IGNOU MEG 06 Solved Free Assignment
MEG 06 Solved Free Assignment July 2023 & January 2024
Q. 1. Discuss the material conditions and circumstances which made The American Enlightenment possible.
Ans. An intellectual and Cultural movement in Europe and America began in the beginning of the 18th century, which emphasized reason and secular ideals rather than religious norms and faith.
This period began in the wake of their struggle for independence and demands for their rights. It was a period of thinking and reasoning and is referred as the period of American Enlightenment.
The ideals and ideas stemmed from the revolutionary and philosophical thinkers who belonged to the Age of Reason in Europe.
Though the ideas for the enlightenment had their base in the English enlightenment the societies that experienced it in America were quite unlike that were in the British Isles or in Europe.
Economy in America was based on their main crops rice and tobacco and it rested overwhelmingly on chattel slavery for labour.
There were two separate economic worlds that had formed in the colonies, particularly in the north and south of Pennsylvania’s southern border.
One flourished on its export of the two crops and the establishment of the chattel slavery and the other mainly on the tobacco and rice plantations.
They were also different in the sense they were free of feudal obligations to anyone who were above them in the feudal hierarchy.
Later the agricultural activities led to a merger of the southern and northern colonies and now they began to export their produce to the West Indies.
Expansion of commerce and export necessitated the need for a medium of exchange-paper currency. Now there was economic boom, which brought prospects of riches and profit.
Small towns expanded and immigrant labour poured in from the nearby cities and towns as well as from Ireland and Germany.
With the coming in of immigrants from various countries and the high rate of life expectancy accelerated the population level as well as the exchange of ideas. A modern, multicultural America was in the making.
As trade flourished across the Atlantic the settlements grew and stretched beyond the coastal beach lands to the interior fertile backlands and valleys.
With the flourishing trade came the economic affluence and the influence. Books, and ideas poured in from Europe. The most important was the new way of thinking about God, nature and humanity.
Humanism found a strong hold in the thinking of the people who were educated. The enlightened thoughts were more scientific and rational. The Age of reasoning led to the Age of Questioning.
They were a counter to the traditional Protestantism. These two ways of thinking produced in the minds of the settlers a curious blend of mysticism and unconvinced humanism.
Q. 2. Discuss the use of humour as a tool of social criticism in Huckleberry Finn.
Ans. There are no two views about the fact that the humor in Huckleberry Finn has its root in the tradition of American Humor.
But still it has continued to enthrall and delight many people across the time and space, thus proving its universality.
The novel is extremely funny and comical. But the important question which we should ask is-what is the source of this humor. To answer this question let us first consider what the book is all about.
In the simplest terms one can say that the book is the story of the journey of a 14 years old boy, or about the views of a 14 years old boy regarding the world of adults.
Now regarding humor three questions can be raised: (a) does the humor lie in the way the boy looks at the world? (b) does the humor lie in the language of the boy? Or (c) does the humor lie in the situation in which the boy finds himself in the world of adults.
A reading of the novel will tell us that the answers of all the three questions are affirmative.
Another perspective at the element of humor and we have another question to ask is the humor in the novel has different dimensions, or are there different kinds of humor in the novel or only one kind?
But first let see what humor actually is. Once can simply define humor as gap between ‘what ought to be’ and ‘what is’. This means humor lies in the oddity, something not common and natural to human mind.
According to Louis D. Rubin Jr. “the characteristic situation in American humorous writing is that in which cultural and social pretensions are made to appear ridiculous and artificial”.
Now here we see an explanation or an illustration of the way we earlier defined humor.
To normal human mind the cultural and social pretentions are not ridiculous and artificial but it is presented as such, there appears a gap and this gap is what evokes laughter.
Rubin Jr.’s description of American humor is important for the understanding of humor in Huckleberry Finn, because the novel engages itself to a great extent in the exposing the hypocrisy and artificiality of the society and social customs.
Inspire of a wide range of comic element in the novel, Twain has also used humor a weapon to attack, ridicule and satirize.
Humor in Character
A large portion of humor that we com across in the novel actually arise from the fact that the narrator and the protagonist of the novel is a 14 years old boy.
The qualities that Twain has endowed Huck with also help a great deal in evoking humor. Now let us look at some of the points in this regard:
(a) Huck is a narrator, on which cannot depend upon, not because he is not truthful and authentic but because he does not understand the situations completely.
This lack of understanding creates a gap between what things really are what Huck understands them to be, which in turn creates humor and irony.
One example of this can be seen in the episode when he talks about the prayer before dinner.
(b) One of the qualities of Huck is that he never laughs and maintains a straight face, almost throughout the novel. The only exception to this is when he sees King naked on the stage.
He also does not lose his temper, these qualities of Huck helps in bring the humor to the fore. Another cause of humor is the way Huck comes out of hostile situations relying only on his wits.
(c) The character of Huck has be mould by twain in the vein of Eiron, a Greek comic type character, who has a tendency to think that he is worse that he really is.
This quality of Huck is apparent in the two episodes of the novel when Huck is faced with dilemma of whether to help Jim or not.
The first of these instances comes in the chapter 16 when Huck accuses himself that he is not man enough to tell the salve hunters about Jim.
The second episode comesin the chapter 31, when Huck decides that he will stand with Jim and go to ‘hell. In both these episode Huck behave as a great friend and human being but he thinks that he is weak and sinful.
Apart from Huck, the characters of King and Duke are also the source of humor in the novel. Both of these characters are boastful and conmen.
They tell tall tales to each other to gain respect and force Jim and Huck to wait for them and treat them as nobility.
This episode also helps Twain to attack on the idea and concept of hereditary nobility.
Both these characters are also used by Twain to comment on sentimentality and gullibility of the people. The following paragraph makes the point clear:
“So the king went all through the crowd with his hat swabbing his eyes, and blessing the people and praising them and thanking them for being so good to the poor pirates away off there; and every little while the prettiest kind of girls, with the tears running down their cheeks, would up and ask him would he let them kiss him for to remember him by; and he always done it; and some of them he hugged and kissed as many as five or six times.”
Though King is not interested in kissing rather he is more interested in money, but still Twain is inviting us to laugh the misplaced sentimentality of the people.
There are times in the novel when Twain directly attacks the two characters, but only when their impostures become too blatant.
On example of such attack is when the duo attempts to defraud the children of Wilks’ family. Another instance of direct attack can be seen in chapter 22, when Col. Sheburn speaks to the mob.
Humor in Situation
There are instance of humor in situation in the novel. Some of the situations are made humorous by the aid of characters and language.
We have already discussed King’s speech at the home of the Wilks, which is a great example of humor of situation.
Humor in Language
Some of the important points regarding humor in language are as follows:
(a) Huck’s use of the word ‘grumble’, when he is talking about the practice of prayer before dinner.
He uses another funny word ‘leak’, when he is talking about the tearsheding of the two frauds. He says: “I never see two men leak the way they did.
(b) Twain uses Malapropism in the novel, which is also a great source of amusement. Examples are: ‘disease of the deceased’ and ‘affront for ‘confront”.
(c) Another example of humor in language is when the King explains etymologically why he used the term ‘orgies’ for obsequies. He says: “I say orgies, not because it’s the common term, because it ain’t obsequies bein’ the common term-but because orgies is the right term.
Obsequies ain’t used in England no more now-it’s gone out. We say orgies now in England. Orgies is better, because it means the thing you’re after more exact.
It’s a word that’s made up out’n the Greek ORGO, outside, open, abroad; and the Hebrew JEESUM, to plant, cover up; hence inter. So, you see, funeral orgies is an open public funeral.”
(d) One can see the humor in the episode when Huck uses the word ‘mumps’ and then makes an attempt to explain it as if something serious.
Some of the scenes in the novel are but complete fun. Among these are the scenes when Aunt Sally gets confused counting and recounting the spoon in a situation created by Tom and when Huck borrows shirts and sheets for the evasion.
Twain also makes use of burlesque to make fun of the romantic world of Tom, which he has created by reading romantic and adventure stories.
Twain makes use of irony in order to criticize the white society for, to quote Shelley Fisher Fishkin “the virtual enslavement of free blacks in the south during 1880s”.
Defining the Limits of Fun
As far as fun is considered the novel establishes concrete boundaries for the limitation of it by defining what fun is or what fun is not. What seems to be fun for Tom and Huck is not fun for Jim. For him it is humiliation and torture.
This also seems to imply that black are merely an easy game for the whites. And blacks are different from that of the whites. This can be seen in the two attempts that Huck makes to have fun with Jim but both the times he fails.
In the first attempt he coils a snake around the neck of Jim and when Jim is bitten by the snake, Huck feels the sense of guilt. Second time he tries during the fog incident and then he vows that he will never ever play any trick on Jim.
But the case with Tom is different. His attempts to free Jim prolong the torture and suffering of Jim, but these attempts give him immense pleasure and fun. Huck tells us: “the best fun he ever had in his life and the most intellectual”.
Twain’s humour assumes multidimensionality of range and character in the novel Huckleberry Finn. Novelist’s comic vision is colored by humaniterianism and broad sympathy.
His humour is characterized by restraint, control, sympathy and benovolence. He doesn’t single out an individual in order to ridicule him or insult him.
Mark Twain’s humour in Huckberry Finn verges more and more on tragic. For example the scene of shooting of Boggs by colonel shorburn is in no way tunny.
There is irony in the attitude of the people who want to look at the dead body out of fun. There is the painful irony when a person performs the mock shooting and is entertained by the on- lookers.
Funny through the situation outwardly appears, yet it is a kind of cruel fun which betrays in humanity and innate cruelty of the dead alive loafers who derive Sadistic pleasure in teasing the innocent person and animals to death.
Such situations are painful commentary and sarcastic portrayal on the people living in the South Western Society.
Thus with Mark Twain, human is not an act of distancing from the absurdities of life, nor it is pure chuckling over the ridiculous in others. It entails value judgments.
Twain’s humour surges up from the depths of desire and can be described through the paradox tragic laughter. It is inseparable from the serious.
Almost all incidents after chartering through comic details, quietly step in to the areas that rightly belong to tragedy.
The weapons of Twain’s humour are ironic, paradox and juxtapositions of contrarieties with which he attacks to the superstructure of social context.
For example pap’s brutal behave is also humourious in ironic ferm relating to the social real situation of such people.
The sort of humour is in the form of ironic way behind social status of related groups or so called civilized people is attracted.
In this way to know about Mark Twain’s humor in Huckleberry Finn we should show our attention to the chronological development of plot:
There are situations which are full with tragic, sympathetic and pitiful occurrence but the purpose behind such situations is directed not only the revelation of inner reality but also in ironic, paradoxical situations of humor.
Humour in Twain’s novel is in serious, diplomatic way rather than the funny way. No any single person is directly ridiculed by him rather credit goes towards the whole system, society, time in very serious, sympathetic, ironic way. So Twain is a unique humourist.
Q. 3. Comment on the theme of Wallace Steven’s poem ‘The Emperor of Ice-cream’.
Ans. The setting of the poem is a funeral scene. The poem also shows a combination of commonplace simplicity as well as the rich and the gaudiness of poetry.
The poem also brings out the contrast between life and death. He uses words ‘big cigars- where cigars are usually meant as sign of celebration of life in the western culture.
The poem is not about ice cream. The use of the word ‘ice cream’ has different connotations- coldness and pleasure. An imaginative way of using ice-cream imagery to set a tone for the poem-about life and death; pleasure and pain.
Ice cream is at once cold, agreeable, ordinary and a symbol of life and death. It symbolizes change because it melts quickly.
If it is frozen, it may also stand for stability and firmness. What the poet actually wants us to understand is the philosophy that though reality is a fixed appearance, it is sure to change.
The title itself denotes the power of the emperor and produces a sense of humour and light heartedness when it is used with ‘ice cream’. The poem suggests that we should not take death or life seriously.
The use of the word ‘concupiscent’ means intense sexual desire though according to Stevens this word has no genealogy.
The word merely expresses the desire. Besides this word, references to cigars, a phallic image-all used in context with generation of energy as well as death in the poem.
The word wenches ‘Let the Wenches Dawdle… ‘refers to the young boys who represent youth and energy with something that has no life in the same scene-the dead woman.
Similarly ‘Flowers in Last Month’s Newspaper… ‘ the contrast here is that something so fresh and beautiful as flowers are wrapped in old, last month’s paper.
“The Emperor of Ice-Cream” is a celebrated poem from Wallace Stevens’ first collection of poetry, Harmonium. It was first published in 1922, so it is in the public domain.
The poem “wears a deliberately commonplace costume,” he wrote in a letter, “and yet seems to me to contain something of the essential gaudiness of poetry; that is the reason why I like it”
“The Emperor of Ice Cream” is open to interpretation.
Although the poem suggests meanings behind the words, it does not not explicitly state the meanings.
Whereas one reader may regard the planned festivity at the wake as disrespectful to the deceased woman, another reader may regard it as a positive response to the woman’s death.
After all, life must go on. The point is that perceptions of the world differ from person to person.
They are like images on the canvases of painters from different schools of art, painters who have unique perceptions of reality even within their own school.
All of the painters could paint the same scene- a field of flowers, for example-and all the paintings would be different in some way.
The interpretations of the poem presented on this page are certainly not definitive or absolute. They are only one person’s interpretation of what the author presents.
The woman’s death presents an opportunity for her acquaintances to hold a party. The pleasure they will derive from the occasion apparently matters more than the memory of the deceased woman they are supposed to be mourning.
No doubt, the women who attend will pay homage to the muscular man who makes the “concupiscent curds” (Line 3) that is, appetizing, sensual curds that will constitute the ice cream.
He and the ice cream represent sensual or physical pleasure. In turn, the “boys” (Line 5) will no doubt want to live it up with the “wenches” (Line 4), even if they are attending a wake.
Everyone wants to seize the day-carpe diem. The Emperor of Ice Cream will preside at the festivities, dispensing pleasure by the dollop.
Q. 4. Discuss on the appropriateness of the title Toni Morrison’s novel The Bluest Eye.
Ans. The Genesis of The Bluest Eye: Toni Morrison in the afterward of penguin edition of the novel talks about the incident which first inspired a short story and later a novel.
One day some girl expressed her desire to have blue eyes. Morrison, still at school, got angry and astonished. 20 years later in 1960s she saw black leaders shouting ‘black is beautiful’ in order to assert their racial pride.
She first wrote short story for a writer’s workshop she was attending. The story was received favorably by some members of the group.
In 1964 she started revising it and sent it to a publisher. The publisher liked the novel. It was completed and published in the year 1970.
Autobiographical Touches: The Bluest Eye contains a number of autobiographical elements.
It is set in the town where Morrison grew up, and it is told from the point of view of a nine-year-old, the age Morrison would have been the year the novel takes place (1941).
Like the MacTeer family, Morrison’s family struggled to make ends meet during the Great Depression. Morrison grew up listening to her mother singing and her grandfather playing the violin, just as Claudia does.
In the novel’s afterword, Morrison explains that the story developed out of a conversation she had had in elementary school with a little girl, who longed for blue eyes.
She was still thinking about this conversation in the 1960s, when the Black is Beautiful movement was working to reclaim African-American beauty, and she began her first novel.
Title of the Novel
The novel is about a black child’s quest in search of blue eyes where blue eyes stand for beauty. The author angers at the school girl who aspires for something that she is not.
The story of the novel deals with the tragic search of a poor black girl for blue eyes. The title presents the idea American sense of competitiveness wherein one should always be ahead of everyone else, and therefore ‘bluest’.
It also representsthat black people have absorbed the white standards of beauty symbolized by blue eyes.
In her after word, Toni Morrison recounts the incident that led to the writing of the short story, which later turned into a novel.
The story of the novel deals with the tragic search of a poor black girl for blue eyes. The most important question is ‘Why Bluest Eyes?”
The reference made here by the author is about the American myth of success and sense of competition according to which you require to be always ahead of your neighbours or those you know.
The title presents the idea that the blacks have absorbed this sense of competitiveness as well as the white standards of beauty symbolized by blue eyes. The search is actually for the bluest of them all.
The genesis of the novel goes to the childhood incident. The story is set in Lorain, Ohio where Toni Morrison had grown up. One day a girl in her school expressed her wish for blue eyes.
Morrison seething in anger was astonished at the desecration of the black people. Toni Morrison recalled this incident when the black leaders were shouting “Black is Beautiful” asserting their racial pride.
The women writers of this period showed that they were addressing the black audience rather than a white one.
They also focused on specific black communities. And portrayed the relationship between black women and men rather than blacks and whites.
Q. 5. Attempt a critical reading of A Clean Well Lighted Place.
Ans. Kind of nothingness that we see in the story actually comes from the last few years of Hemmingway’s life.
The agony he felt in those years was of a different kind for a person like Hemingway was always charismatic.
During this period of his life most of his friends and companions were either dead or not in touch with them.
In absence of the dear company of his friends and companions he felt quite lonely and depressed frequently.
The strength and stamina for which Hemingway is known was not there with them in this period. He could no longer go for fishing or hunting. This amazing ability to write stories seemed to have left him.
He was no longer able to find the right words to express his thoughts and ideas. In short one can say that this part of his life was a complete web comparison to the kind of life he has lived earlier.
During this period of his life he was not in United States and was true great extent secluded from friends, family and society.
According to Earl Rovit, this could be Hemingway’s “way of selling a position that could no longer be held” “calculated punishment of that aspect of himself which had failed him in his needs”.
Another way to look at this is to see that it was his idea of telling the world that he can destroy himself or he can be destroyed but not defeated.
It can also be considered simply as this destruction by the sense of nothingness. For the volume of short stories “The Winner Take Nothing”. Hemingway wrote the following epigraph:
“Unlike all other forms of lutte, or combat, “such are the conditions in the game of life” that one “shall take nothing; neither his ease, nor his pleasure, nor any notion of glory. If take the mast, it takes his own life”.
This epigraph is also true for Hemingway. Objectivity: Quite early in his life Hemingway understood the importance of objectivity in writing.
He wrote in an article, which was published in Esquire magazine, that “as a man, things are as they should be or should not be. As a man you know who is right and who is wrong.
You have to make decisions and enforce them. As a writer you should not judge. You should understand.”
It is clear from this passage that the basic concern of Hemingway is that ‘what is’ and not ‘what should be’ or ‘what should not be’.
He cares about ‘who is who’ and not about ‘who is right or who is wrong’. The basic idea is not to judge, and separate one’s self from one’s writing.
In his article “Hemmingway on writing”, Robert C. Hall talks about the aspects of objectivity in the writings of Hemmingway’s work.
Hall says that Hemingway never molded his stories according to the any sort of pre-conceived designs. This makes his ideas in his short stories not imposed subjectively but objectively lived out.
The themes in his stories are not meant to solve the problems and never ever in his stories they offer or “confirm a solution already laid down.”
His characters are free from any sort of partiality and prejudicesof the author, they are actually an artistic exploration of human nature.
The structure of his stories does not include “what is non-functional or even malfunctional”, and imply prose as “architecture, not interior decoration.”
On these fundamental principles of writing Hemingway never made any compromise, and criticized those writer who deviated from these Hemingwayian principles.
He criticized Poe for his use of pre conceived effects and notions. He also attacked Melville for his sue of rhetoric in excess, and Hawthorne for not using “the words that survive in language”.
Tolstoy was one writer he admired the most, but Hemingway disapproved the part of “War and Peace”, “where Tolstoy tampered with the truth to make it fit his conclusions.” His basic idea of writing was to write as truly, simply, and objectively as possible.
Code of Conduct: It was Philip Young who established code of conduct in Hemingway’s oeuvre. Since then, it has been a constant topic of debate and controversy.
There is no doubt that a number of stories written by Hemingway do talk about certain values and codes like courage, honor, duty and discipline, but there are still a number of his stories which do not pay any heed to them.
In those stories where we can sense the code, it manifests itself in the supportive characters but there are some code heroes as well in Hemingway’s stories.
But unlike what Philip young says, these codes do nothing to offer a solution to the problems in the life, and when in problem or challenging situation the characters of his stories do not look up to any code or any code hero for the solution rather they look at life itself.
Sometimes they learn from life and sometimes they fail to learn. Therefore, one say that it may be found in some of his works, but in other works there is no laces for such codes.
In his story “The Undefeated” we see the requirement of courage and honor for an old bull fighter, but this requirement is not valid in his story “The Battler”, when Nick is threatened.
It seems quite right that instead of following any code of conduct the characters in Hemingway follow what James B. Colvert calls “a new morality in action” which is essentially based on the practice judgment.
These characters do not confirm to the past value of judgment instead they go on to look for the meaning of experiences.
Symbolism: Hemingway makes use both symbolism and irony in his narratives, for the purpose of implication and indirection.
Through the use of symbolism and irony he tries to explore the complexity of the life of people in his time in an imaginative way.
According to E.M. Halliday all human perception can be reduced to the perception of likeness and perception of difference, and symbolism represents the former while irony represents the latter.
To this he adds, “symbolism signifies through harmony, irony through discord; symbolism consolidates, irony complicates; symbolism synthesizes, irony analyzes.”
In Hemingway symbolism is the visible sign of something which cannot be seen, something which is invisible.
Symbolism was also use by writers like Poe, Melville and Hawthorne. But Hemingway’s use of Melville and Hawthorne was supposed to serve the end of some parable, allegory fable and it was closely connected to the realm of magic and mystery.
In Hemingway the case is entirely different. Symbolism of Hemingway is copied from life itself and not from some fantasy world. And therefore in his fictions, Hemingway “never seems to loosen his grip on the reality”.
In order to convey the meanings of life, Hemingway makes use of both realism and symbolism. This amalgamation of realism and symbolism is quite interesting in Hemingway.
He does not let himself deviate from the naturalistic and factual details of life but at the same time he also uses symbols to explore the complexity and multiplicity of human experience.
This gives the symbols of Hemingway a contextual texture and keeps them away from being allegorical. The significance of these, symbols are different in different situations.
In his story “The Snows of Kilimanjaro”, the high mounts are associated with peace and immortality whereas in the story “An Alpine Idyll” there meaning changes to condition of unnatural living.
There are times when Hemingway only aims to achieve a symbolism of association, which makes the utterances of his characters both realistic and symbolic.
Some examples can be found in his stories like “A Clean Well-Lighted Place” and “An Alpine Idyll”.
Irony: The primary source of irony in the works of Hemingway is, as said by Heakon Chevalier, the sharp contrast between appearance and reality i.e. the apparent meaning and the meaning hidden under the surface of appearance.
Such contrast can be found in many of his stories and are recurring. The contrast can manifest itself in the characters or situations or actions, and so it does in Hemingway.
When the contrast is sharper, the effect of irony gets intensified and when the contrast is complex and subtle, the irony gets a cumulative effect.
In Hemingway this ironic contrast manifests itself in various forms of “confident unawareness” in the characters of the story. This unawareness may be real but there are chances that it can also be pretended.
Some examples can be found in the stories like “A Canary One”, and “A Clean Well-Lighted Place”.
Apart from this complete unawareness, he also makes use of incomplete unawareness, i.e. a mixture of awareness and unawareness. Such use is no doubt more complex and subtle.
The other form of this unawareness is different from real unawareness, and is pretended unawareness, and can be understood as “mask of dissimulation”, when on is “pretending to be what one is not and pretending not to be what one is”. Examples of such unawareness can be found in stories like “Hills like White Elephants” and “The Sea Change”.
Apart from the contrast between realities and appearances the one can also notice the contrasts between two contextual realities in the works of Hemingway.
So with this kind of contrast Hemingway is not trying to correct the false experience by the true one, but what he is intending is more complex – a presentation of two experiences which are both real and true. By this Hemingway successfully presents ironic dualities of life.
E.M. Halliday, who is among the many critics concerned with Hemingway’s use of irony, writes: “The ironic gap between expectation and fulfillment, pretense and fact, intention and action, the message sent and message received, the way things are thought or ought to be and the way things are – this has been Hemingway’s great theme from the beginning and it has called for an ironic method to call for its justice.”