him.

Act II begins four months later in the garden of Major Petkoff's house. The middle-aged servant Nicola is lecturing Louka on the importance of having proper respect for the upper class, but Louka has too independent a soul to ever be a "proper" servant. She has higher plans for herself than to marry someone like Nicola, who, she insists, has the "soul of a servant." Major Petkoff arrives home from the war, and his wife Catherine greets him with two bits of information: she suggests that Bulgaria should have annexed Serbia, and she tells him that she has had an electric bell installed in the library. Major Sergius Saranoff, Raina's fiancé and leader of the successful cavalry charge, arrives, and in the course of discussing the end of the war, he and Major Petkoff recount the now-famous story of how a Swiss soldier escaped by climbing up a balcony and into the bedroom of a noble Bulgarian woman. The women are shocked that such a crude story would be told in front of them. When the Petkoffs go into the house, Raina and Sergius discuss their love for one another, and Raina romantically declares that the two of them have found a "higher love."

When Raina goes to get her hat so that they can go for a walk, Louka comes in, and Sergius asks if she knows how tiring it is to be involved with a "higher love." Then he immediately tries to embrace the attractive maid. Since he is being so blatantly familiar, Louka declares that Miss Raina is no better than she; Raina, she says, has been having an affair while Sergius was away, but she refuses to tell Sergius who Raina's lover is, even though Sergius accidently bruises Louka's arm while trying to wrest a confession from her. When he apologizes, Louka insists that he kiss her arm, but Sergius refuses and, at that moment, Raina re-enters. Sergius is then called away, and Catherine enters. The two ladies discuss how incensed they both are that Sergius related the tale about the escaping soldier. Raina, however, doesn't care if Sergius hears about it; she is tired of his stiff propriety. At that moment, Louka announces the presence of a Swiss officer with a carpetbag, calling for the lady of the house. His name is Captain Bluntschli. Instantly, they both know he is the "chocolate cream soldier" who is returning the Major's old coat that they disguised him in. As they make rapid, desperate plans to send him away, Major Petkoff hails Bluntschli and greets him warmly as the person who aided them in the final negotiations of the war; the old Major insists that Bluntschli must their houseguest until he has to return to Switzerland.

Act III begins shortly after lunch and takes place in the library. Captain Bluntschli is attending to a large amount of confusing paperwork in a very efficient manner, while Sergius and Major Petkoff merely observe. Major Petkoff complains about a favorite old coat being lost, but at that moment Catherine rings the new library bell, sends Nicola after the coat, and astounds the Major by thus retrieving his lost coat. When Raina and Bluntschli are left alone, she compliments him on his looking so handsome now that he is washed and brushed. Then she assumes a high and noble tone and chides him concerning certain stories which he has told and the fact that she has had to lie for him. Bluntschli laughs at her "noble attitude" and says that he is pleased with her demeanor. Raina is amused; she says that Bluntschli is the first person to ever see through her pretensions, but she is perplexed that he didn't feel into the pockets of the old coat which she lent him; she had placed a photo of herself there with the inscription "To my Chocolate Cream Soldier." At this moment, a telegram is brought to Bluntschli relating the death of his father and the necessity of his coming home immediately to make arrangements for the six hotels that he has inherited. As Raina and Bluntschli leave the room, Louka comes in wearing her sleeve in a ridiculous fashion so that her bruise will be obvious. Sergius enters and asks if he can cure it now with a kiss. Louka questions his true bravery; she wonders if he has the courage to marry a woman who is socially beneath him, even if he loved the woman. Sergius asserts that he would, but he is now engaged to a girl so noble that all such talk is absurd. Louka then lets him know that Bluntschli is his rival and that Raina will marry the Swiss soldier. Sergius is incensed. He sees Bluntschli and immediately challenges him to a duel; then he retracts when Raina comes in and accuses him of making love to Louka merely to spy on her and Bluntschli. As they are arguing, Bluntschli asks for Louka, who has been eavesdropping at the door. She is brought in, Sergius apologizes to her, kisses her hand, and thus they become engaged. Bluntschli asks permission to become a suitor for Raina's hand, and when he lists all of the possessions which he has (200 horses, 9600 pairs of sheets, ten thousand knives and forks, etc.), permission for the marriage is granted, and Bluntschli says that he will return in two weeks to marry Raina. Succumbing with pleasure, Raina gives a loving smile to her "chocolate cream soldier."

Theme / Central Idea of the Play

One of Shaw's aims in this play is to debunk the romantic heroics of war; he wanted to present a realistic account of war and to remove all pretensions of nobility from war. It is not, however, an anti-war play; instead, it is a satire on those attitudes which would glorify war. To create this satire, Shaw chose as his title the opening lines of Virgil's Aeneid, the Roman epic which glorifies war and the heroic feats of man in war, and which begins, "Of arms and the man I sing. . . ."

When the play opens, we hear about the glorious exploits which were performed by Major Sergius Saranoff during his daring and magnificent cavalry raid, an event that turned the war against the Serbs toward victory for the Bulgarians. He thus becomes Raina Petkoff's ideal hero; yet the more that we learn about this raid, the more we realize that it was a futile, ridiculous gesture, one that bordered on an utter suicidal escapade.
In contrast, Captain Bluntschli's actions in Raina's bedroom strike us, at first, as being the actions of a coward. (Bluntschli is a Swiss, a professional soldier fighting for the Serbs.) He climbs up a water pipe and onto a balcony to escape capture, he threatens a defenseless woman with his gun, he allows her to hide him behind the curtains, and then he reveals that he carries chocolates rather than cartridges in his cartridge box because chocolates are more practical on the battlefield. Yet, as the play progresses, Bluntschli's unheroic actions become reasonable when we see that he survives, whereas had the war continued, Sergius' absurd heroic exploits would soon have left him dead.

Throughout the play, Shaw arranged his material so as to satirize the glories associated with war and to ultimately suggest that aristocratic pretensions have no place in today's wars, which are won by using business-like efficiency, such as the practical matters of which Bluntschli is a master. For example, Bluntschli is able to deal with the business of dispensing an army to another town with ease, while this was a feat that left the aristocrats (Majors Petkoff and Saranoff) completely baffled. This early play by Shaw, therefore, cuts through the noble ideals of war and the "higher love" that Raina and Sergius claim to share; Arms and the Man presents a world where the practical man who lives with no illusions and no poetic views about either love or war is shown to be the superior creature.

Characters in the Play

Captain Bluntschli: A professional soldier from Switzerland who is serving in the Serbian army. He is thirty-four years old, and he is totally realistic about the stupidity of war.

Raina Petkoff: The romantic idealist of twenty-three who views war in terms of noble and heroic deeds.

Sergius Saranoff: The extremely handsome young Bulgarian officer who leads an attack against the Serbs which was an overwhelming success.

Major Petkoff The inept, fifty-year-old father of Raina; he is wealthy by Bulgarian standards, but he is also unread, uncouth, and incompetent.

Catherine Petkoff: Raina's mother; she looks like and acts like a peasant, but she wears fashionable dressing gowns and tea gowns all the time in an effort to appear to be a Viennese lady.

Louka The Petkoffs' female servant; she is young and physically attractive, and she uses her appearance for ambitious preferment.

Nicola: A realistic, middle-aged servant who is very practical.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Essay-04 Tribal Verse by G.N. Devy

Class Notes - English - XI - Electictive - Woven Words - Essays:04


  1. Identify the common characteristics shared by tribal communities all over the world.

    The essayist identifies some common characteristics shared by tribal communities all over the world. The tribals live in groups that are cohesive and organically unified. They show very little interest in accumulating wealth or in using labour as a device to gather interest and capital. The tribals accept a world view in which nature, human beings and God are intimately linked and they believe in the human ability to spell and interpret truth. They live more by intuition than reason, they consider the space around them more sacred than secular, and their sense of time is personal rather than objective.
  2. What distinguishes the tribal imagination from the secular imagination?

    The tribal imagination is, according to the author, dreamlike and hallucinatory. It admits fusion between various planes of existence and levels of time in a natural way. These characteristics distinguish the tribal imagination from the secular imagination. In tribal stories, oceans fly in the sky as birds, mountains swim in the water as fish, animals speak as humans and stars grow like plants. In tribal imagination, stars, seas, mountains, trees, men and animals, can be angry, sad or happy.
  3. How does G.N. Devy bring out the importance of the oral literary tradition?

    G. N. Devy brings out the importance of the oral literary tradition by referring to the richness of the works of the tribals that have been handed down from one generation to the other orally. He tries to bring home the point that though the literary compositions have been transmitted orally yet thematically and ornamentally they are very rich. The stories and songs that have come down to the tribals through oral tradition are unique. These compositions present the exclusive world view of the tribals. He points out that the wealth and variety of these works is very enormous. In order to show the importance of the oral literary tradition, Devy throws light on the various characteristics of the tribal arts. He shows that one of the main characteristics of tribal arts is their distinct manner of constructing space and imagery, which might be described as hallucinatory. Playfulness is another dimension of this tradition. Devy advocates that proper recognition should be given to the oral literary tradition in view of its variety and richness.
  4. List the distinctive features of the tribal arts.

    According to the essayist G. N. Devy, the tribal arts display many distinctive features.

    One of the distinctive features of tribal arts is their distinct manner of constructing space and imagery, which might be described as 'hallucinatory'. In both oral and visual forms of representation, tribal artists seem to interpret verbal or pictorial space as demarcated by an extremely flexible 'frame'. The boundaries between art and non art become almost invisible. In a tribal Ramayana, an episode from the Mahabharata makes a sudden and surprising appearance; tribal paintings contain a curious mixture of traditional and modern imagery.

    The tribal arts follow strict convention. Every tribal performance and creation has, at its back, another such performance or creation belonging to a previous occasion. The creativity of the tribal artist lies in adhering to the past while, at the same time, slightly subverting it.

    Playfulness is the soul of tribal arts. The tribal arts rarely assume a serious or pretentious tone. The tribal arts are relaxed and never tense.

    The tribal oral stories and songs employ bilingualism in a complex manner.
  5. ‘New literature’ is a misnomer for the wealth of the Indian literary tradition. How does G.N. Devy explain this?

    According to the essayist, the tribal Literature should not be called 'New Literature' as this has been in existence for many years. The songs and stories of the tribals have been transmitted orally and as these have not been written down so many people have been unaware of them. The essayist contradicts the views of the western literary critics who have termed tribal literature as 'New Literature'. He says that there is nothing new in this, what might be new is the present attempt to see imaginative expression in tribal language not as folklore but as literature and to hear tribal speech not as a dialect but as a language.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Essay-03 - Patterns of Creativity

Class Notes - English - XI - Electictive - Woven Words - Essay:03


  1. How does Shelley’s attitude to science differ from that of Wordsworth and Keats?

    Wordsworth in his poem 'A Poet's Epitaph' looks at science with a critical mind. Even in the poem 'Tables Turned' he praises nature and appreciates the beauty it gives to the humanity: 

    "Up! up! my Friend, and quit your books;"

    "Enough of Science and of Art;
    Close up those barren leaves;
    Come forth, and bring with you a heart
    That watches and receives."

    Wordsworth requests us to be more inclined towards Nature because there is more wisdom in it. Keats in his poem 'Lamia' talks of two facets of human nature: one is sensual and other emotional. Keats calls philosophy destructive and pleasure unreal and calls them inseparable. However, it is not that one must take Wordsworth's and Keat's take as absolute. Shelley, for instance, is of a different opinion. For scientists it is best if they consider Shelley. A. N. Whitehead's testimony called Shelley's attitude to Science, an opposite pole to that of Wordsworth. He loved science, and was never tired of expressing in poetry the thoughts, which it suggests. Science symbolised to him joy, and peace, and illumination.
  2. ‘It is not an accident that the most discriminating literary criticism of Shelley’s thought and work is by a distinguished scientist, Desmond King-Hele.’ How does this statement bring out the meeting point of poetry and science? 

    A Desmond King-Hele, a British physicist, is the author of Shelley: His Thought and Work. He said that Shelley's attitude to science emphasises the surprising modern climate of thoughts in which he chose to live. Shelley describes the mechanisms of nature with a precision and wealth of detail. It is a perfect fusion of poetry and science. A scientist critically reviewing a poet's work on science. S. Chandrasekhar points out two examples from Shelley's poetry in support of what is said about him. He points out that in his poem Cloud, a creative myth, a scientific monograph, and a gay picaresque tale of cloud adventure are fused together. Then he cites an example from Prometheus Unbound, which has been described by Herbert Read as the greatest expression ever given to humanity's desire for intellectual light and spiritual liberty.
  3. What do you infer from Darwin’s comment on his indifference to literature as he advanced in years? 

    Darwin, a great scientist, known for his work On the Origin of Species, enjoyed literature only until he was 30, as he said. He enjoyed poetic works of Byron, Coleridge, Shelley, etc. immensely. Shakespeare's historical plays gave him much pleasure. However, as he advanced in his age to reach the benchmark of 30, the charm faded and he began losing interest in pictures and music that once gave him great delight. He tried reading poetry and Shakespeare; however, he found it so intolerably dull that it nauseated him. It is surprising that the answer to this change is in Darwin's own statement. His mind had become some kind of a  grinding machine to process laws out of facts. It caused atrophy of that part of the brain on which higher tastes depended. It was hard for Darwin to infer it as well and, thus, his romance with literature died away.
  4. How do the patterns of creativity displayed by scientists differ from those displayed by poets? 

    Poets are the bards celebrating the nature surrounding them. While, scientists are the ones to harvest nature and its mechanism and mark inventions. Poets such as Wordsworth and Keats criticise humans of exploiting nature. Whereas, scientists on the other hand utilize the given resources of nature to create and invent. However, it is not that there is an enmity between poets and scientists. Shelley said, undoubtedly the promoters of utility, in this limited sense, have their appointed office in society They make space and give time.Here we have Darwin, who enjoyed literature immensely, however, until he was thirty. He said later,' My mind seems to have become a kind of machine for grinding general laws out of large collections of facts but why this should have caused the atrophy of that part of the brain alone on which the higher tastes depend.Thus, it can be understood, while the poets celebrate the present and arrest it making it all immortal, the scientists create and invent leading us to a tomorrow, thus, marking a difference.
  5. What is the central argument of the speaker?

    In the essay patterns of creativity, S. Chandrasekhar tries to figure out the reason for the difference in the patterns of creativity among the practitioners in the arts and practitioners in the sciences. He did not answer it, rather, he made an assortment of remarks that bore the answer. He cites examples explaining how poets and scientists view each other defining the difference in their views. There are poets such as Wordsworth and Keats who are worshippers of nature, who believe that humans sabotage nature by the technological advancement. However, there are poets like Shelley, who do poetry on science. It is difficult to segregate the views and put them into water tight compartments. Darwin, for instance enjoyed literature immensely as it gave him utmost joy, but only till the age of 30. W. B. Yeats, in praise of Shelley's A Defence of Poetry, called it the profoundest essay on the foundation of poetry in the English language The author of the essay, Chandrasekhar wonders in the end that why is there no such A Defence of Science written by a scientist of equal endowment. Perhaps the answer to the question he knew already.


    1. ‘Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world’.

      Shelley in his famous essay, A Defence of Poetry, made the given statement. In his work, Shelley expressed his view on poetry and poets. The power of poetry and the beauty of it. It is true that poetry makes every thing immortal by arresting its enchanting beauty. It not just reflects, it has the power to ignite minds and bring change. Poetry inspires humanity. Like Shelley said, ? oets are...the mirrors or the gigantic shadows which futurity casts upon the present; the words which express what they understand not; the trumpets which sing to battle and feel not what they inspire; the influence which is moved not, but moves.It is poetry that bears the future and inspire minds. It beholds the past and mirrors the present as well. Poets are the subtle revolutionaries of our society. In fact, not just poets but all the great authors as well. They are the force that drive the society to newness and are moral critics. They participate in the society not just as viewers, but they keep a watch and express their criticism or appreciation through their work.
    2. Poetry and science are incompatible.

      There are two perspectives to every issue. While poets like Wordsworth and Keats condemn man of exploiting nature and moving towards science, Shelley is a scientific poet, who even in his poems like his Cloud. Shelley loved science and expressed it in his poetry.? It symbolised to him joy, and peace, and illumination. Charles Darwin, being such a great scientist was immensely fond of literature, especially in his youth. However, another scientist, Faraday, who was absolutely engrossed in his scientific experiments about electricity and made great invention. It is always difficult to conclude whether poets and scientists are compatible or not. There will be many such poets and scientists fond of science and poetry. While there will be many who are only concerned about their subject.
    3. ‘On reading Shelley’s A Defence of Poetry, the question insistently occurs why there is no similar A Defence of  Science written by a scientist of equal endowment.’

      A person who is passionate about her/his subject is bound to praise it profoundly. The only difference might be in the medium of expression. While a poet chooses words to praise his subject, a scientist may choose an invention to express his passion. This is natural. Thus, it is so that Shelley came up with a writing piece and Faraday discovering the laws of electromagnetic induction and his discoveries led him to formulate concepts such as 'lines of force' and 'fields of force'. It is not that scientists do not defend their subject, Faraday did defend his discoveries by answering Gladstone that there was every probability of the government taxing the electricity soon. Just the medium one chooses to defend their subject matters.


    1. How does the ‘assortment of remarks’ compiled by the author give us an understanding of the ways of science and poetry? 

      [answer same as that of Q.5. Modify the answer accordingly]
    2. Considering that this is an excerpt from a lecture, how does the commentary provided by the speaker string the arguments together? 
    3. The Cloud ‘fuses together a creative myth, a scientific monograph, and a gay picaresque tale of cloud adventure’— explain.

    Thursday, December 4, 2014

    Chapter 04-The Adventure of the Three Garridebs - Arthur Conan Doyle

    Class Notes - English - XI - Elective - Woven Words - Chapter:04


    1. What clues did Sherlock Holmes work upon to get at the fact that the story of the three Garridebs was a ruse?

      Sherlock Holmes noticed that the gentleman who was paying visit to him and his friend Watson under the name of John Garrideb was not what he purported to be because there were discrepancies in his statements as well as appearance. John Garrideb’s claim that he was new to London was not true because the dress that he was wearing was British and that too a worn out one. John’s accent also hinted that he was staying in London for quite some time. Moreover John’s story about Alexander Hamilton Garrideb of Chicago fell flat when he claimed that he knew Dr. Lysander Starr of Topeka very well, a bait cleverly placed by Holmes. Sherlock Holmes also noticed that the advertisement shown to him by John Garrideb apparently placed by Howard Garrideb contained words which were mainly used in USA, proving that it was none other than John Garrideb himself who placed the advertisement. 

      All the above mentioned discrepancies proved that the story of three Garridebs was a ruse.
    2. What was John Garrideb’s objective in inventing the story of Alexander Hamilton Garrideb and his legacy?

      John Garrideb's objective was to gain entry into the house of Nathan Garrideb. He wanted to enter the house because before Nathan Garrideb the house was rented to Presbury, the American criminal, who was running a racket of counterfeit British notes and currencies in a secret  basement in the house of Nathan Garrideb. John and Presbury being friends back then worked in tandem and knew about each others' secrets. When John shot Presbury dead he wanted to lay his hands on the counterfeit notes printing machine and currencies lying hidden in the basement of the house where Nathan Garrideb lived. But Nathan Garrideb proved a hindrance in his planning for he hardly left his dwellings. This led John Garrideb to invent the story of Hamilton Garrideb and his legacy. Nathan Garrideb almost fell in the trap except the fact that he got over enthusiastic and involved Holmes in the hunt of the third Garrideb.
    3. Why didn't John Garrideb like the idea of including Holmes in the hunt for the third Garrideb?

      John Garrideb didn't like the idea of including Holmes in the hunt for the third Garrideb because he feared that his fictitious story of three Garridebs might get busted. His worst fears came true at the end, because Holmes noticed all the discrepancies in his statements and pinned down John Garrideb while he was entering the basement of Nathan Garrideb's house to take away the counterfeit currencies.
    4. Who was Roger Presbury and how was John Garrideb connected with him?

      Roger Presbury was an American criminal who was living in Britain and was involved in counterfeit currency business. He was shot by John Garrideb over cards in a night club on the Waterloo Road in January, 1895. Sherlock found out that his appearance matched with the appearance of Waldron, the previous tenant of the lodging in which now Nathan Garrideb lived. Presbury aka Waldron had hidden a note printing press in his basement and John Garrideb knew about it. It was this printing press that John Garrideb was after and carved out the whole plan to acquire it.
    5. How did Holmes guess that John Garrideb would go to 136, Little Ryder Street? Did he expect to find what he ultimately did before he went there?

      Once it became clear to Holmes that John Garrideb wants to send Nathan Garrideb away for a while, he sensed that there must be something at 136, Little Ryder Street that was of immense importance to John, Holmes expected John Garrideb to show up.Meanwhile Holmes and his friend Watson ensured that John did not suspect that they have any inkling of his plans of sending Nathan Garrideb away. Holmes and Watson did put the man at ease by clearing it to him that they were least interested in any matter and won his confidence by showing that they were just to help him in discovering another Garrideb. Expecting John they arrived and hid themselves in the house at 136, Little Ryder Street and did catch John Garrideb..


    1. Examine the structure of the short story ‘Adventure of the Three Garridebs’ with the help of this framework
    • The narrator of the story
    • Introduction of the topic of the story
    • Introduction of the main characters in the plot
    • Development of the plot
    • Climax
    • Resolution of the mystery.

    The introduction of the story: The story opens with a faint reflection of the climax. Watson, the narrator, does not give the climax entirely. However, he does tell the reader how the experience will be in the end.
    Introduction of the topic of the story: The narrator does not hit the nail on the head, he rather lets the reader explore the story as the situation unfolds itself. However, Watson does not make the reader wait for too long.

    Introduction of the main characters in the plot: Watson, the narrator takes the hold of the narration in the very beginning introducing the reader to the story. However we get to know him only once he introduces the reader to him. And it is when Holmes addresses Watson, we come to know the name of the narrator. For it is a first person narrative, we have to wait and move as the narrator describes all the events.

    Development of the plot: In the beginning, Holmes is talking about a person with a particular surname and that there is a need to find a person with the surname. Then he tells Watson to wait for the person who has assigned the task to the detective as Holmes wants the person in question himself to explain the situation to his friend. Then arrives, John Garrideb of Kansas, who explains the reason for why is there a need of another surname. And it is made clear for why Nathan approached Holmes for the task as it was John who approached Nathan for the same reason. And then further the story unfolds and with it is the truth explored.

    Climax: The climax is built as the series of events are described. There are clues laid for the reader to guess, yet the narrator does not give away the resolution. The reader guesses the possibilities. Ultimately a stage comes where the story reaches its height when Holmes is sure of the identity of the suspect and is sure of evil intentions and yet his motives are not clear. It is all to be discovered by the reader as he/she advances to the final tragedy.

    Resolution of the mystery: The resolution unleashes a comical tragedy. The reader is surprised and feels funny as well, thanks to the witty detective that leads the case. A faint reflection of the emotions that the reader might go in the ending were already given in the beginning, yet the resolution was unknown. It is not just the tragedy revealed but along with it is revealed the other side of the main character Sherlock Holmes and his friendship with Dr. Watson. There is more than expected revealed. The digressions of Holmes are justified in the end as well. It was a mystery resolved in the end.

    1. Examine the subtle humour in the narration of the story that lightens the gravity of the subject matter.

      The story's wittiest character is the detective Sherlock Holmes whose digressions are most funny. How in the middle of a sensitive interrogation he points out to the suspect that he appears to be a English, though the suspect exclaims that he is an American. In the beginning when Holmes is explaining the case to Watson, he remarks that there is a chance to make money with this case as if it is they and not the Garridebs who will be given the inheritance of Alexander Garrideb. The most interesting part is the style with which Holmes talks or discusses any information. Even while explaining a serious matter he adapts a casual style. For example, again while in the beginning Holmes is explaining the case to Watson, he did not give away the people already involved in the case. However, he tells that Nathan is already taken in as Watson comes across his name in the directory. He did not even tell the name of the mastermind John Garrideb until Mrs. Hudson approached with the card signed by Garrideb. There are many such instances that make the mystery light-hearted and the reader is not burned by it.

    Saturday, November 29, 2014

    L-3 The Rocking-horse Winner - XI English Elective - Woven Words


    1. What was the reason for young Paul’s restlessness at the beginning of the story? How did it find expression?

      Young Paul is restless at the beginning of the story because he was told by his mother that they were not lucky therefore don't have enough money to have a car and other luxuries of life. Besides young Paul had a feeling that deep down his mother was not as happy as she appeared to be. She blamed young Paul's father for not being lucky and making her unlucky as well because she was married to him. 
      This restlessness found an expression in the form of young Paul riding his rocking horse and mentally intensified thinking that he was lucky. While riding the horse young Paul appeared to posses some kind supernatural power and his eyes shone bright. 

    2. Why do you think Paul’s mother was not satisfied with the yearly birthday gift of 1,000 pounds for five years?

      Paul's mother was not satisfied with the yearly birthday gift of 1000 pounds for five years because she was an unsatisfied lot. She always had the feeling that she deserved a better treatment from life and this resulted in not showing any enthusiasm for the handsome birthday gift from Paul. Instead Paul started to hear more whispers from the house for more money.
    3. What was the reason for the anxiety of Paul’s mother as he grew older?

      The anxiety of Paul's mother grew as Paul grew older because now his tense behaviour, and too much indulgence in horse races and betting was taking a toll on his health. She was very concerned so she inquired to her house maid Miss Wilmot about him in the middle of the party. She also tried to send away Paul to a boarding school so that he could focus more on his studies and less on horse races. Little did she realise that the Paul is the victim of her own making. His efforts to prove himself lucky and bring more money in the house took him to the border of autism and finally he paid for his schizophrenic with his life.
    4. Paul’s final bet made the family rich but cost him his life. Explain. 

      Paul is a child who desperately seeks her mother's love and attention. He want to hear that unlike his father he is lucky. But the mother over burdened with the extra baggage of civility and modern lifestyle doesn't realise her child's intentions. Instead there was a feeling in the household that they need more money and even more money. Paul takes it upon himself to prove that he is lucky. He schizophrenically rides his rocking horse and imagines himself lucky. This he did frequently. Meanwhile he started betting on horse races with the help of Basset, their gardener. He bet only on the horses which he happened to know to be lucky during his frantic rocking horse ridings.
      As the events proceeded and he gifted his mother a handsome amount of 5000 pounds, the voices in the house for money grew louder. The pressure on him compelled to bet on races which he shouldn't have put his money in because he received no hint for the lucky horse from the rocking horse ridings. But he did bet and lost. This made him more morose. Before the Derby he was extremely schizophrenic to get a winner. He stopped eating and thought all the time about the race and winning. He spent much time on his rocking horse to get a clue. In the process he became autistic and seriously ill, but got his hint. He indicated Basset to bet on the horse Malabar and he won 80,000 pounds. But it all was a little too much for the young child and he died.
    1. 'Luck is necessary for success in life'.

      There are many who believe luck is important and one may find many such who believe in hard work. It is not though that those who believe in luck do not work hard. It is just that they believe in “do your best and God will do the rest However, there are those who completely blame their fate for everything and do not do anything to change or improve it. Still there are people that believe that hard work is greater than luck and that it has the power to change the destiny. One may find various beliefs around them and it depends on what they chose to believe in.
    2. Although Paul's mother liked to be rich she did not approve of betting on horses.

      Paul's mother foolishly wished to be rich and yet was not able to achieve or materialise her desire. She blamed it on her husband for being unlucky. However, she was one of those humans who do not tread as per their cloth. She was used to a lavish lifestyle and blamed her husband and misfortune for low income. Yet there was one thing appreciable about her that she was against gambling. She did remark in her conversation with her brother that she had seen her family members pursuing it and how it led to their fall. She advised her son to not indulge in it and made him promise that he will not think about racing horses any more.
    3. What were the voices that Paul heard? Did they lead him to success in the real sense?

      Although the house Paul and his family lived in was a pleasant one, the money they had was not enough to maintain the social position they had to keep up. The mother realised that father had no luck to make enough money so she decided to do something on her own. It was then that the house started whispering from every corner that “there must be more money The sounds started haunting the place and made Paul very uncomfortable and distressed and disturbed him. Though there were expensive gifts coming on Christmas, Paul could hear behind the shining rocking horse that “there must be more money It is plausible that Paul was schizophrenic and imagined the voices on being stressed due to their misery. As it is written in the text that no body said it aloud and there is no mention of anyone else hearing such voices, it is clear that Paul imagined his fears giving them voice. Paul's fear transferred into him through his mother constantly haunted him and became his driving force. The boy was oedipal and unknowingly wished to replace his father from his mother's life. So, the autistic boy drove his shinning horse ferociously until he “got there and would be sure of the horse that would win the next race. There were times when he was not sure, so he would be careful. The gardener Bassett was his partner throughout. Later even uncle Oscar joined as such was the conviction with which Paul used to declare the winning horse's name, and the horse used to win in actual. Call it clairvoyance or sheer luck, which he aspired to have to prove to be worthy of his mother's luck, Paul made money by betting on horses and finally left 80,000 pounds for his family by losing himself.


    1. Examine the communication channels in the story between
      a. Paul and his mother
      b. Paul and Bassett
      c. Paul and his uncle
      d. Basset and Paul's uncle
      e. Paul's mother and his uncle

      a. Paul and her mother shared the most intimate conversation through eyes. Though they were not actually love bound to each other as in the first paragraph, the author says that it was the children and the mother alone who knew that there was no love in their relation, they knew it because they read in each other's eyes.

      b. The friendship of Paul and Bassett or to say more clearly their partnership was an affectionate relation between them. Bassett knew and understood what the rest failed to even notice. He brought all the news of racing horses to Paul and then the clairvoyant Paul will decide in his trance who was to be the winner.

      c. Paul and uncle Oscar became partners soon after uncle discovers that Paul has an uncanny knowledge that makes him predict the winning horse. However, there is more to it, he realises that the whole betting thing was making Paul nervous and was hampering his health. However, Oscar Creswell asks Paul on how to win by betting, to which the child innocently replies that he just knows who is going to win once he “gets there".

      d. Bassett and uncle Creswell shared a bond since long back. However, as Bassett had promised to Paul he never told about his betting to uncle Oscar as well. But later he found himself explaining things to Creswell and the three of them became partners.

      e. It would be totally unfair to call Hester that harsh a lady for she did care about her children after all, however, she gave importance to materialistic gains. When she realised her sons obsession with the racing horses, she asked Bassett the gardener to keep Paul away from Oscar so it did not affect her son's health. She realised that the obsession was proving to be neurotic for her son and she wanted her son to be healthy and for that she risked her relation with her dear brother.
    2. How has the author linked the symbol of the rocking-horse to Paul's triumphs at the races?

      The rocking-horse is one of the three symbols present in the story that Lawrence has dealt with throughout the story. The horse is symbolic of the victory that Paul achieves at last. The materialistic gain and the importance of money over love. The whispering that haunts Paul that “there must be more money and the rocking-horse are interrelated. The want of money to achieve the love of mother that he never had, he goes on betting and earning more and more, thus, proving his luck. The boy when asked his mother for what is luck, she explained him that luck is what brings one money. The boy is disheartened to know that his father has no luck and so will not make money. He is sad at the implication that he will never have his mother's love who is all consumed by indebtedness. The boy, autistic as he is, with some clairvoyance rides his horse harder and ferociously till he “gets there It shows his desperation to physically win his mother's love by winning the race and thus earning more money, as “there must be more money Post the ride, Paul will stand facing the horse with his legs apart and he would look at the bent head of the horse and its shining eyes. These interpret just one thing, the determination, the wanting, the longing for money. It is about success, money, love and most importantly, winning. And Paul gets it all, he wins and gets her mother the money through his triumphs in races. And he even found her love as she grew too concerned about her son's obsession with the races that eventually killed him.
    3. The ending of the story is an instance of irony. Suppose Paul had not died at the end, how would you have reacted to the story?

      It is true that a tragedy digs a deeper mark than a happy ending. It causes an emotional catharsis in the audience. Had the story had a happy ending it would have been pleasant, however, the reader would not have felt the emotions and passion that drove Paul to his inevitable climax. Yet some may find it not justified to have killed the boy at the end of the story that went so well with Paul achieving what he wanted all the while, money and love both. He sacrificed his life to bring to his mother what his father couldn't and thus proved to be worthy of her affection, which hungered for. However, one can not have all the happiness in the world. They say that God is cruel when he gives us something, he gives it to us only with one had while taking away with the other our most cherished possession. So, it can not be said that the death of Paul was justified or other way round; however, it is ironical. Had he lived post the Derby win, who knows what shape the story might have taken. Maybe what happens happens for some good yet it would have brought the story to a happy ending had Paul lived.

    Thursday, November 27, 2014

    Poem 01 - The Peacock - English Elective Class XI Notes - Woven Words

    Poem 01 - The Peacock


    His loud sharp call
    seems to come from nowhere.
    Then, a flash of turquoise
    in the pipal tree.
    The slender neck arched away from you
      as he descends,
    and as he darts away, a glimpse
      of the very end of his tail. 
    I was told
    that you have to sit in the veranda
      and read a book,
    preferably one of your favourites
      with great concentration.
    The moment you begin to live
    inside the book
    a blue shadow will fall over you.
    The wind will change direction,
    The steady hum of bees
    In the bushes nearby
    Will stop.
    The cat will awaken and stretch.
    Something has broken your attention;
    And if you look up in time
    You might see the peacock
    turning away as he gathers in his tail
    to shut those dark glowing eyes,
    violet fringed with golden amber.
    It is the tail that has to blink
    for eyes that are always open.


    The theme of this poem is the beauty of nature and the importance of being present in the moment to fully appreciate it. The peacock is used as a symbol of this beauty and is described in vivid detail, capturing the reader's attention and encouraging them to take notice of the world around them. The poem also suggests that we need to let go of distractions and be fully immersed in the present moment in order to truly appreciate the beauty that surrounds us.


    At the outset of the poem, the poet portrays the peacock's grandeur and loveliness. Throughout the verses, the poet anthropomorphizes the peacock as a male entity, referring to him as 'he.' The bird's piercing cry is difficult to locate, as it appears to emanate from an indiscernible source. The sound actually comes from the peacock, which can effortlessly fly to the top of a pipal or peepal tree, where it is often hidden. Against the verdant background of the pipal tree, the peacock's distinct turquoise hue (a combination of blue and green) glimmers. When it senses a human watching it, it moves its slim neck and darts away, leaving behind only a fleeting glimpse of its tail.

    The poet now describes a small ritual for seeing a peacock that she has been advised to follow. One should sit on the veranda and immerse themselves in a book, preferably a cherished favorite. Once the reader is fully absorbed in the book's world, a blue shadow will descend upon them, and the wind will shift, subtly drawing attention to the surroundings. The atmosphere grows tranquil ("The steady hum of bees /In the bushes nearby will stop").

    The peacock's cry, similar to that of a cat, will be audible ("The cat will awaken and stretch"), drawing attention. If spotted in time, the observer may catch a glimpse of the peacock. The peacock gracefully turns away, its tail feathers closed like shut eyelids, revealing violet borders and golden amber fillers. "It is the tail that has to blink" (the motion of the tail swaying is likened to blinking), but "the eyes are always open," and the patterns never fade. The observer will feel a sense of inner radiance and stillness that is deep and profound.

    The scene's depiction highlights the difficulty of seeing a peacock (underscoring the bird's significance), as peacocks are revered, sacred birds that are not frequently encountered in the world. In Indian culture, peacocks are considered celestial and symbolize beauty and power.


    1. Comment on the lines that make you visualise the colourful image of the peacock.

      The lines which help us visualise the colourful image of the peacock are as follows:
      “a flash of turquoise”, “A blue shadow will fall over you", “To shut those dark glowing eyes”, “Violet fringed with golden amber”.
      These lines give us a clear picture of the magnificent bird in all its glory.
    2. What are the cues that signal the presence of the peacock in the vicinity?

      A loud sharp call, flash of turquoise, a disappearing tail end, a blue shadow, the wind changing its direction and the awakening of the cat and its stretch are an indication that a peacock is in the vicinity.
    3. How does the connection drawn between the tail and the eyes add to the descriptive detail of the poem?

      The pattern on the tail of a peacock looks like eyes, but these eyes cannot be blinked. Rather the tail when contracted appears to give an illusion of blinking a lot of eyes together. This adds to the descriptive details of the poem.
    4. How does the poem capture the elusive nature of the peacock?

      The poem captures the elusive nature of the peacock by describing its activities that signal its presence indirectly. For example in the opening line of the poem we hear “His loud sharp call”, or we get a “glimpse of the very end of his tail” in the last line of the first stanza.
      If someone tries his best to get a glimpse of the elusive bird, he “might see the peacock turning away as he gathers his tail”.
      Such a description presents a very elusive nature of the peacock.
    5. The peacock is a colourful bird. How does the poem capture the various colours that its plumage displays?

      The poem captures the various colours of the peacock’s plumage by use of expressions like “turquoise”, “blue shadow”, “dark glowing eyes” and “Violet fringed with golden amber”. These expressions as we can see present the colours associated with peacocks very beautifully.

    Monday, November 24, 2014

    Poem-02 - Let Me Not to the Marriage of True Minds - English Elective Class XI Notes - Woven Words

    Poem-02 - Let Me Not to the Marriage of True Minds by William Shakespeare

    Let me not to the marriage of true minds
    Admit impediments. Love is not love
    Which alters when it alteration finds,
    Or bends with the remover to remove:
    O no; it is an ever-fixed mark,
    That looks on tempests, and is never shaken;
    It is the star to every wandering bark,
    Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
    Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
    Within his bending sickle's compass come;
    Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
    But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
    If this be error and upon me proved,
    I never writ, nor no man ever loved.


    Let me not declare any reasons why two true-minded people should not be married. Love is not love which changes when it finds a change in circumstances, or bends from its firm stand even when a lover is unfaithful: Oh no! it is a lighthouse that sees storms but it is never shaken; Love is the guiding north star to every lost ship, whose value cannot be calculated, although its altitude can be measured. Love is not at the mercy of Time, though physical beauty comes within the compass of his sickle. Love does not alter with hours and weeks, but, rather, it endures until the last day of life. If I am proved wrong about these thoughts on love, then I recant all that I have written, and no man has ever [truly] loved.


    The poem is titled "Sonnet 116" and is a sonnet written by William Shakespeare. It is a love poem that celebrates the power and endurance of true love.

    The poem begins with the speaker stating that true love is not hindered by external forces or impediments. The love described is not a love that changes with circumstances or that is affected by external influences. Instead, it is an "ever-fixed mark" that remains constant even in the face of adversity.

    The speaker then goes on to compare true love to a star that guides wandering ships, emphasizing the importance and value of this type of love. The poem suggests that true love is a force that is not easily swayed by time or external factors.

    The next stanza refers to the inevitable effects of time and aging, represented by "rosy lips and cheeks / Within his bending sickle's compass come." However, the speaker argues that true love is not subject to the same limitations and that it endures even in the face of aging and death.

    Finally, the poem concludes with the speaker stating that if he is wrong in his beliefs about true love, then he has never written anything of value and no one has ever truly loved. This line reinforces the strength and conviction of the speaker's beliefs about love.

    Overall, the poem celebrates the power and endurance of true love, emphasizing that it is a force that remains constant even in the face of adversity and the passing of time.

    Imagery Used in the Sonnet 116

    Sonnet 116 uses a variety of powerful and vivid imagery to convey the idea of enduring, true love.

    In the first quatrain, the speaker uses the metaphor of a "marriage of true minds" to describe the nature of true love. This image evokes the idea of two people who are deeply connected and united in their love for one another.

    The second quatrain uses a nautical metaphor to describe true love as an "ever-fixed mark / That looks on tempests and is never shaken." The image of a fixed mark or beacon that guides ships through storms suggests that true love provides stability and direction in difficult times.

    The third quatrain compares true love to a star that guides lost ships, suggesting that love is a guiding force that leads people through the challenges of life. The image of the star is also associated with beauty and wonder, emphasizing the idea that true love is a precious and valuable thing.

    In the final quatrain, the speaker uses the metaphor of Time as a "bending sickle" that inevitably takes away youth and beauty. However, the speaker argues that true love "bears it out even to the edge of doom," suggesting that it is an enduring force that remains steadfast in the face of aging and death.

    Overall, the imagery used in Sonnet 116 emphasizes the strength, endurance, and guiding qualities of true love. By comparing love to enduring symbols such as a fixed mark, a star, and a beacon, the speaker creates a powerful image of love as a guiding force that can lead people through the challenges of life.


    marriage...impediments (1-2): T.G. Tucker explains that the first two lines are a "manifest allusion to the words of the Marriage Service: 'If any of you know cause or just impediment why these two persons should not be joined together in holy matrimony'; cf. Much Ado 4.1.12. 'If either of you know any inward impediment why you should not be conjoined.' Where minds are true - in possessing love in the real sense dwelt upon in the following lines - there can be no 'impediments' through change of circumstances, outward appearance, or temporary lapses in conduct." (Tucker, p. 192). 

    bends with the remover to remove (4): i.e., deviates ("bends") to alter its course ("remove") with the departure of the lover. 

    ever-fixed mark (5): i.e., a lighthouse (mark = sea-mark).
    Compare Othello (5.2.305-7): 

    Be not afraid, though you do see me weapon'd;
    Here is my journey's end, here is my butt,
    And very sea-mark of my utmost sail. 

    the star to every wandering bark (7): i.e., the star that guides every lost ship (guiding star = Polaris). Shakespeare again mentions Polaris (also known as "the north star") in Much Ado About Nothing (2.1.222) and Julius Caesar (3.1.65). 

    Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken (8): The subject here is still the north star. The star's true value can never truly be calculated, although its height can be measured. 

    Love's not Time's fool (9): i.e., love is not at the mercy of Time. 

    Within his bending sickle's compass come (10): i.e., physical beauty falls within the range ("compass") of Time's curved blade. Note the comparison of Time to the Grim Reaper, the scythe-wielding personification of death. 

    edge of doom (12): i.e., Doomsday. Compare 1 Henry IV (4.1.141): 

    Come, let us take a muster speedily:
    Doomsday is near; die all, die merrily. 

    Sonnet 116 is about love in its most ideal form. The poet praises the glories of lovers who have come to each other freely, and enter into a relationship based on trust and understanding. The first four lines reveal the poet's pleasure in love that is constant and strong, and will not "alter when it alteration finds." The following lines proclaim that true love is indeed an "ever-fix'd mark" which will survive any crisis. In lines 7-8, the poet claims that we may be able to measure love to some degree, but this does not mean we fully understand it. Love's actual worth cannot be known – it remains a mystery. The remaining lines of the third quatrain (9-12), reaffirm the perfect nature of love that is unshakeable throughout time and remains so "ev'n to the edge of doom", or death. 

    In the final couplet, the poet declares that, if he is mistaken about the constant, unmovable nature of perfect love, then he must take back all his writings on love, truth, and faith. Moreover, he adds that, if he has in fact judged love inappropriately, no man has ever really loved, in the ideal sense that the poet professes. The details of Sonnet 116 are best described by Tucker Brooke in his acclaimed edition of Shakespeare's poems: 

    [In Sonnet 116] the chief pause in sense is after the twelfth line. Seventy-five per cent of the words are monosyllables; only three contain more syllables than two; none belong in any degree to the vocabulary of 'poetic' diction. There is nothing recondite, exotic, or metaphysical in the thought. There are three run-on lines, one pair of double-endings. There is nothing to remark about the rhyming except the happy blending of open and closed vowels, and of liquids, nasals, and stops; nothing to say about the harmony except to point out how the fluttering accents in the quatrains give place in the couplet to the emphatic march of the almost unrelieved iambic feet. In short, the poet has employed one hundred and ten of the simplest words in the language and the two simplest rhyme-schemes to produce a poem which has about it no strangeness whatever except the strangeness of perfection. (Brooke, p. 234)


    1. ‘Constancy’ is the theme of the poem. Indicate the words, phrases and images that suggest the theme.

      "an ever-fixed mark", "never shaken"; "Love’s not Time’s fool", "Love alters not", "bears it out even to the edge of doom" are some of the expressions that suggest the theme that love is permanent.
    2. Why do you think the poet has used so many ‘negatives’ to make his statement?

      ‘negatives’ are an effective tool to prove one’s point. It highlights the other side of the coin to bring home the positive points of the statement very effectively. In this case the poet puts forward all the negative aspects that love is taken for, and then argues that love is something permanent and beyond physical beauty.
    3. What does the line ‘I never writ, nor no man ever loved’ imply?It implies that if the poet is proved wrong about these thoughts on love, then he will recant all that he has written, and no man has ever [truly] loved.