Andrew Marvell's poem "To His Cow Mistress"
Andrew Marvell’s poem “To His Cow Mistress”

For thirty years as a college literature teacher, I collected student gaffes that I thought were worth saving. I invite you to judge my teaching ability based on my students’ grasp of the material. The errors come from exams and essays and are roughly arranged by literary chronology, beginning with world and British literature and then moving to American.

Oedipus was dumbed from birth. [doomed?]

Oedipus realizes that he was the one that killed his own father and married his brother.

When Jocasta finishes the story, Oedipus is aroused a little bit more than before.

Oedipus was a disgrace by being a murderer and being a penetrator of incest. [perpetrator?]

The first stage of Beowulf’s life occurred when he was young. The next stage of Beowulf’s life was when he was older.

In Beowulf the most important relationship was between a warrior and his lord. It was one of neutral trust and respect. The heroes in this work set out on amos adventure. [mutual, aimless]

Beowulf was going to slay the beast with his bear hands.

Hamlet displays fragrant disrespect towards his mother the queen. [flagrant]

This quotation is a syllabus spoken at the end of the play. [soliloquy]

In “To His Coy Mistress” the persona wishes that if he had all the time he would stare into her eyes and her body.

Torvald merely looks at Nora as a doll which turns tricks to earn her stay.

In the essay “The Diamond Necklace” the pearl necklace symbolizes the meaning of the story.

Proust simply dipped a petite mandolin in his tea and was automatically taken back to a time in his childhood. [petite madeleine]

Even though the athlete in “To an Athlete Dying Young” is younger, he beat many of his opponents to death who were much older.

American literature was started in 1607 and ended in 1865.

Initiation, in my opinion, is a trial to see if you can make it through whatever circumstances necessary to reach a pacific goal.

Another term for sexual symbolism is Fraudian symbolism.

John Winthrop looked for embalms of the Bible everywhere.

A distinction can be made between Anne Bradstreet’s private and pubic poetry.

This quotation is by Anne Bradstreet in “A Letter to Her Husband, Absent upon Pubic Employment.”

In the line “Return, return sweet Sol, from Capricorn,” Bradstreet is asking her dead husband to return to her. Sol is her husband’s name.

What Thomas Morton gradually leads up to through this is an illustration of how ridiculous the Separatists are in their extremities.

Jonathan Edwards tries to pervert people to the church. [convert?]

Washington Irving Americanized German forktales.

The headless horseman is a fragment of the people’s imagination.

William Cullen Bryant in “To a Waterfowl” speaks of the waterfowl who flies alone, and he said we should follow in its footsteps.

Both in “Ulalume” and “The Raven” Poe uses the central theme of the death of a beautiful woman. The women in these two poems are past lovers.

Poe says that the most poetical topic in the world is the beauty of a deceased woman. [actually, the death of a beautiful woman]

Poe felt that you had to have a climax before you could write a poem.

Roderick Usher has a spilt personality.

Roderick tries to enter his still-living sister in a vault. [inter?]

In “Masque of the Red Death” for the ones left outside who are infected with the plague, there is not anecdote.

“Young Goodman Brown” was written by Nathaniel Hearthrone.

Young Goodman Brown put the good people in the town on a pedalstool.

Robin in “My Kinsman Major Molineux” had the reputation of a screwd youth.

Hawthorne uses the ironic epitaph of “shrewd youth.” [epithet]

Robin had probably dealt with sexuality through the animals back home on the farm.
[apparently intending that Robin has probably seen animals copulating]

In Holmes’ “The Chambered Nautilus,” there is an idea of getting closer to heaven. The creature builds up his home, closer to God, and leaves his old behind.

The author of “Nature” is Robert Waldolf Emerson.

Thoreau’s going to jail did not change anything; it was only a fruitless jester.

Whitman celebrates his existence in “Song of Myself.” Through the use of grass as a symbol, he exposes himself to us.

Emily Dickinson used these images of death a lot in her poetry; and because of that she is one of the transistors from 19th century poetry to modern. Another transistor was Walt Whitman.

Stephanie Clinkscales said Emily Dickinson has eccentric capitalism. [capitalization]

In “Because I Could Not Stop for Death,” the persona is being driven away very slowly and calmly in a hertz.

Billy Budd has been pressed into serving in the navel forces.

[miscopied title in endnote]: 12th Century Interpretations of Huckleberry Finn

Huck travels the river with the King and the Duck.

Jim helped the doctor in treating Tom’s gunshot womb.

Not many people in the world would like to read a dole essay about advice to youth. Twain’s form of writing was always corky and unique to me.

In “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” Robert Frost used symbolism to convey the underlining meaning of his poem. [underlying]

“Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” was written by Jack Frost.

The part of man that once identified with nature protrudes as the persona observes the scenery. [intrudes?]

“After Apple-Picking” should help people not to think so badly of death and dying, because going to heave will be the best life they will ever know.

Prufrock displays the wound fantasy. He desires to go back to his mother’s wound where he will be protected from the world.

Prufrock has a womb fallacy.

“Do I dare / Disturb the Universe?” Here we see that the entire poem is about a question that would electricute everyone.

This line tells how Prufrock feels he’s treated. He feels like he’s the laughing duck at every party.

In Cat on a Hot Tin Roof Maggie hinted that she was devious and kniving at times, like a cat.

First off, Big Daddy is on the blink of dying.

The combination Hi-five, liquor cabinet, and TV stand symbolize all the ways that Brick tries to escape reality. [Hi-Fi]

While Brick and Margaret are fighting about Brick’s possibly homosexual relationship with Spencer, he tells her he doesn’t love her either. [actual name = Skipper. Spencer is my name.]

In this passage Eudora Welty uses a pond (a word with two meanings).

Miss Emily had a crayon portrait of her father on a tarnished gilt easel. Guilt is a type of plating that was popular many years back.

Emily really likes Homer because she buys him a toilet, but he may not be happy with her.

This strange behavior that Mis Evilly displays is very mysterious and builds suspense.

The term for the perversion that Miss Emily practices is “narcalepsy.” [necrophilia]

In The Glass Menagerie Amanda gets on to Tom for bringing an engaged gentleman caller to the house to accomplish his sister.

In Ellen Foster, Ellen finally finds a good friend (Starletta) but is most likely going to be ostrichised for it.

In A Gathering of Old Men the moral growth of the community, not just Charlie, is shown when the fight erupts amongst the old black man and Luke Will’s posy. [posse]

The characters describe Fix Boutan as a ruthless leader of a viscous mob.

[And finally, with a look to the far, far, far future:]

There are several differences between 1900th century and modern poets.

Share this Post:

23 thoughts on “Lit-Errata”

  1. “Jim helped the doctor in treating Tom’s gunshot womb.” Having experienced a severe case of gunshot womb it can be ‘messerable’!! Very funny post Bill Spencer!

    1. But is there a difference between pubic and privates poetry?
      (for Extra Credit)

  2. Now I’m just scared to write a comment under your post in case I make lots of my usual mistakes!

    1. Yah, you should be. I haf been hired by Donna to police ze entire site. I vill be vatching ze grammar, perusing ze punctuation, unt scrutinizing ze diction. You haf been varned.

  3. I’m so glad that the protagonist of “To an Athlete Dying Young” was able to beat so many opponents to death first. If you’re going to go, you might as well take your opponents with you! 😉

  4. I’m so glad Beowulf waited until he was older to be in the second stage of his life. It’s a bitch when you hit that at 5. These are all so funny!

    1. I collected these hoping some day I’d be able to share the laughs they gave me. Donna, I’m very glad and grateful that HO made it possible for me to do so.

    1. Roz, after checking out my new post, my wife found yours on “Honest Names for Nursing Homes,” and she laughed out loud all the way through it.

Comments are closed.