English literature| VWO 6
Literary terms and periods
Old English Period (500-1066)
2) Jutes, Angles, Saxons, Frisians
A lot of Germanic tribes invaded Britain. Germanic tribes like the Jutes, Angles, Saxons,
Frisians. 3) Anglo-Saxon language
The Germanic tribes who settles in Britain spoke a language which we call Old English of
Anglo-Saxon. This language was related to Frisian and Dutch. The people who spoke this
language are the Anglo-Saxons. 4) Beowulf
When poems began to be written done, it was done by Christian people, who introduced
Christian elements into the poems. The most famous example of Old English poetry is
Beowulf, an originally heathen poem, which was written down around 700 ad by Christian
writers. Beowulf is an epic. Beowulf is the oldest epic in any of the Germanic languages.
The major theme of the narrative poem is the good and bad. Beowulf, the epic hero of the
tale, stands for all that is good, brave and proper, while the monsters stand for evil. During
the course of the poem, Beowulf manages to fatally wound Grendel, kill Grendel's mother
and slay the dragon. Unfortunately, the dragon also kills Beowulf, but not before he has
conquered the evil monsters. 5) Epic (heldendicht)
- Heathen (heidens)
- Courage (moed)
- Endurance (uithoudigsvermogen)
- Obedience to leaders (gehoorzaam naar leiders)
- Superstition (bijgeloof)
- Belief in magic and dangerous demons (demonen, duivels)
- In the end of the story the hero dies
- Often alliteration (beginrijm: Liesje leerde lotje lopen langs de lange lindelaan)
6) Alliteration (beginrijm)
‘’Our love shall live, and later life renew.’’ 7) The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (892)
First history book, Beowulf is also written in this book.
It is a chronological record of important events from the beginning of Christianity until the year 1154.
It was started in cathedral cities (Winchester, King Alfred’s capital, Canterbury and Peterborough) in
892. It is an early history of England. In 891 King Alfred ordered that important historical events
should be written down. Four different versions still exists in seven manuscripts. It starts in the time of
the Roman invasions, but they were of little historical interest until the reign of King Alfred, when they
were kept up to date every year. The longest chronicle (geschiedverhaal), the Peterborough Cronicle,
was continued until 1154. Often the entries are long and tell about the war against the Danes
8) Battle of Hastings (1066)
In the battle of Hastings in 1066, King Harold was defeated by William of Normandy. This
conquest (verovering) by a French-speaking duke meant the end of the Old English period
and of the Old English language. Middle English Period (1066-1500)
- The dominance of French culture lasted
A successor to the epic was the romance. The romance tells a
several centuries. They gave England
tale of heroic adventure. It is often about a knight (ridder)
internal peace and stability.
who goes on quests (missie), meets with extraordinary danger
- In 1348 the ‘black death’ was in
England (pest in Engeland).
in order to win the love of a lady.
- 1150: A lot of Old English words are
replaced by French words and you can
The knight is:
now speak of a new language: Middle
- Virtuous (goed)
- A good Christian (epics were heathen)
- Altruistic (denkt eerst aan anderen)
These romances were divided into three matters:
- The matter of Rome: tales of antiquity (de oudheid)
- The matter of France: especially about Charlemagne and his paladins (Karel de Grote)
- The matter of Britain: mainly about king Arthur and his knights of the Round Table,
these are the most famous.
- In the Renaissance the Greek and Roman writers
A lyrical poem that describes the personal emotions
became the examples of writers of that time. Some
or private thoughts of an individual, often the poet
questions of the old Christian truth began to be
himself. The poem consists of 14 lines with a fixed
rhyme scheme. Subjects: mostly love, personal
- Classical culture became the ideal standard and the
old writers and philosophers were widely imitated in
feelings and emotions of the poet.
the Renaissance. The medieval forms of drama, like
mystery plays and morality plays, disappeared and
were replaced by comedies and tragedies.
He failed in acting in plays, so he soon undertook
- What meant is the renewed interest in the cultures
the writing of plays. Not all the plays attributed to
of ancient Greece and Rome. They freed themselves
from the strict guidelines of medieval Christianity.
Shakespeare are undoubtedly and wholly his, but in
The man became central.
most cases the evidence is amply sufficient. His
work bears the unmistakable mark of his genius. It is important to know that his plays are
not novels, but poetic drama. So they are at the same time poems. - First period: comedies characterized by youthful imagination, playful fantasy and exuberant
spirits. The plots are very complicated. (A midsummer night dream, Romeo and Julliet) - Second period: history plays and romantic comedies. (Henry IV, Twelfth Night) Henry IV
shows his interest in the problem of kingship. In Twelfth Night we find the typically
Shakespearean heroine: humorous, witty, generous and great-hearted.
- Third period: bitter ‘comedies’ full of doubt and disillusion, and great tragedies (Julius
Ceasar). In this period he wrote his great tragedies:
- Hamlet: shows an over-sensitive prince breaking down under the heavy task of
revenge which is laid on this young shoulders.
- Macbeth: a brave general is tempted by supernatural evil powers onto a path of
murder and cruelty which ultimately leads to his own destruction
- Fourth period: plays characterized by a mood of serene tenderness (gevoeligheid) and
happy fulfilment (vervulling). In the works is a return to the fantasy of Shakespeare’s early
comedies, but it has more philosophic in them. His last work, the Tempest, shows a perfect
balance of thought, emotion and action. 14) Shakespearean sonnet
These sonnets are written in iambic pentameters with 10 beats per line made of alternating
unstressed and stresses syllables (onbeklemtoonde en beklemtoonde lettergrepen).
The syllables are divided into five pairs called iambs or iambic feet: an iamb is a metrical unit
made up of one unstressed syllable followed by one stressed syllable (een onbeklemde
lettergreep, opgevolgd door een beklemmende lettergreep). An example of an iamb would be: good bye.
A line of iambic pentameter flows like this:
Baboom / baboom / baboom / baboom / baboom Sonnet 18 by William Shakespeare:
‘’Shall I / compare / thee to /a sum / mer's day?
‘’Thou art / more love / ly and / more tem / perate’’ 15) Sonnet 75 by Edmund Spenser see Poems and literature. 16) Sonnet 18 by William Shakespeare see Poems and literature. Neo-Classic Period (c. 1660-1798)
18) The Rape of the Lock by Alexander Pope see literature. 19) Mock-heroic poem
This period was a time of political unrest,
civil war and cultural refinement.
A mock-heroic poem are typically satires that mock
Writers, artists and architects took the
(bespotten) common classical stereotypes of heroes and
examples from classical culture as their
heroic literature. Typically, mock-heroic works either put a
fool in the role of the hero or exaggerate the heroic
It was also a period that saw the rise of
qualities to such a point that they become absurd.
the middle classes and the beginnings
A piece of writing in prose (verhaal) or verse in which people or things are made ridiculous.
Ironic + sarcastic humour are mixed with wit (humour) and criticism to ridicule somebody of