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ENG 1120 University of Toronto The Ministers Black Veil by Nathaniel Hawthorne Essay

Students must write essays on two of the following topics. Do not simply repeat what you said in your essays written during the term. Your answers should be clear, comprehensive, well organized and insightful. You should avoid using the same work twice (or using the same author twice if it comes to that). Generally the more insights you have to share, the better the result. The questions associated with each topic are only a guide. Use them if you find them useful.

1/ For a long time writers have been fascinated by consciousness in all its facets. Gradually the 20th century revealed a new understanding of reality: the lack of a unified perspective, the prioritizing of multiple viewpoints, the relinquishing of authority, in short, that the truth is relative. Discuss this in relation to at least three of the following works:






2/ Fiction that we studied often featured characters who ask themselves questions that turn on their understanding of identity. They often seem to be saying things like: “Who am I? All this time I’ve supposed myself to be a certain kind of person and now I am not so sure.” Choose at least three of the following characters and consider them in the light of this claim.

Mabel (Lawrence, Horse Dealer’s Daughter)

Gabriel (Joyce, The Dead)

Dexter (Fitzgerald, Winter Dreams

Harry (Hemingway, Snows of Kilimanjaro)

Faulkner (Sartoris Snopes, Barn Burning)

3/ Choose at least three of the following stories and discuss how their authors use the setting as an essential instrument for their fictional interests, as opposed to a mere backdrop. Usher is the name for two houses, both rotten. The evil odour issuing from the basement may be gunpowder, as one scene implies. But it could be something more infamous, a corpse and a truth that will tear apart the story as it proceeds. The narrator of The Storm insists that everyone in it is happy. But for how long? How does Lawrence use the coal-mining country to develop his story? What does Fitzgerald have to teach us about the glittering society in which Winter Dreams situates itself?

House of Usher, Poe

The Three Hermits, Tolstoy

The Storm, Chopin

Odour of Chrysanthemums, Lawrence

Winter Dreams, Fitzgerald

4/ Choose at least three of the following stories and discuss how their authors use unhappy endings as a distinctive way of resolving certain ambiguities in the texts listed below. How do you read the multiple deaths at the end of Usher? Is Reverend Hooper guilty of murder? Or is he just rumoured to be guilty? Is Billy Budd an innocent who nonetheless kills a man? Claggart may be the embodiment of evil, traitorousness and mendacity, but he dies a victim. Captain Vere can very well go back to his books, can feign sagacity and assure himself that he shouldered the weight of responsibility, but he lets an innocent man hang. In A Rose for Emily, is Homer Barron’s death something more than a gruesome murder mystery? Are Hemingway’s young heroes more naïve than readers sometimes assume? These ideas might be helpful as you develop your arguments.

House of Usher (Poe)

Minister’s Black Veil (Hawthorne)

Billy Budd (Melville)

A Rose for Emily (Faulkner)

End of Something (Hemingway)


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