Worms are amazing. They break down dead things into nutrients for the living things. They’re the original recycling machines. Having the author of the fable use these little guys as a metaphor, do you think he’s praising the worms or disparaging them? What do you believe they represent? How does the imagery in the poem lend itself to your argument?
Steel quotes from Metamorphoses on page 20. Given this quotation, what religious implications do you think surround the concept of a “wild child” in the Medieval context? Is it paradoxical that one can be closer to nature but farther from God when nature is often characterized as one of God’s methods of operation in Medieval literature? Or does a human with animal qualities defy nature?
Normally when some animal is raised in captivity, it wouldn’t be able to survive out in the wild, if it were to be released. For example, most animals in zoos cannot be released into the wild if they were raised in captivity their entire lives. However, in this story, the roles are switched. Could this concept hold true for the Hesse child being “domesticated” by the wolves unable to join human society?
On page 16, Steel suggests that the Hesse child’s story “lends itself easily to such analysis of human limitations”. The connection between the boy and his “natural state” as a wolf help the boy surpass normal limits, but also hinder him. Using evidence in the article, would you agree that the Hesse story shows limitations of people or does it prove that humans and nature should be more united, like in Bisclavret or Yonec?
Gerald of Wales describes a “big lake, that had a marvellous origin” on page 64. Based off of his description of the origin of this lake, what do you think is Gerald’s opinion of the people of Ireland? Is there a greater meaning behind the abundant fish that now inhabit this lake? What biblical imagery does this passage evoke or parallel?
Gerald mentions St. Brendan on page 61, in a section in which he describes an island where corpses never putrefy and where there are no mice.
Do you think there is allegorical potential in this island’s lack of mice? If so, what would the allegory be? What could mice stand for in medieval times, and what could the lack of mice mean to Gerald? Do you think it is significant that Gerald says this island is consecrated by Saint Brendan? How do the non-putrefying corpses fit into this, if at all?