John Gay, The Beggar's Opera
Swift, Gulliver's Travels
Directions: After reading the lecture, answer one of the four questions below. This answer is due no later than Thursday, May 17.
Your responses to other students' answers are due by midnight on Saturday, May 20. Remember: in order to get the full 20 points, you MUST respond thoughtfully to at least 2 other people's postings.
This set of discussion questions is worth a possible 20 points. Late answers receive 0 points, so post early :)
We will be using the Canvas Discussion Board for this class. Click on the link below to get to the Canvas portal, sign in, and then click on the box for this class. You will find the "Discussions" link on the left side of the screen:
Just answer one of the following questions.
1. Critics disagree about the significance of the ending of The Beggar's Opera.
- Yvonne Noble says that the ending in which Macheath dies is the "real" one, which accurately reflects the world in the characters and the audience live. The other is fiction. In Walpole's world, Macheath would perish, but the power of art can combat the strength of a Peachum or a Walpole.
- Maynard Mack says that Gay uses the ending to show that in Walpole's world, even the writer, who knows moral values should prevail, has no recourse but to disregard them and "sell" his artistic integrity to please the audience which pays his bills.
- Roger Fiske says that Gay is satirizing the conventions of Italian opera, in which, at the end, the criminal is always reformed, seldom with any cause or explanation; thus, at the end of The Beggar's Opera, Macheath is unrealistically (and very ironically) reformed, to "comply with the taste of the town."
What is your interpretation of the end of the play?
2. In "The Pride of Lemuel Gulliver," Samuel Holt Monk says, "The theme of pride looms large in all four voyages...The grim joke is that Gulliver himself is the supreme instance of a creature smitten with pride."
Do you agree that Gulliver exhibits pride in Books I and IV of Gulliver's Travels? Give specific examples and quotes from the book to support your position. (If you have read Books II and III, you may discuss those as well, if you like.)
For further information on these works, see the Links page.