Essay Beowulf, Sir Gawain, and the Knight in the Wife of Bath's Tale

Essay Beowulf, Sir Gawain, and the Knight in the Wife of Bath's Tale

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British literature is an interesting and integral part of all literature in the world. Beginning with an epic as old as Beowulf, British literature has had a rich and ever-changing history. I have found that The Longman Anthology of World Literature is a comprehensive book filled with the world's prominent authoritative literary works from the time when stories were oral traditions to the present, including many pivotal works in the history of British literature. The authors of The Longman Anthology made an interesting choice when editing the order that the stories were placed in this book: though Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and Chaucer's Canterbury Tales were written in the latter half of the 14th century, Sir Gawain was placed before Chaucer's writings in this anthology. In fact, Sir Gawain was possibly written a bit before The Canterbury Tales. I believe the editors of The Longman Anthology chose to do this because Sir Gawain was originally an oral story whereas The Canterbury Tales were always written, and Sir Gawain has a deeper connection with older language and themes of the area than The Canterbury Tales due to the spread of Christianity and Christian ideals.
Although it may have been physically written down after The Canterbury Tales, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight was created long before the former. I know Sir Gawain was an oral tradition before being inscribed because of the rhyme scheme and rhythm of the Original Middle English compilation. A precursor to Shakespeare, although it originated long before, Sir Gawain has the similar structure that an actor or poet would use to help them remember the lines of the poem and perform the piece. There is a certain number of stresses in each line and a particu...


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...ourneys, these men go in as an average man of the time, face a challenge that the Church thought a man of the day might experience, and come out purified and learned, as a man of those periods should behave. These stories are examples of how a life should be lived and the challenges that one may encounter. While the frames of these narratives change from fictitious to realistic according to the flow of Christianity-based, Northeastern literature, they each are pictures of the mentality of their times. As time progressed, so did the mentalities, which were heavily influenced by Christianity. This is evident in the slow removal of pagan beliefs in the supernatural monsters like dragons and giants into the more realistic literary frames. While all have their differences due to changing times, the hero's journey as a model for the everyday man is clear in these poems.

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