Engish Literature: Samuel Johnson / James Boswell, English homework help

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  • Answer these questions (1-7) about “The Vanity of Human Wishes.”
  • What is the poem’s central theme?
  • What is Johnson implying about the human condition, about pride, about ambition, about human relationships?
  • Why does he give us portraits of the wealthy man, the statesman, the soldier, the scholar, the beauty, the virtuous man, and so on?
  • What does he have to say about human greatness, about hope, about fear, about people’s relationship with God?
  • What use does he make of the historical figures whom he invokes throughout the poem?
  • What solutions does he offer, in the end, to the problems he has raised in the course of the poem?
  • Is the end of the poem cheerful or gloomy?
  • In “On Idleness,” what vice does Johnson state “appears in the greatest multiplicity of forms”?
  • In “On Idleness,” why does Johnson state that idleness may be the worst of the vices?
  • How does Gray’s “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard” fit the genre of an “elegy”? Be specific. (3 points)


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