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Selective Reading of English Literature (2009-2010)
Reading Questions
Week 2-3 Geoffrey Chaucer “The General Prologue” to The Canterbury Tales
Reading: pp.29-48 (There will be five quizzes to check your reading.)
Close reading: pp.33-40 (Till the line—“That’s why he sang so merrily and loud.”)
General questions:
• How many elements are included in the general prologue of theCanterbury tales?
• What is the role of the Host? How are the tales chained together by Chaucer? Do you think it is reasonable? What problem is there in the design?
• Who are the characters that are depicted in detail in the excerpt? Do you think Chaucer’s characters are well chosen or chosen at random?
Questions about the opening lines:
• In the first ten lines four major images are usedto describe April. What are they? How are they unified?
Questions about the Prioress:
• By his humorous description of the prioress’ smiling, oath, her Romantic name and her way of singing, what does Chaucer suggest?
• Do you like the prioress’ good manners? Why or why not?
• In what ways is the prioress’ behavior of keeping dogs improper?
• Is there any problem in the waythe prioress wears her veil?
• What does “a golden brooch” suggest? Why do you think the prioress wears a brooch inscribed with “Amor vincit omnia”?
Questions about the wife of Bath:
• Why does Chaucer say that the Wife of Bath is “a worthy woman”?
• Chaucer calls our attention to the finely woven kerchiefs of the wife of Bath, her hat as broad as a shied, together with her finesocks and shoes. What’s the point?
• How is her appearance related to her character?
• Does her wide traveling suggest anything?
• What does Chaucer’s attitude seem to be towards the fact that she had five husbands?
• What is probably her real intention of all the religious journeys? What is your evidence?
• How do you like the Wife of Bath?
Questions about the pardoner andsummoner:
• Comment on Chaucer’s satire in the portray of the pardoner and the summoner. How and why?
Class discussion topics:
※ What is Chaucer’s attitude towards women?
※ What was the role of church in Chaucer’s time? How did people generally see those working for church?
※ Please comment on the style of the prologue of the Canterbury Tales.

Week 3-4 William Shakespeare“Sonnet 18” and “Sonnet 29”, The Merchant of Venice
Reading: pp.66-67, 93-97, “Sonnet 18” and “Sonnet 29” pp.98-101,
The Merchant of Venice pp.108-132
• How do you understand renaissance?
• What is a sonnet?
• What is the primary conceit of Sonnet 18?
• In line 6 of Sonnet 18, are the two “fairs” identical or different? How do you understand this line?
• How do you understand thelast two lines in Sonnet 18? Was Shakespeare boasting?
• In the middle ages, men were regarded as trivial and sinful. How does Sonnet 18 argue against the belief?
• What was the poet’s situation described in Sonnet 29? What changes everything?
• How do you understand Shylock’s statement “it is my humour” (p.111)? Is cruelty his humour?
• Comment on Bassanio’s “wife sacrificing” statement.(pp.120-121)
• Comment on Portia’s statement on “mercy”. (pp.116-117) Do you think the Christians in the play are men of mercy?
• Where is the climax of the play?
• Comment on Antonio and Shylock in The Merchant of Venice. What is Shakespeare’s attitude? Yours?
Week 5 Francis Bacon “Of Studies”, “Of Great Place”
“Of Great Place”
• What kind of person is a man in great place comparedto?
• Why is it a strange desire to seek power?
• How does one rise to a high position?
• How about the regress from the position?
• Could a man in great place feel happy?
• Does a man in great place usually know himself? Why or why not?
• What’s the best condition in terms of doing evil? And what’s the second best?
• What’s the relationship between good...
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