Early British Literature

Choose one of the essay topics below and write a four to five page essay on it, using the texts to support your argument.  Be sure to have a thesis that you are proving about the text(s). Also be sure to follow the proper MLA format for quoting and citing texts. You need to be sure to quote the original Shakespearean language if you write about Othello.  You can use the translation for The Canterbury Tales.

1) Take any two poem(s) from Renaissance Poetry and closely analyze (them).

2) Taking Aristotles definition of tragedy posted on Blackboard as your touchstone, discuss Othellos status as a tragic hero. You should need to use the sheet on tragedy provided to you to discuss how he is or isnt tragic.  Feel free to focus on the concepts of hamartia, hubris, or some combination of these notions in crafting your answer. One could discuss how Othello is (or isnt) a tragic hero, how recognition and reversal are deployed by the play, or analyze the particular nature of the catharsis (if any) the play achieves in the audience. You will need to look closely at his character, his position in Venetian society, his love for Desdemona, and how his life ends.

3) Analyze the relationship between any of the tales we have read and its teller in The Canterbury Tales. You can also use The Pardoners Tale, which was in the original syllabus, but which we didnt post discussions about. You can discuss how the prologues to the tales give us insight to the tales, intentionally, or unintentionally, revealing the biases and beliefs of the teller.  You will also want to look at the genre of the tale. Information on the genre is found in the learning module on The Canterbury Tales.

4) Paradise Lost, Moll Flanders, and the poetry we have read by Donne and Herbert all consider human beings relationship to God. Discuss what several texts show us about that relationship.

5) Discuss Iagos motivation. What drives him to do what he does? Why does he continually discuss his motivation in soliloquies? Samuel Taylor Coleridge once said that in Iagos soliloquies we see the motive hunting of motiveless malignity. Is he right? You will want to review the lecture on Rene Girard in the learning module.

6) Examine the role of female characters in our readings. Consider them both in terms of their individual natures and personalities and in light of their societys expectations for women.  You might want compare the Wife of Bath and Desdemona. Or look at the similarities between Alisoun in The Millers Tale and Moll in Moll Flanders.

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