How literature mirrors their era

Beowulf, Macbeth, Eaters of the Dead, The Canterbury Tales, The Merchant of Venice, and Paradise Lost all reflect the time eras in which each was written. Each of which era reflects a totally different outlook on life.

The Anglo-Saxon era was focused on blood, war, tragedy, heroism, and evilness. William the Conquerer was making his invasions around the world; this set the world to attention, making war and violence a common spectacle.

Beowulf is one of the oldest known literary records of the beginnings of the English language. Beowulf is about a warrior who engages in a quest to help King Rothgar defeat a monster named Grendel. Throughout the whole story Beowulf is on a mission to destroy Grendel, and Grendel is out to murder and destroy life. In the end Beowulf is a hero and all rejoice. This reflects the Anglo-Saxon era in that there is a war between Grendel and Beowulf which end in death, also Grendel is a monster who is man eating which has to do with the violence and blood during this time.

Macbeth, by William Shakespeare is a conflicting story between Macbeth and Macbeth’s conscience. Macbeth is thirsty for power and greed and he will do anything to get what he wants, including killing the king. Macbeth’s conscience thoughout the play is trying to cope with the horrendous deeds he has done. The play ends with a war between Macbeth and Macduff. Macbeth is a mirror of the Anglo-Saxon era because of all the murders in the play, Macbeth murders people when they get in his way of earning what he thinks he deserves, such as the King and Banquo. The war at the end of the play shows how if someone in the Anglo-Saxon time period won a battle they were looked upon a god-like and very heroic.

Michael Crichton’s Eaters of the Dead, is about Viking adventures and invasions. The Vikings were almost barbaric in their ways, they set out to destroy towns and crush life. They killed anyone who gave them any trouble and they were always engaged in war. This story reflects Anglo-Saxon times in that there was always war, and many invasions during that time. Everyone at that time was very violent especially the men, Eaters of the Dead is a very good example of what the Anlgo-Saxon times might have been like.

The Middle Ages was a time when people focused their life on the church, and the revival of their spirit. It was also a time when the church had very corrupt ways.
Geoffery Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, pokes fun of the corrupt churches. In the prologue of the Canterbury Tales Chaucer describes each character in his story. When it comes to the church associated characters Chaucer takes great care to show exactly what was wrong with each of them, the Prioress was described as plump, the Monk as a monastery outsider, the Summoner as a crook, and so on. The tales take place while the characters are out on a pilgrimage, which is a religious hike. The Canterbury Tales, represents the Middle ages because it’s main focus is the church and all of the characters are church going or church associated people.

Paradise Lost, by John Milton, is an explanation of why man was banished from Paradise (Eden). Throughout the book there are explanations of why god did what he did and what happened in both heaven and hell. Paradise Lost is just like a laymen’s terms version of the Old Testament that is why it reflects the Middle Ages.

During the Renaissance, the focus was on art, happiness, love, prosperity and anti-Semitism.

The Merchant of Venice, by William Shakespeare, shows the time of the Renaissance very well. First of all there is a wealthy man who likes to flaunt and show off all his money, there is a Jew who nobody likes and is very prejudice towards, also there are love stories between three different couples throughout the play. All of these represent what the Renaissance is all about.

That is why the literature during the Anglo-Saxon, Middle Ages, and The Renaissance all mirror their eras.