Song Of Roland Comparision Essay, Research Paper
The Song of Roland was the first French epic poem to be written down. What is the Song about? Explain the story and compare it (using examples) to two other epic poems or works that are similar
The Song of Roland was the first French epic poem written down around 1100.
It was often said to herald the beginnings of French literature. The Song is associated with medieval romance literature. However, the medieval romances were adventure narratives, not love stories between men and women. In the Song, one will find very little mention of women or of love for that matter. The Song of Roland emphasized the lord and vassal relationship of the Middle Ages. It tells the tale of one knight s loyalty to his king. Besides, the poems showed very clearly about the warrior-based society.
In the Song, Ganelon, who is Roland stepfather, betrayed Roland with the help of the Muslim King. Despite being betrayed by Ganelon, the brave Roland bravely marches forth to face the Muslim knights who come to attack the French troops. Subsequently, Ganelon was suffered trial and execution for his betrayal of Roland. There was a strong religion theme in the story. Charlemagne and his knights display the Cardinal Virtues whereas the Muslims represent the Deadly Sins. Charlemagne s knights fight for the glory for the God while the Muslims fight for material and personal glory. The Christians were good and the Muslim were evil.
In the following paragraphs, I will compare The Song of Roland with another English epic, Beowulf which is an archaic poem written in the times of Anglo-Saxon region in England and the romantic literature Ywain
Comparing The Song of Roland to Beowulf
In early Medieval literary works, father-son type relationships is a key theme early authors used to give their works more depth and meaning. In Beowulf, the relationship between Hrothgar and Beowulf is one in which there is no actual blood father-son tie, but the two characters take on all the characteristics of a real father son relationship. Hrothgar, although Beowulf s senior, has to rely on this new warrior who comes to Heorot to help him rid his kingdom of a great danger which he can not get rid of by himself, and Hrothgar treats him as if he were his own son. In The Song of Roland, Charles relationship with his nephew Roland also takes on the characteristics of a father-son type relationship. In the story, although Charles is the better warrior than Roland, he relies on Roland to watch the rear guard of his army and Roland loses his life while serving his King.
The strong father-son relationship in Beowulf showed how the people of that time felt. The comitatus of the Scandinavian kingdoms of the time Beowulf was written emphasized family and clan above all else. By having the Hrothgar-Beowulf relationship act out in a certain way, it showed that what the comitatus system was like. The political and economic ideas of the time are also commented on through this relationship. The gift giving of Hrothgar and Beowulf showed what the essence of the comitatus was and how services were rewarded and great deeds applauded. The entire relationship between Hrothgar and Beowulf was the prime example of the comitatus, and the author was clearly trying to stress that when writing Beowulf.
The Song of Roland also clearly commenting the society of the time by using the father-son relationship as a model. Roland s complete faith to his lord and King Charles gives the impression of how loyal subjects should be to their lord. When deciding if they should trust the Muslim and talked with them Roland warned “Nevermore trust Marsile!” (The Song of Roland, sect. 14) Later the paternal instincts and wisdom of Charles was showed when Roland and other members of the twelve offers to speak to the Saracen Marsile. Roland stated “That shall you not!” (The Song of Roland, sect. 18), showing how much he valued his closest warriors, almost like it was a family, again showing how the feudal system was a two-way relationship. Roland s willingness to face anything that his King wishes also goes to comment on the social characteristics of the day and what was expected from the code of chivalry. The final revenge theory is also something that is interesting to look at. Charles sadness and anger at the death of Roland sparks his energy, and makes him take the war up as a revenge for Roland and the others. The emphasis on revenging Roland is also representational of Medieval society. If a family member was killed, it was expected that a fellow family member would revenge them. The father-son relationships portrayed clearly here and give an emphasis on the values of the society in which the two writers are writing in.
The significance of the father-son relationship in these two works were essential in both works development. Through the relationship we can get a window on the past and realized that wthe societies that are written about. Also, we can get a sense of their social, political, and economic customs. Clearly both authors use this great technique to give their stories more depth and meaning, and by doing so Beowulf and The Song of Roland are not only considered great literary works of their respective periods because of the stories they tell, but also because of the valuable information they give the reader on the society in which they take place.
Comparision between The Song of Roland and Ywain
When comparing the epic poem of The Song of Roland to the romantic literature of Ywain, the differences between the early medieval period and the high medieval period become evident. Both The Song of Roland and Ywain depicts the societies from which each story derives its fundamental characteristics. One major change is the romantic love. In Roland days, romantic literatures were the loyalty and friendship between king and his fellows, and the friendship between man-man warriors. However, in Ywain days, the romantic loves were flourishes in that high medieval period. It is clearly show when compared The Song of Roland to Ywain
In the early medieval period , loyalty and love play a definitive role. It is important to give these love to one’s friends and lord but the romantic love between man and woman is not significant here. In The Song of Roland , Roland captures the strength of love and loyalty in many ways. For examples, the loyalty between Charles and Roland. Also, through the strong friendship between Roland and Oliver, we can realized the love-bond between men of the period. Both Roland and Oliver hold their companion dear to heart. In fact, the thoughts of battle-mates within Roland hold greater store than that of the female companion at home. When Roland died, he had no thought for his betrothed and his betroth died straightway on hearing of his death. The man-woman love between such close companions was ignored. And it is quite different from the high medieval period which man-woman love become significant. From here, it clearly showed that the love between man and woman are not important in early medieval period.
In Ywain period, the story depends heavily on women. Throughout the work, it is a woman that defines the movements in Ywain’s life. While men still held the greater power, women were no longer completely excluded. Also, love, in particular, takes on new meaning. It takes on the veil of romantic love, the one found between man and woman. This love, which had no place in Roland’s day, flourishes in the high medieval period. Displayed as an ultimate goal, it is in the hands of a lady to make that love attainable. Love acquires the persona of woman. As the writer states “Love ought to conduct herself thus because she is a high-born creature and it is a marvel how she would dare to descend so shamefully into vile places.” At the same time, it becomes a prison to men snared by its traps. Ywain, caught in love’s chains and tormented by it, has no choice but to accept love. Throughout the book, love haunts him. Always, it is always within site, but just beyond his reach. Like Ywain, the society begins to see love as a goal. Romantic love becomes significant in that period.
In comparing The Song of Roland to Ywain, the society for which each derives its story becomes clear. Love in Roland s time was basically on man-man friendships and loyalty to their king. However, in Ywain s time, romantic love between man and woman become significant and women start play an more important role in the society than the past.