The Middle Ages had many interesting characteristics concerning the literature of that time period. The important literary works “incorporated elements and values drawn from different and conflicting traditions (Patterson 1143). For every opinion, there was another opinion to counter it. Many of the pieces of literature at this time had contradictory ideas in them or had competing interests (Patterson 1144).
The literature of this time shows us that “many people took the central doctrine of Christianity so much for granted that their daily lives seem largely untroubled by the moral and spiritual demands of religion” (Patterson 1144). Another characteristic of the literature was that it alerts us to the “complexities and dilemmas that any faith poses” (Patterson 1144).
The Middle Ages is also called the “age of chivalry” (Patterson 1144). The literature mainly “expresses the values of the most powerful members of society, the aristocracy” (Patterson 1144). The aristocracy achieved their power through “military might” (Patterson 1144). There was also an “explicit code of chivalry” (Patterson 1145). The values were “never entirely consistent with each other” (Patterson 1145). Characters of literature had to choose whether to be a lover or a warrior (Patterson 1145).
The main concerns of the literature were “the demands of religious faith and appropriate use of physical force, and the individual human being working out his or her individual destiny” (Patterson 1145). The literature during this time contributed to a list of vivid characters to the world of literature (Patterson 1145). Writers created unforgettable, complex literary characters to deal with the themes (Patterson 1145).
The Middle Ages contrasted to the Renaissance because the Renaissance’s characters had “greater autonomy and fully realized personalities” (James 1883). The Renaissance’s literature did not judge “human action by right and wrong but by beauty, memorability, and...
Cited: Chaucer, Geoffrey. The Canterbury Tales. The Norton Anthology of Western Literature. 8th ed. Vol. 1. Ed. Sarah Lawall and others. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2006. 1756-69. Print.
James, Heather. “The Renaissance.” The Norton Anthology of Western Literature. 8th ed. Vol. 1. Ed. Sarah Lawall and others. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2006. 1883-90. Print.
Patterson, Lee. “The Middle Ages.” The Norton Anthology of Western Literature. 8th ed. Vol. 1. Ed. Sarah Lawall and others. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2006. 1143-45. Print.
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