A Comparison of The Pardoners Tale and Beowulf

A Comparison of The Pardoners Tale and Beowulf

Length: 1426 words (4.1 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓
The Importance of The Pardoners Tale and Beowulf

 

Literary history is a history of the major literary traditions, movements, works, and authors of a country, region, etc. (Barber 837). The understanding of literary history allows us insight into the past, a recognition of historical events and tensions written into the works of those who witnessed them. By including societal behaviors, political tensions, and common folklore, historical authors have indirectly provided the reader with a broader and deeper understanding of the literature and the period in which it was written. Besides insight into collective societal culture, literary history has provided future writers with models of poetic device, style and content influencing literary works and building upon past literary ideas. Literary history is a vehicle to understanding the past and plays a major role in its influence on literature up to and including the present day.

Knowledge of historical literature gives us insight into the traditions and societal conventions of the time in which the piece was written. One outstanding example comes from Anglo-Saxon times. Beowulf is a literary work which enables a reader to glimpse not only the societal customs but into the savage and seemingly uncontrollable environment of the first century. Literary historian, Raymond Chambers points out that in the fight between Grendel and Beowulf it appears as though Grendel is representative of the degraded form of human life attempting to gain power through violence, in his attempt to overthrow Hrothgar and take control of Heorot he is fatally wounded by Beowulf. Beowulf is a character who exemplifies the collective societal agreement as to the role of a hero and his duty to control a seemingly ungovernable environment (Chambers 46). The Beowulf poet describes Grendel and Beowulf as "Both ..enraged, fury filled, the two who meant to control the hall." (Beowulf 36). The fight for control of the hall could be seen as representative of the struggle between good and evil or perhaps the control of the king over an uncontrollable people. Taking into account Mr. Chambers explanation of Grendel, a reader may also reason that the dragon symbolizes a threat from outside the human realm. One notes that the dragon is not given the humanistic qualities of Grendel, he has no kin and appears to have no mortal thoughts. Due to his lack of humanistic characteristics, the reader may believe that the dragon is less representative of a human threat such as an enemy warrior, etc.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"A Comparison of The Pardoners Tale and Beowulf." 123HelpMe.com. 24 Feb 2020
    <https://www.123helpme.com/view.asp?id=3656>.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Comparison Between Beowulf And Beowulf Essay

- The poem of Beowulf has been told many times for hundreds of years. There have been many versions and variations that differ from the original written tale. There has recently been a movie production of the epic tale that was released in 2007 entailed Beowulf. Although this variation of the story was entertaining it was not an accurate account of the story of Beowulf. This analysis of both narratives will illustrate the differences between the two. In the movie depiction of Beowulf both the Danes and the Geats are Pagan....   [tags: Beowulf, Anglo-Saxons, Mead hall, Denmark]

Research Papers
955 words (2.7 pages)

The Tale of the Pardoner in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales Essay

- A Look at the Pardoner: the Genius of Chaucer The Canterbury Tales is a literary masterpiece in which the brilliant author Geoffrey Chaucer sought out to accomplish various goals. Chaucer wrote his tales during the late 1300’s. This puts him right at the beginning of the decline of the Middle Ages. Historically, we know that a middle class was just starting to take shape at this time, due to the emerging commerce industry. Chaucer was able to see the importance and future success of the middle class, and wrote his work with them in mind....   [tags: Pardoner's Tale]

Free Essays
1940 words (5.5 pages)

Summary and Analysis of The Pardoner's Tale Essay example

- Summary and Analysis of The Pardoner's Tale (The Canterbury Tales) Prologue to the Pardoner's Tale: The Host thinks that the cause of Virginia's death in the previous tale was her beauty. To counter the sadness of the tale, the Host suggests that the Pardoner tell a lighter tale. The Pardoner delays, for he wants to finish his meal, but says that he shall tell a moral tale. He says that he will tell a tale with this moral: the love of money is the root of all evil. He claims that during his sermons he shows useless trifles that he passes off as saints' relics....   [tags: Canterbury Tales The Pardoner's Tale Essays]

Research Papers
1337 words (3.8 pages)

Chaucer's Canterbury Tales - Comparing The Pardoners Tale and The Nun's Priest's Tale

- Irony in The Pardoners Tale and The Nun's Priest's Tale   Irony is the general name given to literary techniques that involve surprising, interesting,or amusing contradictions. 1  Two stories that serve as excellent demonstrations of irony are "The Pardoners Tale" and " The Nun's Priest's Tale," both from Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales. Although these two stories are very different, they both use irony to teach a lesson.         Of the stories, "The Pardoners Tale" displays the most irony....   [tags: comparison compare contrast essays]

Research Papers
789 words (2.3 pages)

Essay on The Pardoner’s Tale of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales

- The Canterbury Tales - The Pardoner’s Tale  One might assume that the person telling the story has a lot to do with the story they're telling.  This is the case in the Geoffrey Chaucer's "The Canterbury Tales." In the tale of "The Pardoner's", the voice tells a tale dealing with his famous preach; "Radix malorum est Cupiditas."  In English, "The root of all evil is Greed." An ironic distinction can be made with what a "Pardoner" is known to be, the character (the voice/Pardoner), and the tale that he tells....   [tags: Pardoner's Tale]

Free Essays
449 words (1.3 pages)

Essay on Chaucer's Canterbury Tales - Power of the Pardoner's Tale

- The Power of the Pardoner's Tale       Geoffrey Chaucer was a author of the 12th century.  Chaucer is known as the father of English poetry.  He wrote Canterbury Tales which is a collection of narrative short stories written in verse.  "The Pardoners Tale" is among the more popular of these varied tales.  It is told by a pardoner who uses the story to preach against those who are blastfamous and gluttonous.  In an odd twist, after he tells the story he trys to sell others counterfiet relics.  In this short story about greed, disrespect and death Chaucer utilizes three important literary tools personification, irony, and symbolism....   [tags: Pardoner's Tale]

Free Essays
945 words (2.7 pages)

Essay on Chaucer's Canterbury Tales - Sin in The Pardoner's Tale

- Importance of Sin in The Pardoner's Tale There are seven deadly sins that, once committed, diminish the prospect of eternal life and happiness in heaven. They are referred to as deadly because each sin is closely linked to another, leading to other greater sins. The seven deadly sins are pride, envy, anger, sloth, gluttony, avarice, and lechery. Geoffrey Chaucer's masterpiece, The Canterbury Tales, provided an excellent story about the deadly sins. Focusing mainly on the sins of pride, gluttony and greed, the characters found in The Canterbury Tales, particularly The Pardoner's Tale, were so overwhelmed by their earthly desires and ambitions that they failed to see the effe...   [tags: Pardoner's Tale]

Free Essays
774 words (2.2 pages)

The Rich Diversity of Meanings of the Pardoner's Tale Essay

- The Rich Diversity of Meanings of the Pardoner's Tale Chaucer’s innovation in the Pardoner’s performance tests our concept of dramatic irony by suggesting information regarding the Pardoner’s sexuality, gender identity, and spirituality, major categories in the politics of identity, without confirming that information. Our presumed understanding of the Pardoner as a character lacks substantiation. As we learn about the Pardoner through the narrator’s eyes and ears, we look to fit the "noble ecclesiaste" (l....   [tags: Pardoner's Tale Essays]

Research Papers
5601 words (16 pages)

Pardoners Tale, Chaucer, Canterbury Essay

- The Pardoner's Subconscious Character "The Pardoner's Tale," by Geoffrey Chaucer, makes evident the parallel between the internal emotions of people and the subconscious exposure of those emotions. This particular story, from The Canterbury Tales, is a revealing tale being told by a medieval pardoner to his companions on a journey to Canterbury. Though the Pardoner's profession is to pardon and absolve the sins of people, he actually lives in constant violation of sins such as gluttony, gambling, and, most importantly, avarice....   [tags: essays research papers fc]

Research Papers
1300 words (3.7 pages)

Essay on Chaucer's Canterbury Tales - Evil Exposed in The Pardoner's Tale

- The Root of Evil Exposed in The Pardoner's Tale   "The root of all evil is money."  Because this phrase has been repeated so many times throughout history, one can fail to realize the truth in this timeless statement.  Whether applied to the corrupt clergy of Geoffrey Chaucer's time, selling indulgences, or the corrupt televangelists of today, auctioning off salvation to those who can afford it, this truth never seems to lose its validity.  In Chaucer's famous work The Canterbury Tales, he points out many inherent flaws of human nature, all of which still apply today.  Many things have changed since the fourteenth century, but humanity's ability to act foolish is not...   [tags: Pardoner's Tale]

Research Papers
1099 words (3.1 pages)

Related Searches

and more representative of a threat from an outside force such as paganism. One begins to understand a little of the Anglo-Saxon period from reading this piece of work by the Beowulf poet.

Another, much later example supporting historical representation in a literary work, in this case religious tension, is evident in Chaucer’s The Pardoner’s Tale . The Pardoner’s Tale was written in a time when "the Age of Faith was passing into an age of skepticism and all authority was being called into question by the English public" (French 2). The church was corrupt at a time when, if anything, it should have been protecting its congregations. It was making no attempt to secure faith through true belief but instead portraying salvation and redemption as an item to bought and sold by the church. In Chaucer’s description of the Pardoner’s feelings about being the absolver of sins he writes "For myn entente is not but for to winne [for my intent is not to but make money]" (Chaucer 67) . Chaucer’s use of satire and his unfaltering description of the Pardoner’s morals is a deep reflection of the religious and secular tensions of this period in history.

Literary history is also important as literature acts as a vehicle allowing authors, poets and song writers to be influenced by past writing styles. Writers constantly borrow from past literature, manipulating and redefining it into something new and unique unto themselves. The ballad, for example, was initially referred to as a dance. The ballad of tradition is a story set to music, passed along orally from generation to generation. It has been noted that ballads have surpassed most other sources in their influence on poetry of the last two centuries (Woodring 11). The sonnet is another influential form that has been borrowed and modified to fit an authors personal style. Oppenheimer, an expert on the sonnet, recorded its historical lineage. He claimed that it was originally developed in Italy by an official named Giacomo da Lentino. Unlike in the past the sonnet was not to be performed or set to music but was to taken in as silent reading. It had such appeal that it was not long before it was taken up by such literary giants as Dante and Petrarch. The sonnet soon expanded into the Western World and was eventually developed by a young writer name William Shakespeare. Shakespeare restructured it to his own personal preference changing the format and rhyme scheme (Oppenheimer 9). There are two main recognized sonnet forms today, the Italian sonnet and the English or Shakespearean sonnet. There have been many other influential poetic styles and devices all of which have influenced modern literature and captured the interest and intellect of those involved in the English language. Past influences are evident in modern songs, poetry, plays and novels and will continue to be so so long as there is interest in literary history.

Literary history generates great interest in the modern world and it is imperative that we understand it so that we are aware of its vast influence over several different fields of study. One such example in Beowulf is of interest to historical geography. Beowulf tells us of the "struggle between Swedes and Geatas, with prophecies of the complete subjugation of the Geatas by the Swedes, mark the beginning of Sweden as we now know it" (Chambers 418). Raymond Chambers also makes the point that these stories then have also identified Sweden as one of the oldest of European states. Another area affected by literary history is psychology. The study of Greek writings for medical and philosophical ideas, and interest in writers such as Donne and Milton and their writings on determinism, etc. There is also simple curiosity about the sexual orientation and creative genius of Shakespeare. Art is another subject for which an understanding of literary history is important. This year alone there have been two reenactment of Shakespearean plays, and a reenactment of Beowulf. There is much proof that interest in literary history does not fade over time but in fact gains strength. An understanding of past literature gives modern writers and intellects a porthole in which to view, fantasize and explore.

Literary history is by far more involved than a meaning in the dictionary. It engulfs whole historical periods and allows the audience a glimpse into the life and times of the author. Through the reading of Beowulf a reader is able to catch a glimpse of the collective societal culture. In Chaucer’s poem The Pardoners Tale one can see the shift in faith from the devout to the skeptic. Through his satire the audience is able to grasp the idea that the world was changing. Following the line of literary history one observes the influences of one writing style over another and understand that it plays an important role in understanding our present world. The Arts, the Sciences, Geography and many such subjects are highly dependent on literary history. It encompasses major literary traditions, movements and authors of a country and region (Barber 837) and allows the audience a porthole in which to experience the past and use it to influence future literary works.

Works Cited

·         Barber, Katherine., ed. The Canadian Oxford Dictionary. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998.

·         Beowulf. Beowulf. In The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Ed. M.H. Abrams et al . 6th ed. 1 vol. New York: Norton 1993. 1:27-63.

·         Chambers, Raymond. Beowulf: An Introduction to the Study of the Poem with a Discussion of the Stories of Offa and Finn. London: Cambridge University Press, 1972.

·         Chaucer, Geoffrey. The Pardoner’s Prologue and Tale. In The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Ed. M.H. Abrams et al. 6th ed. 1 vol. New York: Norton. 1:164-178.

·         Economou, George D. "Chaucer". In The Columbia History of British Poetry. Ed. Carl D. Woodring. New York: Columbia University Press, 1994: 55-79.

·         French, Robert Dudley. A Chaucer Handbook, 2nd ed. New York: Appleton Century Crofts Inc., 1955.

·         Oppenheimer, Paul. The Birth of the Modern Mind; Self, Consciousness, and the Invention of the Sonnet. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989.

 
Return to 123HelpMe.com