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Private: BA Arabic
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Unit 4
Analysing Literature

Learning Outcomes

Upon the completion of this unit, the learner will be able to:

  • get an idea on how to approach a literary work
  • to have a basic idea regarding how to analyse a piece of literature
  • acquire a general idea on approaching different literary genres


When you read for pleasure, your only goal is satisfaction. You might find yourself reading to get caught up in an exciting story, to learn about an interesting time or place, or just to pass time. Maybe you’re looking for inspiration, guidance, or a reflection of your own life. There are as many different and valid ways of reading a book as there are books in the world.

When you read a work of literature in an English class, however, you’re being asked to read in a special way: you’re being asked to perform literary analysis. To analyse something means to break it down into smaller parts and then examine how those parts work, both individually and together. Literary analysis involves examining all the parts of a novel, play, short story, or poem, elements such as character, setting, tone, and imagery, and thinking about how the author uses those elements to create certain effects.

Key words

Analyse, Genres, Essay, Tory, Poetry, Themes, Symbols


A literary essay isn’t a book review: you’re not being asked whether or not you liked a book or whether you’d recommend it to another reader. A literary essay also isn’t like the kind of book report you wrote when you were younger, where your teacher wanted you to summarise the book’s action. A high school or college – level literary essay asks, “How does this piece of literature actually work?” “How does it do what it does?” and, “Why might the author have made the choices he or she did?”

When you are assigned a literary essay in class, your teacher will often provide you with a list of writing prompts. Lucky you! Now all you have to do is choose one. Do yourself a favour and pick a topic that interests you. You’ll have a much better (not to mention easier) time if you start off with something you enjoy thinking about. If you are asked to come up with a topic by yourself, though, you might start to feel a little panicked. Maybe you have too many ideas—or none at all. Don’t worry. Take a deep breath and start by asking yourself these questions:

What struck you?

Did a particular image, line, or scene linger in your mind for a long time? If it fascinated you, chances are you can draw on it to write a fascinating essay.

What confused you?

Maybe you were surprised to see a character act in a certain way, or maybe you didn’t understand why the book ended the way it did. Confusing moments in a work of literature are like a loose thread in a sweater: if you pull on it, you can unravel the entire thing. Ask yourself why the author chose to write about that character or scene the way he or she did and you might tap into some important insights about the work as a whole.

Did you notice any patterns?

Is there a phrase that the main character uses constantly or an image that repeats throughout the book? If you can figure out how that pattern weaves through the work and what the significance of that pattern is, you’ve almost got your entire essay mapped out.

Following are three literary texts belonging to three literary genres: essay, short story and poetry. Reading these texts enables you to understand the analytical patterns of different literary forms. As a model of essay A. P. J. Abdul Kalam’s “The Dream and the Message” (Chapter 1 of Ignited Minds) is analysed; H.H. Munro’s short story entitled “The Open Window” is read with a view to familiarising students how to approach a short story; the reading of Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s “The Blessed Damozel” can provide direction for students to approach a poem.

2.4.1 “The Dream and the Message” By Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam

About the Author: Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam was one of the most accomplished scientists in India. As he was involved in the development and operationalization of India’s strategic missiles, he was known as the “missile man of India.” He played a key role in the creation of SLV-3, India’s first satellite launch vehicle. From 2002 to 2007, Dr. Kalam held the coveted position of the President of India. He truly enjoyed interacting with kids and students. He had written fifteen books on various subjects. Throughout the world, his books were translated into numerous languages. Wings of Fire, India 2020: A Vision for the New Millennium, Ignited Minds: Unleashing the Power Within India, and Target are some of his best-known books.

Ignited Minds: Ignited Minds is one of the magnificent books authored by A. P. J. Abdul Kalam. The book offers a road map for moving the country forward and toward a magnificent future. Readers are motivated to work toward creating a new and improved India, especially the young readers. It investigates why we, who are so obviously capable of being the best, frequently settle for the worst, given all our abilities, resources and talents. At the core of Ignited Minds is the conviction that a nation’s citizens have the ability to realise their dream. “The Dream and the Message” is the first chapter of Ignited Minds. Summary

A.P.J. Abdul Kalam narrates an event in his life which happened on 30 September 2001. He was on his journey from Ranchi to Bokaro. Their helicopter crashed minutes before its landing. All travelers had a miraculous escape. Kalam went ahead with his scheduled programme of interaction with students, unfazed by the accident. As a suggestion from the doctors, Kalam takes tranquiliser to alleviate the shock of the accident. This use of drugs made him wake up late.

In his disturbed sleep, Kalam thinks about the reason for the division and violence among human beings. He imagines a conversation between five people whom he admires. In this dream, he finds himself positioned in a desert surrounded by sand and the place is lit with the light of the moon. The five men whom he imagines are Mahatma Gandhi, Albert Einstein, Emperor Asoka, Abraham Lincoln and Caliph Omar who stand as a circle and their clothes could be seen ruffling by the wind.

Kalam feels dwarfed by the majestic presence of Emperor Asoka. The two lives combined in Asoka were that of a merciless conqueror and a compassionate ruler. He had to pay a heavy cost to become victorious in the wars. As an instance, consider the battle of Kalinga in which lives of 300,000 people were claimed and a comparable number were wounded. Though Asoka caused horror and destruction, claiming many lives, he accepted Ahimsa and Dharma, and decided to spread the message of love through them.

Kalam wonderes why Kalinga war happened and what were the reasons behind the assassinations of Mahatma Gandhi and Abraham Lincoln. In that blissful moment, Mahatma speaks that the divine message that we hearing is the message of creation. He believes that as we all belong to this planet, it is necessary to give a message to mankind. This is a message how people of different religions, races and languages can co-exist prosperously and peacefully together. Mahatma says that God has blessed everyone with some unique qualities that should be passed on to mankind in the form of our efforts and actions. He stresses the need of assimilating beauty into the human soul which may lead to the blossoming of happiness in the human body and mind. Asoka describes his realisation that a victory cannot be considered a victory if it causes suffering.

Caliph Omar says that after entering Jerusalem, he realises that all men are equal. So there is no point in compelling others to follow our path. People get only what they have been ordained for and God is the only sovereign. Omar never bothers about his special privileges as a ruler, instead he considers government as a sacred trust which should not be betrayed at any cost.

The next speaker is Einstein who says that he would like to recall the view of Werner Heisenberg. Werner said that in the West they had built an attractive large ship with all the comforts but one thing was missing in it, that was a compass so that they could not identify their destination. People like Tagore and Gandhi found this compass. If this compass is installed in a human ship, the purpose of life could be identified.

The great American leader Abraham Lincoln fought against slavery which is a parallel story of Mahatma in some respects. Lincoln says that happiness is acquired when a family ensures prosperity at various levels. Human lives become blessed only if there is the grace of God. Two important features of godly life on earth are happiness and bliss. In the contemporary world, there are numerous conflicts among human beings and nations, as we forget ethical values in our pursuit of power and prosperity.

We should contemplate on the role of human consciousness. Does it possess parts for political, scientific and theological thoughts? How far spirituality could be given importance in the business of life. Mahatma Gandhi recalls the pronouncement of sage Ashtavakra. He states that the phenomenal universe is not separate from us but it is a phenomenon inside our consciousness. So there is no question of acceptable and unacceptable. Life is all about peace and prosperity and there is no question of exploitation and conflict. The message that can be shared to the planet is that every doctrine that we follow and every action we pursue should be good for the whole of mankind. Analysis

“The Dream and the Message” is the first chapter of Ignited Minds. It is a seminal book by A.P.J. Abdul Kalam which entreats Indian youth to ignite their mind and heart with light of aspirations. The book motivates the youth to innovate themselves to make India a more prosperous and rich country. This is a long process, which requires a drastic change in attitude and aptitude. Though the country is renowned for its riches of manpower and material, the nation needs a peaceful condition to support the creative energies of the youth.

In “The Dream and the Message”, Kalam recollects one of his past experiences when his helicopter crashed. In the impact of this accident and the tranquiliser, he broods over the chaos and violences that humans undergo. Kalam thinks about how the greatest personalities fought against these divisions and violence.

Kalam tries to get clues from great leaders and innovators like Gandhi, Lincoln, Asoka, Omar and Einstein to make his own conclusions. Coming to the conclusion, he realises that the only method to solve the destructive side in humans is acquiring education. Along with the material opportunities/possibilities involved in education, Kalam advocates the necessity to incorporate spiritual aspects to it. This symbiosis of the spiritual and the material is inevitable to solve the contemporary hurdles of humankind. This balance between the material desires and spiritual pursuits helps a person to achieve peacefulness in his life.

Kalam suggests Indian youth to unleash their inner power to serve their motherland. In this pursuit, he recommends both the scientific temper and spirit of enquiry to take this nation rich with resources into a happier one. To acquire this aim, he recommends adopting the models of exemplary personalities.

2.4.2 “The Open Window” By H.H Munro

Hector Hugh Munro, often known as H.H. Munro, was a Scottish author of plays, short stories and novels. He writes using the pen name Saki. His writing is distinguished by its use of humour and satire aimed at English society and convention during the Edwardian era. “The Open Window,” arguably Saki’s most well-known short story, first appeared in Beasts and Super Beasts, a collection of short stories that was published in 1914 soon before Munro left for World War I. Most people enjoy “The Open Window” for its unexpected conclusion, which reveals that the readers are also misled by the protagonist Vera’s grim tale of death and desperation. The following is the complete version of the short story.

The Open Window

“My aunt will be down presently, Mr. Nuttel,” said a very self-possessed young lady of fifteen; “in the meantime you must try and put up with me.”
Framton Nuttel endeavoured to say the correct something which should duly flatter the niece of the moment without unduly discounting the aunt that was to come. Privately he doubted more than ever whether these formal visits on a succession of total strangers would do much towards helping the nerve cure which he was supposed to be undergoing.
“I know how it will be,” his sister had said when he was preparing to migrate to this rural retreat; “you will bury yourself down there and not speak to a living soul, and your nerves will be worse than ever from moping. I shall just give you letters of introduction to all the people I know there. Some of them, as far as I can remember, were quite nice.”
Framton wondered whether Mrs. Sappleton, the lady to whom he was presenting one of the letters of introduction, came into the nice division.
“Do you know many of the people round here?” asked the niece, when she judged that they had had sufficient silent communion.
“Hardly a soul,” said Framton. “My sister was staying here, at the rectory, you know, some four years ago, and she gave me letters of introduction to some of the people here.” He made the last statement in a tone of distinct regret.
“Then you know practically nothing about my aunt?” pursued the self-possessed young lady.
“Only her name and address,” admitted the caller. He was wondering whether Mrs. Sappleton was in the married or widowed state. An undefinable something about the room seemed to suggest masculine habitation.

“Her great tragedy happened just three years ago,” said the child; “that would be since your sister’s time.” “Her tragedy?” asked Framton; somehow in this restful country spot tragedies seemed out of place. “You may wonder why we keep that window wide open on an October afternoon,” said the niece, indicating a large French window that opened on to a lawn. “It is quite warm for the time of the year,” said Framton; “but has that window got anything to do with the tragedy?”

“Out through that window, three years ago to a day, her husband and her two young brothers went off for their day’s shooting. They never came back. In crossing the moor to their favourite snipeshooting ground they were all three engulfed in a treacherous piece of bog. It had been that dreadful wet summer, you know, and places that were safe in other years gave way suddenly without warning. Their bodies were never recovered. That was the dreadful part of it.” Here the child’s voice lost its self-possessed note and became falteringly human. “Poor aunt always thinks that they will come back some day, they and the little brown spaniel that was lost with them, and walk in at that window just as they used to do. That is why the window is kept open every evening till it is quite dusk. Poor dear aunt, she has often told me how they went out, her husband with his white waterproof coat over his arm, and Ronnie, her youngest brother, singing ‘Bertie, why do you bound?’ as he always did to tease her, because she said it got on her nerves. Do you know, sometimes on still, quiet evenings like this, I almost get a creepy feeling that they will all walk in through that window – “

She broke off with a little shudder. It was a relief to Framton when the aunt bustled into the room with a whirl of apologies for being late in making her appearance. “I hope Vera has been amusing you?” she said. “She has been very interesting,” said Framton. “I hope you don’t mind the open window,” said Mrs. Sappleton briskly; “my husband and brothers will be home directly from shooting, and they always come in this way. They’ve been out for snipe in the marshes to-day, so they’ll make a fine mess over my poor carpets. So like you men-folk, isn’t it?”

She rattled on cheerfully about the shooting and the scarcity of birds, and the prospects for duck in the winter. To Framton it was all purely horrible. He made a desperate but only partially successful effort to turn the talk on to a less ghastly topic; he was conscious that his hostess was giving him only a fragment of her attention, and her eyes were constantly straying past him to the open window and the lawn beyond. It was certainly an unfortunate coincidence that he should have paid his visit on this tragic anniversary.

“The doctors agree in ordering me complete rest, an absence of mental excitement, and avoidance of anything in the nature of violent physical exercise,” announced Framton, who laboured under the tolerably wide-spread delusion that total strangers and chance acquaintances are hungry for the least detail of one’s ailments and infirmities, their cause and cure. “On the matter of diet they are not so much in agreement,” he continued. “No?” said Mrs. Sappleton, in a voice which only replaced a yawn at the last moment. Then she suddenly brightened into alert attention – but not to what Framton was saying.

“Here they are at last!” she cried. “Just in time for tea, and don’t they look as if they were muddy up to the eyes!” Framton shivered slightly and turned towards the niece with a look intended to convey sympathetic comprehension. The child was staring out through the open window with dazed horror in her eyes. In a chill shock of nameless fear Framton swung round in his seat and looked in the same direction. In the deepening twilight three figures were walking across the lawn towards the window; they all carried guns under their arms, and one of them was additionally burdened with a white coat hung over his shoulders. A tired brown spaniel kept close at their heels. Noiselessly they neared the house, and then a hoarse young voice chanted out of the dusk: “I said, Bertie, why do you bound?” Framton grabbed wildly at his stick and hat; the hall-door, the gravel-drive, and the front gate were dimly-noted stages in his headlong retreat. A cyclist coming along the road had to run into the hedge to avoid an imminent collision.

“Here we are, my dear,” said the bearer of the white mackintosh, coming in through the window; “fairly muddy, but most of it’s dry. Who was that who bolted out as we came up?” “A most extraordinary man, a Mr. Nuttel,” said Mrs Sappleton; “could only talk about his illnesses, and dashed off without a word of good-bye or apology when you arrived. One would think he had seen a ghost.” “I expect it was the spaniel,” said the niece calmly; “he told me he had a horror of dogs. He was once hunted into a cemetery somewhere on the banks of the Ganges by a pack of pariah dogs, and had to spend the night in a newly dug grave with the creatures snarling and grinning and foaming just above him. Enough to make anyone their nerve.” Romance at short notice was her speciality. A Close Reading of the Story

The narrative is divided into three distinct parts, with the first beginning with a chat between Vera and Framton, the second with the appearance of the aunt, and the third with the hunting party’s return. To separate these three sections, Munro uses flashbacks, breaking up the present with a story-within-a-story that is motivated by Vera’s imagined past. The reader learns that Vera, whose name stands for “veracity” (meaning “truth”), is hilariously anything but truthful in “The Open Window,” which, like many of Munro’s stories, has a surprising finish.

Munro deceives readers into thinking that Vera is a reliable storyteller just as Vera deceives Framton. The author partially achieves this by turning Vera into a young girl. It was uncommon for a woman to be depicted as “cunning” or “conniving” during Munro’s time. Instead, women and girls were typically shown as the characters that could be trusted, whereas men and boys were the scumbags. Munro breaks assumptions about how young ladies should act by having the troublemaker as a woman in his novel.

Vera, the protagonist of this tale, is portrayed as a troublemaker who performs pranks using her imagination. A careful reader of the story can also learn some things about Vera’s genuine character from Munro’s portrayal of her. The most notable of these is how Vera is described as a storyteller whose expertise is “romance at short notice.” Vera has frequently been interpreted by critics as a personification of narrative “authority” and as a portrayal of Munro himself.

Vera plays a significant role in “The OpenWindow” by introducing the concept of childhood, which appears in many of Munro’s writings. Munro regularly depicts, through his writings, childhood as a sad situation in which youngsters are imprisoned in a dull adult world. The aunt is a commanding presence from which Vera longs to flee and manages to do so through creative storytelling and cunning. The window is a metaphor for this need to get away. It represents a portal into another realm that Vera can use to enter and create her own unique alternate universe. Vera’s fanciful tales serve as an escape from the dull adult reality in this way.

Muro regularly parodies and undermines the norms of the upper-middle-class society of the Edwardian era, of which the author was a part. In “The Open Window,” he accomplishes this by disrupting and altering the traditional serene and “country” environment of the house. When the aunt comes in, the story gets even darker since Munro keeps talking about how happy the scene is, despite the aunt’s tragically misunderstood intentions. The author subverts the Edwardian sitting room’s conventional setting by using terms like “bustled,” “whirl” and “cheerfully.” To change the settings of the monotonous and dull existence of Edwardian society, this alteration is required. Themes of the Story

Chaos/Wildness vs Order: A usual and uneventful house visit is contrasted here with usual and unusual incidences of ghost presence and fatal death. This turbulence enters the well organised sitting-room scenario through the open window. With wild dogs, dangerous topography and a forest, Monro uses a specific kind of anarchy in this narrative. The author frequently utilises disorder as a way to parody English society’s traditions because he finds adult life’s monotonous order boring in comparison to anarchy.

A desire to flee: Vera and Framton share a deep desire to run away. Vera uses her imagination and storytelling to try to get away from the grown-up world she lives in. In an effort to go away and heal from his nerve ailment, Framton is brought to a small town in the countryside. Vera’s escape succeeds and is enjoyable, but Framton’s is less successful and causes more turmoil than quiet.

The impact of storytelling: In his writing, Monro frequently employs the “story within a story” approach. In “The Open Window,” he goes one step further by employing Vera as the storyteller to express a subject about storytelling as a form of art. Both Vera and Monro use the short tale to deceive their audience. Monro, who primarily uses short stories to express his ideas, incorporates the concept of storytelling in this story to convey its harmony with the comic plot.

Rural Peace: The rural calm and the chaos vs. order themes are strongly related. Multiple characters make reference to the apparent tranquillity of the rural area. For example, Framton’s doctors advise it as a retreat to soothe his anxiety, and Framton expresses amazement that tragedy could ever happen in such a serene setting.

Comedy: Vera’s stories are shown at the end of the story to be magical and hilarious delusions of a child’s creation. Therefore, humour is presented as an escape from the serious and stuffy environment and way of life. Window as a Symbol

The window serves as both a representation of Vera’s vivid imagination and of the aunt’s desire that her husband and brothers will come back. Vera makes use of the window to escape the dull grown-up world and to conjure up a more fantasy one.

2.4.3 “The Blessed Damozel” By D.G Rossetti

The blessed Damozel lean’d out
From the gold bar of Heaven:
Her blue grave eyes were deeper much
Than a deep water, even.
She had three lilies in her hand,
And the stars in her hair were seven.

Her robe, ungirt from clasp to hem,
No wrought flowers did adorn, But a white rose of Mary’s gift
On the neck meetly worn;
And her hair, lying down her back,
Was yellow like ripe corn. Herseem’d she scarce had been a day
One of God’s choristers;
The wonder was not yet quite gone
From that still look of hers;
Albeit, to them she left, her day
Had counted as ten years.

(To one it is ten years of years:
…Yet now, here in this place, Surely she lean’d o’er me,—her hair
Fell all about my face….
Nothing: the Autumn-fall of leaves.
The whole year sets apace.)

It was the terrace of God’s house
That she was standing on,—
By God built over the sheer depth
In which Space is begun;
So high, that looking downward thence,
She scarce could see the sun.

It lies from Heaven across the flood
Of ether, as a bridge.
Beneath, the tides of day and night
With flame and darkness ridge The void, as low as where this earth
Spins like a fretful midge.
But in those tracts, with her, it was
The peace of utter light
And silence. For no breeze may stir
Along the steady flight Of seraphim; no echo there,
Beyond all depth or height.

Heard hardly, some of her new friends,
Playing at holy games,
Spake gentle-mouth’d, among themselves,
Their virginal chaste names;
And the souls, mounting up to God,
Went by her like thin flames.

And still she bow’d herself, and stoop’d
Into the vast waste calm;
Till her bosom’s pressure must have made
The bar she lean’d on warm, And the lilies lay as if asleep
Along her bended arm.

From the fixt lull of Heaven, she saw
Time, like a pulse, shake fierce
Through all the worlds. Her gaze
still strove,
In that steep gulf, to pierce
The swarm; and then she spoke, as when

The stars sang in their spheres. ‘I wish that he were come to me,
For he will come,’ she said.
‘Have I not pray’d in solemn Heaven?
On earth, has he not pray’d?
Are not two prayers a perfect strength?

‘There will I ask of Christ the Lord
Thus much for him and me:—
To have more blessing than on earth
In nowise; but to be
As then we were,—being as then
At peace. Yea, verily.

‘Yea, verily; when he is come
We will do thus and thus:
Till this my vigil seem quite strange
And almost fabulous;
We two will live at once, one life;
And peace shall be with us.’

She gazed, and listen’d, and then said,
Less sad of speech than mild,—
‘All this is when he comes.’ She ceased:
The light thrill’d past her, fill’d
With Angels, in strong level lapse.
Her eyes pray’d, and she smiled.

(I saw her smile.) But soon their flight
Was vague ‘mid the poised spheres. And then she cast her arms along
The golden barriers,
And laid her face between her hands,
And wept. (I heard her tears.) Summary of the Poem

The blessed damozel is constrained in heaven. She is leaning against the heavenly gold fence and longingly gazing down at the planet earth. Her eyes are “still” and devoid of emotion; more precisely, they are like deep waters. The thoughts that are hidden in the damozel’s mind are incomprehensible just as it is impossible to perceive what lies beneath the surface of the pond. She has seven stars in her hair and three lilies in her hand.

The damozel’s gown is hanging from her waist to the floor. She doesn’t have a buckle or clasp on. She also doesn’t have any embroidered flowers on her gown. She is wearing a white rose that the Virgin Mary gave her in appreciation of her selfless service. Her back is covered with her ripe-comma-yellow hair.

She feels as though she has just been in heaven for a single day. She sings in the choir and is constantly praising God. Her eyes are still filled with astonishment. She has only recently entered heaven, so she continues to be in wonder of everything there. The people on earth who have lost the blessed damozel are very sad. Time moves slowly, it seems. They have the impression that ten years have gone by.

The damozel’s lover fantasises having her bend over him so he can feel her hair on her face and longs for her. He discovers that the sensation he thought was his lover’s hair was actually a leaf dropping, which likewise denotes the passage of time.

The blessed damozel is positioned on the barrier that God erected around heaven. This rampart represents the beginning of space. The blessed damozel cannot see the sun since it is so far from heaven.

The fact that God’s dwelling is located here makes heaven special. Outside heaven, there is a large area. It is actually filled with ether, a translucent substance, rather than being empty. The poet compares day and night to oppositely light and dark waves that move forward and backward. The earth is far away and appears to be a minuscule two-winged insect flying in circles as it revolves around the sun and itself.

The blessed damozel is so lost in her own thoughts that she hardly notices what is going on in heaven around her. The recently-ascended souls have made friends with the blessed damozel. The spirits are engaging in friendly and supportive games that encourage fraternity. They are addressing one another by their new names, which reflect the purity they have just attained. The fresh souls are ascending to God’s throne. None of these things seem important to the blessed damozel.

The blessed damozel stoops and continues to gaze downward from heaven at the world below. She has been leaning on the heavenly gold bar for a while and her breasts begin to warm the bar. The lilies she is holding have faded even more. It appears as though the lilies are dozing off.

The blessed damozel observes that time begins in heaven and expandes throughout the cosmos. Nothing seems to be able to fend off the effects of time. It is likely that the blessed damozel feels anxious about what her sweetheart might have experienced on earth as time passed. She then starts to talk with a voice as sweet as the heavenly or planetary melody.

The crescent moon rises as the sun sets. The moon, according to the poet, has floated across space like a tiny feature. A melodious voice that resembles the melody of the stars is used by the blessed damozel as she starts to speak.

The lover on earth associates the pleasant singing of the saintly damozel with that of birds. He believes that when church bells ring, the blessed damozel is approaching him by ascending the staircase that connects heaven and earth.

The blessed damozel asks God to bring her and her lover back together. The same kind of prayer has also been uttered by her partner. The damozel is sure that God will answer their mutual prayer. She need not give up hope.

The blessed damozel envisions her lover entering paradise dressed in white with an aureole wrapped around his head. He will represent his newly attained status as a blessed soul with an aureole. She offers to accompany him on a hand-in-hand journey to “the deep wells of light,” where they would bathe in the divine presence like in a stream.

The blessed damozel suggests taking her beloved to the heavenly shrine. The prayers offered by the believers help the lamps at the shrine burn. When God answers prayers, they dissipate like a little cloud.

The blessed damozel intends to lie with her lover under the Tree of Life, whose fruit is said to grant invincibility to those who consume it. The Dove, a representation of the Holy Ghost, resides among this Tree’s leaves. The names of God are boldly spoken by the leaves touched by the dove’s feathers.

The blessed damozel intends to impart to her sweetheart all the heavenly and devotional melodies she has so far learned. The lover can be a hesitant student who takes several breaks. But he will learn something new at each break.

The lover claims that the union he once shared with the blessed damozel is no longer there. He believes that she has advanced spiritually much more than he has. Their love is the one thing they have in common. God is unable to unite them permanently based solely on their mutual love.

The blessed damozel offers to take her beloved to the groves where she might view the Virgin Mary and her five handmaidens, Rosaly, Gertrude, Margaret and Cecily. These young women have the same symphonic good spirit.

Bright birth robes are being woven by the handmaidens for individuals who pass away on earth and are reborn in heaven.

The Virgin Mary’s presence could leave the lover speechless and in a state of shock. The blessed damozel will thereafter take the lead. Without any reluctance or sense of modesty, she will place her cheek on his and declare their love for one another in front of Mary. Mary will be touched by her ardent proclamation of love and will give her the opportunity to continue.

The blessed damozel and her lover will be carried by the Virgin Mary to Jesus Christ, who stands before the assembled blessed souls, heads bowed. When angels meet the lovers, they will play their musical instruments, the citherns and citoles, to celebrate their love.

The blessed damozel declares that she will ask Christ to keep her and her partner together in heaven permanently, as they were while they were living on earth.

The blessed damozel finally wakes up from her daydream at this point. She says in her soliloquy that only when her lover enters heaven will she be able to ask God to keep them together there eternally. She believes he will soon enter paradise. She then smiles.

She can be seen smiling in heaven by her earthly lover. Space quickly becomes dark. As there are insurmountable obstacles standing between the blessed damozel and her sweetheart, she becomes dejected as she stands on the heavenly ramparts. She sobs vehemently while burying her face in her hands. Because there is no indication that her lover will enter paradise. Analysis of the Poem

The context of a poem serves as the foundation for understanding it. It is essentially about how a poem is impacted by culture, an event, and the historical period in which it is composed. The context of a poem can also include the background information of the poet while composing the poem.

“The Blessed Damozel” tells the story of a young woman in heaven and her devastated lover on earth who longs to be with her. But even at the end of the poem, the couple is still apart— the lover is trapped on Earth, and the damozel is trapped behind the “gold bars” of Heaven.

A poem’s theme is its major topic, subject, or message. The theme of a poem tells what the poem is about, whether it is about nature, love, loss, patriotism, or anything else. Poems can contain various themes as well. Multiple themes can sometimes be related to one another.

The major themes of the poem are: (1) Love beyond Death: The affection and desire of the two lovers for each other transcend time and death in “The Blessed Damozel”. The damozel can’t be happy in heaven since she keeps waiting for her beloved. (2) Grief beyond Death: Damozel’s death triggered the poem’s emotions of hope, desire, and sadness. According to the poem, she has been dead for ten years, but to the lover who remains on Earth, it feels ten times that long.(3) Religion: The love between the damozel and her lover is depicted more in religious terms than in romantic terms in “The Blessed Damozel.” She imagines that her beloved will come to her and she will take him to Mary to proclaim their love. They will be brought before Christ by Mary, and they will remain forever together in heaven.

Imagery is a vivid and dynamic kind of description that engages the senses and imagination of the reader. Despite its meaning, “imagery” refers to the complete range of sensory experiences, including interior emotions and bodily sensations. Some of the common images used in poems are visual imagery, auditory imagery, olfactory imagery, and so on.

Throughout the poem, the poet uses religious imagery (Christian imagery) in portraying the relationship between the damozel and her lover. The depiction of the damozel as a pious woman in heaven longing for her lover, the physical description of heaven, and the image of reunited lovers – all these images reinforce the idea of the ascension of souls who make it to heaven. The poem also mentions that the damozel is confident that she will be able to convince Mary and Jesus to let her lover stay with her in heaven forever whenever he gets there.

The use of symbols to depict ideas or meanings is referred to as symbolism. They have characteristics that are often only interpretable in context. In this poem, Virgin Mary gives the damozel a white rose as a sign  of Mary’s favour as well as the damozel’s purity and blessedness. The white rose has long been connected with Mary, Jesus’ mother, in Christian iconography. The colour white represents purity and morality, while the thorns of the rose represent the crown of thorns that Jesus wore before his crucifixion.

Lily is another flower that is frequently used as a Christian symbol. White lilies are traditionally used as a sign of Christ’s resurrection during Easter. The damozel in this poem holds three lilies, which represent the Holy Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. These strengthen the damozel’s relationship with God and her religious commitment.

Fire comes in a variety of shapes and forms, some subtle, others obvious; yet, the underlying symbolic meaning of fire remains consistent throughout the poem, particularly as the only source of pain in heaven.

The structure of a poem is its form, which includes aspects such as line lengths and metres, stanza lengths, rhyme schemes (if any), and sequences of repetition. The poem “The Blessed Damozel” is divided into 24 stanzas of six lines each. ABCBDB is the recurring rhyming scheme. The metre is iambic tetrameter with four stressed syllables and four unstressed syllables.

Thus, to analyse a poem, one should break it down into its basic elements. Then examine the elements to find out what inner meaning the poem holds. The basic idea behind the analysis of a poem is to assess how the poet and the poem produce an effect on the reader.


  • Things to check while analysing a literary piece: striking ideas, confusing moments and pattern of the work
  • “The Dream and the Message” as a recollection of Dr A.P.J Abdul Kalam’s past experience, and his thoughts over the chaos and violence
  • Themes in H.H Muno’s “The Open Window”: chaos vs order, rural peace, story-telling, urge to flee and comedy
  • The poem “The Blessed Damozel” as story of a young woman in heaven
  • Themes in “The Blessed Damozel”: love, grief and religion
  • Christian imagery and symbol in “The Blessed Damozel”

Objective Questions

  1. Which book of A.P.J Abdul Kalam consists of the chapter “The Dream and the Message.”?
  2. In “The Dream and the Message”, APJ Abdul Kalam anecdotes an event in his life which happened on …
  3. Where does APJ Abdul Kalam find himself in the dream?
  4. What is the pen name of the writer Hector Hugh Munro?
  5. Who is the protagonist of the short story “The Open Window”?
  6. Which significant concept is portrayed in the short story “The Open Window”?
  7. What stands as a symbol and metaphor in the short story “The Open Window”?
  8. Who wrote the poem “The Blessed Damozel”?
  9. What does the white lily flower in “The Blessed Damozel” symbolise?
  10. Write a theme of “The Blessed Damozel”


  1. Ignited Minds
  2. 30 September 2001
  3. In a desert
  4. Saki
  5. Vera
  6. Childhood
  7. Window
  8. Dante Gabriel Rossetti
  9. Christ’s resurrection
  10. Grief beyond Death


  1. What were the thoughts of five great thinkers who appear in the dream of Ka-lam?
  2. What is the dream of Kalam to make India a developed nation?
  3. How did Kalam differentiate the good struggling and capacity of destruction?
  4. What message does Kalam intend to convey in the dream and the message?
  5. What message did Mahatma Gandhi convey?
  6. What is Abraham Lincoln’s philosophy of life?
  7. Describe the helicopter mishap that Kalam faced?
  8. What were the thoughts of five great thinkers who appear in the dream of Ka-lam?
  9. What is the dream of Kalam to make India a developed nation?
  10. How did Kalam differentiate the good struggling and capacity of destruction?
  11. What message does Kalam intend to convey in the dream and the message?
  12. What message did Mahatma Gandhi convey?
  13. What is Abraham Lincoln’s philosophy of life?
  14. Write about the gender roles and their reversal in “The Open Window”
  15. What is the symbolic relevance of the window in “The Open Window”?
  16. Comment on the form of the poem“The Blessed Damozel”
  17. What are the different themes dealt in “The Blessed Damozel”?
  18. Elaborate on the imagery employed in “The Blessed Damozel”
  19. Find out the significance of symbols in “The Blessed Damozel”

Suggested Reading

  1. Abdul Kalam, A P J. My Life: An Illustrated Biography, Rupa, 2015.
  2. Fuller, James. “Saki H. H. Munro’s the Open Window,” Dramatic Pub-lishing Company, 1964.
  3. Munro, Ethel M. The Short Stories of Saki (H.H. Munro), Modern Library, 1958.
  4. Rossetti, Dante Gabriel. Collected Poetry and Prose, Yale U P, 2003.