"I am not responsible for the world's misery" (315).
Flannery O'Connor's "The Displaced Person" (1955)
Points of Reflection
EBB: "The Runaway Slave at Pilgrim's Point" (1848), PDF
1. what central tension does E.B.B. establish in stanza one?
2. who constitutes the auditor for this poem, in its opening? At what point does the intended auditor change?
3. is E.B.B. concerned more with creating a sense of high fidelity (realism) in this poem, or with shaping an emotionally and aesthetically effective polemic?
4. how does the narrator's devotion to God change in response to the abuse she received at the hands of her owners?
5. do lines 138-40 constitute an indictment of miscegeny?
6. what happens to the narrator's child, and why?
7. unpack the paradox of lines 146-47.
8. consider the central metaphor of stanza twenty-three: if "fruit" is the vehicle (ground), what is the tenor (figure)?
9. what is the dominant tone of stanza twenty three? Celebratory? Bitter? Something else?
10. how do the angels respond (at least, in the imagination of the narrator) to the narrator's surprising actions?
11. is the reader encouraged to either pity or scorn the narrator?
12. what are the five men who find the narrator preparing to do (l.211)?
13. should the reader agree with the narrator that she is "not mad" (l.218), but perfectly sane?
14. what does the narrator mean by the statement, "Our wounds are different" (l.239)?
15. does the narrator curse her captors in the poem's close?
RB: "My Last Duchess" (1842), 83-84
1. as imagined by the narrator, why might the painting of the Duchess indicate a "spot of joy" on her cheek? Also, what exactly does "spot of joy" (ll.14-15, 21) denote?
2. of what does the narrator accuse the wife pictured in this painting, and how convincing is his argument?
3. did the narrator express his grievances to his wife in no uncertain terms?
4. where is the narrator's wife now?
5. who is the narrator's audience (auditor), and what is the narrator's current endgame? Does it make sense that the narrator would tell his auditor the story behind the painting, given what the narrator is presently attempting to achieve?
6. Browning could have placed any piece of art in the same vicinity as the Duchess's painting. Why might he have chosen the statue of Neptune taming a sea-horse (ll.54-56)?
7. literary critic Robert Langbaum suggests, in The Poetry of Experience (1957), that the attentive reader is led to "identify" with Italian duke of the poem, and that his "conviction of matchless superiority, his intelligence and bland amorality, his poise, his taste for art, his manners" overwhelm the reader, causing us to suspend moral judgment because we prefer to participate in the duke’s power and freedom, in his hard core of character fiercely loyal to itself” (83). Do you agree with Langbaum's position?
"On Paranoiac Critical Town" (1936)
oil on canvas
Dr. Paul Marchbanks