Study Help Essay Questions


1. What is the relationship of the business story to the love story?

2. Is Silas Lapham a tragic or comic character?

3. What is Persis Lapham's moral outlook on life?

4. Why is Penelope a romantic heroine?

5. What is Bromfield Corey's view of civilization?

6. What is Tom Corey's function in the book in regard to society?

7. Why is this novel a tragicomedy?

8. What is Howells' view of romanticism as opposed to realism?

9. What constitutes Silas' moral rise?

10. What is the condition of the late 1800 American society?

11. Is Bromfield Corey a true artist?

12. What has happened to art with the rise of the middle class?

13. What message does The Rise of Silas Lapham have for Americans today?

14. What is the significance of Lapham's statement on his advertisements?

15. Who makes the Laphams aware of their unfashionable neighborhood?

16. How does Mrs. Lapham feel about Silas' relationship with his former partner?

17. What is Silas' reaction when he first encounters Tom Corey?

18. Give the background of Bromfield Corey's life.

19. How does Tom Corey propose to join the Lapham paint business?

20. Why does Silas' attitude change toward the Coreys?

21. What does Bromfield Corey say about American parents?

22. How does Lapham treat Tom Corey during office hours?

23. What does Lapham do with some of the money he had planned to spend on his new home?

24. Does Bromfield consider the Laphams fit for society?

25. How do the Corey girls feel about Irene?

26. What does Mrs. Lapham worry about during her preparations for the Corey's dinner party?

27. What does Bromfield Corey say about art?

28. What is the significance of Lapham's apology for his drunken behavior?

29. What is Penelope's reaction when Tom Corey declares his love for her?

30. What does Penelope suggest she do in the situation in which Tom Corey has placed her?

31. How does Sewell propose to solve Penelope's problem?

32. What does Irene do when she knows Tom does not love her?

33. What happens to the mills Rogers put up for collateral?

34. What unusual offer does Rogers make concerning the mills?

35. What is written on the slip of paper Mrs. Lapham finds?

36. What does Silas have to do when he discovers the weight of his financial problem?

37. How does Silas burn his new home down?

38. What does Rogers propose that Lapham do to ease his conscience in the English matter?

39. With whom does Silas try to unite his business?

40. What does Silas say about his relationship with Rogers?

41. Compare and contrast Silas Lapham to Bromfield Corey.

42. Show how realism combats and defeats romanticism in this novel.

43. Compare Howells to Mark Twain or Henry James.

44. Show how The Rise of Silas Lapham could be looked at as a social satire or a comedy of manners.

45. Show how The Rise of Silas Lapham portrays the death of Puritanism.

46. Show how Silas' self-sacrifice is different from Penelope's self-sacrifice.