Maggie Tulliver’s relationship with one significant male character in The Mill on the Floss

Set texts: Tennyson, Poems; Clough, Poems; Eliot, Mill on the Floss.
Answer EITHER Option 1 OR Option 2, focusing on ONE of the three set texts.
Option 1
Select a critical resource – a journal article, a book chapter, or a book – on ONE of the three set
texts. First write an evaluative summary of the resource, and then draw upon the resource in
order to answer a question on your chosen set text. For guidance on accessing
articles/chapters/books via the OU Library and beyond, see the guidance notes that follow.
Option 2
Write a reflexive exercise on ONE of the three set texts. This involves the rewriting of a passage
in the set text from a different perspective, or in a different form. You will follow your reflexive
exercise with a critical reflection on your reflexive exercise. For guidance on this task, see the
guidance notes that follow.
Option 1
This option is in two parts. Please answer both parts.
Part 1 Evaluative summary (1000 words; 40%)
Find one critical resource (article, book, book chapter) directly relevant to your chosen question.
Your selected critical resource must NOT have been included in the module materials. See the
guidance notes below for help in finding relevant critical resources. Once you have selected your
critical resource, write an evaluative summary of your resource.
Part 2 Essay (1500 words; 60%)
Drawing upon your evaluative summary in Part 1, write an essay in which you set out your own
thoughts on your chosen question.
Analyse the relationship between the private interior world and the external world in Tennyson’s
‘The Lady of Shalott’.
To what extent do you agree with the proposition that Clough’s ‘Natura Naturans’ is ‘a gigantic,
hyperbolic fantasy of creative, evolutionary energy’ (Biswas, 1972, p. 247, in Prescott (ed.),
2016, Realities 1800–1870, Milton Keynes: The Open University, p. 196)?
Analyse Maggie Tulliver’s relationship with one significant male character in The Mill on the
Guidance notes
You’ll find relevant material on these texts and their contexts in Book 1, Realities: 1800–1870,
Chapters 57–8. In your work for A335 you are encouraged to extend your research beyond the
chapters in the module books and the audio-visual material. This assignment provides you with
practice in independent research of this kind.
Part 1 Evaluative summary
Your first task is to select ONE critical resource relevant to the option you’ve chosen. This is
most likely to be an article in an ejournal found using databases available via the OU Library’s
website (such as PQ1L, MLA, JSTOR, Project Muse, Web of Science or Academic Search
Complete), a chapter in an ebook, or a chapter in a book you have found in another library via
the SCONUL Access scheme. You might also select articles or chapters listed in the ‘Further
reading and resources’ for each study week (each of which relates to a chapter). The critical text
you choose might be specifically on the set text you’re working on, or on a general theme which
is relevant to your set text and helps your understanding of that text (such as Victorian poetics or
prosody, or gender and sexuality in the nineteenth century, or literature and society in the
nineteenth century). If you are using one of the ejournal databases mentioned above, you will
need to choose your search terms carefully so as to identify a suitable critical text. In some
instances quite narrow search terms (such as ‘Tennyson’ and ‘The Lady of Shalott’) might yield
useful results; in others you might find wider terms (such as ‘Victorian novel’ and
‘characterisation’) more helpful. In addition, give some thought to the date of publication of the
critical resource you discuss. More recent publications are not automatically more persuasive,
but they are likely to be reacting (at least implicitly) to the interpretations of earlier critics.
Showing some awareness of how the critical consensus on Tennyson/Clough/Eliot has evolved
may be useful.
Once you have selected your critical resource, provide the full bibliographic details at the
beginning of your answer. Read it at least twice and make notes while you do so. You may find it
helpful to download it and highlight or annotate particularly relevant sections. You will then need
to prepare for your evaluative summary by listing the main points of the argument and thinking
about the ideas and arguments of the critic: what is the critic’s main argument? Focus on the
opening and closing paragraphs of the resource to try to establish the argument. What is the
polemical context of the critical work? In other words, what critical consensus is your selected
critic trying to challenge, support, modify or complement?
Part 2 Essay
Once you have written your evaluative summary of the critical resource, turn your attention to the
essay question. Whichever of the three questions you choose (Tennyson, Clough or Eliot), write
up your response to the TMA question with close reference to the set text you have chosen. It is
important that your own response to the question and your own interpretation of the set text
should structure your answer. Integrate ideas from the critical resource summarised in Part 1 as
and when appropriate. The critical resource must be read critically and integrated into your essay
so that it supports but does not dominate or overwhelm your essay. Remember to back up your
ideas at all times with evidence in the form of close analyses of relevant passages from the set
Option 2
This option is in two parts. Please answer both parts.
Part 1 (1000 words, or up to 40 lines of poetry; 40%)
With close reference to Tennyson’s poem, rewrite ‘The Kraken’ from the point of view of the
Kraken. Your answer can be written in verse or prose.
Rewrite Clough’s ‘The Latest Decalogue’ as a sermon in prose.
Reread Book 1, Chapter 4 of The Mill on the Floss, focusing on Maggie in the attic. Write a firstperson account of this scene, from Maggie’s point of view.
Part 2 Critical reflection (1500 words; 60%)
Reflect critically on the exercise you completed in Part 1. In Part 1, you will have paid close
attention to the language of their poetry/prose in order to rewrite the words of
Tennyson/Clough/Eliot. In Part 2, identify and discuss the literary qualities of
Tennyson’s/Clough’s/Eliot’s writing which struck you as most distinctive. Further, discuss
whether these qualities are specific to the particular poem or passage in the question, or
characteristic of the author’s work generally (the set poems by Tennyson or Clough, or the
complete novel by George Eliot).
Guidance notes
You will not be assessed on the standard of your creativity per se, but on your ability to
demonstrate a responsive and critical engagement with the set text. A sound understanding of
the set text and its contexts is therefore an essential prerequisite for this task, and you will find it
useful to read the whole of the set text you select, and to reread the relevant module chapters
covered in Book 1, Realities: 1800–1870.
You will be assessed on your ability to engage critically with a literary text from a different
perspective or using a different form. You are asked to consider details of the text from a
displaced perspective or with a different stylistic focus – in prose rather than verse, and/or from
the vantage point of a narrator/character other than the one foregrounded in the text. For the
option on Eliot, your first-person account of a scene originally presented in the third person
should allow you to understand how the choice between first or third-person narration can
influence the reader’s relationship to events and characters. If you have chosen to focus on a
poem by Tennyson or Clough in Part 1, in Part 2 you should first discuss your observations on
the poem in the light of the Part 1 exercise, and then move on to considering whether those
observations extend to other poems by Tennyson or Clough.
A displaced perspective or different style will enable you to sharpen your understanding of the
strategies, style and form of the set text. You need to make sure that your account from a
displaced perspective is consistent with the substance of the set text. Consistency with the set
text while adhering to the displaced perspective will be rewarded.

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