Tag Archives: classic literature

This wrap-up will need a big bow.

I hope you’re not still stuck in Pride and Prejudice?  If so, I’m sorry, it’s my fault.  I never wrote wrap-up posts for PP, or Oliver Twist, or Jane Eyre.  What?  You didn’t know we were finished with JE?  We are.  See, the little pictures of the books changed in our sidebar.  Don’t worry, that just happened yesterday, you haven’t missed tons.  But, I am so, so sorry.

Please accept this meager post as closure on all three novels and permission to carry on.

Pride and Prejudice

We actually wrapped up Austen’s romance twice – once with the officially sanctioned WEM questions, hereafter called “The Questions,” and once on a delightfully snowy evening with hot tea, lots of books, and some Accomplished Young Women.

In our first session Jeannette wowed us with her discovery that the opening sentence “It is a truth, universally acknowledged . . .” echoed a rhetorical question by Edmund Burke in Reflections on the Revolution in France, which was a play on Thomas Jefferson’s line, “we hold these truths to be self-evident.” By which all three authors are sounding societal revolutions by calling to attention something their audiences actually do not acknowledge as truths.  Who knew?  Jeannette.  Well, Jeannette and the book Why Jane Austen?

In our second, more casual, get-together the married among us quizzed the unmarried among us about their views on possible future Mr. Darcy’s in their own lives.  Okay, fine, it was just me pushing the awkward conversation.  Sorry about that, girls.

Oliver Twist

After talk of gruel potlucks and a pickpocket training session we finally decided to once again gather around excessive amounts of cheese and chocolate to tackle The Questions.

Dickens’ use of setting to delineate between good and bad, his richly descriptive writing, and neat and tidy connections between all of the characters were all topics of discussion.  We also focused a lot of our attention on Oliver’s passive deliverance from evil, a theme that appealed to our Christian souls.  And you know those great foils that Jeannette mentioned in her latest posts about JE?  Well, I didn’t know the proper literary term for it, but I tried to draw a few.  Try these on for size:
Fagin as a foil for Mr. Brownlow
Monks for Rose Maylie
The Artful Dodger for Oliver

We agreed that we loved Dicken’s descriptive writing, and found it odd that this richly narrative work had made it’s way to the stage, before it was even completely published.  Even Dickens himself did a one man show of Nancy’s murder that overtook him to the point that some of his friends felt it drew him nearer to death.  I think Christine summed it up well when she said, “Let’s not go see Dickens when he comes to town.”

Jane Eyre

Jane is our most recently completed novel, and I’ll admit it was such a page turner that we’ve actually been done for a while.  But there were also so many things to write about, that the blog kept rolling out JE posts, even though Jane and Rochester have been happily married for some time now.

We did fear that our enjoyment of Jane might have kept us from giving it the full scholarly dissection required by our DIY Master’s Degree, but The Questions kept us in line and forced us to put on our thinking caps.  We identified motifs (weather, fire and cold), analyzed the need for Brontë’s neatly constructed conclusion, and contrasted Jane’s individual determination in contrast to Oliver’s reliance on others.

Christine raised some wonderful additional questions, that she has posed to you here as well.  Please weigh in, we value your opinion.

In Conclusion

I hope you can forgive me for not wrapping up these novels earlier.  My recent encounters with Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale have me thinking a lot about penance, so I wanted to get this written before I was made to wear a giant “P” on my chest for “Procrastinator.”  In the future I’ll try to do better, but if you see those sidebar links change and haven’t yet read a wrap-up post, feel free to come after me with paper, scissors, and tape in hand.


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moiety:  \moi’-(upside-down e thingy)-tee)\  n.   one of two equal parts

Classical Usage:  Remember that entire piece of bread that Jane got yesterday because it was Sunday?  Yes, well in the next sentence she tells us, “I generally contrived to reserve a moiety of this bounteous repast for myself; but the remainder I was invariably obliged to part with.”  That’s right, she still ended up with only a half a piece of bread.  Poor Jane.

Classically Mad Usage:  I think I’ll work to make this part of our children’s normal conversation.  I can hear it now, “Mom, he has a bigger moiety than me,”  “Mom, he’s on my moiety of the couch, “Mom, if I only eat a moiety of my meatloaf can I still have dessert,”  “Mom, can we watch Planet Heroes, it’s only a moiety of an hour long?”



Posted by on February 13, 2012 in Jane Eyre


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What About Daily?

hebdomadal:  \heb-‘dä-m(upside down e thingy)-dl\ n. weekly

Classic Usage:  We’ve already discussed the penurious food rations at Lowood, but here Jane describes the generous amount of food they got on Sundays.  In a doubling of their normal fare they received an entire slice of bread with a thin scrape of butter, “it was the hebdomadol treat to which we all looked forward from Sabbath to Sabbath.”

Classically Mad Usage:  Have you finished your vocabulary assignment from yesterday?  You can plan on that being a hebdomadol event.

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Posted by on February 12, 2012 in Jane Eyre


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No Soup for You

penurious:  adj. marked by extreme frugality due to a lack of resources

Classic Usage:  This is yet another example of the deplorable conditions at Lowood.  Jane uses the word to describe the amount of cold meat and bread they were given on Sundays.

Classically Mad Usage:  I’m a lover of frugality, but I draw the line at penury (see how I used the word in it’s noun form?)  But, now I at least know what to label any suggestion to cut back in some area of life where I’ve become accustom to posh and fat.


Posted by on February 10, 2012 in Jane Eyre


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Cream and Sugar are Preferable

exigency:  n. urgent demand

Classic Usage:  Here’s the sentence where Jane describes the meager food and drink provided them while at Lowood, “Many a time I have shared between two claimants the precious morsel of brown bread distributed at tea-time; and after relinquishing to a third, half the contents of my mug of coffee, I have swallowed the remainder with an accompaniment of secret tears, forced from me by the exigency of hunger.”  Wow.

Classically Mad Usage:  I’m too stunned by the severity of Jane’s hunger, the parallels to Oliver Twist, and Brontë’s beautiful writing to do much with the vocab. I am feeling an exigency to feed my children an extra helping of bread for lunch.  I might pass on offering them coffee, however.

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Posted by on February 9, 2012 in Jane Eyre


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A Classic Diagnosis

chilblains: n. a nasty looking ulcerish thing on the extremities*

Classic Usage:  Jane and her fellow orphan girls had to go outside regardless of weather or their insufficient dress.  Their hands and feet became covered with these horrible things.

Classically Mad Usage:  Do yourself a favor:  DO NOT look these up online.  Well, unless your child just built a snowman in little more than pajamas, then you might want to give them a quick look-see.  But be forewarned, chilblains are often confused with frostbite, and neither are pretty.

*This blog, as well as its writers and readers, are not responsible for any misdiagnosis or mistreatment of medical malady, fictional or non.


Posted by on February 8, 2012 in Jane Eyre


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If you can’t say something nice . . .

animadversion:  n. comments, usually critical

Classic Usage:  At the beginning of Chapter VI Jane overhears a class at Lowood receiving instruction, “one class still stood round Miss Scatcherd’s chair reading, and as all was quiet, the subject of their lessons could be heard, together with the manner in which each girl acquitted herself, and the animadversions or commendations of Miss Scatcherd on the performance.

Classically Mad Usage:  I would rather not have to use this word.  You see, I have an aversion to animadversions.  Thank you for not ever leaving them as comments.

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Posted by on February 7, 2012 in Jane Eyre


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Maybe Should’ve Know This One

preternatural – n. something that is beyond or outside of the natural or normal

Classic Usage:  Well, Jane Eyre is a gothic romance, therefore the use of preternatural comes up to describe many of the spooky things we encounter along the way.  My first encounter with the word occurred in Chapter V as Jane makes the long, solo journey to Lowood.  She says, “I remember but little of the journey; I only know that the day seemed to me of a preternatural length, and that we appeared to travel over hundreds of miles of road.”

Classically Mad Usage:  Apparently, this is a common word and its absence in my daily discourse is preternatural.  I suspected this was the case, and then I read a book on knitting where the author uses it with preternatural frequency.  I suppose that if the word is common enough to be used in multiplicity regarding yarn humor it deserves a place in my lingo, even if it often feels preternatural to stick it in every sentence.

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Posted by on February 6, 2012 in Jane Eyre


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What if Dorothy had met up with the Poltroonly Puma?

poltroon – n. coward

Classic Usage:  Jane, summoned to the breakfast room, stands outside the door.  She explains her hesitancy, “What a miserable little poltroon had fear, engendered of unjust punishment, made of me in those days!”

Classically Mad Usage:  Please don’t think me a poltroon if I fail to use this word in front of you, for I fear that I will make a fool of myself by putting the emphasis on the first syllable instead of the last.

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Posted by on January 30, 2012 in Jane Eyre


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Classics to Movies – Take Two (asprin, and call me in the morning)

A the winner of the Worst Movie Using a Stolen Book Title goes to . . .

Gulliver’s Travels with Jack Black

Not just bad. Really, really, awful.

Next Friday night my husband and I are going back to taking Accelerated Reading quizzes.


Posted by on October 22, 2011 in Gulliver's Travels


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