English literature on Nature and Madness

1. Nature.
How does “Nature” change across these three authors? You may consider, in your answer, how Nature is defined, how it relates to humankind (and humankind to it), whether it is benign, neutral, or malignant, and/or whether there is a logic or direction to it, as represented in these authors. You may wish to limit your focus to either external Nature or, conversely, human nature. Or, you might wish to combine these potentially divergent topics. You need not address any or all of these questions in your essay, but you should strive to teach your reader something meaningful about the subject. In any case, you’ll want to define your terms carefully and make reference to specific passages in the texts you
mention.

A B
Geoffrey Chaucer John Milton
Christina Rossetti OR Alexander Pope
Alfred Hitchcock William Butler Yeats

2. Madness.
How do these authors define madness? How does madness function in their works? Who is considered to be mad in particular works, and, more
importantly, what leads to them being considered so? Does this change across different time periods/works? Does madness attain positive or negative associations depending on who is judging madness and what their definition is? Is madness contrasted clearly with sanity, or is it an exaggeration of typical behavior and thought? How does it figure into the authors’ definitions of society? Of health? Creativity? Perspective? Individualism? Who gets to define madness, and under what conditions? Is there a discernible “direction” to madness as represented in these authors’ works? You need not address any or all of these questions in your essay, but you should strive to teach your reader something meaningful about the subject. In any case, you’ll want to define your terms carefully and make reference to specific passages in the texts you mention.

A B
William Shakespeare Sir Phillip Sidney
Samuel Taylor Coleridge OR Robert Browning
Virginia Woolf T.S.Eliot

3. Individual and Society.
How are individual and society defined in these authors’ works? How are the relationships between individual and society defined? How are the rights, freedoms, and/or responsibilities of the individual set out against the claims and expectations of society? Which is more important in each author’s works—individual or society? What are the strengths and weaknesses of each? The abilities and blind spots? Is the author in question more supportive of society’s needs or of individualism? You might think about how the author positions the individual in relation to (sometimes against) the government—including the court. You need not address any or all of these questions in your essay, but you should strive to teach your reader something meaningful about the subject. In any case, you’ll want to define your terms carefully and make reference to specific passages in the texts you mention.

A B
Geoffrey Chaucer John Donne
Samuel Taylor Coleridge OR Christina Rossetti
Alfred Hitchcock T.S. Eliot

4. Desire.
How is desire defined in our three authors’ works? How does it function? In addition to romantic and/or erotic desire, you might consider other forms of desire: the desire (for instance) for fame, or friendship, or changes in the political order (to name only these). What do these authors “know” about desire? Is it more of an enabling or a debilitating thing? Does it have limits? Is desire healthy or problematic? Should we express it or repress it? To whom or what is desire directed and how is it expressed or repressed differently? In what way might our desire as *readers* figure into your account? Do these authors manipulate our desires in any way? If so, how does that manipulation relate to the way desire is defined in and by the work itself? You need not address any or all of these questions in your essay, but you should strive to teach your reader something meaningful about the subject. In any case, you’ll want to define your terms carefully and make reference to specific passages in the texts you mention.

A B
John Donne William Shakespeare
John Keats OR Jane Austen
Virginia Woolf Alfred Hitchcock

5. Time.
How is time represented in our three authors’ works? What is its function in the works? You might consider different kinds of time (for example: historical time; an individual’s perception of time passing; and/or seasonal time), and time’s effects upon the individual, society, art, and/or nature. Is time a destroyer? A redeemer? Is time indifferent to human and/or natural desires? How does time work with, or against, the desires in these texts (that is, for such things as political or personal change)? How might the special manipulation of time (through such things as meter, stanzas, and/or plot) be key in influencing our responses to these works? You need not address any or all of these questions in your essay, but you should strive to teach your reader something meaningful about the subject. In any case, you’ll want to define your terms carefully and make reference to specific passages in the texts you mention.

A B
Thomas Wyatt William Shakespeare
Jane Austen OR William Wordsworth
Robert Browning Virginia Woolf

6. Family
How has the family changed across the three authors’ works? Your essay might consider how family is defined, how families function, “where” families are, and how such things as love, conflict, and obedience come into play. What kind of identity do these various families offer? That is, what difference does family make to how someone defines himself or herself, and to how others define him or her? Is family largely good? Are all families in these works constructed on the basis of blood relationship? Or might there be constructed families? How does family relate to larger units, such as society and/or nation? You need not address any or all of these questions in your essay, but you should strive to teach your reader something meaningful about the subject. In any case, you’ll want to define your terms carefully and make reference to specific passages in the texts you mention.

A B
Geoffrey Chaucer William Shakespeare
Jane Austen OR Alexander Pope
Christina Rossetti T.S Eliot