IGNOU MEG 02 Solved Free Assignment
MEG 02 Solved Free Assignment July 2023 & January 2024
Q. 1. Critically comment on the following passages with reference to the context
(a) O, my offence is rank, it smells to heaven, It had the primal eldest curse upon’t A brother’s murder! Pray can I not. Though inclination be as sharp as will.
Ans. Context: These lines are taken from the Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Scene 3 and Act II.
Explanation: The fear of God has been put into King Claudius by a little drama piece Hamlet produced at court. As Hamlet had hoped, the play-which recreated Claudius’s fratricide – caught Claudius’s conscience.
In this soliloquy, Claudius confesses the deed and recoils at its smell. It is “rank” (that is, “rancid”), so rank that the vile odor wafts all the way to heaven.
Thoughts of heaven remind him that his crime is the same as Cain’s, a crime marked by the “primal eldest curse.”
Unfortunately for Claudius, although his inclination to repent is as “sharp as will” (is as keen as a desire), he’s unable to pray for forgiveness, because he’s unwilling to forfeit his ungodly gains.
So, while Claudius is metaphorical about the “smell” of his deed, he is grimly literal about heaven’s reaction.
We, on the other hand, treat heaven as part of the metaphor. “It smells to heaven” has become pure hyperbole, a grander version of “it stinks”.
(b) Galatea never does quite like Pygmalion: relation to her is too godlike to be altogether agreeable.
Ans. Context: These lines are taken from George Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalion. In these lines Bernard is showing that till what extent the relationships are determined by the social norms.
Explanation: In Gilbert’s play, a sculptor, whose wife is the model for his statues, develops seemingly harmless relationships with his creations until one, Galatea, assumes human form and becomes infatuated with Pygmalion, the sculptor.
Galatea will, in the play’s denouement, return to her original statue form out of concern for the difficulties she has caused for her creator and his actual wife, who, understandably, resents Galatea’s presence and influence in her household.
(c) What boots it then to think of God or heaven? Away with such fancies and despair; Despairin God, and trust in Beelzebub … Abjure this magic, turn to God again.
Ans. Context: These lines are taken from Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus. Faustus isn’t quite convinced that he has zero hope of heaven.
Explanation: Faustus’s logic in surrendering his soul to the devil is similar to his thinking when he turned to magic: “I am already damned, so why not go whole hog?” In other words, Faustus has already blasphemed against God, and has therefore for himself.
He seems almost desperate here, like he’s clinging to one last hope, no matter how pathetic.
(d) Astride of a grave and a difficult birth
Down in the hole, lingeringly,
the gravedigger puts on the forceps.
We have time to grow old. The air is full of our cries. But habit is a great deadener.
Ans. Context: These lines are taken from Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. Vladimir is unable to take death seriously, leading us to believe that his earlier humanistic concern for Lucky’s welfare was just his impression of what he thought a person would do.
Explanation: Pozzo’s view of death seems disturbingly extreme, but he’s actually not telling us anything we don’t know. Death, he says, is inevitable. When a person is born, he begins his fall toward the grave.
The only difference between his statement and what is perhaps a more common view of death is the amount of time that passes between birth and death.
In our case, a lifetime, in this image, the moment it takes to drop into the ground.
Q. 1. “Beckett rejects the received logic of form and conventional structure.” Critically comment.
Ans. In Waiting for Godot, the catalysts of speech are ‘Silence’ and ‘Pause, the very elements which undermine the emotions to which the characters lay claim and which prevent them occupying any decisive area of commitment.
Silence breaks the continuity of words and conveys meaning in its totality. The silences in Beckett’s plays effectively ‘bracket’ the terms an audience might adopt in order to understand them; the meaning is communicated by the intervals between words.
In Didi and Gogo’s dialogue about the dead voices the silences are evenly distributed, atomizing the exchange into fragments of cross-talk.
The empty stage is filled for a moment with the presence of dead people, worn out voices, fragmented whispers, murmurs and rustlings and this sudden proliferation of the thoughts, speech, and noises of dead people suffocates Didi and Gogo because they themselves are emblematic of that dead humanity.
Beckett stages the sounds of silence, the other side of language, and Didi and Gogo, in their yearning for authenticity, aspire to the point of overlap, to the zero, to the point where all difference is obliterated.
It is a form of death-wish. The dead voices are heard inside their silences talking of the past, of dreams and hopes; presence is once again commensurate with absence.
Their words report what they hear, describe it, even criticise it. But absence is clearly part of their own language and is read out loud by them for the audience.
Silence performs the structural function of integrating the dialogue; in this respect it becomes as explicit as speech itself.
The causal logic which says that ‘what is not’ cannot be experienced is here being radically subverted; thought is no longer the servant of material presence and the conclusion is no longer dependent upon the premise.
The terminal juxtaposition of ‘Let’s go and the stage direction ‘They do not move disrupts the causality between language and gesture.
Beckett has the body ignore and annul the language which normally instigates its physical action, once more emphatically relating the discontinuity to that between the basic levels of dramatic form.
The absence of any internal logic in this world or of belief in a supernatural power able to impose a spiritual order upon the mess makes man especially suspicious about those words which have been particularly heavily invested with meaning.
At the same time this ‘negative’ consciousness entails a tormenting recognition on the part of Didi and Gogo of the uncertainty of their
They attempt to defer this uncertainty by resorting to a series of repetitions which give them the happy illusion of temporary affirmations; yet these very repetitions are soon refuted by the recurrence of the specific word with which they began: ‘Vladimir: Say, I am happy.
Estragon: I am happy. Vladimir: So am I. Estragon: So am I. Vladimir: We are happy. Estragon: We are happy. (silence)’. . .The consolation that the recurrence of the same word appears to offer as something conceptually and audibly familiar is easily transformed into a menace for both speaker and listener; the simplest words become grotesque and forbidding.
Repetition, the factor which permits language to establish itself as a code, is used by Beckett as the means whereby it may be repudiated as a system of definite concepts.
By parodying the pretentious rhetoric and logic of conventional philosophical thinking they demystify Logos by questioning the very elements it is presumed to be endowed with: Clarity, intelligibility, rationality, causality. The myth of meaning is demolished.
To be replaced with what? The third of the Duthuit dialogues is unequivocal: ‘The much to express, the little to express, the ability to express much, the ability to express little, merge in a common anxiety to express as much as possible or as truly as possible, or as finely as possible, to the best of one’s ability.
It is above all, as commentators on the play have often stated, in Lucky’s repetitious, bombastic, pseudo-scientific speech that Beckett congeals the disarticulation of the rational language inaugurated by Didi’s playful dealings with quotations.
Here unmediated speech is used against the mediated language representative of conventional literary, religious and scientific discourses.
Lucky’s speech is not, however, merely anti-intellectual, however much it may situate the intellect as the domain responsible for the mind’s appropriation of feelings and sensations.
For Beckett the problem does not so much reside in the split between the mind and the body which language initiates, but rather in the specific mode of articulation of different discourses with each other for the synthesis of a rational Logos.
Lucky systematically disconnects these various discourses from their ‘spinal cord,’ from their point of convergence: a conception of the world in terms defined by the presence of an absolute.
The fragmentation and repetition of his speech reflect the linguistic intellectual chaos which results from the ‘absolute absence of the absolute.’
The ‘absolute’ organizes human Logos by imposing an internal order; Lucky’s speech deconstructs that unity, and with it the congruity of man with the absolute by which it is determined.
Q. 4. Can The Alchemist be understood as a satire? Give suitable examples.
Ans. Comedy holds the mirror up to nature and reflects things as they are, to the end that society may recognize the extent of its shortcomings and the folly of its ways and set about its improvement.
Jonson’s greatest plays-Volpone (1606), Epicoene (1609), The Alchemist (1610), Bartholomew Fair (1614) offer a richly detailed contemporary account of the follies and vices that are always with us.
The setting (apart from Volpone) is Jonson’s own London, and the characters are the ingenious or the devious or the grotesque products of the human wish to get ahead in the world.
The conduct of a Jonsonian comic plot is in the hands of a clever manipulator who is out to make reality conform to his own desires.
Sometimes he succeeds, as in the case of the clever young gentleman who gains his uncle’s inheritance in Epicone or the one who gains the rich Puritan widow for his wife in Bartholomew Fair.
In Volpone and The Alchemist, the schemes eventually fail, but this is the fault of the manipulators, who will never stop when they are ahead, and not at all due to any insight on the part of the victims.
The victims are almost embarrassingly eager to be victimized. Each has his ruling passion-his humour-and it serves to set him more or less mechanically in the path that he will undeviatingly pursue, to his own discomfiture.
English comedy of the later 17th century is cast in the Jonsonian mold. Restoration comedy is always concerned with the same subject the game of love-but the subject is treated as a critique of fashionable society.
Its aim is distinctly satiric, and it is set forth in plots of Jonsonian complexity, where the principal intriguer is the rakish hero, bent on satisfying his sexual needs, outside the bonds of marriage, if possible.
In the greatest of these comedies-Sir George Etherege’s Man of Mode (1676), for example, or William Wycherley’s Country-Wife (1675) or William Congreve’s Way of the World (1700) -the premium is on the energy and the grace with which the game is played, and the highest dramatic approval is reserved for those who take the game seriously enough to play it with style but who have the good sense to know when it is played out.
The satiric import of Restoration comedy resides in the dramatist’s awareness of a familiar incongruity: that between the image of man in his primitive nature and the image of man amid the artificial restraints that society would impose upon him.
The satirist in these plays is chiefly concerned with detailing the artful dodges that ladies and gentlemen employ to satisfy nature and to remain within the pale of social decorum. Inevitably, then, hypocrisy is the chief satiric target.
The animal nature of man is taken for granted, and so is the social responsibility to keep up appearances; some hypocrisy must follow, and, within limits, society will wink at indiscretions so long as they are discreetly managed.
The paradox is typical of those in which the Restoration comic dramatists delight; and the strongly rational and unidealistic ethos of this comedy has its affinities with the naturalistic and skeptical cast of late 17th-century philosophical thought.
It is generally conceded that Jonson failed as a tragic dramatist; and it is usually agreed that he failed because his genius was for satiric comedy and because of the weight of pedantic learning with which he burdened his two tragic failures.
The second point marks an obvious error of detail; the first is too crude a statement to be accepted; to say that he failed because his genius was unsuited to tragedy is to tell us nothing at all.
Jonson did not write a good tragedy, but we can see no reason why he should not have written one.
If two plays so different as The Tempest and The Silent Woman are both comedies, surely the category of tragedy could be made wide enough to include something possible for Jonson to have done.
But the classification of tragedy and comedy, while it may be sufficient to mark the distinction in a dramatic literature of more rigid form and treatment-it may distinguish Aristophanes from Euripides-is not adequate to a drama of such variations as the Elizabethans.
Q. 5. Discuss the play Pygmalion as a romance? Elaborate.
Ans. The play Pygmalion, by George Bernard Shaw is, like the previous post accurately stated, primarily a social satire that belongs to the genre of Romanticism, and most specifically, to the form of Comedy of Manners.
Within this genre, society is often mocked particularly by the way that the upper classes act and think.
One most keep into consideration that GB Shaw is an Irish playwright who produces pieces for a very complex British Victorian audience.
Victorian society is notorious for its classicist nature, for its hypocritical values, and for its ‘holier than thou’ attitudes.
When we take this into consideration, we can safely argue that Shaw literally laughed at the English Victorian audience right in its face by pointing out the shallow nature of their judgement of other people.
You see this creature with her kerbstone English: the English that will keep her in the gutter to the end of her days. Well, sir, in three months I could pass that girl off as a duchess at an ambassador’s garden party.
I could even get her a place as lady’s maid or shop assistant, which requires better English.
That’s the sort of thing I do for commercial millionaires. And on the profits of it I do genuine scientific work in phonetics, and a little as a poet on Miltonic lines.
The central theme of the play revolves around making a peasant girl look portrayDuchess in an upcoming fashionable event.
In the process of transforming Eliza, Shaw irreverently points at the coarse and terrible image that the lower classes have of the upper classes by making jokes at the way Eliza should pronounce words and use specific mannerisms.
These words are exaggerated and made to look ridiculous. The mannerisms are meant to mock the aristocrats.
The language used by Eliza and her peers throughout the transformation process just adds salt to the wound: It brings the upper classes spiraling down from their self-made pedestals.
Therefore, far from portraying the English as tolerant, kind, and intelligent people, Shaw shows us how easily to deceive they can be if only you make someone look and sound the way an aristocrat is meant to look and sound.
Because of this clear attack to a society that accepts no criticism, Shaw obtained mixed reviews about the play.
It is not so much because of its form, but because of its central message: Shaw seems to have been quite interested in pointing out social flaws, and this is obviously something that, in a shallow society, will not transform into a vote of approval.
Next Shaw’s Pygmalion actually emphasizes the opposite of these qualities.
(1) The Flower Girl represents the natural country life and she is not considered worthy to speak to her social betters except in accord with strict laws governing street sellers’ behaviour.
(2) Her language is the most common possible (“Wal, fewd dany’ de-ooty bawmz a matter should, need now better to spawl a pore gel’s flahrzn than ran awy athaht pyin”), and it is the transformation of her language that is the subject of the play’s focus, and it is her common ways that are the first to go as she is scrubbed then clothed in Japanese silk.
(3) No emblematic symbolic figures are found in her unspoiled country ways that enlighten the spiritual aspects of life and lead to enlightenment.
(4) Higgins whole approach to everything is decidedly practical and objective, as is the study of linguistics itself.
From this it must be concluded that there are no discernible elements of Romantic era literary philosophy in Shaw’s Pygmalion.
Some elements celebrated by Romantics might be identifiable in the Roman tale of Pygmalion by Ovid upon which Shaw drew for his story (the sculptor Pygmalion was so entranced by the beauty of his sculpture of a woman that he sought Venus to enliven her so he could wed her).
However, because Shaw bases his play on the then relatively new scientific study of linguistics and the Darwinian-derived triumph of nurture over nature in the experiment of turning Liza into a woman who greatly improves upon nature, it is difficult to suggest that Shaw meant to embody any Romantic era literary philosophy in Pygmalion.
Q. 7. Discuss Murder in the Cathedral as a poetic drama.
Ans. The greatest name among those who tried to bring acetic drama back into fashion was that of T.S. Eliot. 1888-1965). T.S. Eliot wrote a play about Sweeney in 1924 and the fragments were united in ‘Sweeney Agonistes’ (1932) Then he felt so keenly interested in me theatre.
It remained a preoccupation with him for more than three decades. He wrote only scene and the so much attracted towards the audiences that he found a suitable theme for his most successful play ‘Murder in the Cathedral’ (1935).
The audience found this play quite intelligible and it became the most popular of his works in spite” of its repeating certain motifs of his non-dramatic verse.
Even the audiences who found his non-rmnatic verse tough understood and relished this play.
This poetic drama dealt with the theme of the death of Thomas Bucket and was considered a successful play.
This roaring achievement made Eliot feel still more attracted towards poetic drama. Eliot called the poetic drama as the only True Drama. His interest in drama and especially in poetic-drama was lifelong.
He had great love for Elizabethan dramatists and the ancient Greek dramatists. He discussed dramatic poetry in his early essays more than any other poetry.
He also wrote a dialogue on Dramatic Poetry. Eliot was of the firm conviction that drama and poetry are not two different things and the finest and truest kind of drama is the Poetic Drama.
Dramas are invariably concerned with stating or .answering the problem of the generation.
Poetic drama has a permanent and universal appeal because the human soul maintains emotion strives to eétpress itself in verse. It is a hard fact that Prose Drama is merely a slight by-product of Verse Drama.
Dramatic and poetic ability is one and the same thing. Poetic drama is the greatest drama and poetic excellence can compensate dramatic defects.
According to Eliot, such type of dramas are bound to fail as are written higher by persons who know the stage but are not poets or by the poets who have no knowledge ofthe stage.
His new verse is as satisfactory a vehicle for his age as blank verse was for the Elizabethans.
A true work of art should not be a vehicle of ideas on a philosophy. Creation should rather replace philosophy is a work of art.
The thoughts have to be sacrificed in making the drama. Rhetorical style is tolerable in poetic situations where a character in the play sees himself in a dramatic light.
However, Eliot was of the opinion that no play should be written in verse if prose would be dramatically adequate to it. He was not in favour of mixture of prose and verse in the same play.
However, this mixture is admissible when the dramatist wishes to transport the audience violently from one plane of reality to another, but only then it would be justified.
Murder in the Cathedral is a landmark in English dramatic history because it proved that English verse drama could still succeed.
This play was Eliot’s most enduring stage success. A great number of plays that appeared in the later nineteen-thirties and were penned by Eliot’s younger contemporaries proved ‘no match for Murder in the Cathedral, because they were written in hasteto imitate Eliot.
Eliot presents simplification of characterization. He had written the play as a protest against totalitarianism in Europe. It is a severe and simple medieval type of play.
Although born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1888, Thomas Stearns Eliot is remembered more as an English author than an American one.
While a doctoral student in philosophy at Harvard, Eliot was influenced by F.H. Bradley, who taught about “immediate experience’ as a means of transcending appearance and achieving the ‘Absolute””-a theme apparent throughout Murder in the Cathedral.
With the outbreak of World War I, Eliot abandoned philosophy for poetry; he had already written his first “mature” work, and one of his most enduring, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufock,” in 1910 (although it would not see print for another five years, and then first in England).
He also decided to emigrate to England, a decision based in large part on Ezra Pound’s contention that England was better suited for living the literary life.
To support himself, and his new wife (although their marriage was a troubled one), Eliot taught school and also worked at Lloyds of London.
He wrote poetry and criticism by night. What is probably Eliot’s crowning achievement, The Waste Land, was published in 1922.
In the work, “Eliot brought together various kinds of despair, for lost youth, lost love, lost friendship, lost value.”
Clearly, these themes-definitive of the “modern”era and so characteristic of British literature, especially, after the great disillusionment of World War I-continue to resonate in such later work as Murder in the Cathedral.
“After The Waste Land it was incumbent upon Eliot to choose between immobile lamentation, never his mode, and a new journey of the spirit”-neatly analogous, readers might well argue, to the choice facing Becket in Murder in the Cathedral.
Eliot was confirmed in the Anglican Church in 1927. His Christian faith surfaces in such work as “The Hollow Men” (1925), “Ash- Wednesday” (1930), and Four Quartets (1944).
In addition to his poetry, Eliot established and edited the acclaimed literary journal, The Criterion Eliot’s wife, from whom he was now permanently separated, died in 1947; he would remarry a decade later. In 1948, Eliot was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.