21L.481 | Spring 2003 | Undergraduate

Victorian Literature and Culture


Midterm Exam

You must include a signed pledge stating that the work is entirely your own. Do not consult the internet or other sources; use your notes, texts, and memory.

If you hand-write your responses, please write legibly.

Choose five of the following:

  1. What does Dickens mean by “Telescopic Philanthropy”? How does he use the idea in the part of Bleak House we’ve read so far?

  2. Explain what Ruskin means, in “The Nature of Gothic,” by servile, constitutional, and revolutionary ornament. Which does he consider the best (i.e., which does he see in Gothic architecture), and why? Why does he use adjectives drawn from the vocabulary of politics to describe something decorative or aesthetic?

  3. How does Gaskell use the ballad “The Oldham Weaver” in Mary Barton?

  4. What does Carlyle mean when he sums up the tendency of his era by saying, in “Signs of the Times,” “Men are grown mechanical in head and in heart, as well as in hand”?

  5. What does Ruskin mean when he says, in “Traffic,” “Taste … is the ONLY morality”?

  6. What might be the significance of the name “Miss Barbary” in Bleak House? What does it contribute to our understanding of the condition in which Esther grew up (before being taken under John Jarndyce’s wing)?

  7. In the preface to Mary Barton, Gaskell says she came up with the idea of her book when, as she puts it, “I bethought me how deep might be the romance in the lives of some of those who elbowed me daily in the busy streets of the town in which I resided.” What does she mean by “romance” in this context? And what does the “elbowing” seem to mean to her?

  8. What symbolic significance do cellars have for Gaskell in Mary Barton? What great drama is daily played out in them? Discuss the relevant passages (and the photocopied excerpt from Joseph Adshead, if you wish).

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2003