syllabus hotspot syllabus hotspot syllabus hotspot austen hotspot austen hotspot bronte/index.html bronte/index.html bronte/index.html bronte/index.html dickens hotspot dickens hotspot eliot hotspot eliot hotspot hardy hotspot hardy hotspot thackeray hotspot thackeray hotspot novel page hotspot novel page hotspot novel page hotspot novel page hotspot novel page hotspot


The midterm consists of two essay questions on each author. You will answer one question on each author. One question of each pair is general. The other question consists of a significant quotation from the novel; you will identify who said the quotation and discuss its significance–e.g., characterization, theme, imagery, and any other aspects of the novel you think relevant. The quotation is one we discussed in class.

All the sample student answers received a grade of A. The students show familiarity with the novels, persuasively support their thesis with a closely reasoned and well organized argument, and have really thought about the novels (they even make points which were not covered in class). The essays are not perfect, however; there are a few errors or misstatements.

I am interested in your thinking about the novels, not in hearing my opinions repeated--or what you think my opinions are. There is no One Right Interpretation. Notice that the two essays on Emma contradict each other, as do the essays on Wuthering Heights.



Answer one question about each novel. Write an organized, clear, correct essay. Refer specifically to the novels (but do not retell the story).

I. General Questions


Charlotte Bronte said that Jane Austen presents "the surface of the lives of genteel English people curiously well" but that "passions are perfectly unknown to her." Is this an accurate description of Emma?

Sample student essay 1.

Topic sentence: "The emotions that do exist in Emma are quite clearly portrayed very differently from those that exist in a Bronte novel, but are not, I believe, of necessarily less intensity. They are more heavily masked, more delicately expressed and, perhaps, owing to the particular characters, more or less intensely felt, depending on who is involved."

Sample student essay 2.

Topic sentence: "For in the novel Emma we get a superficial picture of the lives of the inhabitants of the town of Highbury, but no depth of raging passion anywhere. Passion if it exists at all is subdued and very controlled."

Wuthering Heights

For one contemporary reviewer, Wuthering Heights "strongly shows the brutalizing influence of unchecked passion." Discuss.

Sample Student Answer 1.

Topic sentence: "I disagree strongly that unchecked passion exerts a brutalizing influence. I think that a brutal character exhibits brutish characteristics."

Sample Student Answer 2.

Topic sentence: Wuthering Heights does demonstrate the brutalizing influence of unchecked passion."

II. Quotations


"High in the rank of her most serious and heart-felt felicities was the reflection that all necessity of concealment from Mr. Knightley would soon be over. The disguise, equivocation, mystery, so hateful to her to practice, might soon be over. She could now look forward to giving him that full and perfect confidence which her disposition was most ready to welcome as a duty."

Vanity Fair

"Her heart tried to persist in asserting that George Osborne was worthy and faithful to her, though she knew otherwise. How many a thing had she said, and got no echo from him. How many suspicions of selfishness and indifference had she to encounter and obstinately overcome. To whom could the poor little martyr tell these early struggles and tortures? Her hero himself only half understood her. She did not dare to own that the man she loved was her inferior; or to feel that she had given her heart away too soon. Given once, the pure bashful maiden was too modest, too tender, too much woman to recall it."

Wuthering Heights

"At fifteen she was the queen of the country-side; she had no peer; and she did turn out a haughty, headstrong creature. I own I did not like her after her infancy was past; and I vexed her frequently by trying to bring down her arrogance; she never took an aversion to me, though."