The Character of a Happy Life: NBSE class 9 Alternative English

The Character of a Happy Life NBSE Class 9 Alternative English
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Get notes, questions, answers, solutions, Assam, pdf, extras of NBSE class 9 Alternative English chapter, The Character of a Happy Life. However, these notes should be used only for references and additions/modifications should be made as per the requirements.


In the poem, The Character of a Happy Life, the poet Sir Henry Wotton tries to uphold the very attributes needed to be a happy person in the world. Contrary to what the world thinks would make a happy life, the poet says that it is not worldly possessions that make someone happy, but true happiness comes from freedom, and freedom can only mean that someone is not under the command of another. When describing a happy man, he says that a happy person always does their own will, and their will is to serve others. He does not run after fame and money but is contented with a simple life. The poet says that a happy man always follows a truthful life and tries to stay close to God, not caring about what others think of him or want from him.

Explain with reference to context.

1. How happy is he born and taught
That serveth not another’s will;
Whose armour is his honest thought,
And simple truth his utmost skill!

a. Pick out the word that describes a basic virtue as a form of protection. What is this virtue?
b. What do you learn about this person’s independence?
c. What is the special talent or ability that he enjoys?

Answer: a. The word that describes the basic virtual form of protection is “armour.” This virtue is truth and honesty.

b. This person lives a happy and contented life. He serves his own will and his will is always to serve others.

c. The special talent or ability that he enjoys is telling the truth.

2. Whose passions not his masters are;
Whose soul is still prepared for death,
Untied unto the world by care
Of public fame or private breath;

a. What does public fame or private breath bring?
b. What is this man’s relationship with God?
c. What do we learn about this man’s temperament?

Answer: a. Public fame or private breath brings unworldly name Fame, honour and power.

b. This person is very close to God. He gives more importance to God than earthly pleasures. He is God-fearing and spends his day reading religious books.

c. This man has full control over his feelings and he is never swayed by his emotions. He has taught himself to be happy in every situation.

Answer the questions

1. Describe ‘freedom’ as you understand it from the poem. Are you comfortable with this definition?

Answer: Freedom in this poem refers to the bliss of being unaware or not paying any heed to what others think or what others want us to do. The poet, describing the character of a happy person in the poem, says that a free man who does not act according to the wishes of others and always follows the truth and keeps himself close to God, striving for a righteous life instead of fame and worldwide positions and is contented with what he has, is a happy man.

Yes, I am comfortable with the definition because true freedom means not submitting to the will of others but doing what is right.

2. ‘The Character of a Happy Life’ is written in six stanzas, in regular rhyme, and follows a very basic rhythmic structure, in a very simple style. Do you think this helps convey a moral? Discuss.

Answer: “The Character of a Happy Life” is written in six stanzas in a very simple style, and it does help in conveying the message and the moral that the poet is trying to portray clearly. The poet did not beat about the bush in flowery language, but he broke down the essence of a happy life in the form of a few qualities that a man should possess. The simple and easy form of the poem makes the message of the poet very clear, and there is no confusion about what the poet is trying to say.

Think and answer

1. What quality does ‘hope to rise or fear to fall’ signify? Why has the poet referred to it as ‘servile bands’?

Answer: The quality signified by ‘hope to rise or fear to fall’ is ambition and anxiety about social status or failure. The poet refers to these as ‘servile bands’ because they enslave a person to external expectations and societal pressures, thereby limiting their freedom.

2. In what way does the last stanza echo the message of the first stanza?

Answer: The last stanza echoes the message of the first stanza by emphasizing independence and self-sufficiency. It reinforces the idea that true happiness and fulfillment come from being one’s own master, free from serving others’ wills and societal expectations.

3. How can a person ‘have nothing, yet have all’? Explain what the poet means in the last line of the poem.

Answer: A person can ‘have nothing, yet have all’ by possessing inner contentment and spiritual richness, despite lacking material wealth. The poet means that true wealth is not about worldly possessions but about inner peace, freedom from desires, and a fulfilled spirit.

Going Beyond

1. Discuss the ‘servile bands’ of life that tie people down. How can they be freed from them? Share your views in an essay of not more than 150 words.

Answer: ‘Servile bands’ are the metaphorical chains of societal expectations and personal anxieties that restrict freedom. People often feel pressured to achieve certain standards in wealth, status, and behavior, which can lead to dissatisfaction and loss of self. To break free from these restraints, one must prioritize inner contentment and spiritual richness over material gains and external approval. Embracing simplicity and practicing mindfulness can help shift focus from what society values to personal growth and genuine relationships. By redefining success on personal terms and fostering resilience against societal pressures, individuals can achieve a state of liberation. In essence, freeing oneself from ‘servile bands’ involves a conscious decision to pursue a life defined by self-acceptance and fulfillment rather than external achievements. This shift enables individuals to live more authentically, aligned with their true selves and values.

2. Work in groups of four or six. Share your views on the topic, ‘What Happiness Means to Me.

Answer: This task encourages group discussion where each individual shares their personal definition of happiness. It fosters an exchange of diverse perspectives, helping participants reflect on what truly brings them joy and satisfaction in life. This activity is beneficial for understanding the subjective nature of happiness and for appreciating different views that might expand one’s own outlook on what it means to lead a fulfilling life.

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