Project #30227 - western literature


Western Literature II : Essay questions


1.    What is the basis for the statement: “Caligula is an educator, not a tyrant.”  Be specific.


2.     Discuss the following ideas in Zorba the Greek:  archetypal images, Apollonian/Dionysian duality, death motif, Zorba’s character, daimon, Nietzchean influences, limits of reason.


3.     Discuss the following ideas in Narcissus and Goldmund:  polarities, art, daimon, Nietzchean influences.


4.     In what ways are Zorba, Faust, Goldmund examples of Nietzche’s  Superman?


5.     How would the following authors answer the question, “How can man best live his life?”    Voltaire,  Goethe, Kazantzakis, Hesse, Dostoyevsky, Nietzsche    Refer specifically to their writings.


6.      What Nietzchean influences do we see in Narcissus and Goldmund,  Zorba the Greek,  Caligula?


7.      “Development of the individual becomes really meaningful only if the integrity of the human being is considered as the central value…the man who has betrayed truth – by that one must understand truth not as a meaningless abstraction but as one’s own truth – can no longer be a free man.”  Gabriel Marcel  Discuss this statement in relation to Zorba  the Greek, Thus Spoke Zarathustra,  Narcissus and Goldmund, No Exit.


8.      Define as much as possible the philosophy of existentialism.  Include in your discussion the themes of alienation, identity, freedom, action, death, existence precedes essence, and show specifically how these themes are seen in No Exit, and Caligula.  Refer also to Bigelow’s “Primer of Existentialism”  and Sartre’s  “Choice in a World Without God.”  How specifically do the ideas in Dostoyevsky and Nietzsche anticipate this philosophy?


9.      Dostoyevsky believed that there is a certain instinct to strive for moral self-betterment hidden in every man.  How do the characters in The Brothers Karamazov illustrate this belief.  Be specific.


10.    Alyosha maintains that  “The Grand Inquisitor” is a praise of Christ.  Discuss this, showing the arguments of the Grand Inquisitor.


11.    What is the nature of  Mephistopheles?  Include in your discussion an explanation of the daimon, textual references (The Lord, Faust, Mephistopheles), and the relevancy of the theme of Faust to this concept. Compare Goethe’s treatment of this with Dostoyevsky’s  in “Ivan and the Devil.”  Be specific.


12.      Nietzche, discovering that nihilism could be put to the service of the truth, states: “Nihilism represents the ultimate logical conclusion of our great values and ideals because we must experience nihilism before we can find out what value these ‘values’ really had.”  Discuss this in terms of the existential thought in King Lear (alienation,  Lear facing himself and his world, authentic vs. inauthentic self, imagery, human values).  Extend your discussion to Dostoyevsky’s Alyosha and Ivan, and Camus’ Caligula. Be specific.


13.      Discuss specifically the philosophy of Nietzsche.   Include in your discussion reference to the following:  self-overcoming, the virtue that makes small(moderation), the way of the creator,  evaluation, the 3 metamorphoses, man as a bridge not a goal, the difference between virtue and nobility, apollonian and dionysian duality, human relationships.  Nietzsche also admitted his debt to Dostoyevsky.  Where do we see Dostoyevsky’s influence on his writings?


14.      Discuss the daimon concept as it applies to Faust,  Narcissus and Goldmund, , The Brothers Karamazov,  Zorba the Greek.  Refer to Rollo May’s “Love and the Daimonic” for supporting ideas.




                The daimon is on the one hand man’s innermost predisposition, assigned




                to him at birth, and determining the quality and direction of his development.




                It, on the other hand, connotes that mysterious interweaving of destiny and




                character that so often unlooses man’s irrational impulses, sweeping away




                the taboos of conventional morality, shaping life more powerfully than reason.


15.      Dostoyevsky sees man as constantly being torn between opposites.  Discuss this dualism in  his works. 


16.      Contrast the philosphical positions of the boss and Zorba, and the Grand Inquisitor and Father Zossima.


17.      What is the nature of the enlightenment that each of the following characters experience?        Zossima, Lear, Candide, Dmitri, , Grushenka, the boss.


18.       What basic human conflicts do the specific conflicts in the following works symbolize?   King Lear, Faust, Zorba the Greek,, The Brothers Karamazov, No Exit. Be specific.


19.       Summarize the total philosophy of life projected by each play and novel  read this semester 


20.    What does Sartre mean by the “man of bad faith’?  How does No Exit show this?  In what way does the hell in the play symbolize life on earth?  How does Sartre treat the concept of the “Other” in this play?  What is Sartre’s message in this play?


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