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Class XII (Essays) Summary and Exercises (Part 1)

 Sir Roger at the Assizes (Essay)

This material is prepared by Deepak Niraula.

About the author

JOSEPH ADDISON (1672-1719)

v He was an English essayist, poet, playwright and politician.

v  Notable Classic Scholar.

v Deeply influenced by Latin poetry

v His name is usually remembered alongside that of his long-standing friend Richard Steele.

v In collaboration with Richard Steele, Addison published the periodical THE SPECTATOR from 1711 - 1714 appearing thrice weekly for six months.

v  Declared the aim of The Spectator to "enliven morality with wit and to temper wit with morality"

v Addison's other notable literary production during this period was his tragedy Cato (1713) - blank verse tragedy- themes are relevant to Addison's age: individual liberty versus govt tyranny, Republicanism versus Monarchism etc.

v  Early verse The Campaign (1704)


The essay begins with an explanation of how Sir Roger is the best kind of man in his life. He has endeared himself to all his neighbours by his kindness and pleasing behaviour. A man is at peace with himself when he has a clear conscience and the approval of the public. Sir Roger is one who has both.

The narrator then recalls an incident when the old knight took him and Will Wimble, a man about town, to attend a court sitting in the country. They meet two gentlemen on the way and as they ride; Sir Roger tells the narrator about them.

While Will Wimble and the two gentlemen ride a little ahead, Sir Roger explains that one of them is a farmer. The latter would have been a good neighbour, except that he shoots down too many partridges for food. The other man Tom Touchy notorious for his habit of taking legal action against everybody. He prosecuted two honest men for something as trivial as passing and destroying some of his hedges. He had to sell the land the hedges enclosed to meet the cost of the lengthy prosecution. His obsession with litigation has ruined him financial but he refuses to desist.

Wall Wimble and Tom Touchy wanted Sir Roger's opinion on a point of view regarding a trivial incident about Wimble fishing in the river. The men had opposing opinions, but Sir Roger pronounced with an air of judicial solemnity that "much might be said on both sides". This verdict. not holding either person guilty satisfied them.

The proceedings of the court had already started by the time Sir Roger and his companions reached. When the sessions were about to end, the knight stood up and made a short speech. The speech was insignificant, but its purpose had not been to inform the court about anything, but only to impress the author and the assembly.

On the way back, the group stopped at an inn to refresh themselves. The inn was owned by a former servant of Sir Roger. As a mark of respect to his master, this man had painted Sir Roger's head on the inn's sign post without informing him. When he came to know of it, Sir Roger had arranged the features on this painting to be altered to resemble a frowning Saracen. The altered painting was brought in, but it still resembled him When Sir Roger wanted the author to tell him whether or not the monstrous picture looked like his, the narrator, exercising the same diplomacy that the knight had employed earlier, said "Much might be said on both sides."


v  Introduced in the second number of The Spectator

v  A fictious London Club with imaginary members

v  "Mr. Spectator on of the fictional characters, an observer of London society, allegedly wrote papers.

v  Their imaginary conversations provided opinions in manners, morals, art and literature

v  Mild witty portrait of members.

v  These members represent important sections of society. Steele describes six of the members of the Club they are Sir Roger de Coverley, Captain Sentry, Sir Andrew Freeport, Will Honeycomb, the Clergyman and the Student of Law.



The principal character of Addison's essays, was in fact, not the creation of his but of his friend, Richard Steele’s. In the essay of the club, Steele gave us the bare sketch of the basic characteristics of Sir Roger de Coverley, an imaginary eccentric old country knight who frequented the Spectator Club in London. But what proficiency goes to Addison, is that, he gave the character life, interest, and adventure, and cast over it the charm of his pleasant humour. Thus, Sir Roger occupied the prime place in most of the essays of Addison.

Sir Roger, as portrayed by Steele and Addison, was a bachelor, although he had a family which consisted of sober and grave servants of his. Sir Roger was the best master, all in all in his family. He seldom changed his servants. So, all the members were aged and grew old with Sir Roger. Sir Roger's behaviour to them was all along good. His kindness and love went equally even in the treatment of his old dog and old grey horse. None of both the creatures was useful, yet they were kept with great care and tenderness regarding their past services.


CHARACTERS: Narrator, Sir Roger, Will Wimple, Yeoman, Tom Touchy, Servant etc...

v  Sir Roger at Assizes begins with the dictum that a man enjoys peace of mind when his conscience is clear and when his community appreciates his conduct.

v  The narrator illustrates the maxim with the actions of Sir Roger at a Country sessions court.

v  He concludes the picture with the episode at the inn which exposes a ridiculous aspect of his character

v  The narrator recalls a few instances of the general respect shown to Sir Roger when he and Mr. Will Wimble travelled with Sir Roger to attend a court session.

An Eastern Journey by Somerset Maugham

This material is prepared by Dinesh Mani Sharma from Janakalyan Secondary School, Kalyanpur- 06, Madi Chitwan, Contact No: 9841587248


Text: An Eastern Journey

Author: William Somerset Maugham

Language: English

Country: England                                                                                                             

Genre: Prose

Sub-genre: Travelogue

Setting: Northern Cambodia (East)


·        In the countries of the East, the most impressive, the most awe-inspiring monument of antiquity is neither temple nor great wall but the man.

·        Nature is the most powerful of all Gods.


Note : Angkor Wat is the most famous ancient temple site in Cambodia. With its 5 lotus-like towers rising 65 meters into the sky, it is an awe-inspiring sight. Located in Siem Reap, this UNESCO World Heritage site was once the largest pre-industrial city in the world.


"An Eastern Journey” is the record of the thoughts and feelings W.S Maugham experienced as a traveller when he visited the temple of AngkorWat, an eastern Buddhist temple in northern Cambodia. He writes, “I have never seen anything in the world more wonderful than the temples of Angkor."

First of all, he feels 'immense difficulty in getting to Angkor Wat. After a three day boat journey from Phnom -Penh, the great towers of Angkor Wat came to his sight looming gigantic and black in moonshine.

Having approached the ruins of the grand monument, the writer feels another problem: how to interpret their matchless beauty in simple words. Now his mind is occupied by the thought of (literary) style and he mentions the style of Water Pater, Ruskin, and Thomas Browne. He then mentions his early taste for words, but later on he had found that 'we do not write as we want to but as we can'. So he wants to be plain and old as a telegram in style.

On his journey to Angkor Wat , he read Travels in Indo-China by Hensi Mouhot, a French who was the first European to give a detailed description of the ruins of Angkor.

Mouhot's letter to his wife before his death and his portrait are interpreted subjectively. Later on, he describes what the "stupendous monuments looked like before it had been restored. The massive remains today are half-hidden by jungle, moss and lichen. For centuries nature has waged its battle with the handiwork of man, it has covered, disfigured and transformed it, and new all the buildings that a multitude of slaves built with so much labour lie in confused tangle among the trees."

Towards the evening heavy rain fell, 'as the lightening tore the darkness like a veil, he saw the jungle stretching endlessly before him and it seemed

to him that these great temples and their Gods were insignificant before the fierce might of nature. The writer, therefore, finds the truth why men created and worshipped Gods. But in his view 'nature is most powerful of all Gods.

Then he describes the Angkor Wat of bygone days. Some of the temples seem to have been wantonly destroyed. The slaves, after the flight of the ruler, might have laid waste, the city to only a few temples in a teeming forest. Then he describes the structure, sculpture, and beauty of the 'impassive rather than a beautiful monument. There is neither a plan nor pattern but a rhythm and action. The architects were guided by the religious principles.

He finds it as lovely as the Elgin Marbles. It is full of artistic grace. But he finds both a height of perfection and the mediocre in their architecture.

Today there are only bats, and silence hangs, like a presence. He finds the Cambodian dance meaningful, rich in its cultural heritage. It was impregnated with divinity. It was the self same spectacle as engraved by its sculptors there. The writer's heart is wrenched on the last day he finds it more beautiful than before.

He then describes the strangeness of Bayon temple. It is different from others because it had not the uniformity of the other temples he had seen.

The silence there is unearthly and this fills him with awe and reverence. There are pictures of Cambodian life today. After thousands of years there is no change. So he says 'in these countries of the East the most impressive, the most awe-inspiring monument of antiquity is neither temple nor citadel, nor great wall, but man’.

The pleasant with his immemorial usages belongs to an age far more ancient than Angkor Wat, the Great Wall of China, or the Pyramids of Egypt.

Short Answer Questions

1.What does Somerset Maugham’s essay deal with? Explain.

William Somerset Maugham in this travelogue draws his experiences of visiting eastern countries. It is an account of travelogue. The author describes the places, scene, people, historical places, buildings and so on that he saw and visited in the journey. He describes the Angkor Wat, an Eastern Buddhist temple complex situated in northern Cambodia. He is impressed by the Cambodian dances. He concludes that in these countries of the East the most impressive is neither temple, nor citadel, nor great wall, but man. The peasant with his immemorial usages belongs to an age far more ancient than Angkor Wat, the Great Wall of China or the pyramids of Egypt.

2. Describe the beauty and greatness of Angkor Wat.

Angkor was a great city, thriving, populous, and now there remains nothing but a few ruined temples of a teeming forest. Covering around ten miles, the place has drawn keen attention of the writer. He describes the remains of Khmer civilization in Cambodia. He says, "I have never seen in the world (anything) more wonderful than the temples of Angkor." It is an impressive rather than a beautiful building, sunrise and sunset. Its loveliness touches the heart. The great towers of Angkor seem strangely insubstantial at dawn. The architects had not shown the great skill while making this. The pattern had neither wanton fancy nor vivid imagination. They were deliberate in their work. The effects of the grandeur of this temple they achieved was through regularity and vastness.

3.What does the essayist write about the temple called Bayon at Angkor?

Acccording to the essayist, Bayon temple is different from other temples that he had seen at Angkor Wat. It lacked the uniformity to be found in other temples. It consists of a multitude of towers, one above other symmetrically arranged and each tower is a four-faced gigantic head of Siva. Each is surmounted by a decorated crown. The most important things about Bayon temple are bar which present the picture of cooking food, catching fish, buying and selling and in short, the various activities of simple Cambodian people. Bayon temple and its reliefs gave the author the impression of the Eastern people. If one were to wake up today after a thousand years' sleep, he would find no change in his daily life.

4.Why does the essayist not appreciate Henri Mouhot’s Travels in Indo- China in the essay? Explain.

The detailed description of the ruins of Angkor Wat was first made by French naturalist Henri Mauhot in Henri Mauhot'sbook‘Travels in Indo-China’ as a worth reading book. The essayist says that the Henri Mauhot's aforementioned work is a pleasant, painstaking and straightforward account of that place. But Maugham does not praise this work because it was a record of that period when the traveller believed that people who did not eat, dress, talk and think as he did were very odd and not human. Besides Mauhot described many things that would not excite the astonishment of the more sophisticated and modest traveller of this time.

He did not include the accurate details of that place in his writing. There were many unnecessary additions and corrections in Maugham's copy of this book. Some pilgrims had done with their pencils. It led to confusion. The corrections made with the determined hand shows that Mauhot's description was erroneous. The corrections there were 'not so', 'far from it', ‘quite wrong', 'palpable error', etc. Mauhot had no time to correct it before his death. Therefore, writer Somerset Maugham does not praise his work. And he is right in his stand.

5.Nature is the most powerful of all Gods. Explain with reference to the essay An Eastern Journey.

This  essay deals with the travelogue of WS Maugham.The author had visited Combodia,a country in Asia continent rich in Hindu and Buddhist civilization.He believes that he will be protected from thunder,lightening, downpour ,storm etc. in the temple premises.But the shelter under a big temple with the head of Siva could not ensure his feelings of safety and security.He declares that the temples of great Gods can’t save us from the threats of nature.Nature is the most powerul of all Gods.

Man and Battle of Life

Prepared by Kumar Adhikari from Phidim Secondary School, Phidim, Pachthar

Contact no. 9843507593


Introduction of the Essayist

Sri Aurobindo (15 August1872-5 December1950) was born in Calcutta, India. He was an Indian philosopher, essayist, yogi, poet, and nationalist. He was born in a Bengali family. His father's name is Krishna Dhun Ghose and mother's name is Swarnalotta Devi. His father was a thoroughly Anglicised Indian doctor in British Government Service. His father wanted him to have a Solid, British education. When Aurobindo was seven,his father sent him to England for education. There he studied at St. Paul's School, London and at King's College, Cambridge. His major literary works are: The Life Divine (1919), Essays on the Gita (1922), Collected Poems and Plays (1942), The Synthesis of Yoga (1948), The Human Cycle (1949), The Ideal of Human Unity (1949), Savitri: A Legend and a Symbol (1950), On the Veda (1956).

Main theme of the essay:

The essay "Man and Battle of Life" is taken from "Essay on the Gita" has been written by a famous Indian essayist, Sri Aurobindo. The essay explains the gist of Gita with the conclusion that the teaching of Gita is not a physical asceticism, but an inner askesis. The essay develops a spiritual idea of battle of life bringing forth the reference of Hindu Myth. In this essay, the essayist examines life from the perspective of the Bhagavad-Gita as a battle and a struggle which subsists on constant change and death. The Gita is addressed to a fighter, a man of action, one whose duty in life is that of war and protection of the weak and the oppressed and for the maintenance of right and justice in the world.

Summary of the essay:

This essay has been written by Sri Aurobindo on The Gita. In this essay, the essayist appreciates the teaching of the Gita. The Gita accepts God as the creator, preserver and destroyer and thus is omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient. The essayist thinks that all human thought is active and affirmative, whether it be theistic, pantheistic and atheistic. God as universal Being or Nature shall enable us to transcend, overcome or harmonize the disagreement among the people. We have to accept human life and its aspects as a struggle and battle supports into huge crises like that of Kurukshetra. The Gita believes that great forces clash together for a huge destruction and reconstruction. Different kinds of changes like the intellectual, moral, social, religious etc. come mainly through a violent physical convulsion of strife, war or revolution. In the sense for the essayist, The Gita accepts both the moral and physical aspects. The idea of avoiding war is not possible. The essayist thinks that the gospel of universal peace has not achieved. A modern man has found a war, full of bitterness and hatred as the straightway and modern for the establishment of universal peace. One day man will spiritually think of reigning from the idea of universal peace by accepting the idea of man as a fighter. According to essayist The Gita puts the question how this aspect and function of life, which the spiritual existence.

The Gita by addressing the fighter promotes the ideal of a warrior man called Kshatriya who fights like a Knight and protects humanity. This idea come from the peculiar Indian culture and social system in the midst of which they arose, however they have universal value. The modern system is totally different. In the modern mind, man is a thinker, worker or producer and fighter all in one. Ancient Indian civilization takes man as a spiritual being. According to Aurobindo thought and knowledge, war and government, production and distribution, labor and service were carefully differentiated functions of society. The essayist thinks there are both advantages and disadvantages of a modern idea of man. It helps to greater solidarity, unity and fullness in the life of the community and a more all-round development of the complete human beings, different to that of ancient Indian civilization. But on the other hand, too logical application of it has led to grotesque and disastrous absurdities.

According to Aurobindo the chief aim of Indian civilization is to minimize the incidence and disaster of war. For this purpose, it limited the military obligation to the small class who by their birth, nature and traditions were marked out for this function and found in it their natural means of self-development through the flowering of the soul in the qualities of courage, disciplined force, strong helpfulness and chivalrous nobility for which the warrior's life pursued under the stress of a high ideal gives a field and opportunities. The main aim of Indian civilization is to reduce the disaster of war. Consequently, the military obligation to the small class was limited the military obligation to the small class was limited. According to the Gita war was an inevitable part of human life. It is destructive in bodily life of an elevation the Indian ideal of the Kshatriya, the Japanese ideal of the Samurai who denied war were the pacifists.

The physical fact of war is only a special and outward manifestation. The Kshatriya is only the outward manifestation. War embodies physically the aspect of battle and struggle which belongs to all life, both to our inner and outer living. Aurobindo thinks that the Kshatriya is the type and embodiment of the fighter in man who accepts this principle in life and faces it as a warrior striving towards mastery of right, justice, law which shall be the basis of the harmony towards which the struggle tends. The Gita accepts this aspect of the world-energy and the physical fact of war. It addresses itself to the man of action, the striver and fighter, the Kshatriya.

According to Sankhya philosophy, there are three essential qualities or modes of the world energy. First is sattva. It refers the mod of poise, knowledge and satisfaction. Second is rajas. It is the mode of passion, action and struggling emotion. Third is tamas which is the mode of ignorance and inertia. Tamas man does not so much the rush and shock of the world-energies. The tamasic man seeks only somehow to survive, to shelter himself in the fortress of an established routine of thought and action, and to reject the demand which is higher nature makes upon him. The rajasic man makes the struggle itself a means of increasing inner mastery, joy, power, possession. Sattva man seeks in the midst of the strife for a principle of law, right, poise, harmony, peace and satisfaction. All the attitudes adopted by the human mind towards the problem of the eitherderive from the domination of one or other of these qualities or else from an attempt at balance and harmony between them. But the man's problem might not be solved by these three qualities. At that time, he seeks a higher solution quite superior to these qualities. It aspires to an absolute peace and unconditioned existence or to a dominant calm and superior existence. The natural movement of the former attitude is towards the renunciation of the world, sannyasa; of the latter towards superiority to the claims of the lower nature. The former is the first impulse of Arjuna. Arjuna is the Kshatriya, the rajasic man who governs his rajasic action by a high sattwic ideal.

Synnyasa is the renunciation of life and action and of the threefold modes of Nature, but it has to be approached through one or other of the three qualities. The impulse may be tamasic, a feeling of impotence, fear, aversion disgust, horror of the world and life; or it may be the rajasic, quality tending towards tamas, an impulse of weariness of the struggle, grief, disappointment, refusal to accept any longer this vein turmoil of activity with its pains and its eternal discontent. Or the impulse may be that of rajas tending towards sattwa, the impulse to arrive at something superior to anything life can give, to conquer a high state, to trample down life itself under the feet of an inner strength which seeks to break all bonds and transcend all limits. or it may be sattwic, an intellectual perception of the vanity of life and the absence of any real goal or justification for this every -cycling world-existence or else a spiritual perception of the Timeless, theInfinite, the Silent, the nameless and formless Peace beyond. The recoil of Arjuna is the tamasic recoil from action of the sattwa-rajasic man.


Short Answer Questions

1. How can you distinguish between theistic, pantheistic and atheistic?

Ans: Theistic is an adjective that is a belief in the existence of one God viewed as the creative source of the human race and the world who transcends yet is immanent in the world.

Pantheistic is the belief that reality is identical with divinity or that all things compose on all encompassing, immanent god.

Atheistic is an adjective that is used to describe things that involve atheism. It is also known as the belief that there is no supreme being or deity.

2. In what sense is man a thinker, worker or producer and a fighter all in one? Explain.

Ans: In a modern sense, man is a thinker, worker or producer and a fighter all in onebecause human should play different kinds of role in the daily life. Sometime he/she plays a role of a thinker. We are social animals so we should think about different kinds of subject matter about our daily life activities. On the other hand, human as a worker because to achieve something he/she should do work hard. To be a successful person, we should participate in daily activities. Man as a producer means in his life he should play different role like teacher in school, doctor in hospital, father in the house. He should produce children also. Finally, man as a fighter because to achieve something he/she be a fighter.

3. Pacifism is the belief that war or violence is wrong. What can be the way of making peace in the world?

Ans: Pacifism is the belief that war or violence is wrong. A pacifist rejects war and believes there are no moral grounds which can justify resorting to war. War, for the pacifist, is always wrong. War or violence always create problems in our life. They are always destructive in nature and create various problems among humans and other animals. By applying different kinds of measures like create happy atmosphere and situation on the basis of universal peace. By making a personal commitment to nonviolence.

4. What, according to the Sankhya philosophy, are the three essential qualities or modes of human nature? Discuss them briefly.

Ans: According to the Sankhya philosophy, there are three essential qualities or modes of human nature are sattva, rajas and tamas. First issattva thar refers the mode of poise, knowledge and satisfaction. Second is rajas that is the mode of passion, action and struggling emotion.Third is tamaswhich is the mode of ignorance and inertia.

5. 'Not a physical asceticism, but an inner askesis is the teaching of the Gita.' Explain.

Ans: I fully agree with the above statement 'Not a physical asceticism, but an inner askesis is the teaching of the Gita'. According to Bhagavad Gita human life is full of battles. Human never shirks in fear. Physical fact of war is only a special and outward manifestation of a general principle in life. War always symbolizes the aspect of battle and struggle which belongs to all life, both to our inner and outer living. According to Bhagavad Gita the Kshatriya is the type and embodiment of the fighter in human who accepts these principles in life and faces it as a warrior striving towards mastery of right, justice, law etc.

6. What is the essay about? What does it tell us about human life and their nature?

Ans: The essay is about the teaching of the Gita in relation to the human beings and the battle of their life. It is also about a spiritual idea of battle of life bringing forth the reference of Hindu myth.Bhagavad Gita says that the human life is full of battles. They can not run away from the war. The supreme power has created an even human beings in a separate way. It also says that the person whose mind is always free from attachment, who has subdued the mind and senses and who is free from desires, attains the supreme perfection of freedom from activity through renunciation.

7. Justify the title of the essay.

Ans:  The title of the essay is crystal clear. According to the Bhagavad Gita human life is full of battles because in every step of human life different kinds of tasks have to do. To achieve success in our life we should play different kinds of roles in daily life. Bhagavad Gita says that the human being as an actor because on the basis of situation, human should change their views and thought. On the basis of various situations, we should change our mind and participate in different activities.

Long Answer Questions

1. Do you believe in the existence of God? Why or why not?

Ans: Yes, I believe in the existence of God because God is a supreme supernatural or preternatural being that is the creator or sustainer or ruler of the universe and all things in it, including human beings. In many religions God is also conceived as perfect and unfathomable by humans, as all powerful and all knowing, and as the source and ultimate ground of morality.

Believing that God has a plan helps people regain some sense of control, or at least of acceptance. Another motivational factor is self-enhancement. The existence of God has been in question for as long as mankind has existed and thought logically. Many questions have plagued the human mind in regards to God, and there have been many arguments drawn with the hopes of proving the existence of a supreme being whom we know as God. The 'God' question has been presented to every individual at some point in their lives. It is a topic that will bring forth never-ending questions and an equal numberof attempted answers. Many philosophers have formulated different rationales when examining the topic of God, some of which include how the word itself should be defined, what his role is in human existence, whether or not he loves us

2. Swami Vivekananda said, "You cannot believe in God until you believe in yourself ". Do you agree with him? Give your arguments in support of your answer.

Ans: Yes, I agree with Swami Vivekananda because God is said to be the life inside us. If we hurt ourselves, or do not believe in ourselves then, we simply aren't believing in God. If we think that we are on earth by chance and not for a purpose then also, we will lose faith in ourselves.

We need to believe in ourselves in our abilities, skills and passions to take the leap into entrepreneurship or any other aspiration. Believing in yourself is the lynchpin of exceptional leadership, because self -confidence lets us manage and inspire others with assurance and direction.

When we believe in ourselves, we're accepting who we really are. We're not afraid to give our opinion and we're going to be proud of this person we're becoming. When we believe in ourselves, we feel like we can handle the world! Positive energy and a little confidence gives a major lift.

So it is important to believe in ourselves because self -belief makes us relax, feel more capable, and we can see things with crystal-clear clarity. In such situations, we're able to perceive not just one but a myriad of solutions to the problem at hand. Self-belief gives off an intoxicating aura. It both enchants and captivates others.

3. Victory for peace, love and harmony over the principle of war, discord and struggle should be the pursuit of life. Discuss.

Ans: Victory for peace, love and harmony over the principle of war, discord and struggle should be the pursuit of life because peace is a concept of societal friendship and harmony in the absence of hostility and violence. In a social sense, peace, love and harmony are commonly used to mean a lack of conflict and freedom from fear of violence between individuals or groups. Throughout history, leaders have used peacemaking and diplomacy to establish a type of behavioral restraint that has resulted in the establishment of regional peace or economic growth through various forms of agreement or peace treaties. Such behavioral restraint has often resulted in the reduced conflict, greater economic interactivity, and consequently substantial prosperity.

Peace and harmony are important for our life because they create happy environment. War, discord and struggle are always bad for every life. They always create different kinds of problem in every step of life. War and discord are harmful for human beings. Due to the war we have to lose our life, properties and natural resources. To create happy atmosphere, we should follow peace, love and harmony. Absence of peace, love and harmony development process is not possible. If we can't follow peace, love and harmony, we unable to move according to time and situation. They are the key features of human life.

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