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Poem 02 The Character Of A Happy Life

(SIR HENRY WOTTON) 1568 - 1639

Q:1.What, according to Sir Henry Wotton, is the most essential factor in a man’s life that ensures his happiness?
According to the poet, most essential factor in a man’s life is his independence/freedom. If a man is free, he can spend his life according to his values, principles and beliefs. Such a man may not have any riches but he is the richest man. Thus, one’s free will to lead one’s life ensures one’s happiness.

Q:2.What is the importance of truth in a happy man’s life?
A man of virtue considers truth. He always speaks the truth. This skill paves his way and enables him to overcome the difficulties of life. Since he always upholds truth, so he never fears anything.

Q:3.What does Henry Wotton’s happy man feel about name, fame and the needs of the society?
Henry Wotton’s happy man leads a simple life. He has no lust name or fane. He prays to God for His blessings and kindness and not for worldly gifts, such as wealth, titles, or high position in society. That is why he has no fear of falling or losing his position in society. He may not have anything, but he is the richest man.


Introduction of the Poet 

The poem “The Character of a Happy Life”, has been written by Sir Henry Wotton. He  was born in Kent and the son of country gentleman. In this poem Wotton has described  the characteristics of a person who can truly be called a happy man. 

Introduction of the Poem

We find Wotton’s poem is a sharp sense of contrast between the uneasy life of the  ambitious man and the contented life of man satisfied to live an obscure life of peaceful  virtue. Sir Henry Wotton wrote from experience; for he was a distinguished servant of the  crown who had seen for himself the rise and fall of ambitious men. The poem consisting  of six stanzas of regular couplet rhymed. 
“Nature is the peace not the Land.”  John Keats 


A person who has freedom of will and thought leads a happy life. He does not act  according to other people’s wishes. His only weapon is his simplicity and truth. Such an upright man is not a slave of his desires. He is always prepared for death. This  man is not concerned about being famous or in what people say about him publicly or  privately. 
This upright man is not jealous of chance or foul play. He knows that flattery gives the  deepest wounds. He does not abide by the rules of the society which compel a person to  do unwanted deeds. He follows the rules of goodness which will lead him to the right  path. 
A happy man’s life is freed from numerous when he is sad he retires in his comfort of  clear conscience. He hasn’t got a high position. Therefore people don’t flatter him or nick  him at his down fall. A happy man prays to God regularly. In this prayer he does not ask  for rocks but he asks God to be gracious and merciful on him. His favorite positive is  good book or friend. A man who is truly happy is free from slavery of his desires. He isn’t  ambitious. He does not expect too much therefore his hopes aren’t shattered. He doesn’t  fear a downfall. This man hasn’t got lands or wealth and yet he has everything. He has  got the greatest wealth of contentment and happiness. 

The poet described the characteristics of a noble and happy man, who is honest, simple,  not slave of his desires. He follows the rules of goodness, which will lead him to the right  path.

“Multiple Choice Questions” 

1. The poem “Character of a happy life” is composed by ______________.  
William Shakespeare Sir Henry Wotton Thomas Campion Sir Walter Scott 

2. Sir Henry Wotton was born in ______________. 
1639 1568 1564 1546

3. Sir Henry Wotton was a ______________ poet. 
Romantic Religious Imaginative Supernatural 

4. Sir Henry Wotton was born in ______________. 
Cocker mouth Kent Sussex Dublin 

5. ______________ King gave him a regular pension. 
James John Tom Edward 

6. How happy is he born or ______________. 
Teach Taught Learnt Behaved 

7. And simple truth his utmost ______________. 
Art Variety Habit Skill 

8. Whose passions not his ______________ are. 
Governor Master Companion Comrade 

9. Of public fame, or ______________ breath; 
Private Mass Friend None of them 

10. Who ______________ none that chance doth raise. 
Envies Jealous Pride Vanity 

11. How deepest wounds are given by ______________.  
Admiration Praise Money Good 

12. Whose ______________ is his strong retreat? 
Conscience Body Mind None of them 

13. The man is freed from ______________ band. 
Servile Natural Acts Habits

14. Of hope to rise, or fear to ______________.  
Fall Down Up Earth 

15. With a ______________ books or friend. 
Religions Romantic Natural Dramatic 

16. The man is free from ______________ band. 
Servile Natural Acts Habits

17. Of hope to rise, or fear to ______________.  

Fall Down Up   Earth 


Q#1: Pick out the line or lines from the Character of a Happy Life in which the  poet identifies each of the following characteristics of a man whose life is  happy. 
(a) Independence (b) honesty of thought 
(c) truthfulness (d) self- control 
(e) Freedom from worldly ambition 
(f) freedom from envy, of worldly success 
(g) Lack of wealth and position (h) piety. 
Ans: Following are the lines in which the poet identifies the characteristics of a happy  man:- 
1. That served not another’s will. 
2. Whose armour is his honest thought? 
3. And simple truth his utmost skill. 
4. Whose passions not his masters are. 
5. Untied unto the world by care of public fame or private breath. 6. Who envies none that chance doth raise. 
7. Lord of himself though not of lands. 
8. And having nothing yet hath all. 

Q#2 What sort of freedom does he enjoy according to the lines “United unto  the world” by care of public fame or private breath? 
Ans: A happy man discerns that the world is full of color. He does not involve himself in the worldly gains and beauty. He does not want to be famous among the people and  does not want to be famous among the people and does take care about the  intentions & opinion of the people which they will establish about him. 

Q#3 Briefly explain the meaning of the word “Nor rules of state” & “Rules of  good”. 
Ans: Basically, the poets distinguish between the types of governing. Firstly “Rules of  state” means to the country or the state. Each and every government follows  certain rules but this rule fulfills her interest and intensions and sometimes  proves insolvent for the country men. While “Rules of good” means he has got  triumph over the hearts and the emotions of the people. He uses the mild  accent and preaches good teaching of God among them which make them  aware about the weight of life. 

Q#4 Why did he get deepest wounds by praise? 
Ans: A pious man hates flattery because it spoils anybody’s nature. It may also bring  enmity. That’s why he got deepest wounds by Praise. 
“Envy is a great sin and spoils anybody’s nature” (Oscar Wilde) 

Q#5 Describe briefly the lines “having nothing yet hath all”? 
Ans. The poet gives the very good impression in the closing lines. He asserts that he  has broken from worldly gains but he burden’s himself with the good deeds. It  means that he is poor in the eyes of the people but very flourish spiritually.  

Q#6 What is meant by “Whose passions not his master are and whose soul is  still prepared for death”? 
Ans: The poet is describing the foremost qualities of the modest man. He asserts  that a pious man has totally command over his desire. He never runs behind the worldly gains. The second quality of a pious person is that he is fully prepared  to meet the Almighty Allah because he spends his life according to the dogmas  which is prescribed by God. 

Q#7: Attempt to explain briefly how Sir Henry Wotton’s Happy Man ‘having  nothing yet hath all.’ 
Ans: A happy man does not have very much with respect to material objects. He may  not have vast and wide lands or bank balance or other luxuries, but he  possesses contended mind and a happy and joyful heart. This is what Henry  Wotton called “everything” in this poem. Because,  
“A contend mind is the greatest blessing a man can enjoy in this world.” 

Q#8: Why does a happy man pray to God? 
Ans: A happy man always prays to God, not because of His material blessings or  worldly objects but because He is almighty, He is worth-adoration, and He  deserves to be prayed and worshiped.  

Q#9 Describe the lines “Whose passions not his masters are? 
Ans: In their lines the poet describes one of the foremost qualities of a man who  bears such a good character. He has total command over his passions. He does  not allow his character to destroy under the influence of his passion & sentiments. 

Q#10 Describe the lines of “Public Fame, or Private Breath”?  
Ans: A pious man has complete awareness about the way of the world. He does not  involve him a lot in this world to become famous and does not care what gossips  tell about him in private furthermore he enjoys his life in care free manner.  

Q#11 Who is free from servile band and how? 
Ans: The man who does not indulge himself in the materialistic world is free from  servile band because he has no hope to rise and fear to fall but has hope for  the rewards in the second world. 

Q#12: How does Sir Henry Wotton’s man enjoy his spare-time? (2016) 
Ans: Sir Henry Wotton’s man enjoy his spare time in praying to God and reading the religious books. He  spends his days in harmless joys. He never perplexes others and he is even jealous of no one. His whole day  is the model of an idealistic life. 

Q12: What does Henry Wotton’s man use for his defense? (2014) 
Ans: Henry Wotton’s man had a character that helps him to live a happy life in the world and in  here after as well. Henry Wotton’s man is a paragon of upright man. He is honest enough morally  and practically so he was not envied by any person and thus has no enemy as well. Relying on this  face, Wotton’s man neither need towers nor armor for his defense. He is well defended by his  honest thoughts and deeds. His life is a paradigm of happy living. 

Q13: What are the qualities of a happy man as described in the poem, ‘The Character of a Happy Life.’? (2010/2009) 
Ans: A happy man has following good qualities: 
i) He is not a slave to other people’s wishes, and is master of his own will. 
ii) He has full control over his passions and desires. 
iii) He does not envy anybody who has risen to a high position either by chance or through some  wicked means. 
iv) He prays to God day and night. He thanks God more for His grace rather than for worldly gifts  that He has given him. 
v) He passes his day in reading a good book or in the company of a good friend.


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