Literary Notes on Ballads

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Literature 3rd lecture
“Ballad”

The characters in the epic according to Aristotle should be consistence. The ballad is the second kind of the narrative verse. (The 1st is the epic).

2 examples were discussed 1st example is an old one in the medieval ages (Sir Patrick Spence) 2nd in the 20th century (Ballad of the Landlord)

What is the ballad? “Definition”
It is a poem but it should be written in verse, it’s meant to be sung, even if it’s a tragedy. For example, in Ireland it is still sang in pops even if it’s tragic. The theme can be about love, friendship, hatred, loyalty, honor, and sometimes you can find supernatural or many different themes, it is a popular story about everyday life. The 1st example Sir Patrick Spence (S.P.) is very tragic.

The 2nd example it is tragic when we think of the human situation and state in the 20th century specifically when we think of minorities such as the black minority in America.

Characteristics of the ballad:
1. Narrative poem written in verse.
2. Simple language and plot, tells a story
3. The ballad often has refrain (repetition of two lines sometimes 3 lines) because a) To emphasize sometimes the main idea, characters or the main theme. b) The ballad usually sang by one assisted by a chores.

4. It uses concise dialogue (dramatic from drama)
5. It uses the 3rd person objective narration, because it doesn’t tell the experience of the narrator it tells a story. The narrator wants to be objective not subjective, he distances himself from the events so that he doesn’t show any emotions towards anybody in the story. Sometimes the narrator is the man himself just like the second example, so when the narrator is involved he cannot be objective because he is part of the story and he is showing emotion when he uses ( I ) the first person singular. 6. Traditional ballad stanza is quatrain (4 verses). The rhythm is usually iambic (when we are talking about iambic we are usually talking about stressed and unstressed) 7. Style is simple that’s why we don’t find so many images, metaphor or simile so it could be understood by everyone, and everyone can relate to it because it is popular.

* When we say that these characteristics are the characteristics of the ballad we don’t mean that every single ballad must have these characteristics, these are the general rules and there are some others that out side the rules

Ballad|
Oral| Written|
1. Writer usually unknown. 2. There is more that one version because of the number of tellers especially if it was old. 3. Simple because it is meant to be sung. | Writer known| | Primary| Secondary|

| Simple, and easily handled because it is from everyday life.| Complex and intricate theme and style.Not easily handled. Written by highly literary people.|

* What is the difference between simple and complex plot?
Complex has subplots that are related to the main plot. Also it doesn’t necessarily starts from the beginning it could start in the middle or at the end. The characters are complex also, they are round dynamic characters they are not static. In the simple plot the characters are flat and static they do not actually developed, they follow straightforward line. The plot is linear not cyclic it goes from one event to next event and next event. If the plot is simple the characters are simple too, we cannot have simple plot with complex characters. So, all characters in ballads are simple.

* Analyzing the 1st seven stanzas from Sir Patrick Spence: In the reign of Alexander III of Scotland, his daughter Margaret was escorted by a large party of nobles to Norway for her marriage to King Eric; on the return journey many of them were drowned. Twenty years later, after Alexander's death, his granddaughter Margaret, the Maid of Norway, was heiress to the Scottish throne, and on the voyage to Scotland she died. The ballad; which exists in several...
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