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History: E211_Mackenzie

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Henry Mackenzie Study Questions, The Man of Feeling, English 211 British Literature to 1760, Spring 2008, Alfred J. Drake at California State University, Fullerton.

E211 HENRY MACKENZIE QUESTIONS

Assigned: The Man of Feeling. (Separate paperback edition.)

THE MAN OF FEELING

Visit Roman Numerals if you are not familiar with that numbering system. It was taught in primary school when I was a kid, but it seems not to be universally covered anymore. If you find it a bit confusing a first, well, repetitio mater studiarum!

AUTHOR'S INTRODUCTION (3-5)

1. What are the circumstances in which the narrative we are about to hear has come down to us, according to the introduction? What attitude does the editor himself seem to take towards it, and what tone does the introduction and the framing device (an anonymous editor) suggest regarding how we as readers should process the story to come?

CHAPTER XION BASHFULNESSA CHARACTERHIS OPINION ON THAT SUBJECT (7-9) AND CHAPTER XIIOF WORLDLY INTERESTS (9-12)

2. With what disposition is Harley, the novel's protagonist, said to be endowed? What does the narrator (his friend Charles, as we later find out) tell us about Harley's upbringing and his prospects for the future?

CHAPTER XIII--THE MAN OF FEELING IN LOVE (12-15)

3. What draws Harley to Miss Walton, the daughter of his would-be benefactor Mr. Walton? What seems to account for her attraction to him? In addition, how does the narrator characterize Miss Walton's emotional cast?

CHAPTER XIVHE SETS OUT ON HIS JOURNEYTHE BEGGAR AND HIS DOG (15-18)

4. What prompts Harley to stop and talk with the Beggar he meets on his way to seek preferment from the Baronet? What is the Beggar's story, and what might be learned from it by way of moral instruction and, more broadly, "human interest"?

CHAPTER XIX--HE MAKES A SECOND EXPEDITION TO THE BARONET'S. THE LAUDABLE AMBITION OF A YOUNG MAN TO BE THOUGHT SOMETHING BY THE WORLD (18-23)

5. In attempting again to call on the Baronet, Harley meets a man with "a red laced waistcoat." As a result of the episode recounted in this chapter, what lesson does Harley learn about appearances and respectability? At the end of the chapter, how well does he seem to appreciate the life-lesson the encounter has afforded him?

CHAPTER XXHE VISITS BEDLAM.THE DISTRESSES OF A DAUGHTER (23-27)

6. What is the occasion for Harley's meeting the young woman who tells him her story in this chapter? How does he react to her plight? Follow out his developing reaction in word and deed to the unfolding tale and his actions on the point of departing from the madhouse. Taking into account the chapter as a whole, what seems to be the value to Harley of this experience in Bedlam? What might the intended value of the chapter be for us as readers who must assess Harley's reactions as well as the young woman's sad story?

CHAPTER XXI--THE MISANTHROPIST (27-33)

7. Harley's friend does him the favor of introducing him to a misanthrope. What is this fellow's story -- what has driven him to his present dislike of all humanity? And what is his view of human nature and the much-vaunted eighteenth-century term "benevolence"?

CHAPTER XXVHIS SKILL IN PHYSIOGNOMY (33-36) CHAPTER XXVIIHIS SKILL IN PHYSIOGNOMY IS DOUBTED (39-40)

8. What is "physiognomy"? Look up the term on the web and set down some of the more worthwhile information you find about the nature and purpose of this common eighteenth-century preoccupation.

9. How does Harley's propensity to engage in physiognomic interpretations of others get him in trouble in Chapter XXV (25), and how do his companions try to set him right on this issue in Chapter XXVII (27) What vulnerabilities has the "man of feeling" shown in these two chapters taken together, and what attitude does the text adopt towards his tendency to excuse the faults of others?

CHAPTER XXVI -- THE MAN OF FEELING IN A BROTHEL (37-39) AND CHAPTER XXVIII--HE KEEPS HIS APPOINTMENT (40-50)

10. Harley meets a prostitute named Emily Atkins in Chapter XXVI (26), and then learns in Chapter XXVIII (28) what has brought her to her present condition. What story does she relate to Harley about her downfall? To what causes does she attribute her misfortune? How might this recounting revise our opinion of Harley from what it might have been in the previous few chapters, now that we have gotten to know his unfortunate acquaintance better?

CHAPTER XXIX--THE DISTRESSES OF A FATHER (51-55)

11. Emily's father (who had burst into her quarters in the previous chapter ready to kill Harley) is now reconciled to his long-lost daughter. How does the narrative handle (i.e. represent) the powerful emotions that beset all three characters throughout the chapter? Choose a few key moments and discuss them in terms of their manner of conveying the characters' strong feelings.

12. At page 52 middle, the narrator interjects, "We would attempt to describe the joy which Harley felt on this occasion {of hearing his own benevolence described by Emily to her father}, did it not occur to us, that one half of the world could not understand it though we did; and the other half will, by this time, have understood it without any description at all." What is he thereby suggesting about the scope and limits of his task as a relater of affecting scenes? What seems to be the balance between narrator and reader with regard to the story's emotional and moral impact?

A FRAGMENT. SHOWING HIS SUCCESS WITH THE BARONET (56-57) AND CHAPTER XXXIIIHE LEAVES LONDONCHARACTERS IN A STAGE-COACH (57-62)

13. In "A Fragment," Harley learns that the preferment he had sought has gone instead to the rogue with a red lace coat whom he had met a while back. Then in Chapter XXXIII (33), he converses with an old gentleman named Ben Silton about the virtues of poetry and sentiment as well as the importance of education. What is said by each man on such topics, and what general picture of the times emerges from the conversation?

CHAPTER XXXIV--HE MEETS AN OLD ACQUAINTANCE (63-71)

14. Harley's stage-coach portion of his return from London accomplished, he sets off on foot and promptly walks into another "affective moment." What tale of woe does Harley's old neighbor Edwards recount? How does the tale in part amount to a critique of certain British economic and colonial practices during the eighteenth century? How does Edwards' benevolent disposition help him towards the end of his stay in the East Indies?

CHAPTER XXXVHE MISSES AN OLD ACQUAINTANCEAN ADVENTURE CONSEQUENT UPON IT (71-74)

15. How do things turn out for Edwards when he arrives home after his long stay in the East Indies -- what does he discover about the family he left behind? The chapter ends with a graveyard scene -- how (by means of what details) does the narrator convey the appearance, thoughts, and feelings of the characters involved in this scene?

CHAPTER XXXVIHE RETURNS HOMEA DESCRIPTION OF HIS RETINUE (74-76) AND A FRAGMENT. THE MAN OF FEELING TALKS OF WHAT HE DOES NOT UNDERSTAND--AN INCIDENT (76-78)

16. Harley offers Edwards a small farm in his possession, and the offer is accepted. Then, in the Fragment, the two men discuss British colonialism. What does Harley say about this issue, and how does Edwards respond to his opinions?

CHAPTER XL -- THE MAN OF FEELING JEALOUS (79-84) AND LAVINIA. A PASTORAL (84-87)

17. Harley finds himself disappointed in love when he learns that Miss Walton is engaged to Sir Harry Benson. How does the "man of feeling" respond to this painful frustration of his hopes? How does his pastoral poem "Lavinia" express this frustration and help him come to terms with it?

THE PUPIL -- A FRAGMENT (87-94)

18. Edward Sedley recounts to Harley the tale of his youthful travels with the impoverished nobleman Mountford. What is the moral lesson of the story he tells -- what did he learn about the prevalence of wickedness, about the difficulty of discerning the good from the bad, honor from knavery? How does this "fragment" reinforce or modify the lessons we may have derived from Harley's life events as related in the rest of the novel?

CHAPTER LV -- HE SEES MISS WALTON, AND IS HAPPY (94-97), CHAPTER LVI -- THE EMOTIONS OF THE HEART (97), AND THE CONCLUSION (98)

19. The narrator (Charles) fills us in on Harley's final days. What are Harley's main concerns and reflections as he declines towards death from a lingering illness? How does he think of his life's course now that it is coming to an end? Do his thoughts encourage us to think of his life with a satisfactory sense of closure, or do they set him apart from others and from the flow of life?

20. How do the narrator and others react to the death of Harley -- what sentiments do they express, and what moral do they draw from Harley's life, virtues, and passing? What lasting impact has Harley made upon Charles himself, as revealed by the graveyard "tableau" with which the novel concludes?

Edition: Mackenzie, Henry. The Man of Feeling. Oxford University Press, USA; 2nd edition. 2001. ISBN-10: 0192840320. ISBN-13: 978-0192840325.


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