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University Degree: Medieval

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  1. The Knight's Tale and the Miller's Tale. There is no more reason for Arcites death than for Alisons triumph, both are just random events. Discuss.

    Derek Pearsall discusses the effect of the 'juxtaposition of unrelated detail, a suggestion of incongruity which enhances the illusion of random recall and also creates in us a natural desire to look for the missing link which will rationalise the discontinuity.'1 The narrator's choice in, for example, describing the Knight entirely in terms of his past achievements, the Prioress in terms of her table manners and the Guildsmen barely at all, demonstrates this. The 'juxtaposition of unrelated detail' is also characteristic of Chaucer, particularly in the Tales.

    • Word count: 2003
  2. Virtue and the 'endless figure' in the works of the Pearl-poet. The Pearl-poets works reveal a preoccupation with the fate of the individual: Jonah in Patience, the Dreamer in Pearl and Gawain in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and their moral conditio

    This circular or endless movement is embodied in the poet's two most important symbols: the pentangle 'the endeles knot' (Gawain, 630) and the pearl 'the endelez rounde' (Pearl, 738). Both of these represent completeness, perfection and virtue, and are bound up in the wider symbolic functions of the works as a whole. The pentangle, for instance, is the most obvious example of the poet's numerical fascination, and especially his focus on the number five. The fivefold virtues of the pentangle (and Gawain's embodiment of them)

    • Word count: 2506
  3. Dantes Divine Comedy. Discuss what you consider to be the most important allegorical features of the journey of Ulysses in the Inferno, and give your interpretation of their meaning.

    To be considered first is Dante's dual relationship to the Divine Comedy. He is both the pilgrim experiencing the journey, and the poet who creates the reality to which he narrates the experience of the pilgrim. This narration is from a salvific retrospection on the journey of the pilgrim, where the poet has already, in a metaphorical sense, lived the story and highlights the pilgrim's human flaws and weaknesses. This gives a dichotomy of Dante so as it were the na�ve pilgrim and the matured poet.

    • Word count: 2774
  4. 'It is clear...that Chaucer used the couple relationship as a kind of open field on which a number of battles might be fought

    However, the sequence seems to require absolutely that the Miller speak after the Knight, who opens the series, not only because he physically forces himself forward to speak next but also because the couple relationship which we perceive to be so prevalent throughout is immensely enhanced by the juxtaposition of these tales: Like the Knight's Tale which precedes it, the Miller's Tale is a story of the competition between men in love with the same woman--but with a difference. (Hallissey, 1995, p.

    • Word count: 2815
  5. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight - The audience, the Pentangle and the Green Sash

    'Sir Gawain' was written in local dialect and its language ...'contains many harsh-sounding words of Norse origin...' (Stone, 1974 p 10). Partly because of the characteristics of the dialectic text, it has been placed as having been written in the north-west midlands, probably Shropshire. The poet also shows knowledge of a particular region around North Wales (Lines 697 - 701).'Sir Gawain' also belongs to the genre of alliterative verse, which was enjoying a revival in the north of England, albeit in a more relaxed form of the Old English style.

    • Word count: 2032
  6. How are gender relationships depicted in Chaucers "Wife of Bath"?

    Men were the ones who travelled to distant lands in search of adventure, this challenges the accepted ideas about gender of the time. This portrait of a woman is very peculiar for a piece of medieval literature, men tend to have the starring role and women are usually featured as beautiful ladies in distress or as villainous old hags. The Wife of Bath is neither a helpless damsel in distress nor a typical old crone. She is the first of her kind in English literature.

    • Word count: 2700

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