Earlier Western Literature: Comparison And Analysis

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Earlier Western Literature: Comparison and Analysis

Earlier Western Literature: Comparison and Analysis


Culture is always been and always has been dynamic. It has changed and evolved through time. As the idiom goes, 'the only constant in life is change'. This change occurs through one's lifetime and has been occurring since the times of old. Cultural changes can be reflected in the way the literature is produced over these time periods. From the ancient civilizations to the medieval times and on towards the period of renaissance, change has been constant. Literature is one of the most potent ways to give us the feel of those times. It helps us discern the changing culture. When, why and how the paradigm shifts started to occur in the mindsets of these societies and communities and to what extent.

Our concern in this research paper is for Western literature. This paper is a modest attempt to compare the literary works written in the three earlier eras of the human civilization; starting from the ancient times, to the middle ages and moving onto the renaissance periods. We would compare the literary works between these periods with a careful focus on certain themes; mainly courage, leadership and religion; and how they have evolved with the passage of time. This attempt, would try to depict a keen insight into the progressive development of cultural moral codes of the societies and communities of these times, and how literature has carefully enclosed these periodic aspects of the cultural paradigm shifts, for us all to study, enjoy and ponder over.


Literary writings of each era indicate reflective, conceptual modernizations. One of the most crucial literary pieces of the ancient times, Beowulf, is a tale of a fearless soldier who fights Grendel. “A powerful monster, living down/ in the darkness…” (Raffel, 2008). This scuffles reveal the time conventional clash of good versus evil. This global theme is continued in the medieval writings but with a vision of extraordinary gallantry. Knights were considered with most superlative respect and authenticity as Chaucer's puts it so well in 'The Canterbury Tales'. “There was a Knight, a most distinguished man / who from the day on which he first began / to ride abroad had followed chivalry” (Coghill, 2003). The times classical battle of good versus evil is unfailing. Though, it is observed that the code of virtuosity exceedingly triumph sheer might in combat in the medieval times (Luebering, 2011). The Renaissance era also changed its literary footings, with introspection more towards morals and aesthetics of intellect and the arts rather than might or encounters in fights (Luebering, 2011). Sonnets and poetic verses were very fashionable, and love tales were held in high regard.

The comparative analysis of literature, in these three eras, suggests uniqueness and profound changes that occurred within the populace. Values and believes saw a continual paradigm shift. The artworks focused more towards humanity, moral codes and intelligence; and superseded the initial cravings for bravery and fights of survival, in which good encompasses evil in the ...
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