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    Default Analysing lessons learnt in Lanval and Sir Gawain and Discussion Chaucer Characters

    Hey all, figured I'd share these essays here. I completed them last semester at uni in my Lit class.They both gave me a pass mark, but due to them being first essays submitted at Uni, I figured the teacher marked them easy. Just want a some comments about what all the literary fans around here think about them.

    Feel free to pick them apart :)

    For those interested, the Character discussion got a 67% and the Analysis got me 62%

    The second essay is quite long. (2000 words) and the first is shorter (1000 words)

    So hope you enjoy them!

    I'm more or less looking for points as to how I can make my essay writing better.

    Essay One - Analysis of lessons learnt

    'While medieval romances can be diverse in choice of subject matter, a number feature a knight who, as a result of adventures, learns lessons which make him a better knight'.
    To what extent is 'learning lessons' the principal theme in Lanval and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight?

    This essay will explore the theme of lessons learnt and how they are the main feature of these poems, and the impact they have on King Arthur, Lanval, Sir Gawain and the other Knights of the Round Table. Demonstrations of courage, loyalty, honour and mercy will be discussed. In both Lanval and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, learning lessons is the key point. Through both poems it is shown how the characters develop as people, and how they maintain the true importance of being Knights of the Round Table. Lanval is a display of Marie De Frances’ distinctive approach to lais and legends. Though Lanval is set in the time of Arthurian legend, the writer breaks from the traditionalist views of literature at this time, describing King Arthur’s court in a fashion that shows malevolence. (Hazel, n.d.)

    Lanval is often described as a 12th century fairy tale. Fairies, seemingly ethereal beings play an important role in the story of Lanval, however they are not the tiny “Tinkerbelle-esque” characters children over the years have grown up enjoying. These fairies are masked in beauty and otherworldly powers, which is a key point in the story, as Lanval is seduced by the fairy queen. Lanval, as a character and a story, describes a chivalric romance. “Its standard plot is that of a quest undertaken by a single knight in order to gain a lady’s favour. It stresses the chivalric ideals of courage, loyalty, honour, mercifulness to an opponent, and elaborate manners.” (Abrams & Harpham, 2012, p.48) Courage, loyalty, honour, forgiveness and courtesy play a large role in Lanval as the story progresses with Lanval completing his quest and learning important lessons regarding these values in the process.

    Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a late 14th century poem, describing the quest of Sir Gawain over the period of a year as he begins to accept his fate at the hands of the Green Knight. It is a poem of unknown origin, with no known author. It has the same characteristics as Lanval, following the Chivalric Romance genre of the time. Through the story, Sir Gawain learns unwavering loyalty to his king, and acceptance of his fate which leads to forgiveness at the hand of The Green Knight. Demonstrating morality at the hand of The Green knight, and courage shown by Sir Gawain upon his travels to accept what is to befall him, in protection of the King. “I beseech, before all here, that this melee be mine.” (Abrams et al. p169) Sir Gawain steps forward, arrogant in his words thinking no man could withstand such a blow, but also showing courage, when his life is offered in place of King Arthurs, “And the loss of my life would be least of any.” It is this moment that Sir Gawain must accept what is soon to befall him, when he must learn to accept his responsibility as a Knight, in accepting his fate.

    The key lessons learnt involve few of the cardinal sins, which are a key part in Christian beliefs that were dominant in this time frame. Lust is shown by Queen Guinevere when she wishes to take Lanval to her bed. Greed is illustrated by Lanval’s display of joy when he is told that anything he desires will be his. “I shall attend you at your will, all your wishes to fulfill.” (Abrams et al. 2006) Wrath is demonstrated when Lanval replies, in spite, to the Queen’s proposal. Envy is shown by the knights when they talk about Lanval, “they envied him and his handsomeness, his courage, prowess and largesse” (Abrams et al. 2006) Pride is evident when the Queen attacks Lanval’s manhood by implying he is homosexual. These all lead to confrontations of dreadful proportions throughout the story, ranging from the manipulation of King Arthur by Guinevere, to the boastful comments made by Lanval which places him in a dilemma.
    Throughout the story, Lanval learns important lessons through his experiences. Due to the Queen’s proposal and subsequently her pride being hurt when Lanval rejected her proposal, Lanval learned to be faithful, both to his King and to his lover no matter what consequences may befall him due to this, despite the fact that infidelity was a common occurrence at this time. The Knights of the Round Table learn courage and true comradeship when Lanval is accused, and support him during this troubled time. “Pledges brought Lanval on the scene. A hundred of them I could count who would have done their best to see him without trial go scot-free.” (Abrams, et al. 2006) This quote demonstrates the great support between brothers in arms and reflects a change in tone from the earlier illustrated envy and malice

    Sir Gawain and Lanval learn important “Life Lessons” Throughout the story, which seem to be the main principle theme. During their respective quests they must show courage in the face of oncoming doom that seems to befall them due to their responsibilities or arrogance, both accepting what may or may not come to pass, with Lanval accepting that his lover may not return to rescue him, “Should he be killed, He’d bear it gladly” (Abrams, et al. 2006), and Sir Gawain accepting his fate at the hands of the Green Knight. These displays of receiving one’s own demise shows that they have learnt they cannot escape what they have brought upon themselves, either through arrogance or cowardice, one must always acknowledge and accept ones mistakes. This illustrates that the principal theme of this story is to teach how to accept what you have done, and accept what cannot be changed.

  2. #2
    HanibalII is offline Member
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    Default Re: Analysing lessons learnt in Lanval and Sir Gawain and Discussion Chaucer Characte

    Essay Two Character Discussion


    Chaucer always takes an interest in clothes and adornments of dress, not just in the 'General Prologue' but in the tales.
    Select a number of characters from the 'General Prologue' and the 'Miller's Tale' (probably at least five) and discuss what we learn about their attire and what it reveals about their personalities.


    ‘The Miller’s Tale’ is a small selection of Geoffrey Chaucer’s complete work, ‘The Canterbury Tales’. It is assumed that ‘The Canterbury Tales’ continues on from ‘The General Prologue’. There were said to have been over 120 stories in ‘The Canterbury Tales’, counting four stories for each pilgrim, two to be completed on the way to Canterbury, and two on the way back, however Chaucer had only ever completed Twenty-Two. (Christ et al., 2006, p.215) While writing these poems, Chaucer depicted much about the attire that each pilgrim wore, as well as large chunks of their personality, and how their attire reflected on that. In this essay, 5 characters will be discussed to learn about their attire and how it impacted as well as created their personality. In the poems ‘The General Prologue’ and ‘The Miller’s Tale’, Geoffrey Chaucer uses a complex style of descriptive writing to intensely describe the characters in the poems, providing an in depth description about the attire of the characters creating strong personalities for each disposition.
    Chaucer uses a string of strong terms to describe and give the reader a vivid mental image of each of his characters, displaying numerous personality traits for each character, such as jealousy, comfort, and over compensation by lavishing themselves in superfluous riches. One such character is The Prioress, giving great detail about her looks and temperament, including the most basic features and emotions that create her personality. Chaucer writes of her in a neutral tone, giving basic descriptions as to how a woman of the era was to behave, but questions how she performs as a nun, taking profit of situations and items that seem inappropriate for a nun when it is expected of them to give up all of their worldly possessions and surrender all items to the church. “A peire of bedes, gauded al with grene, An theron heng a brooch of gold ful sheene,” (Christ et al., 2006, p.221) He describes her attire in a small section, mostly on how well she is presented in clothes that would not be seen on a nun of the time. Chaucer writes of The Prioress as a person taking advantage of her position, showing that she has access to plenty of food which seems to be a main describing point for Chaucer, as he discusses through many lines the attributes that are due to her well fed stature. “For, hardily, she was nat undergrowe.” (Christ et al., 2006, p.222) Through Chaucer’s description an image of a well fed and pompous character is presented, with a cold and hard personality “hir eyen greye as glas” (Christ et al., 2006, p.222), with attributes that may make her seem gentle and kind. “Hir mouth ful smal, and therto softe and reed;” (Christ et al., 2006, p.222) Through the descriptions of her image, you are able to picture a character closer to Royalty than a Nun of the Clergy, with descriptions close enough to fit a noblewoman of the era. “And peyned hir to countrefete cheere Of court, and been estatlich of manere,” (Christ et al., 2006, p.222) This description that Chaucer has presented with the reader shows that the particular character is more fond of appearing to be of high stature rather than a commoner or hand of the clergy seemingly to portray the church as a malicious intent, in this she is a close fit to the Friar.
    Immediately starting the introduction of The Summoner, Chaucer describes a man that seems to be evil and vile, with an appealing Cherubic face, in this description however; Chaucer seems to present a situation that contradicts his writings, stating further that “Of his visage children were aferd.” (Christ et al., 2006, p.233) Chaucer continues to paint a despicable picture of a man marred by misfortunes through sickness and injury and that no cure would be enough to repair the damage. The Summoner seemingly self condemn’s people that have access to money and that are in good health and well being, deeming them “The curse of the clergy”. However Chaucer gives the impression he does not wish the reader to feel pity for The Summoner, giving the impression that his actions had been inflicted upon himself through excessive drinking and raucous behavior. “And for to drynken strong wyn, reed as blood;” (Christ et al., 2006, p.233). During his drunken stupors, Chaucer defines him as a “Noble Rascal”, portraying him as a troublemaker character that you could not replace. “He was a gentil harlot and a kynde; A bettre felawe sholde men noght fynde;” (Christ et al., 2006, p.234)
    Chaucer portrays The Miller as the dim witted character of the group, being similarly portrayed as a village idiot. However he is the only character in the story that acts with morals, even though it leads him to looking like a fool and being ridiculed by his wife and the town’s people. Chaucer couples The Miller with a much younger woman as his wife to assist in contrasting the difference between himself and other characters. His key personality traits are paranoia and insecurity, with him wanting to control his wife due to her age but also blind devotion shown during the time of the flood. Chaucer portrays him as a fool in instances when he turns a blind eye to obvious events such as absolon serenading his wife outside their window and naïve when he is told of the impending flood by Nicholas. Throughout ‘The Millers tale’, Chaucer portrays john as brainless, but blinded by his love of his wife.

  3. #3
    HanibalII is offline Member
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    Default Re: Analysing lessons learnt in Lanval and Sir Gawain and Discussion Chaucer Characte

    ​Continued from Essay Two


    Absolom is a fitting picture of a clerk of the parish. Chaucer has seen fit to give him only the bare necessity items, but focuses more on his ability to dance and sing and play music which The Clerk uses to help his cause in “Wooing” Alsioun. His ability to entertain people assists him in persuading and fitting in with the townspeople with little to know difficulty, allowing him to get closer to other people. He is described as having the simplest attire consisting of a basic blue coat and red hose. His face is depicted of that of a small child, with “rosy red cheeks” and eyes as “grey as a goose” covered in a mop of striking golden hair. Chaucer also describes him as squeamish about certain bodily functions, which may imply that his personality is very rigid in what may be appropriate around other people.
    Nicholas is described as a poor scholar, but is sly and meek with many books and readings, so is a well learned character. Chaucer has described him as being able to persuade anybody to his cause. This appears to be a main personality trait that has been implied through his description of Nicholas. His physical description of Nicholas is that of a “Pretty Boy” with a personality that has him thinking he is god’s gift to all. “Ful often blessed was his myrie throte.” (Christ et al., 2006, p.241) Chaucer decorates Nicholas in a fashion comparable to the smell of a rose garden, using this description to alert the reader of his desirable smell and the implications of such a nature that accompany it.
    Chaucer creates an extremely detailed description of Alisoun, which implies many traits for her personality, showing that she likes the attention, in the way she dresses, and likes to show off. To begin, Chaucer describes Alisoun as being petite with the characteristics of a weasel, which may have implications for her personality and behavior. Described as wearing attire that implies great stature and fortune in this current era, such as wearing a girdle made of plain stripes of silk, with an embroided smock with a black collar which further implies wealth and stature as embroided material is quite costly. Chaucer tries to contrast Alisoun with her clothes and skin tone, by saying “Ful brighter was the shynyng of hir hewe Than in the Tour the noble yforged newe.” (Christ et al., 2006, p.242) Allowing the reader to picture a stunningly beautiful woman with a bright complexion placed against a dark background to make her stand out, which seems to be a key personality trait with Alisoun. Chaucer then moves onto her facial features depicting a picture of beauty having “lickerish” eyes with carefully plucked eyebrows colored black and being highly slanted. Chaucer does not wish to allow the reader to make up their mind whether Alisoun is beautiful or not, but forces the reader to picture a woman of beauty by saying “There nys no man so wys that koude thenche So gay a popelote or swich a wenche.” (Christ et al., 2006, p.242) Implying that no man could ever possibly imagine how beautiful this woman is. Chaucer implies her beauty multiple times throughout the story accompanied by items that would greatly contrast her said beauty, such as being described as having skin softer than the wool of a sheep, and being more beautiful than a newly budding pear tree. He spends a little while describing her bodily features, seeming to imply that she shows off cleavage by stating, “A brooch she baar upon hir lowe coler, As brood as is the boos of a bokeler.” (Christ et al., 2006, p.242) As well as having long and slender legs. “Long as a mast, and upright as a bolt.” In this writing, Chaucer has greatly sexualized her character description, which assists in her personality traits.


    Chaucer has described each of these characters greatly in different ways, giving an excellent example of Estate satire by contrasting each character against one another. With The Prioress his physical description is of a very attractive woman of the church, however his description of her personality leaves something to be desired. His description of the nun seemingly questions her role as a member of the church and the motivation behind it and the church itself. This portrayal of the church continues through The Summoners story, telling of a man selected by the church to carry out its wishes. Chaucer shows him as a power mad member of the society which closely resembles stereotypes of this man’s particular job, being a debt collector of sorts that is vicious and unkempt. Chaucer then moves on to tell of The Miller, a carpenter in the society, but also described as being wealthy, although in Estate satire he would be branded a commoner. In a way, Chaucer contradicts his description of The miller, seemingly to be portrayed as a dim witted carpenter, he would be one of the more wealthy commoners in the era. Chaucer continues to speak of the church, continuing to portray them in a negative light, with the story of Absalom, The Clerk, Described as a womanizer, Chaucer seems to try and send a message across regarding the church and these various characters, attempting to paint the church in the true light. Chaucer moves away from the church with Nicholas, however his description of him remains ominous, describing him as a user. Chaucer’s main attempt seems to be the contrasting of social groups against one another, providing a comparison of estate satire but showing that the personalities break through with each character, and is the deciding factor of their story, and not the position they hold in society.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Analysing lessons learnt in Lanval and Sir Gawain and Discussion Chaucer Characte

    Quote Originally Posted by HanibalII View Post
    This essay will explore the theme of lessons learnt and how they are the main feature of these poems, and the impact they have on King Arthur, Lanval, Sir Gawain and the other Knights of the Round Table. Demonstrations of courage, loyalty, honour and mercy will be discussed. In both Lanval and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, learning lessons is the key point. Through both poems it is shown how the characters develop as people, and how they maintain the true importance of being Knights of the Round Table. Lanval is a display of Marie De Frances’ distinctive approach to lais and legends. Though Lanval is set in the time of Arthurian legend, the writer breaks from the traditionalist views of literature at this time, describing King Arthur’s court in a fashion that shows malevolence. (Hazel, n.d.)
    Hi HanibalII,

    Since this paragraph is all italicized, I would suggest you write the titles being discussed between quotes ('-') or inverted commas ("-"). Otherwise it's hard to tell where the text ends and the title begins.

    charliedeut
    Please be aware that I'm neither a native English speaker nor a teacher.

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    Default Re: Analysing lessons learnt in Lanval and Sir Gawain and Discussion Chaucer Characte

    [QUOTE=HanibalII;919135]
    This essay will explore the theme of lessons learnt and how they are the main feature of these poems, and the impact they have on King Arthur, Lanval, Sir Gawain and the other Knights of the Round Table. Demonstrations of courage, loyalty, honour and mercy will be discussed. In both Lanval and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, learning lessons is the key point. Through both poems it is shown how the characters develop as people [I'd say "on the personal level" or even "as persons", since you are speaking of their personal, rather than collective, growth], and how they maintain the true importance of being Knights of the Round Table. Lanval is a display of Marie De Frances’ distinctive approach to lais and legends. Though Lanval is set in the time of Arthurian legend, the writer breaks from the traditionalist views of literature at this time, describing King Arthur’s court in a fashion that shows malevolence. (Hazel, n.d.)
    [QUOTE]
    Please be aware that I'm neither a native English speaker nor a teacher.

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    Default Re: Analysing lessons learnt in Lanval and Sir Gawain and Discussion Chaucer Characte

    Quote Originally Posted by HanibalII View Post
    Lanval is often described as a 12th century fairy tale. Fairies, seemingly ethereal beings, play an important role in the story of Lanval. However, they are not the tiny “Tinkerbelle-esque” characters children over the years have grown up enjoying. These fairies are masked in beauty and otherworldly powers, which is a key point in the story, as Lanval is seduced by the fairy queen. Lanval, as a character and a story, describes a chivalric romance. “Its standard plot is that of a quest undertaken by a single knight in order to gain a lady’s favour. It stresses the chivalric ideals of courage, loyalty, honour, mercifulness to an opponent, and elaborate manners.” (Abrams & Harpham, 2012, p.48) Courage, loyalty, honour, forgiveness and courtesy play a large role in Lanval as the story progresses with Lanval completing his quest and learning important lessons regarding these values in the process.

    Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a late 14th century poem, describing the quest of Sir Gawain [no need for italics here, you are speaking of a character, not the title] over the period of a year as he begins to accept his fate at the hands of the Green Knight. It is a poem of unknown origin, with no known author. It has the same [I believe it's better to say "shares some characteristics with"]characteristics as Lanval, following the Chivalric Romance genre of the time. Through the story, Sir Gawain learns unwavering loyalty to his king, and acceptance of his fate, which leads to forgiveness at the hand of the Green Knight. Demonstrating morality at the hand of the Green Knight, and courage shown by Sir Gawain upon ["through" is a better option, I think] his travels to accept what is to befall him, in protection of the King. “I beseech, before all here, that this melee be mine.” (Abrams et al. p169) Sir Gawain steps forward, arrogant in his words thinking no man could withstand such a blow, but also showing courage, when his life is offered in place of King Arthur's, “And the loss of my life would be least of any.” It is this moment that Sir Gawain must accept what is soon to befall him, when he must learn to accept his responsibility as a Knight, in accepting his fate.
    charliedeut
    Please be aware that I'm neither a native English speaker nor a teacher.

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    Default Re: Analysing lessons learnt in Lanval and Sir Gawain and Discussion Chaucer Characte

    Quote Originally Posted by HanibalII View Post
    The key lessons learnt involve [a] few [you could also say "most", since you go on to enumerate five out of seven cardinal sins in the text] of the cardinal sins, which are a key part in [the] Christian beliefs that were dominant in this time frame. Lust is shown by Queen Guinevere when she wishes to take Lanval to her bed. Greed is illustrated by Lanval’s display of joy when he is told that anything he desires will be his. “I shall attend you at your will, all your wishes to fulfill.” (Abrams et al. 2006) Wrath is demonstrated when Lanval replies, in spite, to the Queen’s proposal. Envy is shown by the knights when they talk about Lanval, “they envied him and his handsomeness, his courage, prowess and largesse” (Abrams et al. 2006) Pride is evident when the Queen attacks Lanval’s manhood by implying he is homosexual. These all lead to confrontations of dreadful proportions throughout the story, ranging from the manipulation of King Arthur by Guinevere, to the boastful comments made by Lanval which places him in a dilemma.
    Throughout the story, Lanval learns important lessons through [Having started with "Throughout", maybe you could change this "through" to "thanks to" or "undergoing"] his experiences. Due to the Queen’s proposal and [to her pride being subsequently hurt by Lanval rejecting her proposal]subsequently her pride being hurt when Lanval rejected her proposal, Lanval learned to be faithful both to his King and to his lover, no matter what consequences may befall him due to this, despite the fact that infidelity was a common occurrence at this time. The Knights of the Round Table learn courage and true comradeship when Lanval is accused, and support him during this troubled time. “Pledges brought Lanval on the scene. A hundred of them I could count who would have done their best to see him without trial go scot-free.” (Abrams, et al. 2006) This quote demonstrates the great support between brothers in arms and reflects a change in tone from the earlier illustrated envy and malice.

    Sir Gawain and Lanval learn important “Life Lessons” throughout the story, which seem to be the main principle theme. During their respective quests they must show courage in the face of oncoming doom that seems to befall them due to their responsibilities or arrogance, both accepting what may or may not come to pass, with Lanval accepting that his lover may not return to rescue him, “Should he be killed, He’d bear it gladly” (Abrams, et al. 2006), and Sir Gawain accepting his fate at the hands of the Green Knight. These displays of receiving one’s own demise shows that they have learnt [that] they cannot escape what they have brought upon themselves, either through arrogance or cowardice, [and that] one must always acknowledge and accept one's mistakes. This illustrates that the principal theme of this story is to teach how to accept what you have done, and accept what cannot be changed.
    charliedeut
    Please be aware that I'm neither a native English speaker nor a teacher.

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    HanibalII is offline Member
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    Default Re: Analysing lessons learnt in Lanval and Sir Gawain and Discussion Chaucer Characte

    That's fantastic thanks!


    What did you think of the over all structure? Apart from a few better selected words?

    Do you think the conclusion was an adequate wrap up? (The conclusion is where I got marked down the most)

    I'll be doing a similar essay again soon, as a comparative essay between the differences of the first Harry Potter movie and book, and have no wish to re-do those mistakes.

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    Default Re: Analysing lessons learnt in Lanval and Sir Gawain and Discussion Chaucer Characte

    Hi,

    Unfortunately, I have not read Lanval, so I cannot say whether your conclusion is right. I take it for granted, though, since that part, you say, is the one which was best consider by your professor. As for Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, I read it some time ago (at university as well), and my memory fails me for the details. As a whole, and considering only the basic traits i remember from it, I'd say you're right.

    charliedeut

    PS: By the way, in the last paragraph, I realized you say "which seem to be the main principle theme." IMO, it shoud be either "the main theme" or "the principal theme" (unless you are speaking of principle, of course).
    Please be aware that I'm neither a native English speaker nor a teacher.

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