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Elizabeth B.
Writing Tutor, with past online experience
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Literature
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Question:

What is one key way Romantic literature is differentiated from Victorian literature?

Elizabeth B.
Answer:

An important distinction between Romantic literature and Victorian literature is idealism versus realism. Romanticism grew as a response to the Industrial Revolution and authors were preoccupied with reclaiming an older way of life through nature. They turned to the natural world and idealized versions of folkore and nationalism to escape the modern horrors of industrialization, urban growth, and population growth. It was a highly aesthetic movement focused on the awe and beauty of nature, the elevation of folk art, and veneration of emotion. Writers like Keats, Scott, and Poe focused on emotion and atmosphere to create idealized, sentimentalized versions of the world to contrast the world they lived in. In comparison, Victorian literature focuses on realism to deal with the modern world. Instead of seeking to escape the horrors of the modern world, Victorian authors sought to expose them. They did not believe that the solution to problems could be found in nature and instead turn to people to enact social change. Authors like Hardy, Gaskell, and Dickins wrote about modern life and suffering in horrible, realistic detail as a way to move their readers into action.

Folklore and Mythology
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Question:

Provide three examples of how the perception of fairies has changed from the Middle Ages to the Victorian Era in England.

Elizabeth B.
Answer:

Between the Middle Ages to the Victorian Era, fairies went through a period of diminishing in size, cruelty, and sexuality. Older tales of fairies are physically taller and more imposing than their Victorian counterparts. The fairies of "Sir Orfeo," "Tam Lin," and "Le Morte d'Arthur" from the Middle Ages are all human sized and interact with the humans in their tales in that scale. In older tales, fairies are physically formidable forces that humans come up against and often do not win against. Fairies and humans are often lovers, fight against each other, or live together as equals in stature (though not equals in power). Another hallmark of fairies during this time is their bloodthirstiness, cruelty, and connection with death or Hell. In all three of those works, fairies are powerful beings who drag humans away to their underground kingdoms and do not hesitate to play with their lives or cast them away. To them, humans are fascinating playthings or pretty decorations who they can control or kill as they please, and fairy stories often severed as a warning to not get involved with them. This cruelty is often tied to fairies closeness to death; they are outside a mortal world and time, frequently adjacent to Hell. They are not quite fully evil or in Hell, but they are certainty outside the realm of Christian goodness and lack empathy. Lastly, fairies in texts from the Middle Ages are often highly sexual or represent temptation. For example, Tam Lin seduces Janet at sets off the events of the ballad, Sir Orfeo's wife is kidnapped by the Fairy King because she is beautiful, and Morgan le Fay becomes a wanton sexual figure with many lovers. In older works, fairies are almost always tied to sex in some way. These three trends continues into Romantic works in the early 1800s like "Goblin Market" and "La Belle Dame Sans Merci," both of which pull themes from fairy stories from the 1400 and 1500s. In both works, the fairies are physically imposing creatures who square off against humans. In "La Belle Dame Sans Merci," the fairy is a beautiful human sized woman and in "Goblin Market," though the fairies are slightly smaller in stature than humans, they have claws, are repulsive, and physically hurt heroine. Both examples of fairies are also cruel; they lack human empathy and try to drag humans away to their linimal world between life and death. "La Belle Dame Sans Merci" is literally the beautiful woman without mercy who kills men and the Goblins of "Goblin Market" nearly kill the heroine with their otherworldly fruit. There are also strong sexual undertones in both these stories. "La Belle Dame Sans Merci" lures men to their deaths with kisses and the magical fruit of the Goblin Market is spoken about in overtly sexual language that alludes to the themes of feminine sexuality of the poem. As Romanticism fades and the Victorian Era reaches it's peak though, fairies begin to diminish in every way and the fairies of the Middle Ages are left behind. Almost in counteraction to the Romantics' adherence and proliferation of themes about power, sex, and death through fairies, other authors and artists start to strip fairies of these to present simply pure, pretty beings. As the Victorians themselves start to shy away from these darker themes, their fairies do too. "Flower fairies," small creatures with wings who are clad in flower petals and dew, begin to appear at this time and take hold in popular imagination. They are physically small, fitting in the palm of people's hands and instead of being linked with death or Hell, they begin to represent life and purity. They are no longer cruel, but merely mischievous; kidnapping, murder, and sexual assault are replaced with harmless pranks like flicking childrens' noses or stealing trinkets. Similarly, they are almost completely de-sexed. They are presented as children and innocents, not sexual beings. As the Victorian Era ends, these ideas begin to take over and can be seen in works like "Peter Pan" and the Cottingley Fairy photographs. Though fairies spent hundreds of years being presented as physically terrifying, impressive creatures with a penchant for cruelty and sex, the Victorian Era largely defanged them and rewrote their entire image.

Anthropology
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Question:

Discuss a way that two of the four field of anthropology interact with each other and why a base understanding of all four fields is vital to understanding anthropology as a whole.

Elizabeth B.
Answer:

Biological/Physical anthropology and archaeology coalesce when working with human remains from excavations and form the subdiscipline of bioarchaeology. The physical anthropology side teaches us how to use bones to differentiate between hominid species, study specific bones to determine age and sex of individual skeletons, how to look for injuries on bones or stress in teeth, and use stable isotope analysis to establish diet. All of these studies are incredibly important to piecing together the larger picture of daily life at the archaeological site they were excavated from. Establishing the exact hominid specific the remains belong to establishes a time frame of the site and places it in the larger context of time. Determined age and sex of individuals helps archaeologists establish the demography of the site and begin to put together what their lives may have looked like. Injuries and stress seen in bone and teeth are the starting point in studying the kind of hardships and threats ancient people faced; injuries can indicated warfare or conflict between individuals, stress fractures and breaks in bones can inform us about physical labor, and poor dentition is often an indicator of diet or starvation. Finally, processes like stable isotope analysis help us identify chemical compounds and allow us to make inferences about individuals' diet and nutrition. Each of these pieces of analyzing an archaeological site rely on physical anthropology and the two are vital establishing an accurate picture of ancient life. All four fields of anthropology interact in similar ways and help inform each other. Even when specializing in one field, there is frequent cross over in theory, methods, and research, so it's impossible to completely divorce any from the others. This cross over means it is important for any anthropologist to have a basic foundation in all four and are comfortable approaching questions from an interdisciplinary standpoint and working with colleagues with different specializations. The study of human life is too broad for one area of study to address all questions, so understanding how each field interacts with each other is vital.

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