Certificate of Achievement

Mary Templeman Hogg - O'Rourke

has completed the following course:

Samuel Johnson’s Rasselas: An Introduction

Ralston College

This course presented the novel’s quest for the right “choice of life,” and meditated on its central lesson: that in every utopian fantasy, some fatal imperfection always lurks—but we are freer for knowing this fact. Dalrymple, as course author, challenged the learner to consider that the perennial questions of the heart endure “because humanity, although very various, is also one.”

6 weeks, 4 hours per week


Theodore Dalrymple (Dr Anthony Daniels)

Course Instructor

Ralston College

Stephen Blackwood

President and Vice-Chancellor

Ralston College


Learning outcomes

  • Describe Johnson’s Rasselas and the vision of life that it offers
  • Apply the perspectives of Johnson's novel to contemporary situations
  • Critique the utopianism that Rasselas brings into focus
  • Assess Johnson’s understanding of human nature


Introduction & The “Happy” Valley

  • Introducing Samuel Johnson
  • Unhappy in Paradise (Chapters 1 - 4)
  • Finding a Wise Guide (Chapters 5 - 8)

Escape from Paradise

  • Imlac’s Story (Chapters 9 - 12)
  • Out of the Valley (Chapters 13 - 16)

Rasselas’ Search Begins

  • Innocence and Experience (Chapters 17 - 20)
  • Of Hermits, Philosophers, and Rulers (Chapters 21 - 24)

Conversations and Excursions

  • Private Life Considered (Chapters 25 - 27)
  • Marriage & Monuments (Chapters 28 - 32)

Separation and Sorrow

  • Pekuah’s Loss, Nekayah’s Grief (Chapters 33 - 36)
  • A Prisoner’s Tale (Chapters 37 - 40)

The Choice of Life

  • Imagination and its Dangers (Chapters 41 - 44)
  • Vanishing Illusions (Chapters 45 - 48)
  • In Which Nothing Is Concluded (Chapter 49)

Note: Each week includes an audiobook, text of the chapters, discussions and a knowledge-check quiz.

Issued on 2nd March 2022

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This certificate represents proof of learning. It is not a formal qualification, degree, or part of a degree.

Free online course:

Samuel Johnson’s Rasselas: An Introduction

Ralston College