• March 30th, 2016

Essay

Paper, Order, or Assignment Requirements

In the second third of our course, we read the entirety of Beowulf and Dante’s Inferno, excerpts from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, Marie de France’s lay of Lanval, and also “Sir Gawaine and the Green Knight”. For our second exam, you will write on these texts individually and in relation to each other. Demonstrate your knowledge of the material through specific reference to the text. Do not go beyond the text we read for the class; in other words, do not use excerpts from Chaucer, Dante or Marie de France which were not included in our book, and do not use additional outside articles or scholarship. You need nothing for this exam beyond our own reading. Instead, spend your time proving that you know the material.
Always remember to have a thesis; back up your argument with specific reference to the text.
This is a “take home” exam and, for that reason, I expect you to proofread, revise, and edit your work before you submit it. Do not force me to grade work which is not your best; neither you nor I will be happy with the results!
All exams are due by 6pm on Thursday the 31st in our D2L dropbox. Use Times New Roman 12 point font, double spaced. Make sure your name and the course number are on the paper.

SHORT ANSWER QUESTIONS
Answer three (3) of the following questions with short essays of 1-2 paragraphs each.
1: Leaving aside the obvious physical fact that he is older and thus not as strong as he once was, to what extent is the Beowulf seen in the dragon episode changed or different from the Beowulf seen in the first two parts of the tale? What factors do you blame for these changes, or for his resistance to change?
2: Analyze Dante’s portrayal of pity in the Inferno. Who displays pity, how is it performed, and what does it accomplish? What, if anything, is Dante the author saying about pity?
3: Outline Marie de France’s use of the technique of inversion, the reversal of expected and traditional tropes and narrative patterns.
4: Are Chaucer’s characters honest or dishonest? That is, are they truth-tellers or are they liars, and what value or worth is ascribed to their honesty or deceitfulness?
5: If “Sir Gawaine and the Green Knight” is a teaching text, a story intended to teach something to the reader, what is it teaching? That is, what is its theme or its point, if it has one, and how is this process of education working or reflected in the text?

SINGLE LONG ESSAY
Select ONE of the following questions and write a complete and thoughtful essay in response, using texts you have NOT already written about in the short answer half of the exam. In other words, if you wrote about Beowulf in question 1 above, do not write about Beowulf again here. If an author has multiple texts in our book (Chaucer’s multiple tales, for example, or Marie de France), you may discuss one of them in the short answer and a different one in this long essay.
Do not write on more than one question!
A: To what extent are the texts we have read in this section of the course “realistic”? Be specific, using multiple authors to illustrate moments of realism in the text. What does this realism accomplish, and how effective is it? Is this realism out of place alongside other more fantastic elements in these stories, or do these authors succeed in integrating realism and fantasy in the same text?
B: Discuss the portrayal of sex and sexuality by at least two of the authors we have read. Can we broadly characterize those authors’ depictions of sexuality in any useful way? Do you see similarities in the way these authors present sexuality, or only difference?
C: Consider the portrayal of fame, and the value of fame, in works by at least two different authors we have read. How important is public fame and, when contrasted to private happiness, is it portrayed as more important, more rewarding, or more valuable? When characters are obliged to choose between public fame and private happiness, what do they choose, and is this choice portrayed as wise or unwise, and what is that saying about fame in general?

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