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)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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