1100-1500 Middle English LiteratureChapter: 2
English Literature and LanguageThe Norman (French) Conquest of England in 1066 was the beginning of 200 years of the domination of French in English letters. French cultural dominance, moreover, was general in Europe at this time. French language and culture replaced English in polite court society and had great effects on English culture. Anglo-Saxon fragmented into several dialects and gradually evolved into Middle English, which, despite an admixture of French, is unquestionably English. By the mid-14th century, Middle English had become the literary as well as the spoken language of England.
Background:Geoffrey Chaucer (1340-1400)WilliamLangland JohnWycliffe(?-1384)Sir Thomas Mallory (1405-1471)Important poets and Writers of middle English literatureThe major poet of England in the late Middle Ages and the most significant writer before Shakespeare. Born and educated in London, Chaucer served in the court and the army and went abroad on diplomatic missions. He is known as the father of English poetry. His works can be divided into three periods: an early one based on French models, such as the Roman de la rose, and which contains the allegorical Book of the duchess (1369). The second period lasted to about 1387 and is characterized by his use of Italian models above all Dante and Boccaccio. The main works of this period are The house of fame, The parliament of fowls, The legend of good women.The third and best period contains his work,The Canterbury tales written in Middle English.
Geoffrey chaucerGeoffrey chaucer
The major poet of England in the late Middle Ages and the most significant writer before Shakespeare. Born and educated in London, Chaucer served in the court and the army and went abroad on diplomatic missions. He is known as the father of English poetry. His works can be divided into three periods: an early one based on French models, such as the Roman de la rose, and which contains the allegorical Book of the duchess (1369). The second period lasted to about 1387 and is characterized by his use of Italian models above all Dante and Boccaccio. The main works of this period are The house of fame, The parliament of fowls, The legend of good women.The third and best period contains his work,The Canterbury tales written in Middle English.Chaucer also offers much insight into medieval social attitudes to love, marriage and religion. The linguistic importance of Chaucer is that he established the dialect of London (south-east midlands) as the input form for the standard in the late Middle English period. Later modifications of this language took place with the introduction of printing press by William Caxton in the 15th century.The Canterbury Tales
Short Note on The Canterbury Tales: The Canterbury tales, an unfinished work of approximately 17,000 lines. It tells the story of a group of pilgrims travelling from London to Canterbury to grave of St Becket. They pass the time of day by telling each other stories. There are more than twenty stories, and in the stories we get to know the pilgrims themselves.The travelers like the merchant, the lawyer, the cook, the sailor, are the ordinary people, but each one of them can be recognized as a real person with his or her own character. Chaucer has described them as if they are right in front of us.
Wife of BathPage 16
A lusty young knight in King Arthur's court rapes a beautiful young maiden (unmarried woman). The people are angry by the knight's behavior and demand justice. Although the law demands that the knight be beheaded, the queen and ladies of the court beg the king to be allowed to determine the knight's fate. The queen then gives the knight a year to discover what women most desire.The year passes quickly. As the knight rides dejectedly back to the court knowing that he will lose his life, he suddenly sees 24 young maidens dancing and singing. As he approaches them, the maidens disappear, and the only living creature is a foul old woman, who approaches him and asks what he seeks. The knight explains his quest, and the old woman promises him the right answer if he will do what she demands for saving his life. The knight agrees. When the queen bids the knight to speak, he responds correctly that women most desire sovereignty over their husbands.Having supplied him with the right answer, the old crone demands that she be his wife and his love. The knight, in agony, agrees. On their wedding night, the knight pays no attention to the foul woman next to him. When she questions him, he confesses that her age, ugliness, and low breeding are repulsive to him. The old hag reminds him that true gentility is not a matter of appearances but of virtue. She tells him that her looks can be viewed as an asset. If she were beautiful, many men would be after her; in her present state, however, he can be assured that he has a virtuous wife. She offers him a choice: an old ugly hag such as she, but still a loyal, true, and virtuous wife, or a beautiful woman with whom he must take his chances. The knight says the choice is hers. And because she has "won the mastery," she tells him, "'Kiss me . . . and you shall find me both . . . fair and faithful as a wife." Indeed, she had become a lovely young woman, and they lived happily ever after.The Wife of Bath TaleTroylus and CryseydeThe Legend of Good WomenOther works by chaucerWilliam Langland, (born c. 1330died c. 1400), the author of one of the greatest examples of Middle English alliterative poetry Piers Plowman, an allegorical work with a complex variety of religious themes. One of the major achievements of Piers Plowman is that it translates the language and ideas of religious educated people into symbols and images that could be understood by the layman. In general, the language of the poem is simple and colloquial, but some of the authors imagery is powerful and direct. William LanglandJohn Wycliffe (1320-1384) was a theologian and he started to change the Roman Catholic Church during the 14th century. He started the first translation of the Bible into the English language and is considered the main precursor of the Protestant Reformation. John Wycliffe Sir Thomas Malory, (1470), English writer whose identity remains uncertain but whose name is famous as that of the author of Le Morte DArthur, the first prose account in English of the rise and fall of the legendary king Arthur and the fellowship of the Round Table.
Sir Thomas MaloryA story in which the characters and events are symbols that stand for ideas about human life or for a political or historical situation. One of the best known examples is Plato's Allegory of the Cave.What is an Allegory?
Mystery/Miracle PlaysMorality Plays Interludes
Types pf Middle English DramasA religious play in the Middle Ages based on a story from the Bible (such as the creation of the world or the birth of Jesus Christ). These plays were presented in Latin by churchmen on church premises (Example: Page 20)
Morality play is an allegorical drama popular in Europe especially during the 15th and 16th centuries, in which the characters personify moral qualities (such as charity, good deeds or vice) or abstractions (as beauty, death or youth) and in which moral lessons are taught. Of all morality plays, the one that is considered the greatest, and that is still performed, is Everyman.
This play is probably the finest and best known of the morality plays of the Middle Ages that have come down to us. It is a translation from the Dutch made probably toward the end of the 15th century.EVERYMAN
THE God looks down on Everyman from on high. He sees that Everyman in his seeking for riches and pleasure has forgotten God and He is much displeased. He calls His messenger, Death, and asks him take to Everyman the message that he must go on a long journey; that he must prepare to make his accounting before the Almighty God.Everyman is loath to leave this earth. He pleads that that he is not ready and offers Death a thousand pounds if Death will forget him. Death refuses saying that all the riches in the world might be his if he were open to such bribes. Everyman next inquires if he will be allowed to return after he has rendered his account to Almighty God. Death assures him that from the place to which he is going there is no returning. At last, however, Death consents that Everyman may try to find someone to bear him company on the journey.Everyman first approaches Fellowship, Kinsmen, worldly goods who inquires the cause of his sadness. However, when they find that Everyman is going on the journey of death, they beg to be excusedAt last he recalls his Good Deeds. She is so weak and helpless by means of Everyman's neglect that she cannot stand. Only after Everyman is taken to Confession and does penance for his sins does Good Deeds get strength enough to accompany him. Good Deeds and Knowledge advise him to take with him on the journey Discretion, Strength, and Beauty, and, as counsellors, his Five Senses. Everyman receives the Last Sacrament and sets out on his journey with these companions. But when he actually reaches the grave, Beauty makes haste to depart and is promptly followed by Strength. At last only Knowledge and Good Deeds remain by his side. Good Deeds accompanies him to the Heavenly realm to plead his cause before his Maker, and Knowledge, remaining behind, hears the joyful songs of the angels.EVERYMAN:An interlude was a short and witty parts in the morality plays in between the acts. They were intended to relax the people and entertain them. John Heywood, one of the most famous interlude writers.interludes
Fill in the blanks:[Religion, John Wycliffe, Chaucer, allegorical, love, 1066, Le Morte DArthur, William Caxton, marriage, Everyman]The Norman Conquest of England in _______was the beginning of 200 years of the domination of French in English letters.___________ was the father of English poetry.Printing press was invented by _______________________Chaucer also offers much insight into medieval social attitudes to _____, _________ and ___________._____________ is one of the greatest morality play of Middle Ages._____________ is considered the main precursor of the Protestant Reformation. ___________________ the first prose account in English of the rise and fall of the legendary king Arthur and the fellowship of the Round Table.Piers Plowman is an _______work with a complex variety of religious themes.QUESTIONSWhat is an allegory?What is a miracle/mystery play?What are morality plays?What is an Interlude?Who was Geoffrey Chaucer?Write a short note on The Canterbury Tales.
Short answer questions