What were the main characteristics of courtly love and where can be found them in English literature? 

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morningvictoria | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

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Courtly love denotes a kind of courting behaviour which was common in the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance in Europe.  It typically features a love-sick male who yearns after a female.  This male may write poetry describing the woman's beauty or perform music for her.  Courtly love was frequently explored in the Literature of the time.  Shakespeare's Romeo is perhaps one of the most famous examples.  We witness him forlorn with love for Rosaline at the start of Romeo and Juliet.  His early lines ("Ay me! Sad hours seem long.") are indicative of the depressed and rebuffed courtly lover.  

Chaucer also famously satirised courtly love in 'The Miller's Tale' in which a ridiculous character called Absalom is tricked into kissing his lover's bottom.  Sir Thomas Wyatt, an advisor to Henry VIII, also wrote poems exploring the dejected state of a male courtly lover.  'My Lute Awake!' is a clear example in which he gives up on playing his lute because of his frustration that she will not listen, yet his playing has a metaphorical meaning as well.

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