Alexander pope: Poet critic of 18th century.

  • He is best known for his satirical verse and for his translation of Homer, and he is also famous for his use of the heroic couplet.
  • He suffred from pott’s disease which was the cause of his hunchback.
  •  His education suffred because of  Test Acts
  • Pope described the countryside around his house in his poem Windsor Forest.
  • 1709, Pope’s Pastorals was published in the sixth part of Tonson’s Poetical Miscellanies
  • This was followed by An Essay on Criticism, published in May 1711.
  • Around 1711, Pope made friends with Tory writers John GayJonathan SwiftThomas Parnell and John Arbuthnot, who together formed the satirical Scriblerus Club.
  •  Also he was friends with Whig writers Joseph Addison and Richard Steele and contributed to Addison’s play Cato, as well as writing for The Guardian and The Spectator.
  •   He began  translating the Iliad  around 1715.
  • Together with John Gay’s ‘The Beggar’s Opera‘ and Swift’s ‘Gulliver’s Travels‘ this first ‘Dunciad’ was part of a concerted propaganda assault against Walpole’s Whig ministry. 
  • In 1731, Pope published his “Epistle to Burlington“, on the subject of architecture, the first of four poems which would later be grouped under the title Moral Essays
  • The Essay on Man is a philosophical poem, written in heroic couplets and published between 1732 and 1734 . The poem is an attempt to “vindicate the ways of God to Man,” a variation on Milton’s attempt in Paradise Lost to “justify the ways of God to Man”. 
  • It consists of four epistles that are addressed to Lord Bolingbroke
  • The Imitations of Horace followed (1733–38).
  •  Pope also added a wholly original poem, An Epistle to Doctor Arbuthnot, as an introduction to the “Imitations”. It reviews his own literary career and includes the famous portraits of Lord Hervey(“Sporus“) and Addison (“Atticus”).
  •  The Dunciad. Book Four appeared in 1742, and a complete revision of the whole poem in the following year. In this version, Pope replaced the “hero”, Lewis Theobald, with the poet laureate Colley Cibber as “king of dunces”. But the real focus of the revised poem is Walpole .

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Literary Criticism Timeline: overview/ shortnotes Part 1


  1. Socrates : father of modern western philosophy. Known for Socratic irony and elenchus. He tutored plato.
  2. Plato : Plato, soon after meeting Socrates burned all his existing poems and drama and garnered an intrest in philosophy and politics. He tutored Aristotle.
  3. Aristotle : Aristotle is credited with the earliest study of formal logic. He tutored Alexander the great. 
  • Socratic method, also known as maieutics, method of elenchus, elenctic method, or Socratic debate, is a form of cooperative argumentative dialogue between individuals, based on asking and answering questions to stimulate critical thinking and to draw out ideas and underlying presumptions.
  • Like Plato had an Academy for his students, Aristotle’s centre for education was called lyceum.
  • For Plato poetry was a medium for instruction only and not for pleasure.
  • Ion is a shorter and most famous dialogue in the longer work Dialogues  by Plato.
  •  Aristotle envisages pleasure as the end of poetry.
  • Following Plato’s death, Aristotle immersed himself in empirical studies and shifted from Platonism to empiricism .
  •  For Aristotle, “all science (dianoia) is either practical, poetical or theoretical” (Metaphysics). By practical science, he means ethics and politics; by poetical science, he means the study of poetry and the other fine arts; by theoretical science, he means physics, mathematics and metaphysics.
  • Aristotle’s major works are Poetics ( deals with art of poetry) and Rhetoric (deals with art of speaking).
  • Poetics has 1-4 chapter on Poetry, 5 on comedy and epic, 6-19 on tragedy, and remaining on poetic diction and epic poetry.
  • Out of the three unities, unity of time is mentioned casually while unity of place is not mentioned at all in the Poetics.

    Aristotle considered epic poetry, tragedy, comedy, dithyrambic poetry and music to be imitative, each varying in imitation by medium, object, and manner. For example, music imitates with the media of rhythm and harmony, whereas dance imitates with rhythm alone, and poetry with language. The forms also differ in their object of imitation. Comedy, for instance, is a dramatic imitation of men worse than average; whereas tragedy imitates men slightly better than average. Lastly, the forms differ in their manner of imitation – through narrative or character, through change or no change, and through drama or no drama. Aristotle believed that imitation is natural to mankind and constitutes one of mankind’s advantages over animals. While

     it is believed that Aristotle’s Poetics comprised two books – one on comedy and one on tragedy – only the portion that focuses on tragedy has survived. Aristotle taught that tragedy is composed of six elements: plot-structure, character, style, thought, spectacle, and lyric poetry. The characters in a tragedy are merely a means of driving the story; and the plot, not the characters, is the chief focus of tragedy. Tragedy is the imitation of action arousing pity and fear, and is meant to effect the catharsis of those same emotions. Aristotle concludes Poetics with a discussion on which, if either, is superior: epic or tragic mimesis. He suggests that because tragedy possesses all the attributes of an epic, possibly possesses additional attributes such as spectacle and music, is more unified, and achieves the aim of its mimesis in shorter scope, it can be considered superior to epic.

Latin/ Augastan Era

  1. Horace : Horace can be regarded as the world’s first autobiographer in his writings, he “tells us far more about himself than any other great poet in antiquity . Wrote 6 books: Epodes, Satires, Odes, carmen secular, Epistles, Ars poetica. Horace believed poetry both delight and instruct.
  • In 29 B.C. he published the Epodes, in 23 B.C. the first three book of Odes, and his first book of Epistles in 20 B.C. . Augustus asked Horace in 17 B.C. to write a ceremonial poem celebrating his reign to be read at the Saecular Games.
  • Horace crafted elegant hexameter verses(Satires and Epistles) and caustic iambic poetry(Epodes). 
  • Epistles comprised of 2 books. 1st book has 19 familiar letters and an envoi. 2nd book contains  2 long letters themed function of poetry and use of archaism and neologism.
  • Ars poetica is not a treatise on art of Criticism but a long poem with its’s subject as Criticism, devided into Poesis (words used/ subject matter), Poema (poem form/ meter used) and poeta ( poet himself).

Graco Roman

  1. Longinus : On the Sublime is attributed to longinus. According to him greatness of poetry is not in impating pleasure or knowledge but in the sublime.

On the Sublime : 

  • Written in greek  and adressed to  Postumius terentianus.
  • Recieved attention when published by boileau in 1674.
  • 5 principles of sublime are : grandeur of thought, capacity of strong emotions, appropriate. Use of figure of speech, Nobility of diction, dignified and elaborate composition.
  • True sublime means it “please all and pleases always“.

    George Eliot: compiled works and biography of eminent victorian female writer.

    Mary Anne Evans: One of the leading writers of the Victorian eraEvans became assistant editor to  John Chapman‘s journal The Westminster Review.

    She is the author of seven novels, namely Adam Bede (1859), The Mill on the Floss (1860), Silas Marner (1861), Romola (1863), Felix Holt, the Radical ( 1866), Middlemarch(1871–72) and Daniel Deronda (1876), most of which are set in provincial England and known for their realism and psychological insight. 



    • Adam Bede, 1859 : Eliot herself called it “a country story – full of the breath of cows and scent of hay.” In the early days of the Napoleonic Wars, Adam Bede is hardworking carpenter with enormous physical strength and considerable force of will. But Adam has a single flaw, his blind love of Hetty Sorrel, a vain, shallow dairymaid who spurns Adam but is easily seduced by the local squire. The bitter and tragic consequences of her actions shake the very foundations of their serene rural community.

    Major Characters

    • Adam Bede is described as a tall, stalwart, moral, and unusually competent carpenter. He is 26 years old at the beginning of the novel, and bears an “expression of large-hearted intelligence.”
    • Hetty Sorrel is Mr. Poyser’s orphaned niece, who lives and works at the Poyser farm. Her beauty, as described by George Eliot, is the sort “which seems made to turn the heads not only of men, but of all intelligent mammals, even of women.”
    • Dinah Morris is another orphaned niece of the Poysers. She is also beautiful – “It was one of those faces that make one think of white flowers with light touches of colour on their pure petals” – but has chosen to become an itinerant Methodistpreacher, and dresses very plainly.
    • Arthur Donnithorne, his grandson, stands to inherit the estate; he is twenty years old at the opening of the novel. He is a handsome and charming sportsman.

    • The Mill on the Floss, 1860 : If life had no love in it, what else was there for Maggie?’

      Brought up at Dorlcote Mill, Maggie Tulliver worships her brother Tom and is desperate to win the approval of her parents, but her passionate, wayward nature and her fierce intelligence bring her into constant conflict with her family. As she reaches adulthood, the clash between their expectations and her desires is painfully played out as she finds herself torn between her relationships with three very different men: her proud and stubborn brother, a close friend who is also the son of her family’s worst enemy, and a charismatic but dangerous suitor. With its poignant portrayal of sibling relationships, The Mill on the Floss is considered George Eliot’s most autobiographical novel; it is also one of her most powerful and moving.

    Major Characters

    • Maggie Tulliver – young female protagonist

    • Tom Tulliver – Maggie’s brother

    • Mrs Bessy Tulliver – Maggie and Tom’s mother

    • Mr Tulliver – Maggie and Tom’s father, owner of the Mill

    • Philip Wakem – hunchbacked classmate of Tom, and friend/suitor to Maggie

    • Stephen Guest – affluent suitor to Maggie

    • Silas Marner, 1861 : The story opens as Silas Marner, falsely accused of theft, loses everything, including his faith in God. Embittered and alienated from his fellow man, he moves to the village of Raveloe, where he becomes a weaver. Taking refuge in his work, Silas slowly begins to accumulate gold—his only joy in life—until one day that too is stolen from him. Then one dark evening, a beautiful, golden-haired child, lost and seeing the light from Silas’s cottage, toddles in through his doorway. As Silas grows to love the girl as if she were his own daughter, his life changes into something precious. But his happiness is threatened when the orphan’s real father comes to claim the girl as his own, and Silas must face losing a treasure greater than all the gold in the world.

    Major Characters

    • Silas Marner: a weaver who is betrayed at Lantern Yard by his treacherous friend William Dane, moves away to Raveloe, becomes a miser, and accumulates a small fortune, only to have it stolen by Dunstan Cass. Despite these misfortunes, he finds his faith and virtue by the arrival of young Eppie (daughter of Godfrey Cass). 
    • Godfrey Cass:  eldest son of the local squire, who is being constantly blackmailed by his dissolute brother Dunstan over his secret marriage to Molly. When Molly dies, he feels relief, but in time realizes he must account for his deceit to those he has wronged.
    • Eppie (Hephizibah): daughter of Molly and Godfrey, who is cared for by Silas after the death of her mother. Mischievous in her early years, she grows into a radiant and beautiful young girl devoted to her adoptive father.

    • Romola, 1863 : Romola is set in Renaissance Florence during the turbulent years following the expulsion of the powerful Medici family during which the zealous religious reformer Savonarola rose to control the city. At its heart is Romola, the devoted daughter of a blind scholar, married to the clever but ultimately treacherous Tito whose duplicity in both love and politics threatens to destroy everything she values, and she must break away to find her own path in life. Described by Eliot as ‘written with my best blood’, the story of Romola’s intellectual and spiritual awakening is a compelling portrayal of a Utopian heroine, played out against a turbulent historical backdrop. 

    • Felix Holt, the Radical, 1866 : When the young nobleman Harold Transome returns to England from the colonies with a self-made fortune, he scandalizes the town of Treby Magna with his decision to stand for Parliament as a Radical. But after the idealistic Felix Holt also returns to the town, the difference between Harold’s opportunistic values and Holt’s profound beliefs becomes apparent. Forthright, brusque and driven by a firm desire to educate the working-class, Felix is at first viewed with suspicion by many, including the elegant but vain Esther Lyon, the daughter of the local clergyman. As she discovers, however, his blunt words conceal both passion and deep integrity. Soon the romantic and over-refined Esther finds herself overwhelmed by a heart-wrenching decision: whether to choose the wealthy Transome as a husband, or the impoverished but honest Felix Holt. 

    • Middlemarch, 1871–72 : Virginia Woolf famously remarked, it is ‘one of the few English novels written for grown-up people’. Middlemarch, A Study of Provincial life, first published in 8 instalments during1871-72. It comprises of several distinct stories and a large cast of characters. Themes like nature of marriage, hypocrisy, status of women are highlighted.In the story, Dorothea is an earnest, intelligent woman and a budding social reformer who makes a serious error in judgment when she chooses to marry Edward Casaubon, a scholarly man many years her senior. Lydgate is a young doctor in Middlemarch who becomes involved with and marries the unsuitable Rosamond Vincy. Dorothea discovers her husband to be a pompous fraud and an incompatible and repressive partner. Lydgate finds himself on the brink of financial ruin and personal disgrace because of his ill-considered choice of a wife. Power struggles in both marriages further doom the relationships.The plot of the novel involved working out of these two misguided decisions. In the end Dorothea has also fallen in love with Ladislaw, whom she had previously seen only as her husband’s unfortunate relative. However, the peculiar nature of Casaubon’s will forbids her to marry him. Renouncing Casaubon’s fortune, she shocks her family by announcing that she will marry Ladislaw.

    • Daniel Deronda, 1876 : George Eliot’s final novel and her most ambitious work, Daniel Deronda contrasts the moral laxity of the British aristocracy with the dedicated fervor of Jewish nationalists. Crushed by a loveless marriage to the cruel and arrogant Grandcourt, Gwendolen Harleth seeks salvation in the deeply spiritual and altruistic Daniel Deronda. But Deronda, profoundly affected by the discovery of his Jewish ancestry, is ultimately too committed to his own cultural awakening to save Gwendolen from despair. 

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    History of English Bible

    Translation:the Bible.

    In 8th century bede translated a portion of the gospel of St. John into old English prose.

    Wycliffe’s Translation from Latin vulgate during 1384 and later in 1388 ( ascribed more to John purvey)

    William Tyndale relied on direct translation of Hebrew and Greek originals. In 1525 his English New Testament was printed at Cologne. Much like modern day Bible.

    Miles coverdale printed 1st completely printed English Bible.

    The great bible 1539 first authorised version under Henry VIII, it was based on Mathews bible.

    Calvinistic Geneva bible also called Breeches bible.

    In Elizabethan period came the bishops bible.

    The authorised version appeared in 1611. 47 scholars were appointed by James 1.

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    Litrary Riddlers 

    I know I have been writing quite tiring study material for competitive examz from a long long time. Believe me I am as uninterested in this as you are. So for a change I decided to study with a twist of fun in it.

    Here, today I have a fistful of riddles from the almighty literaturary classics. Because all studyies and no play makes Jack a dull boy! Don’t be ‘Jack’ fellas.

    Enjoy this riddling session and check your knowledge about literature. Do write in comments below how many of your answers match. Here you go…

    1. Oedipus Rex: also known by its Greek title, Oedipus Tyrannus or Oedipus the King, is an Athenian tragedy by Sophocles that was first performed around 429 BC. It is referred to by Aristotle in the Poetics.

    Q: “What is the creature that walks on four legs in the morning, two legs at noon, and three in the evening?”

    A: A Man

    (who crawls on four legs as an infant, walks on two legs as an adult, and walks with a cane as an elderly person)

    2. The Merchant of Venice : is a 16th-century play by William Shakespeare written between 1596 and 1599. 

    Riddle for the suiters will win one of them a beautiful wife and her dowry. Portia’s father comes up with a riddle to choose from amoung the three caskets.

    Q: The golden casket reads, “Who chooseth me shall gain what many men desire.” The silver reads, “Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves.” The leaden reads, “Who chooseth me must give and hazard all he hath.”

    A: The golden casket contains a skull, and a note warning against judging a book by its cover, and the silver casket represents chasing elusive goals. But the leaden casket contains a note that reads, “You that choose not by the view, chance as fair and choose as true.”

    3. Emma : novel authored by Jane Austen, was first published in December 1815. Austen explores the concerns and difficulties of genteel women living in GeorgianRegency England; she also creates a lively comedy of manners among her characters.

    Before she began the novel, Austen wrote, “I am going to take a heroine whom no one but myself will much like.”


    My first displays the wealth and pomp of kings,

    Lords of the earth! their luxury and ease.

    Another view of man, my second brings,

    Behold him there, the monarch of the seas!

    A: Courtship

    4. The Canturbury Tales: is a collection of 24 stories that runs to over 17,000 lines written in Middle English by Geoffrey Chaucer between 1387–1400. 

    In wife of bath’s tale, one of the Arthur’s knight rapes a beautiful women he witnessed on his journey. As a punishment he was asked a riddle by Queen Genevieve, which if he fails to answer within an year and a day, he must die.

    Q: What it is that women most desire ?

    A: Sovereignty over her husband.

    5. Samson Agonistes:(from Greek “Samson the champion“) is a tragic closet drama by John Milton. The play was included with Paradise Regained and printed on 29 May 1671 by John Starkey. In 1671, the work was printed with a new title page and prefaced his work with a discussion on Greek Tragedy and Aristotle’s Poetics.On the title page, Milton wrote that the piece was a “Dramatic Poem” instead of it being a drama.

    Famous lines : “Blind among enemies, O worse than chains”.


    Q: Out of the eater, something to eat; out of the strong, something sweet. (Judges 14:14)

    A: Bees making a honeycomb inside a lion’s carcass

    (If you have read samson agonists you must be aware that Samson had killed the lion.)

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     Charles Dickens: The Great Master of Characterisation

    Charles John Huffam Dickens (7 February 1812 – 9 June 1870) was an English writer and Social critic of the Victorian era.
    Dickens’s biographer Claire Tomalin regards him as the greatest creator of character in English fiction after Shakespeare. They possess some of the most memorable whimsical names like Ebenezer ScroogeTiny TimJacob MarleyBob CratchitOliver TwistThe Artful DodgerFaginBill SikesPipMiss HavishamSydney CartonCharles DarnayDavid CopperfieldMr. MicawberAbel MagwitchDaniel QuilpSamuel PickwickWackford Squeers, and Uriah Heep.

    Many were drawn from real life: Mrs Nickleby is based on his mother, though she didn’t recognise herself in the portrait, just as Mr Micawber is constructed from aspects of his father’s ‘rhetorical exuberance’, Harold Skimpole in Bleak House is based on James Henry Leigh Hunt: his wife’s dwarfish chiropodist recognised herself in Miss Mowcher in David Copperfield. Perhaps Dickens’s impressions on his meeting with Hans Christian Andersen informed the delineation of Uriah Heep.


    1. The Pickwick Papers :

     The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club was Charles Dickens‘s first novel. He was asked to contribute to the project as an up-and-coming writer after the success of Sketches by Boz, published in 1836. Dickens took over the unsuccessful monthly publication after the original illustrator Robert Seymour had committed suicide.

    Background: In May 1827, the Pickwick Club of London, headed by Samuel Pickwick, decides to establish a traveling society in which four members journey about England and make reports on their travels. The four members are Mr. Pickwick, a quixotic Character; Tracy Tupman, a ladies’ man who never makes a conquest; Augustus Snodgrass, a poet who never writes a poem; and Nathaniel Winkle, a sportsman of tremendous ineptitude.

    Major Characters

    • Samuel Pickwick — the main protagonist and founder of the Pickwick Club. Following his description in the text, Pickwick is usually portrayed by illustrators as a round-faced, clean-shaven, portly gentleman wearing spectacles.
    • Nathaniel Winkle — a young friend of Pickwick’s and his travelling companion; he considers himself a sportsman, though he turns out to be dangerously inept when handling horses and guns.
    • Augustus Snodgrass — another young friend and companion; he considers himself a poet, though there is no mention of any of his own poetry in the novel.
    • Tracy Tupman — the third travelling companion, a fat and elderly man who nevertheless considers himself a romantic lover.
    • Sam Weller — Mr Pickwick’s valet, and a source of idiosyncratic proverbs and advice.
    • Tony Weller — Sam’s father, a loquacious coachman.
    • Alfred Jingle — a strolling actor and charlatan, noted for telling bizarre anecdotes in a distinctively extravagant, disjointed style.

    2. Oliver Twist: 

    Introduction; the 2nd novel of Charles Dickens published in monthly installments of Bentley’s miscellany under psuedonym “boz”. It was published in a serialised form  from 1837-39.

    Alternative title: The parish boy’s progress.

    Originally intended to be part of The mudfog papers.

    Major characters:

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