Early British Literature


subject is British literature assignment instruction: Who is a hero according to Campbell’s definition? Beowulf for sure. But what about Gawain and any character from Shakespeare? Why has the classic notion of hero changed? Why, especially in a novel, is it difficult to attribute the classic qualities of a hero to any one character? In thinking of the “hero” you want to consider the notion of character – that’s philosophical as well as psychological. There are two handouts on character analysis. You should also look at the handout called Group Questions in the General Handouts module – there are useful cultural theories in there that could generate ideas for writing.

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Your first assignment will be a reading of the epic Beowulf, the Romance Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and Shakespeare’s play The Merchant of Venice. While plot devices are important to grasp, you might want to spend more time focusing on character needs, motives, and desires. You will notice a big difference in the characterization of people across all three works, and much of this has something to do with literary trends and development. For example, if you were to write about the consciousness of Beowulf, you’d be hard pressed. However, you could certainly write about the consciousness of Portia, from the play, more easily. The first writing assignment will compare/contrast three characters from these works. You could focus on one character more than the others, but demonstrate that you have a good understanding of the meaning and significance of the works.

Essay should * COMPARE/CONTRAST. 3 characters from “Beowulf”, “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight”, and” the Merchant of Venice “. Develop a theme based controlling idea (thesis). Do not list traits (do not summarize plots) – find a thematic idea that brings together (forms the basis of a cp./ct. for) 3 different characters. Use Norton Introductions for backgrounds – but only to elucidate your controlling idea: do not summarize background texts. Demonstrate knowledge of literary devices. You may focus on one character, but demonstrate that you have read and have full understanding of all three texts by pulling in two other characters for the comparison and contrast

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