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09/04/2019

Due tomorrow, no idea how to start it. (People who have read Geoffrey Chaucer)?

QUESTION
Due tomorrow, no idea how to start it. (People who have read Geoffrey Chaucer)?
I am writing a paper on an excerpt from Chaucers work Anelida and Arcite, Book of the Duchess and House of Fame (I have a choice from the 3).

I have to write a 4 page essay on one of the excerpts as poetry.

As you know it was written in middle english, so a translation is not a problem. But what am i supposed to write for 4 PAGES! Can anyone start me off an tell me whats worth mentioning? Thanks so much.

ANSWER
Whatever passage you choose, some things to consider would be meter, rhyme scheme (maybe a reason to write on the one in rime royal, which Chaucer invented), imagery, figures of speech, and theme or meaning. Two passages that leap to my mind are the implied debate in The Book of the Duchess over which “way to lose your lover” is worse and the eagle’s explanation in The House of Fame of how every word spoken is preserved there. (Scary thought! Especially when you then think about hard drives!)

Anyway, begin by saying a little something about the poem from which you’ve chosen an excerpt and then about the excerpt itself, and end the introduction with a statement about the overall meaning or effect of the passage. (Remember that in a literary analysis you basically answer two questions: what is the author’s purpose, and how does he achieve it?) For a paper of the assigned length, an introduction of three to five sentences should be enough.

When you analyze the meter of your selection, you’ll have a chance to show that you have a pretty good idea which now-silent letters were then pronounced. Seeing what rhymes with what will also give you a chance t comment on Middle English pronunciation. Then if you have even one paragraph on each of the features I mentioned, with examples, you should get your four pages rather easily.

BTW, it it SO good to find someone who knows that Chaucer’s language was Middle English, not Old, and doesn’t need to have it translated!