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ENL 4122
English Novel

Spring 2006
Time: Monday and Wednesday
11:00-12:15 pm
Room: SOC 286

Class 3

Reading Assignment:

    Roxana pp. 1-111

DUE: POST # 1 (Group B)


Class Objectives:

  • To discuss the character and plot of Defoe's novel
  • To discuss the form of Defoe's novel


Notes and Discussion Questions:

1. "Roxana" -- or, who is the narrator?

You have been assigned roughly the first third of Defoe's novel, and these questions are aimed at getting you to think about the novel in ways that will lead to productive discussion and analysis of the form.

Note that this novel is written in the first person. What type of non-fiction does this writing emulate or parallel? How or why?

The dominant voice of the story is the narrator's, whose name we don't learn until well into the narrative. What does this suggest about the character? What is important to know about her?

(How might this reflect the historical trend toward seeing women as individuals or equals, as noted in Staves' article?)

How would you describe the character of our narrator? What appear to be her main concerns?

What other characters are important to the story? For example, how would you describe Amy, the Brewer her husband, the Jeweler, the prince? Who is surprisingly not important?

What happens to our narrator in the opening third of the novel? What is SIGNIFICANT about her experience? In other words, what does the novel suggest as the reason for telling her story?

For whom do you think the "lessons" of her story are intended? How or why?


2. Form: or how is the story told?

What strikes you as strange about the form or format of this novel? Why?

One way to organize the events of this novel is to see the relationships the narrator engages in as episodes. The Brewer episode, the Jeweler episode, the Prince episode. How are these stories similar? How are they different?

In this way, we call this an "episodic plot," and it has many similarities with other forms of early fiction, such as criminal narratives, picaresque narratives, saint's lives, etc. What might be the controlling theme or concern that ties these episodes together? What do you expect to happen next?


3. Implications

Our main theme this semester is "For richer or poorer," or the relationship between money and marriage. What does this novel -- so far -- have to say about the relationship between money and marriage?

Does this novel raise any historical questions for you? If so, what?

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