Short notes sketch on -
Beowulf, Ralph Roister Doister, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, William Langland,
Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Gorboduc, The Faerie Queen, The Sea Farer, The Wanderer, The Spanish tragedy, Everyman, Morte de Arthur, Astrophell and Stella, Widsith, Thomas Kyd, Revenge Tragedy and Battle of Maldon
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Old English Poem
Longest existing Epic poem in English language
Written around 750 AD in Mercian or Northumbrian
Scandinavian hero in an Anglo-Saxon poem
Exploits takes place in Denmark and Sweden
3182 alliterative lines
Manuscript: Nowell Codex
Beowulf- King of Geats, English and North-Germanic ideal characterisation of a hero
Hrothgar- King of Danes
Grendel- The monster, beast-man
Two main episodes, 50 years apart. One by killing Grendel and then his mother, when she arrived to take revenge on the death of his son. The last battle with a dragon. Beowulf was mortally wounded and soon succumbed to his injury. He was then the King of the Geats.
Strength, bravery and valour of Beowulf.
Talks of war and peace, 88 halls, the stormy seas, the settled towns, the hunt, the feast, the warrior, the recitals of the sagas.
Records life of Anglo-Saxon from the 6th and 8th century- folk epic
Work had gone through many translations, orally transmitted before being penned down.
Concluded with the funeral ceremony in memory of the brave hero
Literary worth and historical value
Ralph Roister Doister
Written by Nicholas Udall
First comedy to be written in the English language
Published in 1567, eleven years after the author's death
Might have been composed in 1552 when he was a teacher in a London school
Date of the composition is still disputed
Might have been first written for public performance by the boys at the London school
Excellent contribution to comedy genre filled with mirthful elements and situations
Contrasting characters of Braggart lovers and flattering parasites
Inspired by the works of Plautus and Terence
Comprises of five acts
Christian Custance - a rich widow affianced to merchant, Gawyn Goodluck
Ralph Roister Doister - one who tries to woo Dame Custance
A con man trickster figure
Ralph having encouraged by the con man trickster figure tries to woo Dame Custance in the absence of the merchant, Gawyn Goodluck but fails in his pompous attempt. Having being unsuccessful many a times, he tried to take her by force but is routed by the widow and her loyal household. The merchant returns soon after.
Play concludes with reconciliation, a prayer, and a song
Successfully, established a new form of English comedy by incorporating the conventions, structures, and styles of ancient Roman and Greek comedies with English theatrical tradition.
New legacy in the English literature.
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Anonymous authorhood by the name of Pearl poet or Gawain Poet
14th century Middle English chivalric Arthurian romance
Preserved in a single manuscript, Cotton Nero A.X
Alliterative verses, 2530 irregular lines packed in 101 stanzas
Brings to life the lesson of ideal chivalric knighthood, personal and moral courage
Draws on the Welsh, Irish, English and French valiant traditions
North-West Midland dialect
Sir Gawain- knight under King Arthur
Green Knight who rode a Green horse, carried a battle ax and a bouquet of holy
Old host with his young, beautiful wife and an old ugly woman
Sorceress Morgan le Fay, Arthur's sister
On new year's day, while King Arthur and his knights were feasting at Camelot, the Green knight appeared and challenged anyone to strike him, in return his assailant shall receive a like blow a year and a day later. Sir Gawain accepted the strange challenge and with one strike of the ax smote off the knight's head. The knight picked up his head, and before riding away reminds Sir Gawain to meet him at the Green Chapel for the return strike. The following winter Sir Gawain sets out on the journey. On Christmas Eve, he prayed to Virgin Mary who leads him to a castle where he is honorably welcomed by the old host, his young wife, and an ugly, old woman. They promised to exchange whatever they earned throughout the day. In absence of her husband, the wife tempts Gawain for three successive nights. He resists the offer only accepting the kisses which he returns to the knight in due time, keeping to himself the green girdle. When on the assigned day, he meets the Green Knight who strikes him three blows with only the third blow having an impact because of his dishonesty in regards to the green girdle. The plan was set by the Sorceress Morgan le Fay, Arthur's sister to test his knights.
Every knight wears a green sash in remembrance of Gawain's adventure and always to remain honest.
Excellent plot handling, realistic elements, characterization, descriptive power, and alliterative long lines
14th Century author
Presumed author of the famous alliterative verse 'The Book of Piers, the Plowman'
Nothing is known for sure about his life
Few pieces of information gathered from the 15th-century C-text
He is supposedly the son of an Oxfordshire gentleman
Educated in the Priory of Great Malvern
Presumably born in West Midlands of England
Three versions of the poem- A_text, B-text, and C-text is supposed to have been gathered by the poet over a period of 25 years.
The A-text was written during the 1360s while the C-text was probably completed by 1837
The character assumed was that of a prophet, denouncing the sins of the society
He was a reformer, a satirist, and a good samaritan
Raising voice against the religious abuses and vices of the era
He might have died in 1385 or 1386 according to some sources.
First national continuous history of the English people in their own language
Systematised and encouraged during the rule of King Alfred, the great
Details gathered since late 9th century to 12th century in Wessex
Information is penned down by many hands and accumulated from different parts of England
It gained patronage and began its journey as the greatest masterpiece of English prose
Details as far back as the age of Jesus Christ is added to provide some fullness to the story
Series of Annals containing the outline of English history from Julius Caesar and continuing upto 1154
Might have been biased
Manipulated history based on the royal patronage
Book of high historical and literary value
Gorboduc is also known as the 'The tragedy of Ferrex and Porrex
Blank verse tragedy
Written by Thomas Norton and Thomas Sackville
Acted in 1561, printed in 1565Origin
First regular English tragedy
Represented before Queen Elizabeth
Origin is found in the history book 'Geoffrey of Monmouth'
Adheres to the Senecan model- no action involved. Play can be read and played with ease.
Differs from the Morality tradition and also from the Aristotelian unities of time and place
The story is about a King Gorboduc and Queen Videna who had two sons, Ferrex and Porrex in the legendary kingdom of Britain. Disputing over the division of the kingdom, Porrex kills his brother. Out of anger and need for vengeance, Videna kills his son Porrex. Finding an opportunity, the Duke of Albany attacked and tried to seize the kingdom. Learning about the murder of Porrex, the people revolted, giving rise to a Civil war against the King and Queen and ended up killing them. With that, the royal line came to an end and the kingdom drowned in chaos.
Thus this play gave rise to the flexible nature of the upcoming Elizabethan tragedy drama.
The Faerie Queene
Written by Edmund Spenser
One of the longest poem in English literature
Introduction of new verse form known as the Spenserian stanza
First three volumes of the work published in 1589
Supposedly 24 books were to be published, each celebrating the adventure and triumph of a knight who represented Moral Virtue
Allegorical feature, Personification of the presentation of life as a struggle between life and death
Knight was personified as a moral virtue fighting against his vice, the poem narrating the story of his conflict
The narration takes place in the Fairy Queen's court where she held a 12-day festival. On each day, a distressed person would unexpectedly appear and tell woeful stories of dragon, enchantresses and distressed beauty and ask for a champion to fight the wrong, free the oppressed. One of the knights would volunteer for the dangerous mission. Each book narrated his journey and adventure.
Only 6 books were published, others were either not written or were lost.
The books celebrated holiness, temperance, chastity, friendship, justice and courtesy
Edmund Spenser earned the title of 'the poet's poet'
The Sea Farer
Lyric poem narrating the actualities of ocean life and seamanship
Allegorical meaning of the transient pain and joy on earth in contrast to the everlasting bliss of the heavenly kingdom
124 lines recorded in the Exeter book
Capricious mistress having contrasting and strict character
There is a minor melody in the poem
A feeling of gratitude yet the longing pain
Unknown authorhood of Old English Poetry
Exeter book containing 115 lines of alliterative verse
Lyrical poem of exquisite beauty
Poet in distress at the loss of his lord and fellow comrade
Elegiac mood throughout the poem
Three Phases -
A solitary man
A man with a troubled mind
A man with a wise mind
Shares common element with the Battle of Maldon - 'Wisdom Poem'
Note of separation and bereavement
Recalls days of happy youth in the time of distress