Mar 30: Sir Gawain & The Green Knight: Fitt III-IV

Fitt III is viewed as a break from the action of the poem. Sir Gawain and the Lord of the castle have agreed to exchange what they receive during their days. Sir Gawain stays at the castle and the Lord goes hunting. What is the significance of the gifts that they exchange at the end of each day or don’t exchange? Also what is the overall significance of Fitt III?

Mar 28: Sir Gawain and The Green Knight: Part 1-2

Why does Sir Gawain and The Green Knight begin with mentions of Troy and Rome? Why are Aeneas (Troy) and Romulus (Rome) mentioned before King Arthur (Britain)? Aeneas, Romulus and King Arthur are all literary characters with a “historical” significance. Is there a comparison that is being made between King Arthur and his Knights and the conquering forces of Aeneas and Romulus? Does the Green Knight then represent the natural force of Britain that King Arthur and his knights are conquering or something else?

March 23: The Franklin’s Tale

This story hinges on Dorigen’s promise of her love to Aurelius on the condition that he remove all the black rocks on the coast. What are we to make of the rocks themselves, and the different roles (a threat to Arveragus, a symbol of the stability of her love, an obstacle to Aurelius’ happiness) they play in the story?

Does Chaucer see them as a part of Nature, or as part of the mythical/magical world, full of magicians and deities, that his characters inhabit? Is the natural setting of this story merely a backdrop to the plot and characters, or does it somehow interact with their stories as a force or personality of its own?

The Franklin’s Tale

The Franklin’s Tale depicts a love story that may remind you of some of the other courtly love stories we have read over the semester, especially those of Marie de France. However, Chaucer certainly features many details in this tale that differ from Marie’s depiction of a courtly love story.

What are some of the differences between Marie’s works and The Franklin’s Tale? Think beyond basic plot points into characterization, the role of women, what values seem to be most valued, etc.

March 21: “The Wanderer”, “The Seafarer”

There is a lot to say about how these poems overlap, but how are they different? “The Wanderer” and “The Seafarer” contain similar moods and themes, and use similar motifs to evoke a sense of isolation from human society, but in each poem the reason for this isolation is unique.

How does the poets’ use of natural setting and imagery differ between the two poems? Are there any ways in which these differences highlight the context of (and reason for) the narrators’ isolation?

March 21st

The three poems work to move the reader emotionally through a variety of rhetorical strategies, some of which include the use of certain motifs, symbols, and moral values to evoke meaning for the reader.

Though the poems are individual works and not necessarily related to each other, what common aspects are featured in the poems?  Compare either 2, or all 3 and look for common motifs, narrator traits, moral values, etc.

March 16: “Disputacioun”

It is mentioned in the poem that the recipient of this dream vision is a pilgrim fleeing the plague. The plague, despite now being treatable with simple antibiotics, was one of the most virulent and deadly epidemics to ever sweep Europe. With this backdrop in mind, how do you think a medieval reader would receive this poem? Would they find it comforting to know that the body is only temporary but the soul may live on? Or would the admittedly grim image of the body being devoured by worms be repulsive? Or could it possibly be both?

March 16: A Dispute Between Body and Worms

The worms in the story are not portrayed as evil for eating away at the body, but instead as part of the circle of life. However, the woman in the story is so worries about her physical appearance she tries to kick the worms out of her body. This is an example of one of the seven deadly sins, pride. Could this story be giving a moral lesson on one of the seven deadly sins?