essay question

Answer three (3) of the following five (5) questions. Question #1 is MANDATORY. Type your answers in a standard literary essay format (as you learned in your English composition classes), then attach them to the assignment dropbox as .doc (or .docx) files as you did the midterm. (No PDF files, please)

Question #1 is mandatory – you MUST answer question #1, then choose two additional questions from the remaining four.

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The best possible answers will address the questions thoughtfully, using evidence from the readings and taking into consideration the WebCampus/Canvas discussions. Be certain that your answers are essay length (roughly three double-spaced pages – that’s about 750 words each) and supported by lots of specific evidence and examples from the text; don’t take anything for granted. (These are “essays” not research papers, so it is not necessary to use formal citations or list your references at the end, but if you quote or paraphrase within the body of the essay, be sure to name your source within your text.) Be certain your answers are clearly NUMBERED, and also be sure you double space between answers.


1. Dante “built” his version of hell utilizing rather equal measures of Roman Catholic doctrine and his own personal perspective regarding the guilt or innocence of the people he put there (his personal perspective seems sometimes rather vindictive). Pick one character who seems to be in hell for reasons the Catholic church of that time would approve, and one or two who seem to be there simply because Dante was “getting even.” Explain how this is so in each case using details from the poem as well as from whatever historical sources you wish to utilize.

2. Gawain and the Green Knight” represents a kind of heroic poem we call Medieval Romance. Use your knowledge of all the other stories (poems, etc.) we’ve read to show how it is that this tale of King Arthur’s court from the fourteenth century represents an extension of the heroic or epic literary mode into Christian Medieval Europe (the blending of Christian, Celtic, and Germanic cultures) and is at the same time a bridge between (or combination of) the epic and lyric traditions in European poetry. In other words, what literary features and attitudes of both epic and lyric poetry does “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” contain?

3. We’ve discussed them extensively in class and on WebCampus, so now, which of the heroes (epic, or tragic) we’ve read about (Gilgamesh, Odysseus, Oedipus, Jesus, Rama, Kumagai, Roland or Atsumori, Lanval, Beowulf, Sir Gawain, Hamlet) comes closest to our contemporary concept of “heroic?” This answer will require you to define what you and your contemporaries consider “heroic,” if anything, as well as to detail the ways in which the character you’ve chosen measures up to that definition and the ways some of the others fail to measure up. Many very clever people have claimed that we live in an anti-heroic age (not believing in heroes any more at all.

The paper also has to be close to or 750 words per question

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