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Period: Medieval (1066-1485) Literature: Arthurian Romance and Canterbury Tales Political, Religions, and Cultural “Truth

Candidates:
• • • • • • • Divine Right- the justification of monarchy through the word of god Absolute Monarchy- a political system in which a country is ruled by a monarch, who has absolute control Feudalism/ Hierarchy- tiered class system of medieval Europe in which land owned by someone of higher status was lived on and worked by someone of lower status. Magna Carta- British document signed by King John which reaffirmed long standing rights and responsibilities of the English nobility; limited the powers of the king, an recognized that all people including the government and monarch are subject to the law. Catholicism Ptolemaic Universe- the belief that the Earth was the center of the universe Chivalric Code/ Courtly Love

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Author Unknown • Known as the Green Knight poet • From the Forrest of Wirral meaning that the poem was most likely untainted(map p. 87) – most likely where King Arthur came from • Some Believe the poem is nationalistic because he wrote in the traditional British style and not the French style that was used by many during this Late 14th Century • Was written toward the latter part of the medieval period toward the end of the 1300s Medieval Romance • More dramatic, more ideal than reality • Romance: idealized portrait of the age • Feels much like epics • Typically involves knights and quests = the epics of the Anglo-Saxon period Alliterative Revival • Alliteration: a way of rhyming; the repetition of consonant sounds in poetry; • Anglo-Saxons used alliteration (to give a feel of chanting consonant noises) • Derived the idea of meter and end rhyme • How is it nationalistic?  British want to revive the alliteration (their identity) and don’t want to have French influence • Why isn’t Lancelot in the story?  Lancelot happens to be a strong valiant knight, but he is French; replaces w/ the strong British knight—Sir Gawain • Major connection between language and culture

Cotton-Nero Manuscript • Where the original manuscript of the story comes from • Manuscript was untouched • Remember…Beowulf is from Cotton-Vitellius Manuscript meaning it was in the same library Christian Allegory • Dual layered narrative • One level of meaning usually literal (where the story is told), and the other level of meaning strictly about Christianity (the spiritual meaning behind the story) • Example: Dante’s Inferno/ Divine Comedy Beheading Game analogues • About testing one’s virtues • Ultimate challenge to your belief systems/will/courage • Got to be able to put everything on the line, but in the end you will be repaid. Vegetation Myth / Green Man / Jack in the Green • Fertility gods; personified nature of fertility • Green man—face w/ foliage (gives concept of man and nature combined, or nature as a character) Heroic Monomyth • Joseph Campbell stuff • Cycle of Heroic Journey Thought Questions: 1. Does this Arthurian Romance have any thematic connections to the Heroic Epic? Explain w/ details. Answer- yes they are usually about a social challenge and how one men usually steps up to save the whole community. This is sort of related to the Beowulf story and how one steps up in the end also like Wiglaf. 2. How do seasons and holidays in the poem function on a symbolic level? Answer – the seasons serve a symbolic level because they are seen as a cycle and everyyear every person gets the chance to start over. Also in SG&GK winter comes into play. It is usually viewed as death and it is symbolic in this story because that is when Sir Gawain is supposed to die. The Green Knight is viewed as a symbol of new life as he comes during a time when the community was slaking it. he is a unification tool as since he comes to bring everyone to their senses again and unite them once again. He sees that the chivalry is failing.

3. How does the poem follow the Catholic paradigm of SIN (chivalric failing) PENANCE (Sacred Quest)  REDEMPTION (Restoration of Honor) 4. How does the poem incorporate elements of the Vegetation Myth? Please localte specific elements of the myth in the poem. Chivalry is dismantled in the beginning of the story (all are drunk and partying @ New Years Eve) Arthurian Romance introduces Christianity—social conduct (no more trashing the castle/mead hall) Winter=death (the upheaval in the society/ sin)  Green Knight promises life, rebirth (new years cycle) Three Trials of Gawain: - Sir Gawain has to do 3 trials for the Lord of the castle he comes across on his journey. - He has to return these items from the trials to the lord -The Lord’s wife acts like the animals captured for the night’s feast after the trials Night One—Deer Night Two—Boar - She’s wild, more aggressive Night Three—Fox - She’s slutty Green Chapel—where the Green Knight resides mixture of Christianity and nature (Druidic in a way) Green Knight reveals he is the Lord of the Castle Gawain stayed in 3 strokes value life 1st and 2nd stroke—1st and 2nd nights where Gawain passed the trials and returned the items 3rd stroke—3rd night Gawain didn’t succumb (he kept the green slash thingy) green slash—a new Gawain, more modest and moral since the New Years incident in Camelot Sir Gawain confesses throws away the sash - The penance is Green Knight’s cut on Gawain’s throat as a reminder - Green Knight invites him to come celebrate New Years w/ his castle - Gawain refuses the invitation b/c of the past (New Year Party in Camelot) - Returns to Camelot w/ the slash as a new man - Renews Cameloteveryone in Camelot wears the green slash 2 Readings of the ending 1. Hopeful—described above where everyone wears a “green slash”—a newer, modest person 2. Cynical—the court is full of posers—everyone wearing the “green slash” is doing it b/c it’s a fashion trend.

Medieval Age Movie Notes The important concept: Church vs State William the Conqueror had died The realm was in ruins There was a civil war going on  Matilda married Jeffrey • Parents of Henry Steven was in charge Henry married Eleanor, who was much older  She brought a lot of wealth, and Aquitaine Steven made a deal that he could die on the throne as long as Henry was named king  Huge empire  Henry spoke very little English Popes had put their power ahead of the king Henry II  Greatest of all medieval kings  Ordered the murder of Thomas Beckett in the cathedral  Father of the common lawyer  Godfather of English state  Wife Eleanor  King had to protect the church, the lands, do justice, and suppress evil laws and customs, protect one’s own people • He established professional courts that acted in his name • Law became listen to the judges o First legal textbook was made Eleanor of Aquitaine  Rich  About 30 ish  Actually loved Henry Thomas Beckett  Was chancellor  Opposite than Henry • Body shape, personas, age  He treated the king as an equal  Archbishop of Canterbury  Mysterious transformation had occurred • They used to agree • King felt betrayed • Wore goat haired undergarments because it would hurt him symbolic to the pain Jesus went through

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Henry vs. Thomas  King was betrayed  Had a council where he demanded people followed the customs of the realm • Royal power over clergy • Beckett refused these demands, total resistance  Beckett was brought to trial for misappropriating church funds • Convicted on the charges • He fled  Landed on the Flemish coast  He established his own underground government while on the lamb • Propaganda department, connections back to the real gov.  Henry arrested Beckett’s inside men • Family too was charged  2 years of diplomacy to arrange talks about talks  They were going to meet • In traitor’s meadow • Beckett wore goat hair underwear  Beckett declined to work for the court • Mistake # 1  The King had pardoned Beckett’s partners, Beckett refused to do the same for the king’s supporters • Mistake # 2 • He will not forgive the followers of Henry because they didn’t betray him, they betrayed God himself.  More arguments at their last meeting  Beckett damned and excommunicated those who went against him  Henry had some bishops as spies  In his castle he called Beckett a “low born clatit (not of noble birth)” and calls him a traitor • Knights misinterpreted to kill him o He wanted the problem to go away, not necessarily kill • Knights came in, were ignored • Thomas is then destroyed the first knight cuts of the top of the head, the second takes out part of his brain and the third smears it on the ground.

Le Morte D’ Arthur • Authored by Thomas Malory, published 1485 (when the Renaissance age started— emergence of media, widespread literature, printing press) • Printed by William Caxton • Winchester manuscript (not divided into sections, but like-chapters) • Compilation of French and English source texts(Malory embraced what the French attributed to the Arthurian Romance)

The Printing Press • Monks aren’t allowed to control the media anymore • Literature is now available to everyone • More people become literate • Now there is a secular media Abridged Text Content Summary Camelot—like a kingdom of (original) sin 1. Book 8 Mordred reveals adultery between Lancelot and Guinevere—Guinevere sentenced to death  causes the dissolution of Camelot 2. Lancelot rescues her, killing Gawain’s brothers in the rescue. Lancelot flees to France. 3. Arthur pursues Lancelot to France, leaving Mordred in charge. Mordred then usurps the throne 4. Gawain duels Lancelot and loses. Arthur vows to return to England to unseat Mordred and reclaim throne. 5. Arthur has prophetic dreams. Gawain counsels Arthur to delay until reconciled with Lancelot as an ally. Sword out of sheath symbolically means you want to fight (no naked blade should be shown in a peace treaty) and in this case he tried to kill a snake (sign of evil). Allegorical Touchstones • Trinity Sunday and Pentecost - Malory starts the story w/ Trinity Sunday - Pentecost: Christ as a Holy Spirit coming down to disciples - Represents the spiritual transcendence of Arthur (tombstone states of Arthur’s second coming) • Prophetic Dream Visions - serpents represent the devil/ the fall of Camelot/ evil (serpents—Adam and Eve story) • The Adder- biblical evil • Arthur vs. Mordred - Like Jesus—Arthur knows he’s gonna die but he goes through w/ it to conquer evil. (Jesus knows he will die but goes through the crucifixion to conquer over evil) • Bedivere’s Betrayal - Peter denies Jesus 3x, and to overcome his wrongdoing, he becomes a Pope - Bedivere denies Arthur 3x, and he becomes a hermit to overcome his wrongdoing • Excalibur- resigning the belief that there is a king. Leaves the belief that Arthur will come again sooner or later and take it up again. • Bedivere’s Transformation - from knight to monk/hermit • Avalon - apples island—represents a heaven, paradise, land constantly fertile • Barge Mourners -

Cantebury Tales - portraits of reality, like Anglo-Saxon lyrics; illustrates the real life of people - Chaucer: born in middle class—his writings reflect the realities of his class - Embraces the real people of his age - He makes fun of the middle age Arthurian Romance - portraits of the ideal - deals with an exclusive class of people (the rich, famous) - they are romances—idealized portraits Cantebury Tales - layered, complex - frame narrative—a big story that frames/contains other smaller stories - Frame  Tales   Tellers - picture it as a venn diagram - Frame narrative in “The General Prologue” religious pilgrimages (served to bring you closer to God; a spiritual cleansing) - Has to be witty, yet has religious implications, morals, matches the occasion (a trip to a martyr shrine) Written by Geoffrey Chaucer  First superstar of British lit Like Russian dolls or Onions with layers Frame narrative  Large story that connects to other smaller stories  Frame has some sort of meaning  For this story the frame narrative is a religious pilgrimage • They were spiritual renewal or cleansing • Traveled by foot or horseback Pilgrims are going to Becketts’ shrine in Canterbury Each person gets to tell 2 stories on the way there and back When we get back we will pick the best story and award the winner with a dinner  The winning story would have to have religious morals in them • They are on a religious pilgrimage after all Arthurian Romance only deals with rich and nobles  The A- list Canterbury tales has commoners and some high up people like the knight Chaucer is not afraid to bring up imperfection and joke about it  Went from middle class to a pivotal place in government The knights story is an Arthurian romance  He is arrogant, very long story, likes to hear himself talk There is a lot of trash talking and infighting during the trip  How the period really is

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 Chivalry doesn’t matter to them When reading the tales, how does it fit into the frame  How does the tale reflect the teller’s personality  Don take anything in isolation

Canterbury Tales--“The General Prologue” Lines 1-18: - First few lines: the setting is spring—renewal or rebirth - The humans seek spiritual renewal or rebirth (religious) - Pilgrimage to Canterbury/ the shrine (Thomas Beckett—heal or help) - Frame narrative (1st of many layers) establishes spiritual/natural renewal for humans/earth General Prologue #2 some more information on the first 18 lines - First 18 lines  Most of the frame narrative provides basic information like character backgrounds, where they are going  This part, however, tell us it is spring • Spring= fertility • Ram = Aries • The plants renew and the humans renew their religious faiths  Frame narrative establishes that this will be about renewal • Sprit of whole story • So far this isn’t different than the romances • Layer # 1  Chaucer shows people who don’t seek redemption for being bad • Lancelot and others in the romantics did

Chaucer will show sinful people that don’t seek for redemption, unlike the Arthurian Romances Ex: the Pardoner’s moral for the story doesn’t match his persona; he doesn’t believe or live out the message of his own sermon - Pardoners: Chaucer uses this to satire the Church’s corruption (pardoners sell forgiveness) Lines 689-856—on the Pardoner: (p. 111) - Chaucer gives us that the Pardoner is homosexual (he’s not real, can’t tell his personality/gender—hiding secrets of gender and morals) - “He’d sewed a holy relic on his cap; his wallet lay before him on his lap, brimful of pardons come from Rome all hot.” - He’s not afraid to show his extravagances (sews a relic on his new fancy hat to legitimize it and show he’s a religious figure) - He’s good and powerful at making people believe him (the theatre of religion)— therefore, he gets more bank - Described as a goat: diminishes his character, he’s haughty “Pardoner’s Tale”

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he follows the motto: money is the root of all evil he is proud that he swindles people for their money he doesn’t care about the actual pardoning of the people, he just exploits making money he also sells “holy relics”—consumers are the unsophisticated lower class/peasants/farmers he keeps a “jolly winch in every town” –groupies

Thesis: Chaucer illustrates the corrupted religious ethos of the Pardoner in a tale that inverts the traditional Catholic symbolism of a Holy Trinity that transcends death; rather, “The Pardoner’s Tale” illustrates the impossibility of such transcendence given the narrator’s preoccupation with earthly materialism. The Catholic symbolisms are perverted - Contradictory of the Pardoner’s character and ethics he teaches - Holy Trinity—the three rioters are used to pervert the Holy Trinity - The Holy Trinity purpose is to overcome death/greed - The rioters mission is to overcome the greed, but then still don’t overcome it - Old man directs them to the bag of money - Rioters lose focus on their mission and focus on the gold and they don’t really try to redeem themselves - Bread and Wine—Jesus’ body and blood  poisoned bread and wine show the church’s corruption in teachings - The tale is a reflection of the Pardoner’s character (everything meaningful is perverted for his own profit) CHAUCER= SUBVERSION AND CRITIQUE Subversion— wants to get rid of things, change things Critique—satirizes his age

Geoffrey Chaucer Biography (1343-1400?) - we don’t know exactly when he died, how he died (conspiracies of murder) - died around the time Henry 4 took the throne—Chaucer’s last record was him complaining of someone’s large debt –after, Chaucer just vanishes - politically connected • Born into the middle class, son of a wine merchant working his way to a nobility is like an internship He’s middle class, but has connections to be able to rise to nobility (a higher rank of the middle class) - If he was from this class and rose to the top it means that he was very educated. • Served as a page to nobility, later as a courtier to Edward III - like an internship - serves as a diplomat, served a lot of time in France and Italy -

Courtier = workerfor the king, no real job just helps out • Extensive continental exposure, particularly to Italian poetic forms (The Decameron) - Vaccacio: Decameron—10 people flee Rome from the plague - 10 flee because of a plague and they tell tales to pass the time –Chaucer uses/studies this as the basis for his Canterbury Tales • Continental accentual-syllabic meter, response to Anglo-Saxon alliterate verse - The Anglo-Saxon verse is the national English form - Chaucer is influenced under the Continental European (French/Italian) forms—in meters - Most opposed to the Sir Gawain author (b/c the SG is the Old English, alliterate way) - Chaucer wants to move away from the Anglo-Saxon ways • Participated in the rise of European vernacular literature. - Vernacular—meaning common writing literature based on the common language of the author’s regions - The National European language is Latin - Chaucer chooses to writes in Middle English—English praise him for english national achievement - yes he wrote in new ways but he still used our language which was seen as nationalist • Eighty-three surviving manuscripts of his work, two Caxton printings, most published meaning that there was a high demand for his work, and it was important enough to get printed and he was actually more important than Skakespeare. British author in the 16th-17th centuries - shows Chaucer is very important and well known---he died before Caxton started printing, which means Caxton wants to preserve and spread Chaucer’s work (from 8track to DVD—being the best band idea) • Connected with the lollard heretics in the 15th century= they were against the church they believed that it was better that one read the scriptures rather than going to church to seek for god. The Miller’s Prologue: • Christian allegory: the story of Noah and the flood • John the Carpenter—when Nicholas tells him of another flood coming • John is an old man that can’t satisfy his wife Allison sexually. Nicholas sleeps w/ his wife • John—the faithful man (opposite of Nicholas) • Nicholas—astrology, considered science and the Catholic church considers it a cult knowledge (b/c there implies some power over the universe that’s not God)—the rational, immoral? (b/c adultery) • John is the dumb one for • Chaucer shows he is anticipating the Renaissance b/c having Nicholas think of reason and science • Absolon?—the clerk, wants Courtly Love, tries to win over women (Allison) by professing love through the window • Nicholas courts women by just straight up saying “let’s fuck”—allison says iight • The clerk comes to the window for a kiss from Allison, and she sticks out her ass and he kisses it

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Clerk goes to the blacksmith w/ a brand, Nicholas sticks out his ass in the window and gets branded, yells out for water, thought it was an order that the flood is coming, John cuts the ropes to release the tubs. Player—a rake Miller story—more crude, not corrupting like the Pardoner Miller is for/against the frame narrative? AGAINST b/c the narratives are supposed to be morally conscious, witty

Medieval era Miller screws up order—demands to tell his tale right away Pattern of inversion—things that are supposed to be good are made bad, exploited, corrupt, etc. (ex. Courtly love supposed to end up w/ women falling in love w/ the man singing etc. ) The Lollards— Prioress (122-166) • has pins, • wealthy, toy dogs? (throws all moral investments on these dogs—like a Paris Hilton figure) —doesn’t have a reasonable moral compass, weeps over the faith of small animals that die The Monk (169-211) • fat, rich, has the finest materials and jewels, overdressed • likes to hunt—has a pack of greyhounds • he’s engaged in a sport that monks wouldn’t really participate in The Friar (212-279) • beggar • his purpose—self satisfaction • hangs out w/ rich ppl so he could mooch off money/ doesn’t hang out w/ the poor Parson (487-503) • lives in relative poverty, seeks to help the poor • only one that is reasonable/moral of all the characters in the tale Lollards— - Against the hierarchal, monopoly-like, structure of the church (like chaucer critiquing the church) - Opposed to the church as an organization - Reading scripture—reprint the Bible in English (vernacular—very Chaucer like) - Before, those vernacular English Bibles may be heresy Chaucer is one of the first who shows social implications/commentaries of the Medieval period. Lollards

Ironic that the frame is about going to the shrine of Beckett—Beckett is overdressed, wealthy, engaged in exploitation (however on test, the frame is good) Chaucer may imply the whole Frame narrative, and everything in the frame is corrupt, joke