The worms will be discussing The Odyssey by Homer. The Odyssey is Homer's epic of Odysseus' 10-year struggle to return home after the Trojan War. While Odysseus battles mystical creatures and faces the wrath of the gods, his wife Penelope and his son Telemachus stave off suitors vying for Penelope's hand and Ithaca's throne long enough for Odysseus to return. The Odyssey ends as Odysseus wins a contest to prove his identity, slaughters the suitors, and retakes the throne of Ithaca. It is, in part, a sequel to the Iliad, the other work ascribed to Homer. The Odyssey is fundamental to the modern Western canon; it is the second-oldest extant work of Western literature, while the Iliad is the oldest. Scholars believe the Odyssey was composed near the end of the 8th century BC, somewhere in Ionia, the Greek coastal region of Anatolia.
The poem mainly focuses on the Greek hero Odysseus (known as Ulysses in Roman myths), king of Ithaca, and his journey home after the fall of Troy. It takes Odysseus ten years to reach Ithaca after the ten-year Trojan War. In his absence, it is assumed Odysseus has died, and his wife Penelope and son Telemachus must deal with a group of unruly suitors, the Mnesteres or Proci, who compete for Penelope's hand in marriage.
The worms will be discussing Pamela: or, Virtue Rewarded by Samuel Richardson. It tells the story of a beautiful 15-year-old maidservant named Pamela Andrews, whose country landowner master, Mr. B, makes unwanted and inappropriate advances towards her after the death of his mother. After Mr. B attempts unsuccessfully to seduce and rape her multiple times, he eventually rewards her virtue when he sincerely proposes an equitable marriage to her.
The title: Pamela; or Virtue Rewarded is significant as it prescribed the position of a young lady longing to be virtuous in the eyes of society. She seeks out to be pure in judgement of her parents by obeying their wishes and even spends her letters in using apologetic language if made offense to her parents wishes for her in obtaining virtue. Along with the expectations of her parents Pamela strives for the approval of her master Mr.B while debating the disapproval or scolding of his actions from her parents. Pamela, who is emotionally fragile and confused by Mr. B's manipulation, accepts his proposal. In the novel's second part, Pamela marries Mr. B and tries to acclimatize to upper-class society.
Richardson keeps a steady theme of social acceptance or social approval in this works through both parts of the text. The story, a best-seller of its time, was very widely read but was also criticized for its perceived licentiousness and glorification of abuse.
The worms will be discussing Joseph Andrews and Shamela by Henry Fielding. Shamela is written as a shocking revelation of the true events which took place in the life of Pamela Andrews, the main heroine of Pamela by Samuel Richardson. From Shamela we learn that, instead of being a kind, humble and chaste servant-girl, Pamela (whose true name turns out to be Shamela) is in fact a wicked and lascivious creature–daughter to a London prostitute–who schemes to entrap her master, Squire Booby, into marriage. Similarly, the verbal and physical violence of Richardson's "Mr. B" (whose name is revealed to Booby) to his servant maid are hyperbolized, rendering their supposed love-match contemptible and absurd.
Joseph Andrews begins as a parody, too, but soon outgrows its origins, and its deepest roots lie in Cervantes and Marivaux. In both stories, Fielding demonstrates his concern for the corruption of contemporary society, politics, religion, morality, and taste.
The worms will be discussing Anna Karenina (Part I) by Leo Tolstoy. Considered by some to be the greatest novel ever written, Anna Karenina is Tolstoy's classic tale of love and adultery set against the backdrop of high society in Moscow and Saint Petersburg. A rich and complex masterpiece, the novel charts the disastrous course of a love affair between Anna, a beautiful married woman, and Count Vronsky, a wealthy army officer. Tolstoy seamlessly weaves together the lives of dozens of characters, and in doing so captures a breathtaking tapestry of late-nineteenth-century Russian society. As Matthew Arnold wrote in his celebrated essay on Tolstoy, "We are not to take Anna Karenina as a work of art; we are to take it as a piece of life."