The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary Essay Topics & Writing Assignments

Simon Winchester
This set of Lesson Plans consists of approximately 137 pages of tests, essay questions, lessons, and other teaching materials.
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Essay Topic 1

The author opens the book with the dictionary entry for the word "murder." Discuss the reasons why he might have done this with reference to the people mentioned in the book, the book's central subject of The Oxford English Dictionary, and the author's own interests.

Essay Topic 2

The title of the book and its chapter titles are somewhat surprising considering that this is a non-fiction book about the making of a famous dictionary. Why are the titles surprising? Discuss what effects the author may have aimed for in choosing these titles.

Essay Topic 3

"The English-speaking world is better off for the death of Charles Merrett." How could this statement be considered to be true? Do you think the author agrees? Why or why not?

Essay Topic 4

Discuss the author's use of symbolism in the text. Give examples.

Essay Topic 5

Much of Chapter 3, The Madness of War...

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