English Literature Essays

This section of the site began in a small way in July 2000 with a few essays by myself and friends and now, thanks to contributors from all over the world, it has grown into a substantial collection of literary criticism. The essays are arranged in chronological order of their subjects. There is also a quick alphabetical index on the left of the page. All essays are copyright of their authors. Contributions are welcome. If you have written an essay which you would like to be considered for inclusion on this site, or would like to offer feedback on the site, please contact me.


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English Literature Links

 Internet resources for English literature students and teachers

Author Pages:

T S Eliot | William Golding | Thomas Hardy | Ernest Hemingway | Ted Hughes | James Joyce | D H Lawrence | John Steinbeck | Tennessee Williams

 Introduction, links, and books

Glossary of Literary Terms

 Definitions of terms frequently encountered in the study of English literature

Modern Literature Time Chart

Publication dates of works of modern literature shown in the context of historical and cultural events

English Literature Bookshop

 Find the English literature books you need

GCSE & A Level Books - all subjects

Books to help you study, revise and pass the exams.

Books on Film

Many great books have been made into films. Here you can browse an illustrated list of novels and plays which have been filmed

Short Story Writing

 Advice for aspiring writers
 

Quick Index
A
The Age of Reason
Alice Video Game
Amis, Sir Kingsley
Aristotle Poetics
Arnold, Matthew
Atwood, Margaret
 Gertrude Talks Back
 Female Protagonists
Austen, Jane Persuasion
Australian History
B
Bayliss, Jonathan
Beckett, Samuel
 Introduction
 Use of Comedy
 Waiting for Godot
Bellow, Saul
Bengali Folktales
Beowulf
Bishop, Elizabeth
Bookshops
 All Books
 English Literature
 GCSE Books
Bronte, Charlotte
 Jane Eyre Doubles
 Jane Eyre Symbolism
Bunyan, John
Burgess, Anthony
C
Callaghan, Morley
Castiglione The Courtier
Celtic Revival
Chaucer, Geoffrey
 Wife of Bath
 Chaucer & Bunyan
Chopin, Kate
Coleridge, Samuel Taylor
Computer Games & Spies
Conrad, Joseph
 Heart of Darkness
 The Secret Agent
Constantine & Christianity
D
Dickens, Charles
Donne, John
 Love Poetry
 Valedictions
 Religious Poetry
 Religious Metaphysical
Dryden, John
Durrell, Lawrence
E
Eliot, T S
 Introduction
 J Alfred Prufrock
 Prufrock & The Outsider
 Four Quartets
F
Faulkner, William
Fielding, Henry
G
Galsworthy, John
Glossary of terms
Golding, William
 Introduction
 Lord of the Flies
 Loss of Identity
 Symbolism
 Chaos vs Civilization
Goldsmith, Oliver
Greene, Graham
H
Hansberry, Lorraine
Hardy, Thomas
 Introduction
 Tess of the d'Urbervilles
Harry Potter Video Game
Hawthorne, Nathaniel
Hemingway, Ernest
Herbert, George
Hodge, Merle
Hughes, Ted
I
Ibsen, Henrik
Indian Women - early
Indian Women - modern
Isherwood, Christopher
J
James, Henry
Jewish Writers
Jonson, Ben
Jost, Jon: Film-maker
Joyce, James
 Introduction
 Portrait of the Artist 1
 Portrait of the Artist 2
 Portrait of the Artist 3
Jung, Carl Gustav
K
Keats, John
 Keats & Nature
 Keats & Eroticism
Kesey, Ken
Kincaid, Jamaica
Kipling, Rudyard - Kim
L
Lacan, Jacques
Lamming, George
Lawrence, D H
 Introduction to Lawrence
 Women in Love
 Naturalist Drama
Lawson, Henry
Literary Terms
Literary Writing
The Liverpool Poets
M
Machiavelli The Prince
Maiden, Jennifer
McEwan, Ian
Morrison, Toni
 Beloved & Jazz
 Beloved & Slavery
Mosionier, Beatrice
N
Narayan, R K
 The English Teacher
Krishna's Journey

 The English Teacher
Two teachers

 The Guide
 Vision of Life
Native Americans
New York Intellectuals
O
O'Connor, Flannery
Ovid
P
Patten, Brian
Pinter, Harold
Plath, Sylvia
Pope, Alexander
Pound, Ezra
The Prisoner TV Series
R
Reader-Response
Renaissance Poetry
Renaissance Tragedy
Rhys, Jean
 Sargasso Sea Doubles
 Sargasso Sea Symbolism
The Romantic Sublime
Romanticism & Memory
S
Shakespeare
 Antony & Cleopatra
 Coriolanus
 Hamlet & Corruption
 Last Plays
 Masquerade
 Measure for Measure 1
 Measure for Measure 2
 Shakespeare's Women
 Twelfth Night
Sidney, Sir Philip
Slavery
Spenser, Edmund
Steinbeck, John
Stoppard, Tom
Studying Literature
Styron, William
Swift, Jonathan
T
Tarkovsky, Andrei
Thomass, Dylan
Tolkien, J R R
V
Vaughan, Henry
W
Walker, Alice
The War Poets
Webster, John
Williams, Tennessee
Woolf, Virginai
 Mrs Dalloway
 To the Lighthouse
 The Waves
Wordsworth, William
 Lucy Poems
 Lyrical Ballads
 The Prelude
Y
Yeates, V M
Yeats, W B
 Introduction
 Art in Last Poems
 & Celtic Revival

 
 

General literary topics


Glossary of Literary Terms

Definitions of terms frequently encountered in the study of English literature (6,100 words)

Studying English Literature

Introductory thoughts from the webmaster (1,000 words)


Reader-Response Theories

The Author, the Text, and the Reader. Where is the meaning of a work of literature located? In the mind of the author, the mind of the reader, or in the text itself? Clarissa Lee Ai Ling studies some reader-response theories, and discusses some views on how the objectivity of the literary text is or is not distinguished from the subjectivity of the reader's response. (3,800 words)

What is Literary Writing?

John Oldcastle considers the qualities which distinguish literary writing from other kinds of writing, exploring the techniques used by literary writers, and their motives for writing, and offering many fine examples of literary writing to illustrate his thesis. (2,300 words)

Main Index. Chronological by period and author's dates
Ancient literature


Indian Women's Writing

A World of Words, Lost and Found: a brief overview of women's literature in India from the 6th century BC onwards. Sherin Koshy explores the history of women's writing in India, revealing the long tradition which preceded the rise of modern Indian woman writers in English, such as Arundhati Roy and Anita Desai. (2,400 words)

Classical literature


Aristotle: Poetics

Complexity and pleasure: Aristotle's 'complex plot' and the pleasure element in tragedy. Souvik Mukherjee examines Aristotle's Poetics and other works in order to elucidate Aristotle's view of a successful tragedy (2,100 words)

Ovid in John Dryden's Translation

Augustan vs Augustan - Translating the Art of Storytelling. Thomas Bailey studies John Dryden's translation of Ovid's Metamorphoses, Book 11, the story of Ceyx and Alcyone, analysing Dryden's approach to the task and assessing his success in capturing the 'three-dimensional' quality of the original. (6,000 words) Top

Anglo-Saxon literature


Beowulf

Beowulf: An Epic Hero. An analysis of the character of Beowulf from the Anglo-Saxon poem, showing the characteristics which make him an epic hero. By Jeni Zirk (700 words)

Medieval literature


Geoffrey Chaucer (c1343-1400) The Canterbury Tales

The Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale. A study of Chaucer's The Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale, focusing on The Wife's personality, beliefs, and attitudes, and showing the connections between the prologue and the tale. By Ian Mackean. (3,300 words)

Geoffrey Chaucer: The Canterbury Tales. John Bunyan (1628-1688) The Pilgrim's Progress

The Author and his Reader: Christian Literature as Conversation. Heather-Ann Wickers compares and contrasts Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales and John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress as examples of Christian Literature. (2,800 words)

Renaissance literature


Machiavelli: The Prince

The Devil's Morals. Souvik Mukherjee studies the ethics in Machiavelli's The Prince (1,500 words)

Castiglione: The Courtier

Bembo's Discourse on Love. Souvik Mukherjee studies Bembo's Discourse on Love in Book IV of The Courtier to consider whether it makes a fitting end to Castiglione's famous Renaissance book. (1,200 words) Top

Edmund Spenser: The Faerie Queene

The Bower of Bliss and The Garden of Adonis. Ian Mackean contrasts two sections of The Faerie Queene to show how Spenser used them to develop themes such as art versus nature, appearances versus reality, and lust versus love. (2,000 words)

Sir Philip Sidney: Astrophil and Stella

Structure, Theme and Convention in Sir Philip Sidney's Sonnet Sequence, Astrophil and Stella. By Donna. (2,000 words)

Renaissance Tragedy and Investigator Heroes

The role of the investigator in Renaissance tragedy, with special reference to Shakespeare's Hamlet and Thomas Kyd's The Spanish Tragedy.Tannistho Ghosh makes convincing connections between two Renaissance tragic heroes and the investigators of modern crime fiction. (2,500 words)

Shakespeare: Twelfth Night

Form, Structure and Language. Jenia Geraghty studies William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, showing how Shakespeare's choice of form, structure and language help to shape the play's meaning. (1,700 words)

Shakespeare: Hamlet

Corruption - an Incurable Disease. Rob Moriarity uncovers the theme of corruption and 'disease' in Shakespeare's Hamlet. 1,000 words)

Shakespeare: Shakespeare's Women

Shakespeare's treatment of women in the tragedies Hamlet, Othello and Antony and Cleopatra. Was Shakespeare a feminist? Liz Lewis explores three of Shakespeare's tragedies from a feminist perspective, arguing that Ophelia, Desdemona, and in Antony and Cleopatra - Antony, were victims of patriarchal society, while in his treatment of these characters Shakespeare himself transcended the stereotypes of his time. (3,600 words)

Shakespeare: Measure for Measure

The Error of Desperate Measures. Ian Mugford studies Shakespeare’s play Measure for Measure to explore what it can show us about how justice can be eroded, and how justice ought to be maintained. (2,600 words) Top

Shakespeare: Measure for Measure

Game-playing in Shakespeare's Measure for Measure. Tannistho Ghosh looks at Shakespeare's Measure for Measure and puts forward the view that the plot can usefully be seen in terms of game-playing. (2,100 words)

Shakespeare: Antony and Cleopatra

The Tragic in Antony and Cleopatra. Drawing on views of tragedy put forward by Aristotle, and by French dramatists such as Corneille and Racine, Isabelle Vignier explains why Antony and Cleopatra is a tragedy as well as being one of Shakespeare's Roman plays. (3,700 words)

Shakespeare: Coriolanus

Who is to Blame for Coriolanus's Banishment? Ian Mackean examines the central theme of Shakespeare's tragedy Coriolanus. (2,000 words) Top

Shakespeare: The Winter's Tale and The Tempest

The Mixture of Styles in Shakespeare's Last Plays. The mixture of styles evident in Shakespeare's last plays has often made them elusive to audiences, readers and theatre practitioners. Liz Lewis argues that Shakespeare used the mixture of styles successfully to contribute to the plays' themes of renewal and regeneration. (2,200 words)

Shakespeare: Masquerade

The Role of Masquerade in Shakespeare. Ian Mugford studies the use Shakespeare makes of traditions of masquerade in plays such as Twelfth Night, King Lear, and The Taming of the Shrew, covering themes such as gender, disguise, festivities, and Elizabethan Sumptuary Laws. (3,700 words)

John Donne (1572-1631) Love Poetry

The Love Poetry of John Donne. Ian Mackean explores the wide variety of attitudes towards love depicted by the Metaphysical poet John Donne in his Songs and Sonnets. (2,000 words)

John Donne: Valedictions

A Valediction: of Weeping and A Valediction: forbidding mourning. A study of John Donne's two poems of valediction, showing how they are both typically Metaphysical, but very different in tone. By Ian Mackean (1,650 words) Top

John Donne: Religious Poems

Holy Sonnet (Batter my Heart) and A Hymn to God the Father. A close look at two of John Donne's religious poems, showing Metaphysical characteristics in each, but very different purposes and moods. By Ian Mackean (900 words)

John Donne, George Herbert, Henry Vaughan

Religious Metaphysical poetry.  Ian Mackean studies the way George Herbert (1593-1633) and Henry Vaughan (1622-95) developed the style of religious Metaphysical poetry established by John Donne (1572-1631).(3,000 words)

Ben Jonson (1572–1637)

Ben Jonson Unmasked: A study of how Ben Jonson's plays reveal his changing attitudes to his fellow playwrights, the theatre as a medium, and his own role as a dramatist. Kathleen A. Prendergast delves into Jonson's plays and uncovers a rich subtext in which Jonson was exploring his own role as a dramatist, showing that in the course of his career his attitudes changed in response to changing circumstances and his own developing maturity. The essay focuses on Poetaster, Volpone, and Bartholomew Fair. (7,000 words)

Renaissance Poetry

Renaissance 'country house' poetry as social criticism. Emma Jones studies Renaissance 'country house' poetry, with close reference to Ben Jonson's To Penshurst, and Aemilia Lanyer's The Description of Cooke-ham. (2,600 words) Top

John Webster (1580–1634). The Duchess of Malfi

The principal characters and their roles in The Duchess of Malfi: Jenia Geraghty studies John Webster's revenge tragedy, The Duchess of Malfi, and examines the role and significance of the principal characters in the play. (2,600 words)

Eighteenth century literature


The Age of Reason

The fall and rise of Rome and the spread of English. Stephen Colbourn surveys the changing intellectual and political climate of 'The Age of Reason', showing how it brought about a change in the status of the English language and English Literature, and how trends that took hold at that time have led to English becoming the nearest language to a Universal Tongue. (3,500 words) Top

John Dryden (1631-1700): Translation of Ovid

Augustan vs Augustan - Translating the Art of Storytelling. Thomas Bailey studies John Dryden's translation of Ovid's Metamorphoses, Book 11, the story of Ceyx and Alcyone, analysing Dryden's approach to the task and assessing his success in capturing the 'three-dimensional' quality of the original. (6,000 words)

Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) and John Gay (1685-1732)

Satire in the work of Swift and Gay. Catherine Cooper studies the work of two 18th Century satirists, looking at Swift's Gulliver's Travels, and other works, and John Gay's The Shepherd's Week, and Fables. (3,500 words)

Alexander Pope (1688-1744) The Rape of the Lock

Pope's portrayal of Belinda and her society in The Rape of the Lock. Ian Mackean studies Pope's mock-epic poem.(2,000 words) Top

Henry Fielding (1701-1754)

Morality in Fielding's Novels. Catherine Cooper looks at four of Fielding's novels: Joseph Andrews, Tom Jones, Amelia, and Shamela to consider whether the author presents a consistent moral attitude towards themes such as marriage, chastity, and infidelity. (2,400 words)

Oliver Goldsmith (1730-1774)

She Stoops to Conquer: social and psychological contrasts. Catherine Cooper shows how the themes of She Stoops to Conquer are developed through contrasts, such as between age and youth, city and country, and high and low social class, and finds that behind those superficial contrasts deeper psychological contrasts are being explored. (2,000 words)

Romantic literature


Romanticism

Memory In Romanticism: mnemosyne, plasticity, and emotion recollected In tranquillity. Aritro Ganguly and Rangeet Sengupta discuss the importance of memory to the Romantics, showing how the issues with which poets such as Wordsworth and Coleridge were concerned resonate with issues relevant to the Classical era, the shift from an oral to written culture which took place with the invention of the printing press, Enlightenment philosophy, contemporary debates about artificial intelligence, and the advent of audio-visual mass communications. (3,500 words) Top

William Wordsworth (1770-1850)

William Wordsworth and Lucy. Trivikrama Kumari Jamwal studies the 'Lucy' poems by William Wordsworth and attempts to analyze Wordsworth as a poet in the light of his perspective outlined in his Preface to Lyrical Ballads (1800). The essay also tries to understand the nature or 'character' of Lucy and Lucy as an instrument of Wordsworth's ideas on the art and craft of composing poetry. (2100 words)

William Wordsworth

Lyrical Ballads. Wordsworth's Solitary Figures. Catherine Cooper looks at the solitary figures in Wordsworth's Lyrical Ballads, and considers why Wordsworth was so interested in such characters, and what lessons about humanity he wanted us to learn from them. (2,300 words)

William Wordsworth

The Prelude. A study of Book 6, entitled 'Cambridge and the Alps', of William Wordsworth's autobiographical epic poem The Prelude, Growth of a Poet's Mind. By Ian Mackean. (1,850 words) Top

Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834)

Coleridge and Becoming. Charles Ngiewih TEKE (Ph.D) discusses the question of the transforming creative self and the aesthetics of becoming in Coleridge's 'Kubla Khan' and 'Dejection: An Ode'. (8,200 words)

John Keats (1795–1821)

John Keats and Nature, an Ecocritical Inquiry. Charles Ngiewih TEKE (Ph.D) studies the poetry and letters of John Keats examining his attitudes to Nature, showing how he regarded nature as central to the creative process and as physically and psychologically therapeutic to man. (5,300 words)

John Keats and Eroticism

From Eroticism To Psycho-Aesthetics And Spirituality: The Keatsian Dimension. Charles Ngiewih TEKE (Ph.D) analyses John Keats' attitude to the feminine, eroticism, and spirituality, with particular reference to 'The Eve of St. Agnes' and Endymion. (6,800 words)

Women Poets and the Romantic Sublime

Kerry White examines the proposition that a writer's gender limits his or her use of the concept of the sublime in Romantic poetry, showing that aspects of the sublime can be found in the works of female as well as male writers. (2,900 words)

Jane Austen (1775-1817) Persuasion

The Authorial Voice and the Heroine's Point of View. A look at Jane Austen's novel Persuasion. Some general aspects of Austen's style, subject matter and limitations are covered. In relation to Persuasion, the role of the heroine Anne Eliot is considered, particularly the question of whether Jane Austen succeeded completely in keeping her authorial voice separate from the point of view of her central character. By Ian Mackean (2,400 words) Top

Victorian literature


Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864) The Scarlet Letter

A comparison between Hester Prynne, of Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, and Margaret Fuller, the mid-nineteenth-century campaigner for the rights of women. Emma Jones considers the proposition: 'Endowed in certain respects with the sensibility of Margaret Fuller, the great campaigner for the rights of women, Hester Prynne is as much a woman of mid-nineteenth-century American culture as she is of seventeenth-century Puritan New England'. (2,900 words)

Charles Dickens (1812-1870)

Dickens's Narrative Technique. Ian Mackean looks at excerpts from Great Expectations, Oliver Twist, and David Copperfield and considers the ways in which Dickens's narrative technique can be said to be 'dramatic'. (3,100 words)

Charlotte Bronte (1816-1855) Jane Eyre. Jean Rhys (1890-1979) Wide Sargasso Sea

Doubles. The representation of the doubleness of selfhood in Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre and Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea. By Liz Lewis. (3,000 words) Top

Charlotte Bronte: Jane Eyre. Jean Rhys: Wide Sargasso Sea

Symbolism. The use of symbolism in the presentation of characters and plots in Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea. By Jenia Geraghty.(2,200 words)

Matthew Arnold (1822-1888)

The Literary Criticism of Matthew Arnold. S. N. Radhika Lakshmi looks at the literary criticism of Matthew Arnold, the Victorian poet and critic, considering his influence on 20th century critics such as Eliot and Leavis, his limitations, and his legacy. (4,700 words)

Bengali Folktales in English Translation

Spurious Additions: Lal Behari Day and the Discovery of the Genuine Folk. A study of early English translations of Bengali folktales discussing the colonial discourses of control and gaze that were involved in such compilations and translations. By Rangeet Sengupta (11,000 words) Top

Thomas Hardy (1840-1928) Introduction

The Thomas Hardy Page. Introduction, links, and books

Thomas Hardy: Tess of the d'Urbervilles

Human Morality and the Laws of Nature. Ian Mackean looks at Thomas Hardy's Tess of the d'Urbervilles to show how Hardy pits variable, changeable, human morality against the eternal laws of Nature. (2,200 words)

Henry James (1843-1916) The Turn of the Screw

Ghost story, or Study in Libidinal Repression? Sumia S. Abdul Hafidh gives an account of Henry James's novella The Turn of the Screw, showing that its psychological depth makes it far more than just a 'ghost story'. (1,750 words)

Kate Chopin (1851-1904) The Awakening

Edna Pontellier and nineteenth-century female characters. Is Edna Pontellier a prototypical feminist? Emma Jones explores the extent to which Edna Pontellier, in Kate Chopin's The Awakening, marks a departure from the female characters of earlier nineteenth-century American novels. (2,400 words) Top

Joseph Conrad (1857-1924) Heart of Darkness

Gareth Rowlands introduces Conrad's famous novella Heart of Darkness, outlining its plot, main themes, and symbolism. (1,400 words)

Joseph Conrad: The Secret Agent

Married to the Devil: The Secret Agent's critique of late-Victorian gender roles. Brandon Colas analyses Conrad's novel, arguing that at its heart is a critique of Victorian England's attitude towards women. (5,100 words)

Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) Kim

Ian Mackean looks at a novel which the critic Edward W Said called 'a rich and absolutley fascinating, but neverthrless profoundly embarrassing novel'. (5,500 words) Top

Henry Lawson (1867-1922) Eureka!

Kerry White studies Australian poet Henry Lawson's 1889 poem 'Eureka!', suggesting that Lawson may have been trying to light the fire of Australian nationalism. (1,400 words)

The Georgian Poets and The War Poets


The Georgians and The War Poets

Stephen Colbourn gives an account of the way the dreamy romantic poetry of The Georgian Poets of the early twentieth century evolved into harsh modern realism under the impact of the First World War. (4,600 words)

Modern, postmodern, and postcolonial literature


Indian Women Writers

Modern Indian Women Writers in English. An introduction documenting the increasing prominence of Indian women writers in the postcolonial era. By Antonia Navarro-Tejero (2,600 words) Top

W B Yeats (1865-1939)

An Introduction to W B Yeats. A study of the life and work of the Irish poet W B Yeats, covering his interest in the occult, his role in the Irish Cultural Revival and Irish National Theatre, his love for Maude Gonne, and his becoming one of the first Modernist poets. By Ian Mackean (2,250 words)

W B Yeats: Last Poems

Tragic Joy. A survey of W B Yeats's volume Last Poems (1936-1939), looking in particular at his approach of 'tragic joy' and his attitudes towards art. By Ian Mackean (1,700 words)

The Celtic Revival

The Late Nineteenth Century Debate Concerning the Revival of Celtic Culture. Marie C. E. Burns examines the rise of the Celtic Literary Revival of the nineteenth century, and considers the attitudes of writers including Edmund Spenser, Matthew Arnold, and W B Yeats, towards Celtic culture and literature. (3,000 words)

Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961)

The development of psychoanalysis and orientation of the self in the context of twentieth century western societies. Mark Norton looks at the social conditions which gave rise to the psychoanalytic movement, and introduces us to the work of Carl Gustav Jung. His essay covers many topics, such as the growth of cities, the growth of mass movements, the rise of consumerism, and the decline of religion, as well as the growth of the psychoanalytic movement itself, which provide relevant background material for the study of twentieth century western literature. (3,700 words) Top

James Joyce (1882-1941) Introduction

The James Joyce Page. Introduction to James Joyce, links to other essays, web resources and bookshop

James Joyce: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Rebellion and Release. Ian Mackean analyses some significant themes in Joyce's novel with particular focus on Chapters 1, 3, and 5. (7,400 words)

James Joyce: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Stephen Dedalus - Rebel Without a Cause? Ben Foley studies James Joyce's A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man, showing how Stephen Dedalus is portrayed as an outsider, and how his alienation from the traditional voices of authority in his life contributes to his budding artistic talent. (1,500 words)

James Joyce: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Flying By the Nets: Stephen Dedalus's search for personal definition in James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Will McManus studies James Joyce's novel. (3,100 words) Top

Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) Mrs Dalloway

Viewing Mrs. Dalloway Through the Lens of 'Modern Fiction'. Ian Mugford examines Virginia Woolf's novel Mrs Dalloway in the light of the views on literature which she put forward in her essay 'Modern Fiction'. (1,600 words)

Virginia Woolf: To the Lighthouse

An Introduction. Jennifer Kerr guides us through Virginia Woolf's novel To the Lighthouse (1927), introducing us to the structure, plot, main characters and themes, and the autobiographical background. (3,000 words)

Virginia Woolf: The Waves

The Role of Percival. Karin Riley introduces us to Virginia Woolf's 1931 novel The Waves by examining the central role of the character Percival and his influence on the lives of the other characters. (1,250 words)

D. H. Lawrence (1885-1930)

An Introduction to D H Lawrence. Introduction to Lawrence's life and work, with recommended links, links to other essays, and bookshop. (1,250 words)

D. H. Lawrence: Women in Love

The Sisters in D. H. Lawrence's Women In Love. Nitya Bakshi illuminates some of the themes of Lawrence's novel by examining the contrasting characters of the sisters, Ursula and Gudrun Brangwen. (1,200 words)

D. H. Lawrence, Henrik Ibsen, and John Galsworthy

Naturalist Drama and Environmental Influences. Catherine Cooper studies the way plays by three early modern authors, Henrik Ibsen's Hedda Gabler, D. H. Lawrence's The Daughter-in-law and The Widowing of Mrs Holroyd, and John Galsworthy's Strife, show the powerful influence of the environment on the quality of human life. (4,000 words) Top

Ezra Pound (1885-1972)

Introduction to Ezra Pound. Stephen Colbourn introduces the life and work of the influential American poet. (1,250 words)

T S Eliot (1888-1965)

An Introduction. Stephen Colbourn introduces the life and work of the most important poet of the Modernist era. (1,600 words)

T S Eliot

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. Brandon Colas examines the character of J. Alfred Prufrock, showing how his fear of his real self being known results in his leading a restricted and emotionally impoverished life. (1,800 words) Top

T S Eliot, Albert Camus

Prufrock and The Outsider. Souvik Mukherjee compares T. S. Eliot's J. Alfred Prufrock and Albert Camus' Meursault, showing that Prufrock himself was an outsider. (1,600 words)

T S Eliot: Four Quartets

Four Quartets: The sign and the symbol. Nick Ambler studies T. S. Eliot's Four Quartets, (taking into account the reader-response theory of Wolfgang Iser), and the cyclical nature of East Coker. (3,000 words)

J R R Tolkien (1892-1973) The Lord of the Rings

Heroism and Redemption in Middle-Earth. Rahul Mitra examines Tolkien's fictional realm, Middle-Earth, as portrayed in The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarilion, and The Hobbit. (3,800 words)

Victor Maslin Yeates (1897-l934)

Winged Victory. Jenna Austin introduces Victor Maslin Yeates' semi-autobiographical account of life as a Sopwith Camel pilot on the Western Front during World War I. (1,300 words) Top

William Faulkner (1897-1962) Sartoris

In search of a new form. Manana Gelashvili shows how Faulkner's experimentation with the presentation of time began in his novel Sartoris. (2,900 words)

Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961)

Introducing Ernest Hemingway. Professor Ganesan Balakrishnan, Ph.D. gives a biographical introduction to Ernest Hemingway, winner of the 1954 Nobel Prize for literature, then goes on to explore some of the themes of his novels, arguing that some critics have underestimated the depth of meaning in his work. (2,100 words)

Jacques Lacan (1901-1981)

Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in America – A Lacanian Perspective. Mark Norton introduces Lacan's essay 'The Mirror Stage' and applies its analysis of subjectivity to the cinema. (3,000 words)

John Steinbeck (1902-1968)

Introduction to Steinbeck. An introduction to the life and work of John Steinbeck, with recommended links and bookshop (1,100 words)

Morley Callaghan (1903-1990): Short Stories

Placing Reality in Perspective: Guiding Lives. Ian Mugford examines three short stories by the Canadian writer Morley Callaghan: 'All the Years of Her Life', 'Last Spring They Came Over', and 'Rigmarole', and offers some insight into Callaghan's themes and style. (1,400 words) Top

Christopher Isherwood (1904-86) All the Conspirators

Stylistic Innovation. A study of Christopher Isherwood's first novel All the Conspirators (1928) exploring the stylistic innovations in his Modernist approach to fiction writing. By Ian Mackean (2,000 words)

Graham Greene (1904-1991) Brighton Rock

The characterisation of good and evil. Sarah Jones studies the main characters and themes in Graham Greene's 1938 novel Brighton Rock. (2,200 words)

Samuel Beckett (1906-1989)

An Introduction. Stephen Colbourn introduces Samuel Beckett, author of the ground-breaking play Waiting for Godot, leading figure in the Theatre of the Absurd, and winner of the 1969 Nobel Prize for Literature. (900 words) Top

Samuel Beckett: Use of Comedy

The Function of Comedy in the Plays of Samuel Beckett. A discussion of Samuel Beckett's use of comedy elements such as clown-like characters and cross-talk dialogue in his plays. Plays discussed: Waiting For Godot, Krapp's Last Tape, Endgame. By Ian Mackean (2,700 words)

Samuel Beckett: Waiting for Godot

Man's Battle with Himself. Margaret Gumley offers a personal interpretation of Waiting for Godot in which she sees the contrasting characters Vladimir and Estragon as representing Man's battle with himself. (900 words)Top

R K Narayan (1906-2001) The English Teacher

What About Our Own roots? Krishna's Journey in The English Teacher. Ian Mackean offers an interpretation of a novel by one of India's best-known writers. With an additional commentary on the novel and excerpts from comments by Indian literary critics by S. N. Radhika Lakshmi. (4,300 words)

R K Narayan. The English Teacher

Two Teachers. Deepa Patel studies The English Teacher, focussing on the contrasting characters and philosophies of Krishna and The Headmaster. (2,100 words)

R K Narayan: The Guide

Sex, symbolism, illusion and reality In R K Narayan's The Guide. Amitangshu Acharya offers a reading of R K Narayan's novel The Guide in which he interprets the story in terms of Hindu philosophy, showing that Raju's journey is a struggle through Maya (illusion) towards Moksha (liberation). (2,700 words)

R K Narayan

R K Narayan's vision of life. Can R. K. Narayan's view of life be understood in terms of Western concepts such as Existentialism or Nihilism? Amitangshu Acharya studies Narayan's novels and concludes that his view is closer to the Oriental philosophies of Hinduism and Buddhism. (1,300 words)

Elizabeth Bishop (1911-1979)

The Influence of Elizabeth Bishop on Modern American Poetry Jonathan Ellis assesses the importance of Elizabeth Bishop for the poets and poetry movements of the Modern era. (2,700 words) Top

William Golding (1911-1993). Introduction

The William Golding Page. Introduction, links to essays on this site and resources on other sites, and books.

William Golding: Lord of the Flies

The Loss of Identity in Lord of the Flies. Sumia S. Abdul Hafidh looks at William Golding's novel Lord of the Flies, describing the roles of the principal characters and showing how they lose their civilized identities and descend into barbarism. (1,700 words)

William Golding: Lord of the Flies

Symbolism in Lord of the Flies. Amal Gedleh examines the use of symbolism in William Golding's novel, showing how symbols such as the conch shell, Piggy's glasses, the Beast and the fire contribute to the novel's themes. (1,180 words)

William Golding: Lord of the Flies

Chaos Versus Civilization Tahmina Mojaddedi studies the theme of chaos versus civilization in Lord of the Flies, highlighting the novel's message that the restraining influence of society is necessary for civilization to continue, and that living by instinct alone will lead to chaos and destruction. (950 words)

Tennessee Williams (1911-1983)

An Introduction. Hugh Croydon introduces the life and work of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tennessee Williams, author of The Glass Menagerie, A Streetcar Named Desire, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Orpheus Descending and other plays, with recommended links and books. (1,400 words)

Lawrence Durrell (1912-1990)

An Introduction. Stephen Colbourn introduces the author Lawrence Durrell, best known for his sequence of four novels The Alexandria Quartet, and gives some insight into the history of the city of Alexandria, which is a backdrop to the novels. (900 words)

New York! New York!

The Making of the New York Intellectuals. Sudeep Paul examines the cultural background to the rise to prominence of the Jewish New York writers and intellectuals in the 1940s-1970s. (3,000 words) Top

Dylan Thomas (1914-1953)

An Introduction. Stephen Colbourn introduces the life and work of the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas. (900 words)

Saul Bellow (1915-2005) and Ken Kesey (1935-2001)

Modern Literature's Depiction of Nervous Ailments. Catherine Cooper studies Saul Bellow's The Victim and Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest to see what these modern authors show us about our neuroses and psychoses. (3,200 words)

Anthony Burgess (1917-1993)

An Introduction. Stephen Colbourn introduces the life and work of Anthony Burgess, author of the controversial 1960s novel A Clockwork Orange (1,600 words) Top

Sir Kingsley Amis (1922-1995)

Sir Kingsley Amis and the Era of Lucky Jim. Stephen Colbourn introduces the author Sir Kingsley Amis, best known for his 1954 novel Lucky Jim, in the context of the social changes taking place in post-war Britain of the 1950s. (1,000 words)

Flannery O'Connor (1925-1964) Good Country People

Nihilist Hypocrites Brandon Colas studies Flannery O'Connor's short story 'Good Country People' to show how the plot, characters, and symbolism all contribute to a powerful argument against a nihilistic philosophy of life. (1,800 words)

William Styron (1925-) Sophie's Choice

Human nature and societal pressure. Stephanie Beranek studies William Styron's holocaust novel Sophie's Choice and concludes that it shows a fatal collision between human nature and societal pressure. (1,200 words) Top

Jonathan Bayliss (1927-2009)

Where West Meets East: The Counterentropic Fiction of Jonathan Bayliss. Stephen Farrell introduces the work of self-published author Jonathan Bayliss, whose fiction he describes as 'a treasure-trove of prose poetry, mathematical puzzles, and mythological and literary references'. (1,600 words)

Ted Hughes (1930-1998)

Introduction. Introduction to the life and work of former Poet Laureate Ted Hughes, with recommended links and books. By Sarah Jones.(1,400 words)

Harold Pinter (1930-2008) Psychological Warfare

Winners and Losers in the Plays of Harold Pinter. Ian Mackean looks at psychological warfare between characters in Pinter's plays in the light of a revealing comment made by Pinter himself. (3,800 words)

Lorraine Hansberry (1930-1965) A Raisin in the Sun

The Ghetto Trap Brandon Colas examines the social history behind Lorraine Hansberry's play A Raisin in the Sun, showing how racial prejudice on the part of the housing industry, the Government, religious leaders, and individuals contributed to the injustices of segregated housing. (2,800 words) Top

Toni Morrison (1931-) Beloved and Jazz

The 'monstrous potential of love': Moral ambiguity in Toni Morrison's Beloved and Jazz. Liz Lewis studies two challenging novels by the winner of the 1993 Nobel Prize for Literature. (3,000 words)

Toni Morrison: Beloved and Slavery

The Unspoken Spoken Marie C. E. Burns analyzes Toni Morrison’s Beloved in the context of the African American experience of slavery, and slave narratives. (10,000 words)

Sylvia Plath and Alice Walker

Two women writers challenge society's conspiracy against women. Catherine Cooper explores the work of two women writers, one white, one black, one despairing, one optimistic, who challenge the role society allocates to women. (2,700 words)

Tom Stoppard (1937-)

In Search of Reality: The evolution of ideas in the early work (1960-1974) of Tom Stoppard. Ian Mackean looks at the serious side of Stoppard, exploring his early plays, particularly Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. (10,000 words) Top

Margaret Atwood (1939-) 'Gertrude Talks Back'

Rewriting canonical portrayals of women. Margaret Atwood's 'Gertrude Talks Back', from the short story collection Good Bones. By Pilar Cuder Domínguez. Universidad de Huelva. (3,400 words)

Margaret Atwood

The treatment of the female protagonists in Margaret Atwood's Bodily Harm and The Handmaid's Tale. Justine looks at the presentation of women and their roles in two of Margaret Atwood's novels. (5,600 words)

Beatrice Mosionier (1949-) In Search of April Raintree (1983)

In Search of Cheryl Raintree. Sisterhood in Beatrice Mosionier’s In Search of April Raintree. By Anna Kozak. (2,300 words)

Jamaica Kincaid, Merle Hodge, George Lamming

The two worlds of the child: A study of the novels of three West Indian writers. Tannistho Ghosh and Priyanka Basu study Lucy by Jamaica Kincaid, Crick Crack Monkey by Merle Hodge, and In the Castle of my Skin by George Lamming. (3,700 words) Top

The Liverpool Poets

The Mersey Sound. An introduction to the Liverpool Poets Adrian Henri, Roger McGough and Brian Patten, their rise to fame giving live poetry readings in Liverpool in the 1960s, and their association with the Beat poets of America, particularly Alan Ginsberg, and the Pop Art movement. By Ian Mackean (1,800 words)

Brian Patten

Life, Love, Death, and Poetry in the Work of Brian Patten. S. N. Radhika Lakshmi introduces the poet Brian Patten, who emerged in the sixties as one of 'The Liverpool Poets', then looks at his treatment of the themes of life, love, and death in his work, and rounds off her essay with a look at his attitude to poetry itself. (3,800 words)

Ian McEwan: The Cement Garden

Shadows on the Mind. Nick Ambler studies urban alienation and the mental landscape of the children in Ian McEwan's first novel, The Cement Garden. (2,700 words) Top

Jennifer Maiden: The Winter Baby

Hitting wintry waters. Trivikrama Kumari Jamwal offers a reading of Austrailain poet Jennifer Maiden's 1990 volume The Winter Baby. (4,000 words)

Alice, Harry Potter and the Computer Game

And Alice Played a Video Game. Souvik Mukherjee studies the relationship between children's fantasy adventure stories and interactive computer games. (4,100 words)

The Spy in the Computer

Souvik Mukherjee shows how computer games, as a modern narrative form, draw on and develop the tradition of espionage fiction. (2,400 words)

Photography and the New Native American Aesthetic

Heather-Ann Wickers examines the theories of native American writer Leslie Marmon Silko and considers her view that photography can become a modern replacement for the native American oral tradition. (1,700 words) Top
 

Other Essays


Andrei Tarkovsky (1932-1986)

Filmography and Bibliography An introduction to the life and work of the Russian film director Andrei Tarkovsky, with filmography and bibliography. By Ian Mackean. (4,900 words)

Aspects of Australia

An Epic for a Great Southern Land. Kerry White offers a condensed history of Australia, from ancient times to present day, in epic form. This original piece of work will make useful background reading for anyone studying Australian literature or history. (4,200 words) Top

Early Christianity

Constantine’s Impact on Christianity. Ian Mugford presents an account of how the status of Christianity and the process of becoming a Christian changed as a result of Constantine's conversion to the faith in the third and early fourth centuries (2,000 words)

Jon Jost: American Independent Film-Maker

Jon Jost, the Early Films (1963-1983). An introduction to the early films of the American independent film-maker Jon Jost, director of Sure Fire and All the Vermeers in New York, exploring the development of his work during his first twenty years of film-making. By Ian Mackean. (13,200 words)

The Prisoner

Who is Number One? An Introduction to Patrick McGoohan's Science Fiction TV series of the 1960s. By Francis Farrell. (1,700 words) Top

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