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Topical Questions and Suggested Assignments: Beowulf Unit 1. What Are

Topical Questions and Suggested Assignments: Beowulf Unit 1. What Are

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Published by: mrsfox on Oct 18, 2009
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Topical Questions and suggested Assignments:

Beowulf Unit
1. What are the roles of kings and warriors in Anglo-Saxon society?
2. How does the Anglo-Saxon hero differ from our idea of hero?
3. What are the roles of paganism and Christianity in the poem?
4. How is religion used in present-day literature?
5. What are the purpose and the effect of the author\u2019s use of lays within the poem? Of kennings? Of

alliteration? Litotes?
6. How is Beowulf an example of an epic hero?
7. Do you see any modern day heroes which parallel Beowulf?
8. What is the role of women in Anglo-Saxon society?
9. What are some of the main themes?

10.What languages and cultures influenced the composition of Beowulf?
11. How would Beowulf campaign today to be an American leader, for example Secretary of State?
Meets goals:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Unit
1. What is the author\u2019s use of symbolism?
2. What are the author\u2019s treatment and the purpose of women?
3. How does the author parallel the hunts inside and outside the castle?
4. How does Gawain represent the chivalric hero?
5. What are some of the main themes?
6. How is Gawain different from and similar to Beowulf?
7. How has the role of hero changed from Anglo-Saxon times to medieval times?
8. With which hero do you most identify?

9.Which languages and cultures influenced the writing of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight? esp chivalric
Meets goals:1,2,3,4,5,6

The Canterbury Tales Unit
1. How did Chaucer\u2019s society influence his writing?
2. What are the advantages/disadvantages of Chaucer using the pilgrimage frame?
3. What are some of the literary devices used in Chaucer\u2019s writing? How are they used? What purpose?

What effects?
4. Which stories/characters present the code of chivalry? How?
5. What is Chaucer\u2019s treatment of women?
6. Based on background reading and Chaucer, what was the medieval idea of love?
7. How has our idea of love changed?
8. How has the idea of hero changed?
9. How does Chaucer use religion in his work?
10. Who is the intended audience? Why do we still enjoy Chaucer today?

11.What are Chaucer\u2019s purposes in writing The Canterbury Tales?
Meets goals 1,2,3,4,5,6

Everyman Unit
1. What is the background of theater?
2. What is the origin of British theater?
3. How do mystery, morality, and miracle plays fit into the timetable of British drama?
4. What is allegory? What is the purpose?

5.Even though contemporary audiences do not \u201cenjoy\u201d or sometimes relate to Everyman today, what is
the significance of reading and analyzing the play today?
6.What is \u201cwrong\u201d with Everyman? Why do audiences today have a difficult time relating?
7. What is the modern concept of death and the afterlife?

8.Which modern works\u2014films included\u2014portray our 21st century of life and death?
9.Do you think Meet Joe Black is a true representation of our concept of success, life, death?
10.What has changed in our culture, mores, values between Everyman and Meet Joe Black?

Meets goals 1,2,3,4,5,6

Renaissance Unit
1. How was poetry used to advance a man\u2019s career, his station in Renaissance court life?
2. Who are the major Renaissance poets?
3. How were they influenced? How have they influenced the later writers?
4. What are some of the key differences between Italian sonnets and Elizabethan sonnets? Which do you

prefer for writing? Why?
5. How are certain literary devices used in particular Renaissance poetry?
6. What is poetry?
7. What makes a poem a good poem? a bad poem?
8. How does the early church drama move from the religious to the secular? What are the ramifications of

this move?
9. What are some of the major concerns, values, and ideas of the Renaissance period?
10. What different components made the Renaissance time period possible?
11. What are some of the differences between the Renaissance and the medieval periods?
12. Why is Shakespeare considered the greatest dramatist?

13.What are the universal and personal symbols in Hamlet?

14. How well does Shakespeare employ these symbols?
15. What makes someone insane?
16. Does Hamlet go insane?
17. Is the Ghost from heaven or hell? What is his purpose?

18.Who are the major sets of character foils in Hamlet?

19. How does Shakespeare incorporate dissembling in his play?
20. Who is the wise fool, and how should his character be portrayed on stage?
21. What influences do you see in the play from the Renaissance worldview of the Great Chain of Being

and Corresponding Plains?
22.How doe Fortune play a major role in Hamlet?
23. Based on the play, do you think the Renaissance man believed in predestination?
24. What is Shakespeare saying about the reality and value of drama through his use of a play within a

25. How does Shakespeare use comic relief in the play?
26. What is the source of Hamlet\u2019s reluctance to act?

27.Does Hamlet \u201cfit\u201d Aristotle\u2019s classic definition of tragedy in the Poetics?

28. Who is the most \u201ctragic\u201d (modern definition) character? Why?
29. What is Shakespeare saying about love through his characters?
30. What are some of the overall themes of the play?
31. What are some of the influences from the early cyclical plays on Renaissance drama?
32. Why do we still enjoy Shakespeare?

33.How has the language changed from the 15th century to the 16th and 17th? What are some of the

influences of the change?
34. How has the idea of hero changed from the medieval period?
35. Why is religion no longer a major focus in literature?
36. How has the role of women changed or remained the same?
Meets Goals 1,2,3,4,5,6

Restoration Unit
1. How have the values and beliefs changed from before the Commonwealth and after?
2. How have the changes influenced literature? art in general?
3. What is the structure of a proposal? What is the purpose?
4. What is the purpose of satire?
5. How does Swift use satire in his \u201cA Modest Proposal\u201d?
6. Are you convinced by Swift\u2019s arguments? Explain.
7. What do you feel passionately about in our culture that you would like to see changed?
8. What is the best methods to use to write your proposal?

9.How does the writer of Monty Python and the Holy Grail use satire to support some of the major themes
of the movie?
10.How can you use your knowledge of early British history to enhance your viewing of Monty Python and
the Holy Grail?
Meets goals 1,2,3,4,5,6

Romantic/Victorian Unit
1. What are some of the main values, ideas, and beliefs of the Romantic and Victorian ages?
2. What are the characteristics of Romanticism?
3. What world events ushered in the different ideologies that made the Age of Romanticism possible?
4. How can you support the theory that Romanticism is a reaction to the Age of Reason, the

5. What type of hero did the Romantic period produce?
6. How was the Romantic Age the perfect setting for the first novels?
7. What is a novel? What are the advantages and limitations of an author using this particular genre?
8. Who are the greatest poets of the time, and why do we label them the \u201cgreatest\u201d?
9. What are some of the major topics and themes poets discuss during the Romantic and Victorian

10. In what ways is the Victorian Period an exaggerated extension of the Romantic Age?
11. What are the characteristics of a Byronic hero? Who are the modern-day equivalents?
12. What differentiates Romantic poetry from Victorian?

13.How is setting often a character in Victorian novels? In Wuthering Heights?
14.What are the functions of the many narrators in Wuthering Heights?

15. Are all the narrators reliable? Explain.
16. Which characters (including settings) are character foils?
17. What are purposes of these foils?
18. How well does the novel present the concept of doppelgangers?
19. What values does Heathcliff possess that makes him a Byronic hero and an icon of the Victorian Age?
20. What is Bronte saying about the power of hate, revenge, passion, and grief?
21. Choose two particularly powerful speeches. How do they embody the meaning of the novel?

22.How is the novel a reversal of Beauty and the Beast?

23. Why do women love Heathcliff?
24. How does Heathcliff compare to earlier and later heroes? Which do you prefer? Why?
25. What are the major symbols and motifs of the novel?
26. How is the Victorian class system personified through the characters?
27. What are some of the major themes of the novel?
28. How well does the novel compare to a modern novel of love, mystery, and revenge?

29.What techniques, themes, structures, etc. in Wuthering Heights do authors still use?
30. How did Emily Bronte\u2019s life influence her writing?
31. How does the Ralph Fiennes\u2019 interpretation of Heathcliff compare and contrast to Bronte\u2019s real

32. How does the film differ? Why would the director/screenwriter choose these changes?
Meets goals 1,2,3,4,5,6

The Modern/Post Modern Age Unit
1. How has the world view changed from the Victorian times to the Modern Age? Why has it changed?
2. What are the main emphasizes, assumptions, and style of Modernism?
3. How has the media become an influence in literature?
4. Who/what is the Lost Generation? Who are the leaders? What has the world lost?
5. Why do poets have a mighty voice\u2014compared of course to the past representations?
6. Using your knowledge of Romanticism and Modernism, how was the Victorian Age a stepping stone

between the ages?
7. What is existentialism?
8. How is Modernism a stepping stone to existentialism?
9. Who is our hero now? How has he changed? Why?
10. How does the post-modern hero compare to our contemporary hero?
11. What type of hero do you foresee emerging in the next 15 years?

12.Why did Orwell write 1984?
13. How did Orwell\u2019s political beliefs influence his writing?
14. How does Orwell divide his superpowers?
15.How does Orwell\u2019s knowledge of language influence 1984?
16. Using political quotes and speeches during the war (see handout\u2014for students), can you argue if
Orwell would have agreed or disagreed with the speaker?
17.What are the major topics and themes Orwell addresses in 1984?
18. What literary techniques does Orwell use to persuade his audience?

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