How can I write a 600-word essay comparing the character of Sir Ralph the Rover to that of the Abbot of Aberbrothok?

Expert Answers
thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In this assignment, you are being asked to write a "compare and contrast" essay. This means that your instructor is asking you to view the poem analytically rather than simply summarizing the poem. To do this, you want to look for specific characteristics to compare and contrast as the basis for organizing your poem. You should also mention that these are, as is common in ballads and folk tales, essentially flat characters. You might want to structure your essay as follows:

  • Introduction: Give a very short overview of the poem's basic narrative and the role of the two characters, the Abbot as the one who placed the bell and Sir Ralph as a pirate.
  • Social Class: The Abbot is the leader of a monastery and presumably of a relatively high social class. The title "Sir Ralph" suggests that Sir Ralph was a member of the gentry by birth.
  • Religion: The Abbot is a monk, dedicated to his religion, who has renounced worldly rewards for spiritual ones. Both Sir Ralph and the Abbot believe in the truth of Christianity, as does the narrator of the poem, but Sir Ralph acts out of desire for personal gain while the Abbot follows the precepts of his religion.
  • Moral Character: Sir Ralph is evil and the Abbot good.
  • Fate: Sir Ralph dies and is condemned to Hell at the end of the poem, while we presume the Abbot continues to live and do good works and will eventually be rewarded with a place in Heaven.