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.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR MIDTERM
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?
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."
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."
For one contemporary reviewer, Wuthering
Heights "strongly shows the brutalizing influence of unchecked
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."
Student Answer 2.
Topic sentence: Wuthering Heights does
demonstrate the brutalizing influence of unchecked passion."
"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."
"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."
"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."