Questions for take-home test. DO NOT SHARE ANSWERS, or you will receive a zero. Choose 5 to answer. Be sure to include specific references and quotes from the book (5-10 depending on the question) for each question and completely answer all parts of the question. Extra questions may be answered for Extra credit, but indicate which five are your first choice for me to grade.
1. Often names in a story can be significant. (Think Chillingworth.) What do the major characters’ names in the book have to do with their personalities or roles in the story? Consider meaning, sound, and any allusion or connotation implied in the names.
2. An Epigraph is a short excerpt placed before the main body of a work in order to emphasize an idea or compliment the story somehow. In Possession, A.S. Byatt includes two “true” epigraphs at the beginning of the book, as well as an epigraph created by her characters at the beginning of each chapter. Discuss the significance of each epigraph throughout the book and what they reveal about content, narrative style, and theme. Why do some chapters seem not to have epigraphs? What does this omission reveal?
3. Mythology is extremely important to the poet characters in the story. Randolph Henry Ash is fascinated with the Icelandic/Norse mythology from which he pulls his great poem Ragnarok. Christabel LaMotte is interested in the myths of her Northern French Heritage. What is the basic background story to these myths listed below? When they rewrite these myths what are they trying to express? How are their poems interpreted?
4. Titles can be very revealing to their pieces of literature. In this case, what does the idea of “Possession” have to do with the story? Explore as many different ideas as you can think of. What does possession have to do with ideas of criticism? The plot of the story? The meaning of art? The meaning of love and romance? How many instances of possession can you see in the story? What do the various characters in the story “possess” or wish to possess?
5. This novel reveals the processes and lifestyles of the literary critics and professors. What does the book show about research and what it takes to write about literature? (Remember that these people are creating Anthologies and Textbooks that would be used in schools.) What does it take to compile a book of literature? What is involved in this type of Research? How is it similar/different to the types of research projects you do in high school? What does this show about the materials we read in our textbooks? Explore the references to the complexities of research. Describe the different levels upon which literature can be read and understood, including student, researcher, literary critic, collector.
6. Literary criticism and one’s understanding of what art’s purpose is are concepts that permeate this novel. How do each of the characters look at literature? Think about the types of literary criticisms you’ve studied as well as the ideas expressed through the novel.
Sir George Bailey
Randolph Henry Ash
7. How does this novel create a contrast between the ideals and concerns of the Victorian age with the concepts and ideas of Post-modernism and post-structuralism? Highlight significant ideas from both that appear in the novel. Research some hot topics for both time periods to give yourself something to look for. Find at least four-five major issues from both times. Be sure to hit a few points from the Victorian times that set them apart from the rest of Romanticism. Also, include a discussion of how the ending deals with the two.
8. Explain the significance of the following texts within the book:
9. The book contains many significant motifs. For each motif, examine how it is connected to theme, plot, and characterization. Note each major time the image appears and what each appearance means.
I hereby declare that I have answered these questions of my own accord and not with the aid of a fellow student.