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History and Anthology of English Literature
?

? 英国文学史及作品选读 主讲教师:翟莉

History and Anthology of English Literature

1. Anglo-Saxon Period (449-1066)

The National Epic-- Beowulf
2. The Anglo- Norman period (1066-1350) The Norman Conquest

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Geoffrey Chaucer (1340?-1400)

3. Modern English
1) Renaissance

William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
Francis Bacon (1561-1626)

2) The period of Revolution and Restoration
John Donne(1572?- 1631) John Milton(1608-1674) John Bunyan(1628-1688)

4) The Age of Enlightenment Daniel Defoe (1661-1731) Jonathan Swift (1667-1745)

Joseph Addison (1672-1719)
Henry Fielding (1707-1754) Thomas Gray (1716-1771) Oliver Goldsmith (1728-1774) Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1751-1816) William Blake (1728-1774) Robert Burns (1759-1796)

5) Romanticism in England William Wordsworth (1770-1850) George Gordon, Lord Byron (1788-1824) Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822) John Keats (1795-1821)

Walter Scott (1771-1832)
Jane Austen (1775-1817)

Charles Lamb (1775-1834)

6) The Victorian Age: Critical Realism in England

Charles Dickens (1812-1870)
William Makepeace Thackeray (1811-1863)

George Eliot (1819-1880)
Charlotte & Emily Bronte (1816-1848) Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-1892) Robert & Elizabeth Browning (1812-1889; 1806-1861)

7) Twentieth Century Literature Thomas Hardy

John Galsworthy
Oscar Wilde George Bernard Shaw D. H. Lawrence Virginia Woolf James Joyce

Anglo-Saxon Period (449-1066)
I. Background The British Isles and the European Continent 2.Celts:

the original inhabitants
The major invasions made by
? The Romans in 55
? The English around 449 ? and the Normans in 1066

? Celts --- earliest settlers of the British Isles
branch

in the upper Rhineland

to the British Isles about 600B.C.

name the isles Britain (400 to 300 B.C.) Culture of the Celts: an early stage of the Iron Age Beliefs: little knows Religious ceremonies: May Day

3. The Roman Empire --- from 55 B.C. to 407 A.D.
defeated Celts
London was founded.

Form of society : slave society, but with high level of civilization

The first Roman general: Julius Caesar
The contributions: build temples, roads, walls, military camps;
make little influence on the cultural life of the Celts

Walled towns: a name ending in “chester” or “caster” fort

? 4. The Anglo-Saxons
? Tribes from Northern Europe
? Old English, a branch of the Germanic

language family
? Heathens, worshipped Summer god,

Winter monster, Frost Giants

tribal society The Angles, Saxons, and Jutes ---- about 450 A.D.
master of the British Isles
Settled in England ancestors of the present English people

Drove the Celts into Wales, Scotland and Ireland Germanic tribes
lived by sea fishing a hook

sword hardy fighters

? The Anglo-Saxons brought to brought to England the Germanic language and culture, while the Normans brought a fresh wave of Mediterranean civilization, which includes Greek culture, Roman law, and the Christian religion. ? It is the cultural influences of these two conquests that provided the source for the rise and growth of English literature.

? The period of Old English extends from about 450 to 1066, the year of the Norman conquest of England. ? The Germanic tribes from the Northern Europe brought with them not only the Anglo-Saxon language, the basis of Modern English, but also a specific tradition, which is both bold and strong, mournful and elegiac in spirit.

30,000 lines of Anglo --- Saxon poetry have survived.

epic poetry

religious poems

heroic poems

elegies

the earliest epic poetry in English

Beowulf
the most important poem now preserved

Beowulf
? 1. National epic
? Beowulf is a part of the epic tradition like

Homer’s The Iliad and The Odyssey, and Virgil’s Aeneid. ? It is the national epic of the Anglo-Saxons. ? It is concerned with human values and moral choices. ? The epic poet also functions as a historian, blending past, present, and future in a unique, all-encompassing way.

oral form existed in the 6th Cen.

Beowulf

probably written down in the 8th Cen. the manuscript of poem in the 10th Cen. based on partly historical

3,183 lines

and legendary materials

The first page of the Beowulf manuscript.

? Beowulf describes the exploits of a Scandinavian hero. ? Beowulf is shown not only as a glorious hero but also as a protector of the people. ? Thematically, the poem presents a vivid picture of how the primitive people wage heroic struggles against the hostile forces of natural world under wise and mighty leader.

2. Story Major character: Beowulf ? This poem of 3182 lines describes the deeds of the Teutonic hero Beowulf. ? Hrothgar, the King of the Danes, built a magnificent mead hall, Heorot. ? While the Danes were eating and drinking their fill in this famous hall, Grendel, a monster half- human, came from the moor, burst in upon them, mangled thirty warriors, and then rushed off into the darkness.

? For twelve years this monster harried the warriors whenever they feasted in the hall, until the bravest were afraid to enter it. ? When Beowulf heard of this, he sailed with his warriors to Heorot, and persuaded the Danes to feast with him in the hall. ? After they had fallen asleep there, Grendel burst in the door, seized a warrior, and devoured him in a few mouthfuls.

? Then he grasped Beowulf. ? The hero disdaining to use a sword against the dire monster, grappled with him, and together they wrestled up and down the hall. ? In their mad contest they overturned the tables and made the vast hall tremble as if it were in the throes of an Earthquake.

? Finally Beowulf, with a grip like that of thirty men tore away the arm and shoulder of the monster, who rushed out to the marshes to die. ? The next night a banquet was given in fateful Heorot in honour of the hero. ? After the feast, the warriors slept in the hall, but Beowulf went to the palace. ? He had been gone but a short time, when in rushed Grendel’s mother to avenge the death of her son. ? She seized a warrior, the king’s dearest friend, and carried him away.

? Beowulf followed the bloody trail of Grendel’s mother to the terrible flood. ? Undaunted by the dragons and serpents that made their home within the depths, he grasped a sword and plunged beneath the waves. ? After sinking what seemed to him a day’s space, he saw Grendel’s mother, who came forward to meet him.

? She dragged him into her dwelling, where there was no water, and the fight began. ? The issue was for a time doubful, but at last Beowulf ran her through with a gigantic sword, and she fell dead upon the floor of her dwelling. ? A little distance away, he saw the dead body of Grendel.

? The hero cut off the heads of the monster and his mother and hastened away to Hrothgar’s cout. ? After receiving much praise and many presents, Beowulf sailed homeward with his warriors, where he ruled as king for fifty years.

? The closing part of the poem tells now one of Beowulf’s subjects stole some of the treasure which is a firedrake had for three hundred years been guarding in a cavern. ? The enraged monster with his fiery breath laid waste the land. ? Beowulf sought the dragon in his cavern and after terrible fight slew the monster, but was mortally wounded, and died after seeing in the cavern the heaps of treasure which he had won for his people.

? The dying hero was glad to learn that by his death he has gained more wealth for his people. ? He instructed Wiglaf, who was to succeed him, how to bury his body and how to rule the country after his death. ? His last words were full of care for the future of his land.

? According to Beowulf’s last will, the people of Jutland built a large bonfire on a headland which stretched far into the sea and cremated the hero’s body. ? Then they laid all the treasures from the dragon’s cave with Beowulf’s ashes to show that the gold could in no way compensate their great loss, and buried them under a tremendous mound.

? They piled the earth and stones so high that, in accordance with Beowulf’s will, the mound there after became a beacon for the seafarers who sailed alone the coast. ? Thus, even after his death, Beowulf continued to serve the people.

3. The structure
The poem can be divided into 3 parts:
The fight against Grendel The fight against Grendel's mother The fight against the Dragon

4. Major Themes (1) Goodness conquers evil. (Beowulf stands for all that is good, brave and proper, while the monsters stand for evil.)

(2) Men against nature (The poem presents a vivid picture of how the primitive people wage heroic struggles against the hostile forces of the natural world under a wise and mighty leader.)

(3) Judge the greatness of a human being by

the greatness of his deeds and his noble
ancestry. (4) Help thy neighbor. (Beowulf risks his life to help a neighbor, King Hrothgar, in trouble.)

(5)

Forces

of

darkness—

irrational,

menacing— are always at work in society.

Beowulf is the product of a primitive, tribal society on the continent. It reflected the features of the tribal society of ancient times.

Mourning their dead champion, the people composed a dirge:
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? Of men was the mildest and most loved, To his kin the kindest, keenest for praise. Then the Goth’s people reared a mighty pile With shields and armour hung, as he had asked, And in the midst the warriors laid their lord, Lamenting. Then the warriors on the mount Kindled a mighty bale fire; the smoke rose Black from the Swedish pine, the sound of flame.

? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?

Mingled with sound of weeping; while smoke Spreads over heaven. Then upon the hill High, broad, and to be seen far out at sea. In ten days they had built and walled in it As wise thought most worthy; placed in it Rings, jewels, other treasures from the hoard. They left the riches, golden joy of earls, In dust, for earth to hold; where yet it lies,

? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?

Useless as ever. Then about the mound The warriors rode, and raised a mourful song For their dead king; exalt his brave deeds, Holding it fit men honour their liege lord, Praise him and love him when his soul is fled. Thus the Geat’s people, sharers of his hearth, Mourned their chief’s fall, praise him of kings, of men The mildest and the kindest, and to all His people gentlest, yearning for their praise.

? 5. The influence of Christianity
? Beowulf was originally composed by the pagans. ? It was later written down by a Christian. ? Thus, it was a pagan epic adapted to the feelings of a Christian world.

? 7. Character analysis ? Beowulf ? Grendel

8. The Significance
? The chief significance of the epic lies in the vivid portrayal of a great national hero, strong and courageous and selfless and ever helpful to his people and his kinsfolk. high spiritual qualities resolution to serve the country and kinsfolk true courage courteous conduct

love of honour

Characteristics:
Beowulf is strong, courageous, selfless, ready to risk his life.

9. Artistic features \ technical structure

caesura
alliteration kenning
repetition and variation

caesura
every line consists of two clearly separated half lines between which is a pause, called caesura
Grendel stalking; God’s brand was on him. …… the gold-hall of men, the mead-drinking place nailed with gold plates. That was not the first visit

Alliteration
? It is a form of initial rhyme, or head rhyme. ? It is the repetition of the same sound or sounds at the beginning of two or more words that are next to or close to each other.
He came on under the clouds, clearly saw at last Rage-inflamed, wreckage-bent, be ripped open

Kenning
a figurative language in order to add beauty to ordinary objects. It is a metaphor usually composed of two words, which becomes the formula for a special object. Helmet bearer___ warrior Swan road___ the sea

The world candle___ the sun

Questions:
1. From ‘The Song of Beowulf’, what do you know about the Anglo-Saxons? What the virtues did they admire in men? 2. Tell in your own words the general qualities of AngloSaxon poetry?

3. What appeals to you most in the poem? Why is it worthy to be remembered?
4. Does the poem teach any moral lesson? Explain the Christian elements in this pagan epic.


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