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SUGGESTIONS FOR STUDY
The following suggestions may be of aid to students vho have no regular instructor, and to teachers of little experience with this poem. The others are requested to omit what must necessarily seem trite or obvious.
The young reader seldom takes much interest in the biography of an author whose works are as yet untried. Scott and Wordsworth are notable exceptions; neither of them can be properly appreciated without a knowledge of the conditions which made the man. So it is best to become acquainted at the beginning with the man, Sir Walter Scott. All later accounts of his life are necessarily mere abstracts of the voluminous compendium by Lockhart. Of abridgments the best seems to be that by R. H. Hutton in the English Men of Letters Series. Next, one needs to know the romantic past of Scotland. The Tales of a Grandfather supply this knowledge in fascinating form. Then we need to know the country, and, fortunately, photographs are plenty and cheap. The schoolroom should be lined with them. If the school owns a stereopticon, the study of the poem may well be preceded and followed by an illustrated talk, from some one who has been in the Trosachs and knows how to tell about them. We knew one class that interrupted the delighted lecturer repeatedly by impromptu concert reci tation of the appropriate verses. Bits of heather and foxglove are a help. The map may be enlarged for chart or blackboard, and all places located thereon.
Some teachers find it desirable to read a canto through
first for the narrative only, and then study it in detail; others would keep the two pari passu. We prefer the former method, always limiting it to a single canto, and following the minute study by a continuous reading aloud, for pleasure and as a test of comprehension. Very early, attention may be called to the verse movement as an expression of feeling. Whether or not there should be any formal naming of the iambus, trochee, or other technicalities, depends entirely upon the stage in the school course when this poem is taken. Try to reproduce the atmosphere, the connection between the mouldering Harp of the North, and this tale of the days of chivalry. Keep the opening scenes in view until Glenartney and Loch Katrine seem as real as the daily walk to school, and you feel with Scott's huntsman-auditor that, "it was a shame to let such fine dogs take to the water when heated; they would certainly be ruined." Describe orally and in writ ing the different characters, and be on the watch to discover how natural scenery is made to furnish an effective background for the human beings and their adventures. If The Lady of the Lake be the first long poem used for genuine literary study, as is often the case, two things are of vital importance: that the appetite should be whetted for more poetry, and that the pupil should learn how to study poetry. To secure scholarly work and at the same time give a lasting taste for this most perfect form of literary art is no easy undertaking, though experience proves that both can be done successfully, provided the effort be made before the pupil has outgrown the period when romantic action appeals to him.
With students in the upper grammar or lower high school grades there is much difficulty in grasping the meaning of inverted sentences. So daily drill is useful at the beginning in changing the verses into prose order, and in substituting prose synonyms. One should decide whether any other expression would answer the purpose equally well. Scott is no such word artist as Keats or Tennyson, still his choice is usually apt. Allusions may be looked up and some attention paid to figures of speech. Yet Scott's imagery is too clear and straightforward to require much analysis, and we may agree that to most students no allusion or figure of speech is of any value except as it illuminates the thought. After the student has done all these things and formed his own interpretation, let him study the notes for correction and for further information. And then let him read the assigned por tion aloud once more thoughtfully, trying to see the picture through the author's eyes. When a canto has been gone over in the manner extensively and intensively, the topic of each stanza may be ascertained and the story of the whole canto reduced to a scale. This last is most desirable because untrained writers have so little sense of proportion, and put so much timber into their under pinning that often none is left for the roof.
The above are general hints. Others will appear among the notes. Two more we will offer now. Commit to memory from time to time as much as can be done without its becoming a burdensome task. Finally, complete the study by writing compositions to be illustrated by water-color sketches or pen and ink drawings. list of
themes for oral and written composition is given here and the instructor will think of others. And let the results be the pupils' very best attainment.
Outside Reading. It is well to read either The Lay of the Last Minstrel or Marmion at home after this poem has been completed and then let the two be compared. We hope also that the student will not rest until he has come under the spell of Scott's prose romances. The Abbot is natural sequel to The Lady of the Lake, but probably Ivanhoe, The Talisman, or Kenilworth would be a more attractive introduction.
THEMES FOR ORAL AND WRITTEN
Suggested by The Lady of the Lake
1. A Day at Abbotsford with Scott.
1. James V. and his Daughter Mary.
3. Monarchs who travelled in Disguise.
5. Mediæval Minstrelsy.
6. Robin Hood and his Merry Men.
1. Some Familiar Bit of Mountain Scenery
2. A Field-day, a Boat Race, etc.
3. Based on the Games in Canto V..
4. Loch Katrine and its Environs.
6. Sunrise on Loch Katrine.
7. Moonlight on Loch Katrine.
8. The Goblin Cave and its Inmates.
9. The Meetings of James and Ellen.
10. The Departure of James from the Island.
12. The Wedding at Saint Bride's.
13. Clan Alpine's Men in Martial Array.
14. Death of Murdoch.
15. Meeting of James with Blanche.
16. Roderick Dhu and his Stranger-guest at Supper.
18. Morning in the Court of Guard.
19. Ellen at the Court of the King.
1. The Chase.
2. Abstracts of Cantos.
3. The Path of the Fiery Cross.
4. The Combat.
5. The Battle.
6. Abstract of Entire Poem.
1. Character Sketches of the Chief Personages.
3. James and the Black Knight. (Ivanhoe.)
4. Songs in The Lady of the Lake.
5. Scott's Use of Natural Scenery compared with T nyson's (or Longfellow's, or Milton's).
8. Explanation of Selected Figures of Speech.
7. Scott as a Story-teller.
8. Scott's Use of Color.
9. Are we Less Courteous than the Highlanders?
1. Preparing for the Chase.
2. Ellen's Life Previous to her Father's Exile.