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Fifty English classics briefly outlined online

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LIBRARY

UNIVLK
CALIFORNIA

SAN DIEGO



1



FIFTY

ENGLISH CLASSICS
BRIEFLY OUTLINED



MELVIN HIX

Bachelor of Education, Teachers College, Columbia University ; Designer
of" A Brief Outline of the Books I have Read," " A Brief Out-
line of My History Lessons" ; and Compiler of " The
Approved Selections for Supplementary Read-
ing and Memorizing, Grades i-S"



HINDS, NOBLE & ELDREDGE, PUBLISHERS
31-33-35 WEST I5TH STREET, NEW YORK CITY



COPYRIGHT, 1905, BY
HINDS, NOBLE & ELDREDGE



FOREWORD

THIS book is the result of an experience as a teacher
and principal extending over more than a score of years
and covering every grade of school work from the un-
graded country school up to and through college pre-
paratory work. It is built upon a plan which the writer
has found useful and contains the material which he has
found it most essential to have before him in written or
printed form.

The plan is virtually that which is embodied in the
writer's plan book entitled " A Brief Outline of the Books
I have Read," and is made up largely of matter which
he has brought together for his own use. This will
account for differences as to treatment and fullness
which will be observed in the different outlines. It has
seemed best to leave most of them in the form in which
they have been found useful. Further, it has seemed
wise to give as much variety of form to the different
outlines as was consistent with the uniformity of plan
upon which the outlines have been put together. Uni-
formity with variety is a good motto.

It is hoped that these outlines will prove helpful to four
classes of persons :



iv Foreword

FIRST. Those conscientious and devoted teach-
ers who, from lack of early opportunity, feel the
need of such assistance as this book aims to afford.

SECOND. Those teachers who, having had ample
opportunities and training, yet by reason of the
overcrowded condition of their classes and the
burden of " papers " which bears so heavily upon
teachers all over our land, will be glad to make use
of the results of the labor of a fellow-teacher.

THIRD. All students and teachers who by reason
of remoteness from libraries and educational insti-
tutions will be glad to have such a collection of
quotations from authors and excerpts showing the
opinions of critical authorities as to their style as
is embodied in this book.

FOURTH. That large and ever increasing host of
private students of literature scattered all over our
land, who, while eager to do genuine literary study,
feel that they need the guidance of some plan
which will render their work systematic, and
therefore fruitful.

If to these four classes this book shall prove useful, the
writer will feel himself amply repaid for the time and
labor spent upon it.

MELVIN HIX.

NEW YORK, September i, 1905.



CONTENTS



FOE
INT


1


PAGE

iii
vii






I. DRAMAS




i.




I


2.




c


3-


SHAKSPERE'S "THE MERCHANT OF VENICE"


D
9


4-


SHAKSPERE'S " HAMLET "


14


5-


MILTON'S " COMUS "


24




II. FICTION




6.


THACKERAY'S " HENRY ESMOND "


i


7-


THACKERAY'S "VANITY FAIR"


7


8.


COOPER'S "THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS" .


17


9-


HAWTHORNE'S "THE HOUSE OF THE SEVEN GABLES"


2 5


10.


SCOTT'S " IVANHOE " .


29


u.


DICKENS'S " A TALE OF Two CITIES " .


34


12.




77


13-


GOLDSMITH'S "THE VICAR OF WAKEFIELD"


o/

41


14.


LONDON'S "THE CALL OF THE WILD"


46


1C.




CI


* j*


III. NARRATIVE POEMS


j


1 6.


SCOTT'S "THE LADY OF THE LAKE" ....


I


17-


COLERIDGE'S "THE RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER"


7


18.


LONGFELLOW'S "KING ROBERT OF SICILY" .


12


19.


ARNOLD'S " SOHRAB AND RUSTUM "


16


20.


LONGFELLOW'S " EVANGELINE "


20


21.


BRYANT'S "THE LITTLE PEOPLE OF THE SNOW".


26




V





vi Contents



PAGE



22. BROWNING'S "THE PIED PIPER OF HAMELIN TOWN". 30

23. LOWELL'S "THE VISION OF SIR LAUNFAL" . . 34

IV. LYRIC POETRY

24. TENNYSON'S "SiR GALAHAD" i

25. BROWNING'S "TRAY" 4

26. LONGFELLOW'S " PAUL REVERE'S RIDE "... 8

27. BURNS'S " BANNOCKBURN " 1 1

28. LOWELL'S "THE FINDING OF THE LYRE" ... 14

29. HOLMES'S "THE CHAMBERED NAUTILUS" . . .17

30. EMERSON'S "THE RHODORA" 21

31. WHITMAN'S " O CAPTAIN ! MY CAPTAIN ! " . .25

32. HERBERT'S "VIRTUE" 29

33. HERRICK'S "DAFFADILLS" 32

34. LOWELL'S "THE VISION OF SIR LAUNFAL". . . 36

35. WHITTIER'S " SNOW-BOUND " 41

36. KIPLING'S "RECESSIONAL" 45

37. MILTON'S " L' ALLEGRO " 49

38. MILTON'S " IL PENSEROSO " 49

39. MILTON'S " LYCIDAS " 72

V. ESSAYS AND ADDRESSES

40. MACAULAY'S "AN ESSAY ON MILTON". i

41. MACAULAY'S "AN ESSAY ON ADDISON" ... 9

42. MORLEY'S "MACAULAY" 18

43. CARLYLE'S "AN ESSAY ON BURNS" .... 24

44. IRVING'S "RURAL LIFE IN ENGLAND" .... 36

45. STEVENSON'S "AMATEUR EMIGRANT" .... 39

46. WEBSTER'S " BUNKER HILL ORATION " ... 43

47. BACON'S "ON STUDIES" 50

48. LINCOLN'S "GETTYSBURG ADDRESS" .... 55

49. LINCOLN'S " SECOND INAUGURAL ADDRESS " . . -59

50. WASHINGTON'S "FAREWELL ADDRESS" ... 68



INTRODUCTION

TEACHERS of English are frequently obliged to do more
or less supervisory work and to examine such masses of
" papers " that, during the school year, they have little
energy left for general reading. To save them the turn-
ing over of many books in order to refresh their memory
as to dates and other matters of detail is one object of
this book. Another object is to furnish a plan which
will, it is hoped, aid them to systematize their note-taking
and their ' teaching. It goes without saying that no
teacher will make such a book as this a means of avoid-
ing that general reading which is absolutely essential
to success in teaching English literature. The object is
rather to set the teacher free from a certain amount of
pen drudgery, so that he may devote more time to pro-
ductive reading.

It is generally agreed that a literary masterpiece should
be gone over three times, once to obtain a general idea
of it as a whole, a second time for the structure, and a
third time for matters of detail and for consideration of
the style. It is in the last two readings that this book will
be found most useful.

Fiction, Dramas, and Narrative Poems
The matter given under this head has been divided
into the following subheads : I. Introductory Notes,



viii Introduction

II. Characters, III. Plot, IV. Quotations, V. Style, to
which, in some cases, additional notes or remarks have
been added.

I. INTRODUCTORY NOTES

Under this head will be found the dates of birth and
death of the author. These fix his period. This is vitally
important to a thorough understanding of his work. Every
author is a product of the past, his background, and the
present, his environment. What he does is based upon
what others have done and are doing. Shakspere could
hardly have written " Hamlet " in the reign of Charles II. ;
nor could Milton have written " Paradise Lost " till the
great Puritan movement had run its course. Wordsworth,
living in the age of Pope, could scarcely have written
the " Ode on Intimations of Immortality " or any
other of his characteristic poems. Pope, living in the
beginning of the nineteenth century, surely would have
written quite otherwise than he did in the beginning of
the eighteenth.

It is, therefore, vitally important that he who hopes to
become, to any considerable degree, master of English
Literature should fix in mind the chronology of the sub-
ject. Time was when to study literature meant little more
than this. To-day we are, perhaps, too apt to neglect it.

Furthermore, history and literature are inseparably con-
nected. Every social or political change, every war, and
every great invention affects literature. There have been,



Introduction ix

indeed, authors who have sought to free themselves from
the influence of the present, to surround themselves with
the atmosphere of antiquity, and to write wholly in the
manner and the spirit of days gone by. They have never
fully succeeded. On this fact, indeed, is based the whole
theory of the " higher criticism " of the Bible, and of
ancient literature. The student should, therefore, have
on his desk, not only a good History of English Literature,
but a good History of the British race, showing its devel-
opment on both sides of the Atlantic. Probably, for the
history of our cousins on the other side, no other work
is so convenient and satisfactory as Green's " Short His-
tory of the English People." It is to be regretted that
we have no American work which is quite so satisfactory
as this.

History and literature being so closely connected, it
seems unfortunate that they are not better correlated in
many of our courses of study. However, a good beginning
is being made along that line which will in time, it is
likely, bring about a more satisfactory condition of things
in this respect. At any rate, the private student may
make his own correlation, greatly to the increase of his
interest in, and knowledge of, both subjects. They are,
indeed, rather one subject than two. Literature, rightly
apprehended, gives more real knowledge of history than
is generally acquired from the study of history per se.

Another important date given is that of the composi
tion (where this is not possible, of publication) of the



x Introduction

masterpiece under consideration. This is important foi
two reasons : by an easy subtraction, it gives the author's
age at the time of composition ; and it enables us to
ascertain exactly what was going on or had recently been
going on in the world.

The author's age affects his work in three ways : it
changes his knowledge, his point of view, and his style.
A young man seldom writes like an old man, nor does
an old man write like a middle-aged man. No better
example of this can be given than Tennyson's two
" Locksley Halls." Though no great writer ever wrote
more evenly from early manhood to old age than Tenny-
son, the difference between these two strikingly illustrates
the influence of age upon an author's work. Another
good illustration can be found in Carlyle's works. The
" Burns " given in this collection should be compared
with the " French Revolution," or some other of his later
works. The method of ascertaining the dates of Shak-
spere's plays is yet another- example of what has been
said. We are ignorant of the dates : therefore we study
his style and his thought, as expressed in his works, and
date them according to the development which we think
we find in style and thought. It is a good exercise to
set a class to " guessing " from the style and thought of a
piece of literature whether the author was an old or a
young man. The effect of age upon authorship would
be more evident were it not for the habit which most
great writers have had of suppressing or altering their



Introduction xi

earlier works. This process tends to eliminate the cal-
lowness of youth and set all of an author's works nearly
on the plane of his latest.

The importance of understanding the immediate sur-
roundings among which a work was produced can be
seen in studying the "Vision of Sir Launfal." From
reading it no one would be likely to think that the slav-
ery question entered into it. Yet a careful reading of
Lowell's prose work will disclose the fact that in that
question lay the germ of the " Vision." The leper is
none other than the downtrodden slave ; the knight, the
haughty defender of slavery, who would learn the lesson
of the brotherhood of man and the Christian equality of
all men only through suffering.

Yet another date given among the Introductory Notes
is that of the time of the action. This again furnishes
another point of connection with history. Students
should read " Julius Caesar " while they study the Roman
history of that period. Many interesting comparisons can
be made between the characters and actions as set forth
in the two forms. The result will be to lend interest and
reality to both. In like manner, " Ivanhoe " will give a
clearer idea of the relations between Normans and Saxons
than can be acquired from the ordinary compendiums in
use in our schools. Even works which have little his-
torical accuracy may be so taught as to aid in the under-
standing of the period in which their action is supposed
to have taken place.



xii Introduction

Of the importance of the " scene of a narrative " it is
unnecessary to speak.

II. CHARACTERS

Every student of a masterpiece of narration should,
after the first reading, make a list of the characters of
any considerable importance. Generally there are two
or three who stand out so clearly that there will be little
dispute about their rank. Often, in regard to the relative
rank of these, considerable discussion may arise, as in the
case of " Julius Csesar." Critics will probably never agree
as to whether Caesar or Brutus should be ranked first. The
writer's opinion is that, when read thoughtfully, Csesar, by
reason of his influence over the whole course of the action,
is the more important character ; when, however, the play
is acted, the character of Brutus stands out so prominently
that it seems certain that he is the chief character.
" Ivanhoe," too, furnishes another example of works in
which it is difficult to get all members of a class to agree
upon the relative rank of different characters.

In his reading of works of narration the writer has found
that about six characters are often found whose importance
is greater than that of the others. He has, therefore, gen-
erally classed the principal and subordinate characters in
groups of six, joining others closely connected with them.
The matter of chief importance is that pupils should form
their own opinions as to the relative importance of char-
acters and be able to give arguments in support thereof.



Introduction xiii

The writer expects the users of this book to do the same,
regardless of the order in which they are here set down.
It will often be quite sufficient to direct pupils to select
the six chief characters and disregard the others.

III. PLOT

All narratives may be roughly classed under three
heads : first, those which have no plot, being merely a
succession of incidents bound together, perhaps, by the
presence of a single character ; second, those which have
an imperfect, abbreviated, or obscure plot ; third, those
which have a clear and well-developed plot.

For the benefit of those who do not have access to
complete works on the subject the following explanation
of plot structure is given :

A clear and well-developed plot consists of (i) an in-
troduction; (2) an exciting cause (or moment^, sometimes




called the impelling motive ; (3) a rising action, often called
the complication ; (4) a climax, or turning point of the



xiv Introduction

action ; (5) a falling action, often called the resolution ;
and (6) a catastrophe, or denouement, to which many
authors add (7) a conclusion, in which all of the important
characters are finally disposed of. To these are often
added (a) a prelude to the climax, (<) a tragic moment or
force, and (<:) the moment or force of final suspense.
Few plots contain all of these clearly developed. This
outline applies more strictly to tragedies, but can with
modifications be applied to any other form of narrative.
The best example of a fully developed, plot which will be
found in the following outlines is that of " Hamlet."

(i) THE INTRODUCTION

The chief business of the introduction is to lead natu-
rally up to the exciting moment or force. To do this
effectively it must make known to the reader or spectator
the time and the place of the action, the nationality and
circumstances in the life of the hero or heroine ; in short,
it must place the chief characters in the proper environ-
ment, create an "atmosphere," and indicate the peculiar
mood of the play, novel, or poem.

(2) THE EXCITING FORCE OR MOMENT

At the end of the introduction the exciting moment or
force appears. It is the impelling motive or feeling that
becomes the cause of the action which follows ; or it is
the point at which the forces opposed to the hero do
something which compels him to act.



Introduction xv

(3) THE COMPLICATION

From this point the rising action begins. From it, the
mystery deepens, or the interest increases through a series
of steps or movements ascending more or less rapidly to
the climax. In this part may be introduced new charac-
ters of considerable importance for whom place could
not be found in the introduction.

(4) THE CLIMAX

The climax, or turning point, of a plot is the point
where the fortunes of the hero or heroine change. If
the chief character has been fortunate during the rising
action, luck now changes for the worse ; if unfortunate, for
the better. The climax is not always easy to fix exactly.
It is often only after the resolution has proceeded for some
time that we can turn back and locate the exact point at
which the change occurred. Sometimes it is scarcely
possible to do this till we see how the story ends. Some-
times it cannot be fixed at any exact point, but is spread, so
to speak, over several scenes or chapters. In some plots,
on the other hand, it is so emphasized, so clearly brought
out, that we feel certain, the moment we have read the
chapter or witnessed the scene, that we have reached the
turning point of the action.

(a) The Prelude and (b) the Tragic Moment or Force

Closely attached to the climax we frequently find a
prelude, which foreshadows the action of the climax, and



xvi Introduction

a tragic moment or force which develops out of it, and
more or less clearly foretells the catastrophe.

(5) THE RESOLUTION

The tragic moment or force may be properly called the
beginning of the falling action or resolution. In this
part, the forces which the author has set in motion in the
preceding part of the narrative drive the hero or heroine
onward to the final solution of the plot. As the figure
(p. xiii) indicates, this part of the plot is generally shorter
than the complication. The author does not in most
cases introduce any new characters unless they are of
minor importance.

(c) The Force or Moment of Final Suspense

At or near the end of the resolution, the author often
introduces what is known as the force or moment of final
suspense. This is some retardation of the action, some
brief interruption or change in the course of events,
which seems to indicate a result different from that
which actually follows. In a tragedy, the reader or
spectator is made to feel that the hero may, after all,
escape destruction ; in a comedy, that a tragic outcome
is probable.

(6) THE CATASTROPHE

Closely following the moment of final suspense comes
the catastrophe, which settles the fate of the chief charac-
ters. In the best plots, this is merely the logical result of



Introduction xvii

the preceding course of the action, and must be in har-
mony with the characters as shown or developed in the
piece. However much the writer attempts mystification,
the experienced reader can generally foretell its nature long
before it is reached, often even after the first few scenes
or chapters.

(7) THE CONCLUSION

After the catastrophe or denouement proper many writers
add a conclusion, which explains the fate of some or all
of the characters more fully than has been done before.
This seldom happens in dramas, but not infrequently in
other forms of narration.

All that has been said about plots is subject to modifi-
cation when applied to any particular piece. An element
of a perfect plot may be entirely omitted or so obscurely
given that it is impossible to place it exactly. Some parts,
e.g. the exciting cause, the complication, climax, resolution,
are so important that they can scarcely be omitted, except
in narratives of the picaresque form, the plotless narra-
tive, without destroying the claim of the piece to be
classed as literature at all.

Since it has not been found expedient to indicate all
of these parts in the " Outlines," the following examples
are given :

"Julius Caesar 1 '

1. Introduction. The street scenes.

2. The Exciting Moment and Cause. -Cassius sound-
ing Brutus.



xviii Introduction

3. The Complication. Scenes leading up to the
assassination.

(a) The Prelude to the Climax. This is distributed
through the complication, but appears finally when
Artemidorus offers his scroll and in the reply of the
Soothsayer.

4. The Climax. The assassination.

(b) The Tragic Force. Antony's oration.

5. The Resolution. Scenes leading to Brutus' suicide.

(c) The Moment of Final Suspense. Brutus explains
his repugnance to suicide.

6. Catastrophe. Death of Brutus.

7. Conclusion. Antony's speech over Brutus' body.

"The House of the Seven Gables"

The Central Theme is the influence of heredity, which
is brought out in

1. The Introduction, which leads up to the

2. Exciting Moment, which is the opening of the shop.

3. The Complication, extending to chapters 13-14.

(a) The Prelude to the Climax. Indefinite.

4. The Climax is where Holgrave half-mesmerizes
Phoebe.

(b) The Tragic Moment is the Judge's demand.

5. The Resolution extends from Phoebe's departure
to the catastrophe.

(c) The Moment of Suspense occurs when Hepzibah
tries to prevent the Judge from seeing Clifford.



Introduction xix

6. The Catastrophe is the death of Judge Pyncheon.

7. The Conclusion is the rest of the book.

It must be remembered that, in applying the laws of
plot structure to fiction and narrative poems, considerable
allowance must be made. The various parts are not apt
to be so definitely fixed as in the drama. In non-dra-
matic narratives the author has greater freedom than
in dramatic. The proportion of parts is less commonly
observed. The writer may explain and enlarge upon
what the dramatic writer must either leave to the imagi-
nation of the audience or present in its most compact
form. He may begin in medias res and have one of
the characters relate what has preceded, or may himself
narrate it more or less directly.

IV. QUOTATIONS

It has been the writer's aim, in selecting the quotations
given in the " Outlines," to choose matter which has an
important bearing on the structure of the piece and at
the same time exhibits the author's style as well as may
be in so small a space. For example, the quotation given
in the "Outline" of "Ivanhoe" states the central idea
of the book, the relations existing at that time between
the Saxons and the. Normans and Jews. In it, teachers
and students will find a valuable hint as to sources from
which modern English has developed. The best example
of " quotations " which aid in the understanding of the
structure will be found in the outline of " Vanity Fair."



xx Introduction

v. STYLE

Under this head students will find, in most of the out-
lines, a considerable number of quotations giving the
opinions of able critics as to the style of the author.
These have been selected so far as may be so as to have
an immediate bearing upon the particular piece under
consideration. Where this is not possible they apply to
the author's style in general. . In a few cases, the writer
has given his own opinion. This has always been based
upon the opinions of prominent critics, whose words
would have been used had they lent themselves readily
to quotation.

It is believed that students and teachers will find this
part of the book particularly useful as affording a point of
departure for their own study of style. The fact is, that
any statement as to style that is not based upon a gen-
eral consensus of opinion, is not worth much. Every one
knows how far from the mark were the contemporary
estimates of the style of Wordsworth, Byron, and Keats.

So much of what has been said above applies, mutatis
mutandis, to the outlines of Essays and Orations and
Lyric Poetry that a treatment of them in detail seems
unnecessary.

The writer wishes, however, to say a few words to those
who may use this book in connection with " A Brief Out-
line of Books I Have Read." This book is intended for
teachers and mature students. The " Outlines " are,



Introduction xxi

therefore, much fuller and more detailed than can be
expected of ordinary students. They will, it is believed,
materially aid the teacher in helping the student to that
further condensation which is necessary if he is to gain a
firm grasp of a masterpiece as a whole. This wholeness
of grasp is the chief end to be sought in teaching any
piece of literature and the one thing too often neglected.


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Online LibraryMelvin HixFifty English classics briefly outlined → online text (page 1 of 14)