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Introduction to British Literature By: Patrick McCann v 1.0 INTRODUCTION TO BRITISH LITERATURE INSTRUCTIONS Welcome to your Continental Academy...

Choose one of the following topics and write an extended (500-word, multi-paragraph essay that expands on the chosen topic. Please use all of the steps in the writing process (pre-writing, proof-reading, revising and editing, etc.). In the conclusion of your essay, describe your personal preferences in listening to or watching fiction and drama and explain why it is a classic.

Your grade on this lesson is one sixth (1/6) of your grade for this course. If your grade on this lesson is "D" or "F", you must repeat it until you earn at least a "C".

Suggested topics from the reading selections in this textbook AND in the separate READING SUPPLEMENTS for this course.

A. Macbeth -- Macbeth is the tragic hero of this play by Shakespeare. His tragic flaw is ‘over-reaching ambition’, or being too ambitious. This flaw, combined with the role of both Lady Macbeth and the witches, is what causes his downfall. Discuss how this brave hero and warrior becomes a villain.

B. Beowulf and modern day heroes – Epic heroes are always at the center of epic poetry. They come from upper-class backgrounds, do great deeds, and reflect the values of the society in which they live. They are usually men. Select one or more modern-day heroes, then compare and contrast them with Beowulf.

C. Wordsworth – What kind of poet was Wordsworth? Write about his life and his place in Romantic poetry. Explicate (explain) one of his poems, or compare and contrast a few of his poems.

D. Compare Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde. What happens to Dr. Jekyll when he becomes Mr. Hyde? What scares him, and what attracts him about Mr. Hyde (the darker side of his identity?

Introduction to
British Literature
By: Patrick McCann
Welcome to your Continental Academy course “Introducti on to British
Literature”. It is m ade up of 6 individual lessons, as listed in the Table of
Contents. Each lesson includes practice questions with answers. You will
progress through this course one lesson at a time, at your own pace.
First, study the lesson thoroughly. Then, complete the lesson reviews at the
end of the lesson and carefully che ck your answers. Sometimes, those
answers will contain information that you will need on the graded lesson
assignments. When you are ready, complete the 10-question, multiple choice
lesson assignment. At the end of each lesson, you will find notes to help you
prepare for the online assignments.
All lesson assignments are open-book. Continue working on the lessons at
your own pace until you have finished all lesson assignments for this course.
When you have completed and passed all lesson assignments for this
course, complete the End of Course Examination.
If you need help understanding any part of the lesson, practice
questions, or this procedure:
Click on the “Send a Message” link on the left side of the home
Select “Academic Guidance” in the “To” field
Type your question in the field provided
Then, click on the “Send” button
You will receive a response within ONE BUSINESS DAY 2 INTRODUCTION TO BRITISH LITERATURE About the Author… Mr. Patrick McCann taught English (Language and Literature) 9 through
12 for the past 13 years in the Prince Georges County (MD) school system.
He holds B.A.’s from the University of Maryland (College Park) in English
(1980) and English Education (1991).
Mr. McCann was a Master Teacher in the Intel Teach to the Future
Technology Program in 2002 and 2003. Previously, Mr. McCann lectured
numerous sessions of “African-American Culture” to fellow teachers in Prince
Georges County, MD. His Advanced Placement Certificate in teaching is
current through June, 2009.
Introduction to British Literature LA40
Editor: Reid Friedson, M.A.
Copyright 2008 Home School of America, Inc.
The Continental Academy National Standard Curriculum Series
Published by: Continental Academy
3241 Executive Way
Miramar, FL 33025 3 INTRODUCTION TO BRITISH LITERATURE Analyzes the historical context and the great works of British literature
by Shakespeare, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Elizabeth BarrettBrowning. The classic epic poem Beowulf also is analyzed in the
context of British history. Comprehension and creative writing
exercises are featured.
Student will know how to read for perspective.
Student will understand the human experience
Student will know evaluation strategies
Student will know the various communication skills
Student will know the various communication strategies
Student will know how to apply knowledge to print and non print texts
Student will know how to evaluate data
Student will develop research skills
Student will develop multicultural understanding
Student will participate in society
Student will apply language skills 4 INTRODUCTION TO BRITISH LITERATURE
TABLE OF CONTENTS Lesson Page Lesson 1
Introduction to British Literature and Literary History 7 Lesson 2 Fiction
The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde 29 by Robert Louis Stevenson Lesson 3 Drama: Shakespeare’s Macbeth 47 Lesson 4 Poetry 71 Lesson 5 Writing 97 Lesson 6 Essay Writing Assignment 115 End of Course Review 119 5 INTRODUCTION TO BRITISH LITERATURE THESE LESSONS FEATURE READINGS CAREFULLY SELECTED FROM
LESSON 1: Introduction to British Literature
and Literary History Introduction to British Literature Britain consists of five countries. They are England, Scotland, Wales, North
Ireland and Ireland. Each country has its own culture and language. No
introductory course in British literature can do justice to a tradition spanning
centuries and nations. We attempt, however, to introduce students to part of
the vast collection of British literature. Many college courses divide British literature into two periods, pre-1800
and post-1800. Selections in our course come from each side of this divide.
We begin with a timeline of British history, and highlight various events of
Our fiction selection follows, highlighting the most recent literary piece
in the course. No British literature class can omit Shakespeare. We highlight
his tragedy of Macbeth. We end with poetry from three periods (Epic,
Romantic, and Victorian) The latter two appear at the historical divide
between the two traditional periods of British literature.
A chronological representation of British literature is featured below.
Epic Poetry
Beouwulf Dramatic Play
Macbeth Romantic Poetry
Wordsworth Victorian Poetry
Browning 700 AD 1606 1790-1804 1830s-50s Fiction
1898 Chronology of British History
View the following chronology. Note that some periods overlap.
• Prehistoric Britain 5000 BC - 100 BC
Prehistoric Britain begins 5000 years before Christ (BC),
lasting almost 5000 years.
• Roman Britain 100 BC – 410 AD
The Roman invasion in 100 B.C. leads to 5 centuries of Roman
• Early British Kingdoms 410 – 937
• Anglo-Saxon England 597 – 1066
499 – 1066 The Dark Ages
597 St Augustine begins converting English to
1066 Beowulf (epic poetry)
Norman Conquest (France conquers Britain) • Medieval Britain 1066 – 1486
• Reformation and Restoration 1486 – 1689
1606 Shakespeare’s Macbeth 17th Century Poetry of the English Renaissance
• The Age of Empire 1689 – 1901
1660 – 1800 Neoclassical/Enlightenment
1784 – 1837 Romantic Period
(Wordsworth/Browning are main poets)
Turn of 19th century
• The Victorian Age Medieval Revival 1837 – 1901 Queen Victoria (1819 – 1901)
Dickens is major novelist . From time to time during these years, gifted
and creative people expressed themselves in words and word pictures. Some
of those expressions have been appreciated by many people ever since.
Such works of literature are called classics. 9 INTRODUCTION TO BRITISH LITERATURE
Beowulf and Epic Poetry
Beowulf is the hero of an epic poem bearing his name. Literary
historians don’t know the author, but believe that Beowulf was written about
700 A.D. It survives based on a single manuscript copied around 1000 AD.
Other examples of epic poetry include The Odyssey and the Iliad. Both
were written by the Greek poet Homer. Odysseus is the central figure in the
Beowulf sails over the seas to liberate Heorot, a
mead hall*, of Scandinavian warriors. Grendel,
descendant of Cain, has been terrorizing Heorot
prior to Beowulf’s arrival. Beowulf defeats the
monster Grendel in a ferocious fight.
Epic poetry centers around an epic hero. Epic
heroes embody the ideals of the culture that produced them. They are great
warriors. They are men capable of great deeds of strength and courage.
Read the following short excerpts from Beowulf. You can’t help but notice
how the English language has changed over 13 centuries!
* Mead was the equivalent of today’s beer or ale
Get online help with reading/studying Beowulf, at the following websites:
(read hypertext for Books I, II, XI, and XII)
Summary: Beowulf
Beowulf is a story of many books, or chapters. It contains a prologue, and 43
subsequent books. We selected Books I, II, XI, and XII for investigation.
Books I and II revolve around the monster Grendel, descendant of Cain, who
terrifies the mead-hall Heorot. Chapters XI and XII chronicle Beowulf’s defeat
of Grendel. The Beowulf first mentioned is a different person than the epic
hero of our story. Book I – Hrothgar, Heorot, and Grendel
Now Beowulf bode in the burg of the Scyldings, leader beloved, and long he
ruled in fame with all folk, since his father had gone away from the world, till
awoke an heir, haughty Healfdene, who held through life, sage and sturdy,
the Scyldings glad. Then, one after one, there woke to him, to the chieftain of
clansmen, children four: Heorogar, then Hrothgar, then Halga brave; and I
heard that was queen, the Heathoscylfing’s helpmate dear.
To Hrothgar was given such glory of war, such honor of combat, that all his
kin obeyed him gladly till great grew his band of youthful comrades. It came in
his mind to bid his henchmen a hall uprear, a master mead-house, mightier
far than ever was seen by the sons of earth, and within it, then, to old and
young he would all allot that the Lord had sent him, save only the land and
the lives of his men. Wide, I heard, was the work commanded, for many a
tribe this mid-earth round, to fashion the folkstead. It fell, as he ordered, in
rapid achievement that ready it stood there, of halls the noblest. 11 INTRODUCTION TO BRITISH LITERATURE
Heorot he named it whose message
had might in many a land. Not
reckless of promise, the rings he
dealt, treasure at banquet: there
towered the hall, high, gabled wide,
the hot surge waiting of furious
flame. Nor far was that day when
father and son-in-law stood in feud for warfare Heorot: the mead hall and hatred that woke again.
With envy and anger an evil spirit endured the dole in his dark abode, that he
heard each day the din of revel high in the hall: there harps rang out, clear
song of the singer. He sang who knew tales of the early time of man, how the
Almighty made the earth, fairest fields enfolded by water, set, triumphant, sun
and moon for a light to lighten the land-dwellers, and braided bright the breast
of earth with limbs and leaves, made life for all of mortal beings that breathe
and move. So lived the clansmen in cheer and revel a winsome life, till one
began to fashion evils, that field of hell.
Grendel this monster grim was called, march-riever mighty, in moorland living,
in fen and fastness; fief of the giants the hapless wight a while had kept since
the Creator his exile doomed. On kin of Cain was the killing avenged by
sovran God for slaughtered Abel. Ill fared his feud, and far was he driven, for
the slaughter’s sake, from sight of men. Of Cain awoke all that woful breed,
Etins and elves and evil-spirits, as well as the giants that warred with God
weary while: but their wage was paid them! 12 INTRODUCTION TO BRITISH LITERATURE
Connotation and Denotation
Denotation is the dictionary definition of a word. Connotation is
the emotions associated with a word. Take for example, ‘haughty
Healfdene’. ‘Haughty’ means ‘proud’. Today’s connotation of haughty
is rather negative; it means that one is arrogant, conceited, stuck-up,
self-important, etc. In earlier times the word ‘haughty’ had a more
positive connotation.
Pre-Reading Exercise (Book II):
Match the underlined words with their definitions.
“Went he (Grendel) forth to fins at fall of night that haughty house, and heed
wherever the Ring-Danes, outrevelled, to rest has gone… Unhallowed wight,
grim and greedy, he grasped betimes, wrathful, reckless… faring homeward,
laden with slaughter, his lair to seek.”
angry, enraged ______________________________________________
weighed down, burdened _____________________________________
proud _____________________________________________________
tired from merry-making ______________________________________
den, hole, nest ______________________________________________
unholy, despoiled ___________________________________________ 13 INTRODUCTION TO BRITISH LITERATURE
wrathful - angry
laden - weighed down, burdened
lair – den, hole, nest
haughty – proud
out-revelled – tired from merry-making
unhallowed – unholy despoiled Book II – Grendel terrorizes Heorot
Went he (Grendel) forth to find at fall of night that haughty house, and heed
wherever the Ring-Danes, outrevelled*, to rest had gone. Found within it the atheling band asleep after feasting and fearless of sorrow, of human hardship. Unhallowed wight, grim and greedy, he grasped betimes, wrathful, reckless, from resting-places, thirty of the thanes, and thence he rushed fain of his fell spoil, faring homeward, laden with slaughter, his lair to
seek. Then at the dawning, as day was breaking, the might of Grendel to men
was known; then after wassail was wail uplifted, loud moan in the morn.
The mighty chief, atheling excellent, unblithe sat, labored in woe for the loss
of his thanes, when once had been traced the trail of the fiend, spirit accurst:
too cruel that sorrow, too long, too loathsome. Not late the respite; with night
returning, anew began ruthless murder; he recked no whit, firm in his guilt, of
the feud and crime. They were easy to find who elsewhere sought in room 14 INTRODUCTION TO BRITISH LITERATURE
remote their rest at night, bed in the bowers, when that bale was shown, was
seen in sooth, with surest token, the hall-thane’s hate. Such held themselves
far and fast who the fiend outran! Thus ruled unrighteous and raged his fill
one against all; until empty stood that lordly building, and long it bode so.
Twelve years’ tide the trouble he bore, sovran of Scyldings, sorrows in plenty,
boundless cares. There came unhidden tidings true to the tribes of men, in
sorrowful songs, how ceaselessly Grendel harassed Hrothgar, what hate he
bore him, what murder and massacre, many a year, feud unfading, refused
consent to deal with any of Daneland’s earls, make pact of peace, or
compound for gold: still less did the wise men ween to get great fee for the
feud from his fiendish hands. But the evil one ambushed old and young
death-shadow dark, dogged them still, lured or lurked in the livelong night of
misty moorlands: men may say not where the haunts of these Hell-Runes be.
Such heaping of horrors the hater of men, lonely roamer, wrought unceasing,
harassings heavy. O’er Heorot he lorded, gold-bright hall, in gloomy nights;
and ne’er could the prince approach his throne, ’twas judgment of God, or
have joy in his hall. Sore was the sorrow to Scyldings’-friend, heart-rending
Many nobles sat assembled, and searched out counsel how it were best for
bold-hearted men against harassing terror to try their hand. Whiles they
vowed in their heathen fanes altar-offerings, asked with words that the slayerof-souls would succor give them for the pain of their people. Their practice
this, their heathen hope; ’twas Hell they thought of in mood of their mind.
Almighty they knew not, Doomsman of Deeds and dreadful Lord, nor
Heaven’s-Helmet heeded they ever, Wielder-of-Wonder. Woe for that man
who in harm and hatred hales his soul to fiery embraces; nor favor nor
change awaits he ever. But well for him that after death-day may draw to his
Lord, and friendship find in the Father’s arms!
Please ANSWER the following short questions.
From whom does Grendel descend? ____________________________
Who is this ancestor, and for what is he known?
How many thane did Grendel kill that first night in the mead-hall? ______
When does Grendel next return? ________________________________
For how many years does he harass Hrothgar and the hall of Heorot? ___
What words does the author use to describe Grendel?
Who is the ‘sovran of Scyldings’? _______________________________
Translate the following words from Middle English to Modern English?
sovran _________________ spake _________________ atheling __________________ unblithe ________________ accurst ______________ 16 thane _________________ INTRODUCTION TO BRITISH LITERATURE
Grendel descends from Cain (son of Adam and Eve), who slew his brother
Grendel killed thirty men that first night, then returned the next night.
He terrorized Heorot and harrased Hrothgar (‘the Sovran of Scyldings’) for 12
The author depicts Grendel as ‘grim’, ‘greedy’, ‘unhallowed’, ‘wrathful’,
‘reckless’, ‘evil’, ‘fiendish’, etc.
sovran – sovereign, as in king
atheling – warrior, knight
accurst – saursed spake – spoke unblithe – anxious, bothered, tense, not blithe
thane – warrior, knight XI – XII -- Beowulf fights Grendel
THEN from the moorland, by misty crags, with God’s wrath laden, Grendel
came. The monster was minded of mankind now sundry to seize in the stately
house. Under welkin he walked, till the wine-palace there, gold-hall of men,
he gladly discerned, flashing with fretwork. Not first time, this, that he the
home of Hrothgar sought, yet ne’er in his life-day, late or early, such hardy
heroes, such hall-thanes, found! To the house the warrior walked apace,
parted from peace; the portal opended, though with forged bolts fast, when
his fists had struck it, and baleful he burst in his blatant rage, the house’s
mouth. All hastily, then, o’er fair-paved floor the fiend trod on, ireful he strode;
there streamed from his eyes fearful flashes, like flame to see.
He spied in hall the hero-band, kin and clansmen clustered asleep, hardy
liegemen. Then laughed his heart; for the monster was minded, ere morn
should dawn, savage, to sever the soul of each, life from body, since lusty
banquet waited his will! But Wyrd forbade him to seize any more of men on
earth after that evening. Eagerly watched Hygelac’s kinsman his cursed foe,
how he would fare in fell attack. Not that the monster was minded to pause!
Straightway he seized a sleeping warrior for the first, and tore him fiercely
asunder, the bone-frame bit, drank blood in streams, swallowed him
piecemeal: swiftly thus the lifeless corse was clear devoured, e’en feet and
hands. Then farther he hied; for the hardy hero with hand he grasped, felt for
the foe with fiendish claw, for the hero reclining, - who clutched it boldly,
prompt to answer, propped on his arm. Soon then saw that shepherd-of-evils
that never he met in this middle-world, in the ways of earth, another wight
with heavier hand-gripe; at heart he feared, sorrowed in soul, - none the
sooner escaped! Fain would he flee, his fastness seek, the den of devils: no
doings now such as oft he had done in days of old! Then bethought him the
hardy Hygelac-thane of his boast at evening: up he bounded, grasped firm his
foe, whose fingers cracked.
The fiend made off, but the earl close followed. The monster meant, if he
might at all, to fling himself free, and far away fly to the fens, knew his fingers’
power in the gripe of the grim one. Gruesome march to Heorot this monster of
harm had made! Din filled the room; the Danes were bereft, castle-dwellers
and clansmen all, earls, of their ale. Angry were both those savage hallguards: the house resounded. Wonder it was the wine-hall firm in the strain of
their struggle stood, to earth the fair house fell not; too fast it was within and
without by its iron bands craftily clamped; though there crashed from sill many
a mead-bench, men have told me. gay with gold, where the grim foes
wrestled. So well had weened the wisest Scyldings that not ever at all might
any man that bone-decked, brave house break asunder, crush by craft,
unless clasp of fire in smoke engulfed it. Again uprose din redoubled. Danes
of the North with fear and frenzy were filled, each one, who from the wall that
wailing heard, God’s foe sounding his grisly song, cry of the conquered,
clamorous pain from captive of hell. Too closely held him he who of men in
might was strongest in that same day of this our life.
XII – Beowulf defeats Grendel
NOT in any wise would the earls’ defence suffer that slaughterous stranger to
live, useless deeming his days and years to men on earth. Now many an earl
of Beowulf brandished blade ancestral, fain the life of their lord to shield, their
praised prince, if power were theirs; never they knew, as they neared the foe,
hardy-hearted heroes of war, aiming their swords on every side the accursed
to kill, no keenest blade, no farest of falchions fashioned on earth, could harm
or hurt that hideous fiend! He was safe, by his spells, from sword of battle,
from edge of iron. Yet his end and parting on that same day of this our life
woful should be, and his wandering soul far off flit to the fiends’ domain.
Soon he found, who in former days, harmful in heart and hated of God, on
many a man such murder wrought, that the frame of his body failed him now.
For him the keen-souled kinsman of Hygelac held in hand; hateful alive was
each to other. The outlaw dire took mortal hurt; a mighty wound showed on
his shoulder, and sinews cracked, and the bone-frame burst. To Beowulf now
the glory was given, and Grendel thence death-sick his den in the dark moor
sought, noisome abode: he knew too well that here was the last of life, an end
of his days on earth. - To all the Danes by that bloody battle the boon had
come. From ravage had rescued the roving stranger Hrothgar’s hall; the
hardy and wise one had purged it anew. His night-work pleased him, his deed
and its honor. To Eastern Danes had the valiant Geat his vaunt made good,
all their sorrow and ills assuaged, their bale of battle borne so long, and all
the dole they erst endured pain a-plenty. ’Twas proof of this, when the hardyin-fight a hand laid down, arm and shoulder, all, indeed, of Grendel’s gripe,
’neath the gabled roof.
What was the effect of the swords on Grendel?
Who is “the keen souled kinsman of Hygelac”?
What does Beowulf do to defeat Grendel?
Where does Grendel go? ____________________________________
What does Beowulf do with his prize won in battle? _________________ Answers: The warriors’ swords have no effect on Grendel, who was
protected by spells.
Beowulf, “the keen-souled kinsman of Hygelac”, had vowed earlier that he
would defeat Grendel bare-handed. 20 INTRODUCTION TO BRITISH LITERATURE
He grabs hold of Grendel’s arm with a vise-like grip. Grendel tries to escape,
but Beowulf rips his arm right out of the shoulder socket.
Grendel then goes home to this den to die
Beowulf hangs his arm up as a trophy.
The Norman Invasion A turning point in English history: The conquest of the Kingdom of
England by William the Conqueror (Duke of Normandy, 1027 – 1087)) at
the Battle of Hastings and subsequent Norman control of England
starting in 1066.
September 28 William of Normandy [France] lands on the English coast
with about 7000 men. October 13 Harold II sets up his army in a blocking position outside
of the town of Hastings. October 14 William attacks and defeats Harold, who is mortally
wounded (Harold died). December 25 William was crowned King of England in Westminster
Abbey (church headquarters in London). 21 INTRODUCTION TO BRITISH LITERATURE
• Brought England closer to Continental Europe and away from
influence of Scandinavian (Norway, Sweden, Denmark) influence.
• Created one of the most powerful monarchies in Europe
• Created the most sophisticated governmental system in Europe
• Changed English language and culture
• Set the stage for a long future of English-French conflict.
• This was the last successful military invasion of England.
The Globe Theatre Many of Shakespeare’s
best-known plays (including the
tragedies Romeo and Juliet,
Julius Caesar, Hamlet, and
Macbeth) were performed at the
Globe Theatre, an open-air
playhouse in the Southwark
district of London. The Globe was
designed and built in 1599. Prior to this time, most actors traveled from town
to town, putting on shows wherever they could, primarily in inn-yards.
An inn is a wonderful place for a show because of the crowd it attracts.
The landlord co-operates. There are plenty of snacks and refreshments,
especially beer. Most inns were 2-3 stories high with big open circles or
squares in the middle. Shakespeare had this two to three-story structure in 22 INTRODUCTION TO BRITISH LITERATURE
mind when he wrote his plays. Romeo and Juliet, for...

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