E457 Thomas De Quincey Questions

Assigned: Confessions of an English Opium-Eater (529-43), "On the Knocking at the Gate in Macbeth" (543-46).

Confessions of an English Opium-Eater (1821).

1. On 529-33, in describing his meeting and subsequent loss of contact with the kind-hearted prostitute Ann, how does De Quincey distance himself from ordinary middle-class morality, and how does he legitimize his strong emotions about this person and this phase of his life?

2. On 535-39 and 541-43, ("The Pains of Opium"), how might De Quincey be considered an archetypal romantic poet? To respond, discuss the new experiences that open up to him: his altered perception of space, time, personal memory, and reality more generally. But what capacities are denied him?

3. On 539-41, why does the Malay (whom De Quincey met by accident at his own cottage in the mountains) fill his dreams with such horror? How, that is, does De Quincey connect "the Orient" as a Western concept with his opium-laced "bad trips"? (For the setup of the Malay's significance, see also 533-34.)

"On the Knocking at the Gate in Macbeth"

4. On 543-46, with what attitude does De Quincey approach his object of study, the Shakespeare play Macbeth? How does he explain the dramatic purpose of the drunken porter's knocking at the castle gates just after Macbeth has done his dreadful deed?

Edition: Abrams, M.H. et al. The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Volume 2A. 7th edition. ISBN 2A = 0393975681.