Posted in Literary Analysis

Religious Ambiguity: Predestination in Doctor Faustus

A defining quality of humanity is our curiosity, our overwhelming desire to explain and understand the world around us. Our ambition for knowledge has lead our world into the Age of Information. Many people enjoy comprehending concepts, coming to neat and tidy conclusions; we strongly dislike ambiguity and uncertainty. Even today, the fear of the unknown sways our actions, and keeps us searching for answers. In the year 1604, The Tragical Life of Doctor Faustus was first published; in 1616 a second version was released, and from it’s conception the ideas behind Doctor Faustus have captured the minds of viewers and critics. Christopher Marlowe crafted a brilliant script full of the desire for knowledge, deals with devils, and the question of what it means to truly repent. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on the reader, no clear answer can be extracted from Marlowe’s work. Doctor Faustus is full of ambiguity and conflict which leads to questions about what moral lesson Marlowe is trying to imbue his audience with. The idea of repentance in Doctor Faustus is the most ambiguous of all, and one must consider the conflicting religious viewpoints that would have impacted the creation of Faustus and the question of what Marlowe’s own beliefs were. The political conflict and religious ambiguity of the time Marlowe lived in heavily influenced the outcome of the manuscript The Tragical Life of Doctor Faustus, and has lead to many theories and debates over Faustus’ damnation and struggle for repentance. The opposing views of the time lead to conflicting ideas on predestination, salvation, and the power of devils.

Continue reading “Religious Ambiguity: Predestination in Doctor Faustus”

Advertisements
Posted in Literary Analysis

Commodification in Volpone by Ben Jonson

Every character plays a role, be it for good or bad, the protagonist, or the antagonist, or merely the support. They have a purpose and a part to play. In Volpone by Ben Jonson, as one of the two female characters in the play, the character of Celia plays an interesting role. The part she plays is that of the victim, her overwhelming innocence and beauty are intensified to enhance our sympathy for her plight. She is used as an extreme and the most obvious example of the theme of the commodification of the body that Ben Jonson is trying to present.

Continue reading “Commodification in Volpone by Ben Jonson”

Posted in Literary Analysis

The flaws of the Tenant Farmer System as portrayed in “The Second Shepherd’s Play”

The life of a shepherd portrayed in “The Second Shepherd’s Play” is a harsh one. Ruled over by their landowners, these tenant farmers slave away daily. The unknown author, referred to as the Wakefield Master, depicts an unforgiving lifestyle, Coll the shepherd complaining of his plight in the cold.

But we sely husbands

That walks on the moor,

In faith we are nearhands

Out of the door.

(ll.14-17)

Continue reading “The flaws of the Tenant Farmer System as portrayed in “The Second Shepherd’s Play””

Posted in Literary Analysis

A Man of…the People?

In Geoffrey Chaucer’s, “General Prologue”, the Miller is described as a rather large, sturdy man, stout and thick, the type of man who “always won the ram at wrestling matches” (l.550) His features are described as wide, a wide nose, and a wide mouth, and a wide red beard, it gives the impression of a rather broad stretched out face. The most startling description is of a wart on his nose, that Chaucer mentions has red hair’s growing from it. A chatter, and tale teller, his stories of choice were usually about “sin and ribaldry” (l.563). He also was a talented bagpipe player.

chaucer1

Continue reading “A Man of…the People?”

Posted in Literary Analysis

A Knight of…the people?

In Geoffrey Chaucer’s “The General Prologue”, the narrator tells us of the many pilgrims who plan to journey to Canterbury. Many characters are vividly described and clues about their character and persona are revealed. Throughout the various tales, many characters reappeared to add their opinions, agreeing or disagreeing heartily with whatever is being said, further developing their character. The Knight is the first pilgrim to be described, and he is afforded this honor due to his noble birth, being the only character of aristocracy in this group. The narrator seems to have a deep admiration for the knight,

a valiant man,

who, from the time when he had first begun

to ventured out, had loved chivalry,

truth and honor, liberality and courtesy.

(ll. 43-46)

Continue reading “A Knight of…the people?”

Posted in Literary Analysis

The differing qualities of a hero: Beowulf vs. Sir Gawain

Heroes have captured the attention of readers for centuries, facing incredible odds, overcoming impossible obstacles, accomplishing things that encourage readers hearts and inspire their minds. Though they can often embody similar qualities, every tale’s hero is unique and special, altering to manifest the qualities valued at the time of their conception, changing to reflect the moral beliefs and thoughts of their author. Beowulf, from Beowulf, and Sir Gawain, from Sir Gawain and The Green Knight, are both heroes in their own rights, though each display different qualities, each faces different monsters of the physical and figurative kind, and each struggle to overcome them in different ways.

Continue reading “The differing qualities of a hero: Beowulf vs. Sir Gawain”

Posted in Literary Analysis

Sir Gawain Exemplifying the Code of Chivalry

Being a knight was not easy, you had to be apt at swordplay, to have strength and be able to face the violence of the medieval ages. To complicate matters, the more aggressive side of their lives were supposed to be tempered by a rule of conduct, known as the Code of Chivalry. The Code of Chivalry was a moral system, a standard all men of Knighthood strived and struggled to live by. It was a set of idealized qualities such as bravery, courage, loyalty, and honor in your conduct towards women. There were many rules that needed to be followed, and qualities these men needed to exemplify in order to be considered a true knight. Some things expected of them were to serve their Lord God in fear and faith, to honor and obey their liege lord, to be kind and courteous, to guard honor and truth, to be gallant to women, to never flee a foe.

Continue reading “Sir Gawain Exemplifying the Code of Chivalry”

Posted in Literary Analysis

Anglo-Saxon Boasting Interchanges as seen in Beowulf

The Anglo-Saxon culture portrayed in Beowulf, translated by Seamus Heaney, is one of violence and bloody deeds, of strength and ability, it is a world of warriors fighting to survive. In these brutal times, if one wanted to survive they needed to have a killer reputation; they literally needed to have a reputation for slaying great foes, defeating gruesome monsters, for killing those who stood in their way. The most effective way in this time to solidify and enhance a reputation was boasting, of declaring they had and could do impressive deeds.

Continue reading “Anglo-Saxon Boasting Interchanges as seen in Beowulf”

Posted in Literary Analysis

Why Forbid Mourning? John Donne: “A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning”

Most people mourn the loss of a loved one, and miss them when they are gone. It is a natural reaction, many consider it good, healthy even. People want to be missed, wish to know that when they’re gone, people notice, that they don’t just vanish, but remain bright in their loved one’s mind.

In John Donne’s “A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning” he is arguing against this, stating clearly that such mourning is not only unnecessary, but is belittling to the love two people share. Click For Donne’s feelings on mourning

Posted in Literary Analysis

Hidden Character in “My Last Duchess” by Robert Browning

Hidden meanings and ambiguous statements, each word is chosen to reveal some aspect of the speakers’ character. A dramatic monologue is a poem where an individual speaker talks to his audience describing some event or moment in his or her life which reveals features of their character they may not have meant to share. This style of poem is a fun and interesting read, each line layered with meaning and intrigue, engaging the mind of the reader, forcing them to consider every line spoken and what possible meaning can be extrapolated. Robert Browning’s “My Last Duchess” is one such monologue full of lines that reveal the true nature of the speaker.

Click to learn of the Duke’s Character