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Royal Bastards of Medieval and Renaissance England: A Literary Analysis of Illegitimacy in Le Morte d'Arthur, King Lear, and Game of Thrones

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The relationship between a fictional character and its reader is one built on sympathy. Likable characters who combat personal adversity or who possess culturally acceptable and praised characteristics at the time of the fictional work's publication garner compassion from its

The relationship between a fictional character and its reader is one built on sympathy. Likable characters who combat personal adversity or who possess culturally acceptable and praised characteristics at the time of the fictional work's publication garner compassion from its audience. Does the same kind of reader reaction occur when characters of an unfavorable social status begin to transgress specified cultural attitudes to better themselves? In this paper, I examine the role of three literary characters of illegitimate birth: Mordred in Sir Malory's Le Morte d' Arthur, Edmund in William Shakespeare's King Lear and Jon Snow in George R.R. Martin's A Game of Thrones. I question how negative cultural attitudes at the time of each work's publication affect the way each character conducts himself whether as an agent of assumed social chaos or an autonomous bastard whose actions strive to transcend his undesirable birth rank. Each of these three characters represents specific types of bastards. Both Mordred and Edmund are bastard villains. Mordred's actions are pure unforgiving evil, and his destruction is self-indulgent and justified, to the audience, due to his illegitimate birth. Edmund is more complex, as he emotionally manipulates both the reader and other characters in the play, vacillating between a victimized bastard and a power hungry political player. Jon Snow is least like Mordred and Edmund. He endures the typical Renaissance era social and familial ostracism, and works to separate himself wholly from his illegitimate reputation while subconsciously seeking to prove himself worthy of legitimate respect.

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2014-05

ROB ROY AND THE EXPLORATION OF CULTURAL IDENTITY: THE SOCIOPOLITICAL RELATIONSHIP OF ENGLAND AND SCOTLAND ACCORDING TO SIR WALTER SCOTT

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The interaction between England and Scotland is complicated and continually changing. Scottish writer Sir Walter Scott examines this long-standing relationship through his various writings. Scott conveys a presence that is both acutely aware of the damages enacted upon Scotland by

The interaction between England and Scotland is complicated and continually changing. Scottish writer Sir Walter Scott examines this long-standing relationship through his various writings. Scott conveys a presence that is both acutely aware of the damages enacted upon Scotland by various English political efforts, and sensitive to the delicate relationship that the two regions had begun to form during his lifetime. Through a critical analysis of Scott's novel, Rob Roy, one can see the various strategies Scott used to balance the need to address prior controversies within the relationship, and the petition to move beyond the prior conflict and develop a mutual understanding of each culture. Through this, Scott is able to regenerate a sense of Scottish nationalism for his people, and encourage improved relations within the British Isles.

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2013-05