Emotion in Context

The author suggest that emotions should be examined in the context of the emotional community.  Rosenwein says, “Thus an important part of my method is to gather a dossier of materials (almost always written sources) that belong together because they point to an identifiable group…”  (Rosenwein, 26)  I agree with her point coupled with the her next claim that gestures, exclamations, tears and so on are all symptoms of emotions.  The author is asserting that the person feeling emotion is acting within their own community of emotion and the historian or scholar must examine the symptom and produce an interpretation.  When this is applied to a text such as Julian of Norwich we can begin to uncover first her emotional community and second how these emotions function with or against her setting.  This method allows for scholars to analitacally based on the emotion of a person within their context greater than previous interpretations.

Pain and Suffering

Pain and suffering are key themes that are repeated again and again in “A revelation of Love” by Julian of Norwich.  To begin the narrator wishes for three wishes from God, first is to watch Jesus suffer during the crucifixion and the second wish was to become deathly ill.    Pain in these sense is a way in which a person is able to become closer and more devote to God.  The sacraments and desire to both receive a form of miracle or to actually die and go to Heaven are keyed upon by the narrator.  Then throughout the text this theme is again and again returned to, whether by humans or Jesus suffering for humans.  It becomes almost a form of prayer to go through a form of hardship.

Personification of the Cross

The Dream of the Rood is about the cross that Jesus was nailed to is telling the narrator the story of the crucifixion. I found it unusual that the author personified the cross itself to speak about the death and resurrection of Jesus.  Unlike other texts that contained magical elements through a dream or appearance of an angel this text shows an actual cross first radiating riches then bleeding and ultimately speaking about its life.  On one hand the poem is promoting Jesus but on the other it is using a magical element to do so.

Emotion & Reason

The article brought up many interesting point about emotions that I have not learned about.   I found the conflicting arguments about emotion and reason most interesting.  Today most people tend to believe that emotion is almost opposite to reason but in fact at one point they were argued to go together.  I understand that there is a tendency to view emotion as a reaction versus a thought out process but the arguments of monism stating that mind and body (emotion and reason) are the same is an interesting way to approach emotion.  Ultimately, I agree with emotion being a reaction, especially with the speed at which synapsis are stimulated in the brain, but still an interesting way to approach emotion and the medieval studies.

Religious Themes in Pearl

This poem followed more of the themes I thought that medieval poetry would be like before entering into this coarse.  Many of the poems that we have read so far have deep religious tones to them but Pearl is overtly religious and is centralized around Jesus, St. John, and Mary as much if not more than the dreamer or his daughter.  There is a clear push for living a good life in order to reach the joy and paradise found in the poem.  A good example of the morals the poem tries to convey is in stanza 72 which says, “Concerning death, where hope is best/fear of death the Lamb puts to rest,/At Mass He heaps on happiness…”  This theme is again and again emphasized.

Proving Love

Sir Orfeo displays many of the themes we have been discussing in class.  Orfeo is a noble king with a wife that matches the glowing description of a poem but she is taken away by a mystical force.  Sir Orfeo must prove his love for her and does so in several ways.  First he loses his one and only love and claims her to be so, he is completely loyal to his wife.  Second he proclaims that he would rather die than be without her and this theme is repeated by him again and again.  Third and most important is that he must prove his love for he and in a sense earn what he desires.  By renouncing all earthly goods and moving into the woods he is really proving his devotion to his wife.  Then by playing the harp beautifully  Orfeo takes the step beyond which ultimately earns his wife back.  Having to prove his love and wanting to die when she is gone are common themes in the poetry we have seen before.

Sleep and Restlessness

Chaucer represents the jumping thoughts of a sleepless night in The Book of Duchess.  The poem begins with the tossing and turning of the narrator who then reads a story about the King Seys and his wife Alcyone.  The king dies and Alcyone prays to Juno and Morpheus, but then this is interrupted because the narrator falls asleep.  The shift is unusual because the story of the king and his wife is left unresolved only to move from his thoughts about a surreal hunt with Octovyen (Octavius) a great Roman emperor.  A shift even further from this then occurs and the dream shifts to a story about a knight who challenged Fate and lost.

Chaucer captures in these shifting stories the true feeling of sleep and sleeplessness.  The reflection on both the themes of love, death, and religion guides the narrator while laying in bed.  the restlessness is conveyed especially when the story moves from the king and his wife to a dream because the speaker fell asleep.  The important question is why create a story that is surreal like this one. Does it teach a lesson about what people should reflect on during the night or is it more to demonstrate Chaucer’s personal skill at marrying form and meaning to convey a feeling of restlessness.

The Emotional Examination of History Applied to Literature

This article takes an interesting approach to history through the emotional.  This method and the prevailing and improving theories of the history of emotions is a great way to approach literature.  The liquid theory of emotion that discusses that emotions are almost like a liquid in the body wanting to seep out, which usually manifests itself in writings.  While this theory has been displaced by a more improved method it shows an interesting to understanding prevailing emotions of a period and the ones being suppressed.  By examining this method to literature of a certain period we can better understand a certain author’s approach or meaning in a text.  For example, if a Medieval writer is discussing courtly love we could decipher certain meanings from what is highlighted in the language or omitted.

Heredity in Nobility

Gentilesse by Chaucer is an interesting poem discussing what it really means to be a noble man.  “vertu to love and vice for to flee” is the key point Chaucer is pushing meaning that virtue to love and refraining from vices are the most important elements for a man.  Whats even more interesting is that he also says that a person can obtain all the wealth in the world and be the most virtuous man but this is all dependent on whether or not his heirs are also virtuous.  This is an interesting way to depict how to determine nobility based on both the merit of the man and his linage.

Chastity from the Wife

The wife of the king in the poem of Yonec begins an affair with another knight during a time when this action was one of the gravest sins.  Yet, the story develops to praise this action.  The maidens husband locked her away in a tower, which is a great injustice, but she still enters into an affair sanctioned by God.  As she prays to God the knight appears to rescue the wife.  Not only does this affair begin but the bastard offspring eventually kills the maiden’s husband.  The series of events of this poem contains Christian elements; however, there are remnants of pagan culture as well.  The wife being unfaithful, the magical hawk, and revenge are all indications of a past culture that may still be lingering.