The poem was written in ancient period and it highly reflects the value and beliefs in the ancient period. The poem starts by Priest of Zeus and his followers appearing to the King Oedipus with tree branches woolen wrapped. This shows cultural belief of appearing before the god’s alter when you want your needs attended to by the goods. The priests talks on behalf of his followers and explains to the king about the outbreak of a plague in the society that is killing plants, animals and human as well.
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However, King Oedipus heard them and explained to them that he had sent his brother in law, Creon, to the oracle which belonged to god Appolo at Delhi so as to get answer for to the solution of the plague. Afterwards Creon arrived and since he was bringing good news he had worn laurel leaves with berries around his head. Appolo said that plague was to end after the killer of Laius is found and killed and Appolo had promised that serious investigations would reveal the murderer.
However, this was bad news for the king. Ironically, asked to review the facts. All that was known at the time was the Laius had left for Delphi never to return. There was to be no investigation immediately because of the sphinx problem. There is one of Laius’s men who escaped and ran back to Thebes and on arriving he found Oedipus in the process of being hailed as a king. This made him to keep the secret with him since the killing Oedipus was the master planner for the killing. The witness just said that Laius was killed by robbers who attacked his chariot along the way. The witness because of fear for his life asked for a transfer from Thebes and he went away ever since.
However, ordinary people because of desperation said that Apollo ought to come to Thebes and say who the killers were. This is because people never had faith on the investigations of their king and thought that only a foreigner who is powerful than their king who could bring justice to their land. Oedipus to his defense told them that nobody has power to tell gods to do what they do not want to.
Later, they suggested that they bring Teiresias who was a blind psychic to carry out the investigations. He was believed that when he was a young man, he ran to magic snakes which changed his gender for seven years and this was to enable him tell which gender enjoyed sex more compared to the other. This was said to have been a secret only known by gods who ended up punishing him with permanent blindness. This explains how people believed in superstitious powers and feared their anger actions. (Lawall,45)
In conclusion the poem about Oedipus the king has a thematic meaning that reflects culture and beliefs of the ancient period. First, the ancient period is seen as the era of psyches and superstitious powers. The society believed in prophesies form gods regardless of their morality status and their realization is seen as to never tarnishing someone’s reputation. In the poem Oedipus feels guilty for his deeds but to the society this has been prophesied that that could have granted him self-defense. Second, the kingdom was dictatorial and highly immune to justice. Poet says that society was turning a blind eye to the faults of the king.
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
The poem on Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is romance poem which was written in the middle Ages in late 14th century. This poem represents values and beliefs of middle ages in a big way. The poem illustrates the role of a man in the society. A man was to perform certain things, have a particular look, and act in a particular fashion. Some of behaviors which demonstrated masculinity included battle, sexual activity and pleasing ladies with deeds and words. These demonstrations appeared somehow as Christianized shadows of Gallo-Celtic ideals of heroism and godhood. In the poem Christianity stands strongly against heroic ideals and poet describes its passage in the period.
In the testing Fits, the third Fit illustrates how Gawain gets involved in a game with Lord Bertilak who was the castles lord in which stayed awaiting the confrontation between him and the Green knight. They traded for three days he stayed inside the castle, what they gained during the day. He did not realize, though, that that the game was a part of Green Knight’s tests against him. The first two days, the game proceeded well, with Bertilak being the meat deliverer, and Gawain delivering the kisses Lady Bertilak bestowed upon him faithfully.
In the third day, Gawain was trading the Lady’s kisses for Bertilak’s fox meat, but not girdle she had earlier given him, because he had vowed to her that he would not. This happened to be Gawain’s only mistake, as we see in the Fourth Fitt. Which concludes his trials when he faced off against the green knight for what he was thinking was the second time, but later discovered it was the third. In Gawain’s meetings with Green Knight, it is noted that two of the three trials were also the three part trials unto them.
These were the three nights which were in the castle, and the three blows with an axe at the end. The sets of the three were considered to be magical in nearly every culture of the world, because they usually were the representatives of a basic family unit. However it was strange that there were to be only two sets of the three sub-trials instead of three, which required that I might have missed something in the first fitt, but I could not have found even a hint that trial of beheading the Green Knight had three divisional parts.
In the last trial, Green Knight swung for three times at Gawain’s neck and finally nicking him during the third swipe. By having given the three blows, Green Knight revealed that he was Bertilak, and explained to Gawain that each blow was representing every night spent in the castle. Gawain’s only mistake was not that of mentioning the girdle to Bertilak, for which he had been nicked with the axe. Gawain would not accept that he had passed the three tests, and that, in Bertilak’s eyes, was even a further proof that he had passed. Gawain’s perfect honesty and humility rendered him worthy to receiving wisdom that Bertilak had to offer.
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Nature verses the human society appears as the main conflict in the poem by which Gawain had to deal with during his time. He was had to confront the forces of nature which were against him. These natural forces were in the form of Green Knight, sexual desires, winter landscape, and ultimately, fear of dying. Throughout his life Gawain countered this with faith in God and chivalric values he had. But in the end, fear of death he has overcomes his senses of morality and led him to accepting that green girdle.
This poem is enriched with constructs descriptions of human, like architecture, food armor, clothing and the cutting of hunted deer. This implies that there was a ritualistic, overly technical in-depth sense to those descriptions. There are areas where poet seems to be hinting at power of those human constructs. For instance, concept of Courtly Love is one such an elaborate of human construction, but in the third fitt, it is based mainly on the conversation between Gawain and Lady Bertilak.
Despite the poems Christian message, it has strong roots to the Celtic myth of paganism. There exist many elements that are common to pre-Christian Celtic mythology; such include the waiting the period which runs for twelve months and a one day, beheading, and temptation game. The Green Knight is himself seen to be a strong pagan, similar to Green Man or Wood’s Wild Man who symbolized fertility in folklore. Gawain’s journey cannot be seen as a hero’s archetypical encounter with the otherworld, which is an essential theme in paganism belief. The pentangle is a pagan symbol; thus Gawain’s shield, represents pagan and Christian nature of the poem. (Mills,56)
In conclusion, thematic meaning of the poem mainly describes the fall of men and loss of innocence. This shows how leaders in the middle age period faced many challenges most of whom lied under human character. Biblical parallels are found in the turning up of Bertilak’s castle and role of his wife as a temptress. Accordingly, Gawain lost moral innocence when his chivalric value system is shattered off by the end of poem. An allegory as such seems to be emphasizing more on the poet’s message of Christianity, and relationship between the divine and mankind.
The Paradise lost
The poem was written in 16th century. It is about Adam and his wife Eve- how they were created by God, given the Garden of Eden, the Paradise, and how they lost it. The poet, Milton, is seen to have taken the story from the bible in the book of Genesis and expanded on the same. The poem also has the story about the origin of Satan who was originally called Lucifer. Lucifer is seen as an angel in heaven who tries to lead his followers against God and is sent into hell. He plans a revenge attack against God and thirst for revenge made him to cause man’s downfall by tempting the wife of Adam. He turned into a serpent and tempted eve to eat the forbidden fruit which angered God and made him through man away from the paradise.
The poem starts in hell, here Satan and his angles are recovering from a tragedy defeated they conceded in away they had waged against God. They opted to build a paradise which would serve as a meeting place as they plan to return to the battle. Instead they decided to go to a new world which is said to have been created. This reflects the nature of human in architectural development and innovation since Satan and his angels were eager to go and explore the new world said to have been created.
Satan goes to explore the new world. At the exit door of hell is met by Sin and Death who restricts his exit. He uses another tough journey through chaos until he gets into new world. God sees his approach sand foretells the failure of man. His son offers to sacrifice himself for the salvation of man. This reflects the belief of the people of this period where they believed that God’s son offered to sacrifice himself for the salvation of man. Adam and his wife fell into Satan’s temptations and God sent them away from the Paradise. (Bradford,78)
In conclusion, the poet was trying to explain the origin of man’s failure to the people of the Renaissance period. This is the period in which art, architectural work and landscaping had started taking course in the world. The poem shoes God as the first creator or builder of objects where Satan told followers that there is anew world which has been created and poet views the world as the den of sins since it is where Satan carried out revenge attack against God.
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