The Take Home Mid-Term. Due March 2nd.

February 17, 2009

Hey Folks.

Here is the take home Midterm, due on March 2nd. Below is a bunch of questions separated into three different categories. Choose any three questions, and write a 1.5 – 2 page response for each one.

Course as a Whole.

  1. Explore how you believe history between the late 1800s and early 1900s influenced literature in the early 20th century, for instance World War I; the economy; vast changes in technology, etc. You might consider historical events that impact the lives of characters in The Great Gatsby and Mrs. Dalloway.
  2. How would you describe the style of the novel in the early 20th century. Think of two or three aspects that characterize the kind of writing in the novels we have looked at.

The Great Gatsby.

1. How does Fitzgerald use symbols in his novel? Consider looking at two different things that work symbolically in the novel, and how they contribute to the meaning of the novel. Some things that are symbolic in the novel: the green light on the Buchanan’s pier across the bay that Gatsby peers at all the time; the billboard in the Valley of Ashes of the big spectacles starting down on everything; the parties at Gatsby’s house every Saturday night.

2. Explore what Gatsby’s parties represent. Describe his parties, and what they say about both Gatsby and a particular kind of society in the 1920s. What do the parties say about the character of Gatsby? What characteristics of human nature do you think Fitzgerald is exploring in his depiction of the parties?

3.In what ways would you describe Nick Carroway’s narrative voice? What kinds of judgments does he make concerning his experience, and the people and events he encounters? Try to describe the kind of person he is.

4. Explore the influence of money on people and their lives in the novel. What does money do to human beings in The Great Gatsby? What sort of commentary might Fitzgerald be making concerning money?

5. How do you judge Jay Gatsby? How do you interpret Gatsby in that he gets his money from criminal activities, yet he also seems to be an innocent, visionary, heart-sick young man from the Midwest? You might think about how he compares to the other characters you meet.

6. What do you think Daisy Buchanan represents for Gatsby? What might Gatsby’s love for her, his yearning and his broken heart represent in the novel? Nick frequently suggests that Gatsby’s yearning and heartache over Daisy has something to do with the American Dream. What do you think? If you think it does, how?

7. Fitzgerald uses a lot of images about the illusion of theater in the novel. The title, The Great Gatsby resembles those popular 1800s and early 1900s traveling magic shows, or the signs written by people selling medical remedies, like snake oil. How does fantasy work in relationship to reality in the novel? In what ways does the novel explore a lot of illusions in life? How does Jay Gatsby sort of resemble a magic trick?

8. What is the American Dream? How might this novel both show the downfall of the American Dream at the same time it reveals what it is?

Mrs. Dalloway

1. Define and describe “stream-of-consciousness” writing. Perhaps use an example of it in the novel. What effect does it have on reading and interpreting? In what ways does stream-of-consciousness reflect the way that the human mind works?

2. Give an analysis of the character, Clarissa Dalloway. What is she like? Is she likeable? How do you think Virginia Woolf wants us to feel about her? How does she compare to other characters, like Septimus Smith.

3. Describe Septimus Smiths problems. Give an analysis of his character. What might he represent in the novel? Remember that Septimus and Clarissa’s names have some symbolic weight. Clarissa mean “clarity” and “light.” Septimus refers to “septic,” “underground,” “dark.”

4.Describe London as Virginia Woolf depicts it, particularly in the first twenty pages of the novel. What seems to be characteristic of the post World War I London?

5. Define and interpret what an “epiphany” is, particularly in literature. Then explain what you think to be Mrs. Dalloway’s epiphany at the end of the novel. What does she learn about herself and about life?

6. Ms. Kilman, the churchly older woman giving instruction to Mrs. Dalloway’s young daughter, is a hard character to grasp. Do you feel any sympathy for the old, poor woman? Why might Woolf depict her in such negative terms? Why do you think Woolf seems to be pushing us to dislike Ms. Kilman?

7. What is Mrs. Dalloways husband, Richard Dalloway, all about? How does he represent traditional British Empire? How do you think Mrs. Dalloway feels about him? Consider this in the context of her memories and interactions with Peter Walsh, her teenage boyfriend.

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