The Song of Roland and Ywain Essay

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The Song of Roland and Ywain:

A Changing Society as Viewed Through Its Literature

When comparing the epic poem of The Song of Roland to the romantic literature of Ywain, the differences between the early medieval period and the high medieval period become evident. Both The Song of Roland and Ywain depicts the societies from which each story derives its fundamental characteristics. Through close observation, one is able to see the shifts in customs and mentality that make the move from the epic to the romance possible. In his chapter 'From Epic to Romance', R.W. Southern shows how this transformation manifests itself through changing ecclesiastical and secular thoughts and feelings.

The Song of Roland is typical of the epic poems
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It is the responsibility of both the vassal and the lord to provide, among other things, this defense and revenge for one another.

Loyalty and love play a definitive role in this early medieval period. It is important to give these to one's friends, lord, and community. However, the love of a woman is not significant here. The romantic love between man and woman is not a trait of the early medieval society; that is to come later. Roland captures the strength of love and loyalty in many ways. As previously stated, The Song of Roland clearly depicts the loyalty between a lord and his vassals. It also shows how going against one's lord, and more importantly, one's community went against the set code of conduct for a vassal. Early on, the writer shows the treachery of Ganelon, including the significance of this betrayal by the loss of the great Peers of Francia. The end of the poem completes Charlemagne's revenge of Roland's death when, for his treason, Ganelon must suffer death. However, the kings obligation is not easily accomplished because the nobles of his realm wish to have Ganelon go free instead of face Pinabel, Ganelon's "champion". The pain of these treacheries cuts Charlemagne to the heart, yet they go beyond just Charlemagne. They are injustices against the community as a whole. After trial by ordeal, the custom of two warriors fighting each other with God deciding the winner, the king's revenge can

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