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How does western literature deals with the concept of death till about 1700 A.D?I...
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High School Teacher
Medieval literature dealt with the topic of death in three (not entirely consistent) ways. First, Death was seen as the inevitable consequence of Adam's fall: a curse passed to all men through the taint of original sin. As consequent to this idea, life was seen as a temporary travail through which humans passed on the way to the eternal home of heaven. Hrothgar reminds Beowulf that life is a gift from God and that the body is simply loaned.
On the other hand, death was sometimes seen as the inscrutable working of fate, especially in older works like Beowulf, in which the hero recognizes that fate (wyrd) binds all men and that it is useless to attempt to avoid it.
Often, we see medieval writers treat death as a paradox: a grievous punishment for sin, and yet a glorious hope for eternal life. This is the image of death in such poems as the Middle English "Pearl" and in Sir Gawain's acceptance of death as the consequence of his adherence to the chivalric code.
Posted by sbrownfi on September 6, 2011 at 10:45 AM (Answer #1)
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