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British Literature Final Exam Essay: Macbeth Vs. Sir Gawain And The Green Knight

866 words - 4 pages

There have been thousands of British Literature books, stories, epics, and poems written throughout history. All of the stories are unique, much like their authors, and even their surrounding history. Macbeth is a tragedy written by William Shakespeare in 1604; Sir Gawain and the Green Knight was written in the 1300’s by an unknown author. The following essay is going to compare and contrast the two stories mentioned above based on historical setting, cultural context, literary styles, and the aesthetic principles of the period in which they were written.
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight were written in the late 14th century (1300’s) in Northwestern England. During this time, King Arthur was in reign. The story imitates ideology of English Chivalry and how chivalry works in the knighthood, as well as King Arthur’s court. Macbeth was written nearly after King James of Scotland took the English throne. The English didn’t know much about the Scottish, which brought them into the limelight. During his reign, there was a large amount of political and religious conflict, and the danger of the possible regicide. This historical background could have inspired Shakespeare while writing Macbeth, seeing that the story does contain what seems to be regicide. Although both pieces are somewhat political in nature, they were not intended to change the views of their readers, but to express their own thoughts and opinions on the matter.
In Sir Gawain, the concept of chivalry originates from the Christian concept of morality, and the advocates of chivalry in the quest to encourage spiritual beliefs in a lacking world. Christian ideals play a large part throughout the story. The characters in Macbeth seem to focus more on competition within the community rather than focus on a fixed deity. In Sir Gawain, the main character, (Sir Gawain), goes on a journey to find the Green Knight, and in the process, he learns more about nature and life. The poem really emphasizes nature, a person’s duty to their land, and how all of these things characterize everyday life. In Macbeth, the characters are in competition as to who is more worthy, as well as huge gender power/control problems. During the time of both pieces, it was not common for women to have more control than men. Mostly problems stemmed from troubles within one, as well as spiritual indifferences.
Sir Gawain is written in an English dialect called North West Midland, similar to Welsh and Anglo-Saxon dialects. The literary style of the...

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