An Analysis Of British Literature Essay

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An Analysis of British Literature


Death is inevitable and what happens after death will always be a
mystery to the living. For this reason, the afterlife has always been a topic
which artists have chosen to explore in their works. Throughout the chronology
of British literature, artists have used society's views as a basis to examine
the afterlife, and look at it in new ways. The afterlife has been a theme in
British Literature from the Anglo-Saxon period of Beowulf to the twentieth
century writings of Dylan Thomas. The mysteriousness of the afterlife makes it
a topic which artists will always be eager to analyze.
During the Anglo-Saxon Period which lasted from 449 AD to 1066 AD, the
popular belief of the times was that a
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The
society's values greatly influenced the monks revision of the poems.
"The Seafarer" is another Anglo-Saxon poem which deals with the
afterlife. The poem was written by Bede, who was a monk, so it contains the
Christian views of the afterlife which are very similar to the one's included in
the Christian revision to Beowulf. The speaker believed "Death leaps at the
fools who forgot their God./ He who lives humbly has angles from Heaven/ To
carry him courage and strength and belief." This showed the belief that God
must be worshipped to get to Heaven, and if you do not follow God, like Grendel
in Beowulf, you will not go to Heaven. In the poem, the persona expressed that
riches can not buy entrance into heaven in the afterlife because, "nothing/
Golden shakes the wrath of God/ For a soul overflowing with sin, and nothing/
Hidden on earth rises to Heaven." This poem reflected an Anglo-Saxon monk's
views of the afterlife, which were centered around his strong faith in
Christianity.
During the Medieval Period, the Catholic church played a dominant role
in society. In England, the church's abbeys and monasteries were the main
centers of learning and the arts before the founding of Oxford and Cambridge
universities during the thirteenth century. The church preached that following
their faith would led a person to the afterlife. A piece of literature which
displayed the belief in the afterlife was Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. The
story starts at a Christmas…