Please write a 1000-word essay for the following questions: Leonard and McClure state that, ‘[Tricksters] also act as moral examples- or, to put it more accurately, as moral counterexamples’ (2004, p. 250). Essentially, tricksters’ roles are telling people what not to do, rather than demonstrating the proper or correct or acceptable actions. Who or what are some figures that fulfill this role in our contemporary culture?Gilgamesh has always been one of my favorite myths, from my very first exposure to the story in my high school humanities class. His is such a universal theme, the quest for glory or treasures which then turns into a life lesson instead. Along the way, Gilgamesh learns that love and companionship are more important than treasure. It also highlights the strength of the human spirit, our ability to endure and continue on after loss. Siddhartha by Herman Hesse has a parallel story to Gilgamesh. Class: Can you think of other stories, modern or not, which similarly share these themes? Which myth from this week’s readings appeals to you most? Explain why. What do you think accounts for its timeless appeal? Which contemporary stories share similar themes or mythological origins? Probably the best known myth from the British Isles is that of King Arthur, the Knights of the Round Table, and the Grail Quest. Arthurian legend is a rich genre for authors, and indeed Arthurian legends have been retold many times in modern literature. My personal favorite novel is The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley, which takes a Druid, feminist, fantasy approach to the legend, focusing on the change in post-Roman Britain from the old pagan ways to the conversion to Christianity. An excerpt from the first page sets the stage nicely: In my time I have been called many things: sister, lover, priestess, wise-woman, queen. Now in truth I have come to be wise-woman, and a time may come when these things need to be known. But in sober truth, I think it is the Christians who will tell the last tale. … I have no quarrel with the Christ, only with his priests, who call the Great Goddess a demon and deny that she ever held power in this world. … Or else they clothe her in the blue robe of the Lady of Nazareth – who indeed had power in her way, too – and say that she was ever virgin. But what can a virgin know of the sorrows and travail of mankind? (Bradley, 1983, 1) Other authors such as Bernard Cornwell or Jack Whyte approach Arthurian legend from an historical perspective, researching the culture, customs, and laws of post-Roman Britain and building their story from a basis in documented facts. Bernard Cornwell’s novel The Winter King sets the story up to be told as a true history: Once upon a time, in a land that was called Britain, these things happened. … These are the tales of Arthur, the Warlord, the King that Never Was, the Enemy of God and, may the Living Christ and Bishop Sansum forgive me, the best man I ever knew. How I have wept for Arthur. (Cornwell, 1995, p. 1) Class: What Arthurian legends have you read (or watched on TV/film)? Were they fantasy-based, or historical? Which do you find the most compelling and why? Do you think there is a basis for an historical King Arthur? Many people tend to think of Shakespeare as having written in Old English. It is ‘old’ in that it is antiquated by modern standards; however, Shakespeare actually wrote in Early Modern English. Chaucer, the author of The Canterbury Tales, wrote in Middle English. And the Beowulf poet wrote in Old English, or what scholars call Anglo-Saxon. This is the language that evolved into modern English. Below is a link to an excerpt of Beowulf read in Anglo-Saxon. Can you hear the similarities between it and modern English? Can you imagine a bard (called a scop in the language of the time) reciting this around a mead hall, a blazing fire in the central hearth? It gets my Viking blood* flowing!*I did the National Geographic Genographic DNA analysis and found out that my distant ancestors left Africa and went straight to the Scandinavian countries. I actually AM descended from Vikings!
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