Friday, April 20, 2012

Did Chivalry Work?

That's the premise of my next paper. We're confined to Tolkien's translation of Gawain and the Green Knight, but it's full of usable examples and, I think, cheeky commentary on the chivalric code. I've decided to argue (we can argue for or against the efficaciousness of chivalry) that chivalry did not work. Here are my reasons, which I'm explaining in the hopes that it'll make my paper flow continuously. I will of course be phrasing everything somewhat differently.

#1 They thought chopping off a man's head at Christmastime all in good fun. Death, anyone?

#2 Even those who purportedly followed the chivalric path didn't recognize a chivalric act when it hit them in the face.

#3 Gawain slept-maybe (he at least spent a lot of time kissing her)-with the wife of the lord of the castle who so kindly took him in and gave him the best of care.

#4 Gawain was deceitful and didn't tell the lord that the lady had given him a belt.

#5 This is the most important point: Chivalry didn't prevent violence. I don't really think that was the purpose of chivalry but it is the question we are supposed to answer. The whole episode occurs because of violence.

This weekend I'll be fleshing this out and adding quotations. I have a better shot, I think, of getting an A on this paper than the last one I had to write for this course: Who would win in a pitched battle-Caesar Augustus or Alexander? (Who cares? But I couldn't use that line of course. And in case you were curious I got a B:(

Happy Weekend everybody.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A lazy weekend and "The Wizard of Earthsea".

Maybe not entirely lazy. I usually can't sit for long before doing something, and I believe my kids are being fed sugar on the sly because their energy has increased by leaps and bounds. Even the lure of t.v. (which we watched a lot of) wasn't enough to calm them down.

You see? That was a calm moment.

Between fielding requests for milk/water/juice/bananas/bread/don't we have another type of food? and refereeing spats (he/she started it!) I managed to complete some homework assignments, chief among them reading The Wizard of Earthsea. Damm wanted to know if I had liked the book as it was a favorite of his. My answer? I'm neutral. I neither liked nor disliked the book. It did not draw me in, wanting to know more; in fact, Le Guin's characters seemed rather remote to me. I wonder, though, if I have been conditioned to expect character development and can no longer enjoy authors that follow a different path. Is the focus on character development a recent phenomenon? Tolkien, for example, wrote in a similar fashion to Le Guin (which is not surprising given they wrote around the same time); lots of detail but I found myself wanting more of what the characters thought in their heads. On the other hand, I was drawn in by Frankenstein, which was written more than a hundred years before either Le Guin and Tolkien. Shelley included quite a bit of information on Frankenstein's tormented thoughts; indeed, that was partly the point of the novel. Unfortunately I haven't read many novels written before the 19th century so I can't judge whether they focused on character development or not, although I will say that Don Quixote (one of the few older books I have read) was boring. I made it through by dint of perseverance alone, and I can't remember if there was character development. I think I've blocked it out of my mind:)

Obviously I need to take a class on the developing trends in literature, starting from Don Quixote onwards. It would only work if it was billed as a history class, which I don't think will happen at my university. Pity. I had thought of acquiring an English minor along with my BA in History but I don't think I'll have the time. Interestingly enough, English was my mother's passion and history was my father's (although recognizing he could not make much money in history he went into engineering, something Damm had to do as well), which supports my theory that I am 50/50 on traits/genes inherited my parents whereas my younger brothers each favor one side more than the other. 

And I'll leave you with another picture:

You can't see it in this picture, but he had a flashlight headband thingy around his shoulder which I think represented a rifle or perhaps some other type of gear. He was attempting to dress up like his daddy:)