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Epics In Early British Literature

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Epics in Early British Literature

Early British literature contains some of the most read pieces of literature in history. From Beowulf to Paradise Lost to The Rape of the Lock each work fits into a time in history and literature that is distinctly different yet the same. Each work fits loosely or tightly into the conventions of epic type poetry. The epic conventions of poetry have distinct characteristics and conventions. Characteristics of epic pieces of literature range from style and setting to description of the hero and their actions, even supernatural forces can make appearances in epics.

The setting is generally vast and can cover nations, the world or even the universe in its scope. Beowulf takes place in Geatland and Denmark along with discussing Beowulf's past travels. Paradise Lost goes takes Beowulf's two main locations and adds heaven, hell, earth, and the cosmos. The Rape of the Lock though talks about a very small place, that being a king's court.

The style generally has the poet being objective and there epic is sustained at an elevated level. With both Beowulf and The Rape of the Lock the writer remains objective and maintains either a level of majesty or satirical within their writing. In Paradise Lost, however, Milton clearly is not objective and clear favoritism is noticeable. Milton, though blind when he wrote this was clearly able to maintain stories level and motifs along with weaving in symbolism.

The hero or main character is usually of daunting stature, of national importance and has a historical or mythical significance. His actions or deeds often required extraordinary courage or great valor. Beowulf is named after the main character or hero. Beowulf fits into the definition of the hero in that he is described as a man of imposing stature. He is the prince and later on the king of Geatland. Beowulf is also a man of great deeds, which have brought him historical significance due to these great deeds.

Paradise Lost's hero could be several characters. Satan could be considered for his the deeds he undertakes. Adam and Eve could also be the moral heroes because they help to begin humankind's slow process of redemption and salvation. Satan appears to be the character that fits the best into the conventions of an epic hero. Satan has a daunting stature, he is important because he has fallen from God's grace and trying to continue war with God and he is historically significant because he persuades Eve into eating from the Tree of Knowledge. Adam and Eve on the other hand could also be the heroes because they are important due to being the first man



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