English Literature II
2 November 2014
Individual vs. Society (8-13)
The Middle Ages were important steps in the advancement of Western civilization. In its beginning stages society was supremely religous. The individual, at this time, was content with being a tool that could benefit society; whatever services or talents that could be provided, would be utilized. The tribes of the land were actively engaged in warfare, until the later events that would change the enviornment of England. Early literature, that was presented orally, like Beowulf, were reflections of the culture during this period. Society at this time valued heroism, they were attracted to the idea of a male savior, chosen by a god, (christianity superseded paganism) to save them from some incarnation of evil, or aid them in battle. Through the Middle Ages though this pattern evolves, and the plot starts to develop within a group or within the sentiments of the main protagonist, rather than the hero combating the unknown.
Sir Gawain from Sir Gawain and the Green Knight was the transition; he combats the unknown but the story ends up being about him and his regret from sin. Through the Anglo-Norman and Middle English periods there is a focus on the individual more, and war in literature is significantly represented less. The best representations of this were the Canterbury Tales that told stories from different members of society through author Geoffrey Chaucer. some tales weren't specifically about that individual, but Chaucer made it clear that these stories were reflections of that characters sentiments, and it was one of the first texts that included input from a women's put of view. On that topic, women became main characters and plots formed around women, rather than in the Middle Ages inception where women were barely mentioned...