FOLKLORE AND LITERATURE
The studies of the British culture and therefore understanding of the national character of the English cannot stand apart from the research of its important product – folklore. The folklore and folk customs of England developed over a long chain of centuries. Some ancient customs were passed from Celtic to Germanic generations and further. Invaders and settlers brought with them their own beliefs, which mixed with older traditions. The main reason to uniqueness of British culture lies on the surface: Great Britain is an island populated by the nations that had to develop and go the long way of its history being separated from the rest of the world by water. These very characteristics turned them into very interesting and special people, whose history and culture are one of the richest in the world. British folklore includes traditions, customs, beliefs and systems of values of the mythology of the Anglo-Saxons, Welsh, Scottish and later Normans influence. The main system of values, beliefs and traditions of British nations is mostly reflected in the ballads and fairy tales. Ballads are a fascinating subject of study. These poems are among a group of anonymous songs that were probably created between 1100 and 1700 in Northern England and Scotland, although their origins are still controversial. The anonymous folk ballads were passed along orally from a singer to a singer, from generation to generation, and from one region to another. The medieval or Elizabethan ballads that appear in print later are probably only versions of many oral forms. It uses simple language, an economy of words, dramatic contrasts, epithets, set phrases, and frequently a refrain. Although the subject matter varies considerably, some major classes of the ballad can be distinguished— among them the historical and heroic such as Beowulf, King Arthur songs and Robin Hood cycle. Beowulf is an Old English heroic epic poem of anonymous authorship. Its creation dates to between the 8th and the 11th century. It is long, as there 3183 lines and devoted to brave and strong hero who fought for the good of his people, killing two monsters. The ballad has been adapted a number of times in cinema, on the stage, and in books. Another oldest recorded ballads in the English language are Judas (the 13th century) and Arthurian legends. King Arthur is a legendary British leader of the late 5th and early 6th centuries, who, according to medieval histories and romances, led the defence of Britain against Saxon invaders in the early 6th century. The details of Arthur's story are mainly composed of folklore and literary invention, and his historical existence is debated and disputed by modern historians. There is also the notion of Round Table associated with King Arthur. In Arthurian legend, King Arthur had a round table so that none of his barons, when seated at it, could claim precedence over the others. The literary importance of the Round Table, especially in romances of the 13th century and afterward, lies in the fact that it served to provide the knights of Arthur’s court with a name and a collective personality. The fellowship of the Round Table, in fact, became comparable to, and in many respects the prototype of, the many great orders of chivalry that were founded in Europe during the later Middle Ages. Another ballad printed in the late 15th or early 16th centuries is devoted to “Robyn Hood". Robin Hood (spelled Robyn Hode in older sources) is a heroic outlaw in English folklore, and, according to legend, was also a highly skilled archer, assisted by a group of fellow outlaws known as his “Merry Men”. Traditionally, Robin Hood and his men are depicted wearing Lincoln green clothes and lived in Sherwood forest. Robin Hood became a popular folk figure in the medieval period as the one who was fighting with the unscrupulous sheriff. Robbing the rich he gave everything to the poor. He continues to be widely represented in modern...
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