Filología Inglesa

Evolución histórica de la literatura inglesa


  • The first literature in any culture is oral.

  • Passed on generations to generations---with variations, additions…---until they were set down in written form.

  • c. 410: Withdrawal of the Roman legions form Britain

  • c. 450: Anglo-Saxon and Jutes invasions form North-West Germany.

  • Early sixth century: Reign of king Arthur (in Wessex; to 537)

  • ….

  • Ninth century: Danish invasions; occupation of eastern England.

  • ….

  • ….

  • 1066: death of English King Edward (the Confessor); election of Harold, son of Godwin, as king. Norwegian forces defeated at Stamford Bridge (near York). NORMAN CONQUEST: Harold defeated by William of Normandy at Hastings.

Christian monks and nuns were the guardians of culture. They were virtually the only people who could read and write before the fourteenth century. The biblical tradition of questioning epitomised in the famous “Ubi sunt?”(Where are they?). Thanks to the scribe many Old English Literature had reached to our hands. It would seem that the church, in preserving texts in Old English, was aware of a particularly English linguistic and cultural identity.

Beowulf is the only long epic poem. The use of alliteration, repeated sounds, is another characteristic of Old English verse.

Society organisations:

The society was organized in three social groups:

Aristocracy: warrior, lords, kings.

Free men: farms, rancher.



The best-known long text in Old English is the epic poem of Beowulf. Beowulf himself is a classic hero, who comes from afar. He has defeated the monster Grendel (thus made the territory safe for its people).

  • Recalls a shared heroic past, somewhere in the general consciousness of the audience who would hear it.

  • It describes the adventures of a great Scandinavian warrior of the 6th century.

  • Stars with a mention of `olden days', looking back, as many stories do, to an indefinite past.

  • Facts blend with fiction to make the tale.

  • The hero is a mortal man, and images of foreboding and doom prepare the way for a tragic outcome.

  • Contrasts between splendour and destruction, success and failure, honour and betrayal.

The language of Beowulf is extremely rich and inventive; full of imposing tones and rhythms: there are a great many near synonyms for `warrior'; many images of light, colour and blood.

  • Poem of praise for `valour and venturous deed.

  • The hero inevitably dies.

  • Beowulf dies at the moment of his greatest triumph (fifty years on from the killing of Grendel), but then has to face the newest threath: a second monster, a dragon.

  • The lad `Wiglaf' who don't traitor Beowulf when the old hero dies…long live the young hero.

Beowulf is the beginnings of a heroic tradition. Beowulf suggests what a hero is and how important the hero is as a focus of public attention and admiration.

Beowulf in Spain is same El Cid Campeador

Beowulf was a brave man (is invented by de anonymous author), with courage, is not a ordinary man but is a mortal man who can win the supernatural enemies.

This poem is anonymous. The concept of an author as the single creative person who gives the text `authority' only comes later in this period.


  • A narrative poem about the deeds of warriors and heroes.

  • It integrates myth, folk tale and story.

  • It embodies the aspirations of a nation in a grandiose and eloquent manner.

  • The Iliad and Odyssey are well-known examples of epics.


  • A central heroic character.

  • Adventures, journeys.

  • Fantastic and supernatural events and characters.

  • Long narratives passages.

  • Elaborate greetings.

  • Digressions.

  • Lengthy speeches.

  • Vivid and detailed descriptions.

  • Solemn tone.

  • Use of the stock epithet and the kenning.


  • Hyperbolic use of language (heroic action underlined): exaggerations.

  • Formulaic style (conventional diction): giver of ring.

  • Rich and inventive language.

  • Alliterative rhythm: initial sounds often repeated link and emphasise key words.

Two different world-views: 1.- Pagan warrior society: heroic ideal (code of behaviour: loyalty to he king, duty to protect and defend kinsmen, duty to avenge, courage, generosity generous, physical strength and skill); 2.-Christian world view.


The world of Old English literature is a world of warriors and battles. The Norman Conquest in 1066 is the most famous and single event in English history. The Norman brought with them from France a language and culture. The two centuries after the Conquest were a period of consolidation, as the two languages struggled to integrate: bilingualism was widespread. Subsequently, more and more French words entered the English language. At this time London established itself as the capital city. But the language dominant is English, although the local dialects are found again and again in the literature of the next hundred and fifty years. Anglo-Latin is different from Paris-Latin. French was finally rejected only in 1415 when King Henry V affirmed English domination, territorial and linguistic, over what had by then become the nation's oldest enemy.

Norman French: official documents.

English: Only speak.

Latin: only written to religious people. The church was very strong.

Old English Middle English


Alliterations, epics, elegies

End rhyme, ballads, lyric songs, debates, romances


War theme, heroic values (warrior)

War, courtly love, Christian values (knight)

Tone and characters

Gloomy world, male characters

Brighter, more optimistic, female characters.

Tropes and symbols


Rose, Lord/lady, vassal

The idea of an author comes into English literature significant with Layamon. He wrote Brut. Brut is the first national epic in English. He takes the story up to the arrival of Saint Augustine, the first Archbishop of Canterbury, in 597, telling the story of King Arthur and King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.

The warrior hero began to settle down, his territories now rather more secure, and to think of other things. Until the Norman Conquest, there is hardly any love poetry in English literature. Clearly land is more important than love. But the new love theme comes from Provence in south-east of France, where poets known as troubadours gave voice to the concept of COURTLY LOVE. Love was an almost religious passion (it is no coincidence that worship of the Virgin Mary begins to spread in the twelfth century in Europe) and the greatest love was unfulfilled. They had the concept of IDEAL LOVE.

This romantic notion of fidelity, with its feminine imagery such as The Romance of the Rose, possibly the most influential imported text of the Early Middle English period- established a code of behaviour, sets a value on chastity, and orders a subordinate role for women. The rose symbolises the lady's love. A whole, allegorical and philosophical concept of love (chaste love).

French culture and language interacted with native English culture for several generations after the Norman Conquest. But this sensibility, culture, and language become integrated with native culture.

Early Middle English: tradition of courtly love.

After: ballads (traditionally told a story, based on a character that ending was generally unhappy).


After the Norman Conquest, the language of the Norman ruling class was Northern French. The language of the English court in the 12th century was Parisian French. Until the second half of the 14th century the language of instruction in English schools was French.


  • A form of chivalric and romantic literature that spend throughout Europe from 11th century.

  • A narrative tale of adventures.

  • Ideals and conventions of courtly love and a set o chivalric (courtly love) values are reinforced.


  • Courtly love: philosophy and code of love in vogue during the Middle Ages (source: Ovid, troubadours) Platonic love, devoted service to the lady.

  • Chivalric ethics: system of ideals that arose from feudalism (12th-13th). It fixes Christian and military concepts of morality. The crusades and the tournaments were test for knights, virtue.

The aim of romances is portrait based in chivalric code characterised by Christian principles and virtues of kind Knights.

The English romance draws on the sources bought from the Continent (matter of France: Chrétien de Troyes, Roman de la rose) but adds a native setting. The most interesting native source is the Arthurian legend.


  • It's a romance.

  • Sir Gawain is King Arthur's nephew.

  • G. Knight of the Round Table.

  • G. Main character.

  • Essential elements in Medieval Romance: *Adventures narratives. *Heroic character seen trough the episodes of a Quest (challenge)

  • G. virtues of a Christian knight: loyalty, generosity, piety, courtesy, fellowship, cleanest.

  • Courtly love. (The woman had to be perfect). The lady was same a godess and the lord was same a vassal.

  • The work of a provincial author (Northwest Midland area). Unknown.

  • One of the three of finest literary works of the period (Lagland, Chaucer).

  • 2530 lines alliterative verse.

  • 14th century.

  • Utopic setting chivalric world of feudal duties.

  • Courtly love: idealisation of lady on the model of Virgin Mary.

  • Christian (chivalric) virtues: piety, honour, valour, chastity, loyalty.

  • It is a Fantasy novel.


  • Sir Gawain. - Lord Bercilak (the lord of the castle

  • Green knight. where Gawain spends Christmas)

  • King Arthur. - Bercilak wife (she tries to temp sir

  • Guinevere. Gawain during his stay a the castle)

  • Gringolet.

  • Morgan le Faye (a sorceress, the half sister of King Arthur. She is responsible for the plot to test Gawain).

Geoffrey Chaucer (1343-1400)

  • Member of an increasing middle class infiltrating in the aristocracy. Privileged position to describe and understand character of very different nature.

  • To get different offices: Soldier in France, Diplomat in Spain and Italy, Controller of customs, Justice of peace, Member of Parliament for Kent, he was in law school, Clerk of works in London and he get many grants (pensiones).

  • He wrote almost only in English.

  • He was scale up social ladder.

  • He had a great experience because he could touch middle class and aristocracy or bourgeoisie.

  • He had a critical eye.

  • He was born into a family of wine traders.

    • In this period, the church was very powerful; the church was very rich and had very properties. Thomas Becket was represent the church, the king ask him give up the power English church. The king wanted to have the power English church. Thomas Becket was killed because he did not want give up the power of church when he returns to Canterbury.


1st Period: French influence (to 1372)

Refinement of rhetorical tools, selection of French models:

    • The book of the Duchess (1369)(first work; dream-poem)(many elements from French poems)

    • Also Latin models (like Ovid's Metamorphosis sometimes trough French translations.

    • Chaucer's prose translations of Boathouse `Consolidation of Philosophy.

2nd Period: Italian influence (1372-1385)

    • The House of Fame, Troilus and Criseyde and The Legend of Good Women. Alls inspire in Italian authors as Boccaccio (first) or Dante or Petrarch.

3rd Period (the most important period): English period (1386-1400)

    • Chaucer does not so much imitate English models as he produces the most varied and complex type of narrative ever composed in English to that date. He becomes the greatest and most powerful medieval writer in English. Canterbury Tales (as Boccacio's Decameron)

Literature with Chaucer, has taken on a new role: as well as affirming a developing language, it is a mirror of its times- but mirror which teases as it reveals, which questions while it narrates, and which opens up a rangle of issues and questions, instead of providing simple, easy answers.


It is a very popular tales. It is a printed text

    • Original plan: 120 stories linked by a common element.

    • The tales narrated show and incredible range of style and genres (from the romance to the fabliau) and constant shift of tone and perspective (different narrators)

    • Framing device: the pilgrimage. Links the stories together.

    • Precedents: John Gower's Confession Amantis and Boccacio's Decameron.

    • Chaucer's contribution: each tale fits perfectly with its narrator. Accord between teller and tale.

    • Each story gains rich overtones from what we know about the pilgrim-narrator. The effect of each tale is enhanced bye the spirit of its teller.

    • Another unifying device: use of topic to make pilgrims interact (thematic links, e.g. marriage, wife, clerk, merchant, franklins…)

    • The work was uncompleted at his dead in 1400.

    • Use the “here and now”: the London area and English society of the time.

    • Originally, 120 tales, with each of thirty pilgrims from Southwark to Canterbury telling two tales on the way there and two on the way back. Canterbury and Southwark bring together the religious and the secular.

    • This is all part of an underlying reflection on religion and the individual in the modern world, reflected in many texts.

    • Duty, war, reconciliation, consolidation, love (and the pains of love) honour, suffering, history, religious doubt; all of these and more had been familiar subjects.

    • The narrator makes individual descriptions of the different character but do not care where could be situated in the social ladder, but invite the reader to recognise and identify the pilgrims as stereotypical characters.

    • Chaucer himself (or his narratorial person) prefers not to take sides and does not overtly judge the characters the presents, buet he allows the reader a new degree of interpretative freedom, based on the recognition of an ironic gap between how the characters see themselves and how others see them. This is new to English literature.

    • Critics are still divided over to what extent Chaucer treats his characters seriously or ironically. Whatever the case, his tale is an old-fashioned philosophical story of rivalry in love, set in classical Greece.

    • Canterbury Tales bring together, for the first time, a diversity of characters, social levels, attitudes, and ways of life.


  • 1485: Ending war of Roses (union of Houses of Lancaster and York); Invention of printing.

  • 1492: Christopher Columbus's opened European eyes to the existence of the New World (are the key to the Renaissence)

  • New dynasty in the monarchy: TUDORS.

  • Henry VII (Tudors) ended the rule of the Catholic church in England ( closed monasteries…etc) REFORMANTION.

  • Reformation in the reign of Henry VII provoked a similarly overwhelming crisis in England in the sixteenth century. England separated of the rest of Europe.

  • Break with Roma's Church.

  • In a very short period of time, centuries of religious faith, attitudes and beliefs were replaced by a new way of thinking.

  • Philosophy, science and learning: first generations of humanism thinker (Thomas More, Nicolas Copernicus, Erasmus of Rotterdam)

  • With Tudors were age of relative peace and stability.

  • Anglicanism: a distinguished sign of national identity.

  • King Henry himself remained nominally Catholic, despite being excommunicated bye the Pope.

  • Protestant and the nation's political and religious identity had to be redefined (originated with Martin Luther)

  • Strong nationalism.

  • Growth of urban society.

  • Emergence of a capitalist bourgeoisie (that supports the monarchs)

  • Great development of trade (expanding market overseas) and commercial institutions: London Stock (1571); foundation of the English Bank (1594); foundation of the East India Company (1600).

  • 1490's--- decade of geographical discovers: New World , New Routes, Colonization, Trade.

  • 1588: Spanish Navy was defeated.


  • Expansions of the known world: limitless possibilities (reflect mental explorations) New World.

  • Territorial expansions and colonisations begins: again of the British Empire.

  • 1557-80: Francis Drake's first voyage around the world.

  • 1584: Walter Raleigh established Virginia, the first English colony in America.

THOMAS MORE (1478-1535):

He refused to endorse king Henry VII `s plan to divorce Katherine of Aragon (1527). In 1529 More became Lord Chancellor. He wrote Utopia and he was close friend to Erasmus.


His the best known work is Praise of Folly, a pamphlet agains the behaviour of leading classes and church dignities, cognizing about mankind vanities. He devoted himself to the Latin defence. He had revisions of Christian traditions. He had renewal of the education system.


New social, political and economic ideas displace values of the Middle Ages. Humanism potential of the individual worldly live. In 1543 polish astronomer Copernicus's explanation of the Solar system is published: it states that the Earth revolves around the Sun. Galileo (1564-1642) defended Copernicus's theory against the inquisition.


He was a polish astronomer, the father of modern astronomy. He develops heliocentric theory.


1.- Elizabethan aesthetics: Elizabethans artist create their works on the following. Principles:

- Elizabethan value Artifice: Nature (is the basis of art but artist must be able to enhance nature improving it by device, arranging it in a beautiful. Way-> elaborated patterns and intricate); Authors aspire to the perfect; It has valour the elaborated and creative things.

- They imitate Classical Models: literary traditions and conventions: Imitating implies learning from others models transforming and surprising them; the Renaissance is prolific in treatises and rhetoric and literary principles.

- Horace's formula “Docere et Delectare” is adopted for literature, thus poetry teaches by delighting.

- DECORUM, suiting subject-matter to genre is also essential.

- There is delight in abundance of words, poetic figures, ornament.

2.- Literary conventions: definition: conventions are features that become habitual within a genre and arise certain expectations in the reader. Tey carry a whole set of culturally defined assumptions and values.

- Each mode (lyric, satiric, tragic) or genre (sonnet epigram, tragedy…) is identified by a number of conventions (subjects, attitude, style, size, meter, occasion…).

3.-The lyric mode: Conventions.

- Topic: love, praise in various moods, celebrations of nature of life.

- Extensions: brief; Tone: serious, elevated.

- Genres: *Hymns: praise of god.

*Odes: celebrations to worthy men.

*SONNETS: love, explore speaker's feelings and experiences.


The sonnets are the most important lyric genre in the 16th century, vogue in 1590's. They were popularized by Francesco Petrarch (1304-1374), imitated it.

The sonnets were introduced in England bye Wyatt and Surrey (aristocracy) in the mid 16th, and deals with a human but platonic love relationship and explores the lover's contrary states of feeling as the designees and idolizes an unattainable lady. The conventional themes are:

  • Lady's beauty is praised: angelic, dune nature.

  • Lady's cruelty and the pain of absence make the lover suffer.

  • The fire of his love is the ice of her chastity (paradojas).

Inherit Petrarchan conventions:

  • The relation between the POET and the BELOVED is presented in terms of IDEALISATION COURTLY LOVE.

  • The lady's beauty is described in stereotypical fashion.

Formal structure:

  • A fourteen line poem in iambic pentameter (decasyllabic lines)

  • Different rhyme scheme patterns: *Petrarchan: octave (abbacddc) + sestet (efegfg).

  • English or Shakespearean: three quatrains (ababcdcdefef) + a couplet (gg).



He carried out foreign missions for king Henry VIII, being ambassador to the court of Charles V in Spain. Wyatt was the first to introduce the sonnet into English: poetic experiments. He wrote extraordinarily accomplished imitations of Petrarch's Sonnets. His poems circulated in manuscript form. He translation into English only.


He was a courtier of royal dessert. He improved the English sonnet form. A more polished style, more English. With Wyatt, he established the sonnet form used by Shakespeare and others: ababcdcdefefgg. Howard was also the first English poet to publish in blank verse (unrhymed pentameters) his translation of part of Virgil's Aeneid.


He was similar to Garcilaso de la Vega. He had assistance family. He was godchild to the King. He had aristocratic origin but the remains an untitled commoner. He went to the Oxford University, and he travelled around Europe. Queen's favourite: waiting for a long time to get important appointments mission. Meanwhile he spends his time to writing poetry.

  • Courtier: * Manu faction public affairs (warrior, diplomat) * Man of letter Humanist ( gifted poet, talented artist)

  • Works: * Pastoral poem Arcadia. * Sonnets—Astrophil and Stella ( it's a collection of poems (1581-83) * A defense of Poesy/ An apology for Poetry.

  • Literary Critic: analyse the poetry.

He was marriage of convenience was agreed he expected to Penelope Devereux. Penelope is Stella in his work. His sonnets work is a sonnets sequence where poet explores the different stage of his love for Stella. The poet is Astrophil. Astro (astros) phil (love in Latin) Stella (stars). He becomes governor in the low Countries. He was captain of English troops. Heroic he death lends his armour to his lord Mariscal. When he dies there are in England very ceremonies. He was a great man and a great warrior.


Poetic mask Fictional characters (disguise) (poetic personae)

Lyric: feelings + emotions Sonnets

Sonnet Restrictive form Text-type CONSTRAINT.



Triangular relationship: Dark lady (is not longer unattached but quite lascivious and in constant though she is appreciated and cared on); Young Man (he is virtuous and handsome); Poet.

Petrarchan conventions of courtly love are subverted. Rival poet. Dark lady and Young man abandon him and they left with rival poet. Shakespeare writes several poetical pieces but the Sonnets are his best and most original contribution in this field. The Sonnets (1609) depict the complex network of relationships between the Poet, the Young Man and Dark Lady.

The 154 sonnets are traditionally classified into two groups: 1-126 addressed to the Young Man (braising and urging him to procreate); and 127-154 about the turbulent passion raised bye the Dark lady and the fear of disloyalty (caused bye the affair between lady and friend and the attention given by the Young Man to a rival poet).

Enviado por:Kris
Idioma: inglés
País: España

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