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Sunday, October 14, 2007

Literature-Beowulf vs. Chaucer Matrice



Context 1


Context 2




"Days went by; the boat was on the water,

Moored under the cliff. The warriors, all


Stepped onto the prow-the water streams

Eddied . . .

. . .Foaming at the prow and most like a sea-bird

The boat spec over the waves, urged on by the


"The story of two men who started out

To cross the sea-merchandise no doubt-

But as the winds were contrary they waited."

Sea travel is one of many requirements the text must meet to be considered an epic.

In Beowulf there is a lot of emphasis on the vessel the Geats traveled in while in "The Nun's Priest Tale" the sea traveling took place in a story in a story told by the nun's priest. It is more mentioned and turned out to be a negative aspect to the characters in the story's story's story; it resulted in the sinking of the ship.

Epic Hero

Throughout the entire tale told by the nun's priest Chanticleer is telling his own tales. He tells biblical stories, mentions historical events and even gives Latin quotes. Comparing this to Beowulf who is simply a man who relies on his strength, endurance, and ability in battle. He earns the right to boast through his great unmatched accomplishments in battle, Chaunticleer is brought down by allowing his self to be flattered by false compliments on his voice, which is supposedly the best in all the land.

Epic Villain

"This gruesome creature was called Grendel,

Notorious prowler of the borderland, ranger of

The moors,

The fen and fastness; this cursed creature

Lived in a monster's lair for time

After the Creator had condemned him

As one of the seeds of Cain-the Everlasting


Avenged Abel's murdered . . .

. . .At once that hellish


Grim and greedy, brutally cruel,

Started forward and seized thirty thanes

Even as they slept; and then, gloating

Over his plunder, he hurried from the hall,

Made for his lair with all those warriors"

"Within our yard I saw a kind of beast

A sort of hound that tried or seemed at least

To try and seize me . . . Would have killed me dead!

His colour was a blend of yellow and red,

His ears and tail were tipped with sable fur

Unlike the rest; he was a russet cur.

Small was his snout, his eyes were glowing bright.

It was enough to make one die of fright."

Grendel is described in many ways hellish, he seems to be compared to the devil along with being a descendant of Cain and a carrier of the curse placed on Cain himself. He has the unrivaled strength of thirty men. He is as evil as evil can get.

The fox described in "The Nun's Priest Tale" is a beast, such like any animal. He is described just like a fox, from yellow-red coat to the size of snout. Later, when the fox actually comes into the story, you see his cunning and quick thinking.

Compared to Grendel, who does not speak, but simply relies on his brute strength and size, the fox is sly and cunning. To get what he wants (dinner) he outsmarts Chaunticleer, and then attacks.

Grendels downfall is Beowulf's strength (equal to that of thirty men), the fox loses through Chuaticleer's quick thinking and his own need to mock.




Beowulf, as an epic, is full of OT, and also is interlaced with religious infusion and hidden references to Jesus Christ. One that caught my attention is after Beowulf kills Grendel's mother he returns to land at the 9th hour, the hour Jesus died on the cross.

"The Nun's Priest Tale" has old tradition, as well, but in a different manner. While Beowulf's OT is as if someone is telling the story Chauticleer's story IS being told. It is being told by a priest so while it has the qualities of OT it is also full of RI


All the leaders in Beowulf are greatly respected. From Beowulf to Hrothgar all the men willingly follow them, even when they think they may not live through what they are being led trough. Hrothgar is constantly be called "beloved king", "shepherd of the people", ect. and Beowulf's men willingly stayed with him in Heorot when all thought that they would be dead by morning. The extent of their loyalty and faith is to large to know.

Chaunticleer's 'followers' are his hens and their loyalty is not half of what the Geats have for Beowulf. His wife, Pertelote, told him that he lost her love because he was frightened by a dream.





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