Old english literature essays

Essay on The Anglo-saxon Literature

See Article History. Read More on This Topic. The Angles, Saxons, and Jutes who invaded Britain in the 5th and 6th centuries brought with them the common Germanic metre; but of their…. Learn More in these related Britannica articles:. The Angles, Saxons, and Jutes who invaded Britain in the 5th and 6th centuries brought with them the common Germanic metre; but of their earliest oral poetry, probably used for panegyric, magic, and short narrative, little or none survives. For nearly….

Strong-stress metre was normative to Old English and Old Germanic heroic poetry, as well as to Old English lyric poetry. With the rising influence of French literature in the 12th and 13th centuries, rhyme replaced alliteration and stanzaic forms replaced the four-stress lines.

Old and Middle English Literature Paper

But the strong-stress rhythm persisted; it can…. The result was that as the two communities strove to communicate with each other, the inflexions became blurred and eventually disappeared. The grammatical information that they signaled had to be expressed using different resources, and so the nature of the English language began to change. New reliance was put on the order of words and on the meanings of little grammatical words like to, with, in, over , and around.

Old English Literature : R. M. Liuzza :

The Anglo-Saxons used a runic alphabet , the kind of writing J. Tolkien recreated for The Lord of the Rings , and one more suitable for stone inscriptions than shopping lists. It took the arrival of Christianity to spread literacy and to produce the letters of an alphabet which, with a very few differences, is still in use today. Quercus, The rules for spelling Old English were different from the rules for spelling Modern English, and that accounts for some of the difference.

But there are more substantial changes as well. The three vowels that appeared in the inflectional endings of Old English words were reduced to one in Middle English, and then most inflectional endings disappeared entirely.

Most case distinctions were lost; so were most of the endings added to verbs, even while the verb system became more complex, adding such features as a future tense , a perfect and a pluperfect. While the number of endings was reduced, the order of elements within clauses and sentences became more fixed, so that for example it came to sound archaic and awkward to place an object before the verb, as Old English had frequently done. Baker, Introduction to Old English. Wiley-Blackwell, For instance, in Indo-European culture, the idea of heroes invokes the qualities of a protector or helper.

In Greek, the concept refers to a superhuman or demigod with special capabilities who is put forth to save or aid all humankind or a chosen portion of it.

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However, as Fishwick notes, the concept of hero changes just like everything else. In spite of all the evident disparities on what constituted a hero, it can be put clearly that a hero in early English literature performed outrageous and occasionally superhuman acts.


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He or she was a person of high social caliber, and who people attached a great historical or legendary significance Greenblatt and Abrahams The above portrayal of a hero is slightly distinct from that of a hero in epic literature. Morton notes that epic literature celebrates national life in the heroic age somberly.

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Its heroes are ordinary people engaged in normal activities of ordinary life. They are leaders, not through class position, prosperity or birth. Instead, their leadership stems from the perfections of their heart, mind and hands Norton and Company 3.


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In addition, their aims are linked to the practical essentials of life. An epic hero like Beowulf or Judith has traits of bravery, military competence, faithfulness, bigheartedness and respect. The hero in the two works fights because he or she ought to, in order for their people to survive. This is despite the fact that the hero is conscious of the eminent death. The hero does not escape from threats or danger. His or her duty is to protect his life by bravery.

This is because it is via the battle that courage of an epic hero is determined. A number of criticisms have been put forth to whether or not the actions of Judith can be categorized as heroic. This is because in contrast to male warriors in heroic poetry who fight against a brutal enemy.

The Anglo Saxon Era Of Rich History And Reflected Literature

In the case of Judith, the battle takes place on a bed and is against an unconscious man. The truth of the matter is that Judith was in a threatening situation, as she feared that Holofernes could gain conscience any time. Nevertheless, Judith, through her courage, manages to murder him in cold-blood. In the case of Beowulf, his men watch as he fights the dragon.

Old English literature -notes

The characteristics of a chivalric hero are the same as those of an epic hero. These include bravery, military competence, loyalty, bigheartedness and respect. Nevertheless, the concept of loyalty is given prominence. It is a trait of the soul. In addition to these traits, a chivalric hero ought to exhibit self-control, courtesy and respect for women. Winning a battle is not enough.

Just as the case of an epic hero, a chivalric hero is tested through battle. Nevertheless, an epic hero fights when conditions dictate so. The chivalric scarcely fights to protect his or her people. He or she does so in order to preserve a principle or notion. The world of operation of a chivalric hero is a creative idealization. Although the world is referred to in the light of existing things like clothes, occasions, little is done to make the story genuine in the spheres of politics, geography or economy. While an epic is specific to a particular nation and its people, the romance is out of the ordinary.