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ENL 4122
English Novel

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

Class 4

Reading Assignment:

    Roxana pp. 111-208

DUE: POST # 2 (Group A)


Class Objectives:

  • To discuss the marriage debate in the middle section of the novel
  • To discuss the figure of Roxana
  • To discuss the continuing problem of the children


Notes and Discussion Questions:

1. Marriage Debate

The central discussion of the novel takes place between the narrator and the Dutch Merchant (pp. 144-154) regarding the pros and cons of marriage for women.

Summarize Roxana's arguments against marriage. How legitimate are these argument? Are they convincing? Why or why not?

Summarize the Dutch merchant's arguments for marriage. How legitimate are these? Are they convincing? Why or why not?

What concessions is the merchant willing to make? Why? What effect does this have on Roxana's opinion?

To what extent are we expected to believe or sympathize with Roxana's point of view? To what extent do you?

What happens when Roxana tells him she is "with child"? Why?


2. Roxana: Dancing, Eastern exoticism, and being kept by a King

We are led to believe in this section that Roxana reaches the height of ambition in becoming the kept mistress of the KING, supposedly Charles II. How does this come about? Why is this treated so differently from her affair with the PRINCE? What happens as a result of this?

What role does the figure of "Roxana" -- or her Turkish dress and French- style dance -- play in making her a figure of desire? Why? Compare this to the impression that the authentic "Oriental" ladies make (p. 179). Explore the implications in terms of British empiricism and the construction of feminine desireability.

Concurrently with her royal affair, Roxana's "maid" is beginning to investigate and provide for her children. How do these preparations succeed? What strikes you as odd or problematic about Amy's behavior? What role does money play in class? What other factors are to be considered?

Why does Roxana fear the reproach of her children?


3. Implications

The theme of marriage and money is most explicit in this section, and the conversation between the merchant and Roxana may well serve as a benchmark for the issues in the rest of the class. Evaluate the historical, moral, and symbolic (i.e. literary) implications of the argument.

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

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