Characteristics of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance

             The Middle Ages covers roughly a thousand years, from approximately 400
             to 1500 and the term generally refers to the changes that the European
             society experienced during these years. Many agree that there was not just
             one medieval civilization, but many. These civilizations are related to
             each other in some ways, but they also have their own distinct
             characteristics that set them apart from each other. Historians generally
             agree that the Renaissance lasted approximately two centuries, beginning
             with the mid-1300s and lasting until the1600s. Each era has defining
             characteristics that that can be recognized through literature.
             The Middle Ages represents a variety of literature. Literature about
             kings flourished at this time. During this time, the heroic idea included
             an aristocratic king. Literature of this time reflects an interesting
             aspect, which is that by dying gloriously, one might achieve immortality.
             (Abrams 3) Beowulf is one epic that has survived through the centuries.
             Another great epic that has survived is Alexander the Great. The literature
             of the Middle Ages touched practically every aspect of life and thought.
             The Middle Ages, Barzun asserts, was not one, but many ages. They are
             generally divided into two different periods of literary history--the Old
             English and the Middle English. It is this variety that proved to inspire
             the Renaissance. (Lucas 156) An interesting aspect of the Middle Ages is
             the focus on courtly love. Courtly love is a "state of being like no other-
             -out of bounds in relation to society and yet in many ways conventional"
             (Barzun 233). This type of writing is called courtly because it revolves
             The Middle Ages also contributed a great variety of poetry. Abrams
             suggests that Christian ideals influenced how things were recorded and this
             might also explain why some secular literature did not survive. Abrams
             refers to Beowulf as the ...

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