WILLIAM MORRIS QUESTIONS FOR E335 VICTORIAN LITERATURE

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Assigned: William Morris. "The Defence of Guenevere (1483-91), "How I Became a Socialist" (1491-94).

"The Defence of Guenevere"

1. What romance characteristics does this poem contain? In what sense might Morris, who is part of the nineteenth-century "medievalist revival," be distancing himself from naive acceptance of chivalric assumptions? (In necessary, look up the term "romance" in a good dictionary or a guide to literary terms.)

2. What case does Guenevere make in her favor? What does she admit or avow about her encounters with Sir Lancelot, and why does she nonetheless keep calling Sir Gawain (her main accuser) a liar? How do her remembrances of past thoughts and sensations help Guenevere defend her integrity?

"How I Became a Socialist"

3. On 1491-92, Morris writes that since he isn't a member of the working class, he came to socialism by means of an ideal. What is that ideal, and how does Morris contextualize the frame of mind ("group of mind," to use his term) that led him to formulate such an ideal?

4. On 1492-93, how does Morris describe the society that so easily contents the average middle-class British citizen? What accusations does Morris level against this status quo?

5. On 1493-94, what relationship does Morris assert should exist between art and more obviously practical affairs? Why should artistic representation and objects of art matter, in his view, when so many working people are without the necessities of life?

Edition: Greenblatt, Stephen et al, eds. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. 8th ed. Vol. E. New York: Norton, 2006. ISBN Package 2 (Vols. DEF) 0-393-92834-9.