The Character of a Happy Life

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Get here the introduction and notes 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.

Summary of the poem The Character of a Happy Life: In the poem, The Character of a Happy Life the poet Sir Henry Wotton has tried to uphold the very attributes needed to be a happy person in the world. In contrary to what the world thinks would make a happy life, the poet says that it is not the worldly possessions that make someone happy but true happiness comes from freedom and the freedom can only mean that someone is not under the command of another. Describing a happy man, he says that, a happy person always does his own will and his will is to serve the 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 try to stay close to God, not caring about what others think of him or want from him.

I. 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 is a 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 he enjoys is telling the truth.

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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 off by his emotions. He has taught himself to be happy in every situation.

ll. 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 the others and always follows the truth and keep 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 bushes 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.

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