Pardoners Tale/ Beowulf

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The comprehension of literary history gives us insight into the past, recognition of historical events and corruption written into the works of those who were present. By including societal behaviors, political tensions, and common folklore, authors have indirectly provided the reader with a broader and deeper understanding of the literature, as well as the period in which it was written. Besides insight into society as a whole, literary history has provided future writers with models of poetic device, style and content influencing literary works in todays present. Literary history is a vehicle to understanding the past and plays a major role in its influence on literature up to and including the present day. Knowledge of historical literature gives us insight into the traditions and societal conventions of the time in which the piece was written. One outstanding example comes from Anglo-Saxon times. Beowulf is a literary work which enables a reader to glimpse not only the societal customs but into the savage and seemingly uncontrollable environment of the first century. In the fight between Grendel and Beowulf it appears as though Grendel is represented by the degraded form of human life attempting to gain power through violence, in his attempt to overthrow Hrothgar and take control of Heorot, he is fatally wounded by Beowulf. The Beowulf poet describes Grendel and Beowulf as "Both ..enraged, fury filled, the two who meant to control the hall." (Beowulf 36). The fight over control of the hall, could be seen as a representation of the struggle between good and evil, or perhaps the control of the king, over uncontrollable people. Taking into account the explanation of Grendel, a reader may also reason that the dragon symbolizes a threat from outside the human realm. One notes that the dragon is not given the humanistic qualities of Grendel, he has no kin and appears to have no mortal thoughts. Due to his lack of humanistic characteristics, the reader may...
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