Essay Questions - TS Eliot

Extract Based Questions:

 

Q1. “You tossed a blanket from the bed,

You lay upon your back, and waited;

You dozed, and watched the night revealing

The thousand sordid images

Of which your soul was constituted;

They flickered against the ceiling.

And when all the world came back

And the light crept up between the shutters

And you heard the sparrows in the gutters,

You had such a vision of the street

As the street hardly understands;

Sitting along the bed’s edge, where

You curled the papers from your hair,

Or clasped the yellow soles of feet

In the palms of both soiled hands.”

In your view, how does Eliot’s portrayal of the complex nature of personal experience contribute to the enduring value of his poetry?

In your response, make detailed reference to Preludes and at least ONE other poem set for study.

 

 

Q2. “Let us go then, you and I,

When the evening is spread out against the sky

Like a patient etherized upon a table;

Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,

The muttering retreats

Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels

And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:

Streets that follow like a tedious argument

Of insidious intent

To lead you to an overwhelming question ...

Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”

Let us go and make our visit.

 

In the room the women come and go

Talking of Michelangelo.

It is the inherent tension between desire and fear that creates interest in Eliot’s poetry. To what extent are such ideas reflected in the extract from The Love Song Of J. Alfred Prufrock and TWO other poems set for study?

 

Q3. “A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.'
And the camels galled, sorefooted, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.”

Intertextuality plays an essential part in the poetry of T.S. Eliot. Based on your personal response, account for the importance of intertextuality to the poems, making detailed reference to Journey Of The Magi and TWO other poems set for study.

 

Q4. “The memory throws up high and dry

A crowd of twisted things;

A twisted branch upon the beach

Eaten smooth, and polished

As if the world gave up

The secret of its skeleton,

Stiff and white.

A broken spring in a factory yard,

Rust that clings to the form that the strength has left

Hard and curled and ready to snap.”

How does your reading of Rhapsody on a Windy Night affect your reading of the rest of Eliot’s poetry? In your response, make close reference to the extract provided and at least TWO other poems set for study.

 

Q5. “We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats' feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar
    
Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion;
    
Those who have crossed
With direct eyes, to death's other Kingdom
Remember us-if at all-not as lost
Violent souls, but only
As the hollow men
The stuffed men.”

How does a critical analysis of the above extract reflect your understanding and appreciation of Eliot’s poetry as a whole? Evaluate the language, content and construction of The Hollow Men and at least TWO other poems to demonstrate your understanding and appreciation of the prescribed text.

 

 

Theme Specific Questions:

 

Q6. Through its portrayal of human experience, Eliot’s poetry reinforces the significance of desire. To what extent does your interpretation of Eliot’s poetry support this view? In your response, make detailed reference to at least TWO poems set for study.

 

Q7. How is your personal response to the poetry of Eliot shaped by a perception of voice in your poems? In your response, make detailed reference to at least TWO poems set for study.

 

Q8. TS Eliot’s poems are about the quest for individual agency. To what extent does your own interpretation of Eliot’s poetry support this view? In your response, make detailed reference to at least TWO poems set for study.

 

Q9. “[Poetry] may make us from time to time a little more aware of the deeper unnamed feelings which form the substratum of our being, to which we rarely penetrate; for our lives are mostly a constant evasion of ourselves” – T.S. Eliot

What has Eliot’s poetry made you more aware of? In your response, make detailed reference to at least TWO poems set for study.

 

Q10. How is the enduring appeal of Eliot’s poetry enhanced by his adaptation of the dramatic monologue form across his work? In your response, make detailed reference to at least TWO poems set for study.

 

Q11. Through its portrayal of relationships, Eliot’s poetry reinforces the significance of desire. To what extent does your interpretation of Eliot support this view? In your response, make detailed reference to TWO poems.

 

Q12. The power of Eliot’s poetry lies in its representation of the complexities of the human condition. Discuss this view in relation to your own reading of TWO of Eliot’s poems.

 

Q13. Explore how time and place are used in Eliot’s poetry to shape the audience’s understanding of isolation. In your response, make detailed reference to Rhapsody On A Windy Night and at least ONE other poem.

 

Q14. “Neurosis is the inability to tolerate ambiguity” – Sigmund Freud. In light of the quote, consider how at least TWO of Eliot’s poems explore the challenges associated with the uncertainties of the modern world.

                                                     

Q15. Eliot’s poetry can be clearly seen as a reaction to his relationship with the modern world in which he lived; yet his works continue to speak to us. In your opinion, how is the modernist focus of Eliot’s poetry granted universal appeal? In your response, make detailed reference to at least TWO poems set for study.

 

Q16. The power of Eliot’s poetry lies in his use of unique imagery, using contemporary objects and vernacular to challenge his audience’s perceptions. Discuss this view in relation to your own reading of TWO of Eliot’s poems.

 

Q17. Eliot’s poetry is marked by an existential questioning of an individual’s place within the order of society. Explore this statement in relation to Journey of the Magi and at least ONE other poem set for study.

 

Q18. Through its use of powerful images, Eliot’s poetry explores the significance of truth. To what extent does your own interpretation of TWO of Eliot’s poems support this view?

 

Q19. ‘Eliot’s poetry continues to engage audiences through its poetic treatment of struggle and disillusionment.’

In light of your critical study, does this statement resonate with your own interpretation of at least TWO of Eliot’s poems?

 

Q20. “A thorough knowledge of Eliot is compulsory for anyone interested in contemporary literature. Whether he is liked or disliked is of no importance, but he must be read”. In light of the quote, account for the enduring relevance of Eliot’s poetry. In your response, make detailed reference to at least TWO of the poems set for study.

 

Q21. Evaluate the effectiveness of Eliot’s exploration of the relationship between

individuals and their world within his poetry. In your response discuss ‘The Love

Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’ and ONE other poem set for study.

 

Q22. “Through its portrayal of human experience, Eliot’s poetry reinforces the value of the individual”. To what extent does your interpretation of at least TWO of Eliot’s poems support this view?

 

Q23. To what extent is your personal response to Eliot’s exploration of isolation shaped by the composer’s use of poetic techniques? In your response, make detailed reference to TWO poems set for study.

 

Q24. Eliot’s poetry is valued because it explores challenging ideas of uncertainty and alienation. Discuss this statement in light of your understanding of at least TWO of Eliot’s poems.

 

Q25. “Tension between an individual and society is what creates interest in poetry”. To what extent does this statement reflect your personal response to Hollow Men and ONE other poem.

 

Q26. Ultimately, in Eliot’s poetry, it is the representation of challenging ideas that captivates audiences. Explore the representation of at least ONE challenging idea, evaluating its significance to at least TWO of the poems.

 

Q27. Eliot’s poetry employs unique voices to privilege personal reflection over wider social commentary. That is its strength. That is its weakness.

To what extent does this statement align with your view of Eliot’s poetry? In your response, you must make detailed reference to Journey of the Magi and at least ONE other poem set for study.

 

Q28. How is your personal response to the poetry of TS Eliot shaped by a perception of the individual in the poems? In your answer, refer to THREE of the poems set for study.

 

Q29. “Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion; it is not the expression of personality, but an escape from personality.” 

Explore how this is explicitly revealed in at least TWO of Eliot's poems.

 

General Essay Questions:

 

Q30. How have the form and features of Eliot’s poetry informed your understanding of his work?

 

Q31. “The power of Eliot’s poetry lies in its ability to transcend time and context.” To what extent does your own interpretation of Eliot’s poetry support this view?

 

Q32. Poetry cannot be appreciated without empathy and without acknowledging uncomfortable truths. To what extent does this statement apply to at least TWO of Eliot's poems?

 

Q33. Eliot's poetry was deeply concerned with the techniques and aesthetics of poetry writing. How is this evident in TWO of the poems set for study?

 

Q34. A key aspect of the poetry’s ongoing appeal is Eliot’s use of meaningful structure. In your view, to what extent does the structure contribute to the appeal of Eliot’s poetry? In your response, make detailed reference to at least TWO poems set for study.

 

Q35. Eliot’s poetry remains important through the questions it provokes, not the answers it provides. Discuss the extent to which you agree with this statement and with close reference to at least two poems

 

Q36. What do you see as the most enduring aspects of Eliot’s poetry? In your response make detailed reference to at least TWO poems.

 

Q37. A text has value if it creates opportunities for change, while maintaining its core values. Explore this in relation to at least TWO of Eliot’s poems.

 

Q38. It is how individuals react to the world around them that reveals the most interesting insights into a text. Explore this in relation to at least TWO of Eliot’s poems.

 

Q39. Write a critical essay that demonstrates how your response to Eliot’s poetry changed and developed during the process of your critical study.

 

Q40. Texts on their own are interesting but when you compare them to other texts they become illuminating and dynamic. Discuss how a cumulative study of at least THREE of Eliot’s poems have allowed for a more illuminating and dynamic insight into his work.

 

Q41. “We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time”. How has your study of Eliot’s poetry allowed for you to develop a true understanding of the value of his work? In your response, make detailed reference to at least TWO poems set for study.

 

Q42. “Each decision made by the poet in the construction of their poem will ultimately impact the meaning individuals gain from the text.” In light of this, analyse how the language and structure of Eliot’s poetry has influenced your understanding of at least TWO of his poems.

 

Q43. “Despite differing responses to texts over time, ultimately it is the structure and features of a text that is most significant in evaluating its success”. Explore the effectiveness of the poetic style of T. S. Eliot’s when evaluating his success as a poet. Refer to at least TWO of the prescribed poems set for study

 

Q44. Explore the effectiveness of the poetic style of T. S. Eliot’s when evaluating his success as a poet. Refer to at least TWO of the prescribed poems set for study.

 

Q45. A key aspect of the poetry’s ongoing appeal is Eliot's rejection of structure.  In your view, to what extent does the lack of structure contribute to the appeal of Eliot's poetry? Support your evaluation with detailed reference to at least TWO of the poems prescribed for study.

 

Q46. In your view, how have poetic techniques been used to reveal memorable ideas in Eliot’s poetry? Support your view with detailed reference to TWO poems.

 

Q47. Your class has been exploring the question, ‘What will continue to make Eliot’s poetry worthy of critical study?’ Your personal response has been challenged by another student. Defend your response through a critical evaluation of at least TWO of Eliot’s poems, analysing the construction, content and language of the texts.

 

Q48. ‘Interpretations of texts can shift and change with time and place.’

Considering your time and place, reflect on the ways in which context has shaped your critical interpretation of the prescribed text. In your response, refer to TWO poems.

 

Q49. Compose an argument for or against the topic: ‘That every text has its use-by date.’ Consider your prescribed text’s ideas, language and form, and its reception in different contexts. In your response, refer to at least TWO poems.

 

Q50. It has been suggested that a key aspect of Eliot’s enduring relevance to audiences is his poetry’s examination of human flaws. To what extent does your personal understanding concur with this view? In your response you should critically analyse and evaluate the techniques, themes and structure of at least TWO poems set for study.

 

Q51. “An admirable text does not define or exhaust its possibilities”. What possibilities do you see in Eliot’s poetry? Discuss your ideas with close reference to at least TWO poems.

 

Q52. Anyone can have a good idea. Effective communication of ideas is an art form. Offer an evaluation of the strengths of Eliot’s poetry as an effective vehicle for ideas. In your response, refer to at least TWO poems.

 

Q53. “Considering a text from different perspectives develops an appreciation of its textual integrity“. Do you agree? Respond to this question through detailed reference to at least TWO of Eliot’s poems.

 

Q54. Write a series of three or four reflections that demonstrate how your response to Eliot’s poetry has changed and developed during the process of your critical study. Base your reflections on detailed reference to at least TWO poems. 

 

Q55. The value of great texts is that they continue to speak to us. How do such notions account for the value of Eliot’s poetry? In your response, make detailed reference to at least TWO of Eliot’s poems.

 

Q56. To what extent has your personal response to Eliot’s poetry been shaped by the enduring power of its intellectual and artistic qualities? Support your evaluation with close reference to at least TWO poems set for study.

 

Q57. Analyse the ways T.S. Eliot has prompted you to understand and respond to great and provocative ideas in his poetry. In your response make detailed reference to TWO poems.

 

Q58. In what ways has your critical study generated compelling and provocative insights into your text? In your response, make detailed reference to at least TWO poems set for study.

 

Critical Response Questions:

 

Q59. How has considering other interpretations of Eliot's poetry helped you develop your own appreciation of the textual integrity of the poetry? In your response you should consider the ideas, poetic techniques and structure of at least TWO poems prescribed for study.

 

Q60. For almost a century, critical studies of Eliot’s poetry have challenged us with a range of perspectives from which we can read and understand the intense exploration of the humanity which lie at the core of the poems. Write an essay where you discuss what have you come to understand about humanity from Eliot’s poems and explain how has this understanding been affected by the perspective of others.

 

Q61. A valuable text has something to say and says it well. How valid is this claim, considering the different contexts in which a text can be received? In your answer, compare your personal evaluation of at least TWO of Eliot’s poems with one other perspective on the poetry.

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