Mid-Term Assignment of Literature III
(Exc. Class; 2013/2014)
Choose five out of the following eight items. Write two paragraphs for each chosen item. In the first paragraph summarize the work. In the second, show how the work is related to the sociological, historical, political, and/or religious backgrounds of the period in which it was written (you can focus on one or more background). Write each paragraph in about 100 words. The following could be used as a sample.
The Owl and the Nightingale
The Owl and the Nightingale is a debate between a serious owl and a gay nightingale during a summer night. This poem consists of 1794 lines in octosyllabic couplets, probably written between 1186 and 1216 by an unknown author. The debate follows the rules of the scholastic disputations, as they were held in the law schools and universities. Both birds use every device of medieval rhetoric to prove that they are of the highest use to mankind. During the debate they touch upon nearly every topic of contemporary interest: hygienic habits, looks, prognostication, the proper modes of worship, music, confession, papal missions, ethics and morals, happy marriage and adultery, and so on. The nightingale stands for the joyous aspects of life, the owl for the somber; there is no clear winner.
This poem reflects rapid changes taking place in England in the beginning of the Middle English Era. The changes, mainly caused by the arrival of the Norman soon after the Norman Conquest. Many French came and lived in England. They introduced England to French, better architecture, progress in painting and music, and development in education (as indicated by the fact that not long after the Norman Conquest, the University of Cambridge and Oxford were established). Whether the English people liked it or not, the new way of life brought by the Norman affected the English people’s way of life. The owl represents those who preferred to keep the old way of life, and nightingale stands for those who welcome the new way of life.
Post your answer in the reply section below by Saturday, November 2, 2013.
- Mendelville’s Travel
- Sir Gawain and the Green Night
- The Caterbury Tales
- Faery Queen
- Dr. Faustus
- Romeo and Juliet
- Julius Caesar
- The Pilgrim’s Progress
- Paradise Lost