Beowulf-Canterbury Tale Alagory Comparrison Essay, Research Paper
Allegory is defined as any work of literature in which character, action, or setting represents an abstract idea or moral concept. Many authors use allegory to make their writing more meaningful than what is simply written on the paper. Allegory is a very effective way for a writer to make a point. Allegory is used in Beowulf and The Canterbury Tales to make the stories more meaningful.
There is a lot of allegory in Beowulf. Most of the characters have an allegorical meaning. For example, Wiglaf represents hope, Grendel represents evil, the thief represents greed or sin, and Hrothgar represents unity. There are also allegorical settings in Beowulf, such as the meadhall representing unity and the lake representing evil or hell. The lake is a very obvious example of allegory. The lake is the home of Grendel and Grendel s mother. Those two characters represent the devil; therefore it seems right that their home represents hell. Also, in lines 928-941, talking about the lake.
Over churning water and bloodstained wave.
Then for the Danes was the woe the deeper,
The sorrow sharper for Scylding earls,
When they first caught sight, on the rocky sea-cliff,
Of slaughtered +scher’s severed head.
The water boiled in a bloody swirling
With seething gore as the spearmen gazed.
The trumpet sounded a martial strain;
The shield-troop halted. Their eyes beheld
The swimming forms of strange sea-dragons,
Dim serpent shapes in the watery depths,
Sea-beasts sunning on headland slopes;
Snakelike monsters that oft at sunrise
On evil errands scour the.
This quote is very bluntly using the lake to represent hell. Using the blood and the swirling, boiling water makes the reader think hell. I think that this is a good use of allegory.
The Pardoners Tale, a story from The Canterbury Tales, uses character allegory much like the allegory used in Beowulf. In The Pardoners Tale the old man is used to represent death, the gold represents greed, and the three men represent greed and sinfulness, which is present somewhere in most people. The three men show that they represent greed and sin by trying to take all of the money that they found and also by each one trying to kill the other two so that he could get all of the gold and not have to share it. Lines 179-194 show the greed and sinful thoughts of the youngest of the three men.
The youngest, as he ran towards the town,
Kept turning over, rolling up and down
Within his heart the beauty of those bright
New florins, saying, Lord, to think I might
Have all that treasure to myself alone!
Could there be anyone beneath the throne
Of God so happy as I then should be?
And so the Fiend, our common enemy,
Was given power to put it in his thought
That there was always poison to be bought,
And that with poison he could kill his friends.
To men in such a state the Devil sends
Thoughts of this kind, and has a full permission
To lure them on to sorrow and perdition;
For this young man was utterly content
To kill them both and never to repent.
These lines show how many people think when it comes to large amounts of money. Most people don t carry these thoughts out, but this man does try to. I think that Chaucer has this man actually try to kill the other two because him doing so shows that sometimes greed and sinful thinking can overcome your regular thinking.
The Wife of Bath s Tale is a particularly good example of allegory because it uses the character allegory but also allegory through an action. In this story, a soldier rapes a young girl. The young girl that he rapes is a representation of temptation, and the knight gave into the temptation when he raped her. Anyway, the knight has to go to court for the crime that he committed against the young girl. Instead of being killed, the man is told to find out what women want. Him not being killed, but instead being let free to go find an answer, shows the belief that one bad spot on an apple does not mean that the whole apple has gone bad, or that one moment of weakness does not mean that the person is bad. When the knight comes back with the answer, he has the choice between marrying the old hag, and being loyal to her, or being put to death. He takes her as his wife. It was torture that his wife was so old and ugly. Then, when they finally get married, the old hag turns into a beautiful woman. By him not going back on his word, and marrying the ugly hag, then the hag turning into a beautiful woman, teaches the moral lesson that there are often rewards for doing what is right, even if you really don t want to do it.
Allegory is a very useful literary technique and if it is used properly it is a very good way to teach a lesson. The authors of these stories had very good usage of allegory and it was very effective in making the writing deeper and more meaningful than it is at first glance.