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McDougal Littell 




Arthur N. Applebee 

Andrea B. Bermudez 

Sheridan Blau 

Rebekah Caplan 

Peter Elbow 

Susan Hynds 

Judith A. Langer 

James Marshall 

^McDougal Littell 

Evanston, Illinois ♦ Boston * Dallas 


A. P. Watt Ltd.: "The Ant and the Grasshopper" by W. Somerset Maugham, 
from The Collected Stories of W. Somerset Maugham. Reprinted by permission of A. 
P. Watt Limited on behalf of the Royal Literary Fund. 

Unit One 

Dutton Signet: Excerpts from Beowulf, translated by Burton Raffel. Translation 
Copyright © 1963 by Burton Raffel, Afterword © 1963 by New American Library. 
"Fifth Day, Ninth Story" retitled "Federigo's Falcon," from The Decameron by 
Giovanni Boccaccio, translated by Mark Musa and Peter Bondanella, Translation 
copyright © 1982 by Mark Musa and Peter Bondanella. 
From he Morte D' Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory, translated by Keith Baines. 
Translation copyright © 1962 by Keith Baines, renewed © 1990 by Francesca 
Evans. Introduction © 1962 by Robert Graves, renewed © 1990 by Beryl Graves. 
Used by permission of Dutton Signet, a division of Penguin Putnam Inc. 

The New York Times: "A Collaboration Across 1,200 Years" by D. J. R. 
Bruckner, from The New York Times, July 22, 1997. Copyright © 1997 by The 
New York Times. Reprinted by permission. 

Continued on page 1493 

Warning: No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by 
any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by 
any information storage or retrieval system without prior written permission of 
McDougal Littell Inc. unless such copying is expressly permitted by federal 
copyright law. With the exception of not-for-profit transcription in Braille, 
McDougal Littell Inc. is not authorized to grant permission for further uses of 
copyrighted selections reprinted in this text without the permission of their owners. 
Permission must be obtained from the individual copyright owners as identified 
herein. Address inquiries to Manager, Rights and Permissions, McDougal Littell 
Inc., P.O. Box 1667, Evanston, IL 60204. 

ISBN- 13: 978-0-618-17075-3 ISBN-10: 0-618-17075-8 

2007 Impression. 

Copyright © 2002 by McDougal Littell Inc. All rights reserved. 
Printed in the United States of America. 

11 12 13 14 15 0914 13 12 11 10 09 

Senior Consultants 

The senior consultants guided the conceptual development for The Language of 
Literature series. They participated actively in shaping prototype materials for major 
components, and they reviewed completed prototypes and/or completed units to ensure 
consistency with current research and the philosophy of the series. 

Arthur N. Applebee Professor of Education, State University of New York at Albany; 
Director, Center for the Learning and Teaching of Literature; Senior Fellow, Center for 
Writing and Literacy 

Andrea B. Bermudez Professor of Studies in Language and Culture; Director, 
Research Center for Language and Culture; Chair, Foundations and Professional 
Studies, University of Houston-Clear Lake 

Sheridan Blau Senior Lecturer in English and Education and former Director of 
Composition, University of California at Santa Barbara; Director, South Coast Writing 
Project; Director, Literature Institute for Teachers; Former President, National Council 
of Teachers of English 

Rebekah Caplan Senior Associate for Language Arts for middle school and high 
school literacy, National Center on Education and the Economy, Washington, D.C.; 
served on the California State English Assessment Development Team for Language 
Arts; former co-director of the Bay Area Writing Project, University of California at 

Peter Elbow Emeritus Professor of English, University of Massachusetts at Amherst; 
Fellow, Bard Center for Writing and Thinking 

Susan Hynds Professor and Director of English Education, Syracuse University, 
Syracuse, New York 

Judith A. hanger Professor of Education, State University of New York at Albany; 
Co-director, Center for the Learning and Teaching of Literature; Senior Fellow, Center 
for Writing and Literacy 

James Marshall Professor of English and English Education; Chair, Division of 
Curriculum and Instruction, University of Iowa, Iowa City 

Contributing Consultants 

Linda Diamond Executive Vice-President, Consortium on Reading Excellence 
(CORE); co-author of Building a Powerful Reading Program 

Lucila A. Garza ESL Consultant, Austin, Texas 

Jeffrey N. Golub Assistant Professor of English Education, University of 
South Florida, Tampa 

William L. McBride, Ph.D. Reading and Curriculum Specialist; former middle 
and high school English instructor 

Sharon Sicinski-Skeans, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Reading, University of 
Houston-Clear Lake; primary consultant on The Inter Active Reader 

Multicultural Advisory Board 

The multicultural advisors reviewed literature selections for appropriate content and 
made suggestions for teaching lessons in a multicultural classroom. 

Vikki Pepper Ascuena, Meridian High School, Meridian, Idaho 

Dr. Joyce M. Bell, Chairperson, English Department, Townview Magnet Center, 
Dallas, Texas 

Linda F. Bellmore, Livermore High School, Livermore, California 

Dr. Eugenia W. Collier, Author; lecturer; Chairperson, Department of English and 
Language Arts; Teacher of Creative Writing and American Literature, Morgan State 
University, Maryland 

Dr. Bill Compagnone, English Department Chairperson, Lawrence High School, 

Lawrence, Massachusetts 

Kathleen S. Fowler, President, Palm Beach County Council of Teachers of English, 
Boca Raton Middle School, Boca Raton, Florida 

Jan Graham, Cobb Middle School, Tallahassee, Florida 

Barbara J. Kuhns, Camino Real Middle School, Las Cruces, New Mexico 

Patricia J. Richards, Prior Lake, Minnesota 

Continued on page 1509 

Teacher Review Panels 

The following educators provided ongoing review during the development of the 
tables of contents, lesson design, and key components of the program. 


Steve Bass, 8th Grade Team Leader, Meadowbrook Middle School, Ponway Unified 
School District 

Cynthia Brickey, 8th Grade Academic Block Teacher, Kastner Intermediate School, 
Clovis Unified School District 

Continued on page 1509 

Manuscript Reviewers 

The following educators reviewed prototype lessons and tables of contents during 
the development of The Language of Literature program. 

David Adcox, Trinity High School, Euless, Texas 

Carol Alves, English Department Chairperson, Apopka High School, Apopka, 

Continued on page 1510 


Student Board 

The student board members read and evaluated selections to assess their appeal 
for 12th-grade students. 

Daniel Birdsall, Muhlenberg High School, Reading, Pennsylvania 
Shane M. Cummins, Loudoun County High School, Leesburg, Virginia 
Carrie Mitchell, Butler Traditional High School, Shively, Kentucky 
Jennifer Schwab, MacArthur High School, San Antonio, Texas 
Sarah Marie Slezak, Union High School, Grand Rapids, Michigan 
Staci Talis Smith, Ramsay Alternative High School, Birmingham, Alabama 
Eve E. Tanner, Justin F. Kimball High School, Dallas, Texas 


The Language of Literature 


oK'e t The Anglo-Saxon and Medieval 

Periods 495-1485 

Part 1 Tests of Courage 

Part 2 Reflections of Everyday Life 

Part 3 Attempts at Perfection 


The Epic 

Writing Workshop: Personality Profile, 

Application Essay 

Grammar: Achieving Sentence Variety, 

Creating Compound and Complex 


Vocabulary: Using Word Origins to 

Learn New Words, Understanding Words 

with Multiple Meanings 

two The English Renaissance 1485-1660 

Part 1 Aspects of Love 
Part 2 A Passion for Power 
Part 3 Facing Life's Limitations 


Sonnet Form Writing Workshop: Research Report 

Shakespearean Grammar: Using Adverbs and 

Tragedy Adverb Phrases 

Metaphysical Vocabulary: Analyzing Word Parts- 


three The Restoration and 
Enlightenment 1 660-1798 

Part 1 Views of Society 

Part 2 Arguments for Change 

Part 3 Revelations About Human Nature 


Nonfiction in Writing Workshop: Proposal, Satire 
the 18th Century Grammar: Using Adjectives and 

Satire Adjective Phrases, Using Elements 

in a Series 

Vocabulary: Precision in Language, 
Recognizing Denotations and 

four The Flowering of 
Romanticism 1 798-1 832 

Part 1 Seeking Truth 

Part 2 Embracing the Imagination 


Communication Workshop: 

Performance Presentation 
Grammar: Using Adjective and 
Noun Clauses 

Vocabulary: Homonyms, Homophones, 
and Homographs 



Form and 
Meaning in 

five The Victorians 1 832-1 901 

Part 1 Personal Relationships 
Part 2 New Voices, New Directions 


The Growth and Writing Workshop: Subject Analysis 
Development Grammar: Using Adverb Clauses 
of Fiction Vocabulary: Using Context Clues to 

Determine Meaning 

six 17 Emerging Modernism 1901-1950 

Part 1 New Images of Reality 
Part 2 Shocking Realities 


Irony in Modern Writing Workshop: Dramatic Scene 
Literature Communication Workshop: Web Site 

Grammar: Creating Sentence Closers, 
Creating Sentence Openers 
Vocabulary: Identifying the Parts 
of a Word, Learning Ways to Develop 
Your Vocabulary 

seven Contemporary Voices 1950-Present 

Part 1 Appearance and Reality 
Part 2 Culture and Conflict 


Point of View in 



Literature as 
Social Criticism 


Writing Workshop: 

Critical Review 

Grammar: Creating Subject-Verb Splits 

Vocabulary: Understanding Analogies 


Table of Contents 

Student Resource Bank 

Reading Handbook 

Writing Handbook 

Communication Handbook 

Grammar Handbook 

Glossary of Literary Terms 

Glossary of Words to Know in English and Spanish 



Literature Connections 

Each of the books in the 
Literature Connections series 
combines a novel or play with 
related readings — poems, 
stories, plays, personal essays, 
articles — that add new 
perspectives on the theme 
or subject matter of the 
longer work. 

Listed below are some of 
the most popular choices to 
accompany the Grade 12 anthology: 

Hamlet by William Shakespeare 

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen 

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte 

Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy 

Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw 

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens 

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens 


The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer 

1984 by George Orwell 

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe 

Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga 

When Rain Clouds Gather by Bessie Head 

Becoming an Active Reader 


Reading Literature 



The Ant and the Grasshopper by W. Somerset Maugham 

Reading Handbook 











Reading a Textbook 


Reading a Magazine Article 


Reading a Web Page 




Main Ideas and Supporting Details 


Chronological Order 


Comparison and Contrast 


Cause and Effect 






Guide to Colleges 


Campus Map 


College Application 


Online Job Search 


Job Application 


Workplace Document 




TV Ldng/fr-<Scuxx)fv 




r i 


Time Line 

Historical Background 

Development of the English Language 

Literary History 

Part 1 Tests of Courage 

The Beowulf Poet 

translated by Burton Raff el 

D. J. R. Bruckner 

Learning the Language of Literature: The Epic 

from Beowulf 




The Battle with Grendel 


Grendel's Mother 

The Battle with Grendel's Mother 

Beowulf's Last Battle 

The Death of Beowulf 

Mourning Beowulf 

Literary Link 

A Collaboration Across 1,200 Years 









Comparing Literature of the World 

The Epic Hero Across Cultures: Ancient Greece 

Homer from the Iliad 

translated by Robert Fitzgerald 





translated by Burton Raffel 

translated by Ann Stanford 
The Venerable Bede 

from the Exeter Book 
The Seafarer 
The Wanderer 
The Wife's Lament 

from A History of the English Church 
and People 




Part 2 Reflections of Everyday Life 


Geoffrey Chaucer 

Author Study 


Life and Times 


$?& 8& 


4§ ^\| 

from The Canterbury Tales 



■ J^ 

translated by Nevill Coghill 


J& w 

The Prologue 


^ w 

from The Life and Times of Chaucer 



^^ ^r 

by John Gardner 

VJr Author Exploration 

from The Pardoner's Tale 



The Wife of Bath's Tale 


The Author's Style 


Giovanni Boccaccio 

Comparing Literature of the World 

The Storytelling Tradition Across Cultures: Italy 

from The Decameron 
Federigo's Falcon 



The Paston Family from The Paston Letters 

Anonymous Barbara Allan 

Sir Patrick Spens 

Get Up and Bar the Door 









Writing Workshop Personality Profile (Observation and Description) 200 

STUDENT MODEL Her Three-Inch Feet 201 

REVISING SKILL Adding Detail 204 

EDITING SKILL Comma Splices 204 

Assessment Practice Revising and Editing 205 

Building Vocabulary Using Word Origins 206 

Sentence Crafting Inverting Word Order 207 


Part 3 Attempts at Perfection 

The Gawain Poet 

translated by John Gardner 

Sir Thomas Malory, 

retold by Keith Baines 

William Caxton 

from Sir Gawain and the Green Knight 


from Le Morte d'Arthur 

from Preface to the First Edition 
of Le Morte d'Arthur 








Comparing Literature of the World 

Legendary Deeds Across Cultures: India 

Valmiki from the Ramayana 

translated and adapted by R. K. Narayan 



Margery Kempe from The Book of Margery Kempe autobiography 252 

Milestones in British Literature: Mystery, Miracle, 258 
and Morality Plays 


Reading for Information Paraphrasing and 239 


Writing Workshop Application Essay (Personal and Reflective) 260 


REVISING SKILL Using the Active Voice 264 

EDITING SKILL Subject-Verb Agreement 264 

Assessment Practice Revising and Editing 265 

Building Vocabulary Understanding Words 266 

with Multiple Meanings 

Sentence Crafting Creating Compound and 267 

Complex Sentences 


Reflect and Assess 268 

Extend Your Reading 270 




148 5-1 660 



Time Line 

Historical Background 

Development of the English Language 

Literary History 


Part 1 

Sir Thomas Wyatt 

Aspects of Love 

My Lute, Awake! 



Elizabeth 1 

On Monsieur's Departure 



Christopher Marlowe 

The Passionate Shepherd to His Love 



Sir Walter Raleigh 

The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd 



Learning the Language of Literature: Sonnet Form 


Edmund Spenser 

Sonnet 30 
Sonnet 75 



William Shakespeare 

Sonnet 29 
Sonnet 116 
Sonnet 130 



Comparing Literature of the World 

The Sonnet Across Cultures: Italy 

Francesco Petrarch Sonnet 169 
Sonnet 292 




Part 2 A Passion for Power 

William Shakespeare Author Study 



Author Exploration 

Life and Times 


The English Renaissance Theater 

The Rebirth of the Globe 

Learning the Language of Literature: Shakespearean Tragedy 

The Tragedy of Macbeth drama 


Act One 



Act Two 

Duncan's Murder from Holinshed's Chronicles 
Act Three 

Banquo's Murder from Holinshed's Chronicles 
Act Four 
Act Five 

The Macbeth Murder Mystery by James Thurber short story 
The Author's Style 

Writing Workshop Research Report 
STUDENT MODEL The Gunpowder Plot of 1605 and Macbeth 
REVISING SKILL Paragraph Building 
EDITING SKILL Shifting Verb Tense 
Assessment Practice Revising and Editing 
Building Vocabulary Analyzing Word Parts — Roots 
Sentence Crafting Using Adverbs and Adverb Phrases 







Part 3 

King James Bible 

Sir Francis Bacon 

John Donne 

Ben Jonson 

Robert Herrick 

Andrew Marvell 

Richard Lovelace 


Facing Life's Limitations 

from Ecclesiastes, Chapter 3 

Psalm 23 

Parable of the Prodigal Son 

from Essays 
Of Studies 
Of Marriage and Single Life 

Learning the Language of Literature: Metaphysical Poetry 

A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning 
Holy Sonnet 10 
from Meditation 17 

On My First Son 
Still to Be Neat 








To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time 


To His Coy Mistress 


To Lucasta, Going to the Wars 




















Comparing Literature of the World 

The Theme of Carpe Diem Across Cultures: Persia 

Omar Khayyam from the Rubaiyat 

translated by Edward FitzGerald 



How Soon Hath Time 



When 1 Consider How My Light Is Spent 



from Paradise Lost 




John Milton 

Margaret Cavendish Female Orations 

Literary Link 
Amelia Lanier from Eve's Apology in Defense of Women 

Milestones in British Literature: John Btinyan's 
The Pilgrim's Progress 


Reflect and Assess 

Extend Your Reading 

Reading and Writing for Assessment 












Time Line 

Historical Background 

Development of the English Language 

Literary History 

Part 1 

Samuel Pepys 
Alexander Pope 

Views of Society 

from The Diary of Samuel Pepys 

from An Essay on Man 

Epigrams, from An Essay on Criticism 






Comparing Literature of the World 

Observing Society Across Cultures: France 

Jean de La Fontaine The Acorn and the Pumpkin fable 

The Value of Knowledge fable 


Joseph Addison 

Philip Stanhope, 
Lord Chesterfield 

Lady Mary 
Wortley Montagu 

Mary Astell 

Learning the Language of Literature: 
Nonfiction in the 18th Century 

from The Spectator 

from Letters to His Son 

Letter to Her Daughter 

Literary Link 

from Some Reflections upon Marriage 







Milestones in British Literature: Daniel Defoe's 
Robinson Crusoe 

Writing Workshop Proposal (Informative Exposition) 
STUDENT MODEL A Proposal to Enhance Arts Education at 
Stevenson High School 
REVISING SKILL Transition Words 
EDITING SKILL Using Adverbs Correctly 
Assessment Practice Revising and Editing 
Building Vocabulary Precision in Language 
Sentence Crafting Using Adjectives and Adjective Phrases 




Part 2 Arguments for Change 

Daniel Defoe from An Academy for Women 

Learning the Language of Literature: Satire 




Jonathan Swift 

Author Study 


Life and Times 


Mt T "^k 


^^k^KbF/ *^~ fc *^^^L 

from Gulliver's Travels 



1 jLI 1 

from Part 1. A Voyage to Lilliput 


I u i 

from Part 2. A Voyage to Brobdingnag 


\|t ^]l ■ mSfw 

Letter from Richard Sympson 



vJP Author Exploration 

A Modest Proposal 


The Author's Style 



Comparing Literature of the World 

Satirical Commentary Across Cultures: France 

Voltaire from Candide 



Mary Wollstonecraft 

from A Vindication of the Rights of Woman Essay 


Reading for Information Denotation and Connotation 
Writing Workshop Satire (Persuasion) 
PROFESSIONAL MODEL A New "Modest Proposal" 
^k Ellen Goodman 
REVISING SKILL Using Appropriate Diction 
EDITING SKILL Pronoun-Antecedent Agreement 
Assessment Practice Revising and Editing 
Building Vocabulary Recognizing Denotations 

and Connotations 
Sentence Crafting Using Elements in a Series 







Part 3 

Samuel Johnson 

Samuel Johnson 

James Boswell 
Thomas Gray 

Fanny Burney 

Revelations About Human Nature 

from The Rambler 

On Spring 
from The Idler 

On Idleness 

from A Dictionary of the English Language 


from The Life of Samuel Johnson 

Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard 


from The Diary and Letters of 
Madame d'Arblay 















Comparing Literature of the World 

Personal Narratives Across Cultures: France 

Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrun from Memoirs of Madame Vigee-Lebrun 



Reflect and Assess 
Extend Your Reading 






Part 1 

William Blake 



1798-1 832 

Time Line 

Historical Background 

Development of the English Language 

Literary History 




Seeking Truth 

Learning the Language of Literature: Romanticism 

from Songs of Innocence 
The Lamb 
The Little Boy Lost 
The Little Boy Found 

from Songs of Experience 
The Tyger 
The Fly 
The Sick Rose 






Matsuo Basho and 
Kobayashi Issa 

Comparing Literature of the World 

Nature Poetry Across Cultures: Japan 





William Wordsworth 

Author Study 


Life and Times 



^^H ^^Ln ~^rz ^fl HHJk 

Selected Poems 


ifl T' 1 

Lines Composed a Few Miles Above 
Tintern Abbey 



Composed upon Westminster Bridge, 
September3, 1802 



vJP Author Exploration 

The World Is Too Much with Us 
It Is a Beauteous Evening 



1 Wandered Lonely As a Cloud 



from the Grasmere Journals 
by Dorothy Wordsworth 



The Author's Style 


Samuel Taylor Coleridge Kubla Khan 



The Rime of the Ancient Mariner 

Milestones in British Literature: 
Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice 






Part 2 

George Gordon, 
Lord Byron 

Percy Bysshe Shelley 

Percy Bysshe Shelley 

Embracing the Imagination 

Learning the Language of Literature: 
Form and Meaning in Poetry 

Selected Poems 
She Walks in Beauty 
When We Two Parted 
from Childe Harold's Pilgrimage 

Selected Poems 

Ode to the West Wind 
To a Skylark 

from A Defense of Poetry 
















Heinrich Heine 

Comparing Literature of the World 

Romanticism Across Cultures: Germany 

The Lotus-Blossom Cowers 



John Keats 

Selected Poems 


Ode on a Grecian Urn 



To Autumn 



When 1 Have Fears That 1 May Cease to Be 



Bright Star, Would 1 Were Steadfast 



As Thou Art 

Milestones in British Literature: 808 
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley's Frankenstein 


Reading for Information Identifying Persuasive Techniques 792 

Communication Workshop Performance Presentation 810 

(Speaking and Listening) 

Analyzing a Performance Presentation 811 

Creating Your Performance Presentation 813 

Assessment Practice Revising and Editing 815 

Building Vocabulary Homonyms, Homophones, and Homographs 816 

Sentence Crafting Using Adjective and Noun Clauses 817 


Reflect and Assess 818 

Extend Your Reading 820 

Reading and Writing for Assessment 822 



183 2-1901 


Time Line 




Historical Background 



Development of the English Language 
Literary History 

Part 1 

Personal Relationships 


Alfred, Lord Tennyson 

The Lady of Shalott 







from In Memoriam 



Crossing the Bar 



Robert Browning 

My Last Duchess 




Porphyrias Lover 




Elizabeth Barrett Browning Sonnet 43 

Charlotte Bronte A Warning Against Passion 

Learning the Language of Literature: 
The Growth and Development of Fiction 

Milestones in British Literature: 
The Novels of Charles Dickens 

Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell Christmas Storms and Sunshine 

Milestones in British Literature: 
The Bronte Novels 


Mary E. Coleridge The King Is Dead, Long Live the King 







Rudyard Kipling 

Milestones in British Literature: 
The Novels of George Eliot 

The Miracle of Purun Bhagat 





Leo Tolstoy 

Comparing Literature of the World 

Observing Moral Lessons Across Cultures: Russia 

What Men Live By 





Reading for Information Understanding a Writer's Attitudes 952 

and Ideas 

Writing Workshop Subject Analysis (Informative Exposition) 932 

PROFESSIONAL MODEL No One Stops to Say "Thank You" 933 

Anymore byl. A. Wilson 

REVISING SKILL Keeping Similar Ideas Parallel 936 

EDITING SKILL Correct Comparisons 936 

Assessment Practice Revising and Editing 937 

Building Vocabulary Using Context Clues to Determine Meaning 938 

Sentence Crafting Using Adverb Clauses 939 

Part 2 New Voices, New Directions 

Matthew Arnold Dover Beach 

To Marguerite — Continued 

Gerard Manley Hopkins 

Gerard Manley Hopkins 

Thomas Hardy 

A. E. Housman 

Pied Beauty 

Spring and Fall: To a Young Child 

from Journal 

The Man He Killed 

Ah, Are You Digging on My Grave? 

The Convergence of the Twain 

When I Was One-and-Twenty 
To an Athlete Dying Young 






















Comparing Literature of the World 

The Role of the Poet Across Cultures: India 

Rabindranath Tagore 1996 



Reflect and Assess 
Extend Your Reading 









Time Line 

Historical Background 

Development of the English Language 

Literary History 



Part 1 

William Butler Yeats 

New Images of Reality 

The Second Coming 
Sailing to Byzantium 




Lady Isabella 
Augusta Gregory 

The Rising of the Moon 



Learning the Language of Literature: 
Irony in Modern Literature 


D. H. Lawrence 

The Rocking-Horse Winner 




James Joyce 




Milestones in British Literature: 
James Joyce's Ulysses 


Katherine Mansfield 

A Cup of Tea 



Milestones in British Literature: 
The Novels of Graham Greene 


Virginia Woolf 

The Duchess and the Jeweller 




E. M. Forster from Virginia Woolf 


Milestones in British Literature: 
The Novels of Virginia Woolf 

T. S. Eliot Author Study 




vjf Author Exploration 

W. H. Auden 

Stephen Spender 
Dylan Thomas 

Life and Times 




The Hollow Men 


The Naming of Cats 

from Prufrock and Other Observations: 
A Criticism by May Sinclair 

Encounter with T. S. Eliot by Robert Giroux 

The Author's Style 

Musee des Beaux Arts 
The Unknown Citizen 

What I Expected 

Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night 
In My Craft or Sullen Art 





















Comparing Literature of the World 

Poetry Across Cultures: Mexico 

Octavio Paz Writing/Escritura 




Reading for Information Summarizing and Evaluating 1057 

Writing Workshop Dramatic Scene (Narrative and Literary) 1098 

STUDENT MODEL Two Characters on a Bus 1099 

REVISING SKILL Using Dialogue Effectively 1102 

EDITING SKILL Formats for Scripts 1102 

Assessment Practice Revising and Editing 1103 

Building Vocabulary Identifying the Parts of a Word 1104 

Sentence Crafting Creating Sentence Closers 1105 


Part 2 

Shocking Realities 

Literature of World War 1 


William Butler Yeats 

An Irish Airman Foresees His Death 



Rupert Brooke 

The Soldier 



Siegfried Sassoon 




Vera Brittain 

from Testament of Youth 
Literature of World War II 



Winston Churchill 

from The Speeches, May 19, 1940 



George Barker 

Literary Link 
To My Mother 



Comparing Literature of the World 

The Effect of the War Across Cultures: Romania 

Elie Wiesel from Night 



Etty Hillesum from Letters from Westerbork 


Aldous Huxley 

Words and Behavior 


Elizabeth Bowen The Demon Lover 
George Orwell A Hanging 






Reading for Information Analyzing Primary Sources 

Communication Workshop Web Site (Using Technology) 

Analyzing a Model Web Site 

Creating Your Web Site 
Assessment Practice Revising and Editing 
Building Vocabulary Learning Ways to Develop Your Vocabulary 
Sentence Crafting Creating Sentence Openers 

Reflect and Assess 
Extend Your Reading 










Part 1 

Penelope Lively 
Doris Lessing 
Muriel Spark 

Margaret Atwood 

Seamus Heaney 

Ted Hughes 

Seamus Heaney 


Time Line 

Historical Background 

Development of the English Language 

Literary History 

Appearance and Reality 

Learning the Language of Literature: 
Point of View in Contemporary Fiction 

At the Pitt-Rivers 

A Sunrise on the Veld 

The First Year of My Life 


The Moment 
The Horses 

from Crediting Poetry: The Nobel Lecture 




















Czeslaw Milosz 

Comparing Literature of the World 

Poetic Contemplations Across Cultures: Poland 

In Music 



Stevie Smith 

The Frog Prince 

Not Waving but Drowning 

Harold Pinter That's All 






Part 2 Culture and Conflict 

Learning the Language of Literature: 
Literature as Social Criticism 

William Trevor The Distant Past 

Chinua Achebe Civil Peace 

Wole Soyinka Telephone Conversation 

Derek Walcott from Midsummer 

Nadine Gordimer Six Feet of the Country 













Comparing Literature of the World 

Politics and Literature Across Cultures: Chile 

Isabel Allende from Writing as an Act of Hope 




Reading for Information Analyzing a Speech 1241 

Writing Workshop Critical Review (Responding to Literature) 1311 

STUDENT MODEL "Six Feet of the Country" 1312 

REVISING SKILL Using Appositives 1315 

EDITING SKILL Modifier Placement 1315 

Assessment Practice Revising and Editing 1316 

Building Vocabulary Understanding Analogies 1317 

Sentence Crafting Creating Subject-Verb Splits 1318 


Reflect and Assess 1319 

Extend Your Reading 1321 


Student £?ie&oui+ce> £Bcmft 

Reading Handbook 1324 

Reading for Different Purposes 1324 

Reading Different Genres 1326 

Reading Different Formats 1327 

Enriching Your Vocabulary 1328 

Reading for Information 1334 

Functional Reading 1344 

Writing Handbook 1354 

The Writing Process 1354 

Building Blocks of Good Writing 1358 

Descriptive Writing 1363 

Narrative Writing 1365 

Explanatory Writing 1367 

Persuasive Writing 1371 

Research Report Writing 1373 

Business Writing 1379 

Communication Handbook 1381 

Inquiry and Research 1381 

Study Skills and Strategies 1383 

Critical Thinking 1385 

Speaking and Listening 1386 

Viewing and Representing 1388 

Grammar Handbook 1391 

Quick Reference: Parts of Speech 1391 

Nouns 1392 

Pronouns 1393 

Verbs 1395 

Modifiers 1398 

Prepositions, Conjunctions, Interjections 1400 

Quick Reference: The Sentence and Its Parts 1402 

The Sentence and Its Parts 1403 

Phrases 1405 

Verbals and Verbal Phrases 1405 

Clauses 1407 

The Structure of Sentences 1408 

Writing Complete Sentences 1409 

Subject-Verb Agreement 1410 

Quick Reference: Punctuation 1413 

Quick Reference: Capitalization 1415 

Little Rules That Make a Big Difference 1416 

Grammar Glossary 1421 

Glossary of Literary Terms 1428 

Glossary of Words to Know 

in English and Spanish 1454 

Pronunciation Chart 1468 

Index of Fine Art H69 

Index of Skills 1474 

Index of Titles and Authors 1490 

Acknowledgments 1493 

Art Credits 1497 


Selections by Genre 

from Beowulf 30 

The Beowulf Poet 

from the Iliad 66 


from Paradise Lost 480 

John Milton 

from the Ramayana 240 



from Le Morte d'Arthur 225 

Sir Thomas Malory 
from Sir Gawain and the Green Knight 209 

The Gawain Poet 


from Ecclesiastes, Chapter 3 435 

Parable of the Prodigal Son 435 

Psalm 23 435 

The Ant and the Grasshopper 8 

W. Somerset Maugham 

Araby 1022 

James Joyce 

At the Pitt-Rivers 1199 

Penelope Lively 
from Candide 624 


Christmas Storms and Sunshine 872 

Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell 

Civil Peace 1274 

Chinua Achebe 
A Cup of Tea 1034 

Katherine Mansfield 

The Demon Lover 1 1 57 

Elizabeth Bowen 

The Distant Past 1263 

William Trevor 

The Duchess and the Jeweller 1046 

Virginia Woolf 


Federigo's Falcon 171 

from The Decameron 

Giovanni Boccaccio 

The First Year of My Life 1220 

Muriel Spark 

from Gulliver's Travels 590 

Jonathan Swift 

The King Is Dead, Long Live the King 888 

Mary E. Coleridge 

The Macbeth Murder Mystery 417 

James Thurber 

The Miracle of Purun Bhagat 900 

Rudyard Kipling 

The Rocking-Horse Winner 1006 

D. H. Lawrence 

Six Feet of the Country 1289 

Nadine Gordimer 

A Sunrise on the Veld 1210 

Doris Lessing 

What Men Live By 914 

Leo Tolstoy 

from An Academy for Women 577 

Daniel Defoe 
Banquo's Murder from Holinshed's Chronicles 380 

Raphael Holinshed 

from The Book of Margery Kempe 252 

Margery Kempe 

A Collaboration Across 1,200 Years 61 

D. J. R. Bruckner 

from Crediting Poetry: The Nobel Lecture 1241 

Seamus Heaney 
from A Defense of Poetry 792 

Percy Bysshe Shelley 
from The Diary and Letters of Madame d'Arblay 674 

Fanny Burney 
from The Diary of Samuel Pepys 525 

Samuel Pepys 
from A Dictionary of the English Language 658 

Samuel Johnson 
Duncan's Murder from Holinshed's Chronicles 361 

Raphael Holinshed 

Encounter with T. S. Eliot 1072 

Robert Giroux 

from Essays 442 

Sir Francis Bacon 


Female Orations 493 

Margaret Cavendish 

from the Grasmere Journals 736 

Dorothy Wordsworth 

A Hanging 1167 

George Orwell 
from IK History of the English Church and People 98 

The Venerable Bede 

from Journal 952 

Gerard Manley Hopkins 

Letter from Richard Sympson 609 

Jonathan Swift 
Letter to Her Daughter 554 

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu 

from Letters from Westerbork 1 143 

Etty Hillesum 

from Letters to His Son 554 

Philip Stanhope, Lord Chesterfield 
from The Life of Samuel Johnson 659 

James Boswell 

from The Life and Times of Chaucer 139 

John Gardner 

from Meditation 17 451 

John Donne 

from Memoirs of Madame Vigee-Lebrun 681 

Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrun 

A Modest Proposal 611 

Jonathan Swift 

from Night 1135 

Elie Wiesel 

On Idleness 648 

from The Idler 

Samuel Johnson 

On Spring 648 

from The Rambler 
Samuel Johnson 

from The Paston Letters 180 

The Paston Family 

from Preface to the First Edition 

of Le Morte d Arthur 225 

William Caxton 

from Prufrock and Other Observations: 

A Criticism 1071 

May Sinclair 

from Some Reflections upon Marriage 563 

Mary Astell 

from The Spectator 548 

Joseph Addison 

from The Speeches, May 19, 1940 1127 

Winston Churchill 

from Testament of Youth 1114 

Vera Brittain 

from A Vindication of the Rights of Woman 631 

Mary Wollstonecraft 

from Virginia Woolf 1057 

E. M. Forster 

A Warning Against Passion 861 

Charlotte Bronte 
Words and Behavior 1 145 

Aldous Huxley 
from Writing as an Act of Hope 1302 

Isabel Allende 


The Acorn and the Pumpkin 540 

Jean de La Fontaine 

Ah, Are You Digging on My Grave? 953 

Thomas Hardy 
Barbara Allan 192 


Bright Star, Would I Were Steadfast 

As Thou Art 798 

John Keats 

from The Canterbury Tales 111 

Geoffrey Chaucer 
from Childe Harold's Pilgrimage 773 

George Gordon, Lord Byron 

Composed upon Westminster Bridge, 

September 3, 1802 725 

William Wordsworth 
The Convergence of the Twain 953 

Thomas Hardy 
Crossing the Bar 839 

Alfred, Lord Tennyson 
Digging 1234 

Seamus Heaney 
Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night 1087 

Dylan Thomas 
Dover Beach 941 

Matthew Arnold 
Dreamers 1 1 07 

Siegfried Sassoon 
Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard 666 

Thomas Gray 
Epigrams, from An Essay on Criticism 534 

Alexander Pope 
from An Essay on Man 534 

Alexander Pope 
from Eve's Apology in Defense of Women 498 

Amelia Lanier 
The Fly 709 

William Blake 


The Frog Prince 1248 

Stevie Smith 
Get Up and Bar the Door 192 


Haiku 717 

Matsuo Basho and Kobayashi Issa 

The Hollow Men 1064 

T. S. Eliot 

Holy Sonnet 10 451 

John Donne 
The Horses 1234 

Ted Hughes 
How Soon Hath Time 476 

John Milton 

I Wandered Lonely As a Cloud 725 

William Wordsworth 
from In Memoriam 839 

Alfred, Lord Tennyson 
In Music 1244 

Czeslaw Milosz 

In My Craft or Sullen Art 1087 

Dylan Thomas 
An Irish Airman Foresees His Death 1 107 

William Butler Yeats 

It Is a Beauteous Evening 725 

William Wordsworth 

Kubla Khan 741 

Samuel Taylor Coleridge 
The Lady of Shalott 839 

Alfred, Lord Tennyson 

The Lamb 709 

William Blake 

Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey . . . 725 

William Wordsworth 

The Little Boy Found 709 

William Blake 

The Little Boy Lost 709 

William Blake 

The Lotus-Blossom Cowers 794 

Heinrich Heine 

The Man He Killed 953 

Thomas Hardy 
from Midsummer 1281 

Derek Walcott 
The Moment 1229 

Margaret Atwood 

Musee des Beaux Arts 1076 

W. H. Auden 

My Last Duchess 854 

Robert Browning 

My Lute, Awake! 283 

Sir Thomas Wyatt 


The Naming of Cats 1064 

T. S. Eliot 

1996 969 

Rabindranath Tagore 

Not Waving but Drowning 1248 

Stevie Smith 

The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd 289 

Sir Walter Raleigh 

Ode on a Grecian Urn 798 

John Keats 
Ode to the West Wind 781 

Percy Bysshe Shelley 

On Monsieur's Departure 283 

Elizabeth I 

On My First Son 458 

Ben Jonson 

Ozymandias 781 

Percy Bysshe Shelley 

The Passionate Shepherd to His Love 289 

Christopher Marlowe 

Pied Beauty 947 

Gerard Manley Hopkins 

Porphyrias Lover 854 

Robert Browning 

Preludes 1064 

T. S. Eliot 

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner 745 

Samuel Taylor Coleridge 

from the Rubaiyat 471 

Omar Khayyam 

Sailing to Byzantium 988 

William Butler Yeats 
The Seafarer 84 

The Second Coming 988 

William Butler Yeats 

She Walks in Beauty 773 

George Gordon, Lord Byron 

The Sick Rose 709 

William Blake 

Sir Patrick Spens 192 

The Soldier 1107 

Rupert Brooke 
Sonnet 29 302 

William Shakespeare 

Sonnet 30 297 

Edmund Spenser 

Sonnet 43 861 

Elizabeth Barrett Browning 

Sonnet 75 297 

Edmund Spenser 

Sonnet 116 302 

William Shakespeare 

Sonnet 130 302 

William Shakespeare 

Sonnet 169 308 

Francesco Petrarch 

Sonnet 292 308 

Francesco Petrarch 

Spring and Fall: To a Young Child 947 

Gerard Manley Hopkins 
Still to Be Neat 458 

Ben Jonson 
Telephone Conversation 1281 

Wole Soyinka 

To a Skylark 781 

Percy Bysshe Shelley 
To an Athlete Dying Young 963 

A. E. Housman 

To Autumn 798 

John Keats 

To His Coy Mistress 463 

Andrew Marvell 
To Lucasta, Going to the Wars 463 

Richard Lovelace 
To Marguerite — Continued 941 

Matthew Arnold 
To My Mother 1132 

George Barker 
To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time 463 

Robert Herrick 
The Tyger 709 

William Blake 

Ulysses 839 

Alfred, Lord Tennyson 

Electronic Library 

The Electronic Library is a CD-ROM 
that contains additional fiction, 
nonfiction, poetry, and drama for 
each unit in The Language of 
Literature. Here is a sampling from 
the 47 titles included in Grade 12. 

The Nun's Priest's Tale 

Geoffrey Chaucer 



My True Love Hath My Heart 

Sir Philip Sidney 


George Herbert 
Sonnet 73 

William Shakespeare 


John Milton 

The Unknown Citizen 1076 

W. H. Auden 
A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning 451 

John Donne 
The Value of Knowledge 540 

Jean de La Fontaine 
The Wanderer 84 


What I Expected 1083 

Stephen Spender 

When I Consider How My Light Is Spent 476 

John Milton 

When I Have Fears That I May Cease to Be 798 

John Keats 
When I Was One-and-Twenty 963 

A. E. Housman 

When We Two Parted 773 

George Gordon, Lord Byron 

The Wife's Lament 84 

The World Is Too Much with Us 725 

William Wordsworth 

Writing/Escritura 1094 

Octavio Paz 


The Rising of the Moon 994 

Lady Isabella Augusta Gregory 

That's All 1254 

Harold Pinter 
The Tragedy of Macbeth 323 

William Shakespeare 

To a Mouse 

Robert Burns 

London, 1802 

William Wordsworth 

A Dissertation upon Roast Pig 

Charles Lamb 
Ode to a Nightingale 

John Keats 
The Blessed Damozel 

Dante Gabriel Rossetti 
The Darkling Thrush 

Thomas Hardy 

Terence, This Is Stupid Stuff 

A. E. Housman 

Professions for Women 

Virginia Woolf 
The Horse Dealer's Daughter 

D. H. Lawrence 
The Wild Swans at Coole 

William Butler Yeats 
The Boarding House 

James Joyce 

The Shield of Achilles 

W. H. Auden 

Miss Brill 

Katherine Mansfield 

A Voyage to Cythera 

Margaret Drabble 


fSfcecinl ^Feuta^e^m This Book 

Author Study 

Geoffrey Chaucer 107 

William Shakespeare 314 

Jonathan Swift 586 

William Wordsworth 722 

T.S.Eliot 1060 

Learning the Language 
of Literature 

The Epic 28 

Sonnet Form 295 

Shakespearean Tragedy 321 

Metaphysical Poetry 449 

Nonfiction in the 18th Century 546 



Romanticism 707 

Form and Meaning in Poetry 771 

The Growth and Development of Fiction 868 

Irony in Modern Literature 1004 

Point of View in Contemporary Fiction 1 197 

Literature as Social Criticism 1261 

from the Rubaiyat 471 

Omar Khayyam 

The Acorn and the Pumpkin 

The Value of Knowledge 540 

Jean de La Fontaine 

from Candide 624 


from Memoirs of Madame Vigee-Lebrun 681 

Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrun 



Matsuo BashoandKobayashi Issa 

The Lotus-Blossom Cowers 794 

Heinrich Heine 

What Men Live By 914 

Leo Tolstoy 



Rabindranath Tagore 

Writing/Escritura 1094 

Octavio Paz 

from Night 1135 


In Music 1244 

Czeslaw Milosz 

from Writing as an Act of Hope 1302 

Isabel Allende 

Comparing Literature 
of the World 

from the Iliad 66 


Federigo's Falcon 171 

Giovanni Boccaccio 

from the Ramayana 240 


Sonnet 169 
Sonnet 292 

Francesco Petrarch 


Related Readings 

from Preface to the First Edition 

of Le Morte a" Arthur 239 

Paraphrasing and Summarizing 

from A Dictionary of the English Language 658 

Denotation and Connotation 

from A Defense of Poetry 792 

Identifying Persuasive Techniques 

from Journal 952 

Understanding a Writer's Attitudes and Ideas 

from Virginia Woolf 1057 

Summarizing and Evaluating 


from Letters from Westerbork 1143 

Analyzing Primary Sources 

from Crediting Poetry: The Nobel Lecture 1241 

Analyzing a Speech 

Milestones in British Literature 

Mystery, Miracle, and Morality Plays 258 

John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress 502 

Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe 566 

Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice 768 

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley's Frankenstein 808 

The Novels of Charles Dickens 870 

The Bronte Novels 886 

The Novels of George Eliot 898 

James Joyce's Ulysses 1032 

The Novels of Graham Greene 1044 

The Novels of Virginia Woolf 1058 

Writing Workshops 

Personality Profile 200 

Application Essay 260 

Research Report 423 

Proposal 568 

Satire 639 

Subject Analysis 932 

Dramatic Scene 1098 

Critical Review 131 1 

Communication Workshops 

Performance Presentation 810 

Web Site 1176 

Building Vocabulary 

Using Word Origins to Learn New Words 206 

Understanding Words with Multiple Meanings 266 

Analyzing Word Parts — Roots 432 

Precision in Language 574 

Recognizing Denotations and Connotations 645 

Homonyms, Homophones, and Homographs 816 

Using Context Clues to Determine Meaning 938 

Identifying the Parts of a Word 1 1 04 

Learning Ways to Develop Your Vocabulary 1 1 82 

Understanding Analogies 1317 

Sentence Crafting 

Inverting Word Order for Sentence Variety 207 

Creating Compound and Complex Sentences 267 

Using Adverbs and Adverb Phrases 433 

Using Adjectives and Adjective Phrases 575 

Using Elements in a Series 646 

Using Adjective and Noun Clauses 817 

Using Adverb Clauses 939 

Creating Sentence Closers 1 105 

Creating Sentence Openers 1 183 

Creating Subject-Verb Splits 1318 

Assessment Pages 

Assessment Practice: Revising and Editing .... 205, 265, 431, 

Reading and Writing for Assessment 508, 822 

Reflect and Assess 268, 504, 692, 818, 974, 1184, 1319 



Timeless Stories 

What do Beowulf, Star Wars, and Frankenstein have in common? 
Each tells a powerful story that for generations has held readers or 
moviegoers spellbound. And each contains characters, themes, and 
conflicts similar to those in hundreds of other stories. Read the 
following comments about these classic tales: 

"One of the most frequent questions 
asked by students is 'Why do we 
study this stuff, especially Beowulf, 
an epic story of Vikings and mon- 
sters? What place does it hold in 
today's society?' My response is, 'If 
it is so out of date, why do so many 
blockbuster films of today resemble 
the plot and the characteristics por- 
trayed in Beowulf?'" 

Richard L. Cameron III 

"Star Wars has always 
struck a chord with people. 
There are issues of loyalty, 
of friendship, of good and 
evil. . . . The themes came 
from stories and ideas that 
have been around for thou- 
sands of years. . . ." 

George lucas 
Movie Director 



>f £& 


r > 


k J 

'V*- i 

m KURl . 




"Mary Shelley, whose 200th birthday 
is this year, completed her novel 
Frankenstein 180 years ago. The 
book has never been out of print... 
Cinematic attempts to piece together a 
family for Frankenstein have spawned 
a bride (1935), a son (1957), and a 
daughter who, in the rebellious '60s, 
joined up with Jesse James." 

Lee Neville, Journalist 

Why do some stories survive through the centuries? 

How do people living in today's technology-filled world find ways 
to connect to classic tales about monsters and heroic quests? 

How can YOU find relevance in literature from centuries ago? 

The answers lie on the next few pages. 



Get Involved with the Literature 

Think of any activity you enjoy — sports, music, traveling, painting. How 
did you really learn to understand and appreciate it? By watching others, or 
by participating yourself? Just about any activity is richer, more interesting, 
and more exciting when you are actively involved. The same is true with 
literature. You can't simply sit back and absorb the words on a page. 
You have to jump into the stories and participate. 

Your Reader's Notebook 

Almost any kind of notebook can be used to help you 
interact with literature. Use your Reader's Notebook 
to keep track of what's going on inside your mind as 
you read. Here are three ways to interact. 

O Record Your Thoughts 

In your DQreader s notebook f jot down ideas, 
responses, connections, and questions before, while, and 
after you read a selection. (See "Strategies for Reading," 
page 7.) Summarize important passages, and include 
sketches and charts, too, if they will help. If you wish, 
compare your ideas with those of a classmate. 


Alongside "The Ant and the Grasshopper" are comments ma 
grade students, ftfrj$topher Domm and Marcy Ellis, while they ' 
story Their comments provide a glimpse into the minds ot read 
engaged in the process ot reading You'll notice that Chris and I 
naturally used the Strategies for Reading that were introduced c 
also note that these readers responded differently to the story- 
think about or relate to a literary work in exactly the same way. 

To benefit from this model ot active reading, read the story f 
your responses in your reading log. Then read Chris's and Marc 
compare theirs with your own. The more you actively engage in 
sharing ideas, the more you'll learn about yourself and others 

(pay w < ddlKii punish' 

6 Improve Your Reading Skills 

Complete the specific fill reaper's notebook 

activity on the first page of each literature lesson. 
This activity will help you apply an important skill 
as you read the selection. 

i very small boy I was made to lorn by heart certain of 
-j Fontaine, and the moral o( each was carefully explained 
H dime I learnt wan The Ant and Tbw <,r.tsih>ppt'r, 
■ed i" brine home to the young the acelul lesson thjt in 
world ukIlimtv is rewarded and giddiness punished. In 
• rahk* il apolopn for ratline aomerJiinB irhich everyone 
t inevaeil. . supposed to know) the .int spends .1 liboriaui 
Bring its winter Mure, while the grasshopper mis on J 
1 singing ,n 'I*-' «<". Winter comes and the ant is comfort- 
1 tnr. bui the grasshopper has an empty lander: lie goes 
J Ixfcs tnr j little food. Then the ant gives htm her 

r«. vou doing in the * 

•ur presence, I song, 1 sang all slay, all night." 
. Vhv. then .ei> jiiel elinee." 

cribs it tn rvTversir, on rnj pjn, but rather to the income- 
kdht » d. which is deficient in moral sense. 1h.11 I could 
Bconrik mvseit to the lasscn My sympathies werewhh 
xr end Ebr some time' I never saw an ant without pmiine 
. In this summary (and as I have diseowred since, entirely 
an I sought to eatpreu nrj di aa ppr o ral of prudence and 

help thinking "' 'his fable when the "i her day I nw George 

lung by hinnelt in a restaurant. 1 never saw anyone wear 
ol sikh deep gloom. He was oaring into space, He looked 
burden ol the whole world sat on his shoulders. I was 

: I susfxeteJ at once that his unrbrtunats brother had 

trouble again. I went up to him and held >>ut my hand, 


1 hilarious spirits," he answered. 


t yon chuck him? You're done ever, thin>; in the world 
must kin>vr by now that he's quhe hopeless." 
irer) family hai j black iheep, Tom had been a sore trial 
in yean. He had begun lite decent! -enough: he went 
married, and had torn children, The Ramsaya ware peraaarj 
Maple and there was every reason to suppose that Tom 
d have a useliil and honorable career. But one da,-; with- 
he unaauncad he didn'i like work and that he tmenri 
map. He wanted to efljoj himself. He would listen to 
bra He left his wife and his office. He had a link- money 
■wo happy wars in the various capitals ot Europe. Rumors 
reached his relations tnun time to time and they were 

ft/is !.?,?ff.\jii?;Vj.< with a 
ster,-> lac* or ter face and it* 
grasshopper being al hapffrgo 

Martf i\kw! I a'wa-s baked dem on 
&e g/axhopper X surprise melrst 
themriator looks doun on the ant 

Cr» 1[ -iu'[iA. l |v,kl 

aaaaa / awl kmitr aaat it* 
oowMcawi i$ gorg to bs Miwm the 
table arxt whjtever Hxs story s about 
n /**) to keep Ma table in mixta* ! 

nUrqr; Chock him "? that's wetrd 

'3 1 .1 '. 1 IC It IW/?VA1 1 Al IM 

ft>cy .'.71 seef)g die pjraltel tetaeen 
the tuoHxrmd foe gtasrower NM 

prabab*- be like Im and fail. 

Ci api ivn.(. 'P«trie 1 1« 

. fAu uncle is a. Id I'** ^paa. 


© Collect Ideas for Writing 

Be aware of intriguing themes, passages, and 
thoughts of your own as you read or complete 
follow-up activities. In a special section of your 
[Jj READErrs notebook jot down anything that 
may later be a springboard to your own writing. 

Your Working Portfolio 

Artists and writers keep portfolios in which 
they store works in progress or the works 
they are most proud of. Your portfolio can 
be a folder, a box, or a notebook — the form 
doesn't matter. Just make sure to keep 
adding to it — with drafts of your writing 
experiments, summaries of your projects, 
and your own goals and accomplishments as 
a reader and writer. Later in this book, on 
the Reflect and Assess pages, you will choose 
your best or favorite work to place in a 
Presentation Portfolio. 


Become an Active Reader 

The strategies you need to become an active reader are already within your 
grasp. In fact, you use them every day to make sense of the images and the 
events in your world. And you really exercise them when you are watching 
a television program or a movie! 

Take a look at this shot from 
a film version of Gulliver's 
Travels. The four strategies 
shown here — Question, Predict, 
Clarify, and Connect — are 
among those you can use to 
understand and interpret the 
situation. These and the other 
reading strategies listed on the 
next page can help you interact 
with literature as well. 

Question What in the 
world is happening here? 
Where are these people? 
And WHO are they? 

Clarify It looks like 
the little people have 
tied the big guy up and 
are questioning him. 

Predict I bet he'll pop 
the ropes and scare off 
the little people. 

Connect I remember 
situations where I've felt as 
out of place as this guy looks. 

Strategies for Reading 

Following are specific reading strategies that are 
introduced and applied throughout this book. 
Use them when you read and interact with 
the various literature selections. Occasionally 
monitor how well the strategies are working 
for you and, if desired, modify them to suit 
your needs. 

PREDICT Try to figure out what will happen 
next and how the selection might end. Then 
read on to see how accurate your guesses were. 

VISUALIZE Visualize characters, events, 
and setting to help you understand what's 
happening. When you read nonfiction, pay 
attention to the images that form in your mind 
as you read. 

CONNECT Connect personally with what 
you're reading. Think of similarities between the 
descriptions in the selection and what you have 
personally experienced, heard about, and read 

QUESTION Question what happens while 
you read. Searching for reasons behind events 
and characters' feelings can help you feel closer 
to what you are reading. 

CLARIFY Stop occasionally to review what 
you understand, and expect to have your under- 
standing change and develop as you read on. 
Reread and use resources to help you clarify 
your understanding. Also watch for answers to 
questions you had earlier. 

EVALUATE Form opinions about what you 
read, both while you're reading and after you've 
finished. Develop your own ideas about 
characters and events. 

On the next page, you will see how two 
readers applied these strategies to the story 
'The Ant and the Grasshopper." 

Go Beyond the Text If you really become an 
active reader, your involvement doesn't stop 
with the last line of the text. Decide what else 
you'd like to know. Discuss your ideas with 
others, do some research, or jump on the 

<^~.g More Online 





Alongside "The Ant and the Grasshopper" are comments made by two 12th- 
grade students, Christopher Domm and Marcy Ellis, while they were reading the 
story. Their comments provide a glimpse into the minds of readers actively 
engaged in the process of reading. You'll notice that Chris and Marcy quite 
naturally used the Strategies for Reading that were introduced on page 5. You'll 
also note that these readers responded differently to the story — no two readers 
think about or relate to a literary work in exactly the same way. 

To benefit from this model of active reading, read the story first, jotting down 
your responses in your reading log. Then read Chris's and Marcy's comments and 
compare theirs with your own. The more you actively engage in reading and 
sharing ideas, the more you'll learn about yourself and others. 

fii&& ^W#-2 




The Brothers Bernheim-Jeune, Art Dealers and Publishers (early 20th century), 
Pierre Bonnard, Musee d'Orsay, Paris, France, Erich Lessing/Art Resource, New York. 

When I was a very small boy I was made to learn by heart certain of 
the fables of La Fontaine, and the moral of each was carefully explained 
to me. Among those I learnt was The Ant and The Grasshopper, 
which is devised to bring home to the young the useful lesson that in 
an imperfect world industry is rewarded and giddiness punished. In 
this admirable fable (I apologize for telling something which everyone 
is politely, but inexactly, supposed to know) the ant spends a laborious 
summer gathering its winter store, while the grasshopper sits on a 
blade of grass singing to the sun. Winter comes and the ant is comfort- 
ably provided for, but the grasshopper has an empty larder: he goes 
to the ant and begs for a little food. Then the ant gives him her 
classic answer: 

"What were you doing in the summer time?" 

"Saving your presence, I sang, I sang all day, all night." 

"You sang. Why, then go and dance." 

I do not ascribe it to perversity on my part, but rather to the inconse- 
quence of childhood, which is deficient in moral sense, that I could 
never quite reconcile myself to the lesson. My sympathies were with 
the grasshopper and for some time I never saw an ant without putting 
my foot on it. In this summary (and as I have discovered since, entirely 
human) fashion I sought to express my disapproval of prudence and 
common sense. 

I could not help thinking of this fable when the other day I saw George 
Ramsay lunching by himself in a restaurant. I never saw anyone wear 
an expression of such deep gloom. He was staring into space. He looked 
as though the burden of the whole world sat on his shoulders. I was 
sorry for him: I suspected at once that his unfortunate brother had 
been causing trouble again. I went up to him and held out my hand. 

"How are you?" I asked. 

"I'm not in hilarious spirits," he answered. 

"Is it Tom again?" 

He sighed. 

"Yes, it's Tom again." 

"Why don't you chuck him? You've done everything in the world 
for him. You must know by now that he's quite hopeless." 

I suppose every family has a black sheep. Tom had been a sore trial 
to his for twenty years. He had begun life decently enough: he went 
into business, married, and had two children. The Ramsays were perfectly 
respectable people and there was every reason to suppose that Tom 
Ramsay would have a useful and honorable career. But one day, with- 
out warning, he announced that he didn't like work and that he wasn't 
suited for marriage. He wanted to enjoy himself. He would listen to 
no expostulations. He left his ,wife and his office. He had a little money 
and he spent two happy years in the various capitals of Europe. Rumors 
of his doings reached his relations from time to time and they were 

Chris: I like this line right here— I 
think people can relate that to their 
own lives. 

Chris: I can imagine the ant with a 
stern look on her face and the 
grasshopper being all happy-go- 

Marcy: Wow! I always looked down on 
the grasshopper. It surprises me that 
the narrator looks down on the ant. 

Marcy: I don't know what the 
connection is going to be between the 
fable and whatever this story is about. 
I'll need to keep the fable in mind as I 
read on. 

Chris: "Why don't you chuck him?" I 
don't really understand what he means. 

Marcy: "Chuck him"? That's weird 



Marcy: I'm seeing the parallel between 
the brother and the grasshopper. He'll 
probably be like him and fail. 


Marcy: He reminds me of the father 
in As I Lay Dying. The guy in As I Lay 
Dying thought that if he sweated, he 
would die. So he was always asking 
people to do things for him. Tom is 
always asking his friends for money 
and depending on his friends. They 
won't refuse him. 

Marcy: This would be hard for 

me — to wash my hands of my family. 

I understand why he felt he had to, 

but I couldn't do it. 


Chris: Tom's taking advantage of his 
brother's friendship. It's probably 
going to come back to him further 
down the line. 

Chris: This reminds me of the 
brothers' relationship in A River Runs 
Through It. The one brother is always 
out having fun . . . always taking 
advantage of the other brother. 

Marcy: Oh, they went out together! 
They were in cahoots. I would be 
mad, too. 

Marcy: 46 — that's too old to be so 



profoundly shocked. He certainly had a very good time. They shook 
their heads and asked what would happen when his money was spent. 
They soon found out: he borrowed. He was charming and unscrupulous. 
I have never met anyone to whom it was more difficult to refuse a 
loan. He made a steady income from his friends and he made friends 
easily. But he always said that the money you spent on necessities was 
boring; the money that was amusing to spend was the money you 
spent on luxuries. For this he depended on his brother George. He did 
not waste his charm on him. George was a serious man and insensible 
to such enticements. George was respectable. Once or twice he fell to 
Tom's promises of amendment and gave him considerable sums in 
order that he might make a fresh start. On these Tom bought a 
motorcar and some very nice jewelry. But when circumstances forced 
George to realize that his brother would never settle down and he 
washed his hands of him, Tom, without a qualm, began to blackmail 
him. It was not very nice for a respectable lawyer to find his brother 
shaking cocktails behind the bar of his favorite restaurant or to see 
him waiting on the box seat of a taxi outside his club. Tom said that 
to serve in a bar or to drive a taxi was a perfectly decent occupation, 
but if George could oblige him with a couple of hundred pounds he 
didn't mind for the honor of the family giving it up. George paid. 

Once Tom nearly went to prison. George was terribly upset. He 
went into the whole discreditable affair. Really Tom had gone too far. 
He had been wild, thoughtless, and selfish, but he had never before 
done anything dishonest, by which George meant illegal; and if he were 
prosecuted he would assuredly be convicted. But you cannot allow your 
only brother to go to jail. The man Tom had cheated, a man called 
Cronshaw, was vindictive. He was determined to take the matter into 
court; he said Tom was a scoundrel and should be punished. It cost 
George an infinite deal of trouble and five hundred pounds to settle 
the affair. I have never seen him in such a rage as when he heard that 
Tom and Cronshaw had gone off together to Monte Carlo the moment 
they cashed the check. They spent a happy month there. 

For twenty years Tom raced and gambled, philandered with the 
prettiest girls, danced, ate in the most expensive restaurants, and dressed 
beautifully. He always looked as if he had just stepped out of a band- 
box. Though he was forty-six you would never have taken him for 
more than thirty-five. He was a most amusing companion and though 
you knew he was perfectly worthless you could not but enjoy his 
society. He had high spirits, an unfailing gaiety, and incredible charm. 
I never grudged the contributions he regularly levied on me for the 
necessities of his existence. I never lent him fifty pounds without feeling 
that I was in his debt. Tom Ramsay knew everyone and everyone 
knew Tom Ramsay. You could not approve of him, but you could not 
help liking him. 

Poor George, only a year older than his scapegrace brother, looked 
sixty. He had never taken more than a fortnight's holiday in the year 
for a quarter of a century. He was in his office every morning at nine- 
thirty and never left it till six. He was honest, industrious, and worthy. 
He had a good wife, to whom he had never been unfaithful even in 
thought, and four daughters to whom he was the best of fathers. He 
made a point of saving a third of his income and his plan was to retire 
at fifty-five to a little house in the country where he proposed to culti- 
vate his garden and play golf. His life was blameless. He was glad that 
he was growing old because Tom was growing old too. He rubbed his 
hands and said: 

"It was all very well when Tom was young and good-looking, but 
he's only a year younger than I am. In four years he'll be fifty. He 
won't find life so easy then. I shall have thirty thousand pounds by the 
time I'm fifty. For twenty-five years I've said that Tom would end in 
the gutter. And we shall see how he likes that. We shall see if it really 
pays best to work or be idle." 

Poor George! I sympathized with him. I wondered now as I sat 
down beside him what infamous thing Tom had done. George was 
evidently very much upset. 

"Do you know what's happened now?" he asked me. 

I was prepared for the worst. I wondered if Tom had got into the 
hands of the police at last. George could hardly bring himself to speak. 

"You're not going to deny that all my life I've been hardworking, 
decent, respectable, and straightforward. After a life of industry and 
thrift I can look forward to retiring on a small income in gilt-edged 
securities. I've always done my duty in that state of life in which it has 
pleased Providence to place me." 


"And you can't deny that Tom has been an idle, worthless, dis- 
solute, and dishonorable rogue. If there were any justice he'd be in 
the workhouse." 


George grew red in the face. 

"A few weeks ago he became engaged to a woman old enough to be 
his mother. And now she's died and left him everything she had. Half 
a million pounds, a yacht, a house in London, and a house in the country." 

George Ramsay beat his clenched fist on the table. 

"It's not fair, I tell you, it's not fair. Damn it, it's not fair." 

I could not help it. I burst into a shout of laughter as I looked at 
George's wrathful face, I rolled in my chair, I very nearly fell on the 
floor. George never forgave me. But Tom often asks me to excellent 
dinners in his charming house in Mayfair, and if he occasionally 
borrows a trifle from me, that is merely from force of habit. It is never 
more than a sovereign. 

Chris: I think George is jealous of 

Tom's life. 


Chris: I think this is funny right here. 
Tom's brother was so reserved and 
watched everything he did. Tom, on 
the other hand, took a chance in life. 
He didn't worry about the future; he 
just enjoyed life. 

Chris: Usually the fable holds true to 
life, but this time it didn't. 

Marcy: It's not fair! I'd be upset. Of 
course George will still have his 
money— his retirement— but that's 
not much. Maybe Tom will share with 
George, but I don't think so. I doubt 
if he'll even pay back the money 
George gave him. 



Literary Map of 




County Cork 

Trevor <^J)- 


Belfast «*S 

yv. Heaney 

SH90 ^\^ 


alway Dublin • 

Swift, Yeats, 
Lady Gregory, 
Joyce, Bowen Wordsworths 


Wexford . fj II 


Spenser, Marlowe, Bacon, Milton, 

Stratford- Pep / S i %** v ! ordsworth - 

" Coleridge, Tennyson, % 

LES \ U P 0n " Avon Brooke, Sassoon, Hughes 

° n ° are Hampstead 

Swansea Tintern Oxford Keats, Mansfield, 

n , , ■ T . „ • I Raleigh, Donne, _ Lawrence, Orwell 

'• -'"'"~ ^ '^Lovelace. Addison.* 



Sutton Hoo 

ship burial, 


Johnson, Arnold, * Q LONDON 

Hopkins, Housman, Twickenham • Canterbury 

Bnttain, Huxley, • „ 

Auden, Lively ChawtOn ^ 


• Han 

'tins of Tintern Abbey, 
inspiration for Wordsworth 

St. Thomas a Becket, 
from stained glass window in 
Canterbury Cathedral, 

The Bayeux tapestry (late 11th century-* 

irly 12th century). Musee de la Tapisserie, Bayeux, France, Giraudon/Art Resource New York. 

* . ' 






S. Lewis 


TIMELINE 449-i4»5 



Surviving version of Beowulf 
probably composed 

75 Anglo-Saxon verse collected 
in Exeter Book 


500 Mathematician in India calculates 
value of pi 

527 Justinian I becomes Byzantine 

630 Prophet Muhammad conquers 
Mecca, which becomes holiest city 
of Islam 

Hadrian's Wall, built by 
Romans (a.d. 122-128) 


800 Charlemagne, who unites much 
of Europe, crowned emperor of 
Holy Roman Empire 

c. 800 Chinese invent gunpowder 

c. 880 Mayan culture begins decline 

c. 1000 Surviving version of Beowulf 
written out by monks 


The Prioress 

c. 1375 Sir Gawain and the 
Green Knight composed 

c. 1387 Chaucer begins The 
Canterbury Tales 

c. 1420 Earliest surviving Paston 
letter written 

1485 William Caxton prints Sir 
Thomas Malory's Le Morte a" Arthur 



1016 Canute, a Dane, becomes king 
of England (to 1035) 

1066 Norman Conquest — William 
the Conqueror defeats Harold at 
Hastings and becomes king of 

1166 Henry II institutes judge-and- 
jury system throughout England 

1 170 Thomas a Becket murdered 

1171 Henry II declares himself lord 
of Ireland, beginning centuries of 
English-Irish conflict 

1054 Christian Church divides into 
east and west branches 

1095 First of "holy wars" called 
Crusades begins (to 1272) 

1192 Japanese emperor takes title 
of shogun 

1215 King John signs Magna Carta 

1282 England conquers Wales 

1295 Model Parliament assembled 
under Edward I 

1301 Edward II becomes first Prince 
of Wales, a title thereafter given 
to male heirs of British throne 

1337 Hundred Years' War with 
France begins (to 1453) >* 

c. 1430 Modern English develops 
from Middle English 

c. 1476 Caxton establishes first 
printing press in Britain; prints 
first dated book in English 
language (1477) 

1206 Genghis Khan begins Mongol 
conquest of much of Asia (to 1227) 

1235 West African kingdom of Mali 

1275 Marco Polo arrives in China 

c. 1300 Renaissance begins in 
northern Italy 

1325 Aztecs establish Tenochtitlan, 
site of present Mexico City 

1347 Bubonic plague reaches Europe, 
soon killing millions 

1431 Joan of Arc burned at stake 

1453 Ottomans conquer 

c. 1455 Gutenberg Bible produced 
on printing press 







J*C o t / H n cl 


The British Isles, just off the west coast of 

^ JSLri^ j continental Europe, enter recorded history 

in the writings of the Roman general 


Julius Caesar. In 55 B.C., fresh from 

his conquest of Celtic peoples known as Gauls, 

Caesar sailed from what is now France to 

Britain, largest of the British Isles, to assert 

Rome's authority over it. There he 

encountered a Celtic people called the 

Britons, from whom the island takes its F TQJG /L <$ A/JD 

name. Also living on Britain were Picts, 

remnants of a pre-Celtic civilization, and 

farther west, on Ireland (the next-largest 

British island) was another group of Celtic 

speakers, the Gaels. 

The Britons had a thriving culture by most stan- 
dards of the day. They were skilled in agriculture and 

metalwork, traded 
with their Celtic 
neighbors overseas, 
and had an oral 
tradition of litera- 
ture and learning 
preserved by a 
priestly class 
known as druids. 

They were, however, no match for the Romans. About 

a century after Caesar's visit, Roman armies returned 

to Britain to make good his claim. Despite resistance, 

they rapidly conquered the Britons and drove the war- 






V/a I e s 


Detail of a Celtic container 

55 b.c. 

Caesar lays 

jcjaim to 

/V C '*£ 




like Picts northward to 
what is now Scotland. 
Britain became a province of 
the great Roman Empire, and the 
Romans introduced cities, fine 
stone roads, written scholarship, 
and eventually Christianity to the 
island. As they adapted to a 
more urban way of life, the 
"Romanized" Britons came to 
depend on the Roman military 
for protection; but early in the 
fifth century, with much of their 
empire being overrun by 
invaders, the Roman armies 
abandoned Britain to defend the 
city of Rome. It was not long 
before Britain too became the 
target of invasion. 

Development of the 
English -language 

Just as Britain's fifth-century invaders 
eventually united into a nation called 
England, their closely related Germanic 
dialects evolved over time into a distinct 
language called English— today usually 
called Old English to distinguish it from 
later forms of the languag ;. Old English 
was very different from the English we 
speak today. Harsher in sound, it was 
written phonetically, with no silent letters. 
Grammatically, it was more complex than 
modern English, with words changing 
form to indicate different functions, so 
that word order was more flexible than 
it is now. The most valuable characteris- 
tic of the language, however, was its 
ability to change and grow, adopting new 
words as the need arose. 

Above: Celtic cross 

Literary History 

The Anglo-Saxon Period 


In an invasion traditionally assigned to the year 
A.D. 449 but actually taking place over several 
decades, Angles, Saxons, and other Germanic peo- 
ples (such as Jutes and Frisians) left their northern 
European homelands and began settling on Britain's 
eastern and southern shores. The Britons — perhaps 
led by a Christian commander named Arthur — 
fought a series of legendary battles in an effort to 
stop the invasion. Eventually, however, they were 
driven to seek refuge in Cornwall and Wales on the 
western fringes of the island; in the northern area 
now called Scotland, where Gaels from Ireland were 
also settling; and in an area on the west coast of con- 
tinental Europe that would come to be known as 
Britanny. In southern and central Britain, Celtic cul- 
ture all but disappeared. The Germanic tribes 
eventually organized themselves into a confederation 

Although the early Anglo-Saxons did 
have a writing system, called the runic 
alphabet, they used it mainly for inscrip- 
tions on coins, monuments, and the 
like. Their literature was composed 
and transmitted orally rather than 
in writing. In the mead halls of 
kings and nobles, where the 
Anglo-Saxons gathered to eat, 
drink, and socialize, oral poets 
called scops celebrated the deeds of 
heroic warriors in long epic poems. 
They also sang shorter, lyric poems. In 
some of these, deaths or other losses 
are mourned in the mood of bleak fatal- 
ism characteristic of early Anglo-Saxon 
times. Many of the lyrics composed after 
the advent of Christianity express religious 
faith or offer moral instruction. Others 
reflect a more playful nature: the brief 
Anglo-Saxon riddles, for example, de- 
scribe familiar objects, like a ship or a 
bird, in ways that force the audience to 
guess their identity. 


of seven kingdoms called the Heptarchy. In the 
southeast was Kent, kingdom of the Jutes. Further 
west were the Saxon kingdoms of Sussex, Essex, and 
Wessex. To the north were the kingdoms of the 
Angles — East Anglia, Mercia, and Northumbria. 
Perhaps because the Angles were dominant in the 
early history of the Heptarchy, the area of Germanic 
settlement became known as Angle-land, or 
England, and its people came to be called the 
English. Modern scholars, however, usually employ 
the term Anglo-Saxon to refer to the people and cul- 
ture of this period of English history. 

Like all cultures, that of the Anglo-Saxons changed 
over time. The early invaders were seafaring wanderers 
whose lives were bleak, violent, and short. With them, 
they brought their pagan religion — marked by a strong 
belief in wyrd, or fate — and their admiration for heroic 
warriors whose wyrd it was to prevail in battle. As 
they settled into their new land, however, the Anglo- 
Saxons became an agricultural people — less violent, 
more secure, more civilized. One of the most impor- 
tant civilizing forces was the Christianity they began 
accepting late in the sixth century. 

The Growth of 

Despite the collapse of Roman power 
there, Christianity had never completely 
died out in the British Isles. Early in the 
fifth century a Romanized Briton named Patrick 
had converted Ireland's Gaels to Christianity. 
When the Gaels began colonizing Scotland, they 
brought Christianity in their wake. From the 
isle of Iona off the Scottish coast, missionaries 
spread the faith among the Picts and Angles in 
the north. Later, in 597, a Roman missionary 
named Augustine arrived in the kingdom of 
Kent, where he established a monastery at 
Canterbury. From there, Christianity spread so 
rapidly that by 690 all of Britain was at least 
nominally Christian. 

On Lindisfarne, a 
tiny island off the 
Northumbrian coast, 
monks produced the 
beautiful Bible manu- 
script known as the 
Lindisfarne Gospels. 

After the fall of the Roman Empire, 
monasteries became centers of 
intellectual, literary, artistic, and 
social activity. The Book of Kells is 
an illuminated gospel book begun 
in an Irish monastery in the late 
eighth century. 



The Danish Invasions 

In the 790s, a new group of northern European 
invaders — the Danes, also known as the 
Vikings — began to devastate Northumbria's 
flourishing culture. Coming at first to loot monas- 
teries, the Danes in time gained control of much of 
northern and eastern England. They were less suc- 
cessful in the south, where their advance was halted 
by a powerful king of Wessex, Alfred the Great. 
After inflicting defeats on the Danes in 878 and 
886, Alfred forced them to agree to a truce and to 
accept Christianity. 

Although Alfred's reign was a high point in 
Anglo-Saxon civilization, the tug-of-war with the 
Danes resumed after his death. In 1016 a Dane 
named Canute even managed to become king of all 
England; he proved a successful ruler and won the 
support of many Anglo-Saxon noblemen. Less 
successful was the deeply religious Edward the 
Confessor, who came to the throne in 1042. 
Edward, who had no children, had once sworn an 
oath making William, duke of Normandy, his heir — 
or so William claimed. Later, Edward was persuaded 
to name Harold, earl of Wessex, as his heir. When 
Edward died in 1066, the English witan (an advisory 
council of nobles and church officials) supported 
Harold's claim. Incensed, William led his Normans 
in what was to be the last successful invasion of the 
island of Britain: the Norman Conquest. Harold was 
killed at the Battle of Hastings, and on Christmas 
Day of 1066, a triumphant William — 
who would go down in history 
as William the Conqueror — 
was crowned king of 
England. ,.^-j 

Literary History 

The spread of Christianity in Britain was 
accompanied by a spread of literacy 
and by the introduction of the Roman 
alphabet in place of the runic alphabet. 
Though poetry remained primarily an 
oral art, poems were now more likely to 
get written down. In this age before 
printing, however, the only books were 
manuscripts that scribes copied by hand. 
Thus, only a fraction of Anglo-Saxon 
poetry has survived, in manuscripts pro- 
duced centuries after the poems were 
composed. The most famous survivor is 
the epic Beowulf, about a legendary hero 
of the northern European past. A manu- 
script known as the Exeter Book contains 
many of the surviving Anglo-Saxon 
lyrics, including "The Seafarer," "The 
Wife's Lament," and over 90 riddles. 

Most Old English poems are anony- 
mous. One of the few poets known 
by name is a monk called Caedmon, 
described by the 
Venerable Bede in his 
famous eighth-century 
history of England. 
Like most scholars of 
his day, Bede wrote in 
Latin, the language of 
the church. It was not until the reign of 
Alfred the Great that writing in English 
began to be widespread. In 891, Alfred 
initiated the compiling of the Anglo- 
Saxon Chronicle, a historic record in 
poetry and prose that was added to, on 
and off, until early Norman times. He 
also encouraged English translations of 
portions of the Bible and other Latin 

Inset above: Detail from an illuminated Bible 

Ornamental pin 
commissioned by 
Alfred the Great 


The Medieval Period 


Like the Danes of Britain, the Normans (whose name means 
"north men") had originally been Viking raiders from northern 
Europe. However, after settling in the region that became 
known as Normandy, just northeast of Britanny on the coast of 
France, the Normans had adopted French ways. Now William 
introduced these practices to England, beginning the medieval 
(or middle) period in English history. 

Probably the most significant of William's introductions was 
feudalism, a political and economic system in which the hierar- 
chy of power was based on the premise that the king owned all 
the land in the kingdom. Keeping a fourth for himself and 
granting a fourth to the church, William parceled out the rest 
of England to loyal nobles — mostly Norman barons — who, in 
return, either paid him or supplied him with warriors called 

knights. The barons swore 
allegiance to the king, the 
knights to their barons, and so 
on down the social ladder. At 
the bottom of the ladder were 
the conquered Anglo-Saxons, 
many of whom were serfs — 
peasants bound to land they 
could not own. To protect 
Norman interests, barons 
were encouraged to build 
strong castles from which they 
could dominate the country- 
side and defend the realm 
from attack; at the same time, 
great cathedrals and abbeys 
were erected on the new 
church lands. 

Because William's succes- 
sors were less strong and 
organized than he, power 
struggles among the barons 

Hoping to influence the 
church, Henry II 
appointed his friend 
Thomas a Becket 
archbishop of Canterbury. 
When the archbishop 
began favoring church 
interests over those of the 
crown, Henry's sharp 
criticisms prompted four 
loyal knights to murder 
Becket. Henry quickly 
proclaimed his innocence 
and reconciled with the 
church; Becket was 
declared a saint, his shrine 
at Canterbury becoming a 
popular destination for 
Christian pilgrims. 

Canterbury Cathedral, begun in the 
1 1th century, reflects the influence 
of Norman architecture. 



were common in the decades after his death. When 
William's son Henry I died in 1135, the barons took 
sides in a violent struggle for power between Henry's 
daughter Matilda and his nephew Stephen. The near 
anarchy ended in 1154, when Matilda's son Henry 
Plantagenet took the throne as Henry II. One of 
medieval England's most memorable rulers, Henry 
reformed the judicial system, instituting royal courts 
throughout the country, establishing a system of juries, 
and initiating the formation of English common law 
out of a patchwork of centuries-old practices. 

At least as colorful as Henry II was his wife, 
Eleanor of Aquitaine, a former French queen who 
had brought as her dowry vast landholdings in 
France. From French court circles she also brought 
the ideals of chivalry, a code of honor intended to 
govern knightly behavior. The code encouraged 
knights to honor and protect ladies and to go on holy 
quests — like the Crusades, the military expeditions in 
which European Christians attempted to wrest the 
holy city of Jerusalem from Moslem control. 

Henry's son Richard I, called Richard the Lion- 
Hearted, spent much of his ten-year reign fighting in 
the Crusades and in France, where English posses- 
sions were threatened. During his absence, his 
treacherous brother John — the villain of many Robin 
Hood legends — plotted against him. When Richard 
died and John became king, he found that the royal 

Development of the 
English -language 

The Norman Conquest led to great 
changes in the English language. Despite 
their Viking origins, by 1066 the Normans 
spoke a dialect of Old French, which 
they brought to England with them. 
Norman French became the language 
of the English court, of government 
business, of the new nobility, and of the 
scholars, cooks, and craftspeople that 
the Norman barons brought with them 
to serve their more "refined" needs. The 
use of English became confined to the 
conquered, mostly peasant population. 
Ever adaptable, however, English soon 
incorporated thousands of words and 
many grammatical conventions from 
Norman French. These changes led to 
the development of Middle English, a 
form much closer than Old English to 
the language we speak today. 

Literary History 

As English became the language of a 
mostly illiterate peasantry, the common 
folk again relied on the oral tradition to 
tell their stories and express their feelings. 
Many of their compositions were folk 
ballads, brief narrative poems sung to 
musical accompaniment. The later Middle 
Ages saw the flowering of mystery and 
miracle plays, which dramatized epis- 
odes from the Bible and from saints' 
lives, and morality plays, which taught 
moral lessons. From these simple plays, 
intended to convey religious truths to 
an audience only partly literate, arose 
the great tradition of English drama. 

Jousting knights 


Right: Flexible body armor called mail was 
made from iron links. 

treasury had been bankrupted by over- 
seas warfare. In 1215 he was forced to 
sign the Magna Carta ("Great Charter"), 
which limited royal authority by grant- 
ing more power to the barons and thus 
was an early step on the road to 
democracy. During the reign of John's 
son Henry III, an advisory council of 
barons — now called a parliament — began 
to meet regularly. Under his successor, 
Edward I, the Model Parliament of 1295 
established the inclusion of commoners 
(eventually to become the House of 
Commons) as well as barons (the "House 
of Lords") in the council. 

The Decline of 

The growth of the commoners' 
power went hand in hand with 
the growth of medieval towns, a 
result of an increase in trade that was 
stimulated in part by the Crusades. In the 
towns, merchants and craftspeople 
formed organizations called guilds to 
control the flow and price of goods and 
to set up rules for advancing from 
apprentice to master craftsman. The 

King Philip II of France (above), 
along with Richard the Lion- 
Hearted and Frederick I of 
Germany, was a leader of the 
forces attempting to recapture 
Jerusalem in the Third Crusade 

Right: Magna Carta, 1215 

Wool, an important product in medieval 
commerce, was shipped from sheep farms to 
market towns, where merchants exchanged 
money for goods. 

Literary History 

The spread of ideas was greatly assisted by a 
landmark innovation in 15th-century Europe — 
the printing press. 

growth of towns meant the decline of feudalism, 
since wealth was no longer based exclusively on 
land ownership. On the other hand, the crowding of 
townspeople in conditions of poor sanitation en- 
sured that diseases like plague could spread rapidly. 

As towns were becoming centers of commerce, 
universities were becoming England's chief centers of 
learning. At Oxford University, 13th-century scholars 
like Roger Bacon advanced the study of science and 
mathematics. A century later, an Oxford scholar 
named John Wycliffe led an effort to end widespread 
church corruption. Though his followers, the 
Lollards, were suppressed, his ideas spread to John 
Huss in central Europe and through him influenced 
the later religious reformer Martin Luther. 

The Hundred Years' War 

Wycliffe's reform efforts took place during 
the Hundred Years' War, a long struggle 
between England and France that had 
begun in 1337 during the reign of Edward III. As 
the war continued on and off for more than a century, 
England also had to weather several domestic crises, 
including a great epidemic of plague known as the 
Black Death, which killed a third of England's popu- 

Religious faith was a vital element of 
medieval English life and literature. One 
of the most distinctive products of the 
age is the long poem known as Piers 
Plowman, a dream vision that explores 
Christianity's spiritual mysteries. Religious 
devotion is also the key concern of The 
Book of Margery Kempe, an autobiogra- 
phy in which Kempe focuses on her 
spiritual growth. In contrast, far more 
worldly attitudes are expressed in the 
surviving correspondence of the Paston 
family. These remarkable letters, written 
from about 1420 to 1500 and discovered 
centuries later by one of the Pastons' 
descendants, provide fascinating glimpses 
of life in later medieval times. 

Especially popular in the Middle Ages 
were romances— tales of chivalric knights, 
many of which feature King Arthur and 
the members of his court. For centuries 
the oral poets of the Britons in Wales 
had celebrated their legendary hero 
Arthur just as Anglo-Saxon scops had 
celebrated Beowulf. Then, about 1 135, 
the monk Geoffrey of Monmouth pro- 
duced a Latin "history" based on the old 
Welsh legends. Geoffrey's book caught 
the fancy of French, German, and English 
writers, who soon produced their own 
versions of the legends, updating them 
to reflect then-current notions of chivalry. 
In about 1375, an anonymous English 
poet produced Sir Cawain and the Green 
Knight, recounting the marvelous adven- 
tures of a knight of Arthur's court. A 
century later, in Le Morte d'Arthur, Sir 
Thomas Malory retold a number of the 
French Arthurian tales in Middle English. 


Development of the 
English language 

As warfare with France dragged on, 
English not only survived but triumphed. 
Among England's upper class it came 
to seem unpatriotic to use the language 
of the nation's number one enemy, espe- 
cially since the Anglo-Norman variety of 
French was ridiculed by the "real" French 
speakers across the English Channel. 
By the end of the Hundred Years' War, 
English had once again become the first 
language of most of the English nobility. 

Literary History 

In the rebirth of English as a language 
of literature, no writer was more impor- 
tant than the 14th-century poet Geoffrey 
Chaucer, the towering figure of Middle 
English letters. Chaucer's masterpiece, 
The Canterbury Tales, is a collection of 
tales supposedly narrated by a group of 
pilgrims traveling from London to Canter- 
bury to visit the shrine of Thomas a 
Becket. The pilgrims, who come from all 
walks of medieval life— the castle, the farm, 
the church, the town— are introduced in 
the famous "Prologue," where Chaucer 
weaves a vivid and charming tapestry of 
English life in the later Middle Ages. 

lation; the Peasants' Revolt of 1381; and Richard IPs 
forced abdication in 1399, which brought Henry IV 
to the English throne. The war itself had many 
famous episodes — like 
Henry V's great victory over 
the French at Agincourt 
and the French army's lift- 
ing of the siege of Orleans 
under the inspired leader- 
ship of the young peasant 
woman Joan of Arc. When 
the war finally ended in 
1453, England had lost 
nearly all of its French pos- 
sessions. It was also on the 
verge of a conflict in which 
two rival families claimed 
the throne — the house of 
York, whose symbol was a 
white rose, and the house of 
Lancaster, whose symbol 
was a red rose. The fighting, 
known as the Wars of the Roses, ended in 1485, 
when the Lancastrian Henry Tudor killed the 
Yorkist king Richard III at Bosworth Field and took 
the throne as Henry VII. This event is usually taken 
as marking the end of the Middle Ages in England. 

In medieval art, the Black 
Death was often portrayed 
as a skeleton. 


During the Hundred 
Years' War, the use 
of the longbow helped 
the English to inflict 
heavy casualties on the 
French, who were armec 
with the less efficient 


■ <H J 


of Courage 

The Anglo-Saxon and medieval periods were ones of turmoil and change — times 
when people's courage was frequently put to the test. Amid this turmoil, the tests 
of courage often took the form of physical challenges, such as confronting a 
dreaded foe or battling to survive on the high seas. Other tests of courage involved spir- 
itual or emotional challenges, such as standing up for one's religious beliefs or enduring 
the absence of a loved one. As you read about tests of courage in this part of Unit One, 
try to place yourself in the distant past and imagine how you would respond to similar 

The Beowulf Poet 

from Beowulf 

A fearless hero takes on daunting enemies. 


D. J. R. Bruckner A Collaboration Across 1,200 Years 

Beowulf brought to life 



Comparing Literature: Beowulf and the mad 

The Epic Hero Across Cultures: Ancient Greece 

Homer from the Iliad 

Two great warriors fight a classic battle. 


from the Exeter Book 
The Seafarer 
The Wanderer 
The Wife's Lament 

Hardship, loss, and loneliness 

The Venerable Bede from A History of the English Church and People 

A historian recounts the lives of early Christians. 



Oral Heroic Narrative 
An Epic Task 

Imagine that you're performing 

with an improvisational theater 

group. First, you are asked to 

pretend that you're an 

Automated Teller Machine 

(ATM) that intentionally tries 

people's patience. Easy, you 

think. Next, you must play a 

butcher who can't stand the 

sight of meat. No problem. 

Then a scholarly-looking man asks 

you to recite a long narrative poem 

about the heroic struggles of a legendary 

figure who uses strength, cunning, and 

help from the gods to survive perilous 

trials — and you have to use elevated, solemn 

language throughout. You're speechless, 

uncomprehending, until it hits you — the man 

wants an epic. 

What Is an Epic? 

An epic is a long narrative poem that celebrates 
a hero's deeds. The earliest epic tales survived 
for centuries as oral traditions before they were 
finally written down. They came into existence 
as spoken words and were retold by poet after 
poet from one generation to the next. Most 
orally composed epics date back to preliterate 
periods — before the cultures that produced them 
had developed written forms of their languages. 

Many epics are based in historical fact, so 
that their public performance by poets (known 
in different cultures by such names as scops or 
bards) provided both entertainment and 
education for the audience. Oral poets had to be 
master improvisers, able to compose verse in 
their heads while simultaneously singing or 
chanting it. These poets didn't make up their 

stories from scratch, however; they drew 
on existing songs and legends, which they 
could embellish or combine with 
original material. 

One characteristic feature of oral 
poetry is the repetition of certain 
words, phrases, or even lines. Two of 
the most notable examples of 
repeated elements are stock epithets 
and kennings. 

Stock epithets are adjectives that 
point out special traits of particular 
persons or things. In Homer, stock 
epithets are often compound adjectives, such 
as the "swift-footed" used to describe Achilles. 

Kennings are poetic synonyms found in 
Germanic poems, such as the Anglo-Saxon epic 
Beowulf. Rather than being an adjective, like an 
epithet, a kenning is a descriptive phrase or 
compound word that substitutes for a noun. For 
example, in Beowulf "the Almighty's enemy" 
and "sin-stained demon" are two kennings that 
are used in place of Grendel's name. 

Stock epithets and kennings were building 
blocks that a poet could recite while turning his 
attention to the next line or stanza. Epithets had 
an added advantage — they were designed to fit 
metrically into specific parts of the lines of verse. 
In skillful hands, these "formulas" helped to 
establish tone and reinforce essentials of 
character and setting. 

Characteristics of an Epic 

Epics from different languages and time periods 
do not always have the same characteristics. 
Kennings, for example, are not found in 
Homer's epics. However, the following 
characteristics are shared by most epics, 
whether they were composed orally or in 



writing, in the Middle Ages or last year, in 
Old English or in Slovak: 

The hero, generally a male, is of noble birth 

or high position, and often of great historical 

or legendary importance. 

The hero's character traits reflect important 

ideals of his society. 

The hero performs courageous— sometimes 

even superhuman— deeds that reflect the 

values of the era. 

The actions of the hero often determine the 

fate of a nation or group of people. 

The setting is vast in scope, often involving 

more than one nation. 

The poet uses formal diction and a serious tone. 

Major characters often deliver long, formal 


The plot is complicated by supernatural 

beings or events and may involve a long and 

dangerous journey through foreign lands. 

The poem reflects timeless values, such as 

courage and honor. 

The poem treats universal themes, such as 

good and evil or life and death. 

The (_ypic Across /ultures 

The epic is not a dead form. Although epics were 
sung by Sumerians as far back as the third millen- 
nium b.c, new oral epics continue to be created 
and recited in places like the Balkans and South- 
east Asia. Many poets around the world still write 
poems in the epic tradition, and the epic spirit 
animates many prose works, such as J. R. R. 

Tolkien's The Lord of the 
Rings, a popular fantasy 
novel. Many contempo- 
rary films are also cast in 
an epic mold, including 
such Hollywood hits as 
the Star Wars trilogy, 
which features an 
intergalactic struggle 
between the forces of 
good and evil. 

evidence of epic fea- 
tures might you 
expect to find in the 
Star Wars trilogy? 

Strategies for Reading: The Epic 

1. Notice which characteristics of epics appear in 
the poem you are reading. 

2. Decide what virtues the hero embodies. 

3. Decide if the epic's values are still held today. 

4. Determine the hero's role in bringing about any 
changes in fortune for the characters. 

5. Use a list or diagram to keep track of the 

6. If a passage confuses you, go back and 
summarize the main idea of the passage. 

When reading Beowulf (page 32) or the Iliad 
(page 67), use the accompanying Guide for 
Reading to help you clarify the language and 
form your own interpretation. 
Monitor your reading strategies and modify 
them when your understanding breaks down. 
Remember to use your Strategies for Active 
Reading: predict, visualize, connect, 
question, clarify, and evaluate. 



PREPARING to f/leizd 

fmm Beowulf 

Epic Poetry by the BEOWULF POET 
Translated by BURTON RAFFEL 

Connect to Your Life ) 

Brave Heart According to The American Heritage Dictionary of 
the English Language, a traditional hero is someone "endowed 
with great courage and strength" and "celebrated for his bold 
exploits." Are courage, strength, and boldness qualities you look 
for in a modern hero? Would you say that a hero's deeds have 
to be celebrated, or at least widely known? Think about people 
in today's world that you consider heroic. Then, in a cluster 
diagram like the one shown, jot down the qualities that make 
these people heroes in your eyes. Use your ideas to help you 
formulate your own definition of hero. 

Comparing Literature 
of the World 

Beowulf and the Iliad 

This lesson and the one that 
follows present an opportunity for 
comparing the epic heroes in 
Beowulf and the Iliad. Specific 
points of comparison in the Iliad 
lesson will help you contrast 
Beowulf's heroism with that of 
characters in Homer's epic poem. 

Vocabulary Preview 
















Focus Your Reading 

I ALLITERATION | Alliteration is the repetition of consonant 
sounds at the beginning of words. Poets frequently use alliteration to emphasize 
particular words or images, heighten moods, or create musical effects. In works 
of the oral tradition, alliteration was also used to aid memorization. In his 
translation of Beowulf, Burton Raffel has used alliteration to suggest the sound 
and style of the Old English poem. 

The ancient blade broke, bit into 
The monster's skin, drew blood . . . 

Look for other examples of alliteration as you read the excerpts from Beowulf. 

MAKING JUDGMENTS On pages 28-29, you were introduced 


to the characteristics shared by many epics. Look for evidence of these 
characteristics in Beowulf, and, on the basis of the evidence you find, make 
judgments about the ways in which the poem resembles and differs from other 

nQJ READER'S notebook Use the information provided on pages 28-29 to 
create a chart in which you list common characteristics of epics. Then, as you 
read the excerpts from Beowulf, record evidence of the presence or absence of 
those characteristics in the poem. In your judgment, is Beowulf a typical epic? 



Routes of Anglo-Saxon Invaders 

Build Background 

The Birth of the Beowulf Epic After the fall of the 
Western Roman Empire to Germanic tribes in the 
fifth century a.d., Europe entered a chaotic period 
of political unrest and economic and cultural 
decline. Among the Germanic-speaking tribes of 
northern Europe, life was dominated by frequent 
bloody warfare, which drove some of them to 
abandon their homes for foreign shores. These 
tribes included groups of Angles, Saxons, and 
Jutes who settled on the island of Britain, where 
they established what is now called Anglo-Saxon 
civilization. Their famous tale of the great hero 
Beowulf, however, takes place on the European 
mainland, among two related tribes, the Danes 
of what is now Denmark and the Geats (gets or 
ga-ots) of what is now Sweden. 

Beowulf is a Geat warrior who crosses the 
sea to aid the Danes and later returns to 
Sweden to succeed his uncle Hygelac (the 
Higlac of this translation) as king of the Geats. 
While we cannot be sure whether Beowulf ever 
really lived, we do know that Hygelac was a 
historical figure who led a military raid some 
time around the year 525. The action of 
Beowulf is presumably set not long afterward. 

At that time, the northern Germanic societies 
had not yet adopted Christianity. Their warrior 
culture celebrated loyalty and deeds of great 
strength and courage. For entertainment the 
people gathered in mead halls, large wooden 
buildings where they feasted, drank mead (an 
alcoholic beverage), and listened to tales of 
heroic achievements. Such tales were presented 
both in the form of long epic poems and in the 
form of shorter verse narratives. Poet-singers— 
called scops (shops) in Anglo-Saxon society- 
recited the poems in a chanting voice, usually 
accompanying themselves on a harp. 

Old English Text Beowulf is the most famous of 
the early Germanic heroic poems that survive. 
The form of the poem that has come down to 
us dates from sometime between the eighth 

English Channel 

and tenth centuries— after the Anglo-Saxons' 
conversion to Christianity. It is written in Old 
English, the language spoken in Britain in the 
Anglo-Saxon period. As the lines shown below 
illustrate, Old English neither looks nor sounds 
like Modern English, and it must therefore be 
translated for most modern readers. 

Old English poetry has a strong rhythm, with 
each line divided into two parts by a pause, 
called a caesura (sT-zhotjr'o). In the Old 
English text printed 
here, the caesuras 
are indicated by 
extra space in 
the lines. In his 
translation, Burton 
Raffel has often 
used punctuation to 
reproduce the effect 
of the caesuras. 

Lines from Beowulf in Old English 

Da com of more under misthleojxim 
grendel gongan — godes yrre beer; 
mynte se manscada manna cynnes 
sumne besyrwan in sele \>am hean. 

Modern English translation by Burton Raffel 

Out from the marsh, from the foot of misty 
Hills and bogs, bearing God's hatred, 
Grendel came, hoping to kill 
Anyone he could trap on this trip to high Herot. 



Hrothgar (hroth'gaY), king of the Danes, has built a 
wonderful mead hall called Herot {hefst), where 
his subjects congregate and make merry. As this 
selection opens, a fierce and powerful monster 
named Grendel invades the mead hall, bringing 
death and destruction. 




A powerful monster, living down 
In the darkness, growled in pain, impatient 
As day after day the music rang 
Loud in that hall, the harp's rejoicing 
Call and the poet's clear songs, sung 
Of the ancient beginnings of us all, recalling 
The Almighty making the earth, shaping 
These beautiful plains marked off by oceans, 
Then proudly setting the sun and moon 
To glow across the land and light it; 
The corners of the earth were made lovely with trees 
And leaves, made quick with life, with each 
Of the nations who now move on its face. And then 
As now warriors sang of their pleasure: 
So Hrothgar's men lived happy in his hall 
Till the monster stirred, that demon, that fiend, 

Grendel, who haunted the moors, the wild 

Marshes, and made his home in a hell 

Not hell but earth. He was spawned in that slime, 
20 Conceived by a pair of those monsters born 

Of Cain, murderous creatures banished 

By God, punished forever for the crime 

Of Abel's death. The Almighty drove 

Those demons out, and their exile was bitter, 
25 Shut away from men; they split 

Into a thousand forms of evil — spirits 

And fiends, goblins, monsters, giants, 

A brood forever opposing the Lord's 

Will, and again and again defeated. 

30 Then, when darkness had dropped, Grendel 

Went up to Herot, wondering what the warriors 
Would do in that hall when their drinking was done. 
He found them sprawled in sleep, suspecting 
Nothing, their dreams undisturbed. The monster's 

35 Thoughts were as quick as his greed or his claws: 
He slipped through the door and there in the silence 
Snatched up thirty men, smashed them 
Unknowing in their beds and ran out with their bodies, 
The blood dripping behind him, back 

40 To his lair, delighted with his night's slaughter. 

At daybreak, with the sun's first light, they saw 
How well he had worked, and in that gray morning 
Broke their long feast with tears and laments 
For the dead. Hrothgar, their lord, sat joyless 

45 In Herot, a mighty prince mourning 

The fate of his lost friends and companions, 
Knowing by its tracks that some demon had torn 
His followers apart. He wept, fearing 
The beginning might not be the end. And that night 

50 Grendel came again, so set 

On murder that no crime could ever be enough, 

No savage assault quench his lust 

For evil. Then each warrior tried 

To escape him, searched for rest in different 

55 Beds, as far from Herot as they could find, 
Seeing how Grendel hunted when they slept. 
Distance was safety; the only survivors 
Were those who fled him. Hate had triumphed. 
So Grendel ruled, fought with the righteous, 




lament (le-ment') n. an audible expression of grief; wail 


17 moors (moorz): broad, open 
regions with patches of bog. 

19 spawned: born. 

21 Cain: the eldest son of Adam 
and Eve. According to the Bible 
(Genesis 4), he murdered his 
younger brother Abel. 

19-29 Who were Grendel's earliest 
ancestors? How did he come to 

40 lair: the den of a 

wild animal. 

49 What is meant by 
"The beginning might not 
be the end"? 

58 In what way has hate 

Prow of ninth-century 
Oseberg ship 









One against many, and won; so Herot 

Stood empty, and stayed deserted for years, 

Twelve winters of grief for Hrothgar, king 

Of the Danes, sorrow heaped at his door 

By hell-forged hands. His misery leaped 

The seas, was told and sung in all 

Men's ears: how Grendel's hatred began, 

How the monster relished his savage war 

On the Danes, keeping the bloody feud 

Alive, seeking no peace, offering 

No truce, accepting no settlement, no price 

In gold or land, and paying the living 

For one crime only with another. No one 

Waited for reparation from his plundering claws: 

That shadow of death hunted in the darkness, 

Stalked Hrothgar's warriors, old 

And young, lying in waiting, hidden 

In mist, invisibly following them from the edge 

Of the marsh, always there, unseen. 

So mankind's enemy continued his crimes, 
Killing as often as he could, coming 
Alone, bloodthirsty and horrible. Though he lived 
In Herot, when the night hid him, he never 
Dared to touch king Hrothgar's glorious 
Throne, protected by God — God, 
Whose love Grendel could not know. But Hrothgar's 
Heart was bent. The best and most noble 
Of his council debated remedies, sat 
In secret sessions, talking of terror 
And wondering what the bravest of warriors could do. 
And sometimes they sacrificed to the old stone gods, 
Made heathen vows, hoping for Hell's 
Support, the Devil's guidance in driving 
Their affliction off. That was their way, 
And the heathen's only hope, Hell 
Always in their hearts, knowing neither God 
Nor His passing as He walks through our world, the Lord 
Of Heaven and earth; their ears could not hear 
His praise nor know His glory. Let them 
Beware, those who are thrust into danger, 
Clutched at by trouble, yet can carry no solace 
In their hearts, cannot hope to be better! Hail 
To those who will rise to God, drop off 
Their dead bodies and seek our Father's peace! 

64 What does the phrase "hell- 
forged hands" suggest about 

73 reparation: something done to 
make amends for loss or suffering. 
In Germanic society, someone who 
killed another person was 
generally expected to make a 
payment to the victim's family as a 
way of restoring peace. 

84 The reference to God shows the 
influence of Christianity on the 
Beowulf Poet. What does Grendel's 
inability to know God's love 
suggest about him? 

91 heathen {he'thdn): pagan; non- 
Christian. Though the Beowulf 
Poet was a Christian, he 
recognized that the characters in 
the poem lived before the 
Germanic tribes were converted to 
Christianity, when they still 
worshiped "the old stone gods." 



relish (rel'Tsh) v. to enjoy keenly 

affliction (a-flTk'shen) n. a cause of pain or distress 




So the living sorrow of Healfdane's son 

105 Simmered, bitter and fresh, and no wisdom 
Or strength could break it: that agony hung 
On king and people alike, harsh 
And unending, violent and cruel, and evil. 
In his far-off home Beowulf, Higlac's 

no Follower and the strongest of the Geats — greater 
And stronger than anyone anywhere in this world — 
Heard how Grendel filled nights with horror 
And quickly commanded a boat fitted out, 
Proclaiming that he'd go to that famous king, 

115 Would sail across the sea to Hrothgar, 
Now when help was needed. None 
Of the wise ones regretted his going, much 
As he was loved by the Geats: the omens were good, 
And they urged the adventure on. So Beowulf 

120 Chose the mightiest men he could find, 

The bravest and best of the Geats, fourteen 
In all, and led them down to their boat; 
He knew the sea, would point the prow 
Straight to that distant Danish shore. 

104 Healfdane's son: Hrothgar. 

109-110 Higlac's follower: warrior 
loyal to Higlac (hTg'lak'), king of 
the Geats (and Beowulf's uncle). 

Beowulf and his men sail over the sea to the land of the Danes to offer 
help to Hrothgar. They are escorted by a Danish guard to Herot, where 
Wulfgar, one of Hrothgar's soldiers, tells the king of their arrival. Hrothgar 
knows of Beowulf and is ready to welcome the young prince and his men. 




Then Wulfgar went to the door and addressed 
The waiting seafarers with soldier's words: 

"My lord, the great king of the Danes, commands me 
To tell you that he knows of your noble birth 
And that having come to him from over the open 
Sea you have come bravely and are welcome. 
Now go to him as you are, in your armor and helmets, 
But leave your battle-shields here, and your spears, 
Let them lie waiting for the promises your words 
May make." 

Beowulf arose, with his men 
Around him, ordering a few to remain 
With their weapons, leading the others quickly 



Along under Herot's steep roof into Hrothgar's 

Presence. Standing on that prince's own hearth, 

Helmeted, the silvery metal of his mail shirt 
ho Gleaming with a smith's high art, he greeted 

The Danes' great lord: 

"Hail, Hrothgar! 

Higlac is my cousin and my king; the days 

Of my youth have been filled with glory. Now Grendel's 

Name has echoed in our land: sailors 
145 Have brought us stories of Herot, the best 

Of all mead-halls, deserted and useless when the moon 

Hangs in skies the sun had lit, 

Light and life fleeing together. 

My people have said, the wisest, most knowing 
150 And best of them, that my duty was to go to the Danes' 

Great king. They have seen my strength for themselves, 

139 mail shirt: flexible body armor 
made of metal links or overlapping 
metal scales. 

140 smith's high art: the skilled 
craft of a blacksmith (a person who 
fashions objects from iron). 

142 cousin: here, a general term 
for a relative. Beowulf is actually 
Higlac's nephew. 

Front view of a wooden Viking house in 
Trelleborg, Denmark, that serves today 
as an outdoor museum. Such houses 
had a main door at each end and con- 
tained a huge central room where a 
great fire burned. 


Have watched me rise from the darkness of war, 
Dripping with my enemies' blood. I drove 
Five great giants into chains, chased 

155 All of that race from the earth. I swam 

In the blackness of night, hunting monsters 
Out of the ocean, and killing them one 
By one; death was my errand and the fate 
They had earned. Now Grendel and I are called 

160 Together, and I've come. Grant me, then, 
Lord and protector of this noble place, 
A single request! I have come so far, 
Oh shelterer of warriors and your people's loved friend, 
That this one favor you should not refuse me — 

165 That I, alone and with the help of my men, 
May purge all evil from this hall. I have heard, 
Too, that the monster's scorn of men 
Is so great that he needs no weapons and fears none. 
Nor will I. My lord Higlac 

170 Might think less of me if I let my sword 
Go where my feet were afraid to, if I hid 
Behind some broad linden shield: my hands 
Alone shall fight for me, struggle for life 
Against the monster. God must decide 

175 Who will be given to death's cold grip. 
Grendel's plan, I think, will be 
What it has been before, to invade this hall 
And gorge his belly with our bodies. If he can, 
If he can. And I think, if my time will have come, 

180 There'll be nothing to mourn over, no corpse to prepare 
For its grave: Grendel will carry our bloody 
Flesh to the moors, crunch on our bones 
And smear torn scraps of our skin on the walls 
Of his den. No, I expect no Danes 

185 Will fret about sewing our shrouds, if he wins. 
And if death does take me, send the hammered 
Mail of my armor to Higlac, return 
The inheritance I had from Hrethel, and he 
From Wayland. Fate will unwind as it must!" 

190 Hrothgar replied, protector of the Danes: 

"Beowulf, you've come to us in friendship, 
and because 

172 linden shield: shield made 
from the wood of a linden tree. 

172-174 Beowulf insists on 
fighting Grendel without weapons. 
Why do you think this is so 
important to him? 

185 shrouds: cloths in which dead 
bodies are wrapped. 

188 Hrethel (hre^'el): a former 
king of the Geats— Higlac's father 
and Beowulf's grandfather. 

189 Wayland: a famous blacksmith 
and magician. 




purge (purj) v. to cleanse or purify 
gorge (gorj) v. to stuff with food 









Of the reception your father found at our court. 

Edgetho had begun a bitter feud, 

Killing Hathlaf, a Wulfing warrior: 

Your father's countrymen were afraid of war, 

If he returned to his home, and they turned him away. 

Then he traveled across the curving waves 

To the land of the Danes. I was new to the throne, 

Then, a young man ruling this wide 

Kingdom and its golden city: Hergar, 

My older brother, a far better man 

Than I, had died and dying made me, 

Second among Healfdane's sons, first 

In this nation. I bought the end of Edgetho's 

Quarrel, sent ancient treasures through the ocean's 

Furrows to the Wulfings; your father swore 

He'd keep that peace. My tongue grows heavy, 

And my heart, when I try to tell you what Grendel 

Has brought us, the damage he's done, here 

In this hall. You see for yourself how much smaller 

Our ranks have become, and can guess what we've lost 

To his terror. Surely the Lord Almighty 

Could stop his madness, smother his lust! 

How many times have my men, glowing 

With courage drawn from too many cups 

Of ale, sworn to stay after dark 

And stem that horror with a sweep of their swords. 

And then, in the morning, this mead-hall glittering 

With new light would be drenched with blood, the benches 

Stained red, the floors, all wet from that fiend's 

Savage assault — and my soldiers would be fewer 

Still, death taking more and more. 

But to table, Beowulf, a banquet in your honor: 

Let us toast your victories, and talk of the future." 

Then Hrothgar's men gave places to the Geats, 
Yielded benches to the brave visitors 
And led them to the feast. The keeper of the mead 
Came carrying out the carved flasks, 
And poured that bright sweetness. A poet 
Sang, from time to time, in a clear 
Pure voice. Danes and visiting Geats 
Celebrated as one, drank and rejoiced. 

193 Edgetho (ej'tho): Beowulf's 

194 Wulfing: a member of another 
Germanic tribe. 

191-206 What service did 
Hrothgar perform for Beowulf's 



After the banquet, Hrothgar and his 
followers leave Herot, and Beowulf and 
his warriors remain to spend the night. 
Beowulf reiterates his intent to fight Grendel 
without a sword and, while his followers sleep, lies 
waiting, eager for Grendel to appear. 

The Battle wiTh GrEndeI, 

Out from the marsh, from the foot of misty 

Hills and bogs, bearing God's hatred, 
235 Grendel came, hoping to kill 

Anyone he could trap on this trip to high Herot. 

He moved quickly through the cloudy night, 

Up from his swampland, sliding silently 

Toward that gold-shining hall. He had visited Hrothgar's 
240 Home before, knew the way — 

But never, before nor after that night, 

Found Herot defended so firmly, his reception 

Reconstruction of helmet 
from Sutton Hoo ship burial 

233-235 The translator uses 
punctuation to convey the effect 
of the midline pauses in the 
original Old English verses. How 
does the rhythm created by the 
midline punctuation reinforce the 
account of the action here? 



So harsh. He journeyed, forever joyless, 

Straight to the door, then snapped it open, 
245 Tore its iron fasteners with a touch 

And rushed angrily over the threshold. 246 threshold: the strip of wood 

He strode quickly across the inlaid or stone at the bottom of a 

Floor, snarling and fierce: his eyes oorway. 

Gleamed in the darkness, burned with a gruesome 
250 Light. Then he stopped, seeing the hall 

Crowded with sleeping warriors, stuffed 

With rows of young soldiers resting together. 

And his heart laughed, he relished the sight, 

Intended to tear the life from those bodies 
255 By morning; the monster's mind was hot 

With the thought of food and the feasting his belly 

Would soon know. But fate, that night, intended 

Grendel to gnaw the broken bones 

Of his last human supper. Human 
260 Eyes were watching his evil steps, 

Waiting to see his swift hard claws. 

Grendel snatched at the first Geat 

He came to, ripped him apart, cut 

His body to bits with powerful jaws, 
265 Drank the blood from his veins and bolted 

Him down, hands and feet; death 

And Grendel's great teeth came together, 

Snapping life shut. Then he stepped to another 

Still body, clutched at Beowulf with his claws, 
270 Grasped at a strong-hearted wakeful sleeper 

— And was instantly seized himself, claws 

Bent back as Beowulf leaned up on one arm. 
That shepherd of evil, guardian of crime, 

Knew at once that nowhere on earth 
275 Had he met a man whose hands were harder; 

His mind was flooded with fear — but nothing 

Could take his talons and himself from that tight 

Hard grip. Grendel's one thought was to run 

From Beowulf, flee back to his marsh and hide there: 
280 This was a different Herot than the hall he had emptied. 

But Higlac's follower remembered his final 

Boast and, standing erect, stopped 

The monster's flight, fastened those claws 

In his fists till they cracked, clutched Grendel 
285 Closer. The infamous killer fought 

WORDS .„,, . 

talon (tal an) n. a claw 

,^v,^w, infamous (Tn'fa-mas) adj. havinq a bad reputation; notorious 
KNOW j z> 


For his freedom, wanting no flesh but retreat, 

Desiring nothing but escape; his claws 

Had been caught, he was trapped. That trip to Herot 

Was a miserable journey for the writhing monster! 278-289 Up to this point Grendel 

290 The high hall rang, its roof boards swayed, nas killed his human victims easily. 

And Danes shook with terror. Down why might he be tr y in 9 to run 

. . , , , , away from Beowulf? 

The aisles the battle swept, angry 

And wild. Herot trembled, wonderfully 

Built to withstand the blows, the struggling 
295 Great bodies beating at its beautiful walls; 

Shaped and fastened with iron, inside 

And out, artfully worked, the building 

Stood firm. Its benches rattled, fell 

To the floor, gold-covered boards grating 
300 As Grendel and Beowulf battled across them. 

Hrothgar's wise men had fashioned Herot 

To stand forever; only fire, 

They had planned, could shatter what such skill had put 

Together, swallow in hot flames such splendor 
305 Of ivory and iron and wood. Suddenly 

The sounds changed, the Danes started 

In new terror, cowering in their beds as the terrible 

Screams of the Almighty's enemy sang 

In the darkness, the horrible shrieks of pain 
310 And defeat, the tears torn out of Grendel's 

Taut throat, hell's captive caught in the arms 

Of him who of all the men on earth 

Was the strongest. 

That mighty protector of men 

Meant to hold the monster till its life 
315 Leaped out, knowing the fiend was no use 

To anyone in Denmark. All of Beowulf's 

Band had jumped from their beds, ancestral 

Swords raised and ready, determined 

To protect their prince if they could. Their courage 
320 Was great but all wasted: they could hack at Grendel 

From every side, trying to open 

A path for his evil soul, but their points 

Could not hurt him, the sharpest and hardest iron 

Could not scratch at his skin, for that sin-stained demon 
325 Had bewitched all men's weapons, laid spells 322-326 why do you think no 

That blunted every mortal man's blade. weapons can hurt Grendel? 

WORDS writhing (n'f/?Tng) adj. twisting and turning in pain writhe v. 
TO cowering (kou'a-rmg) adj. cringing in fear cower v. 

42 KNOW taut (tot) adj. pulled tight 

And yet his time had come, his days 

Were over, his death near; down 

To hell he would go, swept groaning and helpless 
330 To the waiting hands of still worse fiends. 

Now he discovered — once the afflictor 

Of men, tormentor of their days — what it meant 

To feud with Almighty God: Grendel 

Saw that his strength was deserting him, his claws 
335 Bound fast, Higlac's brave follower tearing at 

His hands. The monster's hatred rose higher, 

But his power had gone. He twisted in pain, 

And the bleeding sinews deep in his shoulder 338 sinews (sTn'yooz): the tendons 

Snapped, muscle and bone split that connect muscles to bones. 

340 And broke. The battle was over, Beowulf 

Had been granted new glory: Grendel escaped, 

But wounded as he was could flee to his den, 

His miserable hole at the bottom of the marsh, 

Only to die, to wait for the end 
345 Of all his days. And after that bloody 

Combat the Danes laughed with delight. 

He who had come to them from across the sea, 

Bold and strong-minded, had driven affliction 

Off, purged Herot clean. He was happy, 
350 Now, with that night's fierce work; the Danes 

Had been served as he'd boasted he'd serve them; Beowulf, 

A prince of the Geats, had killed Grendel, 

Ended the grief, the sorrow, the suffering 

Forced on Hrothgar's helpless people 
355 By a bloodthirsty fiend. No Dane doubted 

The victory, for the proof, hanging high 

From the rafters where Beowulf had hung it, was the monster's 

Arm, claw and shoulder and all. 355-358 why do you think 

Beowulf hangs Grendel's arm from 

And then, in the morning, crowds surrounded 
360 Herot, warriors coming to that hall 

From faraway lands, princes and leaders 

Of men hurrying to behold the monster's 

Great staggering tracks. They gaped with no sense 

Of sorrow, felt no regret for his suffering, 
365 Went tracing his bloody footprints, his beaten 

And lonely flight, to the edge of the lake 

Where he'd dragged his corpselike way, doomed 

And already weary of his vanishing life. 








The water was bloody, steaming and boiling 

In horrible pounding waves, heat 

Sucked from his magic veins; but the swirling 

Surf had covered his death, hidden 

Deep in murky darkness his miserable 

End, as hell opened to receive him. 

Then old and young rejoiced, turned back 
From that happy pilgrimage, mounted their hard-hooved 
Horses, high-spirited stallions, and rode them 
Slowly toward Herot again, retelling 
Beowulf's bravery as they jogged along. 
And over and over they swore that nowhere 
On earth or under the spreading sky 
Or between the seas, neither south nor north, 
Was there a warrior worthier to rule over men. 
(But no one meant Beowulf's praise to belittle 
Hrothgar, their kind and gracious king!) 

And sometimes, when the path ran straight and clear, 
They would let their horses race, red 
And brown and pale yellow backs streaming 
Down the road. And sometimes a proud old soldier 
Who had heard songs of the ancient heroes 
And could sing them all through, story after story, 
Would weave a net of words for Beowulf's 
Victory, tying the knot of his verses 
Smoothly, swiftly, into place with a poet's 
Quick skill, singing his new song aloud 
While he shaped it, and the old songs as well. . . . 

389-396 What role do poets seem 
to play in Beowulf's society? 

Thinking Through the Literature 

1. Comprehension Check What characteristics does Grendel have that 
make him particularly terrifying to the Danes? 

2. What impressions of Beowulf do you have after reading this part of 
the poem? 

3. What do you think causes Grendel to attack human beings? 

• his relatives and ancestors 

• his actions and attitudes 

• the Danish warriors' reactions to him 

4. Why do you think Beowulf offers to help a tribe other than his own, 
in spite of the danger? 





murky (mur'ke) adj. cloudy; gloomy 

pilgrimage (pTI'gre-mTj) n. a journey to a sacred place or with a lofty purpose 

Although one monster has died, 
another still lives. From her lair in a cold and 
murky lake, where she has been brooding over her 
loss, Grendel's mother emerges, bent on revenge. 

GrEndeI/s Mother 

So she reached Herot, 
Where the Danes slept as though already dead; 
Her visit ended their good fortune, reversed 

400 The bright vane of their luck. No female, no matter 
How fierce, could have come with a man's strength, 
Fought with the power and courage men fight with, 
Smashing their shining swords, their bloody, 
Hammer-forged blades onto boar-headed helmets, 

405 Slashing and stabbing with the sharpest of points. 
The soldiers raised their shields and drew 
Those gleaming swords, swung them above 
The piled-up benches, leaving their mail shirts 
And their helmets where they'd lain when the terror took 
hold of them. 

410 To save her life she moved still faster, 

Took a single victim and fled from the hall, 
Running to the moors, discovered, but her supper 
Assured, sheltered in her dripping claws. 
She'd taken Hrothgar's closest friend, 

415 The man he most loved of all men on earth; 
She'd killed a glorious soldier, cut 
A noble life short. No Geat could have stopped her: 
Beowulf and his band had been given better 
Beds; sleep had come to them in a different 

420 Hall. Then all Herot burst into shouts: 

She had carried off Grendel's claw. Sorrow 
Had returned to Denmark. They'd traded deaths, 
Danes and monsters, and no one had won, 
Both had lost! 

400 vane: a device that turns to 
show the direction the wind is 
blowing — here associated 
metaphorically with luck, which is 
as changeable as the wind. 

404 boar-headed helmets: 

Germanic warriors often wore 
helmets bearing the images of wild 
pigs or other fierce creatures in the 
hope that the images would 
increase their ferocity and protect 
them against their enemies. 

421 Why do you think Grendel's 
mother takes his claw? 



Devastated by the loss of his friend, Hrothgar sends for Beowulf and 
recounts what Grendel's mother has done. Then Hrothgar describes the 
dark lake where Grendel's mother has dwelt with her son. 






"They live in secret places, windy 

Cliffs, wolf-dens where water pours 

From the rocks, then runs underground, where mist 

Steams like black clouds, and the groves of trees 

Growing out over their lake are all covered 

With frozen spray, and wind down snakelike 

Roots that reach as far as the water 

And help keep it dark. At night that lake 

Burns like a torch. No one knows its bottom, 

No wisdom reaches such depths. A deer, 

Hunted through the woods by packs of hounds, 

A stag with great horns, though driven through the forest 

From faraway places, prefers to die 

On those shores, refuses to save its life 

In that water. It isn't far, nor is it 

A pleasant spot! When the wind stirs 

And storms, waves splash toward the sky, 

As dark as the air, as black as the rain 

That the heavens weep. Our only help, 

Again, lies with you. Grendel's mother 

Is hidden in her terrible home, in a place 

You've not seen. Seek it, if you dare! Save us, 

Once more, and again twisted gold, 

Heaped-up ancient treasure, will reward you 

For the battle you win!" 

425-432 What sort of place is the 
underwater lair of Grendel's 
mother? How does the translator's 
use of alliteration make this 
description more effective? 

447-449 Germanic warriors placed 
great importance on amassing 
treasure as a way of acquiring fame 
and temporarily defeating fate. 



SSgCijj-'- ' •fTf'J ™ttj •■'>"" 

Beowulf accepts Hrothgar's challenge, 
and the king and his men accompany 
the hero to the dreadful lair of 
Grendel's mother Fearlessly, Beowulf 
prepares to battle the terrible creature. 

Bronze matrix for pressed foil, cast with carved details. Bjornhovda, 
Torslunda, Oland. 7th century a.d. 

The BaTtLE wiTh GrEndeI/s MoThEr 

450 He leaped into the lake, would not wait for anyone's 

Answer; the heaving water covered him 

Over. For hours he sank through the waves; 

At last he saw the mud of the bottom. 

And all at once the greedy she-wolf 
455 Who'd ruled those waters for half a hundred 

Years discovered him, saw that a creature 

From above had come to explore the bottom 

Of her wet world. She welcomed him in her claws, 

Clutched at him savagely but could not harm him, 
460 Tried to work her fingers through the tight 

Ring-woven mail on his breast, but tore 

And scratched in vain. Then she carried him, armor 

And sword and all, to her home; he struggled 

To free his weapon, and failed. The fight 
465 Brought other monsters swimming to see 

Her catch, a host of sea beasts who beat at 

His mail shirt, stabbing with tusks and teeth 

As they followed along. Then he realized, suddenly, 

That she'd brought him into someone's battle-hall, 
470 And there the water's heat could not hurt him, 

Nor anything in the lake attack him through 










The building's high-arching roof. A brilliant 
Light burned all around him, the lake 
Itself like a fiery flame. 

Then he saw 
The mighty water witch, and swung his sword, 
His ring-marked blade, straight at her head; 
The iron sang its fierce song, 
Sang Beowulf's strength. But her guest 
Discovered that no sword could slice her evil 
Skin, that Hrunting could not hurt her, was useless 
Now when he needed it. They wrestled, she ripped 
And tore and clawed at him, bit holes in his helmet, 
And that too failed him; for the first time in years 
Of being worn to war it would earn no glory; 
It was the last time anyone would wear it. But Beowulf 
Longed only for fame, leaped back 
Into battle. He tossed his sword aside, 
Angry; the steel-edged blade lay where 
He'd dropped it. If weapons were useless he'd use 
His hands, the strength in his fingers. So fame 
Comes to the men who mean to win it 
And care about nothing else! He raised 
His arms and seized her by the shoulder; anger 
Doubled his strength, he threw her to the floor. 
She fell, Grendel's fierce mother, and the Geats' 
Proud prince was ready to leap on her. But she rose 
At once and repaid him with her clutching claws, 
Wildly tearing at him. He was weary, that best 
And strongest of soldiers; his feet stumbled 
And in an instant she had him down, held helpless. 
Squatting with her weight on his stomach, she drew 
A dagger, brown with dried blood, and prepared 
To avenge her only son. But he was stretched 
On his back, and her stabbing blade was blunted 
By the woven mail shirt he wore on his chest. 
The hammered links held; the point 

Could not touch him. He'd have traveled to the bottom of the 
Edgetho's son, and died there, if that shining 
Woven metal had not helped — and Holy 
God, who sent him victory, gave judgment 
For truth and right, Ruler of the Heavens, 
Once Beowulf was back on his feet and fighting. 

476 his ring-marked blade: For the 

battle with Grendel's mother, 
Beowulf has been given an 
heirloom sword with an intricately 
etched blade. 

480 Hrunting (hrun'tmg): the name 
of Beowulf's sword. (Germanic 
warriors' swords were possessions 
of such value that they were often 
given names.) 

490-492 How important is fame to 




Then he saw, hanging on the wall, a heavy 

Sword, hammered by giants, strong 
515 And blessed with their magic, the best of all weapons 

But so massive that no ordinary man could lift 

Its carved and decorated length. He drew it 

From its scabbard, broke the chain on its hilt, 

And then, savage, now, angry 
520 And desperate, lifted it high over his head 

And struck with all the strength he had left, 

Caught her in the neck and cut it through, 

Broke bones and all. Her body fell 

To the floor, lifeless, the sword was wet 
525 With her blood, and Beowulf rejoiced at the sight. 
The brilliant light shone, suddenly, 

As though burning in that hall, and as bright as Heaven's 

Own candle, lit in the sky. He looked 

At her home, then following along the wall 
530 Went walking, his hands tight on the sword, 

His heart still angry. He was hunting another 

Dead monster, and took his weapon with him 

For final revenge against GrendePs vicious 

Attacks, his nighttime raids, over 
535 And over, coming to Herot when Hrothgar's 

Men slept, killing them in their beds, 

Eating some on the spot, fifteen 

° • i • i V Viking sword 

Or more, and running to his loathsome moor 

With another such sickening meal waiting 
540 In his pouch. But Beowulf repaid him for those visits, 

Found him lying dead in his corner, 

Armless, exactly as that fierce fighter 

Had sent him out from Herot, then struck off 

His head with a single swift blow. The body 
545 Jerked for the last time, then lay still. 

The wise old warriors who surrounded Hrothgar, 

Like him staring into the monsters' lake, 

Saw the waves surging and blood 

Spurting through. They spoke about Beowulf, 
550 All the graybeards, whispered together 550 graybeards: old men. 

And said that hope was gone, that the hero 

Had lost fame and his life at once, and would never 

Return to the living, come back as triumphant 

As he had left; almost all agreed that Grendel's 
555 Mighty mother, the she-wolf, had killed him. 


TO loathsome (\6th's3m) adj. disgusting; hateful 



Gold torque (a collar or necklace) from 
Snettisham in Norfolk in eastern 
England, made sometime in the middle 
of the first century b.c. 

The sun slid over past noon, went further 

Down. The Danes gave up, left 

The lake and went home, Hrothgar with them. 

The Geats stayed, sat sadly, watching, 
560 Imagining they saw their lord but not believing 

They would ever see him again. 

— Then the sword 

Melted, blood-soaked, dripping down 

Like water, disappearing like ice when the world's 

Eternal Lord loosens invisible 
565 Fetters and unwinds icicles and frost 

As only He can, He who rules 

Time and seasons, He who is truly 

God. The monsters' hall was full of 

Rich treasures, but all that Beowulf took 
570 Was Grendel's head and the hilt of the giants' 

Jeweled sword; the rest of that ring-marked 

Blade had dissolved in Grendel's steaming 

Blood, boiling even after his death. 

And then the battle's only survivor 
575 Swam up and away from those silent corpses; 

The water was calm and clean, the whole 

Huge lake peaceful once the demons who'd lived in it 

Were dead. 

Then that noble protector of all seamen 

Swam to land, rejoicing in the heavy 
580 Burdens he was bringing with him. He 

578 that noble protector of all 
seamen: Beowulf, who will be 
buried in a tower that will serve as 
a navigational aid to sailors. 




fetter (fet'ar) n. a shackle or chain; restraint 

And all his glorious band of Geats 

Thanked God that their leader had come back unharmed; 

They left the lake together. The Geats 

Carried Beowulf's helmet, and his mail shirt. 

585 Behind them the water slowly thickened 
As the monsters' blood came seeping up. 
They walked quickly, happily, across 
Roads all of them remembered, left 
The lake and the cliffs alongside it, brave men 

590 Staggering under the weight of Grendel's skull, 

Too heavy for fewer than four of them to handle — 
Two on each side of the spear jammed through it — 
Yet proud of their ugly load and determined 
That the Danes, seated in Herot, should see it. 

595 Soon, fourteen Geats arrived 

At the hall, bold and warlike, and with Beowulf, 
Their lord and leader, they walked on the mead-hall 
Green. Then the Geats' brave prince entered 
Herot, covered with glory for the daring 

600 Battles he had fought; he sought Hrothgar 
To salute him and show Grendel's head. 
He carried that terrible trophy by the hair, 
Brought it straight to where the Danes sat, 
Drinking, the queen among them. It was a weird 

605 And wonderful sight, and the warriors stared. 

593-594 Why do you think the 
Geats want the Danes to see the 
monster's skull? 

604 queen: Welthow, wife of 

Thinking Through the Literature 

1. Comprehension Check What heroic action does Beowulf perform in 
this part of the poem? 

2. Do you think you would have enjoyed living among the Danes of 
Beowulf's day? Why or why not? 

3. What qualities does Beowulf display in this second battle? 
the description of Grendel's mother and her actions 
the details describing her lair 
Beowulf's motives and actions 

4. Are Beowulf's words and deeds those of a traditional epic hero? 
Support your opinion with evidence from the poem. 

5. Does the behavior of Grendel's mother seem as wicked or 


unreasonable as Grendel's behavior? Explain your answer. 



With Grendel's mother destroyed, peace is restored to the land 
of the Danes, and Beowulf, laden with Hrothgar's gifts, returns to 
the land of his own people, the Geats. After his uncle and cousin 
die, Beowulf becomes king of the Geats and rules in peace and 
prosperity for 50 years. One day, however, a fire-breathing 
dragon that has been guarding a treasure for hundreds of 
years is disturbed by a thief, who enters the treasure 
tower and steals a cup. The dragon begins terrorizing 
the Geats, and Beowulf, now an old man, takes on the 
challenge of fighting it. 


And Beowulf uttered his final boast: 

"I've never known fear, as a youth I fought 

In endless battles. I am old, now, 

But I will fight again, seek fame still, 
6io If the dragon hiding in his tower dares 

To face me." 

Then he said farewell to his followers, 

Each in his turn, for the last time: 

"I'd use no sword, no weapon, if this beast 

Could be killed without it, crushed to death 
615 Like Grendel, gripped in my hands and torn 

Limb from limb. But his breath will be burning 

Hot, poison will pour from his tongue. 

I feel no shame, with shield and sword 

And armor, against this monster: when he comes to me 

Viking cup, silver and gilt 




620 I mean to stand, not run from his shooting 

Flames, stand till fate decides 

Which of us wins. My heart is firm, 

My hands calm: I need no hot 

Words. Wait for me close by, my friends. 
625 We shall see, soon, who will survive 

This bloody battle, stand when the fighting 

Is done. No one else could do 

What I mean to, here, no man but me 

Could hope to defeat this monster. No one 
630 Could try. And this dragon's treasure, his gold 

And everything hidden in that tower, will be mine 

Or war will sweep me to a bitter death!" 

Then Beowulf rose, still brave, still strong, 

And with his shield at his side, and a mail shirt on his breast, 
635 Strode calmly, confidently, toward the tower, under 

The rocky cliffs: no coward could have walked there! 

And then he who'd endured dozens of desperate 

Battles, who'd stood boldly while swords and shields 

Clashed, the best of kings, saw 
640 Huge stone arches and felt the heat 

Of the dragon's breath, flooding down 

Through the hidden entrance, too hot for anyone 

To stand, a streaming current of fire 

And smoke that blocked all passage. And the Geats' 
645 Lord and leader, angry, lowered 

His sword and roared out a battle cry, 

A call so loud and clear that it reached through 

The hoary rock, hung in the dragon's 648 hoary (hor'e): gray with age. 

Ear. The beast rose, angry, 
650 Knowing a man had come — and then nothing 

But war could have followed. Its breath came first, 

A steaming cloud pouring from the stone, 

Then the earth itself shook. Beowulf 

Swung his shield into place, held it 
655 In front of him, facing the entrance. The dragon 

Coiled and uncoiled, its heart urging it 

Into battle. Beowulf's ancient sword 

Was waiting, unsheathed, his sharp and gleaming 

Blade. The beast came closer; both of them 
660 Were ready, each set on slaughter. The Geats' 

Great prince stood firm, unmoving, prepared 









Behind his high shield, waiting in his shining 

Armor. The monster came quickly toward him, 

Pouring out fire and smoke, hurrying 

To its fate. Flames beat at the iron 

Shield, and for a time it held, protected 

Beowulf as he'd planned; then it began to melt, 

And for the first time in his life that famous prince 

Fought with fate against him, with glory 

Denied him. He knew it, but he raised his sword 

And struck at the dragon's scaly hide. 

The ancient blade broke, bit into 

The monster's skin, drew blood, but cracked 

And failed him before it went deep enough, helped him 

Less than he needed. The dragon leaped 

With pain, thrashed and beat at him, spouting 

Murderous flames, spreading them everywhere. 

And the Geats' ring-giver did not boast of glorious 

Victories in other wars: his weapon 

Had failed him, deserted him, now when he needed it 

Most, that excellent sword. Edgetho's 

Famous son stared at death, 

Unwilling to leave this world, to exchange it 

For a dwelling in some distant place — a journey 

Into darkness that all men must make, as death 

Ends their few brief hours on earth. 

Quickly, the dragon came at him, encouraged 
As Beowulf fell back; its breath flared, 
And he suffered, wrapped around in swirling 
Flames — a king, before, but now 
A beaten warrior. None of his comrades 
Came to him, helped him, his brave and noble 
Followers; they ran for their lives, fled 
Deep in a wood. And only one of them 
Remained, stood there, miserable, remembering, 
As a good man must, what kinship should mean. 

670-671 Why do you think 
Beowulf keeps fighting? 

678 ring-giver: king; lord. When a 
man swore allegiance to a 
Germanic lord in return for his 
protection, the lord typically 
bestowed a ring on his follower to 
symbolize the bond. 


His name was Wiglaf, he was Wexstan's son 
And a good soldier; his family had been Swedish, 
Once. Watching Beowulf, he could see 
700 How his king was suffering, burning. Remembering 
Everything his lord and cousin had given him, 
Armor and gold and the great estates 
Wexstan's family enjoyed, Wiglaf's 



Mind was made up; he raised his yellow 
705 Shield and drew his sword. . . . 

And Wiglaf, his heart heavy, uttered 

The kind of words his comrades deserved: 

"I remember how we sat in the mead-hall, drinking 

And boasting of how brave we'd be when Beowulf 
710 Needed us, he who gave us these swords 

And armor: all of us swore to repay him, 

When the time came, kindness for kindness 

— With our lives, if he needed them. He allowed us to join him, 

Chose us from all his great army, thinking 
715 Our boasting words had some weight, believing 

Our promises, trusting our swords. He took us 

For soldiers, for men. He meant to kill 

This monster himself, our mighty king, 

Fight this battle alone and unaided, 
720 As in the days when his strength and daring dazzled 

Men's eyes. But those days are over and gone 

And now our lord must lean on younger 

Arms. And we must go to him, while angry 

Flames burn at his flesh, help 
725 Our glorious king! By almighty God, 

I'd rather burn myself than see 

Flames swirling around my lord. 

And who are we to carry home 

Our shields before we've slain his enemy 
730 And ours, to run back to our homes with Beowulf 

So hard-pressed here? I swear that nothing 

He ever did deserved an end 

Like this, dying miserably and alone, 

Butchered by this savage beast: we swore 
735 That these swords and armor were each for us all!" 

694-705 How is Wiglaf unlike 
Beowulf's other subjects? 

717-723 What does Wiglaf suggest 
is the reason Beowulf has failed to 
defeat the dragon? 


Wiglaf joins Beowulf, who again attacks the dragon single-handed; but 
the remnant of his sword shatters, and the monster wounds him in the 
neck. Wiglaf then strikes the dragon, and he and Beowulf together finally 
succeed in killing the beast. Their triumph is short-lived, however, because 
Beowulf's wound proves to be mortal. 

The DeaTh of Beowulf 

Beowulf spoke, in spite of the swollen, 

Livid wound, knowing he'd unwound 

His string of days on earth, seen 

As much as God would grant him; all worldly 
740 Pleasure was gone, as life would go, 


"I'd leave my armor to my son, 

Now, if God had given me an heir, 

A child born of my body, his life 

Created from mine. I've worn this crown 
745 For fifty winters: no neighboring people 

Have tried to threaten the Geats, sent soldiers 

Against us or talked of terror. My days 

Have gone by as fate willed, waiting 

For its word to be spoken, ruling as well 
750 As I knew how, swearing no unholy oaths, 

Seeking no lying wars. I can leave 

This life happy; I can die, here, 

Knowing the Lord of all life has never 

Watched me wash my sword in blood 
755 Born of my own family. Beloved 

Wiglaf, go, quickly, find 

The dragon's treasure: we've taken its life, 

But its gold is ours, too. Hurry, 

Bring me ancient silver, precious 
760 Jewels, shining armor and gems, 

Before I die. Death will be softer, 

Leaving life and this people I've ruled 

So long, if I look at this last of all prizes." 

Viking purse clip of gold, garnet, and 
glass, from Sutton Hoo ship burial 

737-738 What view of fate does 
the image of the unwinding string 

741-763 What values are reflected 
in Beowulf's speech? 




livid (ITv'Td) adj. discolored; black and blue 

Gold buckle from Sutton Hoo 
ship burial, showing animals, 
snakes, and birds 

Then Wexstan's son went in, as quickly 
765 As he could, did as the dying Beowulf 

Asked, entered the inner darkness 

Of the tower, went with his mail shirt and his sword. 

Flushed with victory he groped his way, 

A brave young warrior, and suddenly saw 
770 Piles of gleaming gold, precious 

Gems, scattered on the floor, cups 

And bracelets, rusty old helmets, beautifully 

Made but rotting with no hands to rub 

And polish them. They lay where the dragon left them; 
775 It had flown in the darkness, once, before fighting 

Its final battle. (So gold can easily 

Triumph, defeat the strongest of men, 

No matter how deep it is hidden!) And he saw, 

Hanging high above, a golden 
780 Banner, woven by the best of weavers 

And beautiful. And over everything he saw 

A strange light, shining everywhere, 

On walls and floor and treasure. Nothing 

Moved, no other monsters appeared; 
785 He took what he wanted, all the treasures 

That pleased his eye, heavy plates 

And golden cups and the glorious banner, 

Loaded his arms with all they could hold. 

Beowulf's dagger, his iron blade, 
790 Had finished the fire-spitting terror 

That once protected tower and treasures 

Alike; the gray-bearded lord of the Geats 

Had ended those flying, burning raids 




Then Wiglaf went back, anxious 
795 To return while Beowulf was alive, to bring him 

Treasure they'd won together. He ran, 

Hoping his wounded king, weak 

And dying, had not left the world too soon. 

Then he brought their treasure to Beowulf, and found 
8oo His famous king bloody, gasping 

For breath. But Wiglaf sprinkled water 

Over his lord, until the words 

Deep in his breast broke through and were heard. 

Beholding the treasure he spoke, haltingly: 
805 "For this, this gold, these jewels, I thank 

Our Father in Heaven, Ruler of the Earth — 

For all of this, that His grace has given me, 

Allowed me to bring to my people while breath 

Still came to my lips. I sold my life 
8io For this treasure, and I sold it well. Take 

What I leave, Wiglaf, lead my people, 

Help them; my time is gone. Have 

The brave Geats build me a tomb, 

When the funeral flames have burned me, and build it 
815 Here, at the water's edge, high 

On this spit of land, so sailors can see 816 spit: a narrow point of land 

This tower, and remember my name, and call it extending into a body of water. 

Beowulf's tower, and boats in the darkness 

And mist, crossing the sea, will know it." 805-819 How will Beowulf 

820 Then that brave king gave the golden continue to aid his people after his 

Necklace from around his throat to Wiglaf, 

Gave him his gold-covered helmet, and his rings, 

And his mail shirt, and ordered him to use them well: 
"You're the last of all our far-flung family. 
825 Fate has swept our race away, 

Taken warriors in their strength and led them 

To the death that was waiting. And now I follow them." 
The old man's mouth was silent, spoke 

No more, had said as much as it could; 
830 He would sleep in the fire, soon. His soul 

Left his flesh, flew to glory. . . . 

And when the battle was over Beowulf's followers 

Came out of the wood, cowards and traitors, 833 In what sense are Beowulf's 

Knowing the dragon was dead. Afraid, followers traitors? Whom or what 

While it spit its fires, to fight in their lord's have they betra V ed? 



Defense, to throw their javelins and spears, 

They came like shamefaced jackals, their shields 

In their hands, to the place where the prince lay dead, 

And waited for Wiglaf to speak. He was sitting 
840 Near Beowulf's body, wearily sprinkling 

Water in the dead man's face, trying 

To stir him. He could not. No one could have kept 

Life in their lord's body, or turned 

Aside the Lord's will: world 
845 And men and all move as He orders, 

And always have, and always will. 

Then Wiglaf turned and angrily told them 

What men without courage must hear. 

Wexstan's brave son stared at the traitors, 
850 His heart sorrowful, and said what he had to: 
"I say what anyone who speaks the truth 

Must say. . . . 

Too few of his warriors remembered 

To come, when our lord faced death, alone. 
855 And now the giving of swords, of golden 

Rings and rich estates, is over, 

Ended for you and everyone who shares 

Your blood: when the brave Geats hear 

How you bolted and ran none of your race 
860 Will have anything left but their lives. And death 

Would be better for them all, and for you, than the kind 

Of life you can lead, branded with disgrace!". . . 
Then the warriors rose, 

Walked slowly down from the cliff, stared 
865 At those wonderful sights, stood weeping as they saw 

Beowulf dead on the sand, their bold 

Ring-giver resting in his last bed; 

He'd reached the end of his days, their mighty 

War-king, the great lord of the Geats, 
870 Gone to a glorious death. . . . 

836 javelins (jaVITnz): light spears 
used as weapons. 

837 jackals (jSk'alz): doglike 
animals that sometimes feed on 
the flesh of dead beasts. 

859 bolted: ran away; fled. 


Mourning Beowulf 





Then the Geats built the tower, as Beowulf 
Had asked, strong and tall, so sailors 
Could find it from far and wide; working 
For ten long days they made his monument, 
Sealed his ashes in walls as straight 
And high as wise and willing hands 
Could raise them. And the riches he and Wiglaf 
Had won from the dragon, rings, necklaces, 
Ancient, hammered armor — all 
The treasures they'd taken were left there, too, 
Silver and jewels buried in the sandy 
Ground, back in the earth, again 
And forever hidden and useless to men. 
And then twelve of the bravest Geats 
Rode their horses around the tower, 
Telling their sorrow, telling stories 
Of their dead king and his greatness, his glory, 
Praising him for heroic deeds, for a life 
As noble as his name. So should all men 
Raise up words for their lords, warm 
With love, when their shield and protector leaves 
His body behind, sends his soul 
On high. And so Beowulf's followers 
Rode, mourning their beloved leader, 
Crying that no better king had ever 
Lived, no prince so mild, no man 
So open to his people, so deserving of praise. 

Ornamental bird used as 
decoration on a shield, from 
the Sutton Hoo ship burial 

896 mild: gentle or kindly. Do you 
agree that Beowulf was a mild 
ruler? Why or why not? 




A Collaboration 
ACross 1,200 Years 

Review by D. J. R. Bruckner 

A Modern Scop Listening to the story of 
Beowulf sung by a scop playing a harp is no 
longer an experience confined to the past. 
American musician and medieval scholar 
Benjamin Bagby has begun performing 
Beowulf in the original Anglo-Saxon to enthu- 
siastic audiences. Bagby likens Beowulf to a 
"campfire ghost story" and compares his per- 
formances to rap and jazz, both of which 
involve improvisation and spontaneity. The 
following review, written in 1997, captures 
the excitement of Bagby's Beowulf. 

European noblemen of a thousand years 
ago had much more exciting and intelligent 
entertainment than anything to be found now. 
Anyone who doubts that need only look in on 
Benjamin Bagby's astonishing performance of 
the first quarter of the epic poem Beowulf — in 
Anglo-Saxon, no less — tonight at the Stanley 
H. Kaplan Penthouse at Lincoln Center. It 
will be the last of his three appearances in the 
Lincoln Center Festival. 

From the moment he strode on stage on 
Sunday for the opening night, silencing the 
audience with that famous first word, 
"Hwaet!" ("Pay attention!"), until hell swal- 
lowed the "pagan soul" of the monster's 
maw, there were bursts of laughter, mutters 
and sighs, and when Mr. Bagby's voice stopped 
at the end, as abruptly as it had begun, there 

was an audible rippling gasp before a thun- 
derclap of applause from cheering people 
who called him back again and again, 
unwilling to let him go. 

Mr. Bagby — a Midwesterner who fell in 
love with Beowulf at 12 and who now is co- 
director of a medieval music ensemble, 
Sequentia, in Cologne, Germany — accompanies 
himself on a six-string lyre modeled on one 
found in a seventh-century tomb near 
Stuttgart. This surprisingly facile instrument 
underscores the meter of the epic verses and is 
counterpoint to Mr. Bagby's voice as he 
recites, chants and occasionally sings the lines. 

On the whole, this is a restrained presen- 
tation. The performer captures listeners at once 
simply by letting us feel his conviction that he 
has a tale to tell that is more captivating than 



any other story in the world. He avoids 
histrionic gestures, letting the majestic 
rhythms of the epic seize our emotions and 
guide them through the action. Gradually the 
many voices that fill the great poem emerge 
and the listener always knows who is speak- 
ing: a warrior, a watchman, a king, a 
sarcastic drunk. A translation is handed out 
to the audience, but after a while one notices 
people are following it less and just letting 
the sound of this strange and beautiful 
language wash over them. Perhaps not so 
strange, after all — enough phrases begin to 
penetrate the understanding that one finally 
knows deep down that, yes, this is where 
English came from. 

How authentic is all this? Well, we know 
from many historical sources that in the first 
millennium at royal or noble houses a per- 
former called a scop would present epics. Mr. 
Bagby has lived with this epic for many years, 
as well as with ancient music, and his perfor- 
mance is his argument that Beowulf was 
meant to be heard, not read, and that this is 
the way we ought to hear it. It is a powerful 
argument, indeed. The test of it is that when 
he has finished, you leave with the over- 
whelming impression that you know the 
anonymous poet who created Beowulf more 
than a dozen centuries ago, that you have felt 
the man's personality touch you. That is a 
much too rare experience in theater. 




Comprehension Check 

• Who is the only person to help 
Beowulf battle the dragon? 

• What happens to Beowulf as a 
result of the battle? 

• What happens to the dragon and 
its treasure? 

Connect to the Literature 

1. What Do You Think? 

How do you think 
you would have 
reacted to Beowulf's 
death if you had 
been one of his 

Think Critically 

2. How would you describe Wiglaf's character traits? 

3. Beowulf is able to defeat evil in the form of Grendel and 
Grendel's mother, yet he loses his life. What theme does this 
suggest about the struggle between good and evil? 

4. In your opinion, what view of youth and old age does 
Beowulf convey? In answering, consider not only the details 
in the last part of the poem but also the earlier portrayals of 
Beowulf and Hrothgar. 

5. On the basis of your reading of Beowulf, what qualities or 
values do you think the Anglo-Saxons admired? 

• Beowulf's reputation, position, and wealth 

• Beowulf's behavior before and during his 

• the behavior of other characters 





the evidence that you recorded in the chart in your 
fill reader 's notebook, how well does Beowulf 
conform to the characteristics of a typical epic? 

Extend Interpretations 

7. Critic's Corner In his famous essay "Beowulf: The Monsters 
and the Critics," the author and scholar J.R.R. Tolkien wrote, 
"Beowulf is in fact so interesting as poetry, in places so 
powerful, that this quite overshadows the historical content, 
and is largely independent even of the most important facts 
. . . that research has discovered." Do you think Burton 
Raffel's verse translation captures that poetic power, or do 
you think this selection's greatest value is in its depiction of 
early Germanic tribal life? Explain your opinion. 

8. Connect to Life In today's society we have our own kinds of 
"monsters" that threaten our safety or way of life. Who or 
what are today's monsters, and what threats do they pose? 

Literary Analysis 


poetry is often called alliterative 
verse because of the poets' 
extensive use of alliteration— the 
repetition of consonant sounds at 
the beginning of words. In modern 
poetry, alliteration may be used to 
emphasize certain words or images, 
heighten moods, or create musical 
effects. In Old English poetry, it was 
an integral part of the structure of 
the verse itself, like rhyme in much 
later European poetry. 

Even if you can't understand 
these Old English lines from 
Beowulf, you can tell that the 
repeated sound is w in the first line, 
g in the second, and f in the third: 

Wod under wolcnum to p<es he winreced, 
goldsele gumena, gearwost wisse, 
f&ttum fahne. . . . 

In translating Beowulf, Burton Raffel 
could not reproduce the original 
alliteration, but he did use alliteration 
whenever possible. In this translation 
of the Old English lines above, 
notice how Raffel uses repeated k 
and s sounds to reinforce the image 
of Grendel's movement: 

He moved quickly through the 

cloudy night, 
Upfront his swampland, sliding 

Toward that gold-shining hall. . . . 

Paired Activity Work with a partner 
to identify more examples of 
alliteration in Raffel's translation of 
Beowulf. Then explain what image, 
mood, or idea the alliteration helps 
to emphasize in each case. 





Writing Options 

1. A Warrior's Letter Imagine that 
you are one of Hrothgar's 
warriors. Write a letter to a 
comrade, in which you describe 
Grendel, his nightly visits, and 
your fears about what might 

2. Director's Notes Imagine that 
you are a movie director about to 
shoot scenes involving the three 
monsters that Beowulf fights: 
Grendel, his mother, and the fire- 
breathing dragon. To help you 
direct the scenes, make notes 
about each monster's motives, 
actions, strengths, and 
weaknesses and about the 
outcome of the monster's battle 
with Beowulf. 

3. Anglo-Saxon News Story Write 
a news story describing one of 
Beowulf's three battles. Include 
details from the selection and 
statements from imaginary 
witnesses to the event. 

4. Comparison Essay In an essay, 
compare and contrast Beowulf 
with a hero from popular culture, 
such as Indiana 
Batman, or 

What makes each 
character heroic? 
You might organize your ideas in 
a Venn diagram like the one 
shown here. Place the essay in 
your Working Portfolio. ^3 
Writing Handbook 

See page 1367: Compare and Contrast. 

Activities & 

1. Cartoon Hero Choose one of 
Beowulf's three battles and turn 
it into a comic strip in which the 
action is largely or entirely 
conveyed by means of the 
illustrations that you draw. (If 
you prefer, you can use a pad 
of paper to create a flipbook 
version of the battle, so that 
the characters will appear to 
move.) ~ ART 

2. Beowulf Aloud Divide up the 
selection with a small group of 
classmates so that each of you 
is responsible for a different 
portion. Then, imagining that 
you are scops of old, present 
Beowulf in a series of oral 
recitations, in which the reciter 
or another member of the 
group strums a harp, a guitar, 
or another stringed instrument 
as musical accompaniment. 


3. A Video Scop View the video of 
a storyteller telling the legendary 
tale of Beowulf's battle with the 
monster Grendel. What did you 
like most about this interpretation? 
Least? How did it affect your 
understanding of the character of 
Beowulf? Choose a passage from 
the epic and develop your own 
storytelling version of it. ~ VIEWING 

Literature in Performance 

Inquiry & Research 

1. Religious Beliefs Find out more 
about the religious beliefs of the 
Germanic peoples in Beowulf's 
day and of the Anglo-Saxons after 
they adopted Christianity. Who 
were the pre-Christian Germanic 
gods? What role did fate play in 
pre-Christian Germanic beliefs? 
When were the various Germanic 
peoples converted to Christianity? 
What role did Christianity play in 
the Anglo-Saxons' daily life? 
Present your findings in a written 

Shoulder clasps from the Sutton Hoo burial 

2. Sutton Who? Investigate the 
discovery of the ship burial at 
Sutton Hoo in Suffolk, England. 
Who was buried there, and when 
was he most likely buried? Why 
was he buried in a ship? What 
have the artifacts found at the 
site revealed about Anglo-Saxon 
culture? Share your research with 
the rest of the class. 

<^ "2; More Online: Research Starter 




Vocabulary in Action 

EXERCISE A: CONTEXT CLUES On your paper, write 
the vocabulary word that best completes each 

EXERCISE B: WORD MEANING On your paper, write 
7" for each true statement and Ffor each false 

1. With each razor-sharp 
victim's flesh. 

2. Grendel loved evil and seemed to 
nightly visits to Herot. 

3. After the battle, Grendel was left . 
agony on the floor. 

4. The Danes rejoiced when Beowulf was finally 
able to Herot of Grendel. 

5. Grendel and his mother lived in the 

depths of a dark lake. 

6. Many people went on the 

lake where Grendel had died. 

7. Beowulf was not one of the warriors 
fear of the monsters. 

Grendel tore his 1. Grendel's visits were an affliction for the Danish 

_ his 2. Grendel liked to gorge on Danish people, not 

in 3. During their battle, Grendel tore flesh out of 

Beowulf's taut throat. 

4. Grendel lost his claw because Beowulf locked it 
in tight fetters. 

5. Grendel's mother was another loathsome 


to see the 6. Beowulf's fight with the dragon left him with a 

swollen, livid wound that would prove fatal. 

in 7. To the Geats, Beowulf was an infamous king. 

8. Not one lament was sung at Beowulf's funeral. 

words affliction 
T O cowering 

know fetter 




livid pilgrimage talon Building Vocabulary 

loathsome purge taut For an in-depth study of 

murky relish writhing context clues, see page 938. 

The Beowulf Poet 

About 750? 

An Anonymous Author Nothing is known about the 
author of Beowulf except what can be inferred from 
the poem itself. Clearly the author was an educated 
person familiar with Christianity and the Bible; 
details in the poem also suggest that he knew 
something of ancient epics, such as Virgil's Aeneid. 
From their study of the poem's language and ideas, 
some scholars have concluded that the poet lived in 
northern England in the eighth century a.d. Others, 
however, dispute that conclusion, maintaining that he 
probably lived in southwestern England two 
centuries later. Whenever he lived, he drew on an 
oral tradition of poems celebrating the hero 

A Famous Manuscript Only one copy of Beowulf 
has survived from Anglo-Saxon times. Dating from 
about the year 1000, it is the work of Christian 
monks who preserved the literature of the past by 

copying manuscripts. After 
escaping destruction several 
times, the Beowulf 
manuscript is now safely 
housed in the British 
Library in London. 

The Electronic Beowulf 

Today, the most up-to-date 
technology is being used 
to preserve the fragile 
manuscript The 
Electronic Beowulf 
Project is creating 
detailed digital images 
of every page so that 
scholars can study them 
on computers, without 
handling the actual 








■ r 7i' ''"'"' c^v ;,; 

/^•■^nti V 'W „,,.., 


First page of the Beowulf 
manuscript, showing fire damage 



PREPARING to ffiead 

from the IliclCl 

Epic Poetry by HOMER 


Comparing Literature of the World 

The Epic Hero Across Cultures 

Comparing Beowulf and the Iliad The Iliad was written centuries before 
Beowulf. Nonetheless, there are many similarities between the two poems. 

Points of Comparison 

As you read the following excerpt from the Iliad, compare the heroes Hector 
and Achilles with Beowulf. Consider the following characteristics of an epic 
hero as you make your comparisons: 

• heroic actions that determine the fate of nations or groups of people 

• heroic deeds and actions that reflect the values of the age 

• the hero's interaction with supernatural beings and events 

Build Background 

When Greeks and Trojans War The Iliad is an epic 
poem believed to be the work of a Greek poet 
named Homer in the eighth century b.c The setting 
of the poem is the Trojan War, a conflict between 
Greeks and Trojans at the ancient city of Troy in Asia 
Minor. Most historians believe that some type of 
conflict involving Greeks and Trojans did in fact occur 
around 1200 b.c According to Homer's poem, the 
Trojan War resulted when Paris, a prince of Troy, 
kidnapped Helen, the world's most beautiful 
woman, from her Greek home. This action naturally 
offended her husband, King Menelaus (men'o-la'ss), 
who gathered an army of Greeks and set out to 
invade Troy and bring Helen home. Under the 
leadership of his brother Agamemnon (ag'o- 
mem'non'), the Greeks laid siege to the walled city 
of Troy for ten years 
before finally 
achieving victory. The 
Iliad relates events 
that took place in the 
final year of that siege. 
The excerpts in the 
following selection 
show the grim results 
of clashing loyalties. 



















Focus Your Reading 



A simile is a figure of speech that uses like or as to 
make a comparison between two things. For example, 
when the poet says, "Now like a lion at one bound 
Achilles left the room," he uses a simile to compare 
the Greek warrior to a lion in his speed and strength. 
An epic simile is a long figurative comparison in an 
epic poem that often continues for a number of lines. 
An example can be found in lines 89-92 of the Iliad. 
As you read this selection from the Iliad, look for other 
examples of similes and epic similes. 



The Iliad is a complex story involving many 
characters— both human and divine. In order to 
understand what is happening in the epic, it is 
important to keep track of these various characters. 

1J reader s notebook Create a list of the 
following characters: Achilles, Hector, Thetis, Zeus, 
Patroclus, Pallas Athena, Apollo, Hermes, and Priam. 
As you read, use the notes that accompany the text to 
help you classify each character as a Greek, a Trojan, 
or a god. For each god, indicate whether he or she is 
helping the Greeks or the Trojans. Jot down the 
important actions and characteristics of each character. 



from T LI C 


While the Creeks are laying siege 
to Troy, a quarrel breaks out between 
Agamemnon and his greatest warrior 
Achilles (9-kTI'ez). As a result, the 
angry Achilles decides to remain 
in his tent and let the Creeks fight 
without him. With Achilles off the 
battlefield, the Trojans, under the 
leadership of Hector, are able to 
drive the Creeks back to the sea. 
During the battle, Hector kills 
Achilles' best friend, Patroclus 
(pa-tro'kles). While grieving 
for his friend, Achilles is visited 
by his mother, Thetis (the'tTs), 
a goddess of the sea. 

from Book 18 


Bending near 
her groaning son, the gentle goddess wailed 
and took his head between her hands in pity, 
saying softly: 

"Child, why are you weeping? 
5 What great sorrow came to you? Speak out, 

Death of Hector, sixth-century B.C. 
Corinthian bowl painting 



do not conceal it. Zeus 

did all you asked: Achaean troops, 

for want of you, were all forced back again 

upon the ship sterns, taking heavy losses 

none of them could wish." 

The great runner 

groaned and answered: 


6-7 Previously Achilles asked 
Thetis to persuade Zeus (zoos), 
ruler of the gods, to turn the tide 
of battle against the Greeks so that 
they would see how much they 
needed him. 

7 Achaean (e-ke'sn): Greek. 

"Mother, yes, the master 
of high Olympus brought it all about, 
but how have I benefited? My greatest friend 
is gone: Patroclus, comrade in arms, whom I 

15 held dear above all others — dear as myself — 

now gone, lost; Hector cut him down, despoiled him 
of my own arms, massive and fine, a wonder 
in all men's eyes. The gods gave them to Peleus 
that day they put you in a mortal's bed — 

20 how I wish the immortals of the sea 

had been your only consorts! How I wish 
Peleus had taken a mortal queen! Sorrow 
immeasurable is in store for you as well, 
when your own child is lost: never again 

25 on his homecoming day will you embrace him! 
I must reject this life, my heart tells me, 
reject the world of men, 
if Hector does not feel my battering spear 
tear the life out of him, making him pay 

30 in his own blood for the slaughter of Patroclus!" 

Letting a tear fall, Thetis said: 

"You'll be 
swift to meet your end, child, as you say: 
your doom comes close on the heels of Hector's own." 

Achilles the great runner ground his teeth 
35 and said: 

12 Olympus (o-ITm'pas): the 
highest mountain in Greece, on 
whose peak the Greek gods and 
goddesses were thought to dwell. 

1 6-1 7 Patroclus wore Achilles' 
armor to frighten the Trojans. 
"Despoiled him of my own arms" 
refers to Hector's taking the armor 
from Patroclus' corpse. 

18 Peleus (pe'le-es): Achilles' 
human father. 

"May it come quickly. As things were, 
I could not help my friend in his extremity. 
Far from his home he died; he needed me 
to shield him or to parry the death stroke. 
For me there's no return to my own country. 

38 parry: to turn aside the thrust 
of a sword. 



40 Not the slightest gleam of hope did I 

afford Patroclus or the other men 

whom Hector overpowered. Here I sat, 

my weight a useless burden to the earth, 

and I am one who has no peer in war 
45 among Achaean captains — 

though in council 

there are wiser. Ai! let strife and rancor 

perish from the lives of gods and men, 

with anger that envenoms even the wise 

and is far sweeter than slow-dripping honey, 
50 clouding the hearts of men like smoke: just so 

the marshal of the army, Agamemnon, 

moved me to anger. But we'll let that go, 

though I'm still sore at heart; it is all past, 

and I have quelled my passion as I must. 

46 rancor (rang'ker): bitter, long- 
lasting ill will. 

48 envenoms (en-ven'emz): fills 
with poison. 

55 Now I must go to look for the destroyer 
of my great friend. I shall confront the dark 
drear spirit of death at any hour Zeus 
and the other gods may wish to make an end. 
Not even Heracles escaped that terror 

60 though cherished by the Lord Zeus. Destiny 
and Hera's bitter anger mastered him. 
Likewise with me, if destiny like his 
awaits me, I shall rest when I have fallen! 
Now, though, may I win my perfect glory 

65 and make some wife of Troy break down, 
or some deep-breasted Dardan woman sob 
and wipe tears from her soft cheeks. They'll know then 
how long they had been spared the deaths of men, 
while I abstained from war! 

70 Do not attempt to keep me from the fight, 

though you love me; you cannot make me listen." 

59-61 Heracles (her'e-klez'): the 
greatest legendary hero of ancient 
Greece, son of Zeus and a mortal 
woman named Alcmena (alk- 
me'na). Zeus' wife, the goddess 
Hera (hir'e), hated and persecuted 
Heracles until his death. 

62-63 How has Achilles' loyalty to 
Patroclus affected his attitude 
toward his own life? 

66 Dardan (dar'dn): Trojan. 

Achilles seeks to avenge Patroclus by slaughtering Trojans. 
Apollo, a god who protects Troy, opens the gates of the city so 
that the Trojans can rush to safety inside the walls. Only Hector 
is left outside. Achilles chases him around the walls of Troy three 
times. Finally the goddess Pallas Athena (pal 'as e-the'ne), disguised 
as Hector's brother Deiphobus (de-Tf's-bes), appears to Hector and 
persuades him to fight Achilles. 



quell (kwel) v. to quiet; suppress 

abstain (ab-stan') v. to hold oneself back deliberately 


from Book 22 


And when at last the two men faced each other, 
Hector was the first to speak. He said: 

"I will no longer fear you as before, 
75 son of Peleus, though I ran from you 

round Priam's town three times and could not face you. 

Now my soul would have me stand and fight, 

whether I kill you or am killed. So come, 

we'll summon gods here as our witnesses, 
so none higher, arbiters of a pact: I swear 

that, terrible as you are, 

I'll not insult your corpse should Zeus allow me 

victory in the end, your life as prize. 

Once I have your gear, I'll give your body 
85 back to Achaeans. Grant me, too, this grace." 

But swift Achilles frowned at him and said: 

76 Priam (prT'em): the king of 

80 arbiters (ar'bT-terz): judges; 

84-85 The Greeks and Trojans 
generally returned the bodies of 
the slain to their commanders or 




"Hector, I'll have no talk of pacts with you, 

forever unforgiven as you are. 

As between men and lions there are none, 

no concord between wolves and sheep, but all 

hold one another hateful through and through, 

so there can be no courtesy between us, 

no sworn truce, till one of us is down 

and glutting with his blood the wargod Ares. 

Summon up what skills you have. By god, 

you'd better be a spearman and a fighter! 

Now there is no way out. Pallas Athena 

will have the upper hand of you. The weapon 

belongs to me. You'll pay the reckoning 

in full for all the pain my men have borne, 

who met death by your spear." 

90 concord (kon'kord'): peace or 

94 glutting with his blood the 
wargod Ares (ar'ez): satisfying 
Ares, the god of war, by bleeding 
to death. 

97-98 Pallas Athena, the goddess 
of wisdom, favors the Greeks. 

He twirled and cast 
his shaft with its long shadow. Splendid Hector, 
keeping his eye upon the point, eluded it 
by ducking at the instant of the cast, 



TO elude (T-lood') v. to avoid or escape 









so shaft and bronze shank passed him overhead 
and punched into the earth. But unperceived 
by Hector, Pallas Athena plucked it out 
and gave it back to Achilles. Hector said: 

"A clean miss. Godlike as you are, 

you have not yet known doom for me from Zeus. 

You thought you had, by heaven. Then you turned 

into a word-thrower, hoping to make me lose 

my fighting heart and head in fear of you. 

You cannot plant your spear between my shoulders 

while I am running. If you have the gift, 

just put it through my chest as I come forward. 

Now it's for you to dodge my own. Would god 

you'd give the whole shaft lodging in your body! 

War for the Trojans would be eased 

if you were blotted out, bane that you are." 

With this he twirled his long spearshaft and cast it, 

hitting his enemy mid-shield, but off 

and away the spear rebounded. Furious 

that he had lost it, made his throw for nothing, 

Hector stood bemused. He had no other. 

Then he gave a great shout to Deiphobus 

to ask for a long spear. But there was no one 

near him, not a soul. Now in his heart 

the Trojan realized the truth and said: 

"This is the end. The gods are calling deathward. 
I had thought 

a good soldier, Deiphobus, was with me. 
He is inside the walls. Athena tricked me. 
Death is near, and black, not at a distance, 
not to be evaded . Long ago 
this hour must have been to Zeus's liking 
and to the liking of his archer son. 
They have been well disposed before, but now 
the appointed time's upon me. Still, I would not 
ho die without delivering a stroke, 

or die ingloriously, but in some action 
memorable to men in days to come." 

Achilles dragging the body of Hector around 
the walls of Troy (about 520 B.C.), attributed 
to the Antiope Group. Attic black figure 
hydria, courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts, 
Boston, William Francis Warden Fund. 

120 bane: a cause of distress, 
death, or ruin. 

125 bemused (bT-myodzd'): 
dazed; confused. 

135-139 Zeus' "archer son" is 
Apollo, god of the sun, whose 
arrows may represent the sun's 
rays. Until now, Zeus and Apollo 
have assisted the Trojans. 



evade (T-vad') v. to escape by cleverness or deception 








With this he drew the whetted blade that hung 
upon his left flank, ponderous and long, 
collecting all his might the way an eagle 
narrows himself to dive through shady cloud 
and strike a lamb or cowering hare: so Hector 
lanced ahead and swung his whetted blade. 
Achilles with wild fury in his heart 
pulled in upon his chest his beautiful shield — 
his helmet with four burnished metal ridges 
nodding above it, and the golden crest 
Hephaestus locked there tossing in the wind. 
Conspicuous as the evening star that comes, 
amid the first in heaven, at fall of night, 
and stands most lovely in the west, so shone 
in sunlight the fine-pointed spear 
Achilles poised in his right hand, with deadly 
aim at Hector, at the skin where most 
it lay exposed. But nearly all was covered 
by the bronze gear he took from slain Patroclus, 
showing only, where his collarbones 
divided neck and shoulders, the bare throat 
where the destruction of a life is quickest. 
Here, then, as the Trojan charged, Achilles 
drove his point straight through the tender neck, 
but did not cut the windpipe, leaving Hector 
able to speak and to respond. He fell 
aside into the dust. And Prince Achilles 
now exulted: 

153 Hephaestus (hT-fgs'tss): the 
god of fire and blacksmith of the 
gods, who made Achilles' new 

160-161 Hector is wearing the 
armor of Achilles that he took 
from Patroclus' body. 


"Hector, had you thought 
that you could kill Patroclus and be safe? 
Nothing to dread from me; I was not there. 
All childishness. Though distant then, Patroclus' 
comrade in arms was greater far than he — 
and it is I who had been left behind 
that day beside the deepsea ships who now 
have made your knees give way. The dogs and kites 
will rip your body. His will lie in honor 
when the Achaeans give him funeral." 

177 kites: hawklike birds of prey. 

178 "His [body]" refers to that of 

180 Hector, barely whispering, replied: 


WORDS whetted (hwet'Td) adj. sharpened whet v. 

TO ponderous (pon'der-e-s) adj. very heavy 

KNOW exult (Tg-zult') v. to feel great joy, especially in conquest or triumph 

"I beg you by your soul and by your parents, 
do not let the dogs feed on me 
in your encampment by the ships. Accept 
the bronze and gold my father will provide 
185 as gifts, my father and her ladyship 

my mother. Let them have my body back, 
so that our men and women may accord me 
decency of fire when I am dead." 

Achilles the great runner scowled and said: 

185-186 Hector's father is Priam, 
and his mother is Hecuba 

188 Burning the bodies of the 
dead was customary. Truces were 
often arranged for this purpose. 

190 "Beg me no beggary by soul or parents, 

whining dog! Would god my passion drove me 
to slaughter you and eat you raw, you've caused 
such agony to me! No man exists 
who could defend you from the carrion pack — 

195 not if they spread for me ten times your ransom, 
twenty times, and promise more as well; 
aye, not if Priam, son of Dardanus, 
tells them to buy you for your weight in gold! 
You'll have no bed of death, nor will you be 

200 laid out and mourned by her who gave you birth. 
Dogs and birds will have you, every scrap." 

Then at the point of death Lord Hector said: 

"I see you now for what you are. No chance 
to win you over. Iron in your breast 
205 your heart is. Think a bit, though: this may be 
a thing the gods in anger hold against you 
on that day when Paris and Apollo 
destroy you at the Gates, great as you are." 

Even as he spoke, the end came, and death hid him; 
210 spirit from body fluttered to undergloom, 

bewailing fate that made him leave his youth 
and manhood in the world. And as he died 
Achilles spoke again. He said: 

"Die, make an end. I shall accept my own 
215 whenever Zeus and the other gods desire." 

At this he pulled his spearhead from the body, 
laying it aside, and stripped 

Replica of Trojan Horse 

194 carrion (kar'e-sn) pack: the 
wild animals that feed on dead 

197 Dardanus (dar'dn-ss): the 
founder of the line of Trojan kings. 
Here "son" means "descendant." 

205-208 Although Achilles is still 
alive as the Iliad ends, other tales 
of the Trojan War tell how he is 
eventually killed by Hector's brother 
Paris, with the aid of Apollo. 

the bloodstained shield and cuirass from his shoulders. 
Other Achaeans hastened round to see 
220 Hector's fine body and his comely face, 

and no one came who did not stab the body. 
Glancing at one another they would say: 

218 cuirass (kwT-raV): an armored 

"Now Hector has turned vulnerable , softer 
than when he put the torches to the ships!" 

225 And he who said this would inflict a wound. 
When the great master of pursuit, Achilles, 
had the body stripped, he stood among them, 
saying swiftly: 

224 Hector's torching of the ships 
occurred when the Trojans forced 
the Greeks (fighting without 
Achilles) back to the sea. 



"Friends, my lords and captains 
of Argives, now that the gods at last have let me 
bring to earth this man who wrought 
havoc among us — more than all the rest — 
come, we'll offer battle around the city, 
to learn the intentions of the Trojans now. 
Will they give up their strongpoint at this loss? 
Can they fight on, though Hector's dead? 

228-229 captains of Argives 

(ar'iTvz'): Greek officers. 

But wait: 



why do I ponder, why take up these questions? 
Down by the ships Patroclus' body lies 
unwept, unburied. I shall not forget him 
while I can keep my feet among the living. 
If in the dead world they forget the dead, 
I say there, too, I shall remember him, 
my friend. Men of Achaea, lift a song! 
Down to the ships we go, and take this body, 
our glory. We have beaten Hector down, 
to whom as to a god the Trojans prayed." 

240 The "dead world" is the 
house of Hades, or the under- 
world, where the Greeks believed 
the shades of the dead to reside. 


Indeed, he had in mind for Hector's body 

outrage and shame. Behind both feet he pierced 

the tendons, heel to ankle. Rawhide cords 

he drew through both and lashed them to his chariot, 

letting the man's head trail. Stepping aboard, 

bearing the great trophy of the arms, 

he shook the reins, and whipped the team ahead 




vulnerable (vuTnor-a-bel) adj. open to attack; easily hurt 
havoc (hav'ak) n. widespread destruction 

into a willing run. A dustcloud rose 
above the furrowing body; the dark tresses 

255 flowed behind, and the head so princely once 
lay back in dust. Zeus gave him to his enemies 
to be defiled in his own fatherland. 
So his whole head was blackened. Looking down, 
his mother tore her braids, threw off her veil, 

260 and wailed, heartbroken to behold her son. 
Piteously his father groaned, and round him 
lamentation spread throughout the town, 
most like the clamor to be heard if Ilion's 
towers, top to bottom, seethed in flames. 

265 They barely stayed the old man, mad with grief, 
from passing through the gates. Then in the mire 
he rolled, and begged them all, each man by name: 

"Relent, friends. It is hard; but let me go 
out of the city to the Achaean ships. 

270 I'll make my plea to that demonic heart. 
He may feel shame before his peers, or pity 
my old age. His father, too, is old. 
Peleus, who brought him up to be a scourge 
to Trojans, cruel to all, but most to me, 

275 so many of my sons in flower of youth 

he cut away. And, though I grieve, I cannot 
mourn them all as much as I do one, 
for whom my grief will take me to the grave — 
and that is Hector. Why could he not have died 

280 where I might hold him? In our weeping, then, 
his mother, now so destitute , and I 
might have had surfeit and relief of tears." 

263 llion (Tl'e-sn): another name 
for Troy. 

268-270 Think about Priam's 
decision to approach Achilles. 
What does this reveal about his 
sense of honor and loyalty? 

282 surfeit (sGr'fTt): more than 
enough for satisfaction. 

Achilles and his warriors return to their camp and carry out the 
burial rites for Patroclus. Three times, Achilles drags Hector's body 
behind his chariot around Patroclus' grave. Afterwards, the gods 
cleanse and restore the body, and Zeus asks Thetis to tell Achilles 
to return the body to the Trojans. Priam sets out for the Creek camp, 
accompanied only by an old servant, to ask Achilles to return the 
body. He is not aware that the god Hermes (hGr'mez) helps him by 
putting the sentries to sleep and opening the gates. Hermes leads 
Priam to Achilles' tent and then vanishes. 



defile (dT-fTT) v. to make filthy; violate the honor of 
clamor (klam'ar) n. a loud, confused noise or outcry 
scourge (skurj) n. a source of great suffering or destruction 
destitute (des'tT-toof) adj. lacking in resources; bereft 


from Book 24 


the great king of Troy, passed by the others, 
285 knelt down, took in his arms Achilles' knees, 

and kissed the hands of wrath that killed his sons. 

When, taken with mad Folly in his own land, 

a man does murder and in exile finds 

refuge in some rich house, then all who see him 
290 stand in awe. 

So these men stood. 


gazed in wonder at the splendid king, 

and his companions marveled too, all silent, 

with glances to and fro. Now Priam prayed 
295 to the man before him: 

"Remember your own father, 

Achilles, in your godlike youth: his years 

like mine are many, and he stands upon 

the fearful doorstep of old age. He, too, 

is hard pressed, it may be, by those around him, 
300 there being no one able to defend him 

from bane of war and ruin. Ah, but he 

may nonetheless hear news of you alive, 

and so with glad heart hope through all his days 

for sight of his dear son, come back from Troy, 
305 while I have deathly fortune. 

Noble sons 
I fathered here, but scarce one man is left me. 
Fifty I had when the Achaeans came, 
nineteen out of a single belly, others 
born of attendant women. Most are gone. 
310 Raging Ares cut their knees from under them. 
And he who stood alone among them all, 
their champion, and Troy's, ten days ago 
you killed him, fighting for his land, my prince, 

It is for him that I have come 
315 among these ships, to beg him back from you, 

and I bring ransom without stint. 316 stint: limitation. 



be reverent toward the great gods! And take 
pity on me, remember your own father. 
Think me more pitiful by far, since I 
have brought myself to do what no man else 
has done before — to lift to my lips the hand 
of one who killed my son." 

Now in Achilles 
the evocation of his father stirred 
new longing, and an ache of grief. He lifted 

325 the old man's hand and gently put him by. 

Then both were overborne as they remembered: 
the old king huddled at Achilles' feet 
wept, and wept for Hector, killer of men, 
while great Achilles wept for his own father 

330 as for Patroclus once again; and sobbing 
filled the room. 

But when Achilles' heart 
had known the luxury of tears, and pain 
within his breast and bones had passed away, 
he stood then, raised the old king up, in pity 
335 for his grey head and greybeard cheek, and spoke 
in a warm rush of words: 

"Ah, sad and old! 
Trouble and pain you've borne, and bear, aplenty. 
Only a great will could have brought you here 
among the Achaean ships, and here alone 

340 before the eyes of one who stripped your sons, 
your many sons, in battle. Iron must be 
the heart within you. Come, then, and sit down. 
We'll probe our wounds no more but let them rest, 
though grief lies heavy on us. Tears heal nothing, 

345 drying so stiff and cold. This is the way 
the gods ordained the destiny of men, 
to bear such burdens in our lives, while they 
feel no affliction. At the door of Zeus 
are those two urns of good and evil gifts 

350 that he may choose for us; and one for whom 
the lightning's joyous king dips in both urns 
will have by turns bad luck and good. But one 

326 overborne: overcome; 

Ajax and Achilles playing dice, Greek vase painting 

336-348 Compare the impression 
of Achilles you got from lines 
87-94 with the impression you get 
from these lines. 


TO evocation (ev'e-ka'shan) n. a bringing to mind 








to whom he sends all evil — that man goes 

contemptible by the will of Zeus; ravenous 

hunger drives him over the wondrous earth, 

unresting, without honor from gods or men. 

Mixed fortune came to Peleus. Shining gifts 

at the gods' hands he had from birth: felicity, 

wealth overflowing, rule of the Myrmidons, 

a bride immortal at his mortal side. 

But then Zeus gave afflictions too — no family 

of powerful sons grew up for him at home, 

but one child, of all seasons and of none. 

Can I stand by him in his age? Far from my country 

I sit at Troy to grieve you and your children. 

You, too, sir, in time past were fortunate, 

we hear men say. From Macar's isle of Lesbos 

northward, and south of Phrygia and the Straits, 

no one had wealth like yours, or sons like yours. 

Then gods out of the sky sent you this bitterness: 

the years of siege, the battles and the losses. 

Endure it, then. And do not mourn forever 

for your dead son. There is no remedy. 

You will not make him stand again. Rather 

await some new misfortune to be suffered." 

358 felicity (fT-ITs'T-te): happiness; 
good fortune. 

359 Myrmidons (mOr'me-donz'): a 
people of Thessaly in Greece, 
subjects of Achilles' father, Peleus. 

363 "Of all seasons and of none" 
suggests that Achilles expects an 
early death for himself. 

367-368 Lesbos (lez'bos) . . . 
Phrygia (fnj'e-e) . . . the Straits: 

Lesbos is an island off the western 
coast of Asia Minor; Phrygia was 
an ancient kingdom in western 
Asia Minor; the Straits are the 

The old king in his majesty replied: 


"Never give me a chair, my lord, while Hector 

lies in your camp uncared for. Yield him to me 

now. Allow me sight of him. Accept 

the many gifts I bring. May they reward you, 

and may you see your home again. 

You spared my life at once and let me live." 

Achilles, the great runner, frowned and eyed him 
under his brows: 

"Do not vex me, sir," he said. 

385 "I have intended, in my own good time, 

to yield up Hector to you. She who bore me, 

the daughter of the Ancient of the sea, 

has come with word to me from Zeus. I know 

in your case, too — though you say nothing, Priam — 

390 that some god guided you to the shipways here. 

387 "The Ancient of the sea" is 
the sea god Nereus (mr'e-es), 
father of Thetis. 



No strong man in his best days could make entry 
into this camp. How could he pass the guard, 
or force our gateway? 

Therefore, let me be. 
Sting my sore heart again, and even here, 
395 under my own roof, suppliant though you are, 395 suppliant (sup'le-ont): one 

I may not spare you, sir, but trample on who be 9 s or P |eads earnestly, 

the express command of Zeus!" 

When he heard this, 

the old man feared him and obeyed with silence. 

Now like a lion at one bound Achilles 
400 left the room. Close at his back the officers 

Automedon and Alcimus went out — 401 Automedon (6-tom'e-dn) . 

comrades in arms whom he esteemed the most Alcimus (aTse-mes). 

after the dead Patroclus. They unharnessed 

mules and horses, led the old king's crier 
405 to a low bench and sat him down. 

Then from the polished wagon 

they took the piled-up price of Hector's body. 

One chiton and two capes they left aside 408 chiton (klt'n): a shirtlike 

as dress and shrouding for the homeward journey. garment; tunic. 

410 Then, calling to the women slaves, Achilles 

ordered the body bathed and rubbed with oil — 

but lifted, too, and placed apart, where Priam 

could not see his son — for seeing Hector 

he might in his great pain give way to rage, 
415 and fury then might rise up in Achilles 

to slay the old king, flouting Zeus's word. 

So after bathing and anointing Hector 

they drew the shirt and beautiful shrouding over him. 

Then with his own hands lifting him, Achilles 
420 laid him upon a couch, and with his two 

companions aiding, placed him in the wagon. 

Now a bitter groan burst from Achilles, 

who stood and prayed to his own dead friend: 

do not be angry with me, if somehow 
425 even in the world of Death you learn of this — 
that I released Prince Hector to his father. 
The gifts he gave were not unworthy. Aye, 
and you shall have your share, this time as well." 



TO flouting (flout'Tng) adj. disregarding in a contemptuous way; scorning flout v. 



The Prince Achilles turned back to his quarters. 
430 He took again the splendid chair that stood 
against the farther wall, then looked at Priam 
and made his declaration: 

"As you wished, sir, 

the body of your son is now set free. 

He lies in state. At the first sight of Dawn 
435 you shall take charge of him yourself and see him. 

Now let us think of supper. We are told 

that even Niobe in her extremity 

took thought for bread — though all her brood had perished, 

her six young girls and six tall sons. Apollo, 
440 making his silver longbow whip and sing, 

shot the lads down, and Artemis with raining 

arrows killed the daughters — all this after 

Niobe had compared herself with Leto, 

the smooth-cheeked goddess. 

She has borne two children, 
445 Niobe said, How many have I borne! 

But soon those two destroyed the twelve. 


nine days the dead lay stark, no one could bury them, 

for Zeus had turned all folk of theirs to stone. 

The gods made graves for them on the tenth day, 
450 and then at last, being weak and spent with weeping, 

Niobe thought of food. Among the rocks 

of Sipylus' lonely mountainside, where nymphs 

who race Achelous river go to rest, 

she, too, long turned to stone, somewhere broods on 
455 the gall immortal gods gave her to drink. 

Like her we'll think of supper, noble sir. 

Weep for your son again when you have borne him 

back to Troy; there he'll be mourned indeed." 

436-455 The mortal woman 
Niobe (nT'e-be) claimed that having 
so many children made her 
superior to the goddess Leto 
(le'to), who had only two. Leto's 
son and daughter, Apollo and 
Artemis (ar'te-mTs), punished 
Niobe by killing all her children. 
After many days of grieving, Niobe 
asked the gods to relieve her by 
turning her to stone. 

452 Sipylus (sTp'e-Iss): a 
mountain in west central Asia 

453 Achelous (ak'e-16'es): a river 
near Mount Sipylus. 

455 gall: bitterness; bile. 

Priam and Achilles agree to an ll-day truce. During that 
time, the Trojans will mourn Hector's body before its burial. 




Connect to the Literature 

1. What Do You Think? 

What is your 
impression of 
Achilles? Share your 
thoughts with a 

Comprehension Check 

• What does Achilles refuse to 
promise the dying Hector? 

• What does Achilles do with Hector 
after he kills him? 

• Identify the character who pleads 
for the return of Hector's body. 


Think Critically 

2. In your opinion, does Achilles' loyalty to his friend Patroclus 
justify the way he treats Hector? Explain your answer. 

3. How would you describe the relationship between Achilles 
and Priam? 

Achilles' killing of Hector 

the dialogue between the two men 

why Achilles gives Hector's body to Priam 

4. To what extent do Achilles and Hector correspond to your 
idea of a hero? 

• the kind of warrior each man is 

• Hector's speech that begins "This is the 
end. . . ." (line 130, page 71) 

• Achilles' treatment of Hector's body 

• Achilles' response to Priam 

5. How might your impression of Achilles be different if he 
refused to give Hector's body to Priam? 





the list you made in your rU reader s notebook and 
compare Achilles, Hector, and Priam. In your opinion, which 
character is the most courageous? Why? 

Extend Interpretations 

7. Connect to Life Achilles and Hector fight one-on-one. Do you 
think leaders of rival nations, tribes, or groups should settle 
differences between themselves without involving their 
followers? Is it possible or practical to settle conflicts this 
way? Support your responses. 

8. 1 JA I LI I l.TlSCTffPffffiffl Compare and contrast Achilles 
and Beowulf. Consider their actions and the reasons for 
those actions. Think about how they are alike and how they 
are different. Who behaves more like a true epic hero? 

Literary Analysis 


simile is a figure of speech that 
makes a comparison between two 
things that are actually unlike yet 
have something in common. The 
comparison is expressed by means 
of the word like or as. "Silent as 
death" and "John went down like a 
stone" are examples of similes. Epic 
similes are long comparisons that 
often continue for a number of 
lines. The epic simile in lines 
145-148 of this selection 
compares Hector to an eagle. (In a 
translation, the word like or as may 
not appear; in the lines cited, as 
could be substituted for "the way.") 
What does the simile suggest about 
Hector's character? 

Paired Activity Now analyze the 
simile in lines 1 54- 1 58. What two 
things are being compared in the 
simile? How do the epic similes in 
lines 145-148 and lines 154-158 
contribute to the telling of the story? 
With a classmate, make a list of all 
the similes that you can find in the 


As you may recall, 
an epic is a long narrative poem on 
a serious subject, presented in an 
elevated or formal style. It usually 
traces the adventures of a great 
hero. Both Beowulf and the Iliad are 
epics. What similarities and 
differences do you see between the 
two poems? 




Writing Options 

1. Letter of Commendation As 

either a Greek or a Trojan 
general, write a letter of 
commendation for Achilles or 
Hector. Explain why you are 
awarding him your army's 
highest medal. Place the letter in 
your Working Portfolio. ^3 

2. Character Sketch Think again 
about the relationship between 
Achilles and Priam. Then write a 
character sketch of Priam from 
Achilles' point of view. 

3. Alternative Outline Imagine 
events as they might have 
occurred without the gods and 
goddesses. Write an outline for a 
version of the poem in which the 
human characters determine 
their own fate. 

4 ■j.nm.-i.m.iLU.MJUMfi 

Compare and contrast in an 
essay the attitudes toward fame 
and ambition in Beowulf and the 
Iliad. Support your comparisons 
with evidence 
from the 




See page 1367: 
Compare and 

Activities & 

1. Dramatic Reading With a 
classmate, give a dramatic 
reading of the encounter between 
Achilles and Priam. Use your 
voices and facial expressions to 
convey emotions such as sorrow, 
anger, desperation, compassion, 

2. Dance Interpretation Create a 
dance interpretation of the battle 
between Hector and Achilles. 
Choose appropriate music to 
accompany it, and perform your 
dance for the class. 


3. Heroic Mural With a group of 
classmates, using large sheets of 
paper, sketch or paint a series of 
scenes from the Iliad and put 
them together to form a mural 
for your classroom. -ART 

4. Homeric Epithets In line 10, 
the reference to Achilles as "the 
great runner" is an example of 
an epithet, a brief phrase that 

refers to a characteristic of 
a particular person or thing. 
Other examples are the 
references to Hector as 
"killer of men" and Priam as 
"great king of Troy." With a 
group of classmates, have one 
member of the group call out 
the names of current sports 
figures or other celebrities and 

then have the other members 
call out possible epithets for 
that person. 

Inquiry & Research 

1. Digging Up Troy Find out more 
about the real 

city of Troy. 

Where was it 

located? What 




about the city? 

Present your 

findings to the 

class in an 

outline for a television 

documentary about Troy. 

'5: More Online: Research Starter 


2. Translations of Homer There 
have been many translations of 
Homer into English. The 18th- 
century poet Alexander Pope, for 
example, translated both the 
Iliad and the Odyssey. With 
classmates, find three modern 
translations of the Iliad in 
addition to the one you just read. 
Choose a brief passage and 
compare its treatment in the 
three versions. Then in class read 
the three translations of the 
passage aloud. Discuss the 
differences with your classmates. 



Vocabulary in Action 

EXERCISE: RELATED WORDS Write the letter of the 
word that is not related in meaning to the other 
words in each set. 

1. (a) face, (b) meet, (c) evade, (d) confront 

2. (a) ponderous, (b) swift, (c) weighty, (d) hefty 

3. (a) clamor, (b) peacefulness, (c) silence, 
(d) calmness 

4. (a) dirty, (b) cleanse, (c) defile, (d) corrupt 

5. (a) strong, (b) vulnerable, (c) weak, 
(d) defenseless 

6. (a) dodge, (b) capture, (c) elude, (d) escape 

7. (a) destruction, (b) disaster, (c) havoc, 
(d) protection 

WORDS abstain 
TO clamor 

KNOW defile 













8. (a) whetted, (b) dull, (c) blunt, (d) rounded 

9. (a) disobey, (b) flout, (c) punish, (d) disregard 

10. (a) promise, (b) exult, (c) rejoice, (d) celebrate 

11. (a) defender, (b) guardian, (c) protector, 
(d) scourge 

12. (a) act, (b) abstain, (c) proceed, (d) perform 

13. (a) remembrance, (b) calendar, (c) reminder, 
(d) evocation 

14. (a) soothe, (b) quell, (c) scold, (d) hush 

15. (a) destitute, (b) needy, (c) deprived, 
(d) injured 

Building Vocabulary 

For an in-depth lesson on how 
to expand your vocabulary, see 
page 1182. 


c. 850 B.C. 

Who Was Homer? Little is known about the Greek 
poet Homer. In fact, for centuries scholars have 
debated whether such a man ever really existed. 
Today, most agree that the author of two equally 
famous epics, the Iliad and the Odyssey, was 
indeed a man named Homer, who lived sometime 
between 800 and 600 B.C. Evidence of his life and 
authorship has been gathered indirectly from other 
writings of ancient Greece, from historical 
references, and from his poems. It seems likely 
that the mysterious poet was born either in western 
Asia Minor or on one of the nearby Aegean islands. 

The Blind Bard According to legend, Homer was 
blind; however, some scholars believe that this 
legend is not likely to be literally true. They point 

out that the typical ancient Greek portrayal of a 
sage or philosopher was of a blind man with 
exceptional inner vision. Ancient Greeks viewed 
the Iliad and the Odyssey as works that revealed 
all-important truths about human beings and their 
place in the universe. Often, Greek children were 
required to memorize portions of the epics and to 
model their behavior on the heroic code set forth 
by their author. With the possible exception of 
Shakespeare, no other poet in the Western world 
has been quoted more often than Homer. 

Oral Poetry Homer's poems probably had a long 
oral history before they were written down. It is 
believed that they were composed in verse partly 
because the meter made them easier to memorize. 
According to modern scholars, Homer was 
probably illiterate, living as he did at a time when 
writing was just being introduced among the 
Greeks. In his old age, the poet may have recited 
his epics for someone else to record. 



PREPARING to 0lead 

The Seafarer / The Wanderer / 
The Wife's Lament 

Poetry from the EXETER BOOK 

Connect to Your Life} 

Lonely Times Remember a time when you felt lonely or isolated. Perhaps you were 
separated from your friends or family as a result of a move or a vacation, or maybe 
you simply felt alone. How did you react to the situation— with anger or with sadness? 
What helped you cope with the situation? With a partner, discuss your personal 
definition of loneliness. 

Build Background 

Leaving Loved Ones Behind Life in Anglo- 
Saxon times was filled with hardships 
that separated people from their loved 
ones for long periods— or permanently. 
Outbreaks of disease, attacks by wild 
animals, and natural disasters such as 
storms and floods killed many before 
their time. Frequent warfare wreaked 
havoc on small communities, bringing 
untimely death to some and scattering 
others, who might be forced into 
permanent exile if their communities' 
protectors had been slain in the fighting. 

Also facing the hardship of separation 
were the men who left behind their 
families and communities to travel the 
sea. Sailing the ocean in primitive boats 
and in all kinds of weather, these 
seafarers had to face both physical danger 
and intense loneliness. The women and 
children they left behind endured months 
and even years without knowing whether 
their husbands and fathers would ever 

The three Old English poems you are 
about to read reflect the uncertainty of 
life in Anglo-Saxon times, as well as the 
Anglo-Saxons' human needs and desires. 
Each deals, in one way or another, with 
the effects of separation. 

Focus Your Reading 

niH;yj;iW^M^JBTKENNiNG I A prominent characteristic of Old 
English poetry is the use of kennings— descriptive compound 
words and phrases— in place of simple nouns. Common kennings 
include ring-giver for a king or lord and helmet bearer for a 
warrior. Kennings are often metaphorical, like heaven's candle for 
the sun. The following lines from "The Wife's Lament" contain a 
kenning for the sea: 

First my lord went out away from his people over 
the wave-tumult . 

Look for other examples of kennings as you read the three poems. 

INTERPRETING DETAILS These poems from the 


Exeter Book are filled with details that can help you visualize the 
scenes, objects, and people being described. Interpreting these 
details will help you decide what ideas, moods, and attitudes the 
poems convey. For example, "lonely dawns" and "frozen waves" in 
"The Wanderer" suggest emptiness and desolation. 

nH reader 's notebook As you read each poem, create a 
cluster diagram like the one below to help you organize the 
descriptive details in the poem. Jot down the ideas, moods, 
or attitudes that the details seem to convey. 



sr r 







his tale is true, and mine. It tells 
How the sea took me, swept me back 
And forth in sorrow and fear and pain, 
Showed me suffering in a hundred ships, 
In a thousand ports, and in me. It tells 
Of smashing surf when I sweated in the cold 
Of an anxious watch, perched in the bow 
As it dashed under cliffs. My feet were cast 
In icy bands, bound with frost, 
With frozen chains, and hardship groaned 
Around my heart. Hunger tore 
At my sea-weary soul. No man sheltered 
On the quiet fairness of earth can feel 
How wretched I was, drifting through winter 
On an ice-cold sea, whirled in sorrow, 
Alone in a world blown clear of love, 
Hung with icicles. The hailstorms flew. 
The only sound was the roaring sea, 
The freezing waves. The song of the swan 
Might serve for pleasure, the cry of the sea-fowl, 
The death-noise of birds instead of laughter, 

2-3 Did the sea literally sweep the 
speaker back and forth? If not, 
what might he mean? 











The mewing of gulls instead of mead. 
Storms beat on the rocky cliffs and were echoed 
By icy-feathered terns and the eagle's screams; 
No kinsman could offer comfort there, 
To a soul left drowning in desolation. 

And who could believe, knowing but 
The passion of cities, swelled proud with wine 
And no taste of misfortune, how often, how wearily, 
I put myself back on the paths of the sea. 
Night would blacken; it would snow from the north; 
Frost bound the earth and hail would fall, 
The coldest seeds. And how my heart 
Would begin to beat, knowing once more 
The salt waves tossing and the towering sea! 
The time for journeys would come and my soul 
Called me eagerly out, sent me over 
The horizon, seeking foreigners' homes. 

But there isn't a man on earth so proud, 
So born to greatness, so bold with his youth, 
Grown so brave, or so graced by God, 
That he feels no fear as the sails unfurl, 
Wondering what Fate has willed and will do. 
No harps ring in his heart, no rewards, 
No passion for women, no worldly pleasures, 
Nothing, only the ocean's heave; 
But longing wraps itself around him. 
Orchards blossom, the towns bloom, 
Fields grow lovely as the world springs fresh, 
And all these admonish that willing mind 
Leaping to journeys, always set 
In thoughts travelling on a quickening tide. 
So summer's sentinel, the cuckoo, sings 
In his murmuring voice, and our hearts mourn 
As he urges. Who could understand, 
In ignorant ease, what we others suffer 
As the paths of exile stretch endlessly on? 

And yet my heart wanders away, 
My soul roams with the sea, the whales' 
Home, wandering to the widest corners 
Of the world, returning ravenous with desire, 
Flying solitary, screaming, exciting me 
To the open ocean, breaking oaths 
On the curve of a wave. 

22 mead: an alcoholic beverage 
made from fermented honey, 
frequently drunk in Anglo-Saxon 
gatherings. In contrasting mead 
with "the mewing of gulls," what 
is the speaker stressing? 

24 terns: sea birds similar to gulls. 

28 The "cities" of the seafarer's 
day were far smaller than modern 
cities — more like villages and 

50 admonish (ad-mon'Tsh): criticize 
or caution. 

53 sentinel (sen'ts-nel): guard; 



Thus the joys of God 
65 Are fervent with life, where life itself 

Fades quickly into the earth. The wealth 

Of the world neither reaches to Heaven nor remains. 

No man has ever faced the dawn 

Certain which of Fate's three threats 
70 Would fall: illness, or age, or an enemy's 

Sword, snatching the life from his soul. 

The praise the living pour on the dead 

Flowers from reputation: plant 

An earthly life of profit reaped 
75 Even from hatred and rancor, of bravery 

Flung in the devil's face, and death 

Can only bring you earthly praise 

And a song to celebrate a place 

With the angels, life eternally blessed 
so In the hosts of Heaven. 

The days are gone 

When the kingdoms of earth flourished in glory; 

Now there are no rulers, no emperors, 

No givers of gold, as once there were, 

When wonderful things were worked among them 
85 And they lived in lordly magnificence. 

Those powers have vanished, those pleasures are dead, 

The weakest survives and the world continues, 

Kept spinning by toil. All glory is tarnished, 

The world's honor ages and shrinks, 
90 Bent like the men who mold it. Their faces 

Blanch as time advances, their beards 

Wither and they mourn the memory of friends, 

The sons of princes, sown in the dust. 

The soul stripped of its flesh knows nothing 
95 Of sweetness or sour, feels no pain, 

Bends neither its hand nor its brain. A brother 

Opens his palms and pours down gold 

On his kinsman's grave, strewing his coffin 

With treasures intended for Heaven, but nothing 
ioo Golden shakes the wrath of God 

For a soul overflowing with sin, and nothing 

Hidden on earth rises to Heaven. 
We all fear God. He turns the earth, 

He set it swinging firmly in space, 
105 Gave life to the world and light to the sky. 

Death leaps at the fools who forget their God. 

He who lives humbly has angels from Heaven 

75 rancor (rang'ker): bitter, long- 
lasting ill will. 

80 hosts of Heaven: bands of 

80-85 To what glorious era might 
the speaker be referring? 

91 blanch: turn white. 



The Whale. MS. Ashmole 
1511, f. 86v, The Bodleian 
Library, Oxford, Great Britain. 





To carry him courage and strength and belief. 

A man must conquer pride, not kill it, 

Be firm with his fellows, chaste for himself, 

Treat all the world as the world deserves, 

With love or with hate but never with harm, 

Though an enemy seek to scorch him in hell, 

Or set the flames of a funeral pyre 

Under his lord. Fate is stronger 

And God mightier than any man's mind. 

Our thoughts should turn to where our home is, 

Consider the ways of coming there, 

Then strive for sure permission for us 

To rise to that eternal joy, 

That life born in the love of God 

And the hope of Heaven. Praise the Holy 

Grace of He who honored us, 

Eternal, unchanging creator of earth. Amen. 

110 chaste (chast): pure in thought 
and deed. 

114 funeral pyre (plr): a bonfire for 
burning a corpse. 

Translated by Burton Raffel 

Thinking Through the Literature 

1. Comprehension Check What conflicting emotions does the seafarer 
feel when he sets off on a sea voyage? 

2. What images remain with you after reading this poem? Describe the 
images, or draw a sketch of them. 

3. Why do you think the seafarer chose a life at sea in spite of its 

the feelings he expresses in lines 58-64 

the problems recounted in lines 81-102 

the view of fate expressed in the final lines 


4. Why do you think the seafarer tells about his life and its hardships? 
Cite details from the poem to support your opinion. 







his lonely traveler longs for grace, 
For the mercy of God; grief hangs on 
His heart and follows the frost-cold foam 
He cuts in the sea, sailing endlessly, 
Aimlessly, in exile. Fate has opened 
A single port: memory. He sees 
His kinsmen slaughtered again, and cries: 

"I've drunk too many lonely dawns, 
Grey with mourning. Once there were men 
To whom my heart could hurry, hot 
With open longing. They're long since dead. 
My heart has closed on itself, quietly 
Learning that silence is noble and sorrow 
Nothing that speech can cure. Sadness 
Has never driven sadness off; 
Fate blows hardest on a bleeding heart. 
So those who thirst for glory smother 
Secret weakness and longing, neither 
Weep nor sigh nor listen to the sickness 
In their souls. So I, lost and homeless, 
Forced to flee the darkness that fell 
On the earth and my lord. 


5-7 What has happened to the 
wanderer's kinsmen? How might 
his memory be like a port? How 
has fate limited him to a "single 


Leaving everything, 

Weary with winter I wandered out 

On the frozen waves, hoping to find 
25 A place, a people, a lord to replace 

My lost ones. No one knew me, now, 

No one offered comfort, allowed 

Me feasting or joy. How cruel a journey 

I've travelled, sharing my bread with sorrow 
30 Alone, an exile in every land, 

Could only be told by telling my footsteps. 31 telling: counting. 

For who can hear: "friendless and poor," 

And know what I've known since the long cheerful nights 

When, young and yearning, with my lord I yet feasted 
35 Most welcome of all. That warmth is dead. 

He only knows who needs his lord 

As I do, eager for long-missing aid; 

He only knows who never sleeps 

Without the deepest dreams of longing. 
40 Sometimes it seems I see my lord, 

Kiss and embrace him, bend my hands 

And head to his knee, kneeling as though 

He still sat enthroned, ruling his thanes. 43 thanes: followers of a lord. 

And I open my eyes, embracing the air, 
45 And see the brown sea-billows heave, 45 What are the "brown sea- 

See the sea-birds bathe, spreading billows"? 

Their white-feathered wings, watch the frost 

And the hail and the snow. And heavy in heart 

I long for my lord, alone and unloved. 
50 Sometimes it seems I see my kin 

And greet them gladly, give them welcome, 

The best of friends. They fade away, 

Swimming soundlessly out of sight, 

Leaving nothing. 

How loathsome become 
55 The frozen waves to a weary heart. 

In this brief world I cannot wonder 

That my mind is set on melancholy, 

Because I never forget the fate 

Of men, robbed of their riches, suddenly 
60 Looted by death — the doom of earth, 60 looted: robbed by force, what 

Sent to us all by every rising was taken from the men who were 

Sun. Wisdom is slow, and comes " looted by death " ? 



But late. He who has it is patient; 

He cannot be hasty to hate or speak, 
65 He must be bold and yet not blind, 

Nor ever too craven, complacent, or covetous, 

Nor ready to gloat before he wins glory. 

The man's a fool who flings his boasts 

Hotly to the heavens, heeding his spleen 

And not the better boldness of knowledge. 

What knowing man knows not the ghostly, 

Waste-like end of worldly wealth: 

See, already the wreckage is there, 

The wind-swept walls stand far and wide, 

The storm-beaten blocks besmeared with frost, 

The mead-halls crumbled, the monarchs thrown down 

And stripped of their pleasures. The proudest of warriors 

Now lie by the wall: some of them war 

Destroyed; some the monstrous sea-bird 
so Bore over the ocean; to some the old wolf 

Dealt out death; and for some dejected 

Followers fashioned an earth-cave coffin. 

Thus the Maker of men lays waste 

This earth, crushing our callow mirth. 
85 And the work of old giants stands withered and still." 


66 craven (kra'ven): cowardly; 
complacent (kam-pla'sent): self- 
satisfied; covetous (kuv'T-tes): 

69 spleen: bad temper. (The spleen 
is a body organ that was formerly 
thought to be the seat of strong 

77-82 In what different ways have 
the warriors met their fate? 

84 callow mirth: childish joy. 

He who these ruins rightly sees, 
And deeply considers this dark twisted life, 
Who sagely remembers the endless slaughters 
Of a bloody past, is bound to proclaim: 
90 "Where is the war-steed? Where is the warrior? Where is 

his war-lord? 
Where now the feasting-places? Where now the mead-hall 

Alas, bright cup! Alas, brave knight! 
Alas, you glorious princes! All gone, 
Lost in the night, as you never had lived. 
95 And all that survives you a serpentine wall, 
Wondrously high, worked in strange ways. 
Mighty spears have slain these men, 
Greedy weapons have framed their fate. 

These rocky slopes are beaten by storms, 
ioo This earth pinned down by driving snow, 
By the horror of winter, smothering warmth 
In the shadows of night. And the north angrily 

95 serpentine: winding or 
twisting, like a snake. 




Hurls its hailstorms at our helpless heads. 
Everything earthly is evilly born, 
Firmly clutched by a fickle Fate. 
Fortune vanishes, friendship vanishes, 
Man is fleeting, woman is fleeting, 
And all this earth rolls into emptiness." 

So says the sage in his heart, sitting alone with 
His thought. 
It's good to guard your faith, nor let your grief come forth 
Until it cannot call for help, nor help but heed 
The path you've placed before it. It's good to find your 

In God, the heavenly rock where rests our every hope. 

Translated by Burton Raffel 

Thinking Through the Literature 

1. Comprehension Check What happened to cause the poem's title 
character to become a wanderer? 

2. What emotion does this poem chiefly evoke in you? Share your 
reaction with classmates. 

3. How would you describe the wanderer's present life and his 
feelings about it? 

the experiences he describes in lines 8-22 

the life he led before he became a wanderer 

remarks in lines 90-108 

4. Do you agree with the attitude toward grief expressed in lines 
12-16? Why or why not? 


{• the 
• the 
• his 





Poverty carrying a sack of wheat to the mill 
reaches a dangerous bridge (about 1450-1475). 
Rene I d'Anjou, King of Naples. From Le 
Mortifiement de vaine plaisance, M.705, f. 38v. 

I make this song about me full sadly 
my own wayfaring. I a woman tell 
what griefs I had since I grew up 
new or old never more than now. 
5 Ever I know the dark of my exile. 

First my lord went out away from his people 

over the wave-tumult. I grieved each dawn 

wondered where my lord my first on earth might be. 

Then I went forth a friendless exile 

to seek service in my sorrow's need. 

My man's kinsmen began to plot 

by darkened thought to divide us two 

so we most widely in the world's kingdom 

lived wretchedly and I suffered longing. 




My lord commanded me to move my dwelling here. 

I had few loved ones in this land 

or faithful friends. For this my heart grieves: 

that I should find the man well matched to me 

hard of fortune mournful of mind 

hiding his mood thinking of murder. 


1 To show the rhythmic structure 
of Old English poetry, this 
translator has divided each line 
into two units with a break called 
a caesura (sT-zhdt>r'9). The caesuras 
signal places where the scop, or 
poet-singer, probably paused for 
breath while reciting the poem. 

2 wayfaring: journeying. 

6 my lord: the speaker's husband. 

7 wave-tumult: the sea. Why 
might the poet have used this 

19 hard . . . mind: having a hard 
life and feeling sad. 



Blithe was our bearing often we vowed 
that but death alone would part us two 
naught else. But this is turned round 
now ... as if it never were 
25 our friendship. I must far and near 
bear the anger of my beloved. 
The man sent me out to live in the woods 
under an oak tree in this den in the earth. 
Ancient this earth hall. I am all longing. 

30 The valleys are dark the hills high 
the yard overgrown bitter with briars 
a joyless dwelling. Full oft the lack of my lord 
seizes me cruelly here. Friends there are on earth 
living beloved lying in bed 

35 while I at dawn am walking alone 

under the oak tree through these earth halls. 
There I may sit the summerlong day 
there I can weep over my exile 
my many hardships. Hence I may not rest 

40 from this care of heart which belongs to me ever 
nor all this longing that has caught me in this life. 

29 "Earth hall" refers to the 
speaker's living quarters. What 
kind of place do you think it is? 

May that young man be sad-minded always 
hard his heart's thought while he must wear 
a blithe bearing with care in the breast 

45 a crowd of sorrows. May on himself depend 
all his world's joy. Be he outlawed far 
in a strange folk-land — that my beloved sits 
under a rocky cliff rimed with frost 
a lord dreary in spirit drenched with water 

50 in a ruined hall. My lord endures 

much care of mind. He remembers too often 

a happier dwelling. Woe be to them 

that for a loved one must wait in longing. 

Translated by Ann Stanford 

42-50 In these lines, the speaker 
seems to wish for her husband the 
same sad, lonely life that he has 
forced her to endure. 



^rou g/j 

Connect to the Literature 

What Do You Think? 

What is your 
reaction to the story 
told in "The Wife's 

Comprehension Check 

• What happened after the wife's 
husband went to sea? 

• Why do the husband and the wife 
live apart? 

• What does the wife wish her 
husband to feel? 

Think Critically 

2. Evaluate the kind of life the wife has led. Support your 
evaluation with details from the poem. 

3. How would you describe the wife's opinion of her 
husband's behavior? 

• the influence of her husband's kinsmen 

• the vow that the husband and the wife made 
to each other 

• the wife's thoughts in lines 42-50 

4. In your opinion, how might the husband respond to his 
wife's accusations? 



INTERPRETING DETAILS! Get together with 

a partner and discuss the cluster diagrams of descriptive 
details you created in your DLUbeaders notebook. 
What moods do the details help convey? 

Extend Interpretations 

6. What If? Suppose that the husband of the speaker in "The 
Wife's Lament" returned to her. Describe their reunion. 

7. Comparing Texts Compare the plights of the three poems' 
title characters. Who do you think faces the most difficult 
hardships? What makes you think this way? Defend your 

8. Connect to Life In the modern world, many refugees leave 
their countries to escape dangers, not knowing when or if 
they will ever return to the homelands and people they love. 
How do you think the loneliness and other hardships they 
face compare with those endured in Anglo-Saxon times? 
Cite evidence from the poems to support your opinion. 

Literary Analysis 

| KENNING | Anglo-Saxon poets 

made frequent use of kennings, 
descriptive terms and phrases 
substituted for simple nouns. In a 
translation of Old English poetry, a 
kenning may appear as a 
compound word, like wave-tumult, 
used for the sea in "The Wife's 
Lament." A kenning may also appear 
as a group of two or more words, 
like swan road, another common 
kenning for the sea. The name 
Beowulf itself can be interpreted as 
"bee-wolf," a kenning for a bear 
(because bears like honey and so 
are often found around beehives). 

Cooperative Learning Activity 

Identify two more kennings in the 
poems and explain what they mean. 
Then copy the chart below and try 
creating your own kennings for the 
words in the first column. Discuss 
your ideas and complete the chart 
with a small group of classmates. 

Term Kenning 






rhythm, the most important element 
of sound in Old English poetry is 
alliteration, the repetition of initial 
consonant sounds. Look for 
examples in all three poems. 



Writing Options 

1. Diary Entry Imagine that you 
are the title character of one of 
the poems. Write a diary entry 
describing a typical day in your 
life-for "The Seafarer," for 
example, you might describe a 
typical day at sea. Place the entry 
in your Working Portfolio. \3 

2. Exploration Write a paragraph 
in which you explore 
the inner conflict of the 
title character in one of 
the poems. State the 
conflict that you 
perceive, and then 
support your statement 
with details from the 

Writing Handbook 

See page 1359: Paragraphs. 

Activities & 

1. Weather Map Research the 
weather patterns over the waters 
surrounding Britain. Then draw a 
map showing the places where 
an Anglo-Saxon sailor may have 
encountered weather-related 
dangers and the types of dangers 
he may have faced. ~ SCIENCE 

2. TV Interview With a group of 
classmates, stage a TV talk show 
in which a host interviews the 
title characters of the poems. The 
host should encourage the 
guests to discuss their hopes and 
plans for the future as well as 
their past experiences. 

Inquiry & Research 

Everyday Anglo-Saxons Use 

history books and other 

reliable sources to 

find out more 

about the 


Go beyond the 

accounts of 

historic events 

to investigate the 

lifestyles of the 

various classes of 


society— women 

and farmers as well 

as kings and warriors. Prepare a 

written report on your findings. 

Stained glass 
window depicting 
a farmer sowing 
seeds by hand 

The Authors 

Surviving Anonymity Nothing is known about the 
authors of "The Seafarer," "The Wanderer," and 
"The Wife's Lament." All three poems survive in 
the Exeter Book, a manuscript produced by 
scribes around a.d. 950. Leofric, the first bishop 
of Exeter in England, had this collection of Anglo- 
Saxon poems in his personal library. After he 
donated it to the Exeter Cathedral library 
sometime between 1050 and 1072, the Exeter 

Book was neglected and abused for centuries 
because few people were able to read the Old 
English language in which it was written. The 
original binding and an unknown number of 
pages were lost. Other pages were badly stained 
or scorched. Today the Exeter Book is handled 
with great care and treasured as one of the few 
surviving poetic manuscripts from the Anglo- 
Saxon period. 




to 0leail 

fmm A History of the English 
Church and People 

Historical Writing by THE VENERABLE BEDE 

Connect to Your Life} 

Accepting Challenges, Making Changes Think about a time when 
you were challenged to make a major change in your life and you 
took on that challenge. How did the change affect the way you 
think or live? Share your experience with a group of classmates. 

Build Background 

The Christian Challenge The Venerable Bede, 
regarded as the father of English history, lived 
and worked in a monastery in northern Britain 
during the late seventh and early eighth 
centuries. His most famous work, A History of 
the English Church and People, is a major 
source of information about life in Britain from 
the first successful Roman invasion, about a.d. 
46, to a.d. 731. Bede was a careful and 
thorough historian for his time. He sought out 
original documents and reliable eyewitness 
accounts on which to base his writing. 

Bede's History is filled with stories about the 
spread of Christianity among the English 
between a.d. 597 and 731. Christianity had 
been introduced into Britain during the Roman 
occupation and had flourished for a time. The 
Anglo-Saxon tribes who began invading around 
a.d. 450, however, were pagans and brought 
their religion with them. By the late sixth 
century, Christianity had been abandoned in 
many areas. In a.d. 597, missionaries from 
Rome began arriving 
in Britain to persuade 
the Anglo-Saxons to 
reject their pagan 
beliefs and accept the 
challenge of the 
Christian faith. 












Focus Your Reading 



writing is a systematic account, often in narrative form, of 
the past of a nation or a group of people. Historical writing 
generally has the following characteristics: (1) it is 
concerned with real events, (2) the events are treated in 
chronological order, and (3) it is usually an objective 
retelling of facts rather than a personal interpretation. 
Which of these characteristics are evident in this passage 
from Bede's History? 

Then, full of joy at his knowledge of the worship of the 
true God, he told his companions to set fire to the temple 
and its enclosures and destroy them. The site where these 
idols once stood is still shown . . . and is known as 

As you read the selection from Bede's chronicle, consider 
whether it displays the characteristics of historical writing. 



An author may write to inform, to describe, to narrate, to 
entertain, or to persuade. Frequently an author writes to 
accomplish two or more of these purposes. To help you 
identify the Venerable Bede's purpose for composing his 
History, notice the following as you read: 

• incidents the author recounts 

• people the author describes 

• descriptions that convey the author's stance or position 

• the author's tone throughout the selection 

jj reader s notebook Jot down details that suggest 
the author's purpose. 



from ^ ^i5tory of tbe €nglisb Cburcb au6 People 

The V e^ e r a b 1 e 

King €dtt>in u>as a powerful ruler of Hortbumbru— a kingdom in northern Britain— 
during tbe early seuentb century. Altbougb a pagan, Cdnrin married a Christian, 
Ctbelberga of Kent, and allowed ber to practice ber Christian faith. Cthelberga's 
chaplain, Paulinus, challenged ber nen> husband to concert to Christianity. 

m h 


Paulinus had spoken, the king 

answered that he was both 

willing and obliged to accept the 

Faith which he taught, but said 

that he must discuss the matter 

with his principal advisers and 

friends, so that if they were in 

agreement, they might all be cleansed together in 

Christ the Fount of Life. Paulinus agreed, and 

the king kept his promise. He summoned a council 

of the wise men, and asked each in turn his opinion 

of this new faith and new God being proclaimed. 

Portrait of the scribe Eadwine 

Coifi, the High Priest, 
replied without hesitation: 
"Your Majesty, let us give 
careful consideration to this 
new teaching, for I frankly 
admit that, in my experience, 
the religion that we have hither- 
to professed seems valueless and 
powerless. None of your subjects has been more 
devoted to the service of the gods than myself, yet 
there are many to whom you show greater favor, 
who receive greater honors, and who are more 
successful in all their undertakings. Now, if the 



profess (pre-fes') v. to claim belief in or allegiance to 


gods had any power, they would surely have 
favored myself, who have been more zealous in 
their service. Therefore, if on examination these 
new teachings are found to be better and more 
effectual , let us not hesitate to accept them." 

Another of the king's chief men signified his 
agreement with this prudent argument, and went 
on to say: "Your Majesty, when we compare the 
present life of man with that time of which we 
have no knowledge, it seems to me like the swift 
flight of a lone sparrow through the banqueting- 
hall where you sit in the winter months to dine 
with your thanes 1 and counselors. Inside there is 
a comforting fire to warm the room; outside, the 
wintry storms of snow and rain are raging. 
This sparrow flies swiftly in through one 
door of the hall, and out through 
another. While he is inside, he is safe 
from the winter storms; but after a few 
moments of comfort, he vanishes from 
sight into the darkness whence he 
came. Similarly, man appears on earth for 
a little while, but we know nothing of what 
went before this life, and what follows. 
Therefore if this new teaching can reveal any 
more certain knowledge, it seems only right 
that we should follow it." The other elders and 
counselors of the king, under God's guidance, 
gave the same advice. 

Coifi then added that he wished to hear 
Paulinus' teaching about God in greater detail; 
and when, at the king's bidding, this had been 
given, the High Priest said: "I have long realized 
that there is nothing in what we worshiped, for 
the more diligently I sought after truth in our 
religion, the less I found. I now publicly confess 
that this teaching clearly reveals truths that will 
afford us the blessings of life, salvation, and 
eternal happiness. Therefore, Your Majesty, I 
submit that the temples and altars that we have 
dedicated to no advantage be immediately 

desecrated and burned." In short, the king 
granted blessed Paulinus full permission to 
preach, renounced idolatry, and professed his 
acceptance of the Faith of Christ. And when he 
asked the High Priest who should be the first to 
profane 2 the altars and shrines of the idols, 
together with the enclosures that surrounded 
them, Coifi replied: "I will do this myself, for 
now that the true God has granted me 
knowledge, who more suitably than I can set a 
public example, and destroy the idols that I 
worshiped in ignorance?" So he formally 
renounced his empty superstitions, and asked the 
king to give him arms and a stallion — for 
hitherto it had not been lawful for the High 

Priest to carry arms, or to ride 
anything but a mare — and, 
thus equipped, he set out to 
destroy the idols. Girded 
with a sword and with a 
spear in his hand, he 
mounted the king's stallion 
and rode up to the idols. 
When the crowd saw him, 
they thought he had gone mad, 
but without hesitation, as soon as he 
reached the temple, he cast a spear into it and 
profaned it. Then, full of joy at his knowledge of 
the worship of the true God, he told his 
companions to set fire to the temple and its 
enclosures and destroy them. The site where 
these idols once stood is still shown, not far east 
of York, beyond the river Derwent, and is known 
as Goodmanham. Here it was that the High 
Priest, inspired by the true God, desecrated and 
destroyed the altars that he had himself dedicated. 

1. thanes: freemen attached to the household of an Anglo- 
Saxon lord, serving as his personal band of warriors. 

2. profane: desecrate. 


zealous (zel'es) adj. filled with enthusiasm; eager 
WORDS effectual (T-fek'choo-sl) adj. able to produce a desired effect 

TO prudent (prood'nt) adj. showing wisdom or good judgment 

KNOW desecrate (des'T-krat') v. to violate the sacredness of 

renounce (rT-nouns') v. to give up or reject 


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A page from the Venerable Bede's History of the English Church and People. 
The Granger Collection, New York. 


CAeomon (kad'man) is tbe earliest 
€nglisb poet known to us by tume. 
According to Beoe, CAeomon composed 
many poems; bomeuer, only bis first 
poem, a bymn to 600 tbe Creator, bAS 
sunriued. In tbe following Account, 
Beoe describes bom CAedmon, mbo mAS 
An illiterate comberd, becAtne An 
Accomplisbeo poet. 

n this monastery 

of Whitby there lived a 
brother 3 whom God's 
grace made remarkable. 
So skillful was he in 
composing religious and 
devotional songs, that 
he could quickly turn 
whatever passages of 
Scripture were 
explained to him 
into delightful and moving poetry in 
his own English tongue. These verses 
of his stirred the hearts of many folk 
to despise the world and aspire to 
heavenly things. Others after him 
tried to compose religious poems in 
English, but none could compare 
with him, for he received this gift of 
poetry as a gift from God and did not acquire it 
through any human teacher. For this reason he 
could never compose any frivolous or profane 
verses, but only such as had a religious theme 
fell fittingly from his devout lips. And although 
he followed a secular occupation until well 

Friars singing in choir, miniature from the Psalter of Henry VI (detail). Cotton 
Domitian A. XVII, f. 122v, by permission of The British Library. 

advanced in years, he had never learned any- 
thing about poetry: indeed, whenever all those 
present at a feast took it in turns to sing and 

3. brother: a man who lives in or works for a religious 
community but is not a priest or monk. 

WORDS aspire (e-spir') v. to strive to attain 

TO devout (dT-vout') adj. showing religious devotion and piety 

KNOW secular (sek'ya-lsr) adj. unrelated to religion 


entertain the company, he would get up from 
table and go home directly he saw the harp 4 
approaching him. 

On one such occasion he had left the house in 
which the entertainment was being held and went 
out to the stable, where it was his duty to look 
after the beasts that night. He lay down there at 
the appointed time and fell asleep, and in a 
dream he saw a man standing beside him who 
called him by name. "Caedmon," he said, "sing 
me a song." "I don't know how to sing," he 
replied. "It is because I cannot sing that I left the 
feast and came here." The man who addressed 
him then said: "But you shall sing to me." "What 
should I sing about?" he replied. "Sing about the 
Creation of all things," the other answered. And 
Caedmon immediately began to sing verses in 
praise of God the Creator that he had never 
heard before, and their theme ran thus: "Let us 
praise the Maker of the kingdom of heaven, the 
power and purpose of our Creator, and the acts 
of the Father of glory. Let us sing how the eternal 
God, the Author of all marvels, first created the 
heavens for the sons of men as a roof to cover 
them, and how their almighty Protector gave 
them the earth for their dwelling place." This is 
the general sense, but not the actual words that 
Caedmon sang in his dream; for however 
excellent the verses, it is impossible to translate 
them from one language into another 5 without 
losing much of their beauty and dignity. When 
Caedmon awoke, he remembered everything that 
he had sung in his dream, and soon added more 
verses in the same style to the glory of God. 

Early in the morning he went to his superior 
the reeve, 6 and told him about this gift that he 
had received. The reeve took him before the 
abbess, 7 who ordered him to give an account of 
his dream and repeat the verses in the presence of 
many learned men, so that they might decide 
their quality and origin. All of them agreed that 
Caedmon's gift had been given him by our Lord, 
and when they had explained to him a passage of 

scriptural history or doctrine, they asked him to 
render it into verse if he could. He promised to 
do this, and returned next morning with excellent 
verses as they had ordered him. The abbess was 
delighted that God had given such grace to the 
man, and advised him to abandon secular life and 
adopt the monastic state. And when she had 
admitted him into the Community as a brother, 
she ordered him to be instructed in the events of 
sacred history. 8 So Caedmon stored up in his 
memory all that he learned, and like an animal 
chewing the cud, turned it into such melodious 
verse that his delightful renderings turned his 
instructors into his audience. He sang of the 
creation of the world, the origin of the human 
race, and the whole story of Genesis. He sang of 
Israel's departure from Egypt, their entry into the 
land of promise, and many other events of 
scriptural history. He sang of the Lord's 
Incarnation, Passion, Resurrection, and Ascension 
into heaven, the coming of the Holy Spirit, and 
the teaching of the Apostles. He also made many 
poems on the terrors of the Last Judgment, the 
horrible pains of Hell, and the joys of the 
kingdom of heaven. In addition to these, he 
composed several others on the blessings and 
judgments of God, by which he sought to turn his 
hearers from delight in wickedness, and to inspire 
them to love and do good. For Caedmon was a 
deeply religious man, who humbly submitted to 
regular discipline, 9 and firmly resisted all who 
tried to do evil, thus winning a happy death. ♦ 

4. harp: In Anglo-Saxon times, poetry was often recited to 
the accompaniment of a small harp. 

5. translate . . . another: Caedmon's verses were composed 
in Old English, but Bede wrote in Latin. 

6. reeve: the officer who oversaw the monastery's farms. 

7. abbess (ab'Ys): a woman in charge of a convent or 
monastery. The abbess of Whitby at this time was named 

8. sacred history: the narratives in the Bible. 

9. regular discipline: the rules of monastic life. 


TO render (ren'der) v. to express in another language or form 




Connect to the Literature 

What Do You Think? 

What is your 
reaction to the type 
of events Bede 
describes? Explain. 

Comprehension Check 

• Why was Coifi willing to consider 
the faith professed by Paulinus? 

• Why did the abbess advise 
Caedmon to abandon secular life 
and adopt the monastic state? 

Think Critically 

2. Why do you think the king seeks the advice of his counselors 
before responding to the challenge to accept Christianity? 

3. In your opinion, does Coifi's destruction of the temples 
show great courage? 

• Coifi's position as high priest 

• his role as adviser to the king 

• the crowd's reaction at the temple 




the details you wrote in your ["Qreaders notebook to 
determine the Venerable Bede's purpose. How does his 
purpose affect the credibility of the events he relates? 

Extend Interpretations 

5. What If? What do you think life would have been like for 
Caedmon if, after having his dream, he had chosen not to 
compose poetry? 

6. Critic's Corner In the introduction to his translation of Bede's 
History, Leo Sherley-Price writes, "Such is the interest of the 
subject matter and the vividness of Bede's characteristic 
style that the scenes and folk of long ago live again." 
Comment on whether the excerpts you have read support 
this view of Bede's subject matter and style. 

7. Comparing Texts Contrast the portrayals of life in Bede's 
History and in Beowulf. What aspects of Anglo-Saxon culture 
are emphasized in each work? What might account for the 
differences between the two portrayals? 

8. Connect to Life The decisions and actions of King Edwin and 
Coifi hastened the spread of Christianity throughout England 
in a relatively short time, producing a major shift in the 
entire society. Think of another time in history when a 
political decision or some significant event or development 
has had a great effect on a whole nation or culture. How did 
people respond to the challenges to their way of life? 

Literary Analysis 


The characteristics of historical 
writing include a concern with real 
events and a chronological and objec- 
tive narration of the events. Of these 
three characteristics, objectivity is the 
hardest to achieve. In Bede's account, 
some of his statements and choice of 
details may reflect his feelings and 
opinions. For example, Coifi's assertion 
that "I have long realized that there is 
nothing in what we worshiped" could 
be a reflection of the author's own 
opinion rather than an objective retell- 
ing of an event. 
Paired Activity Choose three 
passages from the selection. With a 
partner, create a bar graph like the 
one shown and rate the objectivity of 
each passage on a scale of 1 to 1 0, 
with 1 being the least objective and 
10 being the most. 

Passage 1 Passage 2 Passage 3 




narrative by the Venerable Bede uses 
text organizers, such as different type 
sizes, colors, and styles, to help clarify 
and structure ideas. Go back to the 
beginning of the selection and note the 
use of different treatments of type, 
especially in the paragraphs set off on 
pages 99 and 102. Identify the text 
organizers and note the purposes they 
serve in clarifying ideas. 




Writing Options 

Simile for Life One of the king's 
advisers uses a simile, 
comparing human life to the 
flight of a sparrow. Write your 
own simile for life and explain 
your comparison. 

Activities & 

Sketch of a Dream Recall 
Caedmon's dream. Then create a 
sketch or painting of the man 
who appeared to Caedmon and 
inspired him to write poetry. ~ ART 

Inquiry & Research 

Routes to Rome Research travel 
between Rome and Britain 
during the time of Bede. Find a 
map showing Europe as it was 
in the seventh and eighth 
centuries. Trace the probable 
routes from Rome to Britain. 
What means of travel were 
used? How long would a trip 
from Rome to Britain have 
taken? What dangers would 
travelers have faced? Record 
your findings and share them in 
an oral report. 

Vocabulary in Action 


Decide whether the words in 
each of the following pairs are 
more nearly synonyms or 
antonyms. On your paper, write S 
for Synonyms or A for Antonyms. 

1. zealous-enthusiastic 

2. renounce— abandon 

3. prudent— unwise 

4. effectual— effective 

5. devout— pious 

6. desecrate— honor 

7. aspire— desire 

8. secular— religious 

9. render— interpret 
10. profess— deny 

The Venerable Bede 


Other Works 

History of the Abbots 

On the Reckoning of Time 

Leaving Home At the age of seven, Bede was taken 
by his parents to a monastery at Wearmouth, on 
the northeast coast of Britain, where he was left in 
the care of the abbot, Benedict Biscop (bish'ap) . 
It is not known why the boy's parents left him or 
whether he ever saw them again. When he was 
nine years old, Bede was moved a short distance 
to a new monastery at Jarrow, where he was to 
spend the rest of his life. 

A Devout Child Bede seems to have been a 
naturally devout and studious child. He read 
widely in the monastery libraries, studied Latin 
and perhaps a little Greek, and participated fully in 
the religious life of the monastery. He was exposed 
to the art and learning of Europe through the 
paintings, books, and religious objects brought 

from Rome by Abbot Benedict. Bede became a 
deacon of the church at the age of 19, 6 years 
earlier than normal, and was ordained to the 
priesthood when he was 30. 

A Gifted Scholar Bede was a brilliant scholar and 
a gifted writer and teacher. He wrote about 40 
books, including works on spelling, grammar, 
science, history, and religion. In addition, he 
popularized the dating of events from the birth of 
Christ, the system still in use today. 

Lasting Reputation Bede's reputation as a scholar 
and a devout monk spread throughout Europe 
during his lifetime and in the centuries following. 
(The title "Venerable" was probably first applied 
to him during the century after his death.) 
Although Bede was influenced by the outlook of 
his time — as is evident in the miracle stories he 
included in his History — his carefulness and 
integrity are still respected and valued by scholars 
today, almost 1,300 years later. 



PART 2 Reflections of Everyday Life 

What was life like for people in the Middle Ages? What made them laugh or 
cry? How did they carry out the business of living from day to day? In this 
part of Unit One, you will read selections that give insights into the nature 
of people's lives in the 14th and 15th centuries. The era will come alive for you as char- 
acters reveal their strengths and weaknesses, hopes and fears, joys and sorrows. Despite 
the hundreds of years that separate us from these interesting personalities, our similari- 
ties are quite astonishing. 

Geoffrey Chaucer ^ifuTHOR <Jtudy 


Giovanni Boccaccio 

The Paston Family 


from The Canterbury Tales 1 1 1 

The Prologue 113 

from John Gardner's The Life and Times of Chaucer 139 

from The Pardoner's Tale 141 

The Wife of Bath's Tale 1 54 

A group of pilgrims tell one another stories. 

Comparing Literature: The Canterbury Tales 

and The Decameron 

The Storytelling Tradition Across Cultures: Italy 

from The Decameron 
Federigo's Falcon 

No sacrifice is too great for his love. 


from The Paston Letters 

A family in turmoil 

Barbara Allan 
Sir Patrick Spens 
Get Up and Bar the Door 

Tragedy and comedy 




Author Study 

Geoffrey Chaucer 


Life and Times 107 

The Prologue from The 
Canterbury Tales ~ POETRY in 

from The Life and Times 
of Chaucer by John Gardner 


from The Pardoner's 

Tale - POETRY 141 

The Wife of Bath's 

Tale ~ POETRY 154 

The Author's Style 168 

Author Study Project 1 70 

'There was never a 
man who was 
more of a Maker 
than Chaucer. . « . 
He came very 
near to making a 
nation. 9 ' 

■G. K. Chesterton 

£<H mvi 0/)«Mt'CC4* 



England's First Great Writer 

Geoffrey Chaucer made an enormous mark on the language 
and literature of England. Writing in an age when French was 
widely spoken in educated circles, 
Chaucer was among the first writ- 
ers to show that English could he a 
respectable literary language. 
Today, his work is considered a 
cornerstone of English literature. 

The facts that are known about 
Chaucer's life paint a portrait of a 
man as colorful as any of the char- 
acters he created. Explore the life 
and times of this groundbreaking 
English author. 1 340 ?-l 400 

BEFRIENDED BY ROYALS Chaucer was born sometime 
between 1340 and 1343, probably in London, in an era when 
expanding commerce was helping to bring the Middle Ages to 
a close. His family, though not noble, was fairly well off, 
having made money in the wine and leather trades (the name 
Chaucer itself comes from the French word for a shoemaker). 
Chaucer's parents were able to place him in the household of 
the wife of Prince Lionel, a son of King Edward III, where he 


Is born, 

probably in 



Details of Chaucer's life 

buried in obscurity 






Years' War 

with France 



Bubonic plague 




served as an attendant. Such a position was a 
vital means of advancement, teaching the 
young Chaucer the customs of upper-class life 
and bringing him into contact with influential 
people. It may have been during this period 
that Chaucer met Lionel's younger brother 
John of Gaunt, who would become Chaucer's 
lifelong patron and a leading political figure of 
the day. 

While still a teenager, Chaucer joined the 
king's army to fight against the French in what 
we now call the Hundred Years' War. He was 
captured by the French during the 
siege of Rheims, and the king himself 
contributed to his ransom. Chaucer 
later served as a royal messenger, 
and he would be given more 
important diplomatic missions 
in years to come. His royal 
contacts also led to his 
marriage to Philippa, a lady in 
waiting to the queen, and his 
appointment as comptroller of 
customs for London in 1374. 

Early Inspirations 

Chaucer's diplomatic travels to 
the European mainland 
exposed him to the latest in 
French and Italian literature — 


Becomes an 

attendant to 

the wife of 

Prince Lionel 


Captured in 
the Hundred 

Years' War 




lady in 

waiting to 

the queen 

Chaucer's home above Aldgate in 
London from 1374-1385 

works that would 

stimulate his own 

writing. In Italy, for 

example, he 

discovered the 

works of Dante, 

Petrarch, and 


Chaucer's earliest 

major writing effort 

was probably an English translation of part of 

The Romance of the Rose, a famous medieval 

French verse romance. Not long afterward, he 

produced his first important original work, 

The Book of the Duchess, a long narrative 

poem paying tribute to Blanche, John of 

Gaunt's first wife, who died of plague in 1369. 

It was followed a few years later by The 

House of Fame, a humorous narrative about 

the instability of renown. 

Turbulent Times Despite his writing 

successes, Chaucer's primary career remained 
one of politics and diplomacy. Unlike many 
other courtiers of the era, Chaucer continued to 
enjoy royal favor throughout the turbulent reign 
of Richard II, who was still only a boy when he 
became England's king in 1377. Chaucer's next 
major work, The Parliament of Fowls, was 
probably written to commemorate Richard's 


Makes first 



Writes The 
Book of the 

1360 1365 


1362?; j 1364 

William Langland j j King John II of 

writes the first j j France dies in 

version of Piers i I the Tower of 

Plowman. • '■ London. 



Edward III dies; 

Richard II 

becomes king. 

marriage to Anne of Bohemia in 1382. Four years later, 
Chaucer was appointed a knight of the shire and 
became a member of Parliament. In the 1390s he 
continued to enjoy various royal appointments, 
including those of clerk of the king's works and 
subforester of a royal park. 

Meanwhile, Richard IPs reign was marked by conflict 
at home and abroad, including a peasants' revolt led by 
Wat Tyler and heightened agitation by the Lollards, a 
group of church reformers led by John Wycliffe. Finally, 
while Richard was off attempting to quell a rebellion in 
Ireland in 1399, his popular cousin Henry Bolingbroke 
wrested the throne from his control and was crowned 
as King Henry IV. The change of monarch did not 
affect Chaucer's political fortunes, since Henry was the 
son of Chaucer's longtime patron John of Gaunt. 
However, the writer had little time to enjoy the favor of 
the new monarch, for he died only a year after Henry 
came to the throne. 

FRUITFUL YEARS The last two decades of Chaucer's 
life saw his finest literary achievements — the brilliant 
verse romance Troilus and Criseyde and his masterpiece, 
The Canterbury Tales, a collection of verse and prose 
tales of many different kinds. To join the stories together, 
Chaucer decided to pretend they are told by members of a 
group of travelers journeying from London to 
Canterbury. Though he may have written some of the 
stories earlier, most scholars think that he began 
organizing The Canterbury Tales about 1387. The work 




Considered the greatest English writer 
before Shakespeare, Chaucer was 
praised in his lifetime and widely 
imitated after his death, when a group 
of 15th-century poets adopted his 
writing style. Later in the 15th century, 
when the printing press was introduced 
into England, The Canterbury Tales was 
among the first works to be printed. 

Longer Poetic Works Chaucer is best 
known for his verse narratives. These 
include the following: 

The Book of the Duchess 

The House of Fame 

The Parliament of Fowls 

Troilus and Criseyde 

The Legend of Good Women 

The Canterbury Tales 

Short Poems Chaucer also wrote 
several shorter poems, including these: 
"Complaint to His Empty Purse" 
"Words, to Adam, His Own Scrivener" 

"Gentilesse [Nobility]" 
"Envoy [Message] to Scogan" 
"Envoy [Message] to Bukton" 

Prose As outgrowths of his scholarly 
interests, Chaucer produced these prose 

The Consolation of Philosophy 
(translated from the Latin of Boethius) 

Treatise on the Astrolabe 

1386 j 

j 1387 


Becomes a '. 

; Begins to plan 



member of I 

j The Canterbury 

clerk of the 

Dies and is 

Parliament ; 

j Tales 


buried in 







breaks out. 


Richard II 
marries Anne of 



Opponents of 
Richard II 
execute eight of 
his friends. 



Lollards petition 

for church 



Richard II is 

deposed; Henry IV 

becomes king. 



Chaucer's London 

Originally a walled town built by the Romans, 
London had become a bustling commercial 
city by Chaucer's day. Its walls enclosed a 
semicircular area of roughly a square mile, 
extending along the Thames River from the 
Tower of London to the Fleet River. On this 
small patch of land lived about 35,000 people, 
plus rats and other vermin, crowded together 
in noisy, unsanitary conditions. A marsh out- 
side the city's north wall, although little more 
than an open sewer, nevertheless afforded 
excellent diversion when frozen over in winter. 

was still unfinished at the time of his death; 
Chaucer had penned nearly 20,000 lines, but 
many more tales were planned. 

Uncommon Honor when he died in 

1400, Chaucer was accorded an honor rare for 
a commoner — burial in London's Westminster 
Abbey. In 1566 an admirer erected an elaborate 
marble tomb for his remains. This was the 
beginning of Westminster Abbey's famous 
Poets' Corner, where many other great English 
writers have since been buried. 
Chaucer's attitude toward his great 

subsequent renown would probably be one of 
humility and amusement. In The Canterbury 
Tales, he portrayed himself as a short, plump, 
slightly foolish pilgrim who commands no 
great respect. Yet from the mind of this gentle 
poet came a host of memorable characters 
and some of the finest poetry ever created in 
the English language. 

More Online: Author Link 


.W^^^^^^f^^&^^^^W^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^f' * ^re^|gsN%gg^ 

The Shrine of Canterbury 

The travelers in The Canterbury Tales are making a pilgrimage 
to the popular shrine of Saint Thomas a Becket in 
Canterbury. Becket was appointed archbishop of 
Canterbury by his friend King Henry II in 1 162. 
However, after the two quarreled bitterly over the rights 
of the church, four of Henry's loyal knights murdered the 
archbishop in his own cathedral in 1 170. Three years later, 
Becket was declared a saint by the Roman Catholic Church 

This medal 
is typical of 
those worn 
:>y pilgrims to 



The Prologue 

from The Canterbury Tales 

Translated by NEVILL COGHILL 

Connect to Your Life) 

Story Time Recall a time when you and some friends told funny 
stories about growing up. What situations inspire people to tell 
stories? What role does an audience play in making the telling of a 
story more interesting? Share your thoughts in a class discussion. 

Comparing Literature 
of the World 

The Canterbury Tales 
and The Decameron 

If you wish to compare the 
storytelling tradition across cultures, 
you might read "Federigo's Falcon," 
the excerpt from The Decameron 
that follows the three excerpts from 
The Canterbury Tales. Points of 
Comparison between Chaucer's and 
Boccaccio's tales include the 
narrative structure of the frame story 
and the authors' focus on stories 
with love themes. 

Build Background 

Medieval Story Time In the "Prologue," 
or introduction, from The Canterbury 
Tales, a group of travelers from various 
walks of life gather in an inn outside 
London to make a pilgrimage to the 
shrine of Saint Thomas a Becket in the 
city of Canterbury. At the suggestion of 
the innkeeper (the Host), the group 
decides to hold a storytelling competi- 
tion to pass the time as they travel. The 
portion of The Canterbury Tales that 
follows the "Prologue" consists mainly 
of the stories that various pilgrims tell. 

WORDS TO KNOW Vocabulary Preview 
















Focus Your Reading 

TONE | The tone of a literary work expresses 


the writer's attitude toward the work's subject or characters. A 
tone, for example, may be formal or informal, amused or impatient. 
In the "Prologue" the narrator uses a detached, ironic tone, often 
understating his criticisms or saying the opposite of what he really 
thinks. For example, in the following lines Chaucer reveals his 
attitude toward a Friar who dispenses God's forgiveness 
("absolution") freely, as long as he receives a donation— an 
attitude he probably expects the reader to share. 

Sweetly he heard his penitents at shrift 
With pleasant absolution, for a gift. 



Characterization is the means by which a writer develops a 
character's personality. A writer can use a number of techniques: 

• description of the character's physical appearance 

• presentation of the character's speech, thoughts, feelings, and 

• presentation of other characters' speech, thoughts, feelings, and 
actions as they relate to the character 

rQ reader' s notebook As you read the "Prologue," jot down 
words or phrases that convey the personalities of some of the 
characters the narrator describes, as well as the narrator himself. 
Be sure to include the Pardoner and the Wife of Bath. 



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Chaucer on horseback. From the Ellesmere manuscript, EL 26 c. 9, fol. 153v, The Huntington Library, 
San Marino, California. 



from yC Vf -'V' 

The Prologue 





When in April the sweet showers fall 

And pierce the drought of March to the root, and all 

The veins are bathed in liquor of such power 

As brings about the engendering of the flower, 

When also Zephyrus with his sweet breath 

Exhales an air in every grove and heath 

Upon the tender shoots, and the young sun 

His half-course in the sign of the Ram has run, 

And the small fowl are making melody 

That sleep away the night with open eye 

(So nature pricks them and their heart engages) 

Then people long to go on pilgrimages 

And palmers long to seek the stranger strands 

Of far-off saints, hallowed in sundry lands, 

And specially, from every shire's end 

Of England, down to Canterbury they wend 

To seek the holy blissful martyr, quick 

To give his help to them when they were sick. 

It happened in that season that one day 
In Southwark, at The Tabard, as I lay 
Ready to go on pilgrimage and start 
For Canterbury, most devout at heart, 
At night there came into that hostelry 
Some nine and twenty in a company 
Of sundry folk happening then to fall 
In fellowship, and they were pilgrims all 
That towards Canterbury meant to ride. 


5 Zephyrus (zef'er-es): the Greek 
god of the west wind (the blowing 
of which is viewed as a sign of 
spring). What detail or details in 
line 1 are reinforced here? 

8 the Ram: Aries — one of the 12 
groups of stars through which the 
sun appears to move in the course 
of the year. The sun completes its 
passage through Aries in mid-April. 

13 palmers: people journeying to 
religious shrines; pilgrims; strands: 

14 sundry (sun'dre): various. 

15 shire's: county's. 

17 martyr: St. Thomas a Becket. 

20 Southwark (suWerk): in 
Chaucer's day, a town just south of 
London (now part of the city 
itself). The Tabard was an actual 
inn in Southwark. 

23 hostelry (hos'tel-re): inn. 




-** 5 ^T 









The rooms and stables of the inn were wide; 
They made us easy, all was of the best. 
And, briefly, when the sun had gone to rest, 
I'd spoken to them all upon the trip 
And was soon one with them in fellowship, 
Pledged to rise early and to take the way 
To Canterbury, as you heard me say. 

But none the less, while I have time and space, 
Before my story takes a further pace, 
It seems a reasonable thing to say 
What their condition was, the full array 
Of each of them, as it appeared to me, 
According to profession and degree, 
And what apparel they were riding in; 
And at a Knight I therefore will begin. 
There was a Knight, a most distinguished man, 
Who from the day on which he first began 
To ride abroad had followed chivalry, 
Truth, honor, generousness and courtesy. 
He had done nobly in his sovereign's war 
And ridden into battle, no man more, 
As well in Christian as in heathen places, 
And ever honored for his noble graces. 

When we took Alexandria, he was there. 
He often sat at table in the chair 
Of honor, above all nations, when in Prussia. 
In Lithuania he had ridden, and Russia, 
No Christian man so often, of his rank. 
When, in Granada, Algeciras sank 
Under assault, he had been there, and in 
North Africa, raiding Benamarin; 
In Anatolia he had been as well 
And fought when Ayas and Attalia fell, 
For all along the Mediterranean coast 
He had embarked with many a noble host. 
In fifteen mortal battles he had been 
And jousted for our faith at Tramissene 
Thrice in the lists, and always killed his man. 
This same distinguished knight had led the van 
Once with the Bey of Balat, doing work 

35-41 What is the narrator going 
to take time and space to do? 
What is he interrupting? 

45 chivalry (shTv'sl-re): the code of 
behavior of medieval knights, 
which stressed the values listed in 
line 46. 

51 Alexandria: a city in Egypt, 
captured by European Christians in 
1365. All the places named in lines 
51-64 were scenes of conflicts in 
which medieval Christians battled 
Muslims and other non-Christian 

64 jousted: fought with a lance in 
an arranged battle against another 

65 thrice: three times; lists: fenced 
areas for jousting. 

66 van: vanguard — the troops 
foremost in an attack. 

67 Bey of Balat: a Turkish ruler. 










For him against another heathen Turk; 

He was of sovereign value in all eyes. 

And though so much distinguished, he was wise 

And in his bearing modest as a maid. 

He never yet a boorish thing had said 

In all his life to any, come what might; 

He was a true, a perfect gentle-knight. 

Speaking of his equipment, he possessed 
Fine horses, but he was not gaily dressed. 
He wore a fustian tunic stained and dark 
With smudges where his armor had left mark; 
Just home from service, he had joined our ranks 
To do his pilgrimage and render thanks. 

He had his son with him, a fine young Squire, 
A lover and cadet, a lad of fire 
With locks as curly as if they had been pressed. 
He was some twenty years of age, I guessed. 
In stature he was of a moderate length, 
With wonderful agility and strength. 
He'd seen some service with the cavalry 
In Flanders and Artois and Picardy 
And had done valiantly in little space 
Of time, in hope to win his lady's grace. 
He was embroidered like a meadow bright 
And full of freshest flowers, red and white. 
Singing he was, or fluting all the day; 
He was as fresh as is the month of May. 
Short was his gown, the sleeves were long and wide; 
He knew the way to sit a horse and ride. 
He could make songs and poems and recite, 
Knew how to joust and dance, to draw and write. 
He loved so hotly that till dawn grew pale 
He slept as little as a nightingale. 
Courteous he was, lowly and serviceable, 
And carved to serve his father at the table. 

There was a Yeoman with him at his side, 
No other servant; so he chose to ride. 

77 fustian (fus'chan): a strong 
cloth made of linen and cotton. 

81 Squire: a young man attending 
on and receiving training from a 

82 cadet: soldier in training. 

88 Flanders and Artois (ar-twa') 
and Picardy (pTk'ar-de): areas in 
what is now Belgium and northern 

'N - 

The Squire, from the Ellesmere 

103 Yeoman (yo'men): an 
attendant in a noble household; 
him: the Knight. 



agility (a-jTI'T-te) n. an ability to move quickly and easily; nimbleness 










This Yeoman wore a coat and hood of green, 

And peacock-feathered arrows, bright and keen 

And neatly sheathed, hung at his belt the while 

— For he could dress his gear in yeoman style, 

His arrows never drooped their feathers low — 

And in his hand he bore a mighty bow. 

His head was like a nut, his face was brown. 

He knew the whole of woodcraft up and down. 

A saucy brace was on his arm to ward 

It from the bow-string, and a shield and sword 

Hung at one side, and at the other slipped 

A jaunty dirk, spear-sharp and well-equipped. 

A medal of St. Christopher he wore 

Of shining silver on his breast, and bore 

A hunting-horn, well slung and burnished clean, 

That dangled from a baldrick of bright green. 

He was a proper forester, I guess. 

There also was a Nun, a Prioress, 
Her way of smiling very simple and coy. 
Her greatest oath was only "By St. Loy!" 
And she was known as Madam Eglantyne. 
And well she sang a service, with a fine 
Intoning through her nose, as was most seemly, 
And she spoke daintily in French, extremely, 
After the school of Stratford-atte-Bowe; 
French in the Paris style she did not know. 
At meat her manners were well taught withal; 
No morsel from her lips did she let fall, 
Nor dipped her fingers in the sauce too deep; 
But she could carry a morsel up and keep 
The smallest drop from falling on her breast. 
For courtliness she had a special zest, 
And she would wipe her upper lip so clean 
That not a trace of grease was to be seen 
Upon the cup when she had drunk; to eat, 
She reached a hand sedately for the meat. 
She certainly was very entertaining, 
Pleasant and friendly in her ways, and straining 
To counterfeit a courtly kind of grace, 
A stately bearing fitting to her place, 




113 saucy: jaunty; stylish; brace: a 
leather arm-guard worn by archers. 

116 dirk: small dagger. 

117 St. Christopher: the patron 

saint of foresters and travelers. 

120 baldrick: shoulder strap. 

122 Prioress: a nun ranking just 
below the abbess (head) of a 

124 St. Loy: St. Eligius (known as 
St. Eloi in France). 

129 Stratford-atte-Bowe: a town 
(now part of London) near the 
Prioress's convent. How do you 
think the French spoken there 
differed from that spoken in Paris? 

131 at meat: when dining; 
withal: moreover. 

The Prioress 

courtliness (kort'le-nTs) n. refined behavior; elegance 
sedately (sT-dat'le) adv. in a composed, dignified manner; calmly 








And to seem dignified in all her dealings. 

As for her sympathies and tender feelings, 

She was so charitably solicitous 

She used to weep if she but saw a mouse 

Caught in a trap, if it were dead or bleeding. 

And she had little dogs she would be feeding 

With roasted flesh, or milk, or fine white bread. 

And bitterly she wept if one were dead 

Or someone took a stick and made it smart; 

She was all sentiment and tender heart. 

Her veil was gathered in a seemly way, 

Her nose was elegant, her eyes glass-grey; 

Her mouth was very small, but soft and red, 

Her forehead, certainly, was fair of spread, 

Almost a span across the brows, I own; 

She was indeed by no means undergrown. 

Her cloak, I noticed, had a graceful charm. 

She wore a coral trinket on her arm, 

A set of beads, the gaudies tricked in green, 

Whence hung a golden brooch of brightest sheen 

On which there first was graven a crowned A, 

And lower, Amor vincit omnia. 

Another Nun, the secretary at her cell, 
Was riding with her, and three Priests as well. 

A Monk there was, one of the finest sort 
Who rode the country; hunting was his sport. 
A manly man, to be an Abbot able; 
Many a dainty horse he had in stable. 
His bridle, when he rode, a man might hear 
Jingling in a whistling wind as clear, 
Aye, and as loud as does the chapel bell 
Where my lord Monk was Prior of the cell. 
The Rule of good St. Benet or St. Maur 
As old and strict he tended to ignore; 
He let go by the things of yesterday 
And took the modern world's more spacious way. 
He did not rate that text at a plucked hen 
Which says that hunters are not holy men 
And that a monk uncloistered is a mere 
Fish out of water, flapping on the pier, 

The Monk 

159 span: a unit of length equal to 
nine inches. A broad forehead was 
considered a sign of beauty in 
Chaucer's day. 

163 gaudies: the larger beads in a 
set of prayer beads. 

166 Amor vincit omnia (a'mor 
wTn'kTt om'ne-o): Latin for "Love 
conquers all things." 

171 Abbot: the head of a 

172 dainty: excellent. 

176 Prior of the cell: head of a 
subsidiary group of monks. 

177 St. Benet ... St. Maur: St. 

Benedict, who established a strict 
set of rules for monks' behavior, 
and his follower St. Maurus, who 
introduced those rules into France. 

180 What does the narrator mean 
by "the modern world's more 
spacious way"? 











That is to say a monk out of his cloister. 
That was a text he held not worth an oyster; 
And I agreed and said his views were sound; 
Was he to study till his head went round 
Poring over books in cloisters? Must he toil 
As Austin bade and till the very soil? 
Was he to leave the world upon the shelf? 
Let Austin have his labor to himself. 

This Monk was therefore a good man to horse; 
Greyhounds he had, as swift as birds, to course. 
Hunting a hare or riding at a fence 
Was all his fun, he spared for no expense. 
I saw his sleeves were garnished at the hand 
With fine grey fur, the finest in the land, 
And on his hood, to fasten it at his chin 
He had a wrought-gold cunningly fashioned pin; 
Into a lover's knot it seemed to pass. 
His head was bald and shone like looking-glass; 
So did his face, as if it had been greased. 
He was a fat and personable priest; 
His prominent eyeballs never seemed to settle. 
They glittered like the flames beneath a kettle; 
Supple his boots, his horse in fine condition. 
He was a prelate fit for exhibition, 
He was not pale like a tormented soul. 
He liked a fat swan best, and roasted whole. 
His palfrey was as brown as is a berry. 

There was a Friar, a wanton one and merry, 
A Limiter, a very festive fellow. 
In all Four Orders there was none so mellow, 
So glib with gallant phrase and well-turned speech. 
He'd fixed up many a marriage, giving each 
Of his young women what he could afford her. 
He was a noble pillar to his Order. 
Highly beloved and intimate was he 
With County folk within his boundary, 
And city dames of honor and possessions; 
For he was qualified to hear confessions, 
Or so he said, with more than priestly scope; 

190 Austin: St. Augustine of 
Hippo, who recommended that 
monks engage in hard agricultural 

194 to course: for hunting. 

208 prelate (prel'Tt): high-ranking 
member of the clergy. 

211 palfrey (pol'fre): saddle horse. 

212 Friar: a member of a religious 
group sworn to poverty and living 
on charitable donations; wanton 
(won'ten): playful; jolly. 

213 Limiter: a friar licensed to beg 
for donations in a limited area. 

214 Four Orders: the four groups 
of friars — Dominican, Franciscan, 
Carmelite, and Augustinian. 

222 confessions: church rites in 
which penitents (people seeking 
absolution, or formal forgiveness, 
for their sins) confess their sins to 
members of the clergy, who usually 
require the penitents to perform 
certain tasks, called penances, as a 
condition of the forgiveness. Only 
certain friars were licensed to hear 




personable (pur'sa-na-bel) adj. pleasing in behavior and appearance 

He had a special license from the Pope. 

225 Sweetly he heard his penitents at shrift 
With pleasant absolution, for a gift. 
He was an easy man in penance-giving 
Where he could hope to make a decent living; 
It's a sure sign whenever gifts are given 

230 To a poor Order that a man's well shriven, 
And should he give enough he knew in verity 
The penitent repented in sincerity. 
For many a fellow is so hard of heart 
He cannot weep, for all his inward smart. 

235 Therefore instead of weeping and of prayer 
One should give silver for a poor Friar's care. 
He kept his tippet stuffed with pins for curls, 
And pocket-knives, to give to pretty girls. 
And certainly his voice was gay and sturdy, 

240 For he sang well and played the hurdy-gurdy. 
At sing-songs he was champion of the hour. 
His neck was whiter than a lily-flower 
But strong enough to butt a bruiser down. 
He knew the taverns well in every town 

245 And every innkeeper and barmaid too 

Better than lepers, beggars and that crew, 
For in so eminent a man as he 
It was not fitting with the dignity 
Of his position, dealing with a scum 

250 Of wretched lepers; nothing good can come 

Of commerce with such slum-and-gutter dwellers, 
But only with the rich and victual-sellers. 
But anywhere a profit might accrue 
Courteous he was and lowly of service too. 

255 Natural gifts like his were hard to match. 
He was the finest beggar of his batch, 
And, for his begging-district, paid a rent; 
His brethren did no poaching where he went. 
For though a widow mightn't have a shoe, 

260 So pleasant was his holy how-d'ye-do 

He got his farthing from her just the same 
Before he left, and so his income came 
To more than he laid out. And how he romped, 
Just like a puppy! He was ever prompt 

225 shrift: confession. 

230 well shriven: completely 
forgiven through the rite of 
confession. What role does money 
seem to play in the confessions 
that the Friar hears? 

231 verity: truth. 

237 tippet: an extension of a hood 
or sleeve, used as a pocket. 

240 hurdy-gurdy: a stringed 
musical instrument, similar to a 
lute, played by turning a crank 
while pressing down keys. 

The Friar 

252 victual (vTt'l): food. 

261 farthing: a coin of small value 
used in England until recent times. 



eminent (em'e-nant) adj. standing out above others; high-ranking; prominent 
accrue (a-kroo') v. to come as gain; accumulate 










To arbitrate disputes on settling days 

(For a small fee) in many helpful ways, 

Not then appearing as your cloistered scholar 

With threadbare habit hardly worth a dollar, 

But much more like a Doctor or a Pope. 

Of double-worsted was the semi-cope 

Upon his shoulders, and the swelling fold 

About him, like a bell about its mold 

When it is casting, rounded out his dress. 

He lisped a little out of wantonness 

To make his English sweet upon his tongue. 

When he had played his harp, or having sung, 

His eyes would twinkle in his head as bright 

As any star upon a frosty night. 

This worthy's name was Hubert, it appeared. 

There was a Merchant with a forking beard 
And motley dress; high on his horse he sat, 
Upon his head a Flemish beaver hat 
And on his feet daintily buckled boots. 
He told of his opinions and pursuits 
In solemn tones, he harped on his increase 
Of capital; there should be sea-police 
(He thought) upon the Harwich-Holland ranges; 
He was expert at dabbling in exchanges. 
This estimable Merchant so had set 
His wits to work, none knew he was in debt, 
He was so stately in administration, 
In loans and bargains and negotiation. 
He was an excellent fellow all the same; 
To tell the truth I do not know his name. 

An Oxford Cleric, still a student though, 
One who had taken logic long ago, 
Was there; his horse was thinner than a rake, 
And he was not too fat, I undertake, 
But had a hollow look, a sober stare; 
The thread upon his overcoat was bare. 
He had found no preferment in the church 
And he was too unworldly to make search 
For secular employment. By his bed 
He preferred having twenty books in red 

265 settling days: days on which 
disputes were settled out of court. 
Friars often acted as arbiters in the 
disputes and charged for their 
services, though forbidden by the 
church to do so. 

270 double-worsted (w<56s'tTd): a 
strong, fairly costly fabric made 
from tightly twisted yarn; semi- 
cope: a short cloak. 

281 motley: multicolored. 

282 Flemish: from Flanders, an 
area in what is now Belgium and 
northern France. 

287 Harwich-Holland ranges: 

shipping routes between Harwich 
(heir' Tj), a port on England's east 
coast, and the country of Holland. 

288 exchanges: selling foreign 
currency at a profit. From his 
dabbling in this practice, which 
was illegal in Chaucer's day, what 
can you conclude about the 

295 Cleric: a clergyman — here, a 
student preparing for the 

301 preferment: advancement- 

303 secular (sek'ya-ler): outside the 











And black, of Aristotle's philosophy, 

Than costly clothes, fiddle or psaltery. 

Though a philosopher, as I have told, 

He had not found the stone for making gold. 

Whatever money from his friends he took 

He spent on learning or another book 

And prayed for them most earnestly, returning 

Thanks to them thus for paying for his learning. 

His only care was study, and indeed 

He never spoke a word more than was need, 

Formal at that, respectful in the extreme, 

Short, to the point, and lofty in his theme. 

A tone of moral virtue filled his speech 

And gladly would he learn, and gladly teach. 

A Sergeant at the Law who paid his calls, 
Wary and wise, for clients at St. Paul's 
There also was, of noted excellence. 
Discreet he was, a man to reverence, 
Or so he seemed, his sayings were so wise. 
He often had been Justice of Assize 
By letters patent, and in full commission. 
His fame and learning and his high position 
Had won him many a robe and many a fee. 
There was no such conveyancer as he; 
All was fee-simple to his strong digestion, 
Not one conveyance could be called in question. 
Though there was nowhere one so busy as he, 
He was less busy than he seemed to be. 
He knew of every judgement, case and crime 
Ever recorded since King William's time. 
He could dictate defenses or draft deeds; 
No one could pinch a comma from his screeds 
And he knew every statute off by rote. 
He wore a homely parti-colored coat, 
Girt with a silken belt of pin-stripe stuff; 
Of his appearance I have said enough. 

305 Aristotle's philosophy: the 

writings of Aristotle, a famous 
Greek philosopher of the fourth 
century B.C. 

306 psaltery (sol'ta-re): a stringed 

307-308 Though a philosopher . . . 
stone for making gold: Practi- 
tioners of the false science of 
alchemy often sought the 
"philosopher's stone," supposedly 
capable of turning common metals 
into gold. What does the narrator 
mean by this statement? 

319 Sergeant at the Law: a lawyer 
appointed by the monarch to serve 
as a judge. 

320 St. Paul's: the cathedral of 
London, outside which lawyers met 
clients when the courts were 

324 Justice of Assize: a judge who 
traveled about the country to hear 

325 letters patent: royal 
documents commissioning a judge. 

328 conveyancer: lawyer 
specializing in conveyances (deeds) 
and property disputes. 

329 fee-simple: property owned 
without restrictions. 

331-332 Explain the apparent 
contradiction here. How would you 
sum up the skill and work habits of 
the Sergeant at the Law? 

334 King William's time: the reign 
of William the Conqueror. 

336 screeds: documents. 



The Franklin 

There was a Franklin with him, it appeared; 

White as a daisy-petal was his beard. 

A sanguine man, high-colored and benign, 

He loved a morning sop of cake in wine. 
345 He lived for pleasure and had always done, 

For he was Epicurus' very son, 

In whose opinion sensual delight 

Was the one true felicity in sight. 

As noted as St. Julian was for bounty 
350 He made his household free to all the County. 

His bread, his ale were finest of the fine 

And no one had a better stock of wine. 

His house was never short of bake-meat pies, 

Of fish and flesh, and these in such supplies 
355 It positively snowed with meat and drink 

And all the dainties that a man could think. 

According to the seasons of the year 

Changes of dish were ordered to appear. 

He kept fat partridges in coops, beyond, 
360 Many a bream and pike were in his pond. 

Woe to the cook unless the sauce was hot 

And sharp, or if he wasn't on the spot! 

And in his hall a table stood arrayed 

And ready all day long, with places laid. 
365 As Justice at the Sessions none stood higher; 

He often had been Member for the Shire. 

A dagger and a little purse of silk 

Hung at his girdle, white as morning milk. 

As Sheriff he checked audit, every entry. 
370 He was a model among landed gentry. 

341 Franklin: a wealthy 

343 sanguine (sSng'gwm): In 
medieval science, the human body 
was thought to contain four 
"humors" (blood, phlegm, yellow 
bile, and black bile), the relative 
proportions of which determined a 
person's temperament. A sanguine 
person (one in whom blood was 
thought to predominate) was 
cheerful and good-natured. 

346 Epicurus' very son: someone 
who pursues pleasure as the chief 
goal in life, as the ancient Greek 
philosopher Epicurus was supposed 
to have recommended. 

349 St. Julian: the patron saint of 
hospitality; bounty: generosity. 

365 Sessions: local court 

366 Member for the Shire: his 

county's representative in 

368 girdle: belt. 

369 Sheriff: a royal tax collector. 

370 landed gentry (jgn'tre): well- 
born, wealthy landowners. 










A Haberdasher, a Dyer, a Carpenter, 
A Weaver and a Carpet-maker were 
Among our ranks, all in the livery 
Of one impressive guild-fraternity. 
They were so trim and fresh their gear would pass 
For new. Their knives were not tricked out with brass 
But wrought with purest silver, which avouches 
A like display on girdles and on pouches. 
Each seemed a worthy burgess, fit to grace 
A guild-hall with a seat upon the dais. 
Their wisdom would have justified a plan 
To make each one of them an alderman; 
They had the capital and revenue, 
Besides their wives declared it was their due. 
And if they did not think so, then they ought; 
To be called "Madam" is a glorious thought, 
And so is going to church and being seen 
Having your mantle carried, like a queen. 

They had a Cook with them who stood alone 
For boiling chicken with a marrow-bone, 
Sharp flavoring-powder and a spice for savor. 
He could distinguish London ale by flavor, 
And he could roast and seethe and broil and fry, 
Make good thick soup and bake a tasty pie. 
But what a pity — so it seemed to me, 
That he should have an ulcer on his knee. 
As for blancmange, he made it with the best. 


There was a Skipper hailing from far west; 
He came from Dartmouth, so I understood. 
He rode a farmer's horse as best he could, 
In a woolen gown that reached his knee. 
A dagger on a lanyard falling free 
Hung from his neck under his arm and down. 
The summer heat had tanned his color brown, 
And certainly he was an excellent fellow. 
Many a draft of vintage, red and yellow, 
He'd drawn at Bordeaux, while the trader snored. 
The nicer rules of conscience he ignored. 
If, when he fought, the enemy vessel sank, 
He sent his prisoners home; they walked the plank. 

371 Haberdasher: a seller of hats 
and other clothing accessories. 

373-374 livery . . . guild- 
fraternity: uniform of a social or 
religious organization. 

379 burgess (bQr'jYs): citizen of a 

382 alderman: town councilor. 

388 mantle: cloak. 

The Cook 

397 blancmange (bls-manj'): in 
Chaucer's day, a thick chicken stew 
with almonds. 

399 Dartmouth (dart'meth): a port 
in southwestern England. 

402 lanyard (lan'yard): a cord worn 
as a necklace. 

405 What might the narrator 
mean by calling the Skipper "an 
excellent fellow"? 

406 vintage: wine. 

407 Bordeaux (bor-do'): a region of 
France famous for its wine. 









As for his skill in reckoning his tides, 

Currents and many another risk besides, 

Moons, harbors, pilots, he had such dispatch 

That none from Hull to Carthage was his match. 

Hardy he was, prudent in undertaking; 

His beard in many a tempest had its shaking, 

And he knew all the havens as they were 

From Gottland to the Cape of Finisterre, 

And every creek in Brittany and Spain; 

The barge he owned was called The Maudelayne. 


A Doctor too emerged as we proceeded; 
No one alive could talk as well as he did 
On points of medicine and of surgery, 
For, being grounded in astronomy, 
He watched his patient closely for the hours 
When, by his horoscope, he knew the powers 
Of favorable planets, then ascendent, 
Worked on the images for his dependant. 
The cause of every malady you'd got 
He knew, and whether dry, cold, moist or hot; 
He knew their seat, their humor and condition. 
He was a perfect practicing physician. 
These causes being known for what they were, 
He gave the man his medicine then and there. 
All his apothecaries in a tribe 
Were ready with the drugs he would prescribe 
And each made money from the other's guile; 
They had been friendly for a goodish while. 
He was well-versed in Aesculapius too 
And what Hippocrates and Rufus knew 
And Dioscorides, now dead and gone, 
Galen and Rhazes, Hali, Serapion, 
Averroes, Avicenna, Constantine, 
Scotch Bernard, John of Gaddesden, Gilbertine. 
In his own diet he observed some measure; 
There were no superfluities for pleasure, 
Only digestives, nutritives and such. 
He did not read the Bible very much. 
In blood-red garments, slashed with bluish grey 
And lined with taffeta, he rode his way; 

414 Hull . . . Carthage: ports in 
England and in Spain. The places 
named in lines 414-419 show that 
the Skipper is familiar with all the 
western coast of Europe. 

416 tempest: violent storm. 

424 astronomy: astrology. 

430 dry, cold, moist . . . hot: in 

medieval science, the four basic 
qualities that were thought to 
combine in various ways to form 
both the four elements of the 
world (fire, air, water, and earth) 
and the four humors of the human 
body (see the note at line 343). An 
excess of any of these qualities in a 
person could lead to illness. 

435 apothecaries (a-poth'T-ker'ez): 

439-444 Aesculapius (eV ky a-l a 'pe- 
es) .. . Gilbertine: famous ancient 
and medieval medical experts. 

446 superfluities (soo'per-floo'T- 
tez): excesses. 

450 taffeta (t3f'Y-te): a stiff, 
smooth fabric. 




dispatch (dT-spach') n. promptness; efficiency 
malady (mal'a-de) n. a disease or disorder; ailment 








Yet he was rather close as to expenses 
And kept the gold he won in pestilences. 
Gold stimulates the heart, or so we're told. 
He therefore had a special love of gold. 

A worthy woman from beside Bath city 
Was with us, somewhat deaf, which was a pity. 
In making cloth she showed so great a bent 
She bettered those of Ypres and of Ghent. 
In all the parish not a dame dared stir 
Towards the altar steps in front of her, 
And if indeed they did, so wrath was she 
As to be quite put out of charity. 
Her kerchiefs were of finely woven ground; 
I dared have sworn they weighed a good ten pound, 
The ones she wore on Sunday, on her head. 
Her hose were of the finest scarlet red 
And gartered tight; her shoes were soft and new. 
Bold was her face, handsome, and red in hue. 
A worthy woman all her life, what's more 
She'd had five husbands, all at the church door, 
Apart from other company in youth; 
No need just now to speak of that, forsooth. 
And she had thrice been to Jerusalem, 
Seen many strange rivers and passed over them; 
She'd been to Rome and also to Boulogne, 
St. James of Compostella and Cologne, 
And she was skilled in wandering by the way. 
She had gap-teeth, set widely, truth to say. 
Easily on an ambling horse she sat 
Well wimpled up, and on her head a hat 
As broad as is a buckler or a shield; 
She had a flowing mantle that concealed 
Large hips, her heels spurred sharply under that. 
In company she liked to laugh and chat 
And knew the remedies for love's mischances, 
An art in which she knew the oldest dances. 

A holy-minded man of good renown 
There was, and poor, the Parson to a town, 
Yet he was rich in holy thought and work. 

452 pestilences: plagues. 

455 Bath: a city in southwestern 

458 Ypres (e'pra) . . . Ghent (g&nt): 
Flemish cities famous in the Middle 
Ages for manufacturing fine wool 

461 wrath (rath): angry. 

463 ground: a textured fabric. 

466 hose: stockings. 

470 all at the church door: In 

medieval times, a marriage was 
performed outside or just within 
the doors of a church; afterwards, 
the marriage party went inside for 
mass. Why might the narrator feel 
it necessary to mention that all five 
weddings were church weddings? 

472 forsooth: in truth; indeed. 

473-476 Jerusalem . . . Rome . . . 
Boulogne (bod-Ion'), St. James of 
Compostella and Cologne (ka-lon'): 
popular goals of religious 
pilgrimages in the Middle Ages. 

480 wimpled: with her hair and 
neck covered by a cloth headdress. 

481 buckler: small round shield. 












He also was a learned man, a clerk, 

Who truly knew Christ's gospel and would preach it 

Devoutly to parishioners, and teach it. 

Benign and wonderfully diligent, 

And patient when adversity was sent 

(For so he proved in much adversity) 

He hated cursing to extort a fee, 

Nay rather he preferred beyond a doubt 

Giving to poor parishioners round about 

Both from church offerings and his property; 

He could in little find sufficiency. 

Wide was his parish, with houses far asunder, 

Yet he neglected not in rain or thunder, 

In sickness or in grief, to pay a call 

On the remotest, whether great or small, 

Upon his feet, and in his hand a stave. 

This noble example to his sheep he gave 

That first he wrought, and afterwards he taught; 

And it was from the Gospel he had caught 

Those words, and he would add this figure too, 

That if gold rust, what then will iron do? 

For if a priest be foul in whom we trust 

No wonder that a common man should rust; 

And shame it is to see — let priests take stock — 

A shitten shepherd and a snowy flock. 

The true example that a priest should give 

Is one of cleanness, how the sheep should live. 

He did not set his benefice to hire 

And leave his sheep encumbered in the mire 

Or run to London to earn easy bread 

By singing masses for the wealthy dead, 

Or find some Brotherhood and get enrolled. 

He stayed at home and watched over his fold 

So that no wolf should make the sheep miscarry. 

He was a shepherd and no mercenary. 

Holy and virtuous he was, but then 

Never contemptuous of sinful men, 

Never disdainful, never too proud or fine, 

But was discreet in teaching and benign. 

His business was to show a fair behavior 

And draw men thus to Heaven and their Savior, 

Unless indeed a man were obstinate; 

490 clerk: scholar. 

500 sufficiency: enough to get by 

501 asunder: apart. 

505 stave: staff. 

507 wrought (r6t): worked. 

509 figure: figure of speech. What 
does the figure of speech in line 

510 mean? 

517 set his benefice (ben'e-ffs) to 
hire: pay someone to perform his 
parish duties for him. 




diligent (dTI'e-jant) adj. painstaking; hard-working 








And such, whether of high or low estate, 
He put to sharp rebuke, to say the least. 
I think there never was a better priest. 
He sought no pomp or glory in his dealings, 
No scrupulosity had spiced his feelings. 
Christ and His Twelve Apostles and their lore 
He taught, but followed it himself before. 

There was a Plowman with him there, his brother; 
Many a load of dung one time or other 
He must have carted through the morning dew. 
He was an honest worker, good and true, 
Living in peace and perfect charity, 
And, as the gospel bade him, so did he, 
Loving God best with all his heart and mind 
And then his neighbor as himself, repined 
At no misfortune, slacked for no content, 
For steadily about his work he went 
To thrash his corn, to dig or to manure 
Or make a ditch; and he would help the poor 
For love of Christ and never take a penny 
If he could help it, and, as prompt as any, 
He paid his tithes in full when they were due 
On what he owned, and on his earnings too. 
He wore a tabard smock and rode a mare. 

There was a Reeve, also a Miller, there, 
A College Manciple from the Inns of Court, 
A papal Pardoner and, in close consort, 
A Church-Court Summoner, riding at a trot, 
And finally myself — that was the lot. 

The Miller was a chap of sixteen stone, 
A great stout fellow big in brawn and bone. 
He did well out of them, for he could go 
And win the ram at any wrestling show. 
Broad, knotty and short-shouldered, he would boast 
He could heave any door off hinge and post, 
Or take a run and break it with his head. 
His beard, like any sow or fox, was red 

536 scrupulosity (skrdo'pys-los'T- 
te): excessive concern with fine 
points of behavior. How would a 
lack of scrupulosity add to the 
Parson's effectiveness? 

553 tithes {Xlthz): payments to the 
church, traditionally one-tenth of 
one's annual income. 

555 tabard smock: a short loose 
jacket made of a heavy material. 

556 Reeve: an estate manager. 

557 Manciple: a servant in charge 
of purchasing food; Inns of Court: 
London institutions for training 
law students. 

558-559 Pardoner: a church 
official authorized to sell people 
pardons for their sins; Summoner: 
a layman with the job of 
summoning sinners to church 
courts. Why might the Pardoner 
and the Summoner be riding 
together as friends? 

561 stone: a unit of weight equal 
to 14 pounds. 



repine (rT-pin') v. to complain; fret 










And broad as well, as though it were a spade; 
And, at its very tip, his nose displayed 
A wart on which there stood a tuft of hair 
Red as the bristles in an old sow's ear. 
His nostrils were as black as they were wide. 
He had a sword and buckler at his side, 
His mighty mouth was like a furnace door. 
A wrangler and buffoon, he had a store 
Of tavern stories, filthy in the main. 
His was a master-hand at stealing grain. 
He felt it with his thumb and thus he knew 
Its quality and took three times his due — 
A thumb of gold, by God, to gauge an oat! 
He wore a hood of blue and a white coat. 
He liked to play his bagpipes up and down 
And that was how he brought us out of town. 

The Manciple came from the Inner Temple; 
All caterers might follow his example 
In buying victuals; he was never rash 
Whether he bought on credit or paid cash. 
He used to watch the market most precisely 
And got in first, and so he did quite nicely. 
Now isn't it a marvel of God's grace 
That an illiterate fellow can outpace 
The wisdom of a heap of learned men? 
His masters — he had more than thirty then — 
All versed in the abstrusest legal knowledge, 
Could have produced a dozen from their College 
Fit to be stewards in land and rents and game 
To any Peer in England you could name, 
And show him how to live on what he had 
Debt-free (unless of course the Peer were mad) 
Or be as frugal as he might desire, 
And make them fit to help about the Shire 
In any legal case there was to try; 
And yet this Manciple could wipe their eye. 

The Reeve was old and choleric and thin; 
His beard was shaven closely to the skin, 
His shorn hair came abruptly to a stop 

576 wrangler (rSng'gler): a loud, 
argumentative person; buffoon 
(bs-foon'): a fool. 

577 in the main: for the most part. 

581 thumb of gold: a reference to 
a proverb, "An honest miller has a 
golden thumb" — perhaps meaning 
that there is no such thing as an 
honest miller. 

585 Inner Temple: one of the Inns 
of Court. 

594 his masters: the lawyers that 
the Manciple feeds. 

595 abstrusest: most scholarly and 
difficult to understand. 

597-598 stewards . . . Peer: estate 
managers for any nobleman. 

604 wipe their eye: outdo them. 

605 choleric (kol'a-rTk): having a 
temperament in which yellow bile 
predominates (see the note at line 
343), and therefore prone to 
outbursts of anger. 




frugal (froo'gal) adj. careful with money; thrifty 








Above his ears, and he was docked on top 

Just like a priest in front; his legs were lean, 

Like sticks they were, no calf was to be seen 

He kept his bins and garners very trim; 

No auditor could gain a point on him. 

And he could judge by watching drought and rain 

The yield he might expect from seed and grain. 

His master's sheep, his animals and hens, 

Pigs, horses, dairies, stores and cattle-pens 

Were wholly trusted to his government. 

He had been under contract to present 

The accounts, right from his master's earliest years 

No one had ever caught him in arrears. 

No bailiff, serf or herdsman dared to kick, 

He knew their dodges, knew their every trick; 

Feared like the plague he was, by those beneath. 

He had a lovely dwelling on a heath, 

Shadowed in green by trees above the sward. 

A better hand at bargains than his lord, 

He had grown rich and had a store of treasure 

Well tucked away, yet out it came to pleasure 

His lord with subtle loans or gifts of goods, 

To earn his thanks and even coats and hoods. 

When young he'd learnt a useful trade and still 

He was a carpenter of first-rate skill. 

The stallion-cob he rode at a slow trot 

Was dapple-grey and bore the name of Scot. 

He wore an overcoat of bluish shade 

And rather long; he had a rusty blade 

Slung at his side. He came, as I heard tell, 

From Norfolk, near a place called Baldeswell. 

His coat was tucked under his belt and splayed. 

He rode the hindmost of our cavalcade. 

The Reeve 

608 docked: clipped short. 

611 garners: buildings for storing 

617 government: authority. What 
opinion of the Reeve does his 
employer seem to hold? How 
might the Reeve take advantage of 
his position? 

620 in arrears: with unpaid debts. 

621 bailiff: farm manager; serf: 
farm laborer. 

625 sward: grassy plot. 

633 stallion-cob: a thickset, short- 
legged male horse. 

638 Norfolk (n6r'fek): a county in 
eastern England. 



The Summoner 

There was a Summoner with us at that Inn, 

His face on fire, like a cherubin, 

For he had carbuncles. His eyes were narrow, 

He was as hot and lecherous as a sparrow. 
645 Black scabby brows he had, and a thin beard. 

Children were afraid when he appeared. 

No quicksilver, lead ointment, tartar creams, 

No brimstone, no boracic, so it seems, 

Could make a salve that had the power to bite, 
650 Clean up or cure his whelks of knobby white 

Or purge the pimples sitting on his cheeks. 

Garlic he loved, and onions too, and leeks, 

And drinking strong red wine till all was hazy. 

Then he would shout and jabber as if crazy, 
655 And wouldn't speak a word except in Latin 

When he was drunk, such tags as he was pat in; 

He only had a few, say two or three, 

That he had mugged up out of some decree; 

No wonder, for he heard them every day. 
660 And, as you know, a man can teach a jay 

To call out "Walter" better than the Pope. 

But had you tried to test his wits and grope 

For more, you'd have found nothing in the bag. 

Then "Questio quid juris" was his tag. 
665 He was a noble varlet and a kind one, 

You'd meet none better if you went to find one. 

Why, he'd allow — just for a quart of wine — 

Any good lad to keep a concubine 

642 cherubin (cher'e-bm'): a type 
of angel — in the Middle Ages 
often depicted with a fiery red 

643 carbuncles (kar'bung'kelz): big 
pimples, considered a sign of 
drunkenness and lechery in the 
Middle Ages. 

647-648 quicksilver . . . boracic 

(be-raVTk): substances used as skin 
medicines in medieval times. 

650 whelks (hwglks): swellings. 

656 tags: brief quotations. 

658 mugged up: memorized. 

660 jay: a bird that can be taught 
to mimic human speech without 
understanding it. What does the 
narrator's statement in lines 
660-661 imply about the 

664 Questio quid juris (kwes'te-6 
kwTd ydor'Ts): Latin for "The 
question is, What part of the law 
(is applicable)?" — a statement 
often heard in medieval courts. 











A twelvemonth and dispense him altogether! 
And he had finches of his own to feather: 
And if he found some rascal with a maid 
He would instruct him not to be afraid 
In such a case of the Archdeacon's curse 
(Unless the rascal's soul were in his purse) 
For in his purse the punishment should be. 
"Purse is the good Archdeacon's Hell," said he. 
But well I know he lied in what he said; 
A curse should put a guilty man in dread, 
For curses kill, as shriving brings, salvation. 
We should beware of excommunication. 
Thus, as he pleased, the man could bring duress 
On any young fellow in the diocese. 
He knew their secrets, they did what he said. 
He wore a garland set upon his head 
Large as the holly-bush upon a stake 
Outside an ale-house, and he had a cake, 
A round one, which it was his joke to wield 
As if it were intended for a shield. 

He and a gentle Pardoner rode together, 
A bird from Charing Cross of the same feather, 
Just back from visiting the Court of Rome. 
He loudly sang, "Come hither, love, come home! 
The Summoner sang deep seconds to this song, 
No trumpet ever sounded half so strong. 
This Pardoner had hair as yellow as wax, 
Hanging down smoothly like a hank of flax. 
In driblets fell his locks behind his head 
Down to his shoulders which they overspread; 
Thinly they fell, like rat-tails, one by one. 
He wore no hood upon his head, for fun; 
The hood inside his wallet had been stowed, 
He aimed at riding in the latest mode ; 
But for a little cap his head was bare 
And he had bulging eye-balls, like a hare. 
He'd sewed a holy relic on his cap; 
His wallet lay before him on his lap, 
Brimful of pardons come from Rome, all hot. 
He had the same small voice a goat has got. 

673 Archdeacon's curse: 

excommunication — an official 
exclusion of a person from 
participating in the rites of the 
church. (An archdeacon is a high 
church official.) 

675 How could a sinner's 
punishment be "in his purse"? 

681 duress (d<56-rSs'): compulsion 
by means of threats. 

682 diocese (dl'e-sTs): the district 
under a bishop's supervision. 

685-686 the holly-bush . . . ale- 
house: Since few people could 
read in the Middle Ages, many 
businesses identified themselves 
with symbols. Outside many 
taverns could be found wreaths of 
holly on stakes. 

690 Charing Cross: a section of 

696 flax: a pale grayish yellow 
fiber used for making linen cloth. 

701 wallet: knapsack. 

705 holy relic: an object revered 
because of its association with a 
holy person. 



wield (weld) v. to handle skillfully 
mode (mod) n. a current fashion or style 










His chin no beard had harbored, nor would harbor, 

Smoother than ever chin was left by barber. 

I judge he was a gelding, or a mare. 

As to his trade, from Berwick down to Ware 

There was no pardoner of equal grace, 

For in his trunk he had a pillow-case 

Which he asserted was Our Lady's veil. 

He said he had a gobbet of the sail 

Saint Peter had the time when he made bold 

To walk the waves, till Jesu Christ took hold. 

He had a cross of metal set with stones 

And, in a glass, a rubble of pigs' bones. 

And with these relics, any time he found 

Some poor up-country parson to astound, 

In one short day, in money down, he drew 

More than the parson in a month or two, 

And by his flatteries and prevarication 

Made monkeys of the priest and congregation. 

But still to do him justice first and last 

In church he was a noble ecclesiast. 

How well he read a lesson or told a story! 

But best of all he sang an Offertory, 

For well he knew that when that song was sung 

He'd have to preach and tune his honey-tongue 

And (well he could) win silver from the crowd. 

That's why he sang so merrily and loud. 

Now I have told you shortly, in a clause, 
The rank, the array, the number and the cause 
Of our assembly in this company 
In Southwark, at that high-class hostelry 
Known as The Tabard, close beside The Bell. 
And now the time has come for me to tell 
How we behaved that evening; I'll begin 
After we had alighted at the Inn, 
Then I'll report our journey, stage by stage, 
All the remainder of our pilgrimage. 
But first I beg of you, in courtesy, 
Not to condemn me as unmannerly 
If I speak plainly and with no concealings 
And give account of all their words and dealings, 
Using their very phrases as they fell. 

711 gelding (gel'dmg): a castrated 
horse — here, a eunuch. 

712 Berwick (ber'Tk) . . . Ware: 
towns in the north and the south 
of England. 

715 Our Lady's veil: the kerchief of 
the Virgin Mary. 

716 gobbet: piece. 

717-718 when he . . . took hold: a 

reference to an incident in which 
Jesus extended a helping hand to 
Peter as he tried to walk on water 
(Matthew 14:29-31). 

725 prevarication (pn-var'T- 
ka'shen): lying. 

728 ecclesiast (T-kle'ze-Ssf): 

730 Offertory: a chant 
accompanying the ceremonial 
offering of bread and wine to God 
in a mass. 

739 The Bell: another inn. 



Pilgrims leaving Canterbury (about 1400). English manuscript 
illumination, The Granger Collection, New York. 




For certainly, as you all know so well, 

He who repeats a tale after a man 

Is bound to say, as nearly as he can, 

Each single word, if he remembers it, 

However rudely spoken or unfit, 

Or else the tale he tells will be untrue, 

The things pretended and the phrases new. 

He may not flinch although it were his brother, 

He may as well say one word as another. 

And Christ Himself spoke broad in Holy Writ, 

Yet there is no scurrility in it, 

And Plato says, for those with power to read, 

745-756 The narrator apologizes 
in advance for using the exact 
words of his companions. Why 
might he make such an apology? 

759 broad: bluntly; plainly. 

760 scurrility (ska-rTI'T-te): 
vulgarity; coarseness. 

761 Plato (pla'to): a famous 
philosopher of ancient Greece. 











"The word should be as cousin to the deed." 

Further I beg you to forgive it me 

If I neglect the order and degree 

And what is due to rank in what I've planned. 

I'm short of wit as you will understand. 

Our Host gave us great welcome; everyone 
Was given a place and supper was begun. 
He served the finest victuals you could think, 
The wine was strong and we were glad to drink. 
A very striking man our Host withal, 
And fit to be a marshal in a hall. 
His eyes were bright, his girth a little wide; 
There is no finer burgess in Cheapside. 
Bold in his speech, yet wise and full of tact, 
There was no manly attribute he lacked, 
What's more he was a merry-hearted man. 
After our meal he jokingly began 
To talk of sport, and, among other things 
After we'd settled up our reckonings, 
He said as follows: "Truly, gentlemen, 
You're very welcome and I can't think when 
— Upon my word I'm telling you no lie — 
I've seen a gathering here that looked so spry, 
No, not this year, as in this tavern now. 
I'd think you up some fun if I knew how. 
And, as it happens, a thought has just occurred 
To please you, costing nothing, on my word. 
You're off to Canterbury — well, God speed! 
Blessed St. Thomas answer to your need! 
And I don't doubt, before the journey's done 
You mean to while the time in tales and fun. 
Indeed, there's little pleasure for your bones 
Riding along and all as dumb as stones. 
So let me then propose for your enjoyment, 
Just as I said, a suitable employment. 
And if my notion suits and you agree 
And promise to submit yourselves to me 
Playing your parts exactly as I say 
Tomorrow as you ride along the way, 
Then by my father's soul (and he is dead) 
If you don't like it you can have my head! 
Hold up your hands, and not another word." 

767 Host: the innkeeper of the 

772 marshal in a hall: an official in 
charge of arranging a nobleman's 

774 Cheapside: the main business 
district of London in Chaucer's day. 

780 settled up our reckonings: 

paid our bills. 

790 St. Thomas: St. Thomas a 
Becket, to whose shrine the 
pilgrims are traveling. 

794 dumb: silent. 











Well, our opinion was not long deferred , 
It seemed not worth a serious debate; 
We all agreed to it at any rate 
And bade him issue what commands he would. 
"My lords," he said, "now listen for your good, 
And please don't treat my notion with disdain . 
This is the point. I'll make it short and plain. 
Each one of you shall help to make things slip 
By telling two stories on the outward trip 
To Canterbury, that's what I intend, 
And, on the homeward way to journey's end 
Another two, tales from the days of old; 
And then the man whose story is best told, 
That is to say who gives the fullest measure 
Of good morality and general pleasure, 
He shall be given a supper, paid by all, 
Here in this tavern, in this very hall, 
When we come back again from Canterbury. 
And in the hope to keep you bright and merry 
I'll go along with you myself and ride 
All at my own expense and serve as guide. 
I'll be the judge, and those who won't obey 
Shall pay for what we spend upon the way. 
Now if you all agree to what you've heard 
Tell me at once without another word, 
And I will make arrangements early for it." 

Of course we all agreed, in fact we swore it 
Delightedly, and made entreaty too 
That he should act as he proposed to do, 
Become our Governor in short, and be 
Judge of our tales and general referee, 
And set the supper at a certain price. 
We promised to be ruled by his advice 
Come high, come low; unanimously thus 
We set him up in judgement over us. 
More wine was fetched, the business being done; 
We drank it off and up went everyone 
To bed without a moment of delay. 

807 bade him: asked him to. Why 
do you think the pilgrims are so 
quick to agree to the innkeeper's 

831 made entreaty: begged. 



defer (dT-fur') v. to postpone 

disdain (dTs-dan') n. a show of contempt; scorn 





Early next morning at the spring of day 
Up rose our Host and roused us like a cock, 
Gathering us together in a flock, 
And off we rode at slightly faster pace 
Than walking to St. Thomas' watering-place; 
And there our Host drew up, began to ease 
His horse, and said, "Now, listen if you please, 
My lords! Remember what you promised me. 
If evensong and matins will agree 
Let's see who shall be first to tell a tale. 
And as I hope to drink good wine and ale 
I'll be your judge. The rebel who disobeys, 
However much the journey costs, he pays. 
Now draw for cut and then we can depart; 
The man who draws the shortest cut shall start/ 

843 cock: rooster (whose cry 
rouses people from sleep). 

846 St. Thomas' watering-place: a 

brook about two miles from 

850 if evensong and matins 
(mSt'nz) will agree: if what you said 
last night is what you will do this 
morning. (Evensong and matins are 
evening and morning prayer 

855 draw for cut: draw lots. 


Wffiim&m 1 LITERATURE 

Connect to the Literature 

1. What Do You Think? 

Would you like 
traveling with this 
group of people? 
Why or why not? 

Think Critically 

2. Consider the openin 
spring make people 

Comprehension Check 

• In what month is the group 
making its pilgrimage? 

• With what high-ranking person does 
the narrator open his descriptions? 

• Who will judge the storytelling 
contest, and what will the prize be? 

g details about the season. Why would 
"long to go on pilgrimages"? 




As you read, study the cluster diagrams you created in your 
rO readers notebook. According to the information 
you gathered, which of the pilgrims does the narrator 
admire most? Which does he admire least? 

4. How would you describe the narrator's values? 

• his varied view of medieval life 

• the characters he admires and those he 

• his descriptions of himself 

5. What impression does the narrator give of the church in his 
day? Cite details from his portrayals of religious figures to 
support your answer. 

6. Why do you think the Host proposes the storytelling contest? 


Extend Interpretations 

7. Critic's Corner In 1700, John Dryden made a famous 
observation about Chaucer's characterization: "All his 
pilgrims are severally [individually] distinguished from each 
other; and not only in their inclinations, but in their very 
physiognomies [faces] and persons." Do you agree that 
Chaucer was able to create a number of distinctive 
characters? Explain. 

8. Connect to Life Think of modern professions for some of the 
characters in the "Prologue." What might be the modern 
equivalent of the Knight? the Squire? the Pardoner? Explain 
your choices. 

Literary Analysis 

TONE [ In the "Prologue," much of 

the humor springs from the 
narrator's tone, which is detached 
and ironic. Instead of openly 
criticizing the scoundrels of his age 
for their greed and hypocrisy, he 
understates his opinions about 
them or says the opposite of what 
he really thinks. His seemingly 
impersonal attitude forces readers 
to draw their own conclusions. 

In lines 208-21 1, for example, 
the narrator describes the Monk: 

He was a prelate fit for exhibition, 
He was not pale like a tormented 

He liked a fat swan best, and 

roasted whole. 
His palfrey was as brown as is a 


The narrator's tone reinforces the 
discrepancies between the Monk's 
life and the ideal monastic life of 
humility and self-sacrifice. 

Paired Activity Working with a 
partner, identify passages that reveal 
the narrator's tone. Look for 
evidence in the form of particular 
words and phrases. Organize your 
ideas in a chart like this one. 


What Narrator What Narrator 
Says Means 

Natural gifts 

like his were 

hard to match. 

(line 255) 

He was a 






Writing Options 

1. Character Analysis Write a 
short analysis of one of the 
characters in the "Prologue." 
Consider his or her appearance, 
personality, and motives. Support 
your general statements about 
the character with specific details 
from the "Prologue." You might 
organize your ideas in an outline 
like this: 


I. General quality or motive 

A. Supporting detail 

B. Supporting detail 

II. General quality or motive 

A. Supporting detail 

B. Supporting detail 

Writing Handbook 

See page 1369: Analysis. 

2. Sketch of a New Pilgrim 

Imagine how Chaucer would 
describe a modern-day person. 
Write a character sketch of that 
person, identifying his or her 
social role or profession. Use 
prose instead of rhymed lines 
of poetry if you prefer. Place 
your sketch in your 
Working Portfolio.^ 

Activities & 

1. Pilgrimage Poster Design a 
poster advertising a pilgrimage to 
Canterbury. If you like, 
you can use a computer 
drawing program. ~ ART 

2. Pilgrim Predictions With 
a group, make 
predictions about the 

characters introduced in the 
"Prologue." Which ones will get 
along? Which will not? Which will 
tell the best stories? Record your 
predictions to share with the 

Inquiry & Research 

Medieval Inns Find out more 
about English medieval inns by 
consulting books about the history 
of society and travel. What role did 
inns play in Chaucer's day? 
Alternatively, explore the signs 
used to identify the inns, many of 
symbols rather 
than words. 
Present your 
findings in a 
written report. 

Vocabulary in Action 

EXERCISE A: CONTEXT CLUES On your paper, answer 
the following questions, giving a reason for each 
answer. Your reason should show an understanding 
of the meaning of the boldfaced word. 

1. Could bad weather defer the pilgrims' journey? 

2. Would a fashionable pilgrim dress according to 
the mode? 

3. Might the Knight wield a sword in battle? 

4. Does the Parson show disdain for his rural 
parish by treating the parishioners well? 

5. Were Chaucer's pilgrims all eminent figures of 
the day? 

6. Would others call the pleasant Prioress a 

7. Was the Summoner, who was feared by 
children, a personable individual? 

indicate whether the words in each pair are 
synonyms or antonyms. 

1. agility— clumsiness 

2. dispatch— inefficiency 

3. sedately— frantically 

4. frugal -thrifty 

5. repine— praise 

6. accrue— accumulate 

7. diligent— lazy 

8. courtliness— elegance 

words accrue 

TO agility 



defer dispatch malady repine 

diligent eminent mode sedately 

disdain frugal personable wield 

Building Vocabulary 

Most of the Words to Know in this lesson 
come from Latin. For an in-depth study of 
word origins, see page 206. 



Preparing to Read 

Build Background 

John Gardner was a popular 
novelist as well as a medieval 
scholar. Among the best-known 
of his works of fiction is the 
novel Grendel, which tells the 
story of Beowulf's battle in Herot 
from the monster's point of 
view. The Life and Times of 
Chaucer is a lively nonaction 
account of Chaucer and his age. 
The passage on these pages 
provides a horrifying glimpse 
into the administration of 
justice— and injustice— in London 
during the Middle Ages. 


The Life and Times of 


Nonaction by JOHN GARDNER 

WAS NOT LIKE OURS. After careful thought, if we 
were given the choice of living then or now, we might 
well decide to scrap our modern world; but on first 
transportation to Chaucer's time, we would probably 
have hated it — its opinions and customs, its 
superstitions, its cruelty, its hobbled intellect, in some respects its 
downright madness. One need not talk of such blood-curdling 
horrors as public hangings, beheadings, burnings-at-the-stake, 
drawing-and-quarterings, 1 public whippings, blindings, ... or of 
imprisonments in chains and darkness without hope of deliverance; or 
of trials by combat, 2 or of torturings . . . — all these were common, 

1. drawing-and-quarterings: executions in which the 
criminals' arms and legs were tied to four horses, which 
were then driven in different directions. 

2. trials by combat: procedures in which disputants (or 
people selected by them) would fight to the death in 
order to determine who was in the right. 



the unavoidable experience of any man who had eyes to see or 
ears not deaf to the victims' shrieks; and if far less common in 
England than in France or, worse yet, Italy, where the family of 
Malatesta ("Badhead") filled a deep well with the severed heads 
of victims, the difference would strike a modern visitor as 
trifling. England's great poet of gentleness and compassion 
walked every day in a city where the fly-bitten, bird-scarred 
corpses of hanged criminals — men and women, even children — 
draped their shadows across the crowded public square. If the 
crime was political, the corpse was tarred to prevent its decaying 
before the achievement of the full measure of its shame. As 
Chaucer strolled across London Bridge, making up intricate 
ballades 3 in his head, counting beats on his fingers, he could see, 
if he looked up, the staked heads of wrongdoers hurried away 
by earnest Christians to their presumed eternal torment. With 
our modern sensibilities we would certainly object and perhaps 
interfere — as Chaucer never did — and for the attempt to 
undermine the king's peace, not to mention God's, our severed 
heads would go up on the stakes beside those others. 

ballades (ba-ladz'): poems usually consisting of three 7-, 
8-, or 10-line stanzas (with the same rhymes in each) 
along with an envoy, or closing stanza. Several of 
Chaucer's ballades have survived, and he probably 
composed a number of others. 

Thinking Through the Literature 

In the light of the information Gardner presents, what adjectives 
would you use to describe the world into which Chaucer was born? 

Comparing Texts Compare and contrast the world that Chaucer 
presents in the "Prologue" with the world that Gardner describes. 
Would you say that Chaucer entirely ignores the negative side of 
medieval life? Cite evidence to support your evaluation. 

What are some of the brutalities or injustices to which people in 
the modern world often close their eyes? What do you think 
Chaucer might have disliked if he had been transported forward in 
time to our world? 




PREPARING u>fflead 

from The Pardoner's Tale 

from The Canterbury Tales 

Translated by NEVILL COGHILL 

Connect to Your Life} 

Roots of Evil "The love of money is the root of all evil," the Bible 
tells us. In a group discussion, share thoughts about the desire for 
money and the ways in which it influences human behavior. In 
what situations is the desire for money evil or harmful? When 
does the desire seem normal or legitimate to you? 

Build Background 

Begging Pardon Among the more 
memorable of the Canterbury 
pilgrims is the Pardoner, described in 
lines 689-734 of the "Prologue" 
(pages 131-132). Licensed by the 
church to grant indulgences 
(documents forgiving peoples' sins), 
pardoners were in theory supposed 
to grant them only to people who 
showed great charity. In practice, 
however, many pardoners simply 
sold their pardons to make money 
for the church or for themselves. To 
spur sales, unethical pardoners often 
threatened reluctant buyers with 
eternal doom. Chaucer's Pardoner 
encourages buyers with a story that 
illustrates the dangers of the love of 


Vocabulary Preview 











Focus Your Reading 

MORAL TALE A moral tale teaches a lesson 


about what is right and wrong in human behavior. In a moral tale, 
good characters usually triumph and evil characters come to a bad 
end. These outcomes send a message, or moral (which is often 
stated explicitly in the tale). In "The Pardoner's Tale," the moral is the 
biblical observation that "the love of money is the root of all evil." 
The Pardoner states this moral in Latin, the language of the medieval 
Roman Catholic Church: 

Radix malorum est cupiditas. 

As you read this tale, pay close attention to the actions of the 
characters, as well as those of the Pardoner, the teller of the tale. 

" " ■ i » 

to M U 

EBJB13B3 E3 PREDICTING | To make reasonable predictions 
about what will happen next and what will happen in the end, take 
the following into account: 

• the characters, settings, and events 
presented in the story 

• foreshadowing, or hints about 
what is going to happen 

• your own knowledge of human 
behavior and experiences 

• what you know of other literary 
works with similar characters, 
settings, or events 


read, jot down your predictions in a chart like this one. 
Continue reading to see if the events match your predictions. 









The Pardoner's Prologue 

"My lords," he said, "in churches where I preach 

I cultivate a haughty kind of speech 

And ring it out as roundly as a bell; 

I've got it all by heart, the tale I tell. 

I have a text, it always is the same 

And always has been, since I learnt the game, 

Old as the hills and fresher than the grass, 

Radix malorum est cupiditas. 

I preach, as you have heard me say before, 

And tell a hundred lying mockeries more. 

I take great pains, and stretching out my neck 

To east and west I crane about and peck 

Just like a pigeon sitting on a barn. 

My hands and tongue together spin the yarn 

And all my antics are a joy to see. 

The curse of avarice and cupidity 

Is all my sermon, for it frees the pelf. 

Out come the pence, and specially for myself, 

For my exclusive purpose is to win 

And not at all to castigate their sin. 

Once dead what matter how their souls may fare? 

They can go blackberry ing, for all I care! 


8 Radix malorum est cupiditas 

(ra'dTks ma-lor'am est' koo-pTd'T- 
tas'): Latin for "The love of money 
is the root of all evil" — a quotation 
from the Bible (1 Timothy 6:10). 

10 mockeries: false tales. 

16 cupidity (kyoo-pTd'T-te): 
excessive desire for something, 
especially for money. 

17 pelf: riches, especially those 
that are acquired dishonestly. 

18 pence: pennies. 

19-22 What is the Pardoner's 
attitude toward those who listen 
to him preach? 




avarice (av'e-rYs) n. an excessive desire for wealth; greed 
castigate (kas'tT-gaf) v. to criticize harshly 

And thus I preach against the very vice 
I make my living out of — avarice. 

25 And yet however guilty of that sin 

Myself, with others I have power to win 
Them from it, I can bring them to repent; 
But that is not my principal intent. 
Covetousness is both the root and stuff 

30 Of all I preach. That ought to be enough. 






"Well, then I give examples thick and fast 
From bygone times, old stories from the past. 
A yokel mind loves stories from of old, 
Being the kind it can repeat and hold. 
What! Do you think, as long as I can preach 
And get their silver for the things I teach, 
That I will live in poverty, from choice? 
That's not the counsel of my inner voice! 
No! Let me preach and beg from kirk to kirk 
And never do an honest job of work, 
No, nor make baskets, like St. Paul, to gain 
A livelihood. I do not preach in vain. 
There's no apostle I would counterfeit; 
I mean to have money, wool and cheese and wheat 
Though it were given me by the poorest lad 
Or poorest village widow, though she had 
A string of starving children, all agape. 
No, let me drink the liquor of the grape 
And keep a jolly wench in every town! 

39 kirk: church. 

"But listen, gentlemen; to bring things down 
To a conclusion, would you like a tale? 
Now as I've drunk a draft of corn-ripe ale, 
By God it stands to reason I can strike 
On some good story that you all will like. 
For though I am a wholly vicious man 
Don't think I can't tell moral tales. I can! 
Here's one I often preach when out for winning. . . 


TO covetousness (ktiv'T-tas-nTs) n. an excessive desire for wealth or possessions 





f rom The Pardoner's Tale 

It's of three rioters I have to tell 

Who, long before the morning service bell, 

Were sitting in a tavern for a drink. 

And as they sat, they heard the hand-bell clink 

Before a coffin going to the grave; 

One of them called the little tavern-knave 

And said "Go and find out at once — look spry! — 

Whose corpse is in that coffin passing by; 

And see you get the name correctly too." 

"Sir," said the boy, "no need, I promise you; 

Two hours before you came here I was told. 

He was a friend of yours in days of old, 

And suddenly, last night, the man was slain, 

Upon his bench, face up, dead drunk again. 

There came a privy thief, they call him Death, 

Who kills us all round here, and in a breath 

He speared him through the heart, he never stirred. 

And then Death went his way without a word. 

He's killed a thousand in the present plague, 

And, sir, it doesn't do to be too vague 

If you should meet him; you had best be wary. 




Be on your guard with such an adversary, 
Be primed to meet him everywhere you go, 
That's what my mother said. It's all I know. 

58 rioters: rowdy people; revelers. 

61-62 hand-bell . . . grave: In 

Chaucer's time, a bell was carried 
beside the coffin in a funeral 

63 tavern-knave (nav): a serving 
boy in an inn. 

72 privy (pnv'e): hidden; secretive. 

72-81 Death is personified as a 
thief in the night, who slays his 
victims and then flees. Bubonic 
plague killed at least a quarter of 
the population of Europe in the 
mid-14th century. 




wary (war'e) adj. cautious; on one's guard 
adversary (ad'ver-ser'e) n. an enemy; opponent 








The publican joined in with, "By St. Mary, 
What the child says is right; you'd best be wary, 
This very year he killed, in a large village 
A mile away, man, woman, serf at tillage, 
Page in the household, children — all there were. 
Yes, I imagine that he lives round there. 
It's well to be prepared in these alarms, 
He might do you dishonor." "Huh, God's arms!" 
The rioter said, "Is he so fierce to meet? 
I'll search for him, by Jesus, street by street. 
God's blessed bones! I'll register a vow! 
Here, chaps! The three of us together now, 
Hold up your hands, like me, and we'll be brothers 
In this affair, and each defend the others, 
And we will kill this traitor Death, I say! 
Away with him as he has made away 
With all our friends. God's dignity! Tonight!" 

They made their bargain, swore with appetite, 
These three, to live and die for one another 
As brother-born might swear to his born brother. 
And up they started in their drunken rage 
And made towards this village which the page 
And publican had spoken of before. 
Many and grisly were the oaths they swore, 
Tearing Christ's blessed body to a shred; 
"If we can only catch him, Death is dead!" 

When they had gone not fully half a mile, 
Just as they were about to cross a stile, 
They came upon a very poor old man 
Who humbly greeted them and thus began, 
"God look to you, my lords, and give you quiet!" 
To which the proudest of these men of riot 
Gave back the answer, "What, old fool? Give place! 
Why are you all wrapped up except your face? 
Why live so long? Isn't it time to die?" 

The old, old fellow looked him in the eye 
And said, "Because I never yet have found, 
Though I have walked to India, searching round 

82 publican: innkeeper; tavern 

86 page: boy servant. 

99-107 How might the rioters' 
drinking be affecting their 
judgment and behavior? 

109 stile: a stairway used to climb 
over a fence or wall. 











Village and city on my pilgrimage, 

One who would change his youth to have my age. 

And so my age is mine and must be still 

Upon me, for such time as God may will. 

"Not even Death, alas, will take my life; 
So, like a wretched prisoner at strife 
Within himself, I walk alone and wait 
About the earth, which is my mother's gate, 
Knock-knocking with my staff from night to noon 
And crying, 'Mother, open to me soon! 
Look at me, mother, won't you let me in? 
See how I wither, flesh and blood and skin! 
Alas! When will these bones be laid to rest? 
Mother, I would exchange — for that were best — 
The wardrobe in my chamber, standing there 
So long, for yours! Aye, for a shirt of hair 
To wrap me in!' She has refused her grace, 
Whence comes the pallor of my withered face. 

"But it dishonored you when you began 
To speak so roughly, sir, to an old man, 
Unless he had injured you in word or deed. 
It says in holy writ, as you may read, 
'Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head 
And honor it.' And therefore be it said 
'Do no more harm to an old man than you, 
Being now young, would have another do 
When you are old' — if you should live till then. 
And so may God be with you, gentlemen, 
For I must go whither I have to go." 

129 The old man addresses the 
earth as his mother (compare the 
familiar expressions "Mother 
Earth" and "Mother Nature"). 

135 shirt of hair: a rough shirt 
made of animal hair, worn to 
punish oneself for one's sins. 

142 hoary: gray or white with age. 

"By God," the gambler said, "you shan't do so, 
You don't get off so easy, by St. John! 
I heard you mention, just a moment gone, 
A certain traitor Death who singles out 
And kills the fine young fellows hereabout. 
And you're his spy, by God! You wait a bit. 
Say where he is or you shall pay for it, 
By God and by the Holy Sacrament! 




pallor (pal'ar) n. a lack of color; extreme paleness 









I say you've joined together by consent 

To kill us younger folk, you thieving swine!" 

"Well, sirs," he said, "if it be your design 
To find out Death, turn up this crooked way 
Towards that grove, I left him there today 
Under a tree, and there you'll find him waiting. 
He isn't one to hide for all your prating. 
You see that oak? He won't be far to find. 
And God protect you that redeemed mankind, 
Aye, and amend you!" Thus that ancient man. 

At once the three young rioters began 
To run, and reached the tree, and there they found 
A pile of golden florins on the ground, 
New-coined, eight bushels of them as they thought. 
No longer was it Death those fellows sought, 
For they were all so thrilled to see the sight, 
The florins were so beautiful and bright, 
That down they sat beside the precious pile. 
The wickedest spoke first after a while. 
"Brothers," he said, "you listen to what I say. 
I'm pretty sharp although I joke away. 
It's clear that Fortune has bestowed this treasure 
To let us live in jollity and pleasure. 
Light come, light go! We'll spend it as we ought. 
God's precious dignity! Who would have thought 
This morning was to be our lucky day? 

"If one could only get the gold away, 
Back to my house, or else to yours, perhaps — 
For as you know, the gold is ours, chaps — 
We'd all be at the top of fortune, hey? 
But certainly it can't be done by day. 
People would call us robbers — a strong gang, 
So our own property would make us hang. 
No, we must bring this treasure back by night 
Some prudent way, and keep it out of sight. 
And so as a solution I propose 
We draw for lots and see the way it goes; 
The one who draws the longest, lucky man, 
Shall run to town as quickly as he can 

154-158 What accusations against 
the old man does the young man 

169 florins: coins. 

178 "Fortune" here means "fate. 
Do you think the young men will 
be blessed by Fortune? 

The Three Living, from the Psalter and Prayer Book 
of Bonne of Luxembourg, Duchess of Normandy. 



To fetch us bread and wine — but keep things dark- 
While two remain in hiding here to mark 
Our heap of treasure. If there's no delay, 
When night comes down we'll carry it away, 
200 All three of us, wherever we have planned." 






196 keep things dark: act in secret, 
without giving away what has 

He gathered lots and hid them in his hand 
Bidding them draw for where the luck should fall. 
It fell upon the youngest of them all, 
And off he ran at once towards the town. 

As soon as he had gone the first sat down 
And thus began a parley with the other: 
"You know that you can trust me as a brother; 
Now let me tell you where your profit lies; 
You know our friend has gone to get supplies 
And here's a lot of gold that is to be 
Divided equally amongst us three. 
Nevertheless, if I could shape things thus 
So that we shared it out — the two of us — 
Wouldn't you take it as a friendly act?" 

215 "But how?" the other said. "He knows the fact 

That all the gold was left with me and you; 
What can we tell him? What are we to do?" 

"Is it a bargain," said the first, "or no? 
For I can tell you in a word or so 
What's to be done to bring the thing about." 
"Trust me," the other said, "you needn't doubt 
My word. I won't betray you, I'll be true." 

"Well," said his friend, "you see that we are two, 
And two are twice as powerful as one. 
Now look; when he comes back, get up in fun 
To have a wrestle; then, as you attack, 
I'll up and put my dagger through his back 
While you and he are struggling, as in game; 
Then draw your dagger too and do the same. 
Then all this money will be ours to spend, 

225-229 What does the young 
man's plan suggest about human 
nature and the desire for money? 




parley (par'le) n. a discussion or conference 








Divided equally of course, dear friend. 
Then we can gratify our lusts and fill 
The day with dicing at our own sweet will." 
Thus these two miscreants agreed to slay 
The third and youngest, as you heard me say. 

The youngest, as he ran towards the town, 
Kept turning over, rolling up and down 
Within his heart the beauty of those bright 
New florins, saying, "Lord, to think I might 
Have all that treasure to myself alone! 
Could there be anyone beneath the throne 
Of God so happy as I then should be?" 

And so the Fiend, our common enemy, 
Was given power to put it in his thought 
That there was always poison to be bought, 
And that with poison he could kill his friends. 
To men in such a state the Devil sends 
Thoughts of this kind, and has a full permission 
To lure them on to sorrow and perdition; 
For this young man was utterly content 
To kill them both and never to repent. 

And on he ran, he had no thought to tarry, 
Came to the town, found an apothecary 
And said, "Sell me some poison if you will, 
I have a lot of rats I want to kill 
And there's a polecat too about my yard 
That takes my chickens and it hits me hard; 
But I'll get even, as is only right, 
With vermin that destroy a man by night." 

The chemist answered, "I've a preparation 
Which you shall have, and by my soul's salvation 
If any living creature eat or drink 
A mouthful, ere he has the time to think, 
Though he took less than makes a grain of wheat, 
You'll see him fall down dying at your feet; 
Yes, die he must, and in so short a while 

233 dicing: gambling with dice. 

234 miscreants (mTs'kre-onts): 
evildoers; villains. 

243 Fiend: the Devil; Satan. 

249 perdition: damnation; hell. 

243-251 Why does the Devil have 
influence over the young man? 



vermin (vur'mm) n. small animals that are destructive or carriers of disease 








You'd hardly have the time to walk a mile, 
The poison is so strong, you understand." 

This cursed fellow grabbed into his hand 
The box of poison and away he ran 
Into a neighboring street, and found a man 
Who lent him three large bottles. He withdrew 
And deftly poured the poison into two. 
He kept the third one clean, as well he might, 
For his own drink, meaning to work all night 
Stacking the gold and carrying it away. 
And when this rioter, this devil's clay, 
Had filled his bottles up with wine, all three, 
Back to rejoin his comrades sauntered he. 

Why make a sermon of it? Why waste breath? 
Exactly in the way they'd planned his death 
They fell on him and slew him, two to one. 
Then said the first of them when this was done, 
"Now for a drink. Sit down and let's be merry, 
For later on there'll be the corpse to bury." 
And, as it happened, reaching for a sup, 
He took a bottle full of poison up 
And drank; and his companion, nothing loth, 
Drank from it also, and they perished both. 

There is, in Avicenna's long relation 
Concerning poison and its operation, 
Trust me, no ghastlier section to transcend 
What these two wretches suffered at their end. 
Thus these two murderers received their due, 
So did the treacherous young poisoner too. 

O cursed sin! O blackguardly excess! 
O treacherous homicide! O wickedness! 
O gluttony that lusted on and diced! 

The Three Dead, from the Psalter and 
Prayer Book of Bonne of Luxembourg, 
Duchess of Normandy (14th century), 
fol.322r. Grisaille, color, gilt, and brown 
ink on vellum (4 15/16" x 3 9/16"). French, 
Paris. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 
New York. The Cloisters Collection 

288 nothing loth: not at a\ 


290 Avicenna's (av'T-sen'ez) long 
relation: a medical text written by 
an 11th-century Islamic physician; it 
includes descriptions of various 
poisons and their effects. 

294 Why does the Pardoner say 
that the young men "received 
their due"? 

296 blackguardly: worthy of a 
scoundrel; villainous. 



Dearly beloved, God forgive your sin 
300 And keep you from the vice of avarice! 

299 The Pardoner is now 
addressing his fellow pilgrims. 




saunter (son'tor) v. to walk in a slow and leisurely manner; stroll 
transcend (tran-send') v. to go beyond; surpass 









My holy pardon frees you all of this, 

Provided that you make the right approaches, 

That is with sterling, rings, or silver brooches. 

Bow down your heads under this holy bull! 

Come on, you women, offer up your wool! 

I'll write your name into my ledger; so! 

Into the bliss of Heaven you shall go. 

For I'll absolve you by my holy power, 

You that make offering, clean as at the hour 

When you were born. . . . That, sirs, is how I preach. 

And Jesu Christ, soul's healer, aye, the leech 

Of every soul, grant pardon and relieve you 

Of sin, for that is best, I won't deceive you. 

304 bull: an official document 
from the pope. 

311 leech: physician. 

One thing I should have mentioned in my tale, 
Dear people. I've some relics in my bale 
And pardons too, as full and fine, I hope, 
As any in England, given me by the Pope. 
If there be one among you that is willing 
To have my absolution for a shilling 
Devoutly given, come! and do not harden 
Your hearts but kneel in humbleness for pardon; 
Or else, receive my pardon as we go. 
You can renew it every town or so 
Always provided that you still renew 
Each time, and in good money, what is due. 
It is an honor to you to have found 
A pardoner with his credentials sound 
Who can absolve you as you ply the spur 
In any accident that may occur. 
For instance — we are all at Fortune's beck — 
Your horse may throw you down and break your neck. 
What a security it is to all 
To have me here among you and at call 
With pardon for the lowly and the great 
When soul leaves body for the future state! 
And I advise our Host here to begin, 
The most enveloped of you all in sin. 
Come forward, Host, you shall be the first to pay, 
And kiss my holy relics right away. 
Only a groat. Come on, unbuckle your purse!" 

319 shilling: a coin worth twelve 

330-331 The Pardoner reminds the 
other pilgrims that death may 
come to them at any time. Why 
does he emphasize this point? 

340 groat: a silver coin worth four 




Connect to the Literature 

What Do You Think? 

Discuss with a 
partner your 
reaction to the 
ending of this tale. 

Comprehension Check 

• Why are the three rioters looking 
for Death? 

• What do they expect to find under 
the tree, and what do they 
actually find? 

• What happens to the rioters? 

Think Critically 


2. f:UiMJ;]JiW E]3 | PREDICTING | Look back at the predictions 

you made in your ["0 reader 's notebook. Were you 
surprised by the tale's ending? If not, explain what details 
led you to predict the ending. If you were surprised, explain 
what details led you to predict a different ending. 

3. Why do you think the rioters set out to kill Death? 

• what they learn from the boy and the 

• their view of themselves 

• other factors that may influence their 

4. In what sense is the old man's statement that the rioters can 
find Death under the oak tree true? 

5. Why do you think the character of the old man is included 
in the tale? 

• the story of his life 

• his views about Death 
k • his directions for finding Death 

6. In the light of the Pardoner's true motives, as revealed in the 
"Prologue," why is the moral of this tale ironic? 


Literary Analysis 

I MORAL TALE I 'The Pardoner's 

Tale" is a moral tale, a story that 
teaches a lesson about good and evil 
or about what is right and wrong in 
human behavior. In it, the Pardoner 
teaches that "the love of money is 
the root of all evil" by showing how 
characters who suffer from the sin of 
avarice, or love of money, destroy 
themselves in the end. 

Paired Activity Working with a 
partner, analyze how the story's 
elements work together to teach the 
moral. Among the elements to 
consider are the events of the plot, 
the personalities and motives of the 
characters, and the details of the 
setting. You might organize the 
elements in a chart like this one. 

The love of money is the root of all evil 






Extend Interpretations 

7. What If? If the Pardoner hadn't revealed so much 
information about his practices, how might the other 
pilgrims have responded to his tale? 

8. Connect to Life Do you think this story could serve as an 
effective warning against greed to people today? Why or 
why not? 




Writing Options 

1. Ye Olde News Write a news 
article about the discovery of the 
rioters' bodies and the events 
that led up to it. Include 
interviews with characters. 

2. Personification Paragraph Write 
a paragraph explaining the 
personification of death in "The 
Pardoner's Tale." First explain the 
reasons why the Pardoner may 
have decided to personify death 
(turn death into a figure with 
human qualities). Then explain 
the effects you think this device 
has on readers. You might 
organize your ideas in a cause- 
and-effect diagram like this one. 



Writing Handbook 

See page 1368: Cause and Effect. 

3. Moral Tale Think of other 
proverbs or quotations about 
good and evil or right and wrong 
human behavior— for example, 
"Cheaters never prosper" or 
"What goes around, comes 
around." Then write a brief moral 
tale with that as its moral. You 
might state the moral at the start 
or the end of the tale. 

Activities & 

1. Oral Retelling Simplify the 
language and details of the tale 
to suit an audience of younger 
children. Arrange to tell the tale 
at a library or an elementary 

2. Video Adaptation View the 
performance of "The Pardoner's 
Tale." Focus on the portrayals of 

the characters, particularly that of 
the old man. Then, in a class 
discussion, compare the 
portrayals with Chaucer's 
descriptions. -VIEWING AND 

Literature in Performance 

3. Ballad Version Turn "The 
Pardoner's Tale" into a ballad set 
to music. The music can be 
original or borrowed from an 
existing song. Perform the ballad 
live or audiotape it. ~ MUSIC 

Inquiry & Research 

Plague Write a brief research 
paper on the outbreak of plague 
in mid- 14th-century Europe. 
Include information about its 
origins and its effects on 
European life and culture. Be 
sure to document your sources. 

Vocabulary in Action 

EXERCISE A: CONTEXT CLUES On your paper, fill in 
each blank with the vocabulary word that best 
completes the sentence. 

1. Filled with distrust, the rioters were 

of one another. 

2. Did the rioter , or did he walk swiftly? 

to her once-rosy 

3. Death brought a 


4. Does the Pardoner tell the tale to 


5. It is hard to our sinful impulses, but 

we should try to move beyond them. 

indicate whether each statement is true or false. 
Give a reason for your choice. 

1. Guests at the inn most likely ordered vermin 
for dinner. 

2. Someone who counts his or her money all the 
time may be guilty of avarice. 

3. Giving money away is a sign of covetousness. 

4. You should expect an adversary to agree with 

5. A parley might lead to peace between warring 













Building Vocabulary 

Several Words to Know in this lesson contain prefixes and 
suffixes. For an in-depth study of word parts, see page 1 104. 



PREPARING i*@lead 

The Wife of Bath's Tale 

from The Canterbury Tales 

Translated by NEVILL COGHILL 

Connect to Your Life} 

Love and Marriage You are probably familiar with the phrase "the battle of 
the sexes." This expression suggests that romantic relationships have an 
aspect of conflict, in which one party attempts to gain the upper hand. 
What are your own opinions on the subject? Would you say that a good 
marriage is basically an equal partnership, or do you think that one person 
needs to be the decision maker? Explain your opinions in a class discussion. 

Build Background 

Romance and Chivalry "The Wife of 
Bath's Tale" belongs to the so-called 
Marriage Group of The Canterbury 
Tales, in which different pilgrims 
offer stories that express their 
philosophies of love and marriage. 
Set in the days of Britain's legendary 
King Arthur, the story qualifies as a 
medieval romance— an adventure 
tale of knights and chivalry, in which 
the code of ideal knightly behavior 
(loyalty, faith, honor, and courtesy, 
especially to women) is stressed. In 
this story, however, a knight breaks 
the rules of chivalry and, as 
punishment, must undertake a quest. 


Vocabulary Preview 
















Focus Your Reading 


Whether a story is told in prose or 
verse, the narrator is the person or voice that tells the story. In The 
Canterbury Tales, the narrator of the "Prologue" introduces the 
characters who will serve as narrators of the tales that follow. Reread 
lines 455-486 of the "Prologue" (page 125), which introduce the 
Wife of Bath. Then try to predict the view of love and marriage that 
she might present in her tale. 


ANALYZING STRUCTURE [ Structure is the way in 
which the parts of a literary work are put together. A frame story is a 
story that serves as a narrative setting or frame for one or more other 
stories. The Canterbury Tales as a whole has a frame structure, in 
which the story of the pilgrims serves as a frame within which the 
pilgrims tell their stories. The structure of "The Wife of Bath's Tale" 
features a main plot with several interruptions. For example, in the 
opening lines the Wife of Bath interrupts the main plot with a 
passage in which she criticizes friars. This particular interruption 
stems from the Wife's ongoing quarrel with the Friar as they travel to 


read "The Wife of Bath's Tale," use a 
chart similar to the one shown to 
keep track of the interruptions to the 
main story. 



criticism of friars 

Wife of Bath's 
quarrel with 
Friar in frame 









The Wife of Bath's Prologue 

The Pardoner started up, and thereupon 
"Madam," he said, "by God and by St. John, 
That's noble preaching no one could surpass! 
I was about to take a wife; alas! 
Am I to buy it on my flesh so dear? 
There'll be no marrying for me this year!" 

"You wait," she said, "my story's not begun. 
You'll taste another brew before I've done; 
You'll find it doesn't taste as good as ale; 
And when I've finished telling you my tale 
Of tribulation in the married life 
In which I've been an expert as a wife, 
That is to say, myself have been the whip. 
So please yourself whether you want to sip 
At that same cask of marriage I shall broach. 
Be cautious before making the approach, 
For I'll give instances, and more than ten. 
And those who won't be warned by other men, 
By other men shall suffer their correction, 
So Ptolemy has said, in this connection. 
You read his Almagest; you'll find it there." 


"Madam, I put it to you as a prayer," 
The Pardoner said, "go on as you began! 
Tell us your tale, spare not for any man. 
Instruct us younger men in your technique." 
"Gladly," she said, "if you will let me speak, 
But still I hope the company won't reprove me 
Though I should speak as fantasy may move me, 
And please don't be offended at my views; 
They're really only offered to amuse. ..." 

3 noble preaching: In the passage 
preceding this excerpt, the Wife of 
Bath has spoken at length about 
her view of marriage. 

15 cask: barrel; broach: tap into. 

20 Ptolemy (tol'e-me): a famous 
astronomer of the second century 
a.d. The Almagest, his most famous 
work, does not, however, contain 
the proverb cited in lines 18-19. 



tribulation (trTb'ya-la'shen) n. suffering; great distress 










The Wife of Bath's Tale 

When good King Arthur ruled in ancient days 

(A king that every Briton loves to praise) 

This was a land brim-full of fairy folk. 

The Elf-Queen and her courtiers joined and broke 

Their elfin dance on many a green mead, 

Or so was the opinion once, I read, 

Hundreds of years ago, in days of yore. 

But no one now sees fairies any more. 

For now the saintly charity and prayer 

Of holy friars seem to have purged the air; 

They search the countryside through field and stream 

As thick as motes that speckle a sun-beam, 

Blessing the halls, the chambers, kitchens, bowers, 

Cities and boroughs, castles, courts and towers, 

Thorpes, barns and stables, outhouses and dairies, 

And that's the reason why there are no fairies. 

Wherever there was wont to walk an elf 

To-day there walks the holy friar himself 

As evening falls or when the daylight springs, 

Saying his matins and his holy things, 

Walking his limit round from town to town. 

Women can now go safely up and down 

By every bush or under every tree; 

There is no other incubus but he, 

So there is really no one else to hurt you 

And he will do no more than take your virtue. 

Now it so happened, I began to say, 
Long, long ago in good King Arthur's day, 
There was a knight who was a lusty liver. 
One day as he came riding from the river 
He saw a maiden walking all forlorn 
Ahead of him, alone as she was born. 
And of that maiden, spite of all she said, 
By very force he took her maidenhead. 

This act of violence made such a stir, 
So much petitioning to the king for her, 
That he condemned the knight to lose his head 
By course of law. He was as good as dead 

35 mead: meadow. 

42 motes: specks of dust. 

43 bowers: bedrooms. 

45 thorpes: villages; outhouses: 

47 wherever . . . elf: wherever an 
elf was accustomed to walk. 

51 limit: the area to which a friar 
was restricted in his begging for 

54 incubus (Tn'kya-bes): an evil 
spirit believed to descend on 
women while they sleep. 

39-56 What seems to be the Wife 
of Bath's attitude toward friars? 

61 forlorn: sad and lonely. 

63-64 of that maiden . . . 
maidenhead: in spite of the 
maiden's protests, he robbed her 
of her virtue. 



(It seems that then the statutes took that view) 
70 But that the queen, and other ladies too, 

Implored the king to exercise his grace 71 grace: mercy; clemency. 

So ceaselessly, he gave the queen the case 
And granted her his life, and she could choose 

Whether to show him mercy or refuse. 65-74 what punishment do the 

^jajfL^ king and the law demand? To 

whom does the king grant the 
75 The queen returned him thanks with all her might, fj na | judgment? 

And then she sent a summons to the knight 
At her convenience, and expressed her will: 
"You stand, for such is the position still, 
In no way certain of your life," said she, 
so "Yet you shall live if you can answer me: 
What is the thing that women most desire? 
Beware the axe and say as I require. 

"If you can't answer on the moment, though, 
I will concede you this: you are to go 
85 A twelvemonth and a day to seek and learn 
Sufficient answer, then you shall return. 

I shall take gages from you to extort 87 gages: pledges. 

Surrender of your body to the court." 

Sad was the knight and sorrowfully sighed, 
90 But there! All other choices were denied, 
And in the end he chose to go away 
And to return after a year and day 
Armed with such answer as there might be sent 
To him by God. He took his leave and went. 

95 He knocked at every house, searched every place, 

Yes, anywhere that offered hope of grace. 
What could it be that women wanted most? 
But all the same he never touched a coast, 
Country or town in which there seemed to be 

ioo Any two people willing to agree. 

Some said that women wanted wealth and treasure, 
'Honor," said some, some "Jollity and pleasure," 

WORDS statute (stach'oot) n. a law 

TO implore (Tm-plor') v. to plead; beg 

KNOW concede (kan-sed') v. to grant or acknowledge, often unwillingly 










Some "Gorgeous clothes" and others "Fun in bed,' 
"To be oft widowed and remarried," said 
Others again, and some that what most mattered 
Was that we should be cosseted and flattered. 
That's very near the truth, it seems to me; 
A man can win us best with flattery. 
To dance attendance on us, make a fuss, 
Ensnares us all, the best and worst of us. 

Some say the things we most desire are these: 
Freedom to do exactly as we please, 
With no one to reprove our faults and lies, 
Rather to have one call us good and wise. 
Truly there's not a woman in ten score 
Who has a fault, and someone rubs the sore, 
But she will kick if what he says is true; 
You try it out and you will find so too. 
However vicious we may be within 
We like to be thought wise and void of sin. 
Others assert we women find it sweet 
When we are thought dependable, discreet 
And secret, firm of purpose and controlled, 
Never betraying things that we are told. 
But that's not worth the handle of a rake; 
Women conceal a thing? For Heaven's sake! 
Remember Midas? Will you hear the tale? 

Among some other little things, now stale, 
Ovid relates that under his long hair 
The unhappy Midas grew a splendid pair 
Of ass's ears; as subtly as he might, 
He kept his foul deformity from sight; 
Save for his wife, there was not one that knew. 
He loved her best, and trusted in her too. 
He begged her not to tell a living creature 
That he possessed so horrible a feature. 
And she — she swore, were all the world to win, 
She would not do such villainy and sin 
As saddle her husband with so foul a name; 
Besides to speak would be to share the shame. 
Nevertheless she thought she would have died 
Keeping this secret bottled up inside; 

115 ten score: 200. 

117 but she will: who will not. 

120 void of sin: sinless. 

127 Midas: a legendary king of 
Phrygia in Asia Minor. 

129 Ovid (ov'Td): an ancient 
Roman poet whose 
Metamorphoses is a storehouse of 
Greek and Roman legends. 
According to Ovid, it was a barber, 
not Midas's wife, who told the 
secret of his donkey's ears. 

133 save: except. 




cosset (kos'Yt) v. to treat like a pet; pamper 








It seemed to swell her heart and she, no doubt, 
Thought it was on the point of bursting out. 

Fearing to speak of it to woman or man, 
Down to a reedy marsh she quickly ran 
And reached the sedge. Her heart was all on fire 
And, as a bittern bumbles in the mire, 
She whispered to the water, near the ground, 
"Betray me not, O water, with thy sound! 
To thee alone I tell it: it appears 
My husband has a pair of ass's ears! 
Ah! My heart's well again, the secret's out! 
I could no longer keep it, not a doubt." 
And so you see, although we may hold fast 
A little while, it must come out at last, 
We can't keep secrets; as for Midas, well, 
Read Ovid for his story; he will tell. 

This knight that I am telling you about 
Perceived at last he never would find out 
What it could be that women loved the best. 
Faint was the soul within his sorrowful breast, 
As home he went, he dared no longer stay; 
His year was up and now it was the day. 


As he rode home in a dejected mood 
Suddenly, at the margin of a wood, 
He saw a dance upon the leafy floor 
Of four and twenty ladies, nay, and more. 
Eagerly he approached, in hope to learn 
Some words of wisdom ere he should return; 
But lo! Before he came to where they were, 
Dancers and dance all vanished into air! 
There wasn't a living creature to be seen 
Save one old woman crouched upon the green. 
A fouler-looking creature I suppose 
Could scarcely be imagined. She arose 
And said, "Sir knight, there's no way on from here 
Tell me what you are looking for, my dear, 
For peradventure that were best for you; 
We old, old women know a thing or two." 

147 sedge: marsh grasses. 

148 bumbles in the mire: booms in 
the swamp. (The bittern, a wading 
bird, is famous for its loud call.) 
What does this comparison suggest 
about the queen's whisper? 

Sir Gawain, from an 
illuminated manuscript 

179 peradventure: perhaps. 



dejected (dT-jek'tTd) adj. sad; depressed 






"Dear Mother," said the knight, "alack the day! 
I am as good as dead if I can't say 
What thing it is that women most desire; 
If you could tell me I would pay your hire." 
"Give me your hand," she said, "and swear to do 
Whatever I shall next require of you 
— If so to do should lie within your might — 
And you shall know the answer before night." 
"Upon my honor," he answered, "I agree." 
"Then," said the crone , "I dare to guarantee 
Your life is safe; I shall make good my claim. 
Upon my life the queen will say the same. 
Show me the very proudest of them all 
In costly coverchief or jewelled caul 
That dare say no to what I have to teach. 
Let us go forward without further speech." 
And then she crooned her gospel in his ear 
And told him to be glad and not to fear. 

181 alack the day: an exclamation 
of sorrow, roughly equivalent to 
"Woe is me!" 

They came to court. This knight, in full array, 
200 Stood forth and said, "O Queen, I've kept my day 
And kept my word and have my answer ready." 

There sat the noble matrons and the heady 
Young girls, and widows too, that have the grace 
Of wisdom, all assembled in that place, 
And there the queen herself was throned to hear 
And judge his answer. Then the knight drew near 
And silence was commanded through the hall. 

The queen gave order he should tell them all 
What thing it was that women wanted most. 
210 He stood not silent like a beast or post, 
But gave his answer with the ringing word 
Of a man's voice and the assembly heard: 


"My liege and lady, in general," said he, 
"A woman wants the self-same sovereignty 
215 Over her husband as over her lover, 

And master him; he must not be above her. 


TO crone (kron) n. an ugly old woman; hag 


194 coverchief: kerchief; caul 
(kaul): an ornamental hair-net. 

197 gospel: message. 

199 in full array: in all his finery. 

202 heady: giddy; impetuous. 

203 grace: gift. 

213 liege (lej): lord. 

214 sovereignty (sov'er-Tn-te): rule; 

214-215 How might a woman's 
power over a lover differ from her 
power over a husband? 








That is your greatest wish, whether you kill 
Or spare me; please yourself. I wait your will. 

In all the court not one that shook her head 
Or contradicted what the knight had said; 
Maid, wife and widow cried, "He's saved his life!' 

And on the word up started the old wife, 
The one the knight saw sitting on the green, 
And cried, "Your mercy, sovereign lady queen! 
Before the court disperses, do me right! 
'Twas I who taught this answer to the knight, 
For which he swore, and pledged his honor to it, 
That the first thing I asked of him he'd do it, 
So far as it should lie within his might. 
Before this court I ask you then, sir knight, 
To keep your word and take me for your wife; 
For well you know that I have saved your life. 
If this be false, deny it on your sword!" 

"Alas!" he said, "Old lady, by the Lord 
I know indeed that such was my behest, 
But for God's love think of a new request, 
Take all my goods, but leave my body free." 
"A curse on us," she said, "if I agree! 
I may be foul, I may be poor and old, 
Yet will not choose to be, for all the gold 
That's bedded in the earth or lies above, 
Less than your wife, nay, than your very love! 

235 behest (bT-hSsf): promise. 

"My love?" said he. "By heaven, my damnation! 
Alas that any of my race and station 
Should ever make so foul a misalliance!" 
Yet in the end his pleading and defiance 
All went for nothing, he was forced to wed. 
He takes his ancient wife and goes to bed. 

244 race and station: family and 

245 misalliance (mYs'e-IT'ens): an 
unsuitable marriage. 

Now peradventure some may well suspect 
A lack of care in me since I neglect 
To tell of the rejoicing and display 
Made at the feast upon their wedding-day. 
I have but a short answer to let fall; 
I say there was no joy or feast at all, 









Nothing but heaviness of heart and sorrow. 
He married her in private on the morrow 
And all day long stayed hidden like an owl, 
It was such torture that his wife looked foul. 

Great was the anguish churning in his head 
When he and she were piloted to bed; 
He wallowed back and forth in desperate style. 
His ancient wife lay smiling all the while; 
At last she said, "Bless us! Is this, my dear, 
How knights and wives get on together here? 
Are these the laws of good King Arthur's house? 
Are knights of his all so contemptuous? 
I am your own beloved and your wife, 
And I am she, indeed, that saved your life; 
And certainly I never did you wrong. 
Then why, this first of nights, so sad a song? 
You're carrying on as if you were half-witted. 
Say, for God's love, what sin have I committed? 
I'll put things right if you will tell me how." 

"Put right?" he cried. "That never can be now! 
Nothing can ever be put right again! 
You're old, and so abominably plain, 
So poor to start with, so low-bred to follow; 
It's little wonder if I twist and wallow! 
God, that my heart would burst within my breast!" 

Is that," said she, "the cause of your unrest?' 

256 the morrow: the next day. 

260 piloted: led. (In the Middle 
Ages, it was customary for the 
wedding party to escort the bride 
and groom to their bedchamber.) 

261 wallowed (wol'od): rolled 
around; thrashed about. 

'Yes, certainly," he said, "and can you wonder?' 

"I could set right what you suppose a blunder, 
That's if I cared to, in a day or two, 
If I were shown more courtesy by you. 
Just now," she said, "you spoke of gentle birth, 
Such as descends from ancient wealth and worth. 
If that's the claim you make for gentlemen 
Such arrogance is hardly worth a hen. 
Whoever loves to work for virtuous ends, 

Dante and his Poem, 
Domenico di Michelino 




contemptuous (ken-temp'choo-as) adj. scornful; openly disrespectful 
abominably (a-bom'e-na-ble) adv. unpleasantly; terribly 








Public and private, and who most intends 
To do what deeds of gentleness he can, 
Take him to be the greatest gentleman. 
Christ wills we take our gentleness from Him, 
Not from a wealth of ancestry long dim, 
Though they bequeath their whole establishment 
By which we claim to be of high descent. 
Our fathers cannot make us a bequest 
Of all those virtues that became them best 
And earned for them the name of gentlemen, 
But bade us follow them as best we can. 

"Thus the wise poet of the Florentines, 
Dante by name, has written in these lines, 
For such is the opinion Dante launches: 
'Seldom arises by these slender branches 
Prowess of men, for it is God, no less, 
Wills us to claim of Him our gentleness.' 
For of our parents nothing can we claim 
Save temporal things, and these may hurt and maim. 

"But everyone knows this as well as I; 
For if gentility were implanted by 
The natural course of lineage down the line, 
Public or private, could it cease to shine 
In doing the fair work of gentle deed? 
No vice or villainy could then bear seed. 

"Take fire and carry it to the darkest house 
Between this kingdom and the Caucasus, 
And shut the doors on it and leave it there, 
It will burn on, and it will burn as fair 
As if ten thousand men were there to see, 
For fire will keep its nature and degree, 
I can assure you, sir, until it dies. 

"But gentleness, as you will recognize, 
Is not annexed in nature to possessions. 
Men fail in living up to their professions; 
325 But fire never ceases to be fire. 

285-292 What does the old 
woman think is the chief 
qualification of a gentleman? How 
would you define "gentle birth" 
and "gentleness" as used in this 

301 Florentines: the people of 
Florence, Italy. 

302 Dante (dan'ta): a famous 
medieval Italian poet. The 
quotation in lines 304-306 is a 
paraphrase of a passage in Dante's 
most famous work, The Divine 
Comedy, which he completed in 

310 gentility (jen-tTI'T-te): the 
quality possessed by a gentle, or 
noble, person. 

316 Caucasus (ko'ke-sos): a region 
of western Asia, between the Black 
and Caspian seas. 

324 professions: beliefs; ideals. 



bequeath (bt-kwef/?') v. to leave in a will; give as an inheritance 
prowess (prou'Ts) n. superior skill; great ability 
temporal (tem'par-ol) adj. of the material world; not eternal 
maim (mam) v. to disable or permanently wound 









God knows you'll often find, if you enquire, 

Some lording full of villainy and shame. 

If you would be esteemed for the mere name 

Of having been by birth a gentleman 

And stemming from some virtuous, noble clan, 

And do not live yourself by gentle deed 

Or take your father's noble code and creed, 

You are no gentleman, though duke or earl. 

Vice and bad manners are what make a churl. 

"Gentility is only the renown 
For bounty that your fathers handed down, 
Quite foreign to your person, not your own; 
Gentility must come from God alone. 
That we are gentle comes to us by grace 
And by no means is it bequeathed with place. 

"Reflect how noble (says Valerius) 
Was Tullius surnamed Hostilius, 
Who rose from poverty to nobleness. 
And read Boethius, Seneca no less, 
Thus they express themselves and are agreed: 
'Gentle is he that does a gentle deed.' 
And therefore, my dear husband, I conclude 
That even if my ancestors were rude, 
Yet God on high — and so I hope He will — 
Can grant me grace to live in virtue still, 
A gentlewoman only when beginning 
To live in virtue and to shrink from sinning. 


"As for my poverty which you reprove, 
Almighty God Himself in whom we move, 
Believe and have our being, chose a life 
Of poverty, and every man or wife, 
Nay, every child can see our Heavenly King 
Would never stoop to choose a shameful thinj 
No shame in poverty if the heart is gay, 
As Seneca and all the learned say. 
He who accepts his poverty unhurt 
I'd say is rich although he lacked a shirt. 
But truly poor are they who whine and fret 
And covet what they cannot hope to get. 
And he that, having nothing, covets not, 

327 lording: lord; nobleman. 

334 churl (churl): low-class person; 
boor. Why might the sentiment 
expressed in this line have been 
viewed as fairly radical in the Wife 
of Bath's day? 

341 Valerius (vs-ITr'e-es): Valerius 
Maximus, a Roman writer of the 
first century a.d. who compiled a 
collection of historical anecdotes. 

342 Tullius (tuTe-es) surnamed 
Hostilius (ho-stTI'e-es): Tullus 
Hostilius — in Roman legend, the 
third king of the Romans. 

344 Boethius (bo-e'the-as): a 
Christian philosopher of the Dark 
Ages; Seneca (sen'T-ke): an ancient 
Roman philosopher, writer, teacher, 
and politician. 



Is rich, though you may think he is a sot. 








"True poverty can find a song to sing. 
Juvenal says a pleasant little thing: 
'The poor can dance and sing in the relief 
Of having nothing that will tempt a thief.' 
Though it be hateful, poverty is good, 
A great incentive to a livelihood, 
And a great help to our capacity 
For wisdom, if accepted patiently. 
Poverty is, though wanting in estate, 
A kind of wealth that none calumniate. 
Poverty often, when the heart is lowly, 
Brings one to God and teaches what is holy, 
Gives knowledge of oneself and even lends 
A glass by which to see one's truest friends. 
And since it's no offense, let me be plain; 
Do not rebuke my poverty again. 

"Lastly you taxed me, sir, with being old. 
Yet even if you never had been told 
By ancient books, you gentlemen engage, 
Yourselves in honor to respect old age. 
To call an old man 'father' shows good breeding, 
And this could be supported from my reading. 

"You say I'm old and fouler than a fen. 
You need not fear to be a cuckold, then. 
Filth and old age, I'm sure you will agree, 
Are powerful wardens over chastity. 
Nevertheless, well knowing your delights, 
I shall fulfil your worldly appetites. 

366 sot: fool. 

368 Juvenal (joo'va-nal): an ancient 
Roman satirist. 

375 wanting in estate: lacking in 

376 calumniate (ka-lum'ne-af): 
criticize with false statements; 

389 fen: marsh. 

390 cuckold (kuk'eld): a husband 
whose wife is unfaithful. 

"You have two choices; which one will you try? 
To have me old and ugly till I die, 
But still a loyal, true, and humble wife 
That never will displease you all her life, 
Or would you rather I were young and pretty 
And chance your arm what happens in a city 
Where friends will visit you because of me, 
Yes, and in other places too, maybe. 

400 chance your arm: take your 
chance on. 



rebuke (n-byook') v. to criticize 










Which would you have? The choice is all your own. 

The knight thought long, and with a piteous groan 
At last he said, with all the care in life, 
"My lady and my love, my dearest wife, 
I leave the matter to your wise decision. 
You make the choice yourself, for the provision 
Of what may be agreeable and rich 
In honor to us both, I don't care which; 
Whatever pleases you suffices me." 

404 piteous (pTt'e-es): pitiable; 

"And have I won the mastery?" said she, 
"Since I'm to choose and rule as I think fit?" 
"Certainly, wife," he answered her, "that's it." 
"Kiss me," she cried. "No quarrels! On my oath 
And word of honor, you shall find me both, 
That is, both fair and faithful as a wife; 
May I go howling mad and take my life 
Unless I prove to be as good and true 
As ever wife was since the world was new! 
And if to-morrow when the sun's above 
I seem less fair than any lady-love, 
Than any queen or empress east or west, 
Do with my life and death as you think best. 
Cast up the curtain, husband. Look at me!" 

411 suffices (ss-fT'soz): satisfies. 
How does the knight's statement 
relate to what he has learned 
about "the thing that women most 

And when indeed the knight had looked to see, 
Lo, she was young and lovely, rich in charms. 
In ecstasy he caught her in his arms, 
His heart went bathing in a bath of blisses 
And melted in a hundred thousand kisses, 
And she responded in the fullest measure 
With all that could delight or give him pleasure. 

So they lived ever after to the end 
In perfect bliss; and may Christ Jesus send 
Us husbands meek and young and fresh in bed, 
And grace to overbid them when we wed. 
And — Jesu hear my prayer! — cut short the lives 
Of those who won't be governed by their wives; 
And all old, angry niggards of their pence, 
God send them soon a very pestilence! 

The Lover and the Lady, from an 
illuminated manuscript 

439 niggards: misers. 




ecstasy (ek'sta-se) n. intense joy or delight; bliss 



Connect to the Literature 

What Do You Think? 

Were you surprised 
by the outcome of 
the knight's quest? 
Why or why not? 

Think Critically 

Comprehension Check 

• What change does the queen 
make in the knight's sentence? 

• What information does the old 
woman give the knight? 

• What happens to the old woman 
after the knight agrees to abide by 
her decision? 

2. In what way is the question that the queen poses to the 
knight related to the crime that he has committed? 

3. What theme, or message, about marriage would you say the 
tale conveys? Do you agree with the message? Why or why 



chart in your ]J] reader s notebook and review the 
reasons you inferred. What do the interruptions tell you 
about what matters to the Wife of Bath? 

5. Consider the narrator of the "Prologue." How would you 
describe his values? 

• his characterizations of people like the 
Summoner, the Pardoner, and the Wife of Bath 

• his opinions of their actions 

• his description of himself as "short of wit" in 
line 766 of the "Prologue" (page 134) 


Extend Interpretations 

6. Comparing Texts Which part of The Canterbury Tales-the 
"Prologue" or the two tales— did you find the most enjoyable 
or interesting? Give reasons for your choice. 

7. Critic's Corner One critic has described Chaucer as "a 
modern writer," one whose work can be appreciated by 
every generation of readers. Do you agree with this 
observation? Cite specific passages of The Canterbury Tales 
to back up your opinion. 

8. Connect to Life Do you see any similarities between the 
attitudes of the Wife of Bath and the old woman in "The 
Wife of Bath's Tale" and the attitudes of modern American 
women? Cite details to support your answer. 

Literary Analysis 

1 NARRATOR^ The teller of a story 

in prose or verse is known as the 
story's narrator. The narrator may 
be a character in the story or a 
voice outside the action. In the 
"Prologue" from The Canterbury 
Tales, a narrator (whom Chaucer 
identifies as himself) introduces 
several characters, who then narrate 
the various tales. 

Cooperative Learning Activity In a 

small-group discussion, consider 
how the portrait of the Wife of Bath 
in lines 455-486 of the "Prologue" 
(page 125) relates to the tale that 
she tells. Then work with the group 
to create a chart in which you list as 
many details about the Wife of Bath 
as you can. Include details about her 
appearance, skills, social position, 
personality, attitudes, and motives. 

Detail Evidence 


lines 455 and 

somewhat deaf 

line 456 



The Author's Style 

Chaucer's Realism as Entertainment 

Chaucer's enduring appeal as a poet stems in part from the 
humor and realism of his characterizations. Chaucer had no illu- 
sions about humanity, yet he showed a genuine fondness for 
human beings— warts and all. His combination of detachment 
and sympathy distinguishes his writing style. 

2^~^. "J3S," 

Key Aspects of Chaucer's Style 

• a gentle irony that exposes characters' faults 
while emphasizing their essential humanity 

• a use of vivid but spare imagery and figurative 
language in describing characters' physical 

• a clear differentiation between characters 

• a stylistic appropriateness of the tales to their 
narrators (Each character has a particular "voice.") 

JL i, t,dXr , mw i 

- • 

Analysis of Style 

On the right are five excerpts from The Canterbury Tales. Study 
the chart above and read the excerpts carefully. Then, 

• find examples of the listed aspects of Chaucer's style 

• explain what, if anything, is amusing about each excerpt and 
identify which aspects of style contribute to this effect 

• go back through the selections from The Canterbury Tales and 
find other examples of these key aspects of Chaucer's style 


1. Speaking and Listening With a partner, study the description of 
either the Pardoner or the Wife of Bath in the "Prologue." Then 
read aloud selected passages from the character's tale in the 
way that the character might have told it. Have your partner 
critique your oral interpretation and suggest improvements. 

2. Illustrating Style Choose one of Chaucer's pilgrims whose 
physical appearance is vividly described. Then draw a picture of 
the character, based on Chaucer's description. 

3. Imitating Style In poetry or prose, create a character 
(preferably from a modern profession) and describe him or her 
with the mixture of detachment and sympathy that Chaucer 
used to such advantage. 

\> ■;::•■<: 

from the Prologue 

About the Prioress: 

For courtliness she had a special zest, 
^ she W0U ,d wipe her upper ,i p soclean 
^at not a trace of grease was to be seen 

Upon the C u P when she had drunk; to eat 

She reached a hand sedately for the m eat.' 
About the Doctor: 
Vethe wasratJ]erdoseasto 

And* ^ept the gold he won in pestilences, 
^.mulat -the heart, or so we're told. 
He therefore had a special love of gold. 
About the Summoner: 

■us lace on lire, like a cherubin 
Forl.enadcaebanefe.Hi, ' 

Hewasasho.aad.eeherousa.asparro^ * 

Cl " ldrenwre ^"»»en be appeared 


from The Pardoner's Tale 

There is, in Avicenna's long relation 
Concerning poison and its operation, 
Trust me, no ghastlier section to transcend 
What these two wretches suffered at their end. 
Thus these two murderers received the.r due, 
So did the treacherous young poisoner too. 

from The Wife of Bath's Tale 

Others assert we women find it sweet 
When we are thought dependable, discreet 
And secret, firm of purpose and controlled, 
Never betraying things that we are told. 
But that's not worth the handle of a rake; 
Women conceal a thing? For Heaven's sake! 





Writing Options 

1. Pilgrim Dialogue How might 
the other pilgrims have reacted 
to the "The Wife of Bath's Tale"? 
Write a dialogue in which at least 
two pilgrims, as well as the Wife 
of Bath herself, comment on the 
story and its message about 
men's and women's roles. Try to 
keep the comments true to the 
personalities and attitudes of the 
pilgrims as conveyed in the 

2. Comparing Knights The Knight 
on the Canterbury pilgrimage, 
described in lines 43-80 of the 
"Prologue" (pages 114-115) is 
usually considered a model of 
chivalry. Write a short compare- 
and-contrast essay in which you 
compare the Knight with the 
knight in "The Wife of Bath's Tale." 
You might organize your ideas in 
a Venn diagram. Put your essay in 
your Working Portfolio, f^ 

Writing Handbook 

See page 1367: Compare and Contrast. 

Activities & 

1. Gender Debate Conduct a 
debate about the key ingredients 
in healthy relationships. Your 
debate might focus on the 
differing expectations and 
responsibilities of men and 
women in life and in 

2. Medieval Manuscript Create 
your own manuscript page of a 
passage from "The Wife of Bath's 
Tale" or another tale by Chaucer. 
Include the text of 
the passage, an 
illustration, and a 
decorative border 
for the page. ~ ART 

3. Costume 
Drawings Imagine 
a live performance 
of one of the tales. 
Find or draw 
pictures that show 
how the characters 
might be dressed. 


4. Woman's Roles Find out more 
about the roles of women in 
Chaucer's day. Was the Wife of 
Bath representative of her sex? 
Did widows like her have more 
independence than married or 
single women? What 

was life like for noble 
women? for women 
affiliated with the 
church? Answer these 
questions in an oral 
report. ~ HISTORY 

5. Medieval Justice The 

justice meted out in 
"The Wife of Bath's Tale" 
may seem unusual by 
modern standards. Find 
out more about justice 
in medieval England. 
What influence did the 
monarch have over the 
courts of justice? What 
role did the church play 
in justice? What exactly 
is English common law? 

What were trial by combat and 
trial by ordeal, and when did 
they cease to be used? How did 
the jury system evolve? How 

were lawyers trained? 
Research the answer 
to one of these 
questions or a related 
question, then share 
your findings in a 
written report. 

Inquiry & 

Bath The city of Bath 
in England (pictured 
below) has a history 
that dates back to Roman 
times. Research this city, the 
home of the Wife of Bath. 
Present your findings in an 
illustrated time line entitled 
"Bath Yesterday and Today." 

Scene from Bath today 




Vocabulary in Action 

EXERCISE A: SYNONYMS On your paper, write the 
word that is closest in meaning to the boldfaced 

1. concede: follow, grant, start, end 

2. statute: regulation, remark, area, sculpture 

3. prowess: stress, talent, front, back 

4. cosset: release, urge, indulge, intrude 

5. implore: beget, beseech, believe, belittle 

6. crone: murmur, wizard, hag, scream 

7. abominably: awfully, feebly, unwisely, easily 

EXERCISE B: ANTONYMS On your paper, write the 
word whose meaning is most nearly opposite the 
meaning of the boldfaced word. 

1. tribulation: criticism, sorrow, peace, anger 

2. bequeath: gain, argue, doubt, inherit 

3. rebuke: praise, predict, question, answer 

4. dejected: depressed, elated, inserted, wise 

5. temporal: harsh, timely, worldly, spiritual 

6. ecstasy: misery, fury, confusion, bliss 

7. contemptuous: proud, kind, new, respectful 

8. maim: scar, scorn, infect, heal 

Netscape: Welcome to Netscape 

WORDS bequeath 
TO concede 

know contemptuous 


crone prowess 

dejected rebuke 

ecstasy statute 

implore temporal 

maim tribulation 

Building Vocabulary 

Several Words to Know in this lesson derive from Old 
or Middle English. For an in-depth study of word ori- 
gins, see page 206. 



□ B 

OoTo: f 




Author Study 



^J7^^3)| Dooumtrrt : Don*. 

Research and present a series of mock 
interviews with English men and women of 
Chaucer's day. Begin by brainstorming a list of 
possible interviewees with the entire class. 
Consider the characters in the "Prologue" of 
The Canterbury Tales and the professions 
mentioned in the biographical information 
about Chaucer. Then get together with a 
partner and research one of the medieval 
people or lifestyles. Use your findings to 
prepare questions and discussion points for a 
mock interview in which one member of your 
pair takes on the role of interviewer and the 
other portrays a medieval person. 

Primary Print Sources Consider reading 
letters and diaries from the era, as well as 
more of The Canterbury Tales. A brief 
general survey of English literature, such as 
one found in an encyclopedia, might help you 
locate appropriate medieval sources. 

Secondary Print Sources Social histories, 
which focus on people's daily lives, may prove 
to be valuable sources. Biographies of 
Chaucer and other people of his day should 
also be useful. Consider books that combine 
biography and social history, such as John 
Gardner's The Life and Times of Chaucer. 

Web Sites Search for the Web sites of Chaucer 
and Middle English societies, medieval museums, 
and British castles. Also use the Web to locate 
medieval studies departments at British and 
American universities. 

More Online: Research Starter 





Federigo's Falcon 

from The Decameron 

Tale by GIOVANNI BOCCACCIO (jo-va'ne bo-ka'che-6' 


Comparing Literature of the World 

The Storytelling Tradition Across Cultures 

The Canterbury Tales and The Decameron The 14th-century 

Italian collection of tales known as The Decameron, by 

Giovanni Boccaccio, greatly influenced Chaucer's writing of 

The Canterbury Tales. 

1 J.I M E-¥.T13!TBffWTff?ffl As you read one of Boccaccio's famous 

tales, compare it with Chaucer's work in terms of narrative 

structure and themes relating to love and human nature. 

Build Background 

Plagued by Love Boccaccio lived during the Italian 
Renaissance— a time of great achievements in art, music, 
and literature. Like Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, The 
Decameron is a collection of tales set within a frame story. 
The frame, or outer story, is about ten characters who flee 
to the country to escape a plague that is ravaging Florence, 
Italy. For ten days they amuse themselves by telling stories, 
each day selecting a "king" or "queen" who presides over 
the storytelling. Their 100 tales make up the bulk of The 
Decameron. As this selection begins, the queen of the day 
decides that it is time to tell her own story. 

"Federigo's Falcon" is a tale of courtly love. In medieval 
times, marriages were often arranged. As a result, couples 
sometimes looked outside marriage for romantic 
attachments. This practice was not considered scandalous as 
long as the love remained idealized. Federigo is devoted to a 
married woman, Monna Giovanna (mo'na jo'va'na), and will 
sacrifice anything to gain her love. 

WORDS TO KNOW Vocabulary Preview 

anguish compel discretion meagerly presumption 

commend deign legitimate oblige reproach 


LaserLinks: Background for Reading 

Cultural Connection 

Focus Your Reading 

PLOT 1 The plot of a literary 


work consists of all the actions and events in 
the work. A plot moves forward because of a 
conflict— a struggle between opposing forces. As 
you read the story, notice how the plot develops 
around the main conflict. 



In a well-crafted story, a single event often has 
an effect that becomes the cause of still another 
effect and so on. To identify true cause-and- 
effect relationships in "Federigo's Falcon," make 
sure the relationship between events is causal by 
connecting them with the word because. If the 
sentence makes sense, the relationship is causal. 
Qj reader s notebook As you read this story 
about love and its sacrifices, try to keep track of the 
relationships between events by making a cause- 
and-effect diagram like the one started here. 

falls in 
love with 

He spends 
all of his 
money to 

He is left 
with only 
a small 
farm and 
his falcon. 







^j// ilomena had already finished speaking, and 
when the Queen saw there was no one left to 
speak except for Dioneo, 1 who was exempted 
because of his special privilege, she herself with 
a cheerful face said: 

It is now my turn to tell a story and, dearest 
ladies, I shall do so most willingly with a tale 
similar in some respects to the preceding one, its 
purpose being not only to show you how much 
power your beauty has over the gentle heart, but 
also so that you yourselves may learn, whenever it 
is fitting, to be the donors of your favors instead 
of always leaving this act to the whim of Fortune, 2 
who, as it happens, on most occasions bestows 
such favors with more abundance than discretion . 

You should know, then, that Coppo di 
Borghese Domenichi, 3 who once lived in our city 
and perhaps still does, a man of great and 
respected authority in our times, one most 
illustrious and worthy of eternal fame both for 
his way of life and his ability much more than 
for the nobility of his blood, often took delight, 
when he was an old man, in discussing things 
from the past with his neighbors and with 
others. He knew how to do this well, for he was 
more logical and had a better memory and a 
more eloquent style of speaking than any other 
man. Among the many beautiful tales he told, 
there was one he would often tell about a young 


man who once lived in Florence named Federigo, 
the son of Messer Filippo Alberighi, 4 renowned 
above all other men in Tuscany for his prowess 
in arms and for his courtliness. 

As often happens to most men of gentle 
breeding, he fell in love, with a noble lady 
named Monna Giovanna, in her day considered 
to be one of the most beautiful and most 
charming ladies that ever there was in Florence; 
and in order to win her love, he participated in 
jousts and tournaments, organized and gave 
banquets, spending his money without restraint; 
but she, no less virtuous than beautiful, cared 
little for these things he did on her behalf, nor 
did she care for the one who did them. Now, as 
Federigo was spending far beyond his means and 
getting nowhere, as can easily happen, he lost his 
wealth and was reduced to poverty, and was left 
with nothing to his name but his little farm 
(from whose revenues he lived very meagerly) 
and one falcon, which was among the finest of 
its kind in the world. 

More in love than ever, but knowing that he 
would never be able to live the way he wished to 
in the city, he went to live at Campi, where his 
farm was. There he passed his time hawking 
whenever he could, imposing on no one, and 
enduring his poverty patiently. Now one day, 
during the time that Federigo was reduced to 
these extremes, it happened that the husband of 
Monna Giovanna fell ill, and realizing death was 
near, he made his last will: he was very rich, and 
he left everything to his son, who was just 

1. Dioneo (de'6-na'o). 

2. Fortune: a personification of the power that supposedly 
distributes good and bad luck to people. 

3. Coppo di Borghese Domenichi (kop'po de bor-ga'ze 

4. Messer Filippo Alberighi (mas'ser fe-lep'po al'be-re'ge). 

WORDS discretion (dT-skresh'an) n. a sense of carefulness and restraint in one's 

TO actions or words 

KNOW meagerly (me'ger-le) adv. poorly; scantily 


La Pia de Tolommei (1868-1880), Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Oil on canvas, Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas. 

growing up, and since he had also loved Monna 
Giovanna very much, he made her his heir 
should his son die without any legitimate 
children; and then he died. 

Monna Giovanna was now a widow, and 
every summer, as our women usually do, she 
would go to the country with her son to one of 
their estates very close by to Federigo's farm. 
Now this young boy of hers happened to become 
more and more friendly with Federigo and he 
began to enjoy birds and dogs; and after seeing 

Federigo's falcon fly many times, it made him so 
happy that he very much wished it were his own, 
but he did not dare to ask for it, for he could see 
how precious it was to Federigo. During this 
time, it happened that the young boy took ill, 
and his mother was much grieved, for he was her 
only child and she loved him dearly; she would 
spend the entire day by his side, never ceasing to 
comfort him, asking him time and again if there 
was anything he wished, begging him to tell her 
what it might be, for if it was possible to obtain 



legitimate (le-jTt'a-mTt) adj. born of parents who are legally married 
to each other 



it, she would certainly do everything in her 
power to get it. After the young boy had heard 
her make this offer many times, he said: 

"Mother, if you can arrange for me to have 
Federigo's falcon, I think I would get well quickly." 

When the lady heard this, she was taken 
aback for a moment, and then she began 
thinking what she could do about it. She knew 
that Federigo had been in love with her for some 
time now, but she had never deigned to give him 
a second look; so, she said to herself: 

"How can I go to him, or even send someone, 
and ask for this falcon of his, which is, as I have 
heard tell, the finest that ever flew, and 
furthermore, his only means of support? And 
how can I be so insensitive as to wish to take 
away from this nobleman the only pleasure 
which is left to him?" 

And involved in these thoughts, knowing that 
she was certain to have the bird if she asked for 
it, but not knowing what to say to her son, she 
stood there without answering him. Finally the 
love she bore her son persuaded her that she 
should make him happy, and no matter what the 
consequences might be, she would not send for 
the bird, but rather go herself to fetch it and 
bring it back to him; so she answered her son: 

"My son, cheer up and think only of getting 
well, for I promise you that first thing tomorrow 
morning I shall go and fetch it for you." 

The child was so happy that he showed some 
improvement that very day. The following 
morning, the lady, accompanied by another 
woman, as if they were out for a stroll, went to 
Federigo's modest little house and asked for him. 
Since the weather for the past few days had not 

been right for hawking, Federigo happened to be in 
his orchard attending to certain tasks, and when he 
heard that Monna Giovanna was asking for him at 
the door, he was so surprised and happy that he 
rushed there; as she saw him coming, she rose to 
greet him with womanly grace, and once Federigo 
had welcomed her most courteously, she said: 

"How do you do, Federigo?" Then she 
continued, "I have come to make amends for the 
harm you have suffered on my account by loving 
me more than you should have, and in token of 
this, I intend to have a simple meal with you and 
this companion of mine this very day." 

To this Federigo humbly replied: "Madonna, 5 
I have no recollection of ever suffering any harm 
because of you; on the contrary: so much good 
have I received from you that if ever I was worth 
anything, it was because of your worth and the 
love I bore for you; and your generous visit is 
certainly so very dear to me that I would spend 
all over again all that I spent in the past, but you 
have come to a poor host." 

And having said this, he humbly led her through 
the house and into his garden, and because he had 
no one there to keep her company, he said: 

"My lady, since there is no one else, this good 
woman, who is the wife of the farmer here, will 
keep you company while I see to the table." 

Though he was very poor, Federigo until now 
had never realized to what extent he had wasted 
his wealth; but this morning, the fact that he had 
nothing in the house with which he could honor 
the lady for the love of whom he had in the past 
entertained countless people, gave him cause to 
reflect: in great anguish, he cursed himself and 
his fortune, and like someone out of his senses 
he started running here and there throughout the 
house, but unable to find either money or 
anything he might be able to pawn, and since it 

5. Madonna: Italian for "my lady," a polite form of address 
used in speaking to a married woman. "Monna" is a 
contraction of this term. 




deign (dan) v. to consider worthy of one's dignity; condescend 
anguish (ang'gwTsh) n. agony 

was getting late and he was still very much set 
on serving this noble lady some sort of meal, but 
unwilling to turn for help to even his own farmer 
(not to mention anyone else), he set his eyes 
upon his good falcon, which was sitting on its 
perch in a small room, and since he had nowhere 
else to turn, he took the bird, and finding it 
plump, he decided that it would be a worthy 
food for such a lady. So, without giving the 
matter a second thought, he wrung its neck and 
quickly gave it to his servant girl to pluck, 
prepare, and place on a spit to be roasted with 
care; and when he had set the table with the 
whitest of tablecloths (a few of which he still had 
left), he returned, with a cheerful face, to the 
lady in his garden and announced that the meal, 
such as he was able to prepare, was ready. 

The lady and her companion rose and went to 
the table together with Federigo, who waited 
upon them with the greatest devotion, and they 
ate the good falcon without knowing what it was 
they were eating. Then, having left the table and 
spent some time in pleasant conversation, the 
lady thought it time now to say what she had 
come to say, and so she spoke these kind words 
to Federigo: 

"Federigo, if you recall your former way of 
life and my virtue, which you perhaps mistook 
for harshness and cruelty, I have no doubt at all 
that you will be amazed by my presumption 
when you hear what my main reason for coming 
here is; but if you had children, through whom 
you might have experienced the power of 
parental love, I feel certain that you would, at 
least in part, forgive me. But, just as you have no 
child, I do have one, and I cannot escape the 
laws common to all mothers; the force of such 
laws compels me to follow them, against my 
own will and against good manners and duty, 
and to ask of you a gift which I know is most 
precious to you; and it is naturally so, since your 
extreme condition has left you no other delight, 

Peregrine Falcon. Raja Serfogee of Tanjore Collection, by permission 
of The British Library. 

no other pleasure, no other consolation; and this 
gift is your falcon, which my son is so taken by 
that if I do not bring it to him, I fear his sickness 
will grow so much worse that I may lose him. 
And therefore I beg you, not because of the love 
that you bear for me, which does not oblige you 
in the least, but because of your own nobleness, 
which you have shown to be greater than that of 
all others in practicing courtliness, that you be 
pleased to give it to me, so that I may say that I 
have saved the life of my son by means of this 

WORDS presumption (prT-zijmp'shen) n. bold or outrageous behavior 

TO compel (kern-pel') v. to urge irresistibly; constrain 

KNOW oblige (e-blTj'l v. to make it one's duty to act 




gift, and because of it I have placed him in your 
debt forever." 

When he heard what the lady requested and 
knew that he could not oblige her because he had 
given her the falcon to eat, Federigo began to weep 
in her presence, for he could not utter a word in 
reply. The lady at first thought his tears were 
caused more by the sorrow of having to part with 
the good falcon than by anything else, and she was 
on the verge of telling him she no longer wished it, 
but she held back and waited for Federigo 's reply 
once he stopped weeping. And he said: 

"My lady, ever since it pleased God for me to 
place my love in you, I have felt that Fortune has 
been hostile to me in many ways, and I have 
complained of her, but all this is nothing 
compared to what she has just done to me, and I 
shall never be at peace with her again, when I 
think how you have come here to my poor 
home, where, when it was rich, you never 
deigned to come, and how you requested but a 
small gift, and Fortune worked to make it 
impossible for me to give it to you; and why this 
is so I shall tell you in a few words. When I 
heard that you, out of your kindness, wished to 
dine with me, I considered it only fitting and 
proper, taking into account your excellence and 
your worthiness, that I should honor you, 
according to my possibilities, with a more 
precious food than that which I usually serve to 
other people. So I thought of the falcon for 
which you have just asked me and of its value 
and I judged it a food worthy of you, and this 
very day I had it roasted and served to you as 
best I could. But seeing now that you desired it 
another way, my sorrow in not being able to 
serve you is so great that never shall I be able to 
console myself again." 

And after he had said this, he laid the feathers, 
the feet, and the beak of the bird before her as 
proof. When the lady heard and saw this, she 
first reproached him for having killed a falcon 
such as this to serve as a meal to a woman. But 

then to herself she commended the greatness of 
his spirit, which no poverty was able, or would 
be able, to diminish; then, having lost all hope of 
getting the falcon and thus, perhaps, of 
improving the health of her son, she thanked 
Federigo both for the honor paid to her and for 
his good intentions, and then left in grief to 
return to her son. To his mother's extreme sorrow, 
whether in disappointment in not having the 
falcon or because his illness inevitably led to it, 
the boy passed from this life only a few days later. 

After the period of her mourning and her 
bitterness had passed, the lady was repeatedly 
urged by her brothers to remarry, since she was 
very rich and still young; and although she did 
not wish to do so, they became so insistent that 
remembering the worthiness of Federigo and his 
last act of generosity — that is, to have killed such 
a falcon to do her honor — she said to her brothers: 

"I would prefer to remain a widow, if only 
that would be pleasing to you, but since you wish 
me to take a husband, you may be sure that I shall 
take no man other than Federigo degli Alberighi." 

In answer to this, her brothers, making fun of 
her, replied: 

"You foolish woman, what are you saying? How 
can you want him? He hasn't a penny to his name." 

To this she replied: "My brothers, I am well 
aware of what you say, but I would much rather 
have a man who lacks money than money that 
lacks a man." 

Her brothers, seeing that she was determined 
and knowing Federigo to be of noble birth, no 
matter how poor he was, accepted her wishes 
and gave her with all her riches in marriage to 
him; when he found himself the husband of such 
a great lady, whom he had loved so much and 
who was so wealthy besides, he managed his fi- 
nancial affairs with more prudence than in the past 
and lived with her happily the rest of his days. ♦ 

Translated by Mark Musa 
and Peter Bondanella 




reproach (n-proch') v. to express disapproval of or disappointment in 
commend (ke-mend') v. to express approval of; praise 


Connect to the Literature 

1. What Do You Think? 

What is your 
reaction to the 
events in this story? 

Think Critically 

Comprehension Check 

• How does Federigo lose his 

• What happens during Monna 
Giovanna's visit to Federigo's 



together with a classmate and compare your cause-and- 
effect diagrams in your rQ reader s notebook. What 
does the story's chain of events suggest about the 
relationship between Federigo and Monna Giovanna? 

3. Do you think Federigo acts nobly or foolishly? Use evidence 
to support your answer. 

4. What is your opinion of Monna Giovanna? 

• her response to Federigo's love for her 

• her visit to Federigo's house 

• her response when Federigo tells her of the 
bird's fate 

• her reason for taking Federigo as her husband 

5. What do you think is the most important theme, or message 
about human nature, conveyed by this story? 


Extend Interpretations 

6. What If? Imagine that Monna Giovanna had explained the 
purpose for her visit as soon as she arrived at Federigo's 
house. What impact, if any, would this earlier disclosure 
have had on Monna Giovanna's son? on Federigo? on 
Monna Giovanna's decision to remarry? 

7. Connect to Life In Boccaccio's time, women of Monna 
Giovanna's social class were expected to be married. Do 
women today feel the same pressure to marry? Are women 
and men under equal pressure to marry? Support your 
opinions with examples. 


Points of Comparison 

Money plays an important role in 
both "Federigo's Falcon" and Chaucer's "The Pardoner's 
Tale." Compare Federigo's response to money with that of 
the "three rioters" in Chaucer's tale. What do the characters' 
reactions reveal about their personalities? 

Literary Analysis 

| PLOT | A narrative's plot can 
often be traced by identifying the 
following four basic elements: 

• exposition, in which the characters 
are introduced, the setting is 
established, and the major conflict 

is identified 

• rising action, in which suspense 
builds as the conflict intensifies and 
complications arise 

• a climax, or turning point, which 
often occurs when a main character 
makes an important discovery or 

• falling action, which shows the 
results of the climax and ties up 
loose ends 

The events that make up the plot 
are driven by conflict. In 

"Federigo's Falcon," the main 
conflict is that between Federigo 
and Monna Giovanna. Federigo's 
attempts to make Monna Giovanna 
fall in love with him and her 
indifference to him are at the heart 
of each element of the plot. 

Cooperative Learning Activity Use 

the cause-and-effect diagram you 
made on page 171 to help you 
decide which events make up the 
exposition, the rising action, the 
climax, and the falling action of 
"Federigo's Falcon." Discuss your 
decisions with a group of your 
classmates. Then label and briefly 
describe the story's plot elements 
on a diagram like the one below. 









Writing Options 

1. Monna Giovanna's Diary 

Imagine Monna Giovanna's 
feelings when she discovers that 
she has dined on the falcon. 
Write a diary entry that she might 
compose to express her thoughts 
and feelings about the incident. 

2. Frame Story Develop an idea for 
your own frame story. Using The 
Decameron as a model, determine 
the characters and setting of your 
frame, a reason for the characters 
to tell stories, and the duration of 
their storytelling. Share your ideas 
with other students. 

3 lJ.limj.lH.lLWMUM.Bl In 

a draft of an essay, compare and 
contrast Monna Giovanna's views 
about love and marriage with 
those portrayed in Chaucer's 
"The Wife of Bath's Tale." Include 
specific examples from both 

Writing Handbook 

See page 1367: Compare and Contrast. 

Activities & 

1. Wedding Gift Think of the 
perfect wedding gift from 
Federigo to 
Monna Giovanna 
or from Monna 
Giovanna to 
Federigo. Then 
create the gift 
itself, or make a 
model or 
illustration of it. 
Keep in mind 
the giver's 
personality and 
financial status. 

2. Pantomime Presentation With a 
classmate, create a pantomime 
depicting Monna Giovanna's visit 
to Federigo's home. Make sure 
that your facial expressions and 
gestures reflect emotions 
appropriate to the actions. 


Inquiry & Research 

1. The Art of Falconry Find out 
more about falcons and falconry. 
How does a falcon go after its 
prey? How is a falcon 
trapped and trained 
# for sport? 

«: More Online: 
f. Research Starter 

2. Long Ago Love 
Traditions Prepare an 
oral report on the 
traditions of courtly 
love during the 
Middle Ages and the 
Italian Renaissance. 
Include information 
on what men did to woo their 
ladies and how the ladies were 
expected to respond. You might 
even suggest other things 
Federigo might have done to win 
Monna Giovanna's love. 

Vocabulary in Action 

EXERCISE A: SYNONYMS AND ANTONYMS Classify the words in each of the following 
pairs as synonyms or antonyms. 

6. presumption— impudence 

7. oblige— release 

8. anguish— sorrow 

9. meagerly— abundantly 
10. deign— refuse 

EXERCISE B: WORD KNOWLEDGE Work with a small group of classmates to devise a 
game show, using the vocabulary words as either clues or answers. Think about 
popular game shows you have seen to help you decide on a format. From your 
group, pick a host, a helper, and judges, and then play your game with the class. 

1. legitimate— lawful 

2. commend-blame 

3. compel— force 

4. reproach-compliment 

5. discretion— recklessness 

WORDS anguish deign meagerly presumption 

TO commend discretion oblige reproach 

KNOW compel legitimate 

Building Vocabulary 

For an in-depth lesson on how to expand 
your vocabulary, see page 1 182. 



An Overbearing Father Although Giovanni 
Boccaccio began writing poetry as a child, his 
early talent was not rewarded. Instead, his 
merchant father demanded that his son forget 
about writing and learn business. While still a 
teenager, he was sent from his home in Tuscany to 
Naples, where he was apprenticed to a banker. 
When he failed at banking, his father arranged for 
him to study religious law. Boccaccio was 
unsuccessful at law too, and after about 12 years 
in Naples, he returned home to seek other 
employment. None of his jobs were very 
satisfactory, however, and he often lived on the 
brink of poverty. 

A Source of Inspiration Fortunately, Boccaccio 
had continued to write in spite of his father's 
objections, and even during his unsuccessful 
venture in Naples, he produced an abundance of 
prose and poetry. It was also in Naples that he may 
have met his beloved "Fiammetta," a young woman 
who became the subject of much of his early 
writing and whose name he used for the narrator 
of "Federigo's Falcon" in The Decameron. The 
real identity of this woman has never been 

Giovanni Boccaccio 


Other Works 

"Elegy for Fiammetta" 
"Treatise in Praise of Dante" 

An Influential Poet Boccaccio complained that 
because his father "strove to bend" his talent, he 
was unable to become "a distinguished poet." 
Eventually, of course, he did achieve distinction as 
a great poet, storyteller, and scholar. Along with 
his friend Petrarch, an Italian poet whose writings 
you will encounter in Unit Two, Boccaccio helped 
to set new directions for Italian literature and for 
the study of the classical poets of ancient Rome. 
With the publication of The Decameron, he 
became an international celebrity. In addition to 
his contemporary, Chaucer, many later poets 
writing in English — including Shakespeare, 
Dryden, Keats, Longfellow, and Tennyson — have 
been influenced by his work. 

Author Activity 

Love Story Read another story about love from 
Boccaccio's The Decameron. What does the story 
demonstrate about love or human nature? How is 
the theme similar to or different from the theme of 
"Federigo's Falcon"? 




fmm The Paston Letters 


Connect to Your Life} 

Person to Person Make a list of the various methods you use to 
communicate with other people. Also list the kinds of information you 
exchange by each of the methods. Which method do you use most often? 
Might one form of communication be better than the others in a particular 
instance? Share your thoughts with classmates. 

Focus Your Reading 


Conflict is a struggle between opposing forces that 
moves a narrative forward. Conflict may be external, with a character being pitted 
against some outside force, or it may be internal, occurring within a character. In 
the following excerpt from a letter by Margaret to her husband, notice how she 
and her husband seem to be involved in a deadly dispute with enemies: 

/ beg you with all my heart, for reverence of God, beware of Lord Moleyns and his 
men, however pleasantly they speak to you, and do not eat or drink with them; 
for they are so false that they cannot be trusted. 

As you read these letters, be aware of the various conflicts the writers experience, 
both in their dealings with the world as well as in their own feelings about people 
and events. 

CREDIBILITY OF SOURCES | Primary sources such as letters 


provide valuable insights into the thinking of people directly involved in the events 
they describe. As you read, you must take the writers' motives and objectivity into 
account when evaluating the credibility, or believability, of primary sources such as 
the Paston letters. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind. 

• Writer's Motives Most of these letters deal with marriage and property. All of the 
people involved had different interests, both inside and outside the family. How 
might their interests have affected their interpretations and descriptions of people 
and events? For example, think about how the Pastons' views on marriage and 
property might influence the letters about the marriage of Margery to Richard Calle. 

• Objectivity Is the information presented in the letters fact, opinion, or a mix of 
both? In reading about the disagreements between parents and child about a 
suitable marriage partner, for example, you must decide which statements are fact 
and which are opinion. Further, you must decide what motives a writer might have 
for holding a particular opinion. 

rO reaper' s notebook As you read these letters, write down examples of 
ways in which each writer's motives might have influenced his or her description 
of people and events. Think about how the writer's level of objectivity might have 
influenced his or her interpretation of the facts. 





Build Background 

Landowners and Letters The 15th century in England 
was a period of great unrest and lawlessness. 
Landowners often attacked their neighbors' estates 
and betrayed their political allies. The Wars of the 
Roses, a conflict between two royal families for control 
of the kingdom, ravaged England between 1455 and 
1485. In addition, several outbreaks of the plague 
devastated many English families during the century. 

A firsthand record of this turbulent era survives in 
the more than 1,000 surviving documents and letters 
of the Pastons, an English landowning family. During 
the early 1400s, William Paston, a lawyer, began 
accumulating property in Norfolk, a county of eastern 
England, both through purchases and through his 
acquisition of estates inherited by his wife, Agnes 
Berry. William's extensive landholdings and growing 
prosperity, however, made him a number of 

enemies. Some even challenged his claim to certain 
properties and brought grief to William's 
descendants for many years. 

Business Matters In their letters, the Pastons 
exchanged information about their legal disputes and 
other problems in considerable detail. Although writing 
letters had become an important means of 
communication by the 15th century, sending the letters 
was not easy. They had to be delivered by hand, often 
by a servant or even a total stranger. Weeks might pass 
before a letter reached its destination, and many never 
arrived. Consequently, the matters discussed in letters 
were seldom frivolous, usually being confined to 
important business or family news. Despite these 
limitations, the Pastons wrote hundreds of letters over 
the course of 90 years, leaving an invaluable source of 
information about the social and political conditions of 
the times. 

Family Tree A family tree traces genealogy— that is, 
the relationships of birth and descent in a family. The 
family tree on this page shows three generations of 
the Paston family. Before you read the letters, take 
some time to study these relationships. The names 
in red are those of the writers and recipients of the 
letters you will read. 

Notice that William Paston and Agnes Berry had 
five children. The oldest, John I, inherited much of the 
family property when his father died in 1444, and his 
marriage to Margaret 

manage the Paston estates. Notice also that John and 
Margaret's large family included two sons named 
John. After the death of John I, his oldest son, John II, 
became responsible for much of the family business, 
even though Margaret was still living. 

As you read the letters, refer often to the Paston 
family tree. Doing so may help you keep in mind that 
the people who communicated through these letters 
were real human beings who had many of the same 
needs, hopes, and fears that people have today. 

Mautby led to the 
acquisition of even more 
property from his wife's 
family. Like his father, John 
I was a lawyer, possessed 
of skills that were much 
needed in his constant 
legal battles over claims to 
various properties. His 
many legal disputes 
required John I to stay in 
London for long periods of 
time, leaving Margaret to 

Cbc Paston Jamily Cvcc 

William Paston I 


married (1420) 

Agnes Berry 


John I 


married (1440) 

Margaret Mautby 


\^ 1^ \^ I 

Edmund I Elizabeth William II Clement 

(1425-1449) (1429-1488) (1436-1496) (14427-14707) 

John II 


John III 


married (1477) 

Margery Brews 



married (1469) 
Richard Calle 

Edmund II 




I I 

Walter William III 

(14567-1479) (14597-1504?) 

i«■■r^■#^■■.::::"■>,:: : ■■■■■■ 







L/±Largaret Paston, in the absence of her husband, 
John I, was able to deal equally well with entail 
housekeeping problems and with family disasters, 
including attacks against the Boston manors. While 
she was living at the Paston estate of Gresham, it 
was attacked by a Lord Moleyns, who claimed rights 
to the property and ejected Margaret from her home. 
Margaret first escaped to a friends house about a 
mile away; but later, fearing that Moleyns s band of 
men might kidnap her, she fled to the city of Norwich, 
where she wrote the following letter to her husband. 

Women defending castle 


y^ 'Margaret to c 9oAn I 

28 February 1449 

Right worshipful husband, I commend myself 
to you, wishing with all my heart to hear that 
you are well, and begging that you will not be 
angry at my leaving the place where you left me. 
On my word, such news was brought to me by 
various people who are sympathetic to you and 
me that I did not dare stay there any longer. I 
will tell you who the people were when you 
come home. They let me know that various of 
Lord Moleyns' men said that if they could get 
their hands on me they would carry me off and 
keep me in the castle. They wanted you to get 
me out again, and said that it would not cause 
you much heart-ache. After I heard this news, I 
could not rest easy until I was here, and I did not 
dare go out of the place where I was until I was 
ready to ride away. Nobody in the place knew 
that I was leaving except the lady of the house, 
until an hour before I went. And I told her that I 
would come here to have clothes made for 
myself and the children, which I wanted made, 
and said I thought I would be here a fortnight 1 
or three weeks. Please keep the reason for my 
departure a secret until I talk to you, for those 
who warned me do not on any account want it 

I spoke to your mother as I came this way, 
and she offered to let me stay in this town, if you 
agree. She would very much like us to stay at her 
place, and will send me such things as she can 
spare so that I can set up house until you can get 
a place and things of your own to set up a 
household. Please let me know by the man who 
brings this what you would like me to do. I 
would be very unhappy to live so close to 

Gresham as I was until this matter is completely 
settled between you and Lord Moleyns. 

Barow 2 told me that there was no better 
evidence in England than that Lord Moleyns 
has for [his title to] the manor of Gresham. I 
told him that I supposed the evidence was of 
the kind that William Hasard said yours was, 
and that the seals were not yet cold. 3 That, I 
said, was what I expected his lord's evidence to 
be like. I said I knew that your evidence was 
such that no one could have better evidence, 
and the seals on it were two hundred years 
older than he was. Then Barow said to me that 
if he came to London while you were there he 
would have a drink with you, to quell any 
anger there was between you. He said that he 
only acted as a servant, and as he was ordered 
to do. Purry 4 will tell you about the 
conversation between Barow and me when I 
came from Walsingham. I beg you with all my 
heart, for reverence of God, beware of Lord 
Moleyns and his men, however pleasantly they 
speak to you, and do not eat or drink with 
them; for they are so false that they cannot be 
trusted. And please take care when you eat or 
drink in any other men's company, for no one 
can be trusted. 

I beg you with all my heart that you will be 
kind enough to send me word how you are, 
and how your affairs are going, by the man 
who brings this. I am very surprised that you 
do not send me more news than you have 
done. . . . 

1 . fortnight: two weeks. 

2. Barow: one of Lord Moleyns's men. 

3. seals . . . cold: A seal, often made by impressing a family 
emblem on hot wax, was placed on a document to show 
its authenticity. Margaret is suggesting that Lord 
Moleyns's documents are recent forgeries. 

4. Purry: perhaps a servant or tenant of the Pastons. 



In 1465, in still another property dispute, the Paston 
estate of Hellesdon was attacked by the duke of 
Suffolk, who had gained the support of several local 
officials. Although Margaret and John were not living 
at Hellesdon at the time, many of their servants and 
tenants suffered from the extensive damage. In the 
following two letters, Margaret tells her husband 
about the devastation. 

JlLaraaref fo jonn I 

17 October 1465 

. . . On Tuesday morning John Botillere, also 
John Palmer, Darcy Arnald your cook and 
William Malthouse of Aylsham were seized at 
Hellesdon by the bailiff 5 of Eye, called Bottisforth, 
and taken to Costessey, 6 and they are being kept 
there still without any warrant or authority from 
a justice of the peace; and they say they will 
carry them off to Eye prison and as many others 
of your men and tenants as they can get who are 
friendly towards you or have supported you, and 
they threaten to kill or imprison them. 

The duke came to Norwich at 10 o'clock on 
Tuesday with five hundred men and he sent for 
the mayor, aldermen and sheriffs, asking them in 
the king's name that they should enquire of the 
constables of every ward within the city which 
men had been on your side or had helped or 
supported your men at the time of any of these 
gatherings and if they could find any they should 
take them and arrest them and punish them; 
which the mayor did, and will do anything he 
can for him and his men. At this the mayor has 
arrested a man who was with me, called Robert 
Lovegold, a brazier, 7 and threatened him that he 
shall be hanged by the neck. So I would be glad 
if you could get a writ sent down for his release, 
if you think it can be done. He was only with me 
when Harlesdon 8 and others attacked me at 

Lammas. 9 He is very true and faithful to you, so 
I would like him to be helped. I have no one 
attending me who dares to be known, except 
Little John. William Naunton is here with me, 
but he dares not be known because he is much 
threatened. I am told that the old lady and the 
duke have been frequently set against us by what 
Harlesdon, the bailiff of Costessey, Andrews and 
Doget the bailiff's son and other false villains 
have told them, who want this affair pursued for 
their own pleasure; there are evil rumors about it 
in this part of the world and other places. 

As for Sir John Heveningham, Sir John Wynde- 
feld and other respectable men, they have been 
made into their catspaws, 10 which will not do 
their reputation any good after this, I think. . . . 

The lodge and remainder of your place was 
demolished on Tuesday and Wednesday, and the 
duke rode on Wednesday to Drayton and then to 
Costessey while the lodge at Hellesdon was being 
demolished. Last night at midnight Thomas 
Slyford, Green, Porter and John Bottisforth the 
bailiff of Eye and others got a cart and took away 
the featherbeds and all the stuff of ours that was 
left at the parson's and Thomas Water's house for 
safe-keeping. I will send you lists later, as accurately 
as I can, of the things we have lost. Please let me 
know what you want me to do, whether you want 
me to stay at Caister 11 or come to you in London. 

I have no time to write any more. God have 
you in his keeping. Written at Norwich on St. 
Luke's eve. 12 


5. bailiff: the manager of an estate. 

6. Costessey: an estate owned by the duke of Suffolk. 

7. brazier (bra'zhar): person who makes articles of brass. 

8. Harlesdon: one of the duke of Suffolk's men. 

9. Lammas: a religious feast that was celebrated on 
August 1. 

10. catspaws: people who are deceived and used as tools by 

11. Caister: one of the Paston estates. 

12. St. Luke's eve: the eve of St. Luke's Day, a religious feast. 
Writers often dated letters in this way instead of using 
days and months. 



\i jKargaref fo john I 

27 October 1465 

... I was at Hellesdon last Thursday and saw 
the place there, and indeed no one can imagine 
what a horrible mess it is unless they see it. 
Many people come out each day, both from 
Norwich and elsewhere, to look at it, and they 
talk of it as a great shame. The duke would have 
done better to lose £1000 than to have caused 
this to be done, and you have all the more 
goodwill from people because it has been done 
so foully. And they made your tenants at 
Hellesdon and Drayton, and others, help them to 
break down the walls of both the house and the 
lodge: God knows, it was against their will, but 
they did not dare do otherwise for fear. I have 
spoken with your tenants both at Hellesdon and 
Drayton, and encouraged them as best I can. 

The duke's men ransacked the church, and 
carried off all the goods that were left there, 
both ours and the tenants, and left little behind; 
they stood on the high altar and ransacked the 
images, and took away everything they could 
find. They shut the parson out of the church 
until they had finished, and ransacked everyone's 
house in the town five or six times. The 
ringleaders in the thefts were the bailiff of Eye 
and the bailiff of Stradbroke, Thomas Slyford. 
And Slyford was the leader in robbing the church 
and, after the bailiff of Eye, it is he who has 
most of the proceeds of the robbery. As for the 
lead, brass, pewter, iron, doors, gates, and other 
household stuff, men from Costessey and 
Cawston have got it, and what they could not 
carry they hacked up in the most spiteful 
fashion. If possible, I would like some reputable 
men to be sent for from the king, to see how 
things are both there and at the lodge, before 
any snows come, so that they can report the 
truth, because otherwise it will not be so plain as 
it is now. For reverence of God, finish your 
business now, for the expense and trouble we 
have each day is horrible, and it will be like this 

until you have finished; and your men dare not 
go around collecting your rents, while we keep 
here every day more than twenty people to save 
ourselves and the place; for indeed, if the place 
had not been strongly defended, the duke would 
have come here. . . . 

For the reverence of God, if any respectable 
and profitable method can be used to settle 
your business, do not neglect it, so that we can 
get out of these troubles and the great costs 
and expenses we have and may have in 
future. It is thought here that if my lord 
of Norfolk would act on your behalf, 
and got a commission to enquire into 
the riots and robberies committed on 
you and others in this part of the 
world, then the whole county will 
wait on him and do as you wish, 
for people love and respect him 
more than any other lord, 
except the king and my lord of 
Warwick. . . . 

Please do let me know 
quickly how you are and how 
your affairs are going, and 
let me know how your 
sons are. I came 
home late 
last night, 
and will 
be here 
until I hear 
from you 
again. Wykes 
came home on 
Saturday, but he 
did not meet your 

God have you in 
his keeping and 
send us good 
news from you. 
Written in haste on 
the eve of St. Simon and St. Jude. 

By yours, M.P. 



During the fifteenth century, most marriage** among 
the upper classes were arranged by families, usually to 
strengthen economic or political ties. The Paston 
family was greatly alarmed, therefore, when they 
learned that Margery, a daughter of Margaret and 
John I, had secretly become engaged to the Pas ton 
bailiff Richard Calle. Eventually, the two were married 
in spite of bitter opposition from Margery s family. In 
the following letter to Margery — the only piece of their 
correspondence to survive — Richard expresses his feel- 
ings about their predicament. The next letter is the 
response of Margery s mother, Margaret, to the situa- 
tion, written to her son, John II. 


Jucnard Calle to 
JlLargeru J as ton 

Spring-Summer 1469 

My own lady and mistress, and indeed my true wife 
before God, 13 1 commend myself to you with a very 
sad heart as a man who cannot be cheerful and will 
not be until things stand otherwise with us than 
they do now. This life that we lead now pleases 
neither God nor the world, considering the great 
bond of matrimony that is made between us, and 
also the great love that has been, and I trust still is, 
between us, and which for my part was never 
greater. So I pray that Almighty God will comfort us 
as soon as it pleases him, for we who ought by 
rights to be most together are most apart; it seems a 
thousand years since I last spoke to you. I would 
rather be with you than all the wealth in the world. 
Alas, also, good lady, those who keep us apart like 
this, scarcely realize what they are doing: those who 
hinder matrimony are cursed in church four times a 
year. It makes many men think that they can stretch 

a point of conscience in other matters as well as this 
one. But whatever happens, lady, bear it as you have 
done and be as cheerful as you can, for be sure, 
lady, that God in the long run will of his righteous- 
ness help his servants who mean to be true and 
want to live according to his laws. 

I realize, lady, that you have had as much 
sorrow on my account as any gentlewoman has 
ever had in this world; I wish to God that all the 
sorrow you have had had fallen on me, so that 
you were freed of it; for indeed, lady, it kills me 
to hear that you are being treated otherwise than 
you should be. This is a painful life we lead; I 
cannot imagine that we live like this without 
God being displeased by it. 

You will want to know that I sent you a letter 
from London by my lad, and he told me he could 
not speak to you, because so great a watch was 
kept on both you and him. He told me that John 
Thresher came to him in your name, and said that 
you had sent him to my lad for a letter or token 
which you thought I had sent you; but he did not 
trust him and would not deliver anything to him. 
After that he brought a ring, saying that you sent it 
to him, commanding him to deliver the letter or 
token to him, which I gather since then from my 
lad was not sent by you, but was a plot of my mis- 
tress [i.e., Margaret Paston] and James Gloys. 14 
Alas, what do they intend? I suppose they think we 
are not engaged; and if this is the case I am very 
surprised, for they are not being sensible, remem- 
bering how plainly I told my mistress about 
everything at the beginning, and I think you have 
told her so too, if you have done as you should. 
And if you have denied it, as I have been told you 
have done, it was done neither with a good con- 
science nor to the pleasure of God, unless you did it 
for fear and to please those who were with you at 
the time. If this was the reason you did it, it was 
justified, considering how insistently you were 

13. my true wife before God: In the 1400's, the spoken vow 
of a man and woman, even without a witness, was 
regarded as an official marriage. 

14. James Gloys: the Paston family chaplain. 



called on to deny it; and you were told many untrue 
stories about me, which, God knows, I was never 
guilty of. 

My lad told me that your mother asked him if 
he had brought any letter to you, and she accused 
him falsely of many other things; among other 
things, she said to him in the end that I would 
not tell her about it at the beginning, but she 
expected that I would at the ending. As for that, 
God knows that she knew about it first from 
me and no one else. I do not know 
what my mistress means, for in 
truth there is no other gentle- 
woman alive who I respect more 
than her and whom I would be 
more sorry to displease, saving only 
yourself who by right I ought to 
cherish and love best, for I am 
bound to do so by God's law and 
will do so while I live, whatever may 
come of it. I expect that if you tell 
them the sober truth, they will not 
damn their souls for our sake. Even if 
I tell them the truth they will not 
believe me as much as they would you. 
And so, good lady, for reverence of God 
be plain with them and tell the truth, 
and if they will not agree, let it be 
between them, God and the devil; and as 
for the peril we should be in, I pray God 
it may lie on them and not on us. I am 
very sad and sorry when I think of their 
attitude. God guide them and send them 
rest and peace. 

I am very surprised that they are as 
concerned about this affair as I gather that 
they are, in view of the fact that nothing can 
be done about it, and that I deserve better; 
from any point of view there should be no 
obstacles to it. Also their honor does not 
depend on your marriage, but in their own 
marriage [i.e., John IPs]; I pray God send them a 
marriage which will be to their honor, to God's 
pleasure and to their heart's ease, for otherwise it 
would be a great pity. 

Letter from Richard Calle to Margery Paston, 1469 

Mistress, I am frightened of writing to you, for I 
understand that you have showed the letters that I 
have sent you before to others, but I beg you, let no 
one see this letter. As soon as you have read it, burn 
it, for I would not want anyone to see it. You have 
had nothing in writing from me for two years, and 
I will not send you any more: so I leave 
everything to your wisdom. 

n z I - % 9 > 




r ^ '<* 




Women defending a castle with bow 
and crossbow (about 1326-1327). 
Manuscript illumination from De 
nobilitatibus, sapientiis, et prudentiis 
regum by Walter de Milemete (MS. 
CH. 92 F. 4r). By permission of the 
Governing Body of Christ Church, 
Oxford, England. 

Almighty Jesu preserve, keep and give you 
your heart's desire, which I am sure will please 
God. This letter was written with as great 
difficulty as I ever wrote anything in my life, for 
I have been very ill, and am not yet really 
recovered, may God amend it. 


JKaraaret io ner owes/ son, 
jonn II 

10 September 1469 

. . . When I heard how she [Margery] had 
behaved, I ordered my servants that she was not to 
be allowed in my house. I had warned her, and she 
might have taken heed if she had been well- 
disposed. I sent messages to one or two others that 
they should not let her in if she came. She was 
brought back to my house to be let in, and James 
Gloys told those who brought her that I had 
ordered them all that she should not be allowed in. 
So my lord of Norwich has lodged her at Roger 
Best's, to stay there until the day in question; God 
knows it is much against his will and his wife's, but 
they dare not do otherwise. I am sorry that they are 
burdened with her, but I am better off with her 
there than somewhere else, because he and his wife 
are sober and well-disposed to us, and she will not 
be allowed to play the good-for-nothing there. 

Please do not take all this too hard, because I 
know that it is a matter close to your heart, as it 
is to mine and other people's; but remember, as I 
do, that we have only lost a good-for-nothing in 
her, and take it less to heart: if she had been any 
good, whatever might have happened, things would 
not have been as they are, for even if he 15 were dead 
now, she would never be as close to me as she was. . . . 
You can be sure that she will regret her foolishness 
afterwards, and I pray to God that she does. Please, 
for my sake, be cheerful about all this. I trust that 
God will help us; may he do so in all our affairs. . . . 

15. he: Richard Calle. 



Although the Pastons were considered wealthy, they 
faced continual struggles. They even experienced 
occasional financial difficulties, particularly after 
the death of John I In 1466. John II, though fre- 
quently in London to deal with family legal matters, 
seems at times to have paid more attention to his own 
Interests. The Pas tons were also affected by the rav- 
ages of warfare and disease. The following three 
letters deal with some of their hardships. 

V^ 'Marqaretlo $o£n II 

28 October 1470 

. . . Unless you pay more attention to your 
expenses, you will bring great shame on yourself 
and your friends, and impoverish them so that 
none of us will be able to help each other, to the 
great encouragement of our enemies. 

Those who claim to be your friends in this 
part of the world realize in what great danger 
and need you stand, both from various of your 
friends and from your enemies. It is rumored 
that I have parted with so much to you that I 
cannot help either you or any of my friends, 
which is no honor to us and causes people to 
esteem us less. At the moment it means that I 
must disperse my household and lodge some- 
where, which I would be very loath to do if I 
were free to choose. It has caused a great deal of 
talk in this town and I would not have needed to 
do it if I had held back when I could. So for 
God's sake pay attention and be careful from 
now on, for I have handed over to you both my 
own property and your father's, and have held 
nothing back, either for myself or for his sake. . . . 

\i tfo/in II to JlCarjaret 

April 1471 

Mother, I commend myself to you and let 
you know, blessed be God, my brother John is 
alive and well, and in no danger of dying. 
Nevertheless he is badly hurt by an arrow in 
his right arm below the elbow, and I have sent 
a surgeon to him, who has dressed the wound; 
and he tells me that he hopes he will be healed 
within a very short time. John Mylsent is dead. 
God have mercy on his soul; William Mylsent 
is alive and all his other servants seem to have 
escaped. . . . 


$o£n II to $o£n III 

15 September 1471 

. . . Please send me word if any of our friends or 
well-wishers are dead, for I fear that there is great 
mortality in Norwich and in other boroughs and 
towns in Norfolk: I assure you that it is the most 
widespread plague I ever knew of in England, for 
by my faith I cannot hear of pilgrims going through 
the country nor of any other man who rides or 
goes anywhere, that any town or borough in 
England is free from the sickness. May God put an 
end to it, when it please him. So, for God's sake, 
get my mother to take care of my younger brothers 
and see that they are not anywhere where the 
sickness is prevalent, and that they do not amuse 
themselves with other young people who go where 
the sickness is. If anyone has died of the sickness, 
or is infected with it, in Norwich, for God's sake let 
her send them to some friend of hers in the 
country; I would advise you to do the same. I 
would rather my mother moved her household into 
the country. ... ♦ 




Connect to the Literature 

What Do You Think? 

What is your 
impression of the 
events described in 
the Paston family 

Comprehension Check 

• What did the duke of Suffolk do 
when he arrived at the Paston 
estate of Hellesdon? 

• Why did Margery Paston's family 
oppose her marriage to Richard 

Think Critically 

2. How would you describe Margaret Paston? 

• the tone she communicates in her letters 

• the nature of her responsibilities 

• how she deals with problems 

• her relationships with her husband and her 

3. What advice might you give Richard Calle and Margery 
Paston for dealing with their predicament? 




examples you wrote in your fill reader's notebook. On 
the basis of your reading of these letters, how reliable do 
you think the Pastons' accounts are? Give reasons for your 
answer that address issues of motive and objectivity. 

Extend Interpretations 

5. Critic's Corner Virginia Woolf wrote of the Paston letters 
that "in all this there is no writing for writing's sake; no 
use of the pen to convey pleasure or amusement." What 
does this observation suggest about the lives of the 
people who wrote these letters? 

6. Connect to Life Margaret Paston was forced to take care of 
family business while her husband was away. How do you 
think a contemporary businesswoman would view 
Margaret's handling of these matters? 

Literary Analysis 

I CONFLICT I Because of the 

turbulent times in which the Pastons 
lived, their letters present a number 
of conflicts, or struggles between 
opposing forces. In fiction, a conflict 
usually reaches a point of resolution; 
in a series of real letters, however, 
many of the conflicts described may 
necessarily remain unresolved. 

In both fiction and nonfiction, the 
term external conflict is used to 
describe a situation in which a person 
is pitted against an outside force 
(such as another person, a physical 
obstacle, nature, or society). The term 
internal conflict refers to a struggle 
that takes place within a person. 

Cooperative Learning Activity 

With a group of classmates, go 
through the letters, creating a list of 
the various conflicts that are 
described by each writer. Decide 
whether each conflict is external or 
internal. Then choose one conflict 
and write an imaginative description 
of how it might have been resolved. 
Share your group's work with the 
rest of the class. 


Tone is the 

expression of a writer's attitude 
toward his or her subject. Analyze 
the general tone of these letters. 
Think about the writers' purposes, 
the language used, the details 
included, and the recipients of the 
letters. Then try to come up with a 
one-word description of their tone. 




Writing Options 

1. Margery Paston's Diary Imagine 
that you are Margery Paston. 
Write a diary entry in which you 
express your thoughts about 
your mother's reaction to your 
marriage plans. 

2. Opinion Paragraph In a 
paragraph, tell which of the 
persons mentioned in the Paston 
letters you would judge as the 
most interesting and which the 
least interesting. Explain your 
choices. Place the paragraph in 
your Working Portfolio. ^3 

Activities & 

1. Map Mileage Scale On the 

map shown, locate the estate at 
Paston. Then use the mileage 
scale to estimate the distances 
between Paston and three other 
estates or towns mentioned 
in the letters you have read. 

Paston Estate in Norfolk 

2. Illustrated Fashions Research 
the fashions of 15th-century 
England. Then make an illustration 
showing clothing that would have 
been appropriate for a man or 
woman of the Paston family. 

3. Dramatic Presentation With 
several other students, give 

a short dramatic 
presentation of 
one of the letters. 

4. Panel Discussion 

Think about the 

limitations of 

communicating only 

through letters. If 

faster or easier 

methods of 

communication had 

been available to 

the Pastons, how 

might their lives 

have been different? 

With classmates, conduct a panel 

discussion in which you explore 
this question. - SPEAKING AND 

Inquiry & Research 

1. Life Spans Using dates from 
the Paston family tree on page 
181, calculate the life span of 
each person shown in the 

diagram. For this 
activity, assume 
that all approximate 
dates are exact. 
What was the 
average life span 
of the men? of 
the women? 

Major Paston manors or residences OXNEAD 
Other places Aylsham 


a Aylsham 
Cawston . . rjXNEAD 

Costessey .DRAYTON Mautby^ 



. • Norwich 

/ Eye # . Stradbroke 

2. 15th-century 
History With three 
investigate one 
of these topics 
related to the 
15th century: the 
Wars of the 
Roses, courtship and marriage, 
education, religion, medicine 
and life expectancy, the role of 
women, art and music, or life 
on a medieval manor. Present 
your findings to the class. 

^# More Online: 
tilt) Research Starter 



PREPARING to 0lead 

Barbara Allan / Sir Patrick Spens / 
Get Up and Bar the Door 

Anonymous Ballads 

Connect to Your Life) 

What's Sad and What's Funny? What comes to mind when you 
hear the word tragedy? Natural disasters? Wars? Lost loves? 
What about when you hear the word comedy? Do you think 
of mistaken identities, slapstick, silly arguments? With a 
group of classmates, brainstorm a variety of associations 
with the words. 

Build Background 

Songs That Tell a Story Throughout 
history, many of life's tragedies and 
comedies, real or fictional, have 
been depicted in song. Narrative 
songs called ballads were popular 
in England and Scotland during the 
medieval period, particularly among 
the common people, many of 
whom could not read or write. 
Minstrels traveled about, singing 
these narratives to entertain their 
listeners with dramatic stories 
about ordinary people. The best of 
the early ballads were passed on 
orally from one generation to the 
next and sometimes from country 
to country. Stories often changed in 
the retelling, sometimes resulting in 
dozens of versions of the same 
ballad. Most composers of these 
popular, or folk, ballads remained 
anonymous, and the songs 
themselves were not written down 
before the 18th century. 

Focus Your Reading 

BALLADS] The early popular ballads share 


certain characteristics common to oral traditions. The typical ballad 
focuses on a single incident, beginning in the middle of a crisis and 
proceeding directly to the resolution, with only the most sketchy 
background information, character development, and descriptive 
detail. Popular subjects of these early ballads include tragic love, 
domestic conflict, crime, war, and shipwreck. As you read the three 
ballads in this lesson, note which treat tragic subjects and which 
treat comic matters. 



In the ballads 

you are about to read, certain words of Scottish dialect appear— rase 
and guid, for example. In order to help you understand the ballads, 
including dialect, follow these steps. 

• Read each ballad through once, using the notes to help you 
decipher dialect and other difficult passages. 

• Paraphrase each stanza as you read to make sure you understand 
what is happening in the story. 

• Read the ballad again without referring to the notes. 

• Read the ballad aloud, allowing the sounds of the words to help 
you appreciate the texture and flavor of the 


FTI reader' S notebook As you read, 

jot down notes about which strategies 

and steps you find most useful in helping 

you to understand the ballads. "" **"*(*$ 









- / * 


r& read, 









t was in and about the Martinmas time, 
When the green leaves were a-fallin'; 
That Sir John Graeme in the West Country 
Fell in love with Barbara Allan. 

5 He sent his man down through the town 
To the place where she was dwellin': 
"O haste and come to my master dear, 
Gin ye be Barbara Allan." 

O slowly, slowly rase she up, 
10 To the place where he was lyin', 

And when she drew the curtain by: 

"Young man, I think you're dyin'." 

"O it's I'm sick, and very, very sick, 
And 'tis a' for Barbara Allan." 
15 "O the better for me ye sal never be, 

Though your heart's blood were a-spillin'. 

"O dinna ye mind, young man," said she, 

"When ye the cups were fillin', 
That ye made the healths gae round and round, 
20 And slighted Barbara Allan?" 

He turned his face unto the wall, 

And death with him was dealin': 

"Adieu, adieu, my dear friends all, 
And be kind to Barbara Allan." 

25 And slowly, slowly, rase she up, 
And slowly, slowly left him; 
And sighing said she could not stay, 
Since death of life had reft him. 

She had not gane a mile but twa, 
30 When she heard the dead-bell knellin', 

And every jow that the dead-bell ga'ed 
It cried, "Woe to Barbara Allan!" 

"O mother, mother, make my bed, 
O make it soft and narrow: 
35 Since my love died for me today, 
I'll die for him tomorrow." 

1 Martinmas: November 1 1 (St. 
Martin's Day). 

8 gin (gTn): if. 

9 rase (raz): rose. 

15 sal: shall. 

17 dinna ye mind: don't you 

19 healths: toasts; gae (ga): go. 

28 reft: deprived. 

29 gane (gan): gone; twa: two. 

30 dead-bell: a church bell rung to 
announce a person's death. 

31 jow (jou): stroke; ga'ed: gave. 



Sir Patrick 



he king sits in Dumferline town, 
Drinking the blude-reid wine: 
O whar will I get a guid sailor 
To sail this ship of mine?" 

Up and spak an eldern knicht, 
Sat at the king's richt knee: 

"Sir Patrick Spens is the best sailor 
That sails upon the sea." 

1 Dumferline: the town of 
Dumferline in Scotland, site of a 
favorite residence of Scottish kings. 

2 blude-reid (bl<36d'red'): blood- 

3 guid (gud): good. 

5 eldern knicht (knTKHt): elderly 

6 richt (MKHt): right. 

The king has written a braid letter 
10 And signed it wi' his hand, 

And sent it to Sir Patrick Spens, 
Was walking on the sand. 

9 braid (brad): broad; emphatic. 

The first line that Sir Patrick read, 
A loud lauch lauched he; 
15 The next line that Sir Patrick read, 
The tear blinded his ee. 

"O wha is this has done this deed, 

This ill deed done to me, 
To send me out this time o' the year, 
20 To sail upon the sea? 

"Make haste, make haste, my mirry men all, 
Our guid ship sails the morn." 

"O say na sae, my master dear, 
For I fear a deadly storm. 

25 "Late late yestre'en I saw the new moon 
Wi' the auld moon in her arm, 
And I fear, I fear, my dear master, 
That we will come to harm." 

O our Scots nobles were richt laith 
30 To weet their cork-heeled shoon, 

But lang owre a' the play were played 
Their hats they swam aboon. 

O lang, lang may their ladies sit, 
Wi' their fans into their hand, 
35 Or e'er they see Sir Patrick Spens 
Come sailing to the land. 

14 lauch (Ioukh): laugh. 

16 ee: eye. 

17 wha: who. 

23 na sae (na sa): not so. 

25 yestre'en (ye-stren'): yesterday 

25-26 the new moon . . . arm: a 
thin crescent moon with the rest of 
the moon's disk faintly illuminated 
by light reflected from the earth. 

26 auld (ould): old. 

29 laith (lath): loath; unwilling. 

30 weet: wet; shoon: shoes. 

31 lang owre a' (lang our a): long 
before all. 

32 aboon (e-boon'): above (them). 

35 or e'er (or Tr): before ever. 

O lang, lang may the ladies stand, 

Wi' their gold kembs in their hair, 
Waiting for their ain dear lords, 
40 For they'll see thame na mair. 

Half o'er, half o'er to Aberdour 

It's fifty fadom deep, 
And there lies guid Sir Patrick Spens, 

Wi' the Scots lords at his feet. 

38 kembs: combs. 

39 ain (an): own. 

40 na mair (na mar): no more. 

41 half o'er: halfway over; 
Aberdour: a small town on the 
Scottish coast. 

42 fadom (fa'dom): fathoms. 



Up and 



fell about the Martinmas time, 
And a gay time it was then, 
When our goodwife got puddings to make, 
And she's boild them in the pan. 

The wind sae cauld blew south and north, 

And blew into the floor; 
Quoth our goodman to our goodwife, 

"Gae out and bar the door." 

The Peasant Couple Dancing (1514), Albrecht Diirer. Engraving, 
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Fletcher Fund, 
1919 (19.73.102). 

"My hand is in my hussyfskap, 
10 Goodman, as ye may see; 

An it shoud nae be barrd this hundred year, 
It's no be barrd for me." 

9 hussyfskap: household chores. 


They made a paction tween them twa, 
They made it firm and sure, 

That the first word whae'er shoud speak, 
Shoud rise and bar the door. 

13 paction: agreement. 

15 whae'er: whoever. 

Then by there came two gentlemen, 

At twelve o'clock at night, 
And they could neither see house nor hall, 
20 Nor coal nor candle-light. 

"Now whether is this a rich man's house, 

Or whether is it a poor?" 
But ne'er a word wad ane o' them speak, 

For barring of the door. 

25 And first they ate the white puddings, 
And then they ate the black; 
Tho muckle thought the goodwife to hersel, 
Yet ne'er a word she spake. 

Then said the one unto the other, 
30 "Here, man, tak ye my knife; 

Do ye tak aff the auld man's beard, 
And I'll kiss the goodwife." 

"But there's nae water in the house, 
And what shall we do than?" 
35 "What ails ye at the pudding-broo, 
That boils into the pan?" 

O up then started our goodman, 

An angry man was he: 
"Will ye kiss my wife before my een, 
40 And scad me wi' pudding-bree?" 

Then up and started our goodwife, 
Gied three skips on the floor: 

"Goodman, you've spoken the foremost word, 
Get up and bar the door." 

27 muckle: a great deal. 

35-36 What . . . pan?: What's 
wrong with using the broth the 
puddings are boiling in? 

40 scad: scald; bree: broth. 



Connect to the Literature 

What Do You Think? 

Which ballad would 
you say told the 
most interesting 
story? Share your 
thoughts with a 

Comprehension Check 

• Why does Barbara Allan want to 

• Why does Sir Patrick Spens shed a 
tear when he reads the king's letter? 

• What reason does the woman give 
for not barring the door? 

Think Critically 


2. What is your opinion of the relationship between Barbara 
Allan and Sir John Graeme? 

• his request to see her 

• the reason for his illness 

• her statement "I'll die for him tomorrow" 
(line 36) 

3. Why do you think Sir Patrick Spens chooses to sail the ship 
in spite of the risk? 

the elderly knight's opinion of him (lines 7-8) 

his reaction to the king's letter (lines 13-22) 

the warning from one of his men (lines 23-28) 

4. How does the tone of "Get Up and Bar the Door" differ 
from that of the other two ballads? 

5. In your opinion, which of the two tragic ballads tells the 
sadder story? Explain your opinion. 




Consult the notes in your fTH reader s notebook. Which 
strategy did you find most useful in helping you to 
understand the ballad? 

Literary Analysis 

I BALLADS 1 Typically, a ballad 

consists of four-line stanzas, or 
quatrains, with the second and 
fourth lines of each stanza rhyming. 
Each stanza has a strong rhythmic 
pattern, usually with four stressed 
syllables in the first and third lines 
and three stressed syllables in the 
second and fourth lines. Most 
ballads also contain dialogue and 
repetitions of sounds, words, and 
phrases for emphasis. Notice the 
patterns of rhyme, rhythm, and 
repetition in the following stanza 
from "Barbara Allan." 

\J 9 \J 9 \J 9 \J / 

O slowly, slowly rase she up, 
To the place where he was lyin', 

•u / v_/ / \J 9 \J 9 

And when she drew the curtain by: 
"Young man, I think you're dyin\" 

Cooperative Learning Activity 

Select a stanza from "Sir Patrick 
Spens" or "Get Up and Bar the 
Door" and determine whether its 
patterns of rhyme and rhythm are 
the same as those in the stanza 
from "Barbara Allan." Then look for 
examples of dialogue and 
repetition in the three ballads. 
What effects are created by the use 
of these four elements? Share your 
findings with the class. 

Extend Interpretations 

7. Comparing Texts Both Sir Patrick Spens and the speaker of 

"The Seafarer" (pages 85-89) go off to sea despite 
anticipated danger. Compare and contrast their motives and 

8. Connect to Life Recall your responses to the words tragedy 
and comedy in Connect to Your Life on page 192. What types 
of tragedies and comedies might you expect to find 
described in ballads written today? 





Writing Options 

1. Story of Barbara Allan Draft a 
short story in which you give a 
more detailed account of the 
relationship between Barbara 
Allan and Sir John Graeme. You 
might, for example, present 
events that may have occurred 
earlier in their relationship. 

2. In Memoriam Create 
appropriate epitaphs for Barbara 
Allan and Sir Patrick Spens— brief 
statements, in prose or verse, 
that might be placed on their 
tombstones to memorialize 
their deaths. 

3. Contemporary Ballad Try to 

write your own ballad on a 
contemporary subject. Focus on 
events leading up to the climax 
of a comic or tragic situation. 

4. Descriptive Paragraph Think of 
an event you have heard or read 
about that you would call a 
tragedy— an accident resulting in 
death, for example, or a relation- 
ship ending in separation. Write a 
paragraph describing this event. 
Would this event be a good 
subject for a modern-day ballad? 

Writing Handbook 

See page 1363: Descriptive Writing. 

Activities & 

1. Illustrated Tragedy 

Imagine the exact 
circumstances of Sir 
Patrick Spens's death. 
Then create a drawing 
or painting of the 
incident. -ART 

2. Dance Interpretation Buddy Guy 
Choreograph a dance performing at 

. i • the Chicago 

that portrays the action B | ues Festival 
of one of these ballads. 
Perform your dance for the class. 

3. Ballad Role Play In most 
medieval ballads, the speaker 
has no personal involvement in 
the story. How might each of 
these ballads be different if it 
were told from the point of view 
of someone affected by the 
events— for example, the mother 
of Barbara Allan, or one of the 
two gentlemen who disturb the 
peace of the goodman and 
goodwife? Assume the point of 
view of someone other than the 
main characters in one of these 
ballads and then tell the story to 
the class from that point of view. 


Inquiry & Research 

1. Blues Music Research 
contemporary blues music and 

find examples of songs 
that combine 
characteristics of ballads 
with traditional tragic 
themes. Play recordings 
of these blues songs for 
your classmates. 

<^2l More Online: 
\, Research Starter 

2. The Popularity of Tragedy 

Tragedy is still a common theme 
in contemporary forms of 
entertainment, such as plays, 
television dramas, soap operas, 
and documentaries. Discuss 
possible reasons for the 
popularity of tragic and comic 
subjects throughout human 

3. History or Legend? The ballad 
of "Sir Patrick Spens" may have a 
basis in historical fact. Do some 
research to find out whether or 
not such a person existed and 
what historical voyage the ballad 
may indirectly commemorate. 



Writing Workshop 


Describing a Fascinating Person ... For Your Portfolio 

From Reading to Writing Good descriptive writing 
takes the reader inside the writer's world. Chaucer's 
remarkable character portraits in The Canterbury Tales, 
for example, transport the modern reader to the Middle 
Ages. Through carefully chosen details, Chaucer creates 
living personalities on the page— fascinating as individuals 
and for their universal human qualities. The same 
techniques are also applied to writing a personality 
profile, a common feature in newspapers and magazines. 
A personality profile combines compelling information 
and vivid language to describe a person. 

WRITING PROMPT Write a personality 
profile of a person of your choice. 

Purpose: To make readers feel like 
they know the person 
Audience: Your peers, family, or 
general readers 

Basics in a Box 

Personality Profile at a Glance 



Standards for 

A successful personality 
profile should 

• use lively descriptions, details, 
anecdotes, and/or dialogue to create 
a vivid impression of the person 

• put the person in a context that 
helps reveal the subject's personality 

• convey why the person is important 
to the writer 

• paint a word portrait that shows 
the person's character 

• create a unified tone and impression 

• capture the reader's interest 

at the beginning and give a sense 
of completeness at the end 



Analyzing a Student Model 

Jenny Yu 

Niskayuna High School 

Her Three-Inch Feet 

She is different. Not just different, her presence in this big city seems anachronistic, 
misplaced. She has a benign grandmotherly smile; skin like a piece of crumbled lined- 
paper flattened out with lines revealing her age; a petite, almost childlike, body; and tiny 
bound feet* only three inches long. 

It is difficult to get a close look at her feet since she likes to move about constantly. 
She can never and will never stay in one place long enough. For most of her life, Great- 
Aunt Yeung worked diligently — first for her parents, then her husband, and later her 
children. In the seventy-six years she has lived, her life has been burdened by respon- 
sibility. And because of the challenges life has presented her, Great- Aunt Yeung 
possesses vigor that exceeds a teenager's. 

However, if you have seen her feet, you will never forget them. They are small and 
pale. They are like two pieces of sponge cake that have been accidentally mushed and 
tortured. They are painful to look at, for one thinks how excruciating it must be to 
walk on them; yet, they are fascinating. They represent the ancient world of the East, a 
place of a thousand emperors and fabled dragons. 

It is always a treat for me to visit Great- Aunt Yeung, though it means a three-hour 
drive to New York City. She lives on Mott Street, only three blocks from the heart of 
Chinatown. Her apartment isn't very big, and appears somewhat cluttered if compared 
to the typical Niskayuna four-bedroom colonial. It only has one bedroom, one bath, and 
a small space that one might call a living room. There isn't much to see in the living 
room, just a chair, a few pieces of furniture which she might have gotten from garage 
sales (since they don't quite match), a 13-inch TV, and a table. 

But it's not just a table: it's the table of Chinese gods. The burning incense on it 
perfumes the whole apartment. The twice-daily ritual of worship consists of kneeling, 
lighting the incense, then bowing to the gods while holding up the incense with both 
hands above the head. It is quite a lovely scene. I like to watch her and pretend to be 
lost in the world of yin and yang, Confucius, and fortune cookies. But deep down, I 
know I can never be a part of that inscrutable world. 

That is how I feel about my Great- Aunt Yeung. The combination of her and New 
York City is as odd as eating rice topped with rocky road ice cream. She prefers 
bamboo mats over soft mattresses, medicinal tea over creamy cappuccino, and cooked 
vegetables over raw salads. Great- Aunt Yeung will always have her own ways. The 
East and the West will always remain apart, and the best proof of that is seeing Great- 
Aunt Yeung plod the streets of New York in her size-one black-cloth shoes. 
* Refers to the defunct Chinese custom of foot-binding, which produced small, deformed feet in women. 


in Action 

O The writer 
immediately estab- 
lishes interest and 
tone with intriguing 
language and lively 
description details 

Other Options: 

• Start with a reveal- 
ing anecdote. 

• Describe the 

The writer 
focuses on various 
concrete details 
and uses figurative 
language to create 
a word portrait. 

Other Options: 

• Show the person 
interacting with 

• Use dialogue. 

© Puts the person 
in a context 

. >-■-"■..' ..■ 

Reveals the 
writer's own 

Ends with an 
image that rein- 
forces the main 
tone and impression 

Uses lively 
figurative language 
to fill out the picture 




1. Your Working 

Look for ideas in the 
Writing Options you 
completed earlier in 
this unit: 

• Comparing Knights, 

p. 169 

• Opinion Paragraph, 

p. 191 

2. Brainstorm 

Discuss with class- 
mates the kinds of 
people you admire and 
the traits of these 
people that stand out 
to you. 

3. Match People and 

Think of qualities you 
admire, and then try to 
think of people to 
match those cate- 
gories; for example, 
"The bravest person I 
can think of is 

Writing a Personality Profile 

O Prewriting 

Choose a person you want to write about. Try making a list of people you consider 
your heroes or admire in some way. They don't have to be famous. In fact, you may 
feel more comfortable writing about someone that you know well: 

• a favorite relative • a teacher 

• a neighbor • a coach 

What comes to mind when you think about these people? Write a few words 
or phrases to describe each one. You also might try writing a simile to summ- 
arize each person. ("Listening to this person is like drinking sunshine.") See the 
Idea Bank in the margin for more suggestions. After you select a person you 
want to write about, follow the steps below. 

Planning Your Personality Profile 

1. Explore your attitude toward the subject. How do you feel about 
the person? Why is the person important to you? What details or 
incidents can you describe that show the importance of the subject 
to you? 

2. Picture your subject in a typical setting. Try visualizing your subject 
in his or her usual surroundings. What stands out about your subject? 
You might make a 

chart like this one to 
record details. 

Research or 
interview to gather 
information. You 

can research a 


Personality Characteristics 


What Person 

How Person 

How Others 


historical or famous figure using library resources or the Internet. For a 
profile of a lesser-known person, interviewing is the best method of 
getting information. Interviewing the subject and other people who 
know the subject well may give you information that is not available 
anywhere else. 

Set your goal for writing. What impression of the subject do you 
want to leave in the minds of your readers? Analyze your subject to 
find an angle— a dominant impression or theme that captures the 
essence of the person. Then look for special details that help a 
reader picture the person. 




Make visible what, without you, might never have been seen. 

Robert Bresson 

Start drafting by simply getting your ideas down on paper. Keep your overall goal 
in mind as you try to get into the flow of your writing. Set down everything you 
want to say. Later you can cut what you don't need and add what you forgot. 

Organizing Your Draft 

Once you've gotten it all down, look for a way to organize what you want to say. 
As you rework your draft you are beginning your revision process. Here are some 
ways a personality profile might be organized. 

• In Chronological Order. Narrate incidents in the time sequence in which 
they occurred. You might even focus on a day in your subject's life. 

• By Category. Analyze different aspects of your subject's personality— such as 
characteristics, actions, and traits— one at a time. 

• By Setting. Show your subject interacting in various settings or situations. 

• In Order of Importance. Begin the essay with the most important incident or detail. 

Choose one of these ways or any other way of developing your profile that works for you. 
Be sure to tie the incidents and descriptions you relate together with appropriate 

Beginnings and Endings 

Begin with something that will capture the reader's interest— a remarkable detail 
about the person or setting, some dialogue, or a good anecdote. You might end with 
a memorable detail or your personal reflections on the subject. Your ending should 
give a sense of completeness. 

Elaborating on Ideas 

Work to create a profile of your subject as a whole person, not just a one-dimen- 
sional figure. Lace your descriptions with details, specific scenes, and quotations 
or dialogue that indicate how the person you portray 
interacts with others. It should also be clear from y 
your writing what things are important to the person * 
you are profiling. 

As you draft and refine your essay, be sure to 
consider the purpose, audience, and occasion. For 
example, if you are describing a situation in your 
school, include background information that a 
reader would need to know. 

Have a Question? 

See the Writing 

Introductions, p.1358 

Descriptive Writing, 
pp. 1363-1364 

Ask Your Peer Reader 

• What dominant impression did you get 
of my subject? 

• How would you describe my attitude 
toward the person? 

• What details are particularly vivid or 

• What details, if any, distracted from the 
picture I was trying to present? 

• What more would you like to know 
about my subject? 




Need revising help? 

Review the Rubric, 
p. 200. 

Consider peer reader 

Check Revision 
Guidelines, p. 1355. 

Confused by comma 

See the Grammar 

pp. 1396-1429. 


• Collect the class 
profiles in a booklet 
to distribute in your 
school, to local 
libraries, or to senior 
citizen centers in your 

• Submit your profile 
to a student-writing 
Web site. 

More Online: 
Publishing Options 


TARGET SKILL ADDING DETAIL In descriptive writing, concrete details 
and examples help the reader envision the scene. They show the subject's 
personality traits in action rather than just naming them. Remember, how- 
ever, to add details selectively so that they build a coherent impression. 

But it's not just a table: it's the table of Chinese go ds. The 


burning incense on it fills-t he whole apartment. Twice a day 

— A A 

she kneels and lights the incense^ It is quite a lovely scene 

, and then bowing to the gods 
while, holding up the incense with 
both hands above the head. 

Ihe twice-daily ritual 
of worship consists of' 
kneeling, lighting 

O Editing and Proofreading 

TARGET SKILL COMMA SPLICES With elaboration, you often have 
to link together several strings of ideas into more complex phrases and sen- 
tences. Commas, used carefully, add clarity to sentences and enable the 
reader to grasp how the parts relate. However, used incorrectly they can be 
distracting or confusing. One common error is the comma splice (or comma 
fault), in which the writer separates two sentences with a comma instead of 
the correct end mark. 

Great^ Aunt Yeung will always have her own ways, the east and 
the west will always remain apart. The best proof of that is see- 
ing Great "Aunt Yeung plod the streets of New York in her size " 
one black" cloth shoes. 



FOR YOUR WORKING PORTFOLIO What did you discover about your subject 
while completing the personality profile? What did you learn about yourself 
or about life from this experience? Attach your answers to these questions 
to your finished personality profile. Save your personality profile in your 
Working Portfolio. ^3 



Assessment Practice I 

evising & Editing 

Read this opening from the first draft of a personality profile. The underlined 
sections include the following kinds of errors: 

• unsupported ideas • run-on sentences 

• incorrect possessives • punctuation errors 

For each underlined phrase or sentence, choose the revision that most improves 
the writing. 

Her nickname is 'Mique, don't believe it. Chamique Holdsclaw is anything 

but meek. She's a powerhouse. She has been called "the greatest women's 

basketball player of all time." yet she always strives to be better. 

Holdsclaws' intensity helps to motivate her teammates. "Once I get it up, it 

filters through the team" she says. Her team is the Tennessee Lady Volunteers 

(4) (5) 

the team won three consecutive championships. Holdsclaw is definitely the heart 

and fire of the team. Her determination helps her live up to her favorite saying. 


1. A. Her nickname is 'Mique don't 

believe it. 

B. Just because her nickname is 
'Mique don't believe it. 

C. Her nickname is 'Mique, but 
don't believe it. 

D. Correct as is. 

2. A. She has been called "the greatest 

women's basketball player of all 
time." Yet she always strives to 
be better. 

B. She has been called "the greatest 
women's basketball player of all 
time," or she always strives to be 

C. Although she has been called 
"the greatest women's basketball 
player of all time," yet she 
always strives to be better. 

D. Correct as is. 

3. A. Holdsclaw's 

B. Holdsclaws 

C. Holdsclaws's 

D. Correct as is. 

4. A. team, "she 

B. team." She 

C. team," she 

D. team". She 

5. A. Because Holdsclaw plays for the 
Tennessee Lady Volunteers, the 
team won three consecutive 

B. Her team is the Tennessee Lady 
Volunteers and the team won 
three consecutive championships. 

C. Her team is the Tennessee Lady 
Volunteers, winner of three 
consecutive championships. 

D. Correct as is. 

6. A. Her determination helped her 
live up to her favorite saying. 

B. Her determination helps her live 
up to her favorite saying, which 
she follows every day. 

C. Her determination helps her live 
up to her favorite saying: "Don't 
Dream it. Be it." 

D. Correct as is. 

Need extra help? 

See the Grammar 

Run-on sentences, 
p. 1409 

Punctuation, pp. 

pp. 1392-1393 



Building Vocabulary 

Using Word Origins to Learn New Words 

The Origins of English Words 

The English language is growing and changing 
constantly. Notice the differences between this passage 
from The Canterbury Tales in Middle English and a 
modern English translation of the same lines. 

And smale foweles maken melodye 
That slepen al the nyght with open ye 

— Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales 

And the small fowl are making melody 
That sleep away the night with open eye 

— The Canterbury Tales, 
translated by Nevill Coghill 


Modern English evolved from Middle English, 
which evolved from Old English. Along the way, 
words from other languages, including Latin and 
Greek, were added to English. One way to build your 
vocabulary is to explore the etymology, or history and 
origins, of words. 

Etymology Information in Dictionaries Learning about 
how Modern English words came to be can help you 
understand their meanings. You can find information 
about the etymology of a word like prologue in most 
kinds of dictionaries. Examine the following dictionary 
entry to see how this word developed from words in 
other languages. 

prorogue (pro'log') n. the 
preface or introduction to 
a story or play. [Middle 
English prolog, from Old 
French prologue, from 
Latin prologus preface to 
a play, from Greek prolo- 
gos, part of a Greek play 
preceding the entry of the 
chorus, from pro- before + 
logos speech] 

Modern English 

Middle English 

Old French 




pro- + logos 

(before) + (speech) 

Strategies for Building Vocabulary 

O Word Parts Now that you have studied the 

word prologue, you know that the meaning of the 

word part logue involves speech. Suppose you later 

come across the word epilogue. You can assume 

that this word also has something to do with 

speech because it contains logue. If you also know 

that the prefix epi- can mean "after," then you can 

predict that the meaning of epilogue is somehow 

related to "after speech." 

epi- + logue = epilogue 

(after) (speech) (concluding section 

in a literary work) 

© Word Families Groups of words that contain 
the same word parts are called word families. 
Knowing the meaning of one word in a family can 
help you predict the meanings of related words. 
The table in the next column shows a family of 
words that contain logue and are derived from the 
Greek word logos. Notice how the meanings of the 
words are related. 

English Words Derived from Greek logos 

English Word 



the preface or introduction to a story or play 


the speech of a character who is alone on 
stage, voicing his or her thoughts 


a conversation between two or more 


a concluding section in a literary work, often 
dealing with the future of the characters 

® Spelling Learning the etymology of prologue 
can help you remember how to spell it and words 
related to it. For example, once you realize that 
monologue, dialogue, and epilogue all contain the 
word part logue, you may find it easier to 
remember the unusual spelling of the last syllable. 

EXERCISE Use a dictionary to trace the etymology of 
these words from The Canterbury Tales. 

companion haughty pain technique 

diversion melody solution traitor 

entertain mischief 



Sentence Crafting 

Inverting Word Order for Sentence Variety 

Grammar from Literature 

Writers vary sentence structure in both prose and 
poetry for a variety of reasons. 

• To add interest. 

• To shift the emphasis in a sentence. 

• To achieve a poetic effect. 

One way to vary sentence structure is by inverting, 
or reversing, the order of the subject and the verb. 

Subject first 

subject verb 

Those two urns of good and evil gifts are at the door 
of Zeus. 


verb subject 

At the door of Zeus are those two urns of good and 
evil gifts. 

— Homer, the Iliad 

The subject can also come after other sentence parts. 

adverb subject verb 

Eagerly he approached, in hope to learn. 

— The Canterbury Tales 

prepositional phrases subject verb 

At daybreak, with the sun's first light, they saw 
How well he had worked. 

— Beowulf 

direct object subject verb 

A medal of St. Christopher he wore. 

— The Canterbury Tales 

As you look at your own writing, ask yourself these 
questions to see if you should consider using in- 
verted word order: 

• Are my sentences too similar in structure or 

• Do I want to emphasize certain words or ideas? 

• Would changing the order of some of the 
words create an interesting rhythm? 

Usage Tip When you place a verb before a subject, 
make sure you choose the correct verb form to match 
the subject. Plural subjects need plural verbs; singular 
subjects need singular verbs. 


verb subject 

Near the smoldering wreck stands the dazed victims. 


verb subject 

Near the smoldering wreck stand the dazed victims. 

Punctuation Tip When you invert word order by 
moving a sequence of prepositional phrases from 
the end of a sentence to the beginning of a sentence, 
remember to put a comma after the last prepositional 
phrase in the sequence. 

In the hall of Hrothgar, Grendel murdered many men. 
On the road to Canterbury , the people told tales. 

WRITING EXERCISE Change the structure of each of the 
following sentences by moving the underlined words 
to a different position within the sentence. Remember 
to punctuate correctly. 

1. Grendel's mother goes to Herot to seek revenge 
the night after Beowulf defeats Grendel. 

2. Beowulf fights bravely as the monster claws 
at him. 

3. The pilgrims set off on a journey from Southwark . 

4. The seafarer drifted through winter on an 
ice-cold sea. 

5. Barbara Allan is a cruel woman. 

PROOFREADING EXERCISE Rewrite the sentences below, 
correcting any errors in punctuation and usage. 

1. Into Canterbury rides the 29 travelers and the 

2. To Caedmon's account of his amazing dream 
listens the abbess and the reeve. 

3. In the tale of Beowulf we learn about the 
heroism of a Geatish warrior. 

4. Before the terrible monster lies the bodies of those 
who fell. 

5. Outside the walls of Troy Achilles and Hector fight 
to the death. 



PART 3 Attempts at Perfection 

Like the people of any age, those of the medieval period lived in an imperfect 
world. Nevertheless, they dreamed of what their lives could be. Some people 
looked to religion to teach them how to live virtuously. Others sought an ideal- 
ized world in literature. Tales of chivalry, popular in this era, recount the adventures of 
heroic knights who live by a strict code of behavior. In this part of Unit One, you will 
read about characters who strive for — but don't quite attain — perfection. As you read, 
consider how your attitude toward them would be different if they were perfect. 

The Gawain Poet from Sir Gawain and the Green Knight 209 

A strange knight puts chivalry to the test. 

Sir Thomas Malory from Le Morte d'Arthur 225 

The tragic end to a beloved king 

William Caxton from Preface to the First Edition of 

Le Morte d'Arthur 239 

Why do we like to read the tales of King Arthur? 

Comparing Literature: Le Morte d'Arthur 

and the Ramayana 

Legendary Deeds Across Cultures: India 

Valmiki from the Ramayana 

A battle between the forces of good and evil 

Margery Kempe from The Book of Margery Kempe 

Faith changes a woman's life. 




PREPARING to 0iead 

from Sir Gawain and the 
Green Knight 

Translated by JOHN GARDNER 

Connect to Your Life) 

A Person of Honor Suppose that you hear someone say, "The 
student-council president should be a person of honor." What 
qualities or ideals come to mind? Create a word web like the 
one shown, jotting down words or phrases that you think 
describe an honorable person. 

Build Background 

An Ideal World Medieval aristocrats relished tales of 
adventure, especially stories of brave and gallant knights. 
Although real knights were far from perfect, the knights of 
legend strove continually to obey a code of chivalry, a set of 
rules for gentlemanly and heroic behavior. Their code 
represented a combination of Christian and military ideals, 
including faith, modesty, loyalty, courtesy, bravery, and 
honor. The ideal knight respected and vigorously defended 
his church, his king, his country, and victims of injustice. 
Especially popular during the medieval period were 
legends of King Arthur and his heroic knights of the Round 
Table. The popularity of these tales was due in part to the 
idealized world in which they were set. It was a world of 
castles, heroes, courtly love, and magical spells— a world 
quite unlike the real medieval England, with its plagues, 
political battles, and civil unrest. 
Although Launcelot was often 
presented as the greatest and 
most distinguished of Arthur's 
knights, in early tales that role 
was given to Arthur's nephew 
Gawain (ge-wan'), who was 
famous for his courage and for 
his unfailing chivalry. 



















Focus Your Reading 

ROMANCE I The romance 


has been a popular narrative form since the 
Middle Ages. Generally, the term romance refers 
to any imaginative adventure concerned with 
noble heroes, gallant love, a chivalric code of 
honor, and daring deeds. Romances usually 
have faraway settings, depict events unlike 
those of ordinary life, and idealize their heroes 
as well as the eras in which the heroes lived. 
Medieval romances are also often lighthearted 
in tone and involve fantasy. Be aware of the 
characteristics of romance as you read the 
excerpt from Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. 



Like all narrative poems, Sir Gawain and the 
Green Knight contains the same elements as a 
short story— setting, characters, and plot. These 
elements combine to develop one or more 
themes. With any narrative poem, it is 
important to identify details of setting, 
character, and plot as you read. 
EQ reader s notebook Keep track of the 
plot by writing brief notes about the actions of 
each character. Note the ways in which honor 
plays a role in the course of events. 



mm at>6 tbc 

As tbc poem begins, Artbur ano bis knigbts Are gatbereo to celebrate Cbristttus 
auo tbe new year nritb feasting xnb ret>elry. In tbe miost of tbeir festivities, An 
enormous nun— n>bo is entirely green— bounos tbrougb tbe ooor. 




Splendid that knight errant stood in a splay of green, 
And green, too, was the mane of his mighty destrier; 
Fair fanning tresses enveloped the fighting man's shoulders, 
And over his breast hung a beard as big as a bush; 
The beard and the huge mane burgeoning forth from his head 
Were clipped off clean in a straight line over his elbows, 
And the upper half of each arm was hidden underneath 
As if covered by a king's chaperon, closed round the neck. 
The mane of the marvelous horse was much the same, 
Well crisped and combed and carefully pranked with knots, 
Threads of gold interwoven with the glorious green, 
Now a thread of hair, now another thread of gold; 
The tail of the horse and the forelock were tricked the same way, 
And both were bound up with a band of brilliant green 
Adorned with glittering jewels the length of the dock, 
Then caught up tight with a thong in a criss-cross knot 
Where many a bell tinkled brightly, all burnished gold. 
So monstrous a mount, so mighty a man in the saddle 
Was never once encountered on all this earth 

till then; 

His eyes, like lightning, flashed, 

And it seemed to many a man, 

That any man who clashed 

With him would not long stand. 


1 knight errant (er'ent): a 
knight who wanders about, 
searching for adventure in 
order to prove his chivalry; 
splay: display. 

2 destrier (des'tre-er): war 

5 burgeoning (bQr'je-nTng): 

8 chaperon (shap'a-ron'): 

10 pranked with knots: 

decorated with bows. 

13 forelock: the part of a 
horse's mane that falls 
forward between the ears. 

15 dock: the fleshy part of 
an animal's tail. 




25 But the huge man came unarmed, without helmet or hauberk, 
No breastplate or gorget or iron cleats on his arms; 
He brought neither shield nor spearshaft to shove or to smite, 
But instead he held in one hand a bough of the holly 
That grows most green when all the groves are bare 

30 And held in the other an ax, immense and unwieldy , 
A pitiless battleblade terrible to tell of. 

^scasss^ sH3®£s4*. ^a©ss^ 

King Arthur stared down at the stranger before the high dais 
And greeted him nobly, for nothing on earth frightened him. 
And he said to him, "Sir, you are welcome in this place; 

35 I am the head of this court. They call me Arthur. 

Get down from your horse, I beg you, and join us for dinner, 
And then whatever you seek we will gladly see to." 
But the stranger said, "No, so help me God on high, 
My errand is hardly to sit at my ease in your castle! 

40 But friend, since your praises are sung so far and wide, 

Your castle the best ever built, people say, and your barons 
The stoutest men in steel armor that ever rode steeds, 
Most mighty and most worthy of all mortal men 
And tough devils to toy with in tournament games, 

45 And since courtesy is in flower in this court, they say, 

All these tales, in truth, have drawn me to you at this time. 
You may be assured by this holly branch I bear 
That I come to you in peace, not spoiling for battle. 
If I'd wanted to come in finery, fixed up for fighting, 

50 I have back at home both a helmet and a hauberk, 
A shield and a sharp spear that shines like fire, 
And other weapons that I know pretty well how to use. 
But since I don't come here for battle, my clothes are mere cloth. 
Now if you are truly as bold as the people all say, 

55 You will grant me gladly the little game that I ask 

as my right." 
Arthur gave him answer 
And said, "Sir noble knight, 
If it's a duel you're after, 

60 We'll furnish you your fight." 

25 hauberk (ho'berk): a 
coat of chain mail (a type 
of armor). 

26 breastplate or gorget 
(gor'jTt) or iron cleats: 

armor for the chest, the 
throat, or the shoulders 
and elbows. 

32 dais (da'Ts): a raised 
platform where honored 
guests are seated. 

34 this place: Camelot, 
Arthur's favorite castle and 
the site of his court of the 
Round Table. 

44 In medieval 
tournaments, knights on 
horseback fought one 
another for sport. 

45 courtesy: the high 
standards of behavior 
expected in a king's court; 
in flower: at its best. 

48 spoiling for: eager for. 

"Good heavens, I want no such thing! I assure you, Sire, 

You've nothing but beardless babes about this bench! 

If I were hasped in my armor and high on my horse, 

You haven't a man that could match me, your might is so feeble. 

63 hasped: fastened. 

61-64 What is the Green 
Knight's tone as he 
addresses King Arthur? 




unwieldy (un-wel'de) adj. so large, heavy, or oddly shaped as to be 
difficult to hold or use 

65 And so all I ask of this court is a Christmas game, 

For the Yule is here, and New Year's, and here sit young men; 
If any man holds himself, here in this house, so hardy, 
So bold in his blood — and so brainless in his head — 
That he dares to stoutly exchange one stroke for another, 
70 I shall let him have as my present this lovely gisarme, 
This ax, as heavy as he'll need, to handle as he likes, 
And I will abide the first blow, bare-necked as I sit. 
If anyone here has the daring to try what I've offered, 
Leap to me lightly, lad; lift up this weapon; 
75 I give you the thing forever — you may think it your own; 
And I will stand still for your stroke, steady on the floor, 
Provided you honor my right, when my inning comes, 

to repay. 
But let the respite be 
80 A twelvemonth and a day; 

Come now, my boys, let's see 
What any here can say." 

70 gisarme (gT-zarm'): a 
battle-ax with a long shaft 
and a two-edged head. 

67-82 What challenge does 
the Green Knight offer? 





If they were like stone before, they were stiller now, 
Every last lord in the hall, both the high and the low; 
The stranger on his destrier stirred in the saddle 
And ferociously his red eyes rolled around; 
He lowered his grisly eyebrows, glistening green, 
And waved his beard and waited for someone to rise; 
When no one answered, he coughed, as if embarrassed, 
And drew himself up straight and spoke again: 
"What! Can this be King Arthur's court?" said the stranger, 
"Whose renown runs through many a realm, flung far and wide? 
What has become of your chivalry and your conquest, 
Your greatness-of-heart and your grimness and grand words? 
Behold the radiance and renown of the mighty Round Table 
Overwhelmed by a word out of one man's mouth! 
You shiver and blanch before a blow's been shown!" 
And with that he laughed so loud that the lord was distressed; 
In chagrin, his blood shot up in his face and limbs 

so fair; 

More angry he was than the wind, 

And likewise each man there; 

And Arthur, bravest of men, 

Decided now to draw near. 

97 blanch: turn white. 

99-101 Why is King Arthur 
so angry? 



respite (res'pTt) n. a period of rest or delay 
renown (rT-noun') n. fame 

chagrin (she-gnn') n. a feeling of embarrassment caused by 
humiliation or failure 


105 And he said, "By heaven, sir, your request is strange; 

But since you have come here for folly, you may as well find it. 

I know no one here who's aghast of your great words. 

Give me your gisarme, then, for the love of God, 

And gladly I'll grant you the gift you have asked to be given." 

no Lightly the King leaped down and clutched it in his hand; 
Then quickly that other lord alighted on his feet. 
Arthur lay hold of the ax, he gripped it by the handle, 
And he swung it up over him sternly, as if to strike. 
The stranger stood before him, in stature higher 

ii5 By a head or more than any man here in the house; 

Sober and thoughtful he stood there and stroked his beard, 
And with patience like a priest's he pulled down his collar, 
No more unmanned or dismayed by Arthur's might 
Than he'd be if some baron on the bench had brought him a glass 

120 of wine. 

Then Gawain, at Guinevere's side, 
Made to the King a sign: 
"I beseech you, Sire," he said, 
"Let this game be mine. 

106 folly: dangerous and 
foolish activity. 

118 unmanned: deprived 
of manly courage. 

121 Guinevere: King 
Arthur's wife. 






"Now if you, my worthy lord," said Gawain to the King, 

"Would command me to step from the dais and stand with you there, 

That I might without bad manners move down from my place 

(Though I couldn't, of course, if my liege lady disliked it) 

I'd be deeply honored to advise you before all the court; 

For I think it unseemly, if I understand the matter, 

That challenges such as this churl has chosen to offer 

Be met by Your Majesty — much as it may amuse you — 

When so many bold-hearted barons sit about the bench: 

No men under Heaven, I am sure, are more hardy in will 

Or better in body on the fields where battles are fought; 

I myself am the weakest, of course, and in wit the most feeble; 

My life would be least missed, if we let out the truth. 

Only as you are my uncle have I any honor, 

For excepting your blood, I bear in my body slight virtue. 

And since this affair that's befallen us here is so foolish, 

And since I have asked for it first, let it fall to me. 

If I've reasoned incorrectly, let all the court say, 

without blame." 

The nobles gather round 

And all advise the same: 

"Let the King step down 

And give Sir Gawain the game!" 

128 liege (lej) lady: a lady 
to whom one owes loyalty 
and service; here used by 
Gawain to refer to Queen 

131 churl: rude, uncouth 

136-139 How does 
Gawain's description of 
himself reflect a knight's 
code of chivalry? 




aghast (e-gast') adj. struck with terror or amazement; shocked 

Arthur grants Ganuin's request to take on tbe 6reen Knight's challenge. 
Che Green Knight asks Ganuin to identify himself, ano the tn>o agree on 
their pact. Ganuin then prepares to strike his blon> against the Green Knight. 

On the ground, the Green Knight got himself into position, 

His head bent forward a little, the bare flesh showing, 
150 His long and lovely locks laid over his crown 

So that any man there might note the naked neck. 

Sir Gawain laid hold of the ax and he hefted it high, 

His pivot foot thrown forward before him on the floor, 

And then, swiftly, he slashed at the naked neck; 
155 The sharp of the battleblade shattered asunder the bones 

And sank through the shining fat and slit it in two, 

And the bit of the bright steel buried itself in the ground. 

The fair head fell from the neck to the floor of the hall 

And the people all kicked it away as it came near their feet. 
160 The blood splashed up from the body and glistened on the green, 

But he never faltered or fell for all of that, 

But swiftly he started forth upon stout shanks 162 shanks: legs. 

And rushed to reach out, where the King's retainers stood, 163 retainers: servants or 

Caught hold of the lovely head, and lifted it up, attendants. 

165 And leaped to his steed and snatched up the reins of the bridle, 

Stepped into stirrups of steel and, striding aloft, 

He held his head by the hair, high, in his hand; 

And the stranger sat there as steadily in his saddle 

As a man entirely unharmed, although he was headless 
170 on his steed. 

He turned his trunk about, 

That baleful body that bled, 172 baleful: threatening 

And many were faint with fright evil; sinister - 

When all his say was said. 

175 He held his head in his hand up high before him, 

Addressing the face to the dearest of all on the dais; 

And the eyelids lifted wide, and the eyes looked out, 

And the mouth said just this much, as you may now hear: 

"Look that you go, Sir Gawain, as good as your word, 
180 And seek till you find me, as loyally, my friend, 

As you've sworn in this hall to do, in the hearing of the knights. 184 requited: paid back. 

Come to the Green Chapel, I charge you, and take For what does Gawain , 

, , < . deserve to be requited? 

A stroke the same as you ve given, for well you deserve How do you expect this 

To be readily requited on New Year's morn. will be done? 

WORDS ^, LV , . 

heft (heft) v. to lift up; hoist 

pivot (pTv'at) adj. acting as a center around which something turns 

KNOW _ — — 


185 Many men know me, the Knight of the Green Chapel; 
Therefore if you seek to find me, you shall not fail. 
Come or be counted a coward, as is fitting." 
Then with a rough jerk he turned the reins 
And haled away through the hall-door, his head in his hand, 
190 And fire of the flint flew out from the hooves of the foal. 
To what kingdom he was carried no man there knew, 
No more than they knew what country it was he came from. 

What then? 
The King and Gawain there 
195 Laugh at the thing and grin; 

And yet, it was an affair 
Most marvelous to men. 




As tbe end of tbc year appro acbes, Gamain leat>es on bis quest to fine tbc 6reen 
Cbapel auo fulfill bis pledge. After riding tbrougb mild country and encountering 
nuny dangers, be comes upon a splendid castle. Cbe lore of tbe castle welcomes 
Gamain and incites bim to stay mitb bim and bis la6y for a few days. 5f 

Cbe lore proposes tbat be mill go out to bunt eacb day mbile Gamain stays at 
tbe castle. At tbe end of tbe oay, tbey mill exebange mbat tbey bat>e mon. Wbile 
tbe lord is out bunting, tbe lady attempts to seduce Gamain. Gamain resists ber, 
bomet>er, ano on tbe first tmo oays accepts only kisses, mbicb be git>es to tbe lord 
at tbe eno of eacb day in exebange for mbat tbe loro bas gained in tbe bunt. On 
tbe tbird day Gamain continues to resist tbe lady, but sbe presses bim to accept 
anotber gift. 

She held toward him a ring of the yellowest gold 

And, standing aloft on the band, a stone like a star 

From which flew splendid beams like the light of the sun; 

And mark you well, it was worth a rich king's ransom. 

But right away he refused it, replying in haste, 

"My lady gay, I can hardly take gifts at the moment; 

Having nothing to give, I'd be wrong to take gifts in turn." 

She implored him again, still more earnestly, but again 

He refused it and swore on his knighthood that he could take nothing. 

Grieved that he still would not take it, she told him then: 

"If taking my ring would be wrong on account of its worth, 

And being so much in my debt would be bothersome to you, 

I'll give you merely this sash that's of slighter value." 

She swiftly unfastened the sash that encircled her waist, 

Tied around her fair tunic, inside her bright mantle; 

It was made of green silk and was marked of gleaming gold 

205 implored: begged. 

212 tunic: a shirtlike 
garment worn by both men 
and women; mantle: a 
sleeveless cloak worn over 
the tunic. 



Embroidered along the edges, ingeniously stitched. 
215 This too she held out to the knight, and she earnestly begged him 
To take it, trifling as it was, to remember her by. 
But again he said no, there was nothing at all he could take, 
Neither treasure nor token, until such time as the Lord 
Had granted him some end to his adventure. 
220 "And therefore, I pray you, do not be displeased, 
But give up, for I cannot grant it, however fair 

or right. 
I know your worth and price, 
And my debt's by no means slight; 
225 I swear through fire and ice 

To be your humble knight." 

216 trifling: of little value. 

"Do you lay aside this silk," said the lady then, 
"Because it seems unworthy — as well it may? 
Listen. Little as it is, it seems less in value, 

230 But he who knew what charms are woven within it 
Might place a better price on it, perchance. 
For the man who goes to battle in this green lace, 
As long as he keeps it looped around him, 
No man under Heaven can hurt him, whoever may try, 

235 For nothing on earth, however uncanny, can kill him." 
The knight cast about in distress, and it came to his heart 
This might be a treasure indeed when the time came to take 
The blow he had bargained to suffer beside the Green Chapel. 
If the gift meant remaining alive, it might well be worth it; 

240 So he listened in silence and suffered the lady to speak, 

And she pressed the sash upon him and begged him to take it, 
And Gawain did, and she gave him the gift with great pleasure 
And begged him, for her sake, to say not a word, 
And to keep it hidden from her lord. And he said he would, 

245 That except for themselves, this business would never be known 

to a man. 
He thanked her earnestly, 
And boldly his heart now ran; 
And now a third time she 

250 Leaned down and kissed her man. 

242 Why do you think 
Gawain finally accepts the 
green sash? 

Wben tbc loro returns \\ tbe eno of tbc tbiro b\y, <5xxt>xin git>es 
bim a kiss but does not repeat tbe gift of tbe sasb. 

WORDS ingeniously (Tn-jen'yes-le) adv. in a way marked by skill and imagination; 

T O cleverly 

KNOW uncanny (un-kan'e) adj. frighteningly unnatural or supernatural; mysterious 


On Hem Y<^r's Day 6amain must go to meet tbe 6reen Knigbt Wearing tbe 
green sasb, be sets out before oamn. 6amain arrives At a milo, ruggeo place, 
mbere be sees no cbapel but bears tbe souno of x bkoe being sharpened Gamain 
calls out, xnb tbe 6reen Knigbt appears mitb a buge ax. Cbe Green Knigbt 
greets Gamain, mbo, mitb pouncing beart, boms bis beao to take bis Horn. 

Quickly then the man in the green made ready, 
Grabbed up his keen-ground ax to strike Sir Gawain; 
With all the might in his body he bore it aloft 
And sharply brought it down as if to slay him; 

255 Had he made it fall with the force he first intended 

He would have stretched out the strongest man on earth. 
But Sir Gawain cast a side glance at the ax 
As it glided down to give him his Kingdom Come, 
And his shoulders jerked away from the iron a little, 

260 And the Green Knight caught the handle, holding it back,' 
And mocked the prince with many a proud reproof : 
"You can't be Gawain," he said, "who's thought so good, 
A man who's never been daunted on hill or dale! 
For look how you flinch for fear before anything's felt! 

265 I never heard tell that Sir Gawain was ever a coward! 
/ never moved a muscle when you came down; 
In Arthur's hall I never so much as winced . 
My head fell off at my feet, yet I never flickered; 
But you! You tremble at heart before you're touched! 

270 I'm bound to be called a better man than you, then, 

my lord." 
Said Gawain, "I shied once: 
No more. You have my word. 
But if my head falls to the stones 

275 It cannot be restored. 

"But be brisk, man, by your faith, and come to the point! 
Deal out my doom if you can, and do it at once, 
For I'll stand for one good stroke, and I'll start no more 
Until your ax has hit — and that I swear." 
280 "Here goes, then," said the other, and heaves it aloft 
And stands there waiting, scowling like a madman; 
He swings down sharp, then suddenly stops again, 
Holds back the ax with his hand before it can hurt, 
And Gawain stands there stirring not even a nerve; 

258 his Kingdom Come: his 

death and entry into the 
afterlife; a reference to the 
sentence "Thy kingdom 
come" in the Lord's Prayer. 

274-275 The Green Knight 
has proclaimed himself a 
better man than Gawain. 
How does Gawain dispute 
that idea in these lines? 




reproof (n-prodf) n. an expression of disapproval; criticism 
daunt (dont) v. to destroy the courage of; dismay 
flinch (fl men) v. to pull back from something unpleasant or surprising 
wince (wTns) v. to spring back involuntarily, as in pain 

285 He stood there still as a stone or the stock of a tree 
That's wedged in rocky ground by a hundred roots. 
O, merrily then he spoke, the man in green: 
"Good! You've got your heart back! Now I can hit you. 
May all that glory the good King Arthur gave you 
290 Prove efficacious now — if it ever can — 

And save your neck." In rage Sir Gawain shouted, 
"Hit me, hero! I'm right up to here with your threats! 
Is it you that's the cringing coward after all?" 
"Whoo!" said the man in green, "he's wrathful, too! 
295 No pauses, then; I'll pay up my pledge at once, 

I vow!" 
He takes his stride to strike 
And lifts his lip and brow; 
It's not a thing Gawain can like, 
300 For nothing can save him now! 

He raises that ax up lightly and flashes it down, 
And that blinding bit bites in at the knight's bare neck — 
But hard as he hammered it down, it hurt him no more 
Than to nick the nape of his neck, so it split the skin; 

305 The sharp blade slit to the flesh through the shiny hide, 

And red blood shot to his shoulders and spattered the ground. 
And when Gawain saw his blood where it blinked in the snow 
He sprang from the man with a leap to the length of a spear; 
He snatched up his helmet swiftly and slapped it on, 

310 Shifted his shield into place with a jerk of his shoulders, 
And snapped his sword out faster than sight; said boldly — 
And, mortal born of his mother that he was, 
There was never on earth a man so happy by half — 
"No more strokes, my friend; you've had your swing! 

315 I've stood one swipe of your ax without resistance; 
If you offer me any more, I'll repay you at once 
With all the force and fire I've got — as you 

will see. 
I take one stroke, that's all, 

320 For that was the compact we 

Arranged in Arthur's hall; 
But now, no more for me!" 

314-322 At this moment, 
how do you think Gawain 
would explain the fact that 
he has received only a 
slight cut from the Green 
Knight's ax? 

The Green Knight remained where he stood, relaxing on his ax — 
Settled the shaft on the rocks and leaned on the sharp end — 
325 And studied the young man standing there, shoulders hunched, 



efficacious (ef'T-ka'shes) adj. effective 


And considered that staunch and doughty stance he took, 

Undaunted yet, and in his heart he liked it; 

And then he said merrily, with a mighty voice — 

With a roar like rushing wind he reproved the knight — 
330 "Here, don't be such an ogre on your ground! 

Nobody here has behaved with bad manners toward you 

Or done a thing except as the contract said. 

I owed you a stroke, and I've struck; consider yourself 

Well paid. And now I release you from all further duties. 
335 If I'd cared to hustle, it may be, perchance, that I might 

Have hit somewhat harder, and then you might well be cross! 

The first time I lifted my ax it was lighthearted sport, 

I merely feinted and made no mark, as was right, 

For you kept our pact of the first night with honor 
340 And abided by your word and held yourself true to me, 

Giving me all you owed as a good man should. 

I feinted a second time, friend, for the morning 

You kissed my pretty wife twice and returned me the kisses; 

And so for the first two days, mere feints, nothing more 
345 severe. 

A man who's true to his word, 
There's nothing he needs to fear; 
You failed me, though, on the third 
Exchange, so I've tapped you here. 

326 staunch: firm; 
doughty (dou'te): brave. 

338 feinted (fan'tTd): 
pretended to attack. 

337-343 What does the 
Green Knight reveal about 

350 "That sash you wear by your scabbard belongs to me; 
My own wife gave it to you, as I ought to know. 
I know, too, of your kisses and all your words 
And my wife's advances, for I myself arranged them. 
It was I who sent her to test you. I'm convinced 

355 You're the finest man that ever walked this earth. 
As a pearl is of greater price than dry white peas, 
So Gawain indeed stands out above all other knights. 
But you lacked a little, sir; you were less than loyal; 
But since it was not for the sash itself or for lust 

360 But because you loved your life, I blame you less." 
Sir Gawain stood in a study a long, long while, 
So miserable with disgrace that he wept within, 
And all the blood of his chest went up to his face 
And he shrank away in shame from the man's gentle words. 

365 The first words Gawain could find to say were these: 
"Cursed be cowardice and covetousness both, 
Villainy and vice that destroy all virtue!" 
He caught at the knots of the girdle and loosened them 
And fiercely flung the sash at the Green Knight. 

350 scabbard (skab'ard): a 
sheath for a dagger or 

354 What was the Green 
Knight's test? 

368 girdle: sash. 






"There, there's my fault! The foul fiend vex it! 
Foolish cowardice taught me, from fear of your stroke, 
To bargain, covetous, and abandon my kind, 
The selflessness and loyalty suitable in knights; 
Here I stand, faulty and false, much as I've feared them, 
Both of them, untruth and treachery; may they see sorrow 

and care! 

I can't deny my guilt; 

My works shine none too fair! 

Give me your good will 

And henceforth I'll beware." 

370 vex: harass; torment. 

371-372 What does 
Gawain mean when he 
says, "Foolish cowardice 
taught me ... to bargain 
. . . and abandon my kind"? 

At that, the Green Knight laughed, saying graciously, 
"Whatever harm I've had, I hold it amended 
Since now you're confessed so clean, acknowledging sins 
And bearing the plain penance of my point; 
385 I consider you polished as white and as perfectly clean 
As if you had never fallen since first you were born. 
And I give you, sir, this gold-embroidered girdle, 
For the cloth is as green as my gown. Sir Gawain, think 
On this when you go forth among great princes; 
390 Remember our struggle here; recall to your mind 
This rich token. Remember the Green Chapel. 
And now, come on, let's both go back to my castle 
And finish the New Year's revels with feasting and joy, 

not strife, 
395 I beg you," said the lord, 

And said, "As for my wife, 
She'll be your friend, no more 
A threat against your life." 

"No, sir," said the knight, and seized his helmet 
400 And quickly removed it, thanking the Green Knight, 
"I've reveled too well already; but fortune be with you; 
May He who gives all honors honor you well." 
^ca&fiak ^sssfis^ ,ass®£5v 

And so they embraced and kissed and commended each other 
To the Prince of Paradise, and parted then 
405 in the cold; 

Sir Gawain turned again 
To Camelot and his lord; 
And as for the man in green, 
He went wherever he would. 

384 penance: punishment 
accepted by a person to 
show sorrow for wrong- 
doing; point: blade. 

382-386 The Green Knight 
is saying that Gawain has 
paid for his fault by admit- 
ting it and offering his 
head to the ax. 

387-388 Why do you think 
the Green Knight gives 
Gawain the sash? 


TO amended (e-men'dTd) adj. corrected amend v. 





Connect to the Literature 

1. What Do You Think? 

What is your 
reaction to this 

Think Critically 

Comprehension Check 

• What challenge does the Green 
Knight present to Arthur and his 

• Why does the Green Knight raise 
his ax three times over Gawain's 

Literary Analysis 



Review the 



notes you took in your 

the actions of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. What do 

these actions reveal about each character's sense of honor? 

3. Why do you think Gawain requests to take up the Green 
Knight's challenge? 

the Green Knight's behavior 

the response of the other knights 

the code of chivalry 

4. In your opinion, how well does Gawain fulfill the Green 
Knight's challenge? Use details from the poem to support 
your opinion. 

5. Think about the way in which the Green Knight tests 
Gawain's virtues at the castle. Do you think the test is fair? 
Why or why not? 

6. Look again at the word web you created for Connect to Your 
Life on page 209. Compare and contrast your own concept 
of honor with that of Gawain. 

Extend Interpretations 

7. What If? What might have happened if Gawain had refused 
to accept the sash? Explain your answer. 

8. Comparing Texts Compare and contrast Gawain and Beowulf. 
In your opinion, who is the more honorable character? 

9. Connect to Life King Arthur and his knights were judged by 
their conduct, specifically by how well they followed the 
code of chivalry. Do you think today's leaders are judged by 
a specific code of conduct? If so, what is it? 

I ROMANCE | Set in a f araway time 
and place, a romance involves 
noble heroes who perform daring 
deeds according to a strict code of 
honor. In Sir Gawain and the Green 
Knight, for example, the noble 
Gawain accepts the Green Knight's 
deadly challenge to uphold the 
honor of Arthur's court. Like other 
medieval romances, the story is 
filled with extraordinary events and 
fantastic scenes, including this 
description of the Green Knight just 
before he addresses Sir Gawain: 

He held his head by the hair, high, 

in his hand; 
And the stranger sat there as 

steadily in his saddle 
As a man entirely unharmed, 

although he was headless. . . . 

Although Gawain berates himself 
for not fully measuring up to his own 
ideals, his struggle for perfection is 
typical of the hero of romance. 
Cooperative Learning Activity Get 
together in a group and discuss how 
a modern story or event could be 
retold as a romance. You might 
consider retelling a current news 
story or the plot of a realistic film. 
Use as many elements of romance 
as you can as you develop your 
story's setting, characters, and plot. 

CONFLICT A conflict is 

a struggle between opposing forces 
that moves a plot forward. What 
would you say are the key conflicts 
in Sir Gawain and the Green 
Knightl Note whether they are 
external or internal. 





Writing Options 

1. Questions for the Green Knight 

Prepare a list of questions that 
you would ask the Green Knight 
in an interview for your school 

2. New Story Ending Suppose 
that Gawain failed to meet the 
Green Knight in 12 months and a 
day. In prose, write a new story 
ending to show what you think 
might happen. 

3. Essay on Romance You have 
read that Sir Gawain and the 
Green Knight is a medieval 
romance. In a short essay, 
explain why you think the 
romance remains a popular 
narrative form. 

4. Television News Report Write a 
television news story in which 
you report the Green Knight's 
intrusion into Arthur's court. You 
might interview one of the 
knights at the Round Table for 
his eyewitness account of the 
strange event. 

5. Speech Honoring Gawain 

Imagine that you are King Arthur 
presiding over the Round Table. 
Write the speech that you would 
make upon Gawain's safe return 
to Camelot. 

Activities & 

1. Computer Game Challenge 

Devise a computer game based 
on the Green Knight's challenge. 
Make one or more drawings to 
illustrate the way the game 
would be played. -TECHNOLOGY 

2. Dramatic Presentation With 
a small group of classmates, 
prepare a dramatic interpretation 
of a scene from the poem. 
After deciding on roles, lines, 
and actions, rehearse your 
performance before presenting 

it to the class. - VIEWING AND 

3. Special Effects Diagram 

Investigate the techniques used 
to create special effects in 
movies. Then draw a diagram 
that illustrates the technique you 
would use to film the beheading 
of the Green Knight. ~ ART 

4. A Set for a Play Imagine that 
you are producing a play based 
on this selection. Choose a scene 
and design a miniature set for it, 
depicting the scenery, the props, 
and the characters. - ART/DRAMA 

5. Storyboard Scene Create a 
storyboard, or sequence of 
sketches, depicting the Green 
Knight's appearance and speech 
before Arthur and his knights. 
Write a brief caption or 
explanatory note for each sketch. 


Inquiry & Research 

1. Weapons of War 

Find out more about 
the armor and 
weaponry used in 
medieval England. 
How did real-life 
warriors typically 
prepare for battle? 
What were their 
weapons? If you 
have access to a 
CD-ROM encyclo- 
pedia or an on-line 
encyclopedia, you 
might use a computer 
to start your research. 

-•, More Online: Research Starter 

2. Honorable Pursuits Research 
the activities of real knights. How 
were they appointed? Who were 
they expected to defend? What, if 
anything, did they have to do to 
prove their bravery and strength? 





Vocabulary in Action 

EXERCISE: ANALOGIES Write the letter of the pair of 
terms that express the relationship closest to that 
of the capitalized pair. 

1. RENOWN : FAME :: (a) greed : cowardice, 
(b) courtesy : politeness, (c) friendship : 

2. DAUNT : ENCOURAGE :: (a) notify : warn, 
(b) neglect : leave, (c) rejoice : mourn 

3. WEIGHT LIFTER : HEFT :: (a) pianist : piano, 
(b) artist : draw, (c) actor : applaud 

4. ERROR : AMENDED :: (a) accident : avoided, 
(b) storm : predicted, (c) crack : repaired 

5. PAINFUL : WINCE :: (a) proud : succeed, 
(b) satisfied : eat, (c) funny : laugh 

6. RESPITE : WEEKEND :: (a) exercise : jogging, 
(b) failure : victory, (c) problem : food 

7. AGHAST : SHOCKED :: (a) angry : jealous, 
(b) surprised : shy, (c) cautious : careful 

8. GHOST : UNCANNY :: (a) comedian : serious, 
(b) scholar : intelligent, (c) volunteer : 

9. EFFICACIOUS : USELESS :: (a) loyal : unfaithful, 
(b) honest : wise, (c) important : significant 

10. FLINCH : UNSHAKABLE :: (a) perspire : cold, 
(b) gamble : daring, (c) smile : friendly 

11. MANAGEABLE : UNWIELDY :: (a) wide : deep, 
(b) lost : crumpled, (c) light : heavy 

12. INGENIOUSLY : CLEVERLY :: (a) slowly : 
speedily, (b) joyfully : nicely, (c) carelessly : 

13. PIVOT : TURNING :: (a) vehicle : moving, 
(b) axis : rotating, (c) crosswalk : stopping 

14. CHAGRIN : UNPLEASANT :: (a) regret : amused, 
(b) bliss : joyful, (c) impatience : calm 

15. REPROOF : APPROVE :: (a) hatred : oppose, 
(b) assistance : encourage, (c) recognition : 



















Building Vocabulary 

For an in-depth lesson 
on analogies, see page 

The Gawain Poet 

Mystery Man The identity of the author of Sir 
Gawain and the Green Knight is unknown. The 
only surviving early manuscript of the poem, 
produced by an anonymous copyist around 1400, 
contains three other poems — Pearl, Purity, and 
Patience — that are believed to be the work of the 
same man. (Since Pearl is the most technically 
brilliant of the four poems, their author is also 
known as the Pearl Poet.) The Gawain Poet's 
descriptions and language suggest that he wrote in 
the second half of the 14th century and was 
therefore a contemporary of Chaucer. His dialect, 
however, indicates that he was not a Londoner like 
Chaucer but lived somewhere in the northwestern 
part of England. 

Man for All Seasons The Gawain Poet's works reveal 
that he was widely read in French and Latin and had 
some knowledge of law and theology. Although he was 
familiar with many details of medieval aristocratic life, 
his descriptions and metaphors also show a love of 
the countryside and rural life. Because of his rich 
imagination, sophisticated technique, and wide 
knowledge, he is considered one of the greatest of 
medieval English poets. 

Author Activity 

Locate a translation of Pearl and read excerpts from 
it. Then compare its themes and characteristics with 
those in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Share 
your findings with your classmates. 



PREPARING to 0iead 

fmm Le Morte d' Arthur 


Connect to Your Life) 

A Second Chance Have you ever done or said something that 
you later regretted? If so, why did you regret it? Given a 
second chance, how would you have behaved differently? 
Share your thoughts with your classmates. 

Comparing Literature 
of the World 

Le Morte d 'Arthur 
and the Ramayana 

This lesson and the one that follows 
present an opportunity for comparing 
legendary deeds in Le Morte d'Arthur 
and the Ramayana. Specific points of 
comparison in the Ramayana lesson 
will help you contrast characters and 
scenes in Le Morte d'Arthur with those 
in Valmiki's epic. 

Build Background 

Arthurian Legends The legend of King Arthur is one 
of the most popular and enduring legends in 
Western culture. Some historians believe that the 
fictional Arthur was modeled on a real fifth- or sixth- 
century Celtic military leader whose cavalry 
defended Britain against the invading Anglo-Saxons. 
However, the historical Arthur was undoubtedly very 
different from the king of later legend, who ruled an 
idealized world of romance, chivalry, and magic. 
Since the sixth century, there have been many 
variations of the stories celebrating King Arthur. Most 
English-speaking readers have been introduced to the 
Arthurian legends through Thomas Malory's Le Morte 
d'Arthur or one of its many adaptations. Malory's 
work consists of a number of interwoven tales that 
chronicle the rise and fall of the Arthurian world. 
These tales are based on earlier English and French 
stories about Arthur's court and are populated by 
such famous characters as Merlin the magician, 
Queen Gwynevere (also spelled Guinevere), and a 
host of knights, including Sir Launcelot, Sir Gawain— 
whom you encountered in the previous selection— Sir 
Tristram, and Sir Galahad. Although the title Le Morte 
d'Arthur ("The Death of Arthur") perhaps applies best 
to the last section of Malory's work, it is by this title 
that the entire work has come to be known. 

WORDS TO KNOW Vocabulary Preview 
















Focus Your Reading 



Characterization is the way in which writers guide 
readers' impressions of characters. Malory combines 
details of appearance, speech, thoughts, and actions 
with comments on the characters to establish the 
essential nature of his characters. 

During the absence of King Arthur from Britain, Sir 
Modred, already vested with sovereign powers, had 
decided to usurp the throne. Accordingly, he had false 
letters written — announcing the death of King Arthur 
in battle — and delivered to himself. 

As you read this story, be aware of details of appearance, 
behavior, and action that contribute to characterization. 



In describing Malory's characterizations, one critic has 
said that Launcelot always seems noble in spite of his 
faults. As you read the selection, note Launcelot's 
words and actions and those of other characters in 
response to him. Think about whether these details of 
characterization support the view of Launcelot as 
flawed but noble. 

rp READERS notebook Use a cluster diagram to 
record examples of Launcelot's speech and behavior, 
as well as the words 
and acts of others, 
that contribute to 
Malory's charac- 
terization of him. 




Detail of Arthur from the Nine Heroes Tapestries 
(about 1385), probably Nicolas Bataille. The Metropolita 
Museum of Art, New York, The Cloisters Collection, 
Munsey Fund, 1932 (32.130.3a). 





be Siege of Bennrick 


^P^| When Sir Launcelot had established 

1 dominion over France, he garrisoned 

^L^^^ the towns and settled with his army 
in the fortified city of Benwick, 
where his father King Ban had held court. 

King Arthur, after appointing Sir Modred 
ruler in his absence, and instructing Queen 
Gwynevere to obey him, sailed to France with an 
army of sixty thousand men, and, on the advice of 
Sir Gawain, started laying waste 1 all before him. 

News of the invasion reached Sir Launcelot, and 
his counselors advised him. Sir Bors spoke first: 

"My lord Sir Launcelot, is it wise to allow King 
Arthur to lay your lands waste when sooner or 
later he will oblige you to offer him battle?" 

Sir Lyonel spoke next: "My lord, I would 
recommend that we remain within the walls of 
our city until the invaders are weakened by cold 
and hunger, and then let us sally forth 2 and 
destroy them." 

Next, King Bagdemagus: "Sir Launcelot, I 
understand that it is out of courtesy that you 
permit the king to ravage your lands, but where 

will this courtesy end? If you remain within the 
city, soon everything will be destroyed." 

Then Sir Galyhud: "Sir, you command knights 
of royal blood; you cannot expect them to 
remain meekly within the city walls. I pray you, 
let us encounter the enemy on the open field, and 
they will soon repent of their expedition." 

And to this the seven knights of West Britain 
all muttered their assent. Then Sir Launcelot spoke: 

"My lords, I am reluctant to shed Christian 
blood in a war against my own liege; 3 and yet I 
do know that these lands have already suffered 
depredation in the wars between King Claudas 
and my father and uncle, King Ban and King 
Bors. Therefore I will next send a messenger to 
King Arthur and sue 4 for peace, for peace is 
always preferable to war." 

1. laying waste: destroying. 

2. sally forth: rush out suddenly in an attack. 

3. liege (lej) : a lord or ruler to whom one owes loyalty and 

4. sue: appeal; beg. 



ravage (rav'Tj) v. to cause great damage to; devastate 

depredation (dep'rT-da'shen) n. destruction caused by robbery or looting 


Accordingly a young noblewoman accompanied 
by a dwarf was sent to King Arthur. They were 
received by the gentle knight Sir Lucas the Butler. 

"My lady, you bring a message from Sir 
Launcelot?" he asked. 

"My lord, I do. It is for the king." 

"Alas! King Arthur would readily be reconciled 
to Sir Launcelot, but Sir Gawain forbids it; and 
it is a shame, because Sir Launcelot is certainly 
the greatest knight living." 

The young noblewoman was brought before 
the king, and when he had heard Sir Launcelot's 
entreaties for peace he wept, and would readily 
have accepted them had not Sir Gawain spoken up: 

"My liege, if we retreat now we will become a 
laughingstock, in this land and in our own. 
Surely our honor demands that we pursue this 
war to its proper conclusion." 

"Sir Gawain, I will do as you advise, although 
reluctantly, for Sir Launcelot's terms are 
generous and he is still dear to me. I beg you 
make a reply to him on my behalf." 

Sir Gawain addressed the young noblewoman: 

"Tell Sir Launcelot that we will not bandy 
words with him, and it is too late now to sue for 
peace. Further that I, Sir Gawain, shall not cease 
to strive against him until one of us is killed." 

The young noblewoman was escorted back to 
Sir Launcelot, and when she had delivered Sir 
Gawain's message they both wept. Then Sir Bors 

"My lord, we beseech you, do not look so 
dismayed! You have many trustworthy knights 
behind you; lead us onto the field and we will 
put an end to this quarrel." 

"My lords, I do not doubt you, but I pray 
you, be ruled by me: I will not lead you against 
our liege until we ourselves are endangered; only 
then can we honorably sally forth and defeat him." 

Sir Launcelot's nobles submitted; but the next 
day it was seen that King Arthur had laid siege 
to the city of Benwick. Then Sir Gawain rode 

before the city walls and shouted a challenge: 

"My lord Sir Launcelot: have you no knight 
who will dare to ride forth and break spears 
with me? It is I, Sir Gawain." 

Sir Bors accepted the challenge. He rode out 
of the castle gate, they encountered, and he was 
wounded and flung from his horse. His comrades 
helped him back to the castle, and then Sir 
Lyonel offered to joust. He too was overthrown 
and helped back to the castle. 

Thereafter, every day for six months Sir 
Gawain rode before the city and overthrew 
whoever accepted his challenge. Meanwhile, as a 
result of skirmishes, numbers on both sides were 
beginning to dwindle . Then one day Sir Gawain 
challenged Sir Launcelot: 

"My lord Sir Launcelot: traitor to the king 
and to me, come forth if you dare and meet your 
mortal foe, instead of lurking like a coward in 
your castle!" 

Sir Launcelot heard the challenge, and one of 
his kinsmen spoke to him: 

"My lord, you must accept the challenge, or 
be shamed forever." 

"Alas, that I should have to fight Sir Gawain!" 
said Sir Launcelot. "But now I am obliged to." 

Sir Launcelot gave orders for his most power- 
ful courser 5 to be harnessed, and when he had 
armed, rode to the tower and addressed King 

"My lord King Arthur, it is with a heavy heart 
that I set forth to do battle with one of your own 
blood; but now it is incumbent upon my honor 
to do so. For six months I have suffered your 
majesty to lay my lands waste and to besiege me 
in my own city. My courtesy is repaid with 
insults, so deadly and shameful that now I must 
by force of arms seek redress ." 

"Have done, Sir Launcelot, and let us to 
battle!" shouted Sir Gawain. 

5. courser: a horse trained for battle. 




entreaty (en-tre'te) n. an earnest request; plea 

dwindle (dwTn'dl) v. to become steadily less 

incumbent (Tn-kum'bant) adj. required as a duty or obligation 

redress (n-dres') n. repayment for a wrong or injury 

Sir Launcelot rode from the 
city at the head of his entire 
army. King Arthur was 
astonished at his strength and 
realized that Sir Launcelot had 
not been boasting when he 
claimed to have acted with 
forbearance. "Alas, that I 

, ' , v , • - -fc''i ; — 









should ever have come to war 
with him!" he said to himself. 

It was agreed that the two 
combatants should fight to the 
death, with interference from 
none. Sir Launcelot and Sir 
Gawain then drew apart and 
galloped furiously together, 
and so great was their strength 
that their horses crashed to the 
ground and both riders were 

A terrible sword fight com- 
menced, and each felt the 
might of the other as fresh 

wounds were inflicted with every blow. For three 
hours they fought with scarcely a pause, and the 
blood seeped out from their armor and trickled to knights. Remember me with kindness and be 

"Sir Gawain, I have endured 
many hard blows from you 
these last three hours, but now 
beware, for I see that you have 
weakened, and it is I who am 
the stronger." 

Thereupon Sir Launcelot 
redoubled his blows, and with 
one, catching Sir Gawain side- 
long on the helmet, sent him 
reeling to the ground. Then he 
courteously stood back. 

"Sir Launcelot, I still defy 
you!" said Sir Gawain from 
the ground. "Why do you not 
kill me now? for I warn you 
that if ever I recover I shall 
challenge you again." 

"Sir Gawain, by the grace of 
God I shall endure you again," 
Sir Launcelot replied, and then 
turned to the king: 

"My liege, your expedition 
can find no honorable conclusion at these walls, 
so I pray you withdraw and spare your noble 

the ground. Sir Launcelot found to his dismay 
that Sir Gawain, instead of weakening, seemed to 
increase in strength as they proceeded, and he 
began to fear that he was battling not with a 
knight but with a fiend incarnate. 6 He decided to 
fight defensively and to conserve his strength. 

It was a secret known only to King Arthur 
and to Sir Gawain himself that his strength 
increased for three hours in the morning, reach- 
ing its zenith 7 at noon, and waning again. This 
was due to an enchantment that had been cast 
over him by a hermit 8 when he was still a youth. 
Often in the past, as now, he had taken 
advantage of this. 

Thus when the hour of noon had passed, Sir 
Launcelot felt Sir Gawain's strength return to 
normal, and knew that he could defeat him. 

guided, as ever, by the love of God." 

"Alas!" said the king, "Sir Launcelot scruples 9 
to fight against me or those of my blood, and 
once more I am beholden to him." 

Sir Launcelot withdrew to the city and Sir 
Gawain was taken to his pavilion, where his 
wounds were dressed. King Arthur was doubly 
grieved, by his quarrel with Sir Launcelot and by 
the seriousness of Sir Gawain's wounds. 

For three weeks, while Sir Gawain was 
recovering, the siege was relaxed and both sides 
skirmished only halfheartedly. But once recovered, 

6. fiend incarnate: devil in human form. 

7. zenith: highest point; peak. 

8. hermit: a person living in solitude for religious reasons. 

9. scruples: hesitates for reasons of principle. 



forbearance (for-bar'ans) n. self-control; patient restraint 
reeling (re'lTng) adj. falling back reel v. 


Sir Gawain rode up to the castle walls and chal- 
lenged Sir Launcelot again: 

"Sir Launcelot, traitor! Come forth, it is Sir 
Gawain who challenges you." 

"Sir Gawain, why these insults? I have the 
measure of your strength and you can do me but 
little harm." 

"Come forth, traitor, and this time I shall 
make good my revenge!" Sir Gawain shouted. 

"Sir Gawain, I have once spared your life; 
should you not beware of meddling with 
me again?" 

Sir Launcelot armed and 
rode out to meet him. They 
jousted and Sir Gawain 
broke his spear and was 
flung from his horse. He 
leaped up immediately, and 
putting his shield before him, 
called on Sir Launcelot to fight 
on foot. 

"The issue 10 of a mare has 
failed me; but I am the issue of a king 
and a queen and I shall not fail!" he 

As before, Sir Launcelot felt Sir Gawain's 
strength increase until noon, during which period 
he defended himself, and then weaken again. 

"Sir Gawain, you are a proved knight, and 
with the increase of your strength until noon you 

must have overcome many of your opponents, 
but now your strength has gone, and once more 
you are at my mercy." 

Sir Launcelot struck out lustily and by chance 
reopened the wound he had made before. Sir 
Gawain fell to the ground in a faint, but when he 
came to he said weakly: 

"Sir Launcelot, I still defy you. Make an end 
of me, or I shall fight you again!" 

"Sir Gawain, while you stand on your two 
feet I will not gainsay 11 you; but I will never 
strike a knight who has fallen. 
God defend me from such 

Sir Launcelot walked away 
and Sir Gawain continued to call 
after him: "Traitor! Until one of 
us is dead I shall never give in!" 
For a month Sir Gawain lay 
recovering from his wounds, and 
the siege remained; but then, as Sir 
Gawain was preparing to fight Sir 
Launcelot once more, King Arthur 
received news which caused him to strike 
camp and lead his army on a forced march to 
the coast, and thence to embark for Britain. 

10. issue: offspring. 

1 1 . gainsay: deny. 



be Day of Destiny 

During the absence of King Arthur 
from Britain, Sir Modred, already 
vested with sovereign powers, 12 
had decided to usurp the throne. 
Accordingly, he had false letters written — announc- 
ing the death of King Arthur in battle — and 
delivered to himself. Then, calling a parliament, 
he ordered the letters to be read and persuaded 
the nobility to elect him king. The coronation 
took place at Canterbury and was celebrated 
with a fifteen-day feast. 

Sir Modred then settled in Camelot and made 
overtures to Queen Gwynevere to marry him. 
The queen seemingly acquiesced, but as soon as 
she had won his confidence, begged leave to 
make a journey to London in order to prepare 
her trousseau. 13 Sir Modred consented, and the 
queen rode straight to the Tower which, with the 
aid of her loyal nobles, she manned and pro- 
visioned for her defense. 

Sir Modred, outraged, at once marched against 
her, and laid siege to the Tower, but despite his 
large army, siege engines, and guns, was unable to 
effect a breach. He then tried to entice the queen 
from the Tower, first by guile and then by threats, 
but she would listen to neither. Finally the Arch- 
bishop of Canterbury came forward to protest: 

"Sir Modred, do you not fear God's displeasure? 
First you have falsely made yourself king; now 
you, who were begotten by King Arthur on his 
aunt, try to marry your father's wife! If you do 
not revoke your evil deeds I shall curse you with 
bell, book, and candle." 14 

"Fie on you! Do your worst!" Sir Modred 

"Sir Modred, I warn you take heed! or the 
wrath of the Lord will descend upon you." 

"Away, false priest, or I shall behead you!" 

The Archbishop withdrew, and after excom- 

municating Sir Modred, abandoned his office and 
fled to Glastonbury. There he took up his abode 
as a simple hermit, and by fasting and prayer 
sought divine intercession 15 in the troubled 
affairs of his country. 

Sir Modred tried to assassinate the Archbishop, 
but was too late. He continued to assail the queen 
with entreaties and threats, both of which failed, 
and then the news reached him that King Arthur 
was returning with his army from France in order 
to seek revenge. 

Sir Modred now appealed to the barony to 
support him, and it has to be told that they came 
forward in large numbers to do so. Why? it will 
be asked. Was not King Arthur, the noblest 
sovereign Christendom had seen, now leading his 
armies in a righteous cause? The answer lies in 
the people of Britain, who, then as now, were 
fickle. Those who so readily transferred their 
allegiance to Sir Modred did so with the excuse 
that whereas King Arthur's reign had led them 
into war and strife, Sir Modred promised them 
peace and festivity. 

Hence it was with an army of a hundred 
thousand that Sir Modred marched to Dover to 
battle against his own father, and to withhold 
from him his rightful crown. 

As King Arthur with his fleet drew into the 
harbor, Sir Modred and his army launched forth 

12. vested with sovereign powers: given the authority of a 

13. trousseau (troo'so): clothes and linens that a bride brings 
to her marriage. 

14. I shall curse you with bell, book, and candle: The arch- 
bishop is threatening to excommunicate Modred — that 
is, to deny him participation in the rites of the church. In 
the medieval ritual of excommunication, a bell was rung, 
a book was shut, and a candle was extinguished. 

15. divine intercession: assistance from God. 



usurp (yoo-surp') v. to seize unlawfully by force 
acquiesce (ak'we-es') v. to agree or give in without protest 
guile (gil) n. clever trickery; deceit 
assail (a-saT) v. to attack, either with blows or with words 



in every available craft, and a 
bloody battle ensued in the 
ships and on the beach. If 
King Arthur's army were the 
smaller, their courage was the 
higher, confident as they were 
of the righteousness of their 
cause. Without stint 16 they 
battled through the burning 
ships, the screaming wounded, 
and the corpses floating on the 
bloodstained waters. Once 
ashore they put Sir Modred's 
entire army to flight. 

The battle over, King Arthur 
began a search for his casual- 
ties, and on peering into one 
of the ships found Sir Gawain, 
mortally wounded. Sir Gawain 
fainted when King Arthur 
lifted him in his arms; and 
when he came to, the king 

"Alas! dear nephew, that you lie here thus, 
mortally wounded! What joy is now left to me 
on this earth? You must know it was you and Sir 
Launcelot I loved above all others, and it seems 
that I have lost you both." 

"My good uncle, it was my pride and my 
stubbornness that brought all this about, for had 
I not urged you to war with Sir Launcelot your 
subjects would not now be in revolt. Alas, that 
Sir Launcelot is not here, for he would soon 
drive them out! And it is at Sir Launcelot's hands 
that I suffer my own death: the wound which he 
dealt me has reopened. I would not wish it 
otherwise, because is he not the greatest and 
gentlest of knights? 

"I know that by noon I shall be dead, and I 
repent bitterly that I may not be reconciled to 
Sir Launcelot; therefore I pray you, good uncle, 
give me pen, paper, and ink so that I may write 
to him." 









A priest was summoned and 
Sir Gawain confessed; then a 
clerk brought ink, pen, and 
paper, and Sir Gawain wrote 
to Sir Launcelot as follows: 
"Sir Launcelot, flower of 
the knighthood: I, Sir 
Gawain, son of King Lot of 
Orkney and of King Arthur's 
sister, send you my greetings! 

"I am about to die; the 
cause of my death is the 
wound I received from you 
outside the city of Benwick; 
and I would make it known 
that my death was of my own 
seeking, that I was moved by 
the spirit of revenge and spite 
to provoke you to battle. 

"Therefore, Sir Launcelot, I 
beseech you to visit my tomb 
and offer what prayers you 
will on my behalf; and for 
myself, I am content to die at the hands of the 
noblest knight living. 

"One more request: that you hasten with your 
armies across the sea and give succor to our 
noble king. Sir Modred, his bastard son, has 
usurped the throne and now holds against him 
with an army of a hundred thousand. He would 
have won the queen, too, but she fled to the 
Tower of London and there charged her loyal 
supporters with her defense. 

"Today is the tenth of May, and at noon I 
shall give up the ghost; this letter is written 
partly with my blood. This morning we fought 
our way ashore, against the armies of Sir Modred, 
and that is how my wound came to be reopened. 
We won the day, but my lord King Arthur needs 
you, and I too, that on my tomb you may 
bestow your blessing." 

3 V^WUiBP'!* 

16. stint: holding back. 




ensue (en-soo') v. to occur as a result; follow 
succor (suk'er) n. aid in a time of need; relief 

Sir Gawain fainted when he had finished, and 
the king wept. When he came to he was given 
extreme unction, 17 and died, as he had anticipated, 
at the hour of noon. The king buried him in the 
chapel at Dover Castle, and there many came to 
see him, and all noticed the wound on his head 
which he had received from Sir Launcelot. 

Then the news reached Arthur that Sir 
Modred offered him battle on the field at Baron 
Down. Arthur hastened there with his army, they 
fought, and Sir Modred fled once more, this time 
to Canterbury. 

When King Arthur had begun the search for 
his wounded and dead, many volunteers from all 
parts of the country came to fight under his flag, 
convinced now of the Tightness of his cause. 
Arthur marched westward, and Sir Modred once 
more offered him battle. 
It was assigned for the 
Monday following Trinity 
Sunday, on Salisbury Down. 

Sir Modred levied fresh 
troops from East Anglia and 
the places about London, 
and fresh volunteers came 
forward to help Arthur. Then, 
on the night of Trinity Sunday, 
Arthur was vouchsafed 18 a 
strange dream: 

He was appareled in gold cloth and 
seated in a chair which stood on a 
pivoted scaffold. Below him, many fathoms 
deep, was a dark well, and in the water swam 
serpents, dragons, and wild beasts. Suddenly the 
scaffold tilted and Arthur was flung into the 
water, where all the creatures struggled toward 
him and began tearing him limb from limb. 

Arthur cried out in his sleep and his squires 
hastened to waken him. Later, as he lay between 
waking and sleeping, he thought he saw Sir 
Gawain, and with him a host of beautiful 
noblewomen. Arthur spoke: 

"My sister's son! I thought you had died; but 
now I see you live, and I thank the lord Jesu! I 
pray you, tell me, who are these ladies?" 

"My lord, these are the ladies I championed 19 
in righteous quarrels when I was on earth. Our 
lord God has vouchsafed that we visit you and 
plead with you not to give battle to Sir Modred 
tomorrow, for if you do, not only will you 
yourself be killed, but all your noble followers 
too. We beg you to be warned, and to make a 
treaty with Sir Modred, calling a truce for a 
month, and granting him whatever terms he may 
demand. In a month Sir Launcelot will be here, 
and he will defeat Sir Modred." 

Thereupon Sir Gawain and the ladies van- 
ished, and King Arthur once more summoned his 
squires and his counselors and told them his 
vision. Sir Lucas and Sir Bedivere were commis- 
sioned to make a treaty with Sir Modred. They 
were to be accompanied by two bishops and to 
grant, within reason, what- 
ever terms he demanded. 
The ambassadors found 
Sir Modred in command of 
an army of a hundred thou- 
sand and unwilling to listen to 
overtures of peace. However, 
the ambassadors eventually 
prevailed on him, and in return 
for the truce granted him 
suzerainty 20 of Cornwall and Kent, 
and succession to the British throne 
when King Arthur died. The treaty 
was to be signed by King Arthur and Sir 
Modred the next day. They were to meet 
between the two armies, and each was to be 
accompanied by no more than fourteen knights. 
Both King Arthur and Sir Modred suspected 
the other of treachery, and gave orders for their 
armies to attack at the sight of a naked sword. 
When they met at the appointed place the treaty 
was signed and both drank a glass of wine. 

17. extreme unction: a ritual in which a priest anoints and 
prays for a dying person. 

18. vouchsafed: granted. 

19. championed: defended or fought for. 

20. suzerainty (soo'zar-an-te): the position of feudal lord. 



Then, by chance, one of the soldiers was 
bitten in the foot by an adder 21 which had lain 
concealed in the brush. The soldier unthinkingly 
drew his sword to kill it, and at once, as the 
sword flashed in the light, the alarums 22 were 
given, trumpets sounded, and both armies 
galloped into the attack. 

"Alas for this fateful day!" exclaimed King 
Arthur, as both he and Sir Modred hastily 
mounted and galloped back to their armies. 
There followed one of those rare and heartless 
battles in which both armies fought until they 
were destroyed. King Arthur, with his customary 
valor, led squadron after squadron of cavalry 
into the attack, and Sir Modred encountered him 
unflinchingly. As the number of dead and 
wounded mounted on both sides, the active 
combatants continued dauntless until nightfall, 
when four men alone survived. 

King Arthur wept with dismay to see his 
beloved followers fallen; then, struggling toward 
him, unhorsed and badly wounded, he saw Sir 
Lucas the Butler and his brother, Sir Bedivere. 

"Alas!" said the king, "that the day should 
come when I see all my noble knights destroyed! 
I would prefer that I myself had fallen. But what 
has become of the traitor Sir Modred, whose evil 
ambition was responsible for this carnage?" 

Looking about him King Arthur then noticed 
Sir Modred leaning with his sword on a heap of 
the dead. 

"Sir Lucas, I pray you give me my spear, for I 
have seen Sir Modred." 

"Sire, I entreat you, remember your vision — 
how Sir Gawain appeared with a heaven-sent 
message to dissuade you from fighting Sir 
Modred. Allow this fateful day to pass; it is ours, 
for we three hold the field, while the enemy is 

"My lords, I care nothing for my life now! 
And while Sir Modred is at large I must kill him: 
there may not be another chance." 

"God speed you, then!" said Sir Bedivere. 

When Sir Modred saw King Arthur advance 
with his spear, he rushed to meet him with drawn 
sword. Arthur caught Sir Modred below the 
shield and drove his spear through his body; Sir 
Modred, knowing that the wound was mortal, 
thrust himself up to the handle of the spear, and 
then, brandishing his sword in both hands, struck 
Arthur on the side of the helmet, cutting through 
it and into the skull beneath; then he crashed to 
the ground, gruesome and dead. 

King Arthur fainted many times as Sir Lucas 
and Sir Bedivere struggled with him to a small 
chapel nearby, where they managed to ease his 
wounds a little. When Arthur came to, he thought 
he heard cries coming from the battlefield. 

"Sir Lucas, I pray you, find out who cries on 
the battlefield," he said. 

Wounded as he was, Sir Lucas hobbled 
painfully to the field, and there in the moonlight 
saw the camp followers stealing gold and jewels 
from the dead, and murdering the wounded. He 
returned to the king and reported to him what 
he had seen, and then added: 

"My lord, it surely would be better to move 
you to the nearest town?" 

"My wounds forbid it. But alas for the good 
Sir Launcelot! How sadly I have missed him 
today! And now I must die — as Sir Gawain 
warned me I would — repenting our quarrel with 
my last breath." 

Sir Lucas and Sir Bedivere made one further 
attempt to lift the king. He fainted as they did 
so. Then Sir Lucas fainted as part of his 
intestines broke through a wound in the 
stomach. When the king came to, he saw Sir 
Lucas lying dead with foam at his mouth. 

"Sweet Jesu, give him succor!" he said. "This 
noble knight has died trying to save my life — alas 
that this was so!" 

Sir Bedivere wept for his brother. 

21. adder: a poisonous snake. 

22. alarums: calls to arms. 




dissuade (dT-swad') v. to divert from a course of action by persuasion 

Illustration from an illuminated manuscript showing a wounded Arthur in the foreground waiting 
for Sir Bedivere, who watches a hand appear from the lake to take King Arthur's sword, Excalibur. 

"Sir Bedivere, weep no more," said King 
Arthur, "for you can save neither your brother 
nor me; and I would ask you to take my sword 
Excalibur to the shore of the lake and throw it in 
the water. Then return to me and tell me what 
you have seen." 

"My lord, as you command, it shall be done." 

Sir Bedivere took the sword, but when he 
came to the water's edge, it appeared so beautiful 
that he could not bring himself to throw it in, so 
instead he hid it by a tree, and then returned to 
the king. 

"Sir Bedivere, what did you see?" 

"My lord, I saw nothing but the wind upon the 

"Then you did not obey me; I pray you, go 

swiftly again, and this time fulfill my command." 

Sir Bedivere went and returned again, but this 
time too he had failed to fulfill the king's 

"Sir Bedivere, what did you see?" 
"My lord, nothing but the lapping of the 

"Sir Bedivere, twice you have betrayed me! 
And for the sake only of my sword: it is 
unworthy of you! Now I pray you, do as I com- 
mand, for I have not long to live." 

This time Sir Bedivere wrapped the girdle 
around the sheath and hurled it as far as he 
could into the water. A hand appeared from 
below the surface, took the sword, waved it 
thrice, and disappeared again. Sir Bedivere re- 



turned to the king and told him what he had seen. 

"Sir Bedivere, I pray you now help me hence, 
or I fear it will be too late." 

Sir Bedivere carried the king to the water's 
edge, and there found a barge in which sat many 
beautiful ladies with their queen. All were wear- 
ing black hoods, and when they saw the king, 
they raised their voices in a piteous lament. 

"I pray you, set me in the barge," said the king, 

Sir Bedivere did so, and one of the ladies laid 
the king's head in her lap; then the queen spoke 
to him: 

"My dear brother, you have stayed too long: I 
fear that the wound on your head is already cold." 

Thereupon they rowed away from the land 
and Sir Bedivere wept to see them go. 

"My lord King Arthur, you have deserted me! 
I am alone now, and among 

"Sir Bedivere, take what 
comfort you may, for my 
time is passed, and now I 
must be taken to Avalon 23 for 
my wound to be healed. If you 
hear of me no more, I beg you 
pray for my soul." 

The barge slowly crossed the 
water and out of sight while the 
ladies wept. Sir Bedivere walked alone 
into the forest and there remained for 
the night. 

In the morning he saw beyond the trees of 
a copse 24 a small hermitage. He entered and 
found a hermit kneeling down by a fresh tomb. 
The hermit was weeping as he prayed, and then 
Sir Bedivere recognized him as the Archbishop of 
Canterbury, who had been banished by Sir 

"Father, I pray you, tell me, whose tomb is this?" 

"My son, I do not know. At midnight the body 
was brought here by a company of ladies. We 
buried it, they lit a hundred candles for the ser- 
vice, and rewarded me with a thousand bezants." 25 

"Father, King Arthur lies buried in this tomb." 

Sir Bedivere fainted when he had spoken, and 


when he came to he begged the Archbishop to 
allow him to remain at the hermitage and end 
his days in fasting and prayer. 

"Father, I wish only to be near to my true liege." 
"My son, you are welcome; and do I not 
recognize you as Sir Bedivere the Bold, brother 
to Sir Lucas the Butler?" 

Thus the Archbishop and Sir Bedivere remained 
at the hermitage, wearing the habits of hermits 
and devoting themselves to the tomb with fasting 
and prayers of contrition. 26 

Such was the death of King Arthur as written 
down by Sir Bedivere. By some it is told that there 
were three queens on the barge: Queen Morgan le 
Fay, the Queen of North Galys, and the Queen of 
the Waste Lands; and others include the name of 
Nyneve, the Lady of the Lake who had served 

King Arthur well in the past, 
and had married the good 
knight Sir Pelleas. 
In many parts of Britain it is 
believed that King Arthur did 
not die and that he will return 
to us and win fresh glory and 
the Holy Cross of our Lord Jesu 
Christ; but for myself I do not 
believe this, and would leave him 
buried peacefully in his tomb at 
Glastonbury, where the Archbishop of 
Canterbury and Sir Bedivere humbled 
themselves, and with prayers and fasting 
honored his memory. And inscribed on his 
tomb, men say, is this legend: 


23. Avalon: an island paradise of Celtic legend, where heroes 
are taken after death. 

24. copse (kops) : a grove of small trees. 

25. bezants (bez'ants): gold coins. 

26. contrition (kan-trish'an): sincere regret for wrongdoing. 

27. Hie iacet Arthurus, rex quondam rexque futurus 

(hik ya'ket ar-too'roos raks kwon'dam rak'skwe foo-too'roos) 
Latin: Here lies Arthur, the once and future king. 




Connect to the Literature 

What Do You Think? 

What thoughts were 
in your mind as you 
finished reading this 
selection? Share 
them with the class. 

Comprehension Check 

• What happens when Gawain and 
Launcelot meet on the field of battle? 

• What is Gawain's secret weakness 
in combat? 

• What warning does Sir Gawain 
give to Arthur in a vision? 

Think Critically 


2. In your opinion, which character in the selection is most 
admirable, and which is least admirable? 

the ways in which Launcelot shows loyalty and 
disloyalty to the king 

Arthur's willingness to forget his loyalty to 
Launcelot and follow Gawain's advice 

Modred's seizure of the throne 

Gwynevere's involvement with Launcelot 

3. How much choice do you think Arthur has in determining 
his own fate? 

' • the importance of chivalry to his followers 

the consequences of his long stay in France 

the warnings he receives in his dreams 

4. If Arthur, Launcelot, and Gawain were given a second 
chance to resolve their conflicts, what do you think they 
might do differently? 




Look again at your [~0 reader's notebook. What did 
you discover about the characterization of Launcelot as you 
recorded examples of his words and behavior in the cluster 

Extend Interpretations 

6. What If? Suppose that Sir Launcelot had arrived with his 
army in time to help Arthur battle Modred. How might 
things have turned out differently for the major characters? 

7. Connect to Life Would you say that the forces that end 
Arthur's reign are the same forces that bring down 
governments in the real world? Support your answer with 
examples from local, national, or world history. 

Literary Analysis 


which writers guide readers' 
impressions of characters is called 
characterization. There are four 
basic methods of developing a 
character: (1) description of the 
character's physical appearance; 
(2) presentation of the character's 
speech, thoughts, feelings, and 
actions; (3) presentation of other 
characters' speech, thoughts, 
feelings, and actions; and (4) direct 
comments about the character. 

Cooperative Learning Activity With 
a group of classmates, look back 
through this selection, identifying 
passages that help create readers' 
impressions of Launcelot, Arthur, 
Gawain, Modred, and Gwynevere. In 
a chart, record the character, 
passage, method of characterization, 
and the qualities of character that 
are revealed in the passage. 






"1 will not 
lead you 
against. . . 

own words 





| ROMANCE^ The term 

romance refers to an imaginative 

adventure concerned with noble 

heroes, gallant love, a chivalric code 

of honor, and daring deeds. 

Romances usually have 

faraway settings, depict events unlike 

those of ordinary life, and idealize 

heroes as well as the eras 

in which the heroes lived. What 

characteristics of romance can you 

find in this excerpt? 





Writing Options 

Essay on Virtues Many virtues are portrayed 
in this excerpt from Malory. Write a two-or- 
three paragraph essay in which you explain 
which virtues of Malory's characters are most 
important to you in your life. Place the essay 
in your Working Portfolio. ^3 

Sir Thomas Malory 


An Active Life A son of prosperous parents, the 
Thomas Malory who many scholars think to be the 
author oiLeMorte d' Arthur led a surprisingly 
unsettled life that ended in prison. A native of 
Warwickshire, England, he fought in the Hundred 
Years' War, was knighted around 1442, and was 
elected to Parliament in 1445. Malory then became 
embroiled in the violent political conflicts that 
preceded the outbreak of the Wars of the Roses. 

Political Turmoil A staunch supporter of the house 
of Lancaster and its claim to the throne, Malory 
was imprisoned repeatedly by the Yorkist 
government on a variety of charges, including 
robbery, cattle rustling, bribery, and attempted 
murder. He pleaded innocent to all the charges, 
and his guilt was never proven. It is possible that 
his outspoken opposition to the ruling family 
provoked enemies to accuse him falsely in some 

Prisoner and Writer Malory seems to have written 
LeMorte d' Arthur while he served a series of 
prison terms that began in 1451. He finished the 
book about two years before his death in 1471. 
William Caxton, who introduced the art of printing 
to England, published the first edition of Malory's 
work in 1485, giving the book the title by which it 
is known today, he Morte dArthur remains the 
most complete English version of the Arthurian 
legends and has been the source of many later 
adaptations of the tales. 

Vocabulary in Action 

EXERCISE: CONTEXT CLUES Choose the word that 
could be substituted for the italicized word or 
phrase in each sentence below. 

1. The king's followers began to attack his honor. 

2. Everyone marveled at the patience with which 
he reacted to the attacks. 

3. The king's enemies tried to unlawfully take 
over the throne. 

4. The king hoped to discourage them from 
doing harm. 

5. The enemies ignored the king's plea for peace. 

6. They used trickery and threats against him. 

7. The king had to agree without protest to a 
declaration of war. 

8. He felt that it was laid as a duty on him to 
fight for his honor. 

9. His army sought repayment for crimes against 
the king. 

The king knew that after he issued his 
challenge, a full-scale war would follow. 

His advisers warned that the war would 
greatly damage the land. 

12. The number of healthy soldiers began to 





Wounded soldiers were seen falling back all 
over the battlefield. 

Other kingdoms were asked to give assistance 
to the weakened army. 

15. The plundering soldiers caused damage and 
sorrow throughout the land. 
















Building Vocabulary 

For an in-depth study of 
context clues, see page 938. 




Primary Source 


Le Morte d 9 Arthur 

William Caxton, the first English printer, had a significant 
impact on the literature of his day. In his preface to the first 
edition of Malory's Le Morte d 'Arthur, published in 1485, Caxton 
describes his anticipated audience and reveals his purpose in publish- 
ing the work. 

) I have, after the simple cunning that God hath sent to me, under 
the favor and correction of all noble lords and gentlemen, enprised to 
enprint a book of the noble histories of the said King Arthur and of 
certain of his knights, after a copy unto me delivered, which copy Sir 
Thomas Malory did take out of certain books of French and reduced 
it into English. 

f And I, according to my copy, have done set it in enprint to the 
intent that noble men may see and learn the noble acts of chivalry, 
the gentle and virtuous deeds that some knights used in tho[se] days, 
by which they came to honor, and how they that were vicious were 
punished and oft put to shame and rebuke; humbly beseeching all 
noble lords and ladies with all other estates, of what estate or degree 
they been of, that shall see and read in this said book and work, that 

J they take the good and honest acts in their remembrance, and to 
follow the same; wherein they shall find many joyous and pleasant 
histories and noble and renowned acts of humanity, gentleness, and 
chivalries. For herein may be seen noble chivalry, courtesy, humanity, 
friendliness, hardiness, love, friendship, cowardice, murder, hate, 
virtue and sin. Do after the good and leave the evil, and it shall bring 
you to good fame. 

Reading for Information 

The preface to a literary work 
typically sheds light on why the 
author wrote the work. Imagine that 
you are a printer at a time when 
books are scarce. What might you 
want to include in your preface to a 
first edition? 


As you might expect, Caxton's 
language and syntax are typical of 
15th-century English. To unlock the 
meanings of such challenging texts, 
you can use the skills of 
paraphrasing and summarizing. 
Review the primary source as you 
complete these activities: 

O Paraphrase, or restate in your 
own words, the first paragraph. 
What sources does Caxton sug- 
gest Malory used? 

© Refer to your paraphrase of the 
second paragraph. What was 
Caxton's purpose in publishing Le 
Morte d'Arthur? What virtues 
does it portray? Who does Caxton 
expect will be his audience? 

Look at your paraphrase of "that 
they take the good and honest 
acts in their remembrance, and to 
follow the same." What is Caxton 
hoping his readers will do? 

Summarizing With a partner, 
summarize Caxton's main points. 
How has reading Caxton's words 
affected your understanding of Le 
Morte d'Arthur. In what ways, if any, 
has your reaction to characters such 
as Sir Gawain changed? 



fmm the Ramayana 

Epic by VALMIKI 

Translated and adapted by R. K. NARAYAN 

Comparing Literature of the World 

Legendary Deeds Across Cultures 

Le Morte d Arthur and the Ramayana The Ramayana was written hundreds of 
centuries before Le Morte d'Arthur. However, both tales contain chivalric 
heroes who clash with their adversaries during epic battles. In both cases, the 
combatants are aided by supernatural elements that enhance their power. 
1 J 1 . 1 ! W fTLTyp!fffr?r?ffff!T!^ As you read the Ramayana, compare its characters, 
battles, and turn of events with those you recall from Le Morte d'Arthur. 

Build Background 

Epic Proportions The great Indian epic Ramayana 
was composed in verse by the poet Valmiki, 
probably between 300 and 200 b.c Like epics of 
other cultures, the Ramayana celebrates the 
achievements of both human heroes and divine 
beings. It is the story of Rama (ra'mo), a royal 
prince who is the seventh incarnation, or 
embodiment, of the god Vishnu (vTsh'noo), The 
epic describes Rama's life, love, battles, and 
hardships. At the point of the story where this 
excerpt begins, Rama's wife Sita (se'ta) has been 
kidnapped by Ravana (ra'vo-no), the 10-headed, 
20-armed demon-king of the island of Lanka 
(lang'ka). Hanuman (ho'ndo-man), a flying 
monkey in Rama's 
army, has located Sita 
and helped build a 
bridge to Lanka so 
that all of Rama's 
forces can cross over 
and rescue her. 

Vocabulary Preview 









Focus Your Reading 



Epics often journey into the realm of the supernatural. 
Supernatural elements include any beings, powers, or 
events that are unexplainable by the known forces or laws 
of nature. In the Ramayana, for example, Ravana's son 
Indrajit is a supernatural being, as this passage suggests. 

He also created a figure resembling Sita, carried her in 
his chariot, took her before Rama's army and killed her 
within their sight. 

Be aware of other supernatural elements as you read this 
excerpt from the Ramayana. 



selection, the hero Rama and his followers engage in a 
major battle with the demon-king Ravana and his allies. As 
the battle progresses, it will be important for you to keep 
track of characters by classifying them as belonging on 
either Rama's or Ravana's side of the conflict. 
rOl reaper's notebook As you read, list the 
participants in groups according to their loyalty to Rama or 
to Ravana. Beside each name, write down something that 
will help you remember the character-a physical 
description, a personality trait, or his or her role in the epic. 



from the 



Sculpture of Hanuman 


avana deployed the pick 
of his divisions to guard 
the approaches to the 
capital and appointed 
his trusted generals and kinsmen 
in special charge of key places. 
Gradually, however, his world 
began to shrink. As the fight 
developed he lost his associates 
one by one. No one who went 
out returned. 

He tried some devious 
measures in desperation. He sent 
spies in the garb of Rama's 
monkey army across to deflect 
and corrupt some of Rama's 
staunchest supporters, such as Sugreeva, 1 on 
whom rested the entire burden of this war. He 
employed sorcerers to disturb the mind of Sita, 
hoping that if she yielded, Rama would 
ultimately lose heart. He ordered a sorcerer to 
create a decapitated head resembling Rama's and 
placed it before Sita as evidence of Rama's 
defeat. Sita, although shaken at first, very soon 
recovered her composure and remained 
unaffected by the spectacle. 

1. Sugreeva (soo-gre'va). 


At length a messenger from Rama arrived, 
saying, "Rama bids me warn you that your 
doom is at hand. Even now it is not too late for 
you to restore Sita and beg Rama's forgiveness. 
You have troubled the world too long. You are 
not fit to continue as King. At our camp, your 
brother, Vibishana, 2 has already been crowned 
the King of this land, and the world knows all 
people will be happy under him." 

Ravana ordered the messenger to be killed 
instantly. But it was more easily said than done, 
the messenger being Angada, 3 the son of mighty 
Vali. 4 When two rakshasas 5 came to seize him, 
he tucked one of them under each arm, rose into 
the sky, and flung the rakshasas down. In 
addition, he kicked and broke off the tower of 
Ravana's palace, and left. Ravana viewed the 
broken tower with dismay. 

Rama awaited the return of Angada, and, on 
hearing his report, decided that there was no 
further cause to hope for a change of heart in 
Ravana and immediately ordered the assault on 

As the fury of the battle grew, both sides lost 
sight of the distinction between night and day. 
The air was filled with the cries of fighters, their 
challenges, cheers, and imprecations; buildings 
and trees were torn up and, as one of his spies 
reported to Ravana, the monkeys were like a sea 
overrunning Lanka. The end did not seem to be 
in sight. 

At one stage of the battle, Rama and 
Lakshmana 6 were attacked by Indrajit, 7 and the 
serpent darts employed by him made them 
swoon on the battlefield. Indrajit went back to 
his father to proclaim that it was all over with 
Rama and Lakshmana and soon, without a 
leader, the monkeys would be annihilated. 

Ravana rejoiced to hear it and cried, "Did not 
I say so? All you fools believed that I should 
surrender." He added, "Go and tell Sita that 
Rama and his brother are no more. Take her 
high up in Pushpak Vimana, 8 my chariot, and 

show her their bodies on the battlefield." His 
words were obeyed instantly. Sita, happy to have 
a chance to glimpse a long-lost face, accepted the 
chance, went high up, and saw her husband lying 
dead in the field below. She broke down. "How I 
wish I had been left alone and not brought up to 
see this spectacle. Ah, me . . . Help me to put an 
end to my life." 

Trijata, 9 one of Ravana's women, whispered to 
her, "Don't lose heart, they are not dead," and 
she explained why they were in a faint. 

In due course, the effect of the serpent darts 
was neutralized when Garuda, 10 the mighty eagle, 
the born enemy of all serpents, appeared on the 
scene; the venomous darts enveloping Rama and 
Lakshmana scattered at the approach of Garuda 
and the brothers were on their feet again. 

From his palace retreat Ravana was 
surprised to hear again the cheers of the 
enemy hordes outside the ramparts; the 
siege was on again. Ravana still had 
about him his commander-in-chief, his son 
Indrajit, and five or six others on whom he felt 
he could rely at the last instance. He sent them 
one by one. He felt shattered when news came of 
the death of his commander-in-chief. 

"No time to sit back. I will myself go and des- 
troy this Rama and his horde of monkeys," he 
said and got into his chariot and entered the field. 

At this encounter Lakshmana fell down in a 
faint, and Hanuman hoisted Rama on his 
shoulders and charged in the direction of Ravana. 

2. Vibishana (vi-be'sha-na). 

3. Angada (ang'ga-da). 

4. Vali (va'le): king of the monkeys. 

5. rakshasas (rak'sha-saz): demons. 

6. Lakshmana (lak'shma-na). 

7. Indrajit (Tn'dra-jet): Ravana's son. 

8. Pushpak Vimana (poosh'pak vi-ma'ns) 

9. Trijata (trip-ta). 
10. Garuda (ga-roo'da). 




imprecation (Tm'prT-ka'shon) n. a curse 

rampart (ram'part') n. an embankment or wall for defense against attack 

The main combatants were face to face for the 
first time. At the end of this engagement Ravana 
was sorely wounded, his crown was shattered, 
and his chariot was broken. Helplessly, bare- 
handed, he stood before Rama, and Rama said, 
"You may go now and come back tomorrow 
with fresh weapons." For the first time in his 
existence of many thousand years, Ravana faced 
the humiliation of accepting a concession, and he 
returned crestfallen to his palace. 

He ordered that his brother Kumbakarna, 11 
famous for his deep sleep, should be awakened. 
He could depend upon him, and only on him 
now. It was a mighty task to wake up Kumba- 
karna. A small army had to be engaged. They 
sounded trumpets and drums at his ears and were 
ready with enormous quantities of food and drink 
for him, for when Kumbakarna awoke from 
sleep, his hunger was phenomenal and he made a 
meal of whomever he could grab at his bedside. 
They cudgelled, belaboured, pushed, pulled, and 
shook him, with the help of elephants; at last he 
opened his eyes and swept his arms about and 
crushed quite a number among those who had 
stirred him up. When he had eaten and drunk, 
he was approached by Ravana's chief minister and 
told, "My lord, the battle is going badly for us." 

"Which battle?" he asked, not yet fully awake. 

And they had to refresh his memory. "Your 
brother has fought and has been worsted; our 
enemies are breaking in, our fort walls are 
crumbling. ..." 

Kumbakarna was roused. "Why did not 
anyone tell me all this before? Well, it is not too 
late; I will deal with that Rama. His end is 
come." Thus saying, he strode into Ravana's 
chamber and said, "Don't worry about anything 
any more. I will take care of everything." 

Ravana spoke with anxiety and defeat in his 
voice. Kumbakarna, who had never seen him in 
this state, said, "You have gone on without 
heeding anyone's words and brought yourself to 
this pass. You should have fought Rama and 

acquired Sita. You were led away by mere lust 
and never cared for anyone's words. . . . Hm . . . 
This is no time to speak of dead events. I will 
not forsake you as others have done. I'll bring 
Rama's head on a platter." 

Kumbakarna's entry into the battle created 
havoc. He destroyed and swallowed hundreds 
and thousands of the monkey warriors and came 
very near finishing off the great Sugreeva himself. 
Rama himself had to take a hand at destroying 
this demon; he sent the sharpest of his arrows, 
which cut Kumbakarna limb from limb; but he 
fought fiercely with only inches of his body 
remaining intact. Finally Rama severed his head 
with an arrow. That was the end of Kumbakarna. 

When he heard of it, Ravana lamented, "My 
right hand is cut off." 

One of his sons reminded him, "Why should 
you despair? You have Brahma's 12 gift of 
invincibility. You should not grieve." Indrajit 
told him, "What have you to fear when I am 

Indrajit had the power to remain invisible and 
fight, and accounted for much destruction in the 
invader's camp. He also created a figure resembl- 
ing Sita, carried her in his chariot, took her before 
Rama's army and killed her within their sight. 

This completely demoralized the monkeys, 
who suspended their fight, crying, "Why should 
we fight when our goddess Sita is thus gone?" 
They were in a rout until Vibishana came to 
their rescue and rallied them again. 

Indrajit fell by Lakshmana's hand in the end. 
When he heard of his son's death, Ravana shed 
bitter tears and swore, "This is the time to kill 
that woman Sita, the cause of all this misery." 

11. Kumbakarna (koom'ba-kar'na). 

12. Brahma's (bra'maz): given by Brahma — in the Hindu 
religion, the creator of the universe and one of a trinity 
of gods that make up the Supreme God. 



invincibility (Tn-vTn'sa-bTI'T-te) n. a state of being unbeatable 


A few encouraged this idea, but one of his 
councillors advised, "Don't defeat your own 
purpose and integrity by killing a woman. Let 
your anger scorch Rama and his brother. Gather 
all your armies and go and vanquish Rama and 
Lakshmana, you know you can, and then take 
Sita. Put on your blessed armour and go forth." 


Every moment, news came to Ravana of fresh 
disasters in his camp. One by one, most of his 
commanders were lost. No one who went forth 
with battle cries was heard of again. Cries and 
shouts and the wailings of the widows of war- 
riors came over the chants and songs of triumph 
that his courtiers arranged to keep up at a loud 
pitch in his assembly hall. Ravana became rest- 
less and abruptly left the hall and went up on a 
tower, from which he could obtain a full view of 
the city. He surveyed the scene below but could 
not stand it. One who had spent a lifetime in 
destruction, now found the gory spectacle intol- 
erable. Groans and wailings reached his ears 
with deadly clarity; and he noticed how the mon- 
key hordes revelled in their bloody handiwork. 
This was too much for him. He felt a terrific rage 
rising within him, mixed with some admiration 
for Rama's valour. He told himself, "The time 
has come for me to act by myself again." 

He hurried down the steps of the tower, 
returned to his chamber, and prepared himself 
for the battle. He had a ritual bath and per- 
formed special prayers to gain the benediction of 
Shiva; donned his battle dress, matchless armour, 
armlets, and crowns. He had on a protective 
armour for every inch of his body. He girt his 
sword-belt and attached to his body his 
accoutrements for protection and decoration. 

When he emerged from his chamber, his heroic 
appearance was breathtaking. He summoned his 
chariot, which could be drawn by horses or move 
on its own if the horses were hurt or killed. People 

stood aside when he came out of the palace and 
entered his chariot. "This is my resolve," he said 
to himself: "Either that woman Sita, or my wife 
Mandodari, 13 will soon have cause to cry and roll 
in the dust in grief. Surely, before this day is done, 
one of them will be a widow." 

The gods in heaven noticed Ravana's deter- 
mined move and felt that Rama would need all 
the support they could muster. They requested 
Indra to send down his special chariot for 
Rama's use. When the chariot appeared at his 
camp, Rama was deeply impressed with the 
magnitude and brilliance of the vehicle. "How 
has this come to be here?" he asked. 

"Sir," the charioteer answered, "my name is 
Matali. 14 I have the honour of being the 
charioteer of Indra. Brahma, the four-faced god 
and the creator of the Universe, and Shiva, 
whose power has emboldened Ravana now to 
challenge you, have commanded me to bring it 
here for your use. It can fly swifter than air over 
all obstacles, over any mountain, sea, or sky, and 
will help you to emerge victorious in this battle." 

Rama reflected aloud, "It may be that the 
rakshasas have created this illusion for me. It 
may be a trap. I don't know how to view it." 
Whereupon Matali spoke convincingly to dispel 
the doubt in Rama's mind. Rama, still hesitant, 
though partially convinced, looked at Hanuman 
and Lakshmana and asked, "What do you think 
of it?" Both answered, "We feel no doubt that 
this chariot is Indra 's; it is not an illusory creation." 

Rama fastened his sword, slung two quivers 
full of rare arrows over his shoulders, and 
climbed into the chariot. 

The beat of war drums, the challenging cries 
of soldiers, the trumpets, and the rolling chariots 
speeding along to confront each other, created a 
deafening mixture of noise. While Ravana had 

13. Mandodari (man-do'da-re). 

14. Matali (ma'ta-le). 



instructed his charioteer to speed ahead, Rama 
very gently ordered his chariot-driver, "Ravana is 
in a rage; let him perform all the antics he 
desires and exhaust himself. Until then be calm; 
we don't have to hurry forward. Move slowly 
and calmly, and you must strictly follow my 
instructions; I will tell you when to drive faster." 

Ravana's assistant and one of his staunchest 
supporters, Mahodara 15 — the giant among giants 
in his physical appearance — begged Ravana, "Let 
me not be a mere spectator when you confront 
Rama. Let me have the honour of grappling with 
him. Permit me to attack Rama." 

"Rama is my sole concern," Ravana replied. 
"If you wish to engage yourself in a fight, you 
may fight his brother Lakshmana." 

Noticing Mahodara 's purpose, Rama steered 
his chariot across his path in order to prevent 
Mahodara from reaching Lakshmana. Whereupon 
Mahodara ordered his chariot-driver, "Now dash 
straight ahead, directly into Rama's chariot." 

The charioteer, more practical-minded, 
advised him, "I would not go near 
Rama. Let us keep away." But 
Mahodara, obstinate and intoxicated 
with war fever, made straight for Rama. He 
wanted to have the honour of a direct encounter 
with Rama himself in spite of Ravana's advice; 
and for this honour he paid a heavy price, as it 
was a moment's work for Rama to destroy him, 
and leave him lifeless and shapeless on the field. 
Noticing this, Ravana's anger mounted further. 
He commanded his driver, "You will not slacken 
now. Go." Many ominous signs were seen 
now — his bow-strings suddenly snapped; the 
mountains shook; thunders rumbled in the skies; 
tears flowed from the horses' eyes; elephants 
with decorated foreheads moved along 
dejectedly. Ravana, noticing them, hesitated only 
for a second, saying, "I don't care. This mere 
mortal Rama is of no account, and these omens 
do not concern me at all." Meanwhile, Rama 

paused for a moment to consider his next step; 
and suddenly turned towards the armies 
supporting Ravana, which stretched away to the 
horizon, and destroyed them. He felt that this 
might be one way of saving Ravana. With his 
armies gone, it was possible that Ravana might 
have a change of heart. But it had only the effect 
of spurring Ravana on; he plunged forward and 
kept coming nearer Rama and his own doom. 

Rama's army cleared and made way for 
Ravana's chariot, unable to stand the force of his 
approach. Ravana blew his conch 16 and its shrill 
challenge reverberated through space. Following 
it another conch, called "Panchajanya," 17 which 
belonged to Mahavishnu 18 (Rama's original form 
before his present incarnation ), sounded of its 
own accord in answer to the challenge, agitating 
the universe with its vibrations. And then Matali 
picked up another conch, which was Indra's, and 
blew it. This was the signal indicating the 
commencement of the actual battle. Presently 
Ravana sent a shower of arrows on Rama; and 
Rama's followers, unable to bear the sight of his 
body being studded with arrows, averted their 
heads. Then the chariot horses of Ravana and 
Rama glared at each other in hostility, and the 
flags topping the chariots — Ravana's ensign of 
the Veena 19 and Rama's with the whole universe 
on it — clashed, and one heard the stringing and 
twanging of bow-strings on both sides, over- 
powering in volume all other sound. Then 
followed a shower of arrows from Rama's own 
bow. Ravana stood gazing at the chariot sent by 
Indra and swore, "These gods, instead of 
supporting me, have gone to the support of this 

15. Mahodara (ma-ho'cb-ra). 

16. conch (kongk): a large spiral seashell, used as a trumpet. 

17. Panchajanya (pan'cha-jan'ys). 

18. Mahavishnu (ma-ha'vish'noo): the Supreme God in 
Hinduism, who divides himself into the trinity of 
Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. 

19. Veena (ve'na): a stringed musical instrument. 


TO incarnation (Tn'kar-na'shan) n. a bodily form taken on by a spirit 



petty human being. I will teach them a lesson. 
He is not fit to be killed with my arrows but I 
shall seize him and his chariot together and fling 
them into high heaven and dash them to 
destruction." Despite his oath, he still strung his 
bow and sent a shower of arrows at Rama, 
raining in thousands, but they were all invariably 
shattered and neutralized by the arrows from 
Rama's bow, which met arrow for arrow. 
Ultimately Ravana, instead of using one bow, 
used ten with his twenty arms, multiplying his 
attack tenfold; but Rama stood unhurt. 

Ravana suddenly realized that he should 
change his tactics and ordered his charioteer to 
fly the chariot up in the skies. From there he 
attacked and destroyed a great many of the 
monkey army supporting Rama. Rama ordered 
Matali, "Go up in the air. Our young soldiers are 
being attacked from the sky. Follow Ravana, and 
don't slacken." 

There followed an aerial pursuit at dizzying 
speed across the dome of the sky and rim of the 
earth. Ravana's arrows came down like rain; he 
was bent upon destroying everything in the 
world. But Rama's arrows diverted, broke, or 
neutralized Ravana's. Terror-stricken, the gods 
watched this pursuit. Presently Ravana's arrows 
struck Rama's horses and pierced the heart of 
Matali himself. The charioteer fell. Rama paused 
for a while in grief, undecided as to his next 
step. Then he recovered and resumed his 
offensive. At that moment the divine eagle 
Garuda was seen perched on Rama's flagpost, 
and the gods who were watching felt that this 
could be an auspicious sign. 

After circling the globe several times, the 
duelling chariots returned, and the fight 
continued over Lanka. It was impossible to be 
very clear about the location of the battleground 
as the fight occurred here, there, and everywhere. 
Rama's arrows pierced Ravana's armour and 

made him wince. Ravana was so insensible to 
pain and impervious to attack that for him to 
wince was a good sign, and the gods hoped that 
this was a turn for the better. But at this 
moment, Ravana suddenly changed his tactics. 
Instead of merely shooting his arrows, which 
were powerful in themselves, he also invoked 
several supernatural forces to create strange 
effects: He was an adept in the use of various 
asthras 20 which could be made dynamic with 
special incantations . At this point, the fight 
became one of attack with supernatural powers, 
and parrying of such an attack with other 
supernatural powers. 

Ravana realized that the mere aiming of shafts 
with ten or twenty of his arms would be of no 
avail because the mortal whom he had so 
contemptuously thought of destroying with a 
slight effort was proving formidable , and his 
arrows were beginning to pierce and cause pain. 
Among the asthras sent by Ravana was one 
called "Danda," a special gift from Shiva, capable 
of pursuing and pulverizing its target. When it 
came flaming along, the gods were struck with 
fear. But Rama's arrow neutralized it. 

Now Ravana said to himself, "These are all 
petty weapons. I should really get down to 
proper business." And he invoked the one called 
"Maya" — a weapon which created illusions and 
confused the enemy. 

With proper incantations and wor- 
ship, he sent off this weapon and 
it created an illusion of reviving 
all the armies and its leaders — 
Kumbakarna and Indrajit and the others — and 
bringing them back to the battlefield. Presently 
Rama found all those who, he thought, were no 

20. asthras (as'thraz): arrows or other weapons powered by 
supernatural forces. 


impervious (Tm-pur've-as) adj. incapable of being penetrated; unaffected 
WORDS incantation (Tn'kan-ta'shan) n. a chant intended to bring forth supernatural 

TO powers; magic spell 

KNOW parrying (par'e-Tng) n. warding off or turning aside parry v. 

formidable (for'mT-ds-bal) adj. hard to handle or overcome 

more, coming on with battle cries and surround- 
ing him. Every man in the enemy's army was 
again up in arms. They seemed to fall on Rama 
with victorious cries. This was very confusing 
and Rama asked Matali, whom he had by now 
revived, "What is happening now? How are all 
these coming back? They were dead." Matali 
explained, "In your original identity you are the 
creator of illusions in this universe. Please know 
that Ravana has created phantoms to confuse 
you. If you make up your mind, you can dispel 
them immediately." Matali's explanation was a 
great help. Rama at once invoked a weapon 
called "Gnana" 21 — which means "wisdom" or 
"perception." This was a very rare weapon, and 
he sent it forth. And all the terrifying armies who 
seemed to have come on in such a great mass 
suddenly evaporated into thin air. 

Ravana then shot an asthra called "Thama," 
whose nature was to create total darkness in all 
the worlds. The arrows came with heads 
exposing frightening eyes and fangs, and fiery 
tongues. End to end the earth was enveloped in 
total darkness and the whole of creation was 
paralysed. This asthra also created a deluge of 
rain on one side, a rain of stones on the other, a 
hail-storm showering down intermittently, and a 
tornado sweeping the earth. Ravana was sure 
that this would arrest Rama's enterprise. But 
Rama was able to meet it with what was named 
"Shivasthra." 22 He understood the nature of the 
phenomenon and the cause of it and chose the 
appropriate asthra for counteracting it. 

Ravana now shot off what he considered his 
deadliest weapon — a trident 23 endowed with 
extraordinary destructive power, once gifted to 
Ravana by the gods. When it started on its 
journey there was real panic all round. It came 
on flaming toward Rama, its speed or course 
unaffected by the arrows he flung at it. 

When Rama noticed his arrows falling down 

Rama and Lakshmana fight the demoness Taraka (1587-1598, India, 
Mughal, school of Akbar), Mushfiq. Leaf from a manuscript, opaque 
colors and gold on paper, 27.5 cm x 15.2 cm, courtesy of the Freer 
Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. 
(07.217 35v). 

21. Gnana (gna'na). 

22. Shivasthra (shi-vas'thra). 

23. trident (trld'nt): a spear with three prongs. 



ineffectively while the trident sailed towards him, 
for a moment he lost heart. When it came quite 
near, he uttered a certain mantra 24 from the 
depth of his being and while he was breathing 
out that incantation, an esoteric syllable in 
perfect timing, the trident collapsed. Ravana, 
who had been so certain of vanquishing Rama 
with his trident, was astonished to see it fall 
down within an inch of him, and for a minute 
wondered if his adversary might not after all be 
a divine being although he looked like a mortal. 
Ravana thought to himself, "This is, perhaps, the 
highest God. Who could he be? Not Shiva, for 
Shiva is my supporter; he could not be Brahma, 
who is four faced; could not be Vishnu, because 
of my immunity from the weapons of the whole 
trinity. Perhaps this man is the primordial being, 
the cause behind the whole universe. But who- 
ever he may be, I will not stop my fight until I 
defeat and crush him or at least take him 

With this resolve, Ravana next sent a wea- 
pon which issued forth monstrous serpents 
vomiting fire and venom, with enormous fangs 
and red eyes. They came darting in from all 

Rama now selected an asthra called "Garuda" 
(which meant "eagle"). Very soon thousands of 
eagles were aloft, and they picked off the 
serpents with their claws and beaks and 
destroyed them. Seeing this also fail, Ravana's 
anger was roused to a mad pitch and he blindly 
emptied a quiverful of arrows in Rama's 
direction. Rama's arrows met them half way and 
turned them round so that they went back and 
their sharp points embedded themselves in 
Ravana's own chest. 

Ravana was weakening in spirit. He realized 
that he was at the end of his resources. All his 
learning and equipment in weaponry were of no 
avail and he had practically come to the end of 
his special gifts of destruction. While he was 
going down thus, Rama's own spirit was soaring 

up. The combatants were now near enough to 
grapple with each other and Rama realized that 
this was the best moment to cut off Ravana's 
heads. He sent a crescent-shaped arrow which 
sliced off one of Ravana's heads and flung it far 
into the sea, and this process continued; but 
every time a head was cut off, Ravana had the 
benediction of having another one grown in its 
place. Rama's crescent-shaped weapon was 
continuously busy as Ravana's heads kept 
cropping up. Rama lopped off his arms but they 
grew again and every lopped-off arm hit Matali 
and the chariot and tried to cause destruction by 
itself, and the tongue in a new head wagged, 
uttered challenges, and cursed Rama. On the 
cast-off heads of Ravana, devils and minor 
demons, who had all along been in terror of 
Ravana and had obeyed and pleased him, executed 
a dance of death and feasted on the flesh. 

Ravana was now desperate. Rama's arrows 
embedded themselves in a hundred places on his 
body and weakened him. Presently he collapsed 
in a faint on the floor of his chariot. Noticing his 
state, his charioteer pulled back and drew the 
chariot aside. Matali whispered to Rama, "This 
is the time to finish off that demon. He is in a 
faint. Go on. Go on." 

But Rama put away his bow and said, "It is 
not fair warfare to attack a man who is in a 
faint. I will wait. Let him recover," and waited. 

When Ravana revived, he was angry with his 
charioteer for withdrawing, and took out his 
sword, crying, "You have disgraced me. Those 
who look on will think I have retreated." But his 
charioteer explained how Rama suspended the 
fight and forebore to attack when he was in a 
faint. Somehow, Ravana appreciated his 
explanation and patted his back and resumed his 
attacks. Having exhausted his special weapons, 
in desperation Ravana began to throw on Rama 

24. mantra (man'tra): a word, sound, or phrase used as a 
prayer or spell. 




esoteric (es'a-ter'Tk) adj. understood only by a chosen few 
primordial (prT-mor'de-al) adj. first existing; original 

all sorts of things such as staves, cast-iron balls, 
heavy rocks, and oddments he could lay hands 
on. None of them touched Rama, but glanced off 
and fell ineffectually. Rama went on shooting his 
arrows. There seemed to be no end of this 
struggle in sight. 

Now Rama had to pause to consider 
what final measure he should take to 
bring this campaign to an end. After 
much thought, he decided to use 
"Brahmasthra," 25 a weapon specially designed by 
the Creator Brahma on a former occasion, when 
he had to provide one for Shiva to destroy 
Tripura, 26 the old monster who assumed the 
forms of flying mountains and settled down on 
habitations and cities, seeking to destroy the 
world. The Brahmasthra was a special gift to be 
used only when all other means had failed. Now 
Rama, with prayers and worship, invoked its 
fullest power and sent it in Ravana's direction, 
aiming at his heart rather than his head; Ravana 
being vulnerable at heart. While he had prayed 
for indestructibility of his several heads and 
arms, he had forgotten to strengthen his heart, 
where the Brahmasthra entered and ended his 

Rama watched him fall headlong from his 
chariot face down onto the earth, and that was 
the end of the great campaign. Now one noticed 
Ravana's face aglow with a new quality. Rama's 
arrows had burnt off the layers of dross, 27 the 
anger, conceit, cruelty, lust, and egotism which 
had encrusted his real self, and now his person- 
ality came through in its pristine form — of one 
who was devout and capable of tremendous 
attainments. His constant meditation on Rama, 
although as an adversary, now seemed to bear 
fruit, as his face shone with serenity and peace. 
Rama noticed it from his chariot above and 
commanded Matali, "Set me down on the 
ground." When the chariot descended and came 
to rest on its wheels, Rama got down and 

commanded Matali, "I am grateful for your 
services to me. You may now take the chariot 
back to Indra." 

Surrounded by his brother Lakshmana and 
Hanuman and all his other war chiefs, Rama 
approached Ravana's body, and stood gazing on 
it. He noted his crowns and jewellery scattered 
piecemeal on the ground. The decorations and 
the extraordinary workmanship of the armour 
on his chest were blood-covered. Rama sighed as 
if to say, "What might he not have achieved but 
for the evil stirring within him!" 

At this moment, as they readjusted Ravana's 
blood-stained body, Rama noticed to his great 
shock a scar on Ravana's back and said with a 
smile, "Perhaps this is not an episode of glory 
for me as I seem to have killed an enemy who 
was turning his back and retreating. Perhaps I 
was wrong in shooting the Brahmasthra into 
him." He looked so concerned at this supposed 
lapse on his part that Vibishana, Ravana's 
brother, came forward to explain. "What you 
have achieved is unique. I say so although it 
meant the death of my brother." 

"But I have attacked a man who had turned 
his back," Rama said. "See that scar." 

Vibishana explained, "It is an old scar. In 
ancient days, when he paraded his strength 
around the globe, once he tried to attack the 
divine elephants that guard the four directions. 
When he tried to catch them, he was gored in the 
back by one of the tuskers and that is the scar 
you see now; it is not a fresh one though fresh 
blood is flowing on it." 

Rama accepted the explanation. "Honour him 
and cherish his memory so that his spirit may go 
to heaven, where he has his place. And now I 
will leave you to attend to his funeral arrange- 
ments, befitting his grandeur." ♦ 

25. Brahmasthra (bra-mas'thra). 

26. Tripura (trT-poo'ra). 

27. dross: waste matter; impurities. 



Connect to the Literature 


What Do You Think? 

What is your 
reaction to the 
battle between 
Rama and Ravana? 

Comprehension Check 

• Why does Rama lay siege to 
Ravana's island? 

• Name some ways in which 
Ravana uses illusion as a weapon. 

• How does Rama treat Ravana after 
killing him? 

Think Critically 

2. Ravana, with his 10 heads and 20 arms, would seem to 
have an advantage over Rama. Why do you think Rama is 
able to defeat him? 

3. How would you describe Rama's heroic code of conduct? 

• the offer he sends to Ravana by messenger 

• the two chances he gives Ravana to recover 

• his strategy and behavior in battle 

• what he tells Ravana's brother after Ravana 
has been killed 

4. Do you think that Ravana is heroic? Use evidence from the 
epic to support your answer. 




Look over 

your chart in your |~0 reaper's notebook and discuss 
the characters with a partner. What generalizations can you 
make about the characters on each side? Remember that 
you can form a generalization about a character by making 
broad judgments based on evidence in the story. 

Extend Interpretations 

6. What If? Suppose that Trijata had let Sita believe that Rama 
and his brother had been killed. What do you think Sita 
would have done? What impact might her actions have had 
on Rama and the battle with Ravana? 

7. Connect to Life In India, Rama has been celebrated as a 
hero for centuries. Compare Rama's heroic qualities with 
those displayed by heroes of your own country. 

8. 1 -JX ffi g^fflSffffffETflffRE Compare Sir Launcelot's refusal 
to strike Sir Gawain after he falls to the ground in Le Morte 
d'Arthur with Rama's insistence on halting the fight until 
Ravana comes out of a faint. What does their behavior 
suggest about their character and code of honor? 

Literary Analysis 


Both Rama and Ravana use 
supernatural elements to try to 

defeat the other. Supernatural 
elements go beyond the bounds of 
reality by involving beings, powers, 
or events that cannot be explained 
by the laws of nature. Some of the 
supernatural elements in this 
excerpt from the Ramayano include 
the following: 

• Indra's chariot, which has the 
power to "fly swifter than air 
over all obstacles" 

• the ominous signs— mountains 
shaking, tears flowing from 
horses' eyes— that herald 
Ravana's attack on Rama 

• asthras— arrows powered by 
supernatural forces 

Supernatural elements are found in 
the literatures of nearly all cultures. 
In epics, in particular, these 
elements help make the characters' 
attributes larger-than-life. 

Cooperative Learning Activity With 
a group of classmates, discuss the 
supernatural elements in this 
excerpt from the Ramayana. Then 
think about how the epic would be 
affected if it didn't include 
supernatural elements. Choose a 
scene and rewrite it, deleting those 
elements. What is lost? What, if 
anything, is gained? 

liWiUVI EpTc~1 An epic is a h h ig 

narrative poem, presented in an 
elevated or formal style, that traces 
the adventures of a great hero. 
Beowulf and the Iliad are two other 
epics you have read. What 
characteristics do these poems 
share with the Ramayana? 





Writing Options 

1. Rama's Speech Compose a 
speech that Rama might deliver 
to his people following his 
victory at Lanka. The speech 
should focus on Rama's own 
actions, courage, and faith in 
the face of Ravana's onslaught. 
Place the entry in your 
Working Portfolio. ^3 

Compare the supernatural 
powers Ravana uses to trick his 
enemy with those Sir Launcelot 
wields against Sir Gawain. Then 
answer the following question in 
a brief essay: Do you think 
Ravana and Launcelot would 

have been able to defeat their 
opponents if they could have 
traded supernatural powers? 
Why or why not? 

Activities & 

1. Illustrated Battle Illustrate a 
battle scene described in the 
excerpt. You might depict the 
scene in one illustration or in a 
series of sketches. ~ ART 

2. Battle Scene Soundtrack Using 
sound effects, voices, and 
passages from recordings, create 
a soundtrack that captures the 
mood of a battle scene or other 

event in the excerpt. 


Inquiry & Research 

Hidden Temple The sculpture 
shown on page 241 adorns 
Angkor Wat, a group of temples in 
Cambodia that were constructed 
in the 1100s. Long hidden by 
forest growth, Angkor Wat was 
discovered by a French naturalist 
in 1860. Research to find out 
more about the history and art of 
Angkor Wat. Present your 
findings to the class. 

%, More Online: Research Starter 


Vocabulary in Action 

EXERCISE: CONTEXT CLUES Write the word that best 
fits in each blank. 

Zing, the hero of the Zoori nation, was an 1 of 

Erg, the god of energy. According to legend, Zing was a 

2 being, the first and greatest of the Zoori 

man-gods. He fought bravely from behind a 3 

when attacked by Zud, the six-fisted demon. The nasty 

Zud, with his superior weapons, was a 4 

opponent. Because of his many fists and scaly skin, 

Zud seemed 5 to harm. Zing recited an 

6 , seeking aid from his divine protectors. His 

words were 1 and meant only for heavenly 

ears. An army of sacred zebras arrived to help Zing in 

8 the many swords and spears of his foe. Zing 

and his army proved their 9 , easily 

overpowering Zud and his evil followers. Zud shouted 

a hateful 12 , shook his six fists, and retired from 

the battlefield. 

esoteric incarnation 

WORDS formidable invincibility 

TO impervious parrying 

KNOW imprecation primordial 

incantation rampart 

Building Vocabulary 

For an in-depth study 
of context clues, see 
page 938. 


First Poet of India According to current 
versions of the Ramayana, the story of 
Rama was told to the wise man Valmiki by 
the divine sage Narada. Although little is 
known about the poet, some scholars 
believe that Valmiki was indeed a man of 
genius. They regard him as the "first poet" 
of India and the inventor of the sloka, the 
poetic meter used in the Ramayana and 
popular in later Indian poetry. 

Influential Epic The Ramayana pervades 
the culture of India. Over the centuries, it 
has been translated and adapted by many 
authors, including the 20th-century writer 
R. K. Narayan. According to Narayan, 
"Everyone of whatever age, outlook, 
education, or station in life knows the 
essential part of the epic and adores the 
main figures in it." 



PREPARING to gfcead 

from The Book of Margery Kempe 

Autobiography by MARGERY KEMPE 

Connect to Your Life) 

Handling Stress Think of a time when you experienced a 
great deal of stress or anxiety— perhaps a time when you were 
facing a serious illness or a major change in your life. How did 
you handle the experience? Did you do anything special to 
help yourself cope? 

Build Background 

Religion and the Middle Ages During the Middle Ages, 
religion influenced all aspects of life, and the clergy 
was a powerful force in both spiritual and political 
matters. Like the rest of medieval society, the religious 
hierarchy was controlled by men. A woman who 
wished to pursue a spiritual calling was expected to 
join a convent or to live as a recluse. Margery Kempe 
did neither. Although a wife and mother, she was 
determined to devote her life to Christ and, at the age 
of 40, became a religious visionary, traveling and 
preaching extensively in England, Europe, and the Holy 
Land. In the 1430s, Kempe's story of her spiritual life, 
The Book of Margery Kempe, was first set down in 
manuscript. Kempe dictated the story of her spiritual 

life to two different 
scribes, who then wrote 
it down. It is the earliest 
surviving autobiography 
in the English language. 
Kempe's account 
begins with the birth of 
her first child and 
describes a deeply 
troubling experience 
that would affect the 
course of her life. 

Focus Your Reading 


An autobiography is an account of a writer's own 
life, told in his or her own words. An autobiography 
provides revealing insights into the following 

• the writer's character 

• the writer's attitudes 

• the writer's motivations 

• the society in which the writer lived 

As you read this autobiographical excerpt, be 
aware of details that suggest how Margery Kempe 
views herself and her experience. 



Typically, writers of autobiographies recount their 
experiences in the first person, using the pronouns 
/ and me. Margery Kempe, however, tells her story 
in the third person, referring to herself as "this 
creature" and using the pronouns she and her. 

HO] reader' s notebook As you read Kempe's 
account of her experience, think of reasons why 
she might have chosen to use the third-person 
point of view and to use such phrases as "this 
creature." Jot down notes to indicate the effect this 
has on you as a reader. 



from The Book f 

a/m&m o^m^ 

Chapter One IlltiedJ and Recovery 

Woman tending fire and reading, from an 
illuminated manuscript 

hen this creature was twenty years of age, or somewhat more, 
she was married to a worshipful burgess 1 [of Lynn] and was with 
child within a short time, as nature would have it. And after she had 
conceived, she was troubled with severe attacks of sickness until the 

1. burgess (bur'jfs): a citizen of an English town. 


child was born. And then, what with the labor- 
pains she had in childbirth and the sickness that 
had gone before, she despaired of her life, 
believing she might not live. Then she sent for her 
confessor, 2 for she had a thing on her conscience 
which she had never revealed before that time in 
all her life. For she was continually hindered by 
her enemy — the devil — always saying to her while 
she was in good health 
that she didn't need to 
confess but to do penance 
by herself alone, and all 
should be forgiven, for 
God is merciful enough. 
And therefore this crea- 
ture often did great 
penance in fasting on 
bread and water, and per- 
formed other acts of 
charity with devout 
prayers, but she would not 
reveal that one thing in 

When people think he 
id far a way from 

them he id very near 
through h'u grace. 


And when she was at any time sick or 
troubled, the devil said in her mind that she 
should be damned, for she was not shriven 3 of 
that fault. Therefore, after her child was born, 
and not believing she would live, she sent for her 
confessor, as said before, fully wishing to be 
shriven of her whole lifetime, as near as she 
could. And when she came to the point of saying 
that thing which she had so long concealed, her 
confessor was a little too hasty and began 
sharply to reprove her before she had fully said 
what she meant, and so she would say no more 
in spite of anything he might do. And soon after, 
because of the dread she had of damnation on 
the one hand, and his sharp reproving of her on 
the other, this creature went out of her mind and 
was amazingly disturbed and tormented with 
spirits for half a year, eight weeks and odd days. 

And in this time she saw, as 
she thought, devils opening their 
mouths all alight with burning 
flames of fire, as if they would 
have swallowed her in, sometimes pawing at her, 
sometimes threatening her, sometimes pulling her 
and hauling her about both night and day during 
the said time. And also the devils called out to her 
with great threats, and bade her that she should 
forsake her Christian faith and belief, and deny 
her God, his mother, and all the saints in heaven, 
her good works and all good virtues, her father, her 
mother, and all her friends. And so she did. She 
slandered her husband, her friends, and her own 
self. She spoke many sharp and reproving words; 
she recognized no virtue nor goodness; she de- 
sired all wickedness; just as the spirits tempted 
her to say and do, so she said and did. She would 

2. confessor: spiritual adviser; the priest to whom Margery 
confessed her sins. 

3. shriven: absolved; forgiven. 



have killed herself many a time as they stirred 
her to, and would have been damned with them 
in hell, and in witness of this she bit her own 
hand so violently that the mark could be seen for 
the rest of her life. And also she pitilessly tore 
the skin on her body near her heart with her nails, 
for she had no other implement, and she would 
have done something worse, except that she was 
tied up and forcibly restrained both day and night 
so that she could not do as she wanted. 


And when she had long been troubled by these 
and many other temptations, so that people 
thought she should never have escaped from 
them alive, then one time as she lay by herself 
and her keepers were not with her, our merciful 
Lord Christ Jesus — ever to be trusted, worshiped 
be his name, never forsaking his servant in time 
of need — appeared to his creature who had 
forsaken him, in the likeness of a man, the most 
seemly, most beauteous, and most amiable that 
ever might be seen with man's eye, clad in a 
mantle of purple silk, sitting upon her bedside, 
looking upon her with so blessed a countenance 
that she was strengthened in all her spirits, and 
he said to her these words: "Daughter, why have 
you forsaken me, and I never forsook you?" 

And presently the creature grew as calm in her 
wits and her reason as she ever was before, and 
asked her husband, as soon as he came to her, if 
she could have the keys of the buttery 4 to get her 
food and drink as she had done before. Her 
maids and her keepers advised him that he 
should not deliver up any keys to her, for they 
said she would only give away such goods as 
there were, because she did not know what she 
was saying, as they believed. 

Nevertheless, her husband, who always had 
tenderness and compassion for her, ordered that 
they should give her the keys. And she took food 
and drink as her bodily strength would allow 
her, and she once again recognized her friends 
and her household, and everybody else who 
came to her in order to see how our Lord Jesus 
Christ had worked his grace in her — blessed may 
he be, who is ever near in tribulation. 5 When 
people think he is far away from them he is very 
near through his grace. Afterwards this creature 
performed all her responsibilities wisely and 
soberly enough, except that she did not truly 
know our Lord's power to draw us to him. 6 ♦ 

And as soon as he had said these words, she 
saw truly how the air opened as bright as any 
lightning, and he ascended up into the air, not 
hastily and quickly, but beautifully and grad- 
ually, so that she could clearly behold him in the 
air until it closed up again. 

4. buttery: pantry. 

5. tribulation: suffering or distress. 

6. did not . . . power: did not feel the full attraction of 
God's grace. Kempe is saying that her total devotion to 
the Lord did not come until later. 


\\\wu s/? 

Connect to the Literature 

1. What Do You Think? 

How did Margery 
Kempe's description 
of her illness affect 
you? Share your 
thoughts with the 

Comprehension Check 

• Why does Kempe send for her 

• Why does Kempe tear her skin 
and bite herself? 

• Why does the vision of Christ 
restore her senses? 

Think Critically 

2. On the basis of your reading, how would you describe 
Margery Kempe? 

• her reasons for talking to a confessor 

• the way she handles stress and anxiety 

• her response to the spiritual vision 

3. Do you think Kempe's account of her illness and recovery is 
believable? Why or why not? 

4. What does Kempe's experience tell you about her society's 
attitude toward mental illness? 





Look at your notes in your [ jj reader s notebook. 
What might be some of the advantages and disadvantages 
of writing an autobiography in the third person? 

Extend Interpretations 

6. Critic's Corner A critic has said that Margery Kempe exhibits 
contradictory qualities, appearing to be both humble and 
forceful, both devout and arrogant. What evidence do you 
see in the selection of these contradictory qualities? Be 
specific in your answer. 

7. Different Perspectives Assume the role of Margery Kempe's 
husband and describe her experience from his point of view. 
What additional information do you think his account might 

8. Connect to Life Think about modern attitudes toward mental 
illness. How do you think Margery Kempe's experiences 
would be viewed today? Explain your opinion. 

Literary Analysis 

An autobiography is a writer's 
account of his or her own life. 
Autobiographies often convey 
profound insights as writers recount 
past events from the perspective of 
greater understanding and distance. 

Paired Activity With a partner, list 
various reasons why someone 
might be inspired to write an 
autobiography. Then decide which 
of those reasons— or what other 
possible reasons— might have 
prompted Kempe to record her 
life story. Share your ideas with 
the class. 

K&MP* s R easons 




Writing Options 

1. Dialogue Script Write a script 
for a dialogue in which Kempe 
and her husband discuss her 
recovery after more than eight 
months of mental disturbances. 

2. Narrative on Survival Think 
about a time when you recovered 
from an illness or survived a bad 
experience in your life. What kept 
you going during this difficult 
time? What attitudes and strat- 
egies did you use to survive? 
Write a personal narrative in 

which you describe the qualities 
you possess that helped you 
endure. Place the narrative in 
your Working Portfolio. ^3 

Activities & 

1. Visionary Art Make a drawing 
or painting of one of the visions 
Kempe experienced during her 
illness. ~ ART 

2. Book Jacket Design and create 
a book jacket for Kempe's 

Use images from 
the selection. 


Inquiry & 

Medieval Medical Care 

Investigate the nature of medical 
care during the 14th and 15th 
centuries. Present your findings 
in an oral report to the class. 

Margery Kempe 

1373?- 1439? 

First Religious Stirrings Margery Kempe was born 
about 1373 in Lynn — a town in the county of 
Norfolk, England — where her father served five 
terms as mayor. Although born to a prominent 
family, Kempe, like most women of her time, 
received little education. Around the age of 20, she 
married John Kempe, a tax collector, with whom she 
had 14 children. At around the age of 40, Margery 
Kempe decided to become a "bride of Christ" — to 
live in chastity and preach her visions to the world. 
As a vocal, outgoing speaker she was quite an oddity 
at a time when most women remained at home as 
wives and mothers. Although many men and women 
she met considered her a model of human com- 
passion and devotion, many others disapproved of 
her lifestyle. 

A Religious Life Once Kempe had made her 
commitment to God, she began a series of religious 
pilgrimages to Jerusalem, Spain, Italy, and Germany. 
It was in Jerusalem that she received her "gift" of 
weeping. She would fall into violent fits of crying at 
unpredictable times throughout the rest of her life, 
often during church services. Both the clergy and the 
common people found her hysterical crying at best 
annoying, at worst heretical. As a result, Kempe 

encountered a good deal of persecution and ridicule, 
although she maintained that her tears were a special 
gift from God, a physical token of her special worth in 
his eyes. She was also censured by many for dressing all 
in white, which at the time was a symbol of both 
chastity and piety. 

Her Life Story Her autobiography, The Book of 
Margery Kempe, is important for several reasons. The 
work serves as a sort of time capsule, preserving for 
the reader the social customs, speech, and attitudes of 
the day. It also reveals the singular character of Kempe 
herself, a strong woman of faith who lived by her 
convictions despite intense social criticism and oppo- 
sition. Finally, as an autobiography it is unique in its 
purpose: Kempe felt her story to be worth the telling 
not as a record of her life, which she probably thought 
too unimportant to merit a written account, but as a 
testament to God's power and his wonderful dealings 
with "this creature" Margery Kempe. 

Author Activity 

Words into Print Margery Kempe's autobiography has 
had an unusual publishing history. Check an 
encyclopedia, biography, the Internet, or some other 
reference source to find out how her words made their 
way into print. 



Above: Watercolor of 
the Last Judgment, a 

subject frequently 

dramatized in mystery 


Above right: 
Miniature from a 
manuscript of 
Li Romans d'Alixandre 
(about 1340), showing 
people wearing animal 
masks, perhaps for an 
entertainment at court 

^TTrystery, Miracle, €Jj 
CT Morality Playd 

Staging diagram for The Castle of 
Perseverance, 07je of the earliest 
surviving English morality plays 

/ *^^ uring the early Middle Ages, in order to 
V_> | make church teachings accessible to the 

>^|^» ' common people, clergymen began to 
dramatize stories from the Bible and episodes 
from the lives of saints. The clerics themselves 
played the roles in the dramas, bringing sacred 
history to life as part of church services. These 
dramatized stories soon became a popular part of 
church life. 

As time passed, these plays developed into 
more elaborate productions, known as mystery 
plays (the biblical dramas) and miracle plays (the 
dramas of saints' lives), that were unsuitable 
for performance inside a church. The job of 
presenting the mystery plays was taken over by 
trade and craft guilds, or unions. Each guild took 
responsibility for one or two plays, building a 
pageant wagon and making costumes, props, and 
scenery. On a feast day, the guilds would load 
their props and scenery onto their wagons, form a 
procession, and take turns performing the plays at 
prearranged sites. Together, the plays formed 
what is called a mystery cycle, covering the whole 
history of the world, from the creation of Adam 
and Eve to the Last Judgment. 


The mystery cycles were fabulous 
events. They often ran from sunrise to 
sunset, sometimes for three or more 
days, and included music, dance, comedy 
skits, and special effects to create the 
illusion of rain, lightning, and flying. 
These spectacular productions whetted 
the English appetite for drama. By the 
1400s, professional acting troupes were 
traveling the countryside, performing 
plays of their own — called morality 
plays — that dealt with the moral struggles 
of everyday people. 

Morality plays dramatized the inner 
conflicts of characters such as Everyman, 
an average man who is summoned by 
Death. Everyman tries to soften his fate 
by appealing to friends with names like 
Kindred and Fellowship, but in the face of 
Death they desert him. He can bring only 
Good Deeds along with him to the grave. 

The message, of course, was crystal 
clear, but the play Everyman was more 
than a sermon or fable. To a large extent, 
morality plays such as this represented a 
step away from the religious drama and 
toward a popular English secular 
drama. By the 1500s, morality 
plays were a regular part 
of street pageants and 
began to adopt elements 
of court entertainments, 
such as mummers plays 
(pantomimes), tournaments, 
and masquerades. 

As morality plays grew 
more varied and sophisticated, 
their popularity increased. The 
English people became a nation of 
theatergoers, and a wide range of 
dramatic entertainments became part of 
England's cultural life. In this way, the 
morality plays — like the mystery and 
miracle plays before them — set the stage 
for Elizabethan drama and the genius of 
playwrights like William Shakespeare. 

fa&croftmtenfen&etlj aetftc to fo» 

mm\ euerp creature to come and 

gpue a counte of f %m tyws m 

$)is iDojiDe/attD is ta mmtt 

of a inojaii piape. °*-<r*5~ 


Woodcut illustrating 
John Skot's edition of 
Everyman (about 1503) 


In a mystery cycle, a 

trade or craft guild 

might produce a 

play related to its 

members' occupation. 

A shipbuilders' guild, 

for example, might 

produce a play about 

Noah's ark. 





Writing Workshop 


Presenting yOUrSelf positively . . . For Your Portfolio 

From Reading to Writing Le Morte d'Arthur and 
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight reflect the ideal med- 
ieval virtues of honor, courage, and loyalty. Although the 
characters in these legends do not always achieve their 
goals, they are generally portrayed in a positive light. 
One way to present yourself in a positive way is through 
an application essay, often part of applying to college 
or for a job. Writing an application essay gives you an 
opportunity to reflect on the meaning of a significant 
experience in your life and to reveal your interests, 
achievements, and abilities for others to judge. 

WRITING PROMPT Write an application 
essay in which you reflect on the signif- 
icance of an important experience or 
achievement that has special meaning 
to you. 
Purpose: To present information about 
yourself that would encourage 
a college to admit you 
Audience: Members of a college 
admissions committee 

Basics in a Box 

Application Essay at a Glance 


Begins with 
a hook, or 
grabbing detail 



Tells about your 
significant experience 

Reveals your qualities, 
interests, and abilities 

Shows that you can 
organize thoughts and 
express yourself 


the effects of %**■-■ 
the experience 

on your life 

| Standards for Writing 

A successful application essay should 

• reflect a thoughtful response to the 

• be written honestly in your own voice 

application prompt 

and from your personal experience 

• identify and describe a significant 

• have an engaging introduction 

experience or achievement 

• reflect careful attention to grammar, style, 

• explain what the experience or 

and organization 

achievement means to you 



Analyzing a Student Model 


Jennifer Talon 
Truman High School 


My friends and I have a special word to perfectly describe an "ah hah 
experience." The word is Whomp! We use this word to describe what 
happens when something really hits us hard. For example: "I left my 
accounting project at home, and, Whomp!, Mrs. Winslow gave me six 
extra assignments as a consequence!" Or, "I couldn't believe he took her 
out. Whomp! It's really over between us." 

Okay. I hope you now have an idea of the significance of the word. 
With that as background I can tell you about the biggest Whomp! of my 
life. It happened early in October of my junior year. I was with a group of 
friends at a cabin in the hills of eastern Iowa. While I was standing on a 
balcony approximately thirty-five feet above the rocky terrain, the 
supports under the balcony gave way. Luckily for me, the ground broke 
my fall; unluckily, my leg did the same. One minute I was a healthy, 
mobile sixteen-year-old and, Whomp!, the next I had a leg in about 
fourteen different pieces, with some of those pieces protruding through a 
gaping wound. 

My memories of the next few days are rather hazy. I can remember my 
mother's worried face hovering over me from time to time. I remember 
being told that I'd been through surgery and that they'd (the wondrous 
orthopedists) packed the bones together and fastened them at each end 
with pins. "Cool. You'll beep the airport metal detectors, Jen," my brother 
told me. Well, I'd also have sore armpits (crutches became my best friend 
and worst brother), and a cast up to my hip for six months. It seemed like 
an eternity. 

Physical pain was the least of my worries. Whomp! People stared at 
me now. I couldn't take a shower. I couldn't go jogging. I couldn't stand 
for very long. I couldn't be on the track team. I couldn't get down to the 
newspaper room at school. I could watch TV — small compensation. I felt 
totally helpless and very frustrated at times. I needed help getting dressed, 
and getting to class, and getting into the car. . . . 


in Action 

OThe writer begins 
with an unusual 
hook that sets an 
engaging, humorous 

Other Options: 

• Begin with a 
general concept 
(such as a quote 
or proverb) that 
will be tested or 
proved by your 
own experience 

• Open with a 
dramatic thesis 

The writer 
focuses on the 
details of one 
incident, described 

Other Options: 

• Tell several 
anecdotes that 
highlight your 
different qualities 

• Describe more 
recent events first, 
then tell what led 
up to them 

€) Uses vivid 
details and narrative 
techniques to draw 
readers into the 

O Brings up 
activities by weaving 
them into the story 

., „ ..,, - ■■- — ,- . -, • ■ ■ . ■■ - ■■ ■ " 



Wait a minute, this cast is only going to be on for six more months. 
Whomp! Some people are like this for their entire life. Some people have 
much worse problems that they must deal with every day of their 
existence with no light at the end of a six-month tunnel. 

This really got me thinking. What would it be like to be physically 
disabled? Dependent your whole life? These insights made me want to 
get involved. They made me want to do something to make a difference. 

Now it's my senior year. Students with disabilities (trainable mentally 
retarded kids, some with physical disabilities, too) have been brought to 
Westside for their Special Education classes. I went to see the 
Department Head of Special Education. Together we devised a club 
called Peer Advocates, which is like a buddy system between the regular 
education and special-education kids. We have tried to pair the non- 
disabled with the disabled students according to interests and 
personalities. Each pair is required to spend at least four hours a month 
together. We are also planning several group field trips to places like the 
zoo and the bowling alley. 

Organizing this group has been one of the most meaningful things I've 
ever done. Now kids of two totally different lifestyles are going out to 
lunch together and learning things about each other that they could never 
have learned from reading a book or studying disabilities. We are all 
learning compassion and tolerance and understanding. As for myself, I 
feel as though I'm doing something extremely worthwhile. For example, 
one morning, after a breakfast meeting of the group, a boy with Down's 
Syndrome named David walked up to me with a huge smile and gave me 
a great bear hug. He told me that he was so happy to have a special 
friend at Westside and thanked me. That was all I needed to know that 
the idea had been a good one. 

Breaking my leg and its aftermath of pain and frustration was one 
experience I'd never want to go through again. But what it taught me was 
invaluable and I wouldn't change it for the world. It was a definite Whomp! 

© Repeats the hook 
to create a transition 
into the major 
described next 

Shows through 
an example that she 
cares about her 
subject and that 
the experience was 
important to her 

O Concludes with 
a brief summary of 
her main point 



Writing Your Application Essay 

O Prewriting 

One writes out of one thing only— one's own experience. 

James Baldwin 

Begin with the directions on your application. Many college-essay prompts invite you 
to tell about how something or someone affected your life. Try listing turning points 
in your life and people who have influenced you along the way. See the Idea Bank 
in the margin for more topic suggestions. 

Choose a topic that you truly care about, then consider how you can best use it to 
represent yourself to the application committee. The important thing is to write about 
your experiences meaningfully and demonstrate how they contributed to your per- 
sonal growth. You are more likely to write a forceful, engaging essay if you stay true 
to your interests and experience. 

Planning Your Application Essay 

► 1. Carefully consider the prompt. What information should be included 
in the response? Note that the prompt on page 260 asks you to reflect 
on the significance of an important experience— not just retell it. 

2. Examine your strengths. What personal qualities, talents, and 

accomplishments are you most proud of? What experiences have had 
special meanings for you? 

3. Think about your experience. Why is it important to you? What 

meaning or significance can you draw from it? 

4. Determine a focus. What is the overall point you want to make? Which 

of your achievements or experiences best supports your reflections on 
your own learning and growth? 

© Drafting 

There are many approaches you can take in writing a reflective essay. Like the writer 
of the student model, you could focus on a particular event and use it to reveal an 
aspect of yourself. Or, you could show how several similar events have influenced 
you in significant ways. Whatever the H 

approach, keep it focused— don't try 
to tell everything about yourself. 

As you draft your essay, include 
details, description, and dialogue, 
if appropriate to engage the readers. 
Give extra attention to writing a strong 
beginning. The opening should be 
engaging and informative without 
sounding contrived. It needs to catch 
the interest of an admissions officer, 
who has to read a stack of applications. 

Ask Your Peer Reader 

What experience or achievement is 
my essay about? 

Why is the experience I talk about 
important to me? 

What is the most important thing you 
learn about me from this essay? 

In what places can I improve my 
voice to avoid sounding contrived? 


1. Your Working 

Build on the Writing 
Options you completed 
earlier in this unit: 

• Essay On Virtues, 

p. 238 

• Rama's Speech, 

p. 251 

• Narrative on Survival, 

p. 257 

2. Time Line 

Make a time line of 
your life, listing 
important events and 
accomplishments in 
your past. Look at the 
time line and identify 
major turning points. 

3. Notebook 

Write down the essay 
prompt (or prompts) in 
a notebook or on an 
index card. Keep this 
with you for several 
days, and write down 
ideas as you think 
about the essay. 

Have a Question? 

See the Writing 

Elaboration, p. 1361 

Descriptive Writing, 
pp. 1363-1364 



Need help with 
active and passive 

See the Grammar 
Handbook, pp. 

1397 and 1426. 

Uncertain about 

See the Grammar 
Handbook, pp. 1410, 
1417, and 1421. 


• Submit your essay 
to the college of 
your choice. 

• In a group, read your 
essays aloud, then 
role-play the response 
of an application 
review committee. 

More Online: 
Publishing Options 


the active voice produces a more lively and engaging style, which helps draw 
readers in. It also helps place the focus on you as the main achiever in your 
story. While the passive voice is sometimes necessary, choosing the active 
voice can make your writing stronger and more fluent. 

"the counselors plan 

Each day, a new lesson is planned based on events that 

occurred the previous day. For example, if a conflict 

"the. staff w/ght orqan/z-e 
between two campers was revealed , a trust activity 

might be done for the next day. 

O Editing and Proofreading 

from passive to active voice, be sure to check that your subjects and verbs 
agree, particularly when a word or phrase separates the subject from the 
verb. Also, keep in mind that a college essay should be a polished piece 
of work— so edit and proofread everything carefully. 

Each daif 

A l/nder my guidance, a special group of kids 

learn the basics of swimming. In return, I, along with 

the rest of the staff, receive? a valuable lesson in 

courage and perseverance. 


FOR YOUR WORKING PORTFOLIO What did you discover about yourself while 
completing your application essay? How did writing about yourself help you 
understand your strengths better? Attach your answer to your finished essay. 
Save your application essay in your Working Portfolio.^] 



Assessment Practice I 

Revising & Editing 

Read this opening from the first draft of an application essay. The underlined 
sections include the following kinds of errors: 

• using active and passive voice • subject-verb agreement 

• verb tense errors • sentence fragments 

For each underlined phrase or sentence, choose the revision that most improves 
the writing. 

It just took two little words to change everything: "We're moving." One 

simple sentence was uprooting my whole life. How could I have anticipated the 

(1) (2) 

challenges? Never predicted the rewards. 

Of course, at the beginning I loathe the idea. I was overwhelmed by even 

(3) (4) 

the thought of moving. Fourteen years are a long time to live in one house. It 

was hard to imagine coming home to a strange house or doing homework in a 

foreign kitchen. You see, change still made me nervous then. 


1. A. had been uprooting 

B. uprooted 

C. will uproot 

D. Correct as is 

2. A. How could I have anticipated the 

challenges or predicted the 

B. I could never have anticipated 
the challenges. Never predicted 
the rewards. 

C. How could I have anticipated the 
challenges, predicted the 

D. Correct as is 

3. A. loathes 

B. loathed 

C. was loathing 

D. Correct as is 

4. A. I had been overwhelmed by even 

the thought of moving. 

B. I was being overwhelmed by 
even the thought of moving. 

C. Even the thought of moving 
overwhelmed me. 

D. Correct as is 

5. A. is 

B. is being 

C. are being 

D. will be 

6. A. You see. Change still made me 

nervous then. 

B. Then, you see, I was still made 
nervous by change. 

C. You see, change is still making 
me nervous then. 

D. Correct as is 

Need extra help? 

See the Grammar 

Active and passive 
voice, p. 1397 

agreement, p. 1410 

Verb tenses, p. 1426 

Sentence fragments, 
p. 1409 



Building Vocabulary 

Understanding Words with Multiple Meanings 

Matching Meanings to Contexts 

Language is constantly evolving to meet the needs of those 
who use it. As a result, many words have acquired more than 
one meaning. One such word is craft, which comes from the 
Old English word crceft, meaning "strength." Compare the 
ways in which craft is used in the sentences on the right. 
In the first sentence, craft means "skill in deception or 
evasion"; in the second, craft refers to a boat or small ship. 
Craft can also mean "proficiency, skill, and dexterity" or "to 
make in a skillful manner by hand." Note that over time the 
original meaning of the word — "strength" — was extended to 
refer to various kinds of skill. 

LWith craft and guile, Sir Modred persuaded 
the people to turn against their king. 

As King Arthur with his fleet drew into the 
harbor, Sir Modred and his army launched 
forth in every available craft. 

— Sir Thomas Malory, Le Morte d' Arthur, 
retold by Keith Baines 

Strategies for Building Vocabulary 

As you read, be alert to words that do not mean 
what you'd expect. Then use the following strategies 
to increase your understanding of the new words. 

O Use Context Clues to Determine Meaning When 
you encounter a word that is used in an 
unexpected way, begin by using the sense of the 
sentences that surround the word to figure out the 
word's meaning. Read the passage below. 

"Sir Gawain, why these insults? I have the 
measure of your strength and you can do me 
but little harm." 

"Come forth, traitor, and this time I shall 
, make good my revenge!" Sir Gawain shouted. 

— Le Morte d' Arthur 

You can tell from the context that the two men 
have met before and that the first speaker is not 
concerned about the abilities of the second. These 
clues help you determine that in this context, 
measure means "a knowledge of the limits of the 
other's strength and skill," and that make good 
means "to fulfill." 

O Look Up the Word in a Dictionary Sometimes 
you may need more help than context clues 
provide. To determine the appropriate meaning of a 
word with multiple definitions, locate the word in a 
dictionary and read through the definitions in order 
to identify the one that makes the most sense in 
the sentence. 

Occasionally you will discover that a word appears 
to have two entries in the dictionary. These are actu- 
ally separate words called homonyms— words with 
the same pronunciation and spelling but different 
meanings and origins. One such word is pale. What 
meaning does it have in each sentence below? 

Sir Lancelot was banished because his actions 
were beyond the pale. 

As a ruler, Sir Modred was a pale substitute for 
King Arthur. 

Be aware that writers, especially poets, may 

intentionally use words in ways that evoke both 

literal and symbolic meanings. Note the double 

meaning of age in this quote "Every age has its 

pleasures." Age can be taken to mean the stages in 

a person's life or a time period in history. 

EXERCISE Use a dictionary or context clues to define 
each underlined word in these passages from Le 
Morte d'Arthur. 

l.'The issue of a mare has failed me; but I am the 
issue of a king and a queen and I shall not fail!" 
he exclaimed. 

2. They were received by the gentle knight Sir 
Lucas the Butler. 

3. "My lord King Arthur, it is with a heavy heart that 
I set forth to do battle." 

4. "Surely our honor demands that we pursue this 
war to its proper conclusion." 

5. "It is too late now to sue for peace." 



Sentence Crafting 

Creating Compound and Complex Sentences 

Grammar from Literature 

Expert writers craft sentences that express ideas as 
efficiently and effectively as possible. Using more 
advanced sentence structures can help add variety to 
your writing and show relationships between ideas. 

A compound sentence is used to connect two ideas 
of equal importance. It consists of two independent 
clauses, which are clauses that can stand alone as 
sentences. The independent clauses in a compound 
sentence are separated by a semicolon or by a comma 
and coordinating conjunction such as and, but, and or. 

independent independent 

clause semicolon clause 

"Sir Gawain, I have once spared your life; should 
you not beware of meddling with me again?" 

— Sir Thomas Malory, he Morte d'Arthur 

independent independent 

clause conjunction clause 

I know your worth and price, and my debt's by no means 

— Sir Gawain and the Green Knight 

A complex sentence consists of one independent 
clause and at least one subordinate clause. The 
independent clause contains the main idea, and the 
subordinate clause contains a related, less important 
idea. A subordinate clause is a clause that cannot stand 
alone as a sentence. A subordinate clause often begins 
with a subordinating conjunction, such as //and when. 

subordinate clause independent clause 

If you remain within the city, soon everything will be 


— he Morte d'Arthur 

independent clause subordinate clause 

I never moved a muscle when you came down. 

— Sir Gawain and the Green Knight 

The following example shows how you can combine 
two simple sentences into one complex sentence by 
adding the subordinating conjunction when. 


King Arthur leaves Britain to fight Sir Launcelot. Modred 

decides to take control of the throne. 


When King Arthur leaves Britain to fight Sir Launcelot, 

Modred decides to take control of the throne. 

Usage Tip If you use a comma between the two 
independent clauses in a compound sentence, you 
must also include a coordinating conjunction. Not 
using a coordinating conjunction results in a type of 
run-on sentence known as a comma splice. 


no conjunction 
The Green Knight's head was cut off, it didn't seem 
to bother him much. 


The Green Knight's head was cut off, but it didn't 
seem to bother him much. 

Punctuation Tip When a complex sentence begins 
with a subordinate clause, a comma should appear at 
the end of the subordinate clause. If the subordinate 
clause appears at the end of the sentence, it is not 
preceded by a comma. 

After she gave birth to her first child, Margery Kempe 
became seriously ill. 

Margery Kempe became seriously ill after she gave birth 
to her first child. 

WRITING EXERCISE Rewrite each sentence or pair of 
sentences below, following the directions that appear 
at the end of each exercise. 

1. The Green Knight has a big bushy beard. His war 
horse has a green mane. (Make a compound 
sentence that includes a conjunction.) 

2. The Green Knight issues a challenge. King Arthur's 
knights at first do not know what to do. (Make a 
complex sentence that includes the word when.) 

3. Arthur runs Modred through with a spear. 
However, then Modred mortally wounds Arthur. 

(Make a compound sentence, replacing one of the 

words with the word but.) 

Sir Bedivere must throw Excalibur into the lake, or 

King Arthur will not be taken to Avalon. (Make a 

complex sentence beginning with the word //, 

replacing the word must with different words and 

omitting or.) 

If Margery Kempe does not stop seeing demons, 

she will not be able to take care of her child. 

(Make a compound sentence by omitting some 

words and adding the words or else.) 



UNIT ONE %/&**/ and Assess 

The Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Periods 

How has reading the 
selections in this unit added to 
your understanding of the 
Anglo-Saxon and medieval 
periods? What new insights 
did you gain into life during 
these times, and how does it 
compare with life as you 
know it? Explore these 
questions by completing one 
or more options in each of the 
following sections. 

Reflecting on the Unit 


Comparing Challenges Many of the people you have encountered in 
this unit— both real and fictitious— endure physical, spiritual, and 
emotional challenges. Select an individual from each of the three parts 
of the unit, and then write a few paragraphs comparing the ways in 
which the three people confront their challenges. Explain which person's 
methods of coping with adversity might be most useful in today's 


Resetting the Scene With a small group of classmates, discuss which 
selections in this unit stand out in your mind as being most repre- 
sentative of life in medieval times. Then choose a scene from one of 
these selections and perform it as a short skit for the rest of the class. If 
possible, use costumes and background music to help you convey the 
feeling of the period. 


Role-Playing With four or five classmates, hold a "meeting of the 
minds" in which you role-play several heroic individuals from this unit 
who sit down to reflect on their lives and times. You may wish to have 
them praise, criticize, or question one another's actions as they are 
depicted in the selections. 



Make a list of the impressions you 
had about people of the Anglo- 
Saxon and medieval periods 
before you read the selections in 
Unit One. Then note whether your 
reading has confirmed these pre- 
conceptions or proved them 


Reviewing Literary Concepts 


Understanding the Epic Across Cultures This unit contains excerpts 
from three epics, each originating in a different culture: Beowulf (Anglo- 
Saxon culture), the Iliad (Ancient Greek culture), and the Ramayana 
(Indian culture). Look 
back at the list of 
characteristics that most 
epics share (page 29). 
In terms of these 
characteristics, what do 
the three epics have in common? How would 
you explain these similarities? 


Main Conflict 

Type of Conflict 


He must battle 
with Grendel 
and the fire 



Assessing Conflict The individuals portrayed in this unit become 
involved in a variety of conflicts, both external and internal. In a chart 
similar to the one shown, list at least six characters or historical figures 
from the unit. Describe the main conflict that each faces, and note 
whether that conflict is external or internal. Are most of the conflicts 
external, or internal? What kinds of problems would you say the people 
of these times were concerned with? 

^ Building Your Portfolio 

• Writing Options Many of the Writing Options in this unit asked you 
to assume the identities of characters and people depicted in the 
selections. From your responses, choose two that you think are 
particularly successful at conveying the individuals' personalities. In a 
cover note, explain what you think makes each piece of writing so 
effective. Then add the pieces and the cover notes to your 
Presentation Portfolio. ^3 

• Writing Workshops In this unit, you wrote a Personality Profile based 
on a person of interest and an Application Essay in which you focused 
on a way to present yourself in a positive light. Reread these pieces and 
assess the quality of the writing. Would you like to keep either or both 
of these pieces for inclusion in your Presentation Portfolio? ^3 If so, 
attach a note indicating the strengths and weaknesses of the writing. 

• Additional Activities Think back to any of the assignments you 
completed under Activities & Explorations and Inquiry & Research. 

Keep a record in your portfolio of any assignments that you think are 
representative of your best work. 



On a sheet of paper, copy the fol- 
lowing list of literary terms intro- 
duced in this unit. Put a question 
mark next to each term that you do 
not fully understand. Consult the 
Glossary of Literary Terms (page 
1328) to clarify the meanings of the 
terms you've marked with question 





epic simile 








moral tale 




Review the pieces you have 
chosen to include so far inyour 
Presentation Portfolio. O What 
generalizations can you make 
about your writing strengths and 

Setting GOALS 

As you work through the reading 
and writing activities in the unit, 
you probably became aware of 
areas in which your work could 
use some improvement. After 
thinking over the work you did for 
this unit, create a list of skills or 
concepts that you would like to 
work on in the next unit. 



UNIT ONE Extend Your i 

Literature Connections 


Anonymous, translated by Burton Raffel 

Read this epic masterpiece in its entirety to find out more about 
the exploits of the great Anglo-Saxon warrior. Swords and shields, 
monsters and dragons, sailing ships and spears play an important 
part in this powerful tale of heroism. Beowulf sails the seas in 
search of adventure, and by doing great deeds he wins honor and 
fame for himself and his people. Beowulf and his adventures 
reveal how the Anglo-Saxons viewed good and evil, life and death. 

These thematically related readings are provided 
along with Beowulf: 

The Wanderer 

anonymous, translated by 
Burton Raffel 


by Richard Wilbur 

from Grendel 

by John Gardner 


by Maurice Sagoff 

from Gilgamesh 

anonymous, translated by 
Herbert Mason 

David and Goliath 

from The King James Bible 

Anger from 

The Seven Deadly Sins 

by Linda Pastan 

from A Gathering 
of Heroes 

by Gregory Alan-Williams 

And Even ^ffot*& . 


John Gardner 

This modern retelling of the Beowulf 
story from Grendel's point of view 
provides an inside look at the mind of a 
monster. Told with equal parts of humor 
and horror, the tale makes the point that 
even monsters have a story to tell. 

1 ' ' 



George Clark 

A recent, widely available critical study. 

Eaters of the Dead 

Michael Crichton 

The popular author resets Beowulf among 

10th-century Vikings in a novel disguised as 


The Life and Times 
of Chaucer 

John Gardner 

A lively biography of the poet by the author of 


■■■'•■ "'■'" ■■'•■■. -'V. ■•■ V'^PJPP! 



Literature connections 

from The Canterbury 

Geoffrey Chaucer 

A matchless array of humanity passes before the reader's eyes in 
Chaucer's brilliant collection of related stories, The Canterbury 
Tales. Chaucer views his pilgrims with a wise tolerance and a 
gentle humor that communicate his deep understanding of the 
paths, both crooked and straight, taken by different people. This 
book expands your enjoyment of Chaucer by offering several 
more of his classic tales. 

These thematically related readings are provided 
along with The Canterbury Tales: 

from The Life and 
Times of Chaucer 

Laiistic (the Nightingale) 

by Marie de France 

by John Gardner 

from The Author's 
Introduction to 
The Decameron 

by Giovanni Boccaccio, 
translated by mark musa and 
Peter E. Bondanella 

from The Art of 
Courtly Love 

by Andreas Capellanus, 
translated by john jay parry 

from The Romance of 
Reynard the Fox 


by D. D. R. Owen 

The Second Shepherds' 
Play from The Wakefield 
Mystery Cycle 



and Related Readings 

from The Autobiography 
of Malcolm X 

by Malcolm X, with 
Alex Haley 

Chaucer Aboard 
a Spaceship 

by Naoshi Koriyama 

The Hobbit 

J.R.R. Tolkien 

This famous fantasy of Middle Earth 

draws on the author's profound 

knowledge of Anglo-Saxon life and 


The Aeneid 

Virgil, translated by Robert 

This epic poem about the founding 
of Rome by the hero Aeneas was 
modeled on Homer's Iliad and 
Odyssey. Virgil's poem illustrates 
the ancient virtues of heroism, filial 
devotion, piety, and dedication to 

Other Media 


Old English poetry, including "The 
Wanderer" and passages from 


The Canterbury Tales 

Tim Pigott-Smith, Prunella Scales, 
and other British actors read "The 
Prologue," "The Pardoner's Tale," 
and "The Wife of Bath's Tale," as 
well as other tales in modern 

The Dark Ages: Europe 
After the Fall of Rome 

Includes reenactments of dramatic 
moments in the development of 
Medieval Europe. 


A Prologue to Chaucer 

Originally produced in 1986 by the 
University of California, Berkeley, 
this video relates characters and 
themes of The Canterbury Tales to 
everyday life in late 14th-century 









Detail of the altarpieec of the Virgin of the Navigators (16th century), Alejo Fernandez. Seville, Spain, R 





c. 1495 Everyman, earliest morality 
play, written anonymously (printed 
c. 1530) 

1516 Thomas More 
publishes Utopia, 
written in Latin 
(published in English 
c. 1551) S 

1 557 Tottel's anthology 
Miscellany, originally 
Songs and Sonnets, 
published, containing 
97 poems attributed to 
Sir Thomas Wyatt 

c. 1576 Edmund Spenser 
writes his first poetry 


1547 Reign of Edward VI begins 





1492 Columbus sails to Bahamas 
in Western Hemisphere 

c. 1502 First slaves exported from 
Africa for work in Americas 

1517 Martin Luther begins 
Reformation, creating Protestant 

1520 Suleiman I begins reign 
as Ottoman sultan (to 1566) 

1521 Cortes conquers Aztecs 
in Mexico 

1522 Magellan's crew sails around 


Period Pieces 

Household items 

c. 1 587 Christopher Marlowe's 
tragedy Tamburlaine the Great 
establishes blank verse as main form 
in English drama 

c. 1590 Shakespeare, settled in 
London, begins career as playwright 

1 597 First edition of Bacon's Essays 

Early microscope 

Engraved floral clock 
from mid-17th century 


1604 James I appoints scholars who 
begin creating new translation of Bible 

c. 1606 Shakespeare's Macbeth 

1633 John Donne's Poems published 

1643 John Milton's pamphlet 
Areopagitica attacks press censorship 

1658 Milton begins composing 
Paradise Lost 



1580 Sir Francis Drake brings great 
treasures back to England after 
sailing around world 

1 588 English navy defeats Spanish 

1 603 James VI of Scotland becomes 
king of England as James I (to 1625) 

1605 Gunpowder Plot uncovered, 
saving life of James I 

1607 English establish Jamestown 
colony in Virginia 

1620 English Pilgrims establish 
colony in Plymouth, Massachusetts 

1625 Reign of Charles I begins 

1642 English Civil War begins (to 1649) 

1649 Charles I beheaded 

1660 Monarchy restored with 
accession of Charles II 



1 543 Theory of Polish astronomer, 
Nicolaus Copernicus, that earth and 
other planets revolve around sun, 

1 547 Ivan the Terrible seizes power in 
Russia, becoming first czar (to 1584) 

1590 Dutch eyeglass-maker Zacharias 
Janssen invents microscope 

1603 Japan's Tokugawa regime 
begins (to 1868) 

1609 Italian scientist Galileo Galilei 
studies heavens with telescope 

1633 Galileo condemned for 
supporting Copernicus's theory 

1643 Louis XIV begins 72-year 
reign in France 

1644 Ming Dynasty collapses, 
replaced by the Qing Dynasty, 
China's last (to 1912) 





^-> 1485-1660 

At certain points in history, factors converge to 
cause dramatic shifts in human values and per- 
ceptions. One such shift, beginning in 14th- 
century Italy, launched the period of European history 
known as the Renaissance ("rebirth"). During the 
Renaissance, the medieval world view, focused on reli- 
gion and the afterlife, was replaced by a more modern 
view, stressing human life here on earth. Renaissance 
Europeans delighted in the arts and literature, in the 
beauty of nature, in human impulses, and in a new 
sense of mastery over the world. They reinterpreted 
Europe's pre-Christian past, using the arts and 
philosophies of ancient Greece and Rome as models 
for their own achievements. Surging with creative 
energy, they expanded the scientific, geographical, and 
philosophical boundaries of the medieval world, often 
questioning timeworn truths and challenging authori- 
ty. A new emphasis was placed on the individual and 
on the development of human potential. The ideal 
"Renaissance man" was a many-faceted person who 
cultivated his innate talents to the fullest. 

In England, political instability delayed the advent 
of Renaissance ideas, but they began to penetrate 
English society after 1485, when the Wars of the 
Roses ended and Henry Tudor took the throne as 
Henry VII. A shrewd if colorless monarch, Henry 
exercised strong authority at home and negotiated 
favorable commercial treaties abroad. He built up 
the nation's merchant fleet and financed expeditions 
that established English claims in the New World. He 
also engineered a clever political alliance by arranging 

Above: Henry VIII 
Right: Self-portrait of 
Leonardo da Vinci, 
artistic and scientific 
genius of the Italian 



for his eldest son, Arthur, 
to marry Catherine of 
Aragon, daughter of King 
Ferdinand and Queen 
Isabella of Spain, England's 
greatest New World rival. 
When Arthur died unex- 
pectedly, the pope granted 
a special dispensation 
allowing Arthur's younger 
brother Henry, the new 
heir to the throne, to marry 
Catherine. The marriage 
would have startling 

Stained-glass panels depicting 
Henry VIII and Catherine of 

The Reign of Henry VIII 

Henry VIII succeeded his father in 1509. A true 
Renaissance prince, Henry was a skilled ath- 
lete, poet, and musician, well educated in 
French, Italian, and Latin. During his reign, the 
Protestant Reformation was sweeping northern Europe, 
propelled by discontent with church abuses and a 
growing nationalism that resented the influence of 
Rome. While many in England sympathized with 

Protestant reforms, Henry at first 
remained loyal to Rome. 
However, after 18 years of 
marriage he had only one 
child, Mary, and he 
became obsessed with 
producing a male heir. 
Insisting that the papal 
dispensation had been a 
mistake, he requested 
that his marriage be 
annulled so that he could 
wed Catherine's court 
attendant Anne Boleyn. 
When the pope refused to 
comply, Henry broke with 
Rome and in 1534 declared him- 
self head of the Church of 
England, or Anglican Church. 

Anne Boleyn 

Development of the 
English -language 

During the 1400s, the pronunciation of 
most English long vowels changed, in 
what is referred to as the Great Vowel 
Shift. In addition, the final e in words like 
take was no longer pronounced. By 1 500, 
Middle English had evolved into an early 
form of the modern English spoken 
today. In spite of the changes in pronun- 
ciation, however, early printers continued 
to use Middle English spellings— retain- 
ing, for example, the k and e in knave, 
even though the letters were no longer 
pronounced. This practice resulted in 
many of the inconsistent spellings for 
which modern English is known. 

Printing helped stabilize the language, 
so that the differences between Renais- 
sance English and our own are compara- 
tively minor. Nevertheless, there are 
some differences. In the Renaissance, 
thou, thee, thy, and thine were used for 
familiar address, while you, your, and 
yours were reserved for more formal and 
impersonal situations. Renaissance 
speakers and writers also distinguished 
between "this tree" (near), "that tree" 
(farther), and "yon tree" (even farther). 
They used the verb ending -est or -st 
with the second-person singular subject 
thou ("thou leadest," "thou canst") and - 
eth or -th with third-person singular sub- 
jects ("she looketh," "he doth"). They also 
used fewer helping verbs, especially in 
questions ("Saw you the bird?"). 

The English vocabulary grew as new 
ideas and discoveries demanded new 
words. The Renaissance interest in the 
classics gave rise to new formations from 
Greek and Latin roots. Trade brought 
English speakers into contact with lan- 
guages such as Spanish, Portuguese, 
Italian, Dutch, and Arabic— as well as vari- 
ous African, Indian, and American lan- 
guages—and English borrowed words 
from all of them. The Renaissance spirit 
also encouraged writers to coin new 
words. Shakespeare is credited with 
some 2000 coinages, many involving the 
use of nouns as verbs and verbs as 




Growing English nationalism and the spread of 
Protestant ideas brought popular support for Henry's 
action; those who openly opposed it frequently paid 
with their lives. 

Ironically, Anne Boleyn produced only a daughter, 
Elizabeth, and eventually Anne was executed on a 
charge of adultery. A third marriage finally gave 
Henry his long-sought son, the frail and sickly 
Edward VI, who in 1547, at the age of nine, succeed- 
ed his father. During his six-year reign, the Church of 
England became more truly Protestant, clarifying its 
beliefs and establishing its rituals in a landmark pub- 
lication, the Book of Common Prayer. When Edward 
died, however, his half-sister Mary took the throne 
and tried to reintroduce Roman Catholicism. The 
move was unpopular, as was her marriage to her 
cousin Philip II of Spain, and her persecution of 
Protestants earned her the nickname Bloody Mary. 
On her death in 1558, most welcomed the succession 
of her half-sister Elizabeth. 

The Elizabethan Era 

Elizabeth I, the unwanted daughter of Henry 
VIII and Anne Boleyn, proved to be one of the 
ablest monarchs in English history. During her 
long reign, the English Renaissance reached its full 
flower, and England enjoyed a time of unprecedented 
prosperity and international prestige. A practical and 
disciplined ruler, Elizabeth loved pomp and ceremony 
but was nevertheless frugal and intent on balancing 
the national budget. She was also a consummate 
politician, exercising absolute authority while 
remaining sensitive to public opinion and respectful 
of Parliament. In religious matters she steered a mid- 
dle course. Reestablishing the independent Church of 
England, she made it a buffer between Roman 
Catholics and radical Protestants, now often called 
Puritans because they sought to "purify" the church 
of all remaining Roman Catholic practices. 

In foreign policy, Elizabeth was a shrewd strategist 
who kept England out of costly wars and ended the 
unpopular Spanish alliance. Though she never mar- 
ried, for 20 years she used the possibility of her mar- 



riage to utmost advantage, feigning interest in one 
European prince after another. Convinced by advisers 
that the path to national prosperity lay in New World 
riches, she encouraged overseas ventures, including Sir 
Francis Drake's circumnavigation of the globe and Sir 
Walter Raleigh's attempt to establish a colony in Virginia. 
In secret, she funded pirate raids against the ships of 
Spain, while publicly denouncing such "unlawful acts" 
of plunder. 

The quarrel with Catholic Spain intensified in 1587, 
when Elizabeth reluctantly executed her cousin Mary 
Stuart, the Roman Catholic queen of Scotland, for con- 
spiracy. Catholics, who questioned the legitimacy of 
Elizabeth's parents' marriage, had believed Mary to be 
the rightful heir to the English throne and had partici- 
pated in a number of foreign-backed plots against 
Elizabeth. A year after Mary's execution, Spain's Philip 
II sent a great armada, or fleet of warships, to challenge 
the English navy. Aided by a violent storm, the smaller, 
more maneuverable English ships defeated the Spanish 
Armada, making Elizabeth the undisputed leader of a 
great military power. 

The Rise of the Stuarts 

With Elizabeth's death in 1603, the powerful 
Tudor dynasty came to an end, and the rule 
of England fell into the hands of the weaker 
house of Stuart. Elizabeth was succeeded by her cousin 
James VI of Scotland, son of Mary Stuart, who ascended 

« ,y>, tup k-rj. tyjivjm ,„v LgpS- -ry. j.^,'u^m, ' J ^ j 

* -T ' ' -'?Z 
A .N... G <M 

Literary History 

Although the zenith of English Renais- 
sance literature was not reached until 
Elizabeth's reign, a number of earlier 
writers paved the way. Among them 
were Sir Thomas Wyatt and Henry 
Howard, earl of Surrey, court poets of 
Henry Vlll's reign who introduced into 
England the Italian verse form called the 
sonnet. During Elizabethan times, the 
sonnet became the most popular form 
of love lyric. Sonnets were often pub- 
lished in sequences, such as Edmund 
Spenser's Amoretti, addressed to his 
future wife. William Shakespeare's mag- 
nificent sonnets do not form a clear 
sequence, but several address a mysteri- 
ous figure known as the Dark Lady, who 
some scholars think may have been the 
poet Amelia Lanier. 

Shakespeare left an even clearer mark 
on drama, which came of age in the 
Renaissance. Although most plays of 
medieval times had treated religious 
themes, Renaissance drama was con- 
cerned with the complexities of human 
life here on earth. Plays were often 
staged at court, in the homes of wealthy 
nobles, and in inn yards, where specta- 
tors could sit on the ground in front of 
the stage or in balconies overlooking it. 
A similar plan was used in England's first 
theaters, like the famous Globe Theater 
in London. Most of the plays were writ- 
ten mainly or entirely in verse. Among 
the era's finest playwrights other than 
Shakespeare were Christopher Marlowe 
and Ben Jonson. Jonson was influential 
in shaping English drama on the basis of 
classical models, distinguishing clearly 
between tragedies, which end with 
their heroes' downfall, and comedies, 
which end happily. 

Map published in 1588, depicting the approach of the 
Spanish Armada 



the throne of England as James I. Separated from his 
mother in childhood, James was happy to support 
the Church of England, but both Roman Catholic 
and Protestant extremists expected otherwise — 
Catholics because he was Mary Stuart's son, Puritans 
because he was king of Presbyterian Scotland. 
Problems with Roman Catholics arose early in his 
reign, when a group including Guy Fawkes conspired 
to kill him and blow up Parliament in the unsuccess- 
ful Gunpowder Plot of 1605. Later, James had 
greater difficulties with the Puritans, and these prob- 
lems only worsened when his son Charles I took the 
throne in 1625. 

James and Charles lacked the political savvy and 
frugality of Elizabeth, and both aroused opposition 
by their belief in the divine right of kings, consider- 
ing themselves God's representatives in all civil and 
religious matters. Their contempt for Parliament and 
their shocking extravagance met with much hostility 
in the House of Commons, now dominated by 
Puritans. Even more offensive to the Puritans was the 
kings' preference for "High-Church" rituals in the 
Anglican Church — rituals that seemed to smack of 
Roman Catholicism. 

In 1629, with the situation deteriorating, Charles I 
dismissed Parliament, refusing to summon it again 
for 1 1 years. During this time he took strong meas- 
ures against his political opponents through the royal 
Courts of the Star Chamber, which operated without 
trial by jury. The result of these oppressive measures 
was a deepening of religious, political, and economic 
unrest. Thousands of English citizens — especially 
Puritans — emigrated to North America, making the 
Stuart years England's first period of major colonial 
expansion. Then, in 1637, Charles's attempt to intro- 
duce Anglican prayers and practices in Scotland's 
Presbyterian churches led to open rebellion there. In 
need of funds to suppress the Scots, Charles was 
forced to reconvene Parliament. In a session known 
as the Long Parliament, many of his powers were 
stripped. He responded with a show of military 
force, and England was soon plunged into civil war. 

Top: James I 

Bottom: Charles I, depicted 

as a knight on horseback 



Literary History 

The Pilgrims begin their voyage to 
the New World after living in the 
Netherlands for 12 years. 

The Defeat of 
the Monarchy 

Oliver Cromwell in 
his military finery 

The English civil war pitted the Royalists, or sup- 
porters of the monarchy — mainly Roman Catholics, 
Anglicans, and members of the nobility — against 
the supporters of Parliament, consisting principally of 
Puritans, smaller landowners, and middle-class town 
dwellers. Under the skilled leadership of General Oliver 
Cromwell, the devout, disciplined Puritan army soundly 
defeated the Royalists in 1645, and the king surren- 
dered a year later. Cromwell's army, now in control of 
Parliament, ordered stiff retaliatory measures against 
the Royalists. In 1649, the king himself was executed. 
The members of Parliament had difficulty in deciding 
on an alternative to monarchy. At first they established a 
commonwealth with Cromwell as head; later they made 
him "lord protector" for life. Under the Puritan-dominated 
government, England's theaters were closed and most 
forms of recreation suspended; Sunday became a day of 
prayer, when even walking for pleasure was forbidden. A 
reluctant but able politician, Cromwell curbed quarrels 
among members of the military, religious leaders, and dis- 
contented government officials. When Cromwell died in 
1658, his son inherited his title. Richard Cromwell, how- 
ever, showed little of his father's ability to control the 
country's political wrangling and increasingly unruly pub- 
lic. Puritan government had proved no less autocratic 
than the Stuart reign, and in 1660 a new Parliament 
invited Charles II, son of Charles I, to return from exile 
and assume the throne. His reign ushered in a new chap- 
ter in English history, known as the Restoration. 

Like Shakespeare, Marlowe and Jonson 
were fine lyric poets. Marlowe's "The 
Passionate Shepherd to His Love" is a 
famous example of pastoral verse, 
which praises the simple joys of rural 
life. Jonson's lyrics influenced many of 
the younger poets of the age, such as 
Robert Herrick and Richard Lovelace. 
Jonson's contemporary, John Donne, 
broke with poetic conventions, employ- 
ing unusual imagery and elaborate 
metaphors to produce what came to be 
called metaphysical poetry. His blend of 
passion and intellect was especially 
influential among younger religious 
poets, such as George Herbert. 

The English Renaissance was also a 
high point in the history of epic poetry. 
Edmund Spenser dedicated his action- 
packed romantic epic The Faerie Queene 
to Elizabeth I. Some decades later, the 
Puritan poet John Milton penned the 
lofty epic Paradise Lost, retelling the 
story of the fall of Adam and Eve in the 
Garden of Eden. The Bible, Milton's main 
source of inspiration, had been made 
accessible to all English people in 161 1, 
with the publication of the magnificent 
King James Bible— the culmination of 
years of effort by many translators, most 
notably the Protestant reformer William 
Tyndale. Although this translation rivals 
Shakespeare's plays in its use of memo- 
rable poetic language, most sections are 
in fact prose. Among the era's other 
influential prose works are the essays of 
Sir Francis Bacon, who pioneered the 
essay form in English, and the sermons 
and meditations of John Donne. 





s of Love 

The Renaissance was a time of rapid change in the arts, literature, and learning. 
New ideas were embraced, and old ones-including the concept of love-were 
examined from different perspectives. In sonnets and other forms of verse, English 
poets of the period explored the many aspects of love: unrequited love, constant love, 
timeless love, and love that is subject to change. As you read the poems in this part of 
Unit Two, compare your own ideas about love with those expressed in these works. 

Sir Thomas Wyatt 

Elizabeth I 

Christopher Marlowe 

Sir Walter Raleigh 

Edmund Spenser 

William Shakespeare 

My Lute, Awake! 

His love is spent. 

On Monsieur's Departure 

She cannot show her love. 

The Passionate Shepherd to His Love 

Will she be his love? 

The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd 

If youth and beauty could last, she would love him. 

Sonnet 30 
Sonnet 75 

Nothing can diminish or erase his love. 

Sonnet 29 
Sonnet 116 
Sonnet 130 

True love enriches, endures, and disdains 
vain compare. 







COMPARING LITERATURE: Sonnets of Spenser, Shakespeare, 

and Petrarch 

The Sonnet Across Cultures: Italy 

Francesco Petrarch Sonnet 169 
Sonnet 292 

Love's joys and sorrows 


. r __.„. ,..._ .,,. 



PREPARING to fJlead 

My Lute, Awake! 

Poetry by 


On Monsieur's Departure 

Poetry by 

Connect to Your Life ) 

Dealing with Rejection Suppose that you loved or liked someone 
who did not return your love or your friendship. How would you 
react? In your reader's notebook, write a short paragraph 
describing the effect that such a rejection might have on you. 

Build Background 

Court Poets and Courtly Love Sir Thomas Wyatt, a 
diplomat in the service of King Henry VIII, 
traveled widely and was responsible for 
introducing various forms of Italian lyric poetry 
to England. Although this achievement was of 
great importance to the development of English 
poetry, many of Wyatt's best poems— including 
"My Lute, Awake!"— are in the style of the native 
English dance song, or ballet (bal'ot). The ballet 
was a lively and forceful kind of verse written to 
be sung to the accompaniment of the lute, a 
stringed instrument popular in the 16th century. 

The writer of "On Monsieur's Departure," 
Elizabeth I, was a daughter of Henry VIII and 
queen of England during the flowering of the 
English Renaissance. Elizabeth was unusually 
well educated for a woman of her time and 
wrote several poems, all of which seem to have 
been based on events in her life. 

One of the popular themes of love poetry in 
the 16th century was unrequited love— love that 
is ignored or rejected. In the tradition of earlier 
European poems of courtly love, such poetry 
portrayed the rejected lover as desolate and 
anguished, totally in the power of the beloved. 
These poems by Wyatt and Elizabeth I are both 
concerned with the theme of unrequited love. 
The individuality of each poem lies in the way 
the poet works subtle variations on the 
traditional situations and responses. 

Focus Your Reading 

HHdiMA'IMUWU RHYME SCHEME"! A rhyme scheme is 

the pattern of end rhyme in a poem. Notice the pattern 
of end rhyme in this stanza from "My Lute, Awake!" 

Proud of the spoil that thou hast got 
Of simple hearts, thorough love's shot; 
By whom, unkind, thou hast them won, 
Think not he hath his bow forgot, 
Although my lute and I have done. 

As you read both poems, be aware of their different 
rhyme schemes. 



Renaissance can be challenging to modern readers. If you 
find the syntax or the order of the words hard to follow, 
you can use the following strategies to increase your 

• Use the text annotations and the dictionary to help you 
define difficult words or phrases. 

• Reread the poem several times— aloud and silently. 

• Try paraphrasing the lines until the sense becomes 
clear. For example, read these lines from "On 
Monsieur's Departure." 

I grieve and dare not show my discontent, 
I love and yet am forced to seem to hate, . . . 

You might paraphrase the lines as follows: "I must hide 
my grief and disguise my love." 

ijj reader s notebook As you read these poems, 
try to paraphrase lines that seem difficult to you. 



IViy ute , 

~yAwake ! 

My lute, awake! Perform the last 
Labor that thou and I shall waste, 
And end that I have now begun; 
For when this song is sung and past, 
5 My lute, be still, for I have done. 

As to be heard where ear is none, 
As lead to grave in marble stone, 
My song may pierce her heart as soon. 
Should we then sigh or sing or moan? 
10 No, no, my lute, for I have done. 

The rocks do not so cruelly 
Repulse the waves continually 
As she my suit and affection. 
So that I am past remedy, 
Whereby my lute and I have done. 


Proud of the spoil that thou hast got 
Of simple hearts, thorough love's shot; 
By whom, unkind, thou hast them won, 
Think not he hath his bow forgot, 
Although my lute and I have done. 

6-8 as to be heard ... as soon: 

My song's having an effect on her 
emotions is as unlikely as sound 
being heard without an ear or soft 
lead carving hard marble. 

13 suit: wooing; courtship. 

17 thorough love's shot: through 
the arrow of Cupid, the god of 






Vengeance shall fall on thy disdain 
That makest but game on earnest pain. 
Think not alone under the sun 
Unquit to cause thy lovers plain, 
Although my lute and I have done. 

Perchance thee lie withered and old 
The winter nights that are so cold, 
Plaining in vain unto the moon. 
Thy wishes then dare not be told. 
30 Care then who list, for I have done. 

And then may chance thee to repent 
The time that thou hast lost and spent 
To cause thy lovers sigh and swoon. 
Then shalt thou know beauty but lent, 
And wish and want as I have done. 

Now cease, my lute. This is the last 
Labor that thou and I shall waste, 
And ended is that we begun. 
Now is this song both sung and past; 
My lute, be still, for I have done. 

23-24 think not . . . plain: Do not 

think that you alone under the sun 
will escape unrevenged for causing 
your lovers to lament. 

30 list: likes; wishes. 

Thinking Through the Literature 

1. Comprehension Check What has happened between the speaker and 
the subject of the poem? 

2. What is your impression of this poem? 

3. How would you describe the speaker's attitude toward the woman 
who is the subject of the poem? 

4. If the speaker's wishes came true, what do you think would happen 
to the woman? Explain your answer. 

5. Do you think the speaker is sincere when he says "I have done"? 
Why or why not? 




L I Z A B E T H I 




onsienii s 


I grieve and dare not show my discontent, 
I love and yet am forced to seem to hate, 
I do, yet dare not say I ever meant, 
I seem stark mute but inwardly do prate. 

I am and not, I freeze and yet am burned, 
Since from myself another self I turned. 

My care is like my shadow in the sun, 
Follows me flying, flies when I pursue it, 
Stands and lies by me, doth what I have done. 
His too familiar care doth make me rue it. 

No means I find to rid him from my breast, 
Till by the end of things it be suppressed. 

Some gentler passion slide into my mind, 

For I am soft and made of melting snow; 

Or be more cruel, love, and so be kind. 

Let me or float or sink, be high or low. 

Or let me live with some more sweet content, 
Or die and so forget what love ere meant. 

Young Elizabeth 

4 prate: chatter. 

6 another self: The man referred 
to in this poem is thought by some 
to be a French duke who had been 
involved in negotiations for 
marriage to Elizabeth; by others, 
to be the earl of Essex, a favorite 
courtier of Elizabeth's who was 
executed for treason in 1601. 

7 care: sorrow. 

9 doth . . . done: does all that I do. 

10 his too familiar care ... it: His 
too easy and superficial sorrow 
makes me regret my own feelings 
of sorrow. 




Comprehension Check 

• How does the speaker in "On 
Monsieur's Departure" feel about 
the man she refers to? 

• How does the speaker hope to 
conquer her painful emotions? 

Connect to the Literature 

1. What Do You Think? 

Do you feel 
sympathy for 
the speaker of 
"On Monsieur's 
Departure"? Why 
or why not? 

rhink Critically 

2. What conflicts does the speaker in "On Monsieur's 
Departure" seem to be experiencing? 

• the contrasts she presents in lines 1-5 

• what she says in line 6 

• the references to her care and "his too 
familiar care" 

3. Do you think the speaker is responsible for the situation she 
finds herself in? Why or why not? 

4. How would you explain the speaker's wish in the last 

5. How does knowing that this poem was written by Queen 
Elizabeth I affect your interpretation of it? 



CLARIFYING MEANING choose two lines 

that you paraphrased in your FU reader s notebook as 
you read the poems. Compare your paraphrase with that of 
a classmate. What additional understanding did you gain 
through comparing your work? 

Literary Analysis 

1 RHYME SCHEME | The pattern of 

end rhyme in a poem determines 
the poem's rhyme scheme. The 

rhyme scheme is charted by 
assigning a letter of the alphabet, 
beginning with a, to each line. Lines 
that rhyme are given the same 
letter. Notice that in "My Lute, 
Awake!," for example, the rhyme 
scheme of each stanza is aabab. 

Proud of the spoil that thou a 

hast got 
Of simple hearts, thorough a 

love's shot; 
By whom, unkind, thou b 

hast them won, 
Think not he hath his bow a 

Although my lute and I b 

have done. 

Be aware, however, that the rhyme 
may not always be exact. In the first 
stanza of "My Lute, Awake!" the 
word waste is meant to rhyme with 
last and past. 

Paired Activity Working with a 
partner, use the letters a, b, and c to 
chart the rhyme scheme of the 
stanzas of "On Monsieur's 

Extend Interpretations 

7. Comparing Texts Compare the portrayals of unrequited love 
in "My Lute, Awake!" and "On Monsieur's Departure." Think 
about the attitudes and actions of the man and the woman 
in each poem, the tone of each poem, and the traditional 
portrayal of unrequited love in courtly-love poetry. 

8. Connect to Life How is unrequited love portrayed in literature 
and film today? How do modern characters react when they 
are rejected? 



Writing Options 

Letter from a Queen Imagine that 
you are Elizabeth I and have just 
read "My Lute, Awake!" Write a 
letter to a friend, expressing your 
reaction to Wyatt's poem. 

Activities & 

Mood Music Listen to some 
recordings of Renaissance music, 
both vocal and instrumental. 
Select a group of pieces that you 
think reflect the mood of either 

"My Lute, Awake!" or "On 
Monsieur's Departure." Then 
make a tape recording of the 
pieces and play it for the class. 
Explain your choices, and ask for 
feedback from your classmates. 

Sir Thomas Wyatt 


Other Works 

"Whoso List to Hunt" 
"Blame Not My Lute" 
"My Galley Charged with 

At the King's Service As a courtier and diplomat 
for Henry VIII, Sir Thomas Wyatt was alternately in 
and out of favor with the whimsical king. Henry 
ordered Wyatt imprisoned twice, once for 
quarreling with a duke and once for treason, both 
times threatening him with execution. Each time, 
however, Wyatt was pardoned and accepted back 
into the king's service. 

Lyrics for the Lute A skilled musician and amateur 
poet, Wyatt wrote lyrics in his leisure time to 
amuse himself and other courtiers. As was usual 
during the Renaissance, his poems were circulated 
privately, and only a few were published during his 
lifetime. Critical opinion of Wyatt's poems varies — 
some think their rhythm too irregular and rough, 
while others consider them fresh and vigorous. 
Most critics agree, however, that his most inventive 
work is to be found in the songs he wrote for lute 
accompaniment and that his introduction of the 
Italian sonnet form into English was a significant 
contribution to English literature. 

Elizabeth I 


Other Works 

"The Doubt of Future Foes" 
"Speech to the Troops at Tilbury" 

Lonely Childhood Elizabeth I, daughter of King 
Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, had an unsettling and 
probably lonely childhood. Her father, hoping for 
a male heir, was disappointed at Elizabeth's birth 
and two years later ordered her mother executed, 
supposedly for treason. Despite his bitterness at 
not having a son, Henry provided Elizabeth with 
the rigorous education normally given only to 
boys. She learned Latin, Greek, French, Italian, 
history, and theology, and her literary output 
includes speeches, translations, and a small 
collection of poems focusing on events in her 
personal life. 

Glorious Reign Elizabeth ascended the throne in 
1558 and ruled for 45 years. Her reign was a 
glorious period in English history, a time of great 
prosperity, artistic achievement, and international 
prestige. Although she considered a number of 
marriage proposals, Elizabeth rejected all of them, 
ignoring the advisers who hoped she would marry 
and provide an heir to the throne. 

o^ LaserLinks: Background for Reading 
■^^TV Author Background 
VjJr Music Connection 




' & >.2 flj^s 

The Passionate Shepherd to His Love 


The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd 


Connect to Your Life) 

Imagining Paradise Close your eyes and think of a beautiful place you 
have visited. What images make up your mental picture of the place? 
Create a cluster diagram similar to the one shown, identifying the place in 
the center oval and surrounding it with words and phrases that describe 
the images you associate with the place. Which of your images do you 
consider realistic? Which would you describe as romantic or idealized? 

Build Background 

Renaissance Poetry The Renaissance was a time 
in which knowledge and skills were cultivated in 
a broad range of fields, from music, art, and 
literature to science and athletics. According to 
writers of the time, the ideal "Renaissance man" 
should develop himself in every possible way. 

Included in the ranks of the true Renaissance 
men were two kindred spirits, Christopher 
Marlowe and Sir Walter Raleigh. During his short 
life, Marlowe studied religion, became a talented 
and recognized poet and playwright, conducted 
secret government business, and engaged in 
philosophical discussions with his friend Raleigh. 
As a statesman, writer, soldier, scientist, adven- 
turer, and explorer, Raleigh lived a life of action 
as well as contemplation. 

Marlowe's poem "The Passionate Shepherd to 
His Love" became so famous that other poets 
wrote responses to it. The most notable of these 
is "The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd," written 
by Raleigh. Together, the two poems enact a 
debate about the realities of love. 

Focus Your Reading 

IIHJiMA'IiWf-Wflffl pastoral I Renaissance poets used 
pastorals to convey their own thoughts and feelings 
about love and other subjects. A pastoral is a poem 
presenting shepherds in rural settings that are usually 
idealized. Notice the images from a country setting in the 
following lines: 

And we will sit upon the rocks, 
Seeing the shepherds feed their flocks. 

As you read these poems, notice examples of pastoral 
life involving shepherds and their rural existence. 



The two speakers in these poems— the shepherd and the 
nymph— have very different perspectives on the topic of 
love. To identify the differences, consider the following: 

• each speaker's choice of words when addressing the 
other person 

• evidence of each speaker's motivation 

• each speaker's attitude about life 
rp READER S notebook As you read these poems, 
jot down details that point out the differences between 
the two speakers on the subject of romantic love. 



Christopher Marlowe 

The Passionate Shepherd 

to His Xove 

The Hireling Shepherd (1851), William Holman Hunt. Manchester (U.K.) City Art 
Gallery/A. K.G., Berlin/Superstock. 


<ome live with me and be my love, 
And we will all the pleasures prove 
That valleys, groves, hills, and fields, 
Woods, or steepy mountain yields. 

2 prove: experience. 

5 And we will sit upon the rocks, 

Seeing the shepherds feed their flocks, 
By shallow rivers to whose falls 
Melodious birds sing madrigals. 

8 madrigals: songs of a type 
popular during the Renaissance. 



And I will make thee beds of roses 
10 And a thousand fragrant posies, 
A cap of flowers, and a kirtle 
Embroidered all with leaves of myrtle; 

A gown made of the finest wool 
Which from our pretty lambs we pull; 
15 Fair lined slippers for the cold, 
With buckles of the purest gold; 

A belt of straw and ivy buds, 
With coral clasps and amber studs: 
And if these pleasures may thee move, 
20 Come live with me, and be my love. 

The shepherds' swains shall dance and sin^ 
For thy delight each May morning: 
If these delights thy mind may move, 
Then live with me and be my love. 

11 kirtle: skirt. 

21 swains: youths. 

Thinking Through the Literature 

1. What is your opinion of the gifts that the shepherd offers to his 

2. How serious or realistic do you think the shepherd's offer is? 
THINK / * tne wa Y ne describes the setting 
ApUU'1 I • the gifts he promises 

3. Why do you think Marlowe chose the setting described in the 



Sir Walter Raleigh 





the Shepherd 

If all the world and love were young, 
And truth in every shepherd's tongue, 
These pretty pleasures might me move 
To live with thee and be thy love. 

5 Time drives the flocks from field to fold 
When rivers rage and rocks grow cold, 
And Philomel becometh dumb; 
The rest complains of cares to come. 

The flowers do fade, and wanton fields 
10 To wayward winter reckoning yields; 
A honey tongue, a heart of gall, 
Is fancy's spring, but sorrow's fall. 

Thy gowns, thy shoes, thy beds of roses, 
Thy cap, thy kirtle, and thy posies 
15 Soon break, soon wither, soon forgotten— 
In folly ripe, in reason rotten. 

Thy belt of straw and ivy buds, 
Thy coral clasps and amber studs, 
All these in me no means can move 
20 To come to thee and be thy love. 

But could youth last and love still breed, 
Had joys no date nor age no need, 
Then these delights my mind might move 
To live with thee and be thy love. 

5 fold: a pen for animals, 
especially sheep. 

7 Philomel: the nightingale; dumb: 

9 wanton: producing abundant 
crops; luxuriant. 

22 date: ending. 



07iinAinq '« LITERATURE 

Connect to the Literature 

1. What Do You Think? 

Were you surprised 
by the nymph's 
response in "The 
Nymph's Reply to 
the Shepherd"? 
Share your thoughts 
with a classmate. 

Think Critically 

Comprehension Check 

• What images in Marlowe's poem 
are repeated in Raleigh's poem? 

• Does the nymph in Raleigh's 
poem agree or disagree with the 
shepherd's arguments in 
Marlowe's poem? 

2. How would you describe the nymph's attitude toward life? 
■ the connection she makes between youth and 


k • her descriptions of the effects of time 

3. Do you agree with the nymph's reasons for not accepting 
the shepherd's offer? Why or why not? 

4. On the basis of the first and last stanzas, what do you think 
might convince the nymph to accept the shepherd's offer? 



Look back at the details you noted in your 
nCS reaper's notebook about the speakers' 
perspectives. What is the debate between the two speakers 
of these poems all about? Which of the two speakers' 
attitudes is closer to your own attitude? 

Extend Interpretations 

6. Comparing Texts Who do you think would be more likely to 
share the shepherd's attitude toward love— the speaker of 
Wyatt's "My Lute, Awake!" or the speaker of Elizabeth I's "On 
Monsieur's Departure"? Explain your opinion. 

7. Connect to Life Think about the different ways love is 
depicted in current music. Do these depictions usually 
reflect a romantic or realistic view of love? 

Literary Analysis 

1 PASTORAlTI A pastoral is a 

poem presenting shepherds in rural 
settings, usually in an idealized 
manner. The style of pastorals may 
seem unnatural, since the suppos- 
edly simple, rustic characters tend to 
use very formal, courtly language; 
however, Renaissance poets were 
drawn to this form not as a means 
of accurately portraying rustic life 
but as a means of conveying their 
own emotions and ideas in an artis- 
tic way. Marlowe's "The Passionate 
Shepherd to His Love" is a perfect 
example of a pastoral. 

Paired Activity With a partner, 
decide on the mood that the pas- 
toral evokes in you. What are the 
details that the poet provides to cre- 
ate a pastoral feeling or atmos- 
phere? How do these details help to 
create the mood? Use a chart like 
the one below to organize your 
ideas. Compare your findings with 
those of your classmates. 




Shepherd to 
His Love" 

"The Nymph's 
Reply to the 





Writing Options 

A Modern Parody Write a parody, 
or humorous imitation, of "The 
Passionate Shepherd to His 
Love." In place of the shepherd, 
substitute a person with a 
different job (for example, an 
accountant, a truck driver, a 
plumber, or a chef) and select an 

appropriate setting. Place the 
parody in your 
Working Portfolio. Q 

Activities & 

1. Telephone Dialogue With a 
partner, act out a modern phone 

conversation in which the 
shepherd tries to persuade the 
nymph to accept his offer. 

2. Drawing Shepherds and Nymphs 

Create a single drawing or 
painting that depicts the 
contrasting scenes described in 
the two poems. ~ ART 



Other Works 

The Tragedy of Dido, Queen of 

Edward II 
Hero and Leander 

Talent and Intrigue Christopher Marlowe is best 
remembered for writing plays in which his use of 
what Ben Jonson dubbed his "mighty line," or 
blank verse, transformed the British theater. The 
son of a shoemaker, Marlowe attended Cambridge 
University on a scholarship but was almost denied 
his master's degree because he was suspected of 
conspiring against the queen. A letter from the 
queen's Privy Council excused the young man, 
hinting that he was active in Elizabeth's secret 

Brief but Influential Life Marlowe wrote his first 
successful play, Tamburlaine the Great, at the age 
of 23. He lived only six more years but wrote five 
plays during that time, including The Jew of Malta 
and Dr. Faustus, works that would profoundly 
influence the development of Elizabethan drama. 
Like his friend Sir Walter Raleigh, Marlowe was a 
freethinker who was suspected of treasonous and 
antichurch sentiment. In 1593, at the age of 29, 
Marlowe was murdered in a tavern, allegedly 
during an argument over the bill. 

Sir Walter Raleigh 


Other Works 

"Epitaph of Sir Philip Sidney" 
The History of the World 

An Active Life Sir Walter Raleigh was a man of 
action and intellect. He attended Oxford University, 
studied law, and was widely read in chemistry, 
mathematics, and medicine. He also wrote history 
and poetry. By helping to quell an Irish rebellion 
in 1580, he won the affection of Queen Elizabeth. 
As the queen's favorite, he was granted land, made 
a vice-admiral, knighted, and appointed governor 
of Jersey, an island in the English Channel. 

Exploration and Imprisonment Raleigh fell out of 
favor with the queen in 1592 but continued to 
pursue ambitious projects. Among his activities 
were the establishment of the short-lived Roanoke 
colony in North America and the leading of an 
expedition to South America in search of gold. In 
1603, during the reign of James I, he was charged 
with treason and imprisoned for 13 years. 
Afterward, Raleigh led another expedition to South 
America but fell into disfavor once again when his 
soldiers burned a local settlement. On his return 
to London, he was imprisoned and executed. 




c3onnet Form 

Origins of the Sonnet 

A sonnet is a 14-line lyric 
poem with a complicated 
rhyme scheme and a defined 
structure. Because of the 
technical skill required to 
write a sonnet, the form has 
challenged English poets ever 
since it was introduced into 
England almost 500 years ago. 

The sonnet originated in Italy in 
the 13th century (the word sonnet 
comes from the Italian for "little song"). The great 
Italian poet Petrarch (1304-1374) perfected the 
Italian sonnet, which is often called the Petrarchan 
sonnet in his honor. Petrarch felt that the sonnet, 
with its brevity and musical rhymes, was a perfect 
medium for the expression of emotion, especially 
love. Although the Italian sonneteers did not 
restrict themselves to love as a subject, Petrarch 
wrote over 300 sonnets detailing his devotion to 
a beautiful but unobtainable lady, whom he 
called Laura. 

The English Sonnet Develops 

The story of the English sonnet begins, not 
surprisingly, with another lovelorn poet, Sir 
Thomas Wyatt (1503-1542). A diplomat in the 
court of King Henry VIII, Wyatt was rumored 
to be in love with the ill-fated queen Anne 
Boleyn. In the 1530s, Wyatt translated some of 
Petrarch's love sonnets and wrote a few of his own 
in a slight modification of the Italian form. By this 
time, the Renaissance had at last reached 
England, accompanied by an awakening of 
interest in Italian literature. Henry VIII, 
although brutal to his wives, encouraged the 
poetry of courtly love and so welcomed the sonnet 
as a poetic form. Another English poet who 
deserves credit for popularizing the sonnet in 
England is Henry Howard, earl of Surrey 

1517-1547). Building on Wyatt's 
modifications, Surrey changed 
the rhyme scheme of the 
sonnet to adapt it to the 
rhyme-poor English language. 
Surrey's innovations 
distinguished the English 
sonnet from the Italian 
sonnet. The English form 
ultimately became known as 
the Shakespearean sonnet because 
William Shakespeare used it with 
such distinction. 
By 1609, when Shakespeare's sonnets were 
published, the conventions of love sonnets had 
been firmly established, most notably by Sir Philip 
Sidney's Astrophel and Stella (1591) and Edmund 
Spenser's Amoretti (1595). Surrey's rhyme scheme 
allowed Shakespeare more freedom in his 
versification, and he used this freedom to expand 
sonnet conventions. In some of his sonnets, for 
example, the object of the speaker's affection is 
not a divinely beautiful woman but one with all- 
too-human defects. Instead of limiting himself to 
the subject of love, he introduced deep 
philosophical issues and perplexing ironies. 
Because of his mastery of the sonnet's form and 
broadening of its content, Shakespeare remains the 
undisputed master of the English sonnet. 

What Makes a Poem a Sonnet? 


14 lines 


a lyrical nature — a focus on personal 
feelings and thoughts 


iambic pentameter lines (lines containing 
five metrical units, each consisting of an 
unstressed syllable followed by a stressed 

and rhyme 

a particular structure and rhyme scheme, 
Petrarchan or Shakespearean (that of the 
sonnet or another variation) 



Sonnet Structure 

The Petrarchan Form What 
distinguishes the Italian sonnet 
is its two-part structure: an 
octave (the first eight lines), 
usually rhyming abbaabba, 
followed by a sestet (the last six 
lines) with the rhyme scheme 
cdcdcd or cdecde. Typically, the 
octave establishes the speaker's 
situation, and the sestet resolves, 
draws conclusions about, or 
expresses a reaction to that 
situation. The Petrarchan sonnet 
has been called "organic" in its 
unity — like an acorn in its cup, 
the octave and sestet fit together 
perfectly. Unity is also produced 
by the rhyme scheme, which 
involves only four or five 
different rhyming sounds. The 
resulting need for many 
rhyming words makes the 
Petrarchan sonnet difficult to 
write in English. Still, plenty of 
English poets have written 
them, including John Milton, 
William Wordsworth, and John 
Keats to name just a few. 

The Shakespearean Form The English sonnet is divided into 
three quatrains (groups of four lines) and a rhyming couplet 
(two lines). 

Generally, the 
first quatrain 
introduces a 
situation, which— 
is explored in the 
next two 

Often, a turn, or 
shift in thought, 
occurs at the third 
quatrain or at the 

The couplet 
resolves the 
situation. The 
rhyme scheme 
follows the 
pattern: abab 
cdcd efefgg. 

That time of year thou mayst in me behold 
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang 
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold, 
Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang. 

In me thou see'st the twilight of such day 
As after sunset fadeth in the west; 
Which by and by black night doth take away, 
Death's second self, that seals up all in rest. 

In me thou see'st the glowing of such fire, 
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie, 
As the deathbed whereon it must expire, 
Consumed with that which it was nourished by. 

This thou perceiv'st, which makes thy love more strong, 
To love that well which thou must leave ere long. 

— Shakespeare, Sonnet 73 

Notice that each quatrain elaborates on a particular image: autumn 
in the first quatrain, twilight in the second, and the embers of a fire 
in the third. The final couplet is a concise statement that pulls the 
sonnet together by shedding new light on the situation developed in 
the three quatrains. Think of the closing couplet in a Shakespearean 
sonnet as a "punch line" that gives meaning to the whole. 

Strategies for Reading: Sonnet Form 

1. Read the sonnet several times. 

2. Use letters to label like-sounding words at the 
end of lines. 

3. Identify the major units of thought or feeling. 

4. Describe the situation introduced in the first 
part of the sonnet. 

5. Paraphrase the speaker's final resolution of, 
conclusions about, or reaction to the situation. 

6. Study the imagery and figurative language for 
clues to the emotions expressed. 

7. Monitor your reading strategies and modify 
them when your understanding breaks down. 
Remember to use your Strategies for Active 
Reading: predict, visualize, connect, 
question, clarify, and evaluate. 



REPARING to {Read 

Sonnet 30 / Sonnet 75 


Connect to Your Life} 

Romantic Responses Romantic love can generate a variety of 
intense feelings and conflicting emotions. Recall a character 
in a book or a movie— or perhaps someone you know— who 
has seemed to respond to romantic love in an unusually 
intense way. With a group of classmates, briefly discuss the 
emotions and reactions of that individual, explaining why you 
think the individual reacted as he or she did. 

Sonnets of Spenser, 
Shakespeare, and 

This lesson and the two that follow 
present an opportunity for you to 
compare the work of three sonnet 
masters: Spenser, Shakespeare, and 
Petrarch. Specific points of 
comparison contained in these 
lessons will help you understand the 
similarities and differences among 
sonnet forms and themes. 

Build Background 

Tokens of Love During the 16th century, 
the sonnet became one of the most 
popular poetic forms in England. 
Originally developed in Italy in the 13th 
century, the sonnet was used to convey 
deep and intense amorous feelings, 
often expressing an idealized love 
typical of the courtly love of the Middle 
Ages. In many Renaissance sonnets, the 
speaker— typically a man— tells of his 
intense love and of the anxiety and 
distress he feels as his beloved remains 
aloof and unreachable. 

"Sonnet 30" and "Sonnet 75" by 
Edmund Spenser are part of a collection 
of sonnets, or sonnet sequence, that 
he named Amoretti, which can be 
translated roughly as "intimate little 
tokens of love." Published in 1595, the 
sonnets in Amoretti are arranged in a 
narrative progression that simulates the 
ritual and emotions of a courtship. 
Many of them were written during 
Spenser's courtship of his second wife, 
Elizabeth Boyle, and the details and 
emotions they present are thought to 
be in part autobiographical. 

Focus Your Reading 



sonnet is a variation of the English sonnet, which was introduced 
on page 295. Both consist of three 4-line units, called quatrains, 
followed by a couplet (two rhymed lines), but the Spenserian 
sonnet has an interlocking rhyme scheme linking the quatrains 
(abab bcbc cdcd ee) by the use of rhyming lines. 

As you read each of Spenser's sonnets, think about the 
relationship between the quatrains and couplet and watch for the 
interlocking rhymes. 



You can understand the sonnets' major ideas by breaking each 
poem down into its three quatrains and couplet and 
summarizing the meaning expressed in each of the parts. 

rO reap er's notebook For each poem, create a chart like 
the one shown. Jot down the major idea expressed in each part 
of the sonnet. 

"Sonnet 30" 

Part of Poem 

Major Idea 

1st quatrain 

2nd quatrain 

3rd quatrain 




S O N N 

Edmund Spenser 


IVIy love is like to ice, and I to fire; 

How comes it then that this her cold so great 

Is not dissolved through my so hot desire, 

But harder grows the more I her entreat? 

Or how comes it that my exceeding heat 

Is not delayed by her heart-frozen cold: 

But that I burn much more in boiling sweat, 

And feel my flames augmented manifold? 

What more miraculous thing may be told 

That fire which all things melts, should harden ice: 

And ice which is congealed with senseless cold, 

Should kindle fire by wonderful device. 

Such is the pow'r of love in gentle mind, 

That it can alter all the course of kind. 

4 entreat: plead with. 

8 augmented manifold: greatly 

11 congealed: solidified. 

14 kind: nature. 

Thinking Through the Literature 

1. What are your reactions to the speaker's feelings about love? 

2. Why do you think Spenser chose to use the images of fire and ice? 
-ru^K | f • the characteristics usually associated with fire and ice 
ABOUT \ . the characteristics of fire and ice in this sonnet 

3. Is this poem a believable description of a love relationship? Explain 
your opinion. 



S O N N 

Edmund Spenser 


One day I wrote her name upon the strand, 1 strand: beach. 

But came the waves and washed it away: 

Again I wrote it with a second hand, 

But came the tide, and made my pains his prey. 

"Vain man," said she, "that dost in vain assay, 5 assay: try. 

A mortal thing so to immortalize. 

For I myself shall like to this decay, 

And eke my name be wiped out likewise." 8 eke: also. 

"Not so," quod I, "let baser things devise 9 quod: said. 

To die in dust, but you shall live by fame: 

My verse your virtues rare shall eternize, 

And in the heavens write your glorious name, 

Where whenas death shall all the world subdue, 

Our love shall live, and later life renew." 

t wrote C^ 



H.. ■■ ^K 



Connect to the Literature 

What Do You Think? 
What images remain 
in your mind after 
your reading of 
"Sonnet 75"? 

Think Critically 

Comprehension Check 

• How does the woman in the 
poem react when the speaker 
writes her name in the sand? 

• Why does the speaker believe that 
their love will endure? 

2. Why do you think the speaker in "Sonnet 75" wants to 
immortalize his love? Explain your thinking. 

3. Reread lines 13 and 14. Do you agree with the speaker that 
love can overcome death? 

• the woman's statement that she and her 
name will be "wiped out" 

• the speaker's assertion in line 1 1 

• your own observations about love 




With a partner, compare the charts you created in your 
rO reaper' s notebook and then discuss what you 
think are the major ideas in each of Spenser's poems. 
Collaborate on creating a title for each poem, choosing 
words or phrases that summarize the major ideas and 
reflect the thoughts and intense feelings of each speaker. 

Extend Interpretations 

5. Comparing Texts Compare Spenser's "Sonnet 30" with 
Elizabeth I's "On Monsieur's Departure," paying particular 
attention to similarities and differences in the poets' uses of 
opposites in their descriptions of love relationships. 

6. Different Perspectives Suppose that the object of the 
speaker's love in either "Sonnet 30" or "Sonnet 75" wrote a 
reply. What do you think would be her view of the speaker 
and his ideas about love? 

7. Connect to Life Think back to the character or person you 
recalled in Connect to Your Life on page 297. Which of the 
two sonnets most closely expresses how this character or 
person responded to romantic love? 

Literary Analysis 

Spenserian sonnet, like the 
English sonnet, consists of 14 lines 
of iambic pentameter divided into 

three quatrains followed by a 
couplet. However, while the typical 
rhyme scheme of an English 
sonnet is abab cdcd efefgg, a 
Spenserian sonnet uses the 
interlocking rhyme scheme abab 
bcbc cdcd ee. This rhyme scheme 
reinforces the relationship of ideas 
between the quatrains. 

Paired Activity Notice the 
progression of the speaker's thoughts 
about the intensity of love in each 
of Spenser's sonnets. Note, too, 
the progression of the relationship 
between the man and woman from 
one poem to the next. With a partner, 
write notes for a Spenserian sonnet 
that might bridge the gap between 
"Sonnet 30" and "Sonnet 75." Jot 
down images you could use to 
express intense feelings of love. 
Use your notes to write the sonnet, 
applying the interlocking rhyme 
scheme as effectively as possible. 


Alliteration is the repetition of 
consonant sounds at the beginnings 
of words. Read "Sonnet 75" aloud, 
paying particular attention to the use 
of alliteration. What effect do you 
think these repetitions of sounds 





Writing Options 

Natural Comparison In "Sonnet 
30," Spenser compares his 
feelings to fire. Write a paragraph 
in which you make your own 
comparison between love and 
some aspect of nature. Explain 
the reasons for your comparison. 

Writing Handbook 

See page 1367: Compare and Contrast. 

Activities & 

Opinion Poll Conduct an opinion 
poll in which you ask ten or more 
participants to complete the 
sentence "Love is like . . ." Record 
their responses on tape or in your 
notebook. Share any unusual 
responses with the class. 


Inquiry & Research 

Renaissance Courtship and 
Marriage Find out about more 
typical courtship and marriage 
customs of the English 
Renaissance by answering these 
questions: What was the average 
age of the courters? Was love an 
essential component of the 
relationship? How long did a 
typical engagement last? 

Edmund Spenser 

1552?- 1599 

Other Works 

"Sonnet 26" 
"Sonnet 67" 
"Sonnet 71" 
"Sonnet 72" 

Early Ambitions Born to a relatively poor London 
family, Edmund Spenser was able to work his way 
through Cambridge University as a "poor scholar." 
He read extensively, becoming acquainted with 
Latin, Greek, French, and Italian literature. His 
earliest publication was of translations of several 
French poems, written when he was 16 years old. 
While at Cambridge, Spenser established literary 
friendships and showed that he had ambitious plans 
for a poetic career. 

Influences and Experimentation After receiving his 
master of arts degree in 1576, Spenser served as 
secretary to several influential men, including the 
earl of Leicester. His employment in Leicester's 
household was important, for it was there that he 
met and developed a friendship with Sir Philip 
Sidney and other court writers who were promoting 
the new English poetry of the Elizabethan Age. In his 
own poetry, Spenser often experimented with verse 

forms and used archaic language for its rustic and 
musical effect. He was respected and imitated by his 
contemporaries, as he has been by many later poets. 

Literary Achievements One year after publishing his 
first major work, The Shepheardes Calender, which 
he dedicated to Sidney, Spenser moved to Ireland, 
where he held various minor government jobs and 
continued his writing. It was there that he wrote one 
of the greatest poetic romances in English literature, 
The Faerie Queene. Spenser spent most of his 
remaining life in Ireland, but after his home near 
Dublin was destroyed during a civil war, he renamed 
to England, where he died a few years later almost 
impoverished despite his many years of service to 
nobility. In honor of his great literary achievements, 
Spenser was buried near Geoffrey Chaucer — one of 
his favorite poets — in what is now called the Poets' 
Corner of Westminster Abbey. 

Author Activity 

Mystery Queen To learn more about The Faerie 
Queene, find a copy of the work and read a few 
passages. Investigate its background and structure. 
To whom did Spenser dedicate the romance? How 
long is the poem? What, in brief, is it about? 



PREPARING to 0iead 

Sonnet 29 / Sonnet 116 / 
Sonnet 130 


h Connect to Your Life) 

True Love Think about two people you know who have a strong 
love relationship that has lasted for many years. Consider the 
qualities of each of the persons involved in the relationship. Do 
you think those qualities help explain the strength of the 
relationship? Share your thoughts with classmates. 

; Comparing Literature 
of the World 

Sonnets of Spenser, 
Shakespeare, and 

This lesson, as well as the one before 
on Spenser and the one following on 
Petrarch, presents an opportunity for 
you to compare the work of three 
sonnet masters: Spenser, Shakespeare, 
and Petrarch. Specific points of com- 
parison contained in these lessons 
will help you understand the similari- 
ties and differences among sonnet 
forms and themes. 

Build Background 

Shakespeare's Sonnets William Shakespeare, best 
known for his plays, also wrote nondramatic poetry, 
including a series of 154 sonnets. In the 1590s many 
English poets wrote sonnet sequences, groups of 
sonnets related through an overall narrative structure, 
usually addressed to an idealized but unattainable 
woman. Typical themes included the woman's great 
beauty, her coldness and disdain, the suffering of the 
poet-lover, and the immortality of poetry. Shakespeare 
almost certainly wrote his sonnets— which were not 
published until 1609— during the 1590s too, but they 
differ in some ways from the sonnets written by other 
poets. First, they are addressed to at least three 
different people: a young man, whom the poet urges 
to marry and have children; a "dark lady," who is 
unlike the ideal beautiful woman of the time; and a 
rival poet. Second, the themes of Shakespeare's 
sonnets are more complex and less predictable than 
those of other poets' sonnets. Shakespeare writes, 
for example, of time, change, and death as well as of 
love and beauty. Third, Shakespeare developed the 
structure of the sonnet form to its highest artistic level; 
today, the English sonnet is often referred to as the 
Shakespearean sonnet. 

Focus Your Reading 



Like Spenser, Shakespeare uses the structure of 
three quatrains and a couplet in his sonnets. 
However, he uses the rhyme scheme abab cdcd 
efef gg instead of the interlocking Spenserian 
pattern (abab bcbc cdcd ee). As you read these 
three Shakespearean sonnets, discuss with your 
classmates how the rhyme scheme contributes to 
the meaning and appeal of each poem. 



In his sonnets, Shakespeare often chose words that 
would appeal to the reader's senses. As you read 
the poems, you will notice language used by the 
poet that appeals to the five senses: sight, hearing, 
touch, smell, and taste. 

rU reader s notebook Make a chart like the 
one shown. As you read each poem, record words 
or phrases that appeal to one or more of the 
senses. Note whether any of the senses arc not 
used. Also note that some poems may have more 
sensory language than others. 

1 Sonnet 29 1 Sonnet 116 I Sonnet 130 








Sonnet 29 



When in disgrace with Fortune and men's eyes 

I all alone beweep my outcast state, 

And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries, 

And look upon myself and curse my fate, 

Wishing me like to one more rich in hope, 

Featur'd like him, like him with friends possess'd, 

Desiring this man's art, and that man's scope, 

With what I most enjoy contented least; 

Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising, 

Haply I think on thee, and then my state, 

Like to the lark at break of day arising 

From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate, 

For thy sweet love rememb'red such wealth brings, 
That then I scorn to change my state with kings. 

2 state: condition. 

3 bootless: futile; useless. 

6 featur'd like him: with his 
features — that is, handsome. 

7 scope: intelligence. 

11 lark: the English skylark, 
noted for its beautiful singing 
while soaring in flight. 

Thinking Through the Literature 

1. Comprehension Check What changes the speaker's mood in 
"Sonnet 29"? 

2. Can you identify in any way with the speaker of this poem? Share 
your thoughts with classmates. 

3. What do you think are the speaker's strongest feelings in this 
sonnet? Cite lines from the poem to support your answer. 



Sonnet 116 

William Shakespeare 

Let me not to the marriage of true minds 

Admit impediments; love is not love 

Which alters when it alteration finds, 

Or bends with the remover to remove. 

O no, it is an ever-fixed mark 

That looks on tempests and is never shaken; 

It is the star to every wand'ring bark, 

Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken. 

Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks 

Within his bending sickle's compass come, 

Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, 

But bears it out even to the edge of doom. 

If this be error and upon me proved, 

I never writ, nor no man ever loved. 

2 impediments: obstacles. The tra- 
ditional marriage service reads in 
part, "If any of you know cause or 
just impediment why these persons 
should not be joined together . . ." 
5 mark: seamark — a landmark that 
can be seen from the sea and used 
as a guide in navigation. 

7 bark: sailing ship. 

8 whose . . . height be taken: a 
reference to the star, whose value 
is measureless even though its 
altitude is measured by navigators. 
10 within . . . compass: within the 
range of his curving sickle. 
12 bears it out: endures; doom 
Doomsday; Judgment Day. 

Anne of Gonzaga, Nathaniel Hatch. 
Victoria & Albert Museum, 
London/Art Resource, New York. 

Thinking Through the Literature 

1. What is your response to the description of love in this poem? 

2. What kind of person might the speaker be? 
the likely age of such a person 
the experiences that such a person might have had 

3. Do you think the speaker's concept of love is realistic? Why or 
why not? 





Sonnet 130 

William Shakespeare 

Catherine Howard, John Hoskins. Victoria & 
Albert Museum, London/Art Resource, New York. 


My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun; 

Coral is far more red than her lips' red; 

If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun; 

If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head. 

I have seen roses damask'd, red and white, 

But no such roses see I in her cheeks, 

And in some perfumes is there more delight 

Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks. 

I love to hear her speak, yet well I know 

That music hath a far more pleasing sound; 

I grant I never saw a goddess go, 

My mistress when she walks treads on the ground. 
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare 
As any she belied with false compare. 

3 dun: tan. 

5 damask'd: with mingled colors. 

8 reeks: is exhaled (used here 
without the word's present 
reference to offensive odors). 

11 go: walk. 

14 as . . . compare: as any woman 
misrepresented by exaggerated 




Comprehension Check 

• Is the speaker's mistress dark 
or fair? 

• Do the flaws pointed out by the 
speaker affect his love for the 
woman described? 

Connect to the Literature 

1. What Do You Think? 

Were you surprised 
by the description in 
"Sonnet 130"? Share 
your reactions with 
your classmates. 

Think Critically 

2. In "Sonnet 130," what do you think is the speaker's attitude 
toward the woman he loves? 

his descriptions of her physical characteristics 

his description of her voice 

k • his conclusion in the couplet 

3. What do you think might have been Shakespeare's purpose 
in writing this sonnet? 

4. Does this poem present a realistic or idealized portrait of the 





the chart you prepared for your |_jj readers notebook. 
Which sonnet contains the most sensory language? How 
does this language suit the subject? Cite examples in your 

Literary Analysis 


Shakespearean sonnet, also called 
the English or Elizabethan sonnet, 
consists of 14 lines of iambic 
pentameter divided into three 
quatrains, or four-line units, and a 
final couplet. The typical rhyme 
scheme is abab cdcd efefgg. The 
couplet provides a final commentary 
on the subject developed in the 
three quatrains. There is also usually 
a turn, or shift in thought, in the 
poem, occurring most often at the 
couplet or at the beginning of the 
third quatrain. 

Paired Activity With a partner, 
decide where the turn occurs in 
each of the three Shakespeare 
sonnets. In which poem does the 
turn occur between the second and 
third quatrains? Does the turn occur 
at the couplet in any of the poems? 
What is the effect of each turn? 

Extend Interpretations 


6. Critic's Corner One critic, Hallett Smith, has called 
Shakespeare's sonnets "explorations of the human spirit." 
Discuss ways in which this interpretation applies to the 
three sonnets you have read. Use details from the poems to 
support your conclusions. 

7. Connect to Life Renaissance sonnets often focus on the great 
beauty of the beloved. How important is physical beauty or 
attractiveness in today's society? 

8. ■sl.llLU-i.ll^.l'.'.l'.Mmj.fgl The speaker of "Sonnet 130," like 
the speaker of Spenser's "Sonnet 75," uses the word rare to 
describe his beloved. Compare the thoughts and emotions 
of the two speakers. Whom would you more likely enjoy 
meeting? Why? 

Figurative language is language 
that conveys meaning beyond the 
literal meanings of the words. 
Similes and metaphors are types 
of figurative language. A simile uses 
the word like or as to make a 
comparison between things. A 
metaphor makes a comparison 
without using those words. 

Simile: Her hair was bright as gold. 

Metaphor: Hope is a light in the 

Activity Choose one simile or one 
metaphor from each of the three 
sonnets. Explain the comparison 
and its effect. 




Writing Options 

1. Love Poem Write a 
Shakespearean sonnet describing 
someone you love or greatly 
admire. Use at least one simile 
or metaphor. Place the sonnet in 
your Working Portfolio. ^3 

2. Character Sketch As the 

speaker of "Sonnet 116," write a 
character sketch of the ideal 
partner in a strong love 
relationship. Make sure to identify 
various qualities the person 
would need to possess. 

3. Letter to the Speaker Imagine 
that you are the woman 
described in "Sonnet 130." In a 
letter to the speaker, give your 
opinion of his description. 

4. Opinion Essay Which of the 
three sonnets do you think 
expresses the strongest 
commitment to a love 
relationship? Write a two- or 
three-paragraph essay explaining 
your opinion. 

Writing Handbook 

See pages 1369-1370: Analysis. 

Activities & 

1. Television Talk Show With a 
partner, stage a television talk 
show in which the host interviews 
William Shakespeare about the 
meaning of love. 

2. Love's Scrapbook Prepare a 
scrapbook of items— such as 
photos, drawings, poems, and 
sayings— that express your 
conception of a strong love 
relationship. -ART 

3. A Reading of Sonnets With a 
small group of classmates, 
investigate some of 
Shakespeare's other sonnets. 
Have each group member 
prepare a reading of his or her 
favorite sonnet. Discuss the 
feelings and ideas expressed in 
each poem, and compare it with 
one or more of the three sonnets 
you have read in this lesson. 


4. List of Resources Reread each 
of the three sonnets, and choose 
your favorite. Think of films, 
novels, short stories, works of art, 
and musical compositions that in 
some way represent the mood of 
the poem or the ideas and 
images in it. List these resources, 
and share the list with the class. 

Inquiry & Research 

1. Portraits of Women Find books 
of English Renaissance 
painting showing portraits of 
women of the time. Look 
at several of the portraits 
and think about whether 
they seem idealized or 
realistic. How does the 
portrayal of women in 
painting of the period 
compare with the 
portrayal of women in 
Renaissance poetry? 

2. What Is Love? For most 
people, love is one of the 
most important aspects of life. 
Investigate some of the 
definitions and analyses of love 
in the writings of contemporary 
psychologists. Share what you 
find with the class, and discuss 

any relationships you can see 
between Shakespeare's views of 
love and the psychologists' 


More Online: Research Starter 


Art Connection 

Illustrating Poetry Look again at 

the two small portraits of women 

on pages 304-305. Why do you 

think they were chosen to 

illustrate "Sonnet 

116" and 

"Sonnet 130"? 

Look for 


paintings that 

you think 

could be used 

to illustrate the 

two poems. 

A biography of William 
Shakespeare appears on pages 

SONNETS 29, 116, I 50 


PREPARING to ffieac/ 

Sonnet 169 / Sonnet 292 

Poetry by FRANCESCO PETRARCH (fran-chas' ko pe'trark ) 

Comparing Literature of the World 

The Sonnet Across Cultures 

Austria j Hungary 

Sonnets of Spenser, Shakespeare, and Petrarch Long before Spenser and 
Shakespeare's time, the Italian poet Petrarch played an influential role in 
the development of the structure as well as the content of the sonnet. A 
brilliant man of the 14th-century Italian Renaissance, Petrarch perfected 
the sonnet style that 200 years later was used and adapted by Spenser, 
Shakespeare, and other English poets. Because of this, you will find in 
Petrarch's writing the same love themes that were explored by his 
followers: unrequited love, desperate love, eternal love, and tragic love. 

1 M M MT.yTS-ffttlTgCT^yffl As you read these sonnets by Petrarch, 
compare the poet's treatment of love with that seen in Spenser's and 
Shakespeare's sonnets. 

Build Background 

The Sonnet Takes Shape Although 
sonnets had been written in Italy for 
nearly 100 years before Petrarch wrote 
his, it was he who established the sonnet 
as a major poetic form. In addition to 
his impact on the Elizabethans, Petrarch 
had a considerable influence on such 
poets as Michelangelo, Ronsard, and 
Lope de Vega. 

Petrarch's sonnets, the output of a 
lifetime of work, show his longing for a 
woman named Laura, with whom he 
reportedly fell passionately in love on 
Good Friday, April 6, 1327, after seeing 
her in church. Even though Laura 
did not return his love, she was the 
inspiration for over 300 of Petrarch's 
poems. Like many of Petrarch's 
contemporaries, Laura died in the 
plague that devastated much of Europe 
in the mid- 14th century. "Sonnet 292" 
was written after her death. 

Focus Your Reading 

■ni;i:miW:V^ yfl |>j Italian sonnet] The Italian sonnet used by 
Petrarch is different in form from the English sonnet. The 14 lines 
of the Italian sonnet are divided into these two parts: 

• an octave (the first eight lines) 

• a sestet (the last six lines) 

Generally, the octave tells a story, introduces a situation, or raises 
a question. In the sestet, the speaker comments on the story, 
situation, or question. 

As you read these sonnets, notice the relationship between 
their structure and content. 



The ideas expressed in a poem can be hard to understand 
because the language of poetry may be difficult to decipher. The 
following steps are strategies you can use to determine the major 
ideas in Petrarch's sonnets: 

• Reread the poem two or three times. 

• Look for the major idea in each stanza. 

• Identify the story or situation introduced in the octave. 

• Determine the comment made by the speaker in the sestet. 
HOI reaper' s notebook Summarize the major idea of each 
stanza in the two sonnets. 



Francesco Petrarch 



Rapt in the one fond thought that makes me stray 
from other men and walk this world alone, 
sometimes I have escaped myself and flown 
to seek the very one that I should flee; 

5 so fair and fell I see her passing by 

that the soul trembles to take flight again, 
so many armed sighs are in her train, 
this lovely foe to Love himself and me! 

And yet, upon that high and clouded brow 
10 I seem to see a ray of pity shine, 

shedding some light across the grieving heart: 

so I call back my soul, and when I vow 
at last to tell her of my hidden pain, 
I have so much to say I dare not start. 

Translated by Anthony Mortimer 

1 rapt: deeply absorbed. 

5 fell: cruel. 

7 train: a group of people 
following in attendance. 

Thinking Through the Literature 

1. What are your thoughts about the feelings the speaker expresses in 
this poem? 

2. How would you describe the relationship between the speaker and 
his beloved? 

• the conflict the speaker expresses in lines 3-4 

• his description of how his soul "trembles to take flight 
again" (line 6) 

• his use of contradictory phrases in describing the 
beloved, such as "fair and fell" (line 5) and "lovely foe" 
(line 8) 

• the needs he suggests in lines 12-14 




Francesco Petrarch 






The eyes I spoke of once in words that burn, 
the arms and hands and feet and lovely face 
that took me from myself for such a space 
of time and marked me out from other men; 

the waving hair of unmixed gold that shone, 
the smile that flashed with the angelic rays 
that used to make this earth a paradise, 
are now a little dust, all feeling gone; 

Portrait of a Man and Woman at a 
Casement (about 1440-1445), Fra Filippo 
Lippi. Tempera on wood, 2514" x 16/4", The 
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 
gift of Henry G. Marquand, 1889, 
Marquand Collection (89.15.19). 

and yet I live, grief and disdain to me, 
10 left where the light I cherished never shows, 
in fragile bark on the tempestuous sea. 

Here let my loving song come to a close, 
the vein of my accustomed art is dry, 
and this, my lyre, turned at last to tears. 

Translated by Anthony Mortimer 

11 bark: sailing ship; 
tempestuous: stormy. 

14 lyre (ITr): a stringed musical 
instrument of the harp family, 
used in ancient Greece. 




Connect to the Literature 

What Do You Think? 

What type of music 
would convey the 
overall mood of 
"Sonnet 292"? 

Comprehension Check 

• What has happened to the 
woman in the poem? 

• Who or what is meant by "fragile 
bark" and "tempestuous sea"? 

Think Critically 

2. How would you describe the speaker's feelings over the loss 
of love? 

- his description of his beloved's physical 


• his attitude toward his own life (lines 9-1 1) 

• what he means by "the vein of my 
accustomed art is dry" (line 13) 



Review the summaries for each stanza that you created in 
your [TIreader s notebook. How would you describe 
what happens in each poem? Compare your ideas with 
those of a partner. 

Extend Interpretations 

4. Critic's Corner Edgar Quinet, a 19th-century French critic, said 
that "Petrarch's originality consists in having realized, for the 
first time, that every moment of our existence contains in 
itself the substance of a poem." Read Petrarch's sonnets 
again. Do you agree that everyday incidents can in 
themselves be poetic? Explain your opinion. 

5. Connect to Life Think again about the two situations 
presented in these poems. Do you think it is more difficult 
to cope with a love that is hopeless or with the death of 
someone you love? Explain your answer. 

6. 1 idM I '.1 JJ. Tl»ffffiffCTgW Compare the attitude toward the 
beloved in Petrarch's "Sonnet 292" with that in Shakespeare's 
"Sonnet 130." How does each speaker view his beloved? 

7. 1 J^ fW f HTiF3flTiTffffr?! [ Compare the treatment of love 
in Petrarch's "Sonnet 169" with that in Spenser's "Sonnet 
30." How are the two poems similar? How do they differ? 

Literary Analysis 

! ITALIAN SONNET I The 14 lines 

of the Italian sonnet are divided into 
two parts: an octave (the first eight 
lines) and a sestet (the last six lines). 
The usual rhyme scheme for the 
octave is abbaabba. The rhyme 
scheme for the sestet may be 
cdecde, cdccdc, or a similar variation. 
The octave generally presents a 
problem or raises a question, and 
the sestet resolves or comments on 
the question. 

Cooperative Learning Activity 

Reread the sonnets by Spenser and 
those by Shakespeare in this part of 
Unit Two. Then compare the form 
of these Italian sonnets with those 
of Spenser's and Shakespeare's 
sonnets. Which form do you think 
gives the writer more liberties? 
Which seems to you to fit more 
situations or themes? Jot down your 
ideas in a chart like the one shown 
below. Then compare your 
conclusions with those of your 





SONNET 169 / SONNET 292 




Writing Options 

1. Soap-Opera Outline Write an 
outline for a series of soap- 
opera episodes 
based on ^^__ 
Petrarch's HT js/yi/rt ^ 
two U A 

sonnets. -^ 

Describe the 
speaker and 
the woman 

he loves. Add details to explain 
the speaker's "hidden pain" and 
grief. Place the outline in your 
Working Portfolio. ^3 


Points of Comparison 

Compare the attitude toward love 
conveyed in the sonnets you have 
read by Spenser, Shakespeare, 
and Petrarch. Which approach do 
you identify with the most? Write 
a letter to the poet explaining 
why you appreciate his attitude. 

Activities & 

Dance Interpretation Choreograph 
a dance interpretation of one of 
Petrarch's sonnets. Create 

different movements to express 
the speaker's thoughts and 
emotions. Perform your dance 
for the class. ~ PERFORMING 

Inquiry & Research 

Italian Renaissance Research the 
Italian Renaissance to find out 
what impact the art and writing 
of the period had on Europe. 
What artists and writers led the 
Renaissance? What themes and 
ideas were typical of the period? 



Early Years Although born in Italy, Petrarch 
moved with his family to France, where his father 
had accepted a job. It was in France that Petrarch, 
on his father's insistence, began his study of law, 
later returning to Italy to continue his education. 
After his father's death in 1326, however, Petrarch 
abandoned law, a subject for which he had little 
inclination, to study Greek and Latin literature and 
to write poetry. 

Renaissance Man In the spirit of the Renaissance, 
Petrarch had varied interests, ranging from the 
scholarly and literary to a love of and fascination 
with nature. In 1336, together with his brother, he 
climbed Mt. Ventoux in the Alps; the climb was 
quite unusual in an age that snowed little interest in 
nature. He also had a deep interest in religious 
studies, which led him to join the clergy. The 
church positions he held provided him not only 

with a modest means of income but also with much 
free time to devote to literature. He studied, wrote, 
and traveled extensively and was highly regarded as 
a literary and cultural leader of his time. 

Wreathed in Laurels In 1340, Petrarch received 
invitations from both Paris and Rome to become poet 
laureate. He chose Rome, and in 1341 received the 
honor of being its first poet laureate since ancient 
times. Most of the 366 poems in the Canzoniere 
("Book of Songs"), Petrarch's poetic masterpiece, 
are written about his love for Laura, who also 
appears in his Trionfi ("Triumphs"). Petrarch 
never lost his love of writing. He spent the last years 
of his life composing and revising his literary 
works, and he died in his study, at work at his desk. 

Author Activity 

Lady Muse Get together with a small group of 
classmates and find out what you can about Laura. 
Divide the following questions among the group 
members: When did Laura die? Why was the date 
significant? What else can you find out about her? 
Present your findings to the class. 





A Passion for Power 

During Shakespeare's lifetime there were frequent struggles for political control 
in and around the court of Elizabeth I and her successor, James I. Many of 
Shakespeare's history plays as well as his tragedies deal with political conflict 
and the never-ending struggle to achieve a balance between power, justice, and legit- 
imate authority in society. Shakespeare's play Macbeth is one of the definitive studies 
of the effect of power and ambition on the mind and soul. Who should be king and 
how political power should be first gained and then secured are among the issues 
addressed in this play. 


/UTHOR d\ 


The Tragedy of Macbeth 
Act One 
Act Two 

Raphael Holinshed Duncan's Murder from Holinshed's Chronicles 

Act Three 

Raphael Holinshed Banquo's Murder from Holinshed's Chronicles 

Act Four 
Act Five 

A classic tale of power, ambition, and murder 

James Thurber The Macbeth Murder Mystery 

A humorous take on the plot of Macbeth 









Author Study 

Will i am S hake s peahe 


Life and Times 314 

The English Renaissance 

Theater 318 

The Rebirth of the Globe 320 

Learning the Language of 
Literature: Shakespearean 
Tragedy 321 

The Tragedy of Macbeth 323 

Duncan's Murder from 
Holinshed's Chronicles 


Banquo's Murder from 
Holinshed's Chronicles 


"The Macbeth Murder 

Mystery" by James Thurber 

The Author's Style 421 

Author Study Project 422 

'He was not of an 
age, but for all 


— Ben Jonson 


Piaster Playwright and Poet 

With his brilliant poetic language 
and keen insight into human nature, 
William Shakespeare is generally 
regarded as the world's greatest 
writer in the English language. His 
plays are more widely translated 
than any other works except the 
Bible. Yet his life remains something 
of a mystery, with many details lost 
in the swirl of time. 


"I COULD A TALE UNFOLD" Shakespeare was born in 
Stratford-upon-Avon, a busy market town on the Avon River, 
northwest of London. Though the precise date of his birth is 
not known, church records indicate that he was baptized on 
April 26, 1564. Unlike most other writers of his era, he did not 
come from a noble family with close ties to the English court. 
The Shakespeares were what today we would call middle class, 
although his father, a glove maker, once served as the equivalent 
of mayor of Stratford. 

Though no record of Shakespeare's schooling survives, it is 
assumed that he attended the local grammar school in Stratford. 
Again unlike most other writers of his day, Shakespeare did not 

Is born in 

■ ■■11 



Family suffers a 

Eft Tudor 

decline in fortune. 

Ei house in 

loses most land 

j9g| Stratford 





This Elizabethan drawing is 
believed to be of Anne 

go on to a university; instead, at 

the age of 18, he married Anne 

Hathaway, with whom he would 

have three children. After their 

birth, the documentary record of 

Shakespeare's life is once again 

blank for several years. When he can next be placed, he 

was in London, working as an actor and beginning to be 

noticed as a playwright. 

'This Realm, This England" The London to which 

Shakespeare came was at the center of a nation just emerging 
as a major European power. In 1588, the English defeated 
the powerful Spanish Armada, a fleet of ships carrying a 
Spanish invasion force to England. In the wake of this 
victory, London flourished as a commercial center. 

The arts, with the support of Queen Elizabeth I, flourished 
as well. The queen spent much of her time in London, where 
celebrated literary figures of the day — the poets Edward 
Spenser and Sir Philip Sidney, among them — visited the 
royal court. She also enjoyed pageants and plays, as well as 
the more sophisticated entertainment of classical literature. 
Attracted by England's vitality, commercial and artistic 
people from other countries soon began flocking to 
London, a bustling city of nearly 200,000 people. London's 
first public theaters sprang up across the Thames River in 
suburban Southwark. Both the mighty and the humble 
became avid theatergoers. 


Poetic Drama Shakespeare is best 
known for his verse drama, plays in 
which most of the dialogue is in the 
form of poetry. In all, he wrote 37 plays, 
including the following: 

All's Well That Ends Well 

Antony and Cleopatra 

As You Like It 

The Comedy of Errors 


Henry IV, Parts I and II 

Henry V 

Julius Caesar 

King Lear 

Love's Labour's Lost 


Measure for Measure 

The Merchant of Venice 

The Merry Wives of Windsor 

A Midsummer Night's Dream 


Richard II 

Richard III 

Romeo and Juliet 

The Taming of the Shrew 

The Tempest 

Twelfth Night 

The Two Gentlemen of Verona 

The Winter's Tale 

Narrative Poetry In addition to his 
famous sonnets, Shakespeare wrote 
two highly regarded narrative poems, 
Venus and Adonis (1593) and The 
Rape of Lucrece (1594), when the 
London theaters had to shut down 
because of an outbreak of plague. 

*<«; ?-***;*frw**(^ 

1582 1 




1594-96 j 


Marries ; 

Birth of 

Birth of 

The Comedy 

Joins the Lord ; 

Death of 

Anne 1 

first child, 


of Errors and 

Chamberlain's ; 

Hamnet at 

Hathaway j 


Hamnet and 

Henry VI 
in London 

Men ; 

age 11 








1591 | 


English explorer 

Elizabeth ; 


Astrophel and \ 

Plague forces 

Sir Francis Drake 

executes her j 

defeats the 

Stella by Sir j 

closing of 

sails around the 

cousin Mary, j 


Philip Sidney j 



Queen of Scots. ; 


is published. : 





"All the World's a Stage" The first 

extant mention of William Shakespeare's presence 
on London's literary scene is in a 1592 pamphlet 
mocking his dramatic efforts. Already famous 
enough to be criticized (the rival dramatist Robert 
Greene referred to Shakespeare bitterly as an 
"upstart crow"), he became a member of the 
Lord Chamberlain's Men, a company of actors 
whose patron was an influential member of 
Elizabeth's court. Shakespeare's plays helped to 
make the company successful — so successful that 
the queen herself attended its productions. 
Although the precise dating of Shakespeare's 
plays is uncertain, his early masterpieces include 
Richard III, The Comedy of Errors, The Taming 
of the Shrew, and Romeo and Juliet. By 1598, 
one scholar was praising Shakespeare as 
England's finest playwright: "As Plautus and 
Seneca are accounted the best for Comedy and 
Tragedy among the Latins," wrote Francis Meres, 
"so Shakespeare among the English is the most 
excellent in both kinds for the stage." 

Shakespeare's fame was accompanied by a 
financial success that allowed him to become a 
partner in London's new Globe Theatre and to 
purchase a fine home, called New Place, in 
Stratford. He also paid to obtain a coat of arms 
for his father, perhaps in an effort to improve his 
family's social position. 

When Elizabeth's Scottish cousin James 
succeeded her in 1603, the Lord Chamberlain's 
Men became the King's Men, and the 
company's domination of the London stage 
continued. In 1608, Shakespeare and the other 
leading members of the King's Men even 
leased a second London theater, the 
Blackfriars, which was better equipped for 
winter performances. 

Our Revels Now Are Ended" After 

1608, Shakespeare curtailed his theatrical 
activities and spent more time back in Stratford. 
He wrote no plays after 1613; his last complete 
dramas are believed to be The Winter's Tale, 
The Tempest, and Henry VIII. He died in 1616 
and was buried in his parish church in 
Stratford. His famous epitaph, which he may 
have written himself, reads: 

Good friend, for Jesus' sake forbear 
To dig the dust enclosed here. 
Blest be the man that spares these stones, 
And curst be he that moves my bones. 


<^X More Online: Author Link 


1603 I 





Receives ; 

First perfor- 



Dies on 

royal license \ 

mances of 



April 23 

for the King's : 

King Lear and 


of The 

Men .; 





East India 
receives a 
royal charter. 



Elizabeth I dies; 
James VI of Scotland 
becomes James I of 



King James 


of the Bible 





To Be or Not to Be J) 

Because documentary evidence of 
his life is scanty and his origins and 
education were relatively humble, 
some people have for centuries 
speculated that Shakespeare did not 
write the works attributed to him. 
Such theories persist even though 
they have no basis in solid fact and 
many scholars dispute them. Here 
are some of the nearly 60 people 
who have been offered by various 
sources as the real Shakespeare. 

Death of Anne 
Shakespeare; First 
Folio publication of 
Shakespeare's plays 









James 1 dies; his 

The duke of 

establish the 

son Charles 

Buckingham, a 

ymouth Colony 

becomes king. 

favorite of James 1, 


is assassinated. 




The English Renaissance Theater 

From the Courtyard to the Globe 

The Renaissance brought to England a 
heightened interest in drama — at first in the 
universities, then in the royal court, and finally 
among the public at large. Although small 
private stage productions might be held indoors, 
in schools, royal palaces, and noblemen's 
homes, public performances demanded more 
space and access. 

Most of the earliest public performances were 
held in the courtyards of inns, with the 
spectators watching from the surrounding 
balconies. The permanent public theater was 
designed to resemble one of these courtyards. 
Built by James Burbage, it opened in 1576 in 

the London suburb of Shoreditch and was called 
simply the Theatre. Later two other theaters, the 
Rose and the Swan, opened in the Bankside area 
of Southwark, just south of central London. This 
location proved popular, and in 1599, the 
original Theatre was torn down and rebuilt in the 
Bankside area as the Globe. By 1600, London 
had more playhouses than any other European 

Because the Globe — which Shakespeare 
referred to as "this Wooden O" in Henry V — 
was home to the Lord Chamberlain's Men, 
the acting company with which Shakespeare 
was affiliated, it is the best known of the 
Elizabethan public theaters. 



Since Elizabethan public the- 
aters had no artificial lighting 
or heating, performances in 
them had to be given in day- 
light and in warm weather. 
Private theaters, with artificial 
light and heat, soon began to 
open, attracting a higher class 
of patrons. The first of these 
was the Blackfriars, built in 
1 596. Twelve years later 
Shakespeare's company, by 
then known as the King's Men, 
leased the Blackfriars in order 
to extend their performing sea- 
son into the winter months. 

Though scenery was minimal, 
Elizabethan audiences still demanded 
a good show. A trap door in the stage 
led to a space below, from which 
ghosts or spirits could emerge. 

Above the back of the 
stage and its small 
balcony was a painted 
ceiling called the 
heavens. It contained 
trapdoors for the 
appearance of angels 
and spirits from the 
enclosed tower. 

The enclosed tower 
behind the stage ' 

could be used for 
sound effects, such 
as thunder, drums, 
and cannon fire. 

Props, such as swords 
and flags, and elaborate 
costumes added to the 




o 8 K . S of 



"THIS WOODEN O" The Globe Theatre was 
a three-story wooden structure that could 
hold as many as 3,000 people. Plays were 
performed in the open air on a platform stage 
that jutted out into a roofless courtyard in the 
theater's center, where the poorer patrons, or 
"groundlings," stood to watch the 
performance. Except for the part directly 
behind the stage, the theater building 
consisted of covered galleries where wealthier 
patrons sat, protected from the elements. 

Elizabethan Actors it 

wasn't easy being an actor in 
Shakespeare's time. Besides 
having to memorize their lines, 
actors had to be able to sing and 
dance, wrestle and fence, clown 
and weep. They also had to be able 
o convey subtle messages with 
simple gestures or minor changes in 
voice. Because the stage had no front 
curtain, the actors always walked on 
and off the stage in full view of the audience. 
Plays had to be written so that 
any character who died on stage could be 
unobtrusively hauled off. 

Actors worked in close proximity to the 
audience, who either stood around the stage, 
eating and drinking, or watched from the 
galleries. If audience members disapproved of 
certain characters or lines, they would let the 
actors know by jeering or throwing food. The 
large crowds also attracted pickpockets and 
other ruffians. The rowdiness of the audiences 
caused many towns to label actors as vagrants, 
lumping them together with rogues, vagabonds, 
and other undesirables. 

Because of the scandalous nature of the 
Elizabethan theater, women were not allowed 
to perform. All the actors were male, with 

fax *«» '' 

A 17th century drawing of the Globe Theater in its London 

young boys usually playing the female roles, 
from aging matrons to young lovers. 
Shakespeare himself was an actor as well as a 
playwright, although it was in the latter capacity 
that he won fame. The leading tragic actor in 
Shakespeare's company was Richard Burbage, 
the son of the man who had built London's first 

The Fate of the Globe in 1613, the 

Globe's roof caught fire during a performance 
of Henry VIII, and the theater was destroyed. It 
was quickly rebuilt at the same location, however 
this time with a tiled gallery roof. Only 30 years 
later, Oliver Cromwell and the Puritans 
suppressed what they considered a frivolous 
form of entertainment by closing the theater's 
doors. The Globe was torn down in 1644 and 
replaced with tenement housing. A lively period 
in London's history had come to a close. 




The Rebirth of the Globe 

One of the first performances in the newly restored Globe Theater; inset: Queen Elizabeth II views the exterior of the new Globe Theater, 1997. 

After more than 300 years, a new 
Globe Theatre now stands only 
200 yards from the original site. A pet 
project of the American actor Sam 
Wanamaker and a product of much 
historical and archaeological research, 
it opened in June 1997 with a 
performance of Henry V. The new 
Globe features three levels of wooden 
benches surrounding an open yard 
and a platform stage. It seats 1,500 
theatergoers — substantially fewer than 
the 3,000 that the original theater 

held — because today's audiences prefer 
not to be crowded as close together as 
Elizabethan audiences were. 

As in its Elizabethan namesake, no 
formal sets, microphones, or spotlights 
are used in productions at today's Globe. 
And another Elizabethan tradition 
continues: contemporary audiences 
often mimic their 16th-century 
predecessors by voicing their reactions, 
sometimes quite loudly and energetically, 
to events on the stage. 



LEARNING t^e of 

c5hakespearean Tragedy 

Laurence Fishburne as 
film directed by Oliver 

Renaissance Drama 

During the Middle Ages, English 
drama focused mainly on 
religious themes, teaching moral 
lessons or retelling Bible stories 
to a populace that by and large 
could not read. With the 
Renaissance, however, came a 
rebirth of interest in the dramas 
of ancient Greece and Rome. 
First at England's universities 
and then among graduates of 
those universities, plays imitating 
classical models became 
increasingly popular. These plays 
fell into two main categories: 
comedies and tragedies. 

In Renaissance England, 
comedy was broadly defined as 
a dramatic work with a happy ending; many 
comedies contained humor, but humor was not 
required. A tragedy, in contrast, was a work in 
which the main character, or tragic hero, came to 
an unhappy end. In addition to comedies and 
tragedies, Shakespeare wrote several plays 
classified as histories — these present stories about 
England's earlier monarchs. Of all Shakespeare's 
plays, however, his tragedies are the ones most 
often cited as his greatest. 

The Greek Origins of Tragedy 

In the Western tradition, both comedies and 
tragedies arose in ancient Greece, where they were 
performed as part of elaborate outdoor festivals. 
According to the definition of the famous ancient 
Greek philosopher Aristotle, tragedy arouses pity 
and fear in the audience — pity for the hero and 
fear for all human beings, who are subject to 
character flaws and an unknown destiny. Seeing a 
tragedy unfold produces a catharsis, or cleansing, 

Othello in the f 995 

of these emotions, for by the end 
the audience is watching in awe as 
the hero faces defeat with great 
courage and dignity. 

In ancient Greek tragedies, the 
heroes' tragic flaw was often 
hubris — an excessive pride that led 
a tragic hero to challenge the gods. 
Angered by such hubris, the gods 
unleashed their retribution, or 
nemesis, on the hero. Ancient 
Greek tragedies also made use of a 
chorus, a group of performers who 
stood outside the action and 
commented on the events and 
characters in a play, often hinting 
at the doom to come and stressing 
the fatalistic aspect of the hero's 
downfall. By Shakespeare's day, the 
chorus consisted of only one person — a kind of 
narrator — or was dispensed with entirely. 

Characteristics of Tragedy 

Shakespearean tragedy differs somewhat from 
classic Greek tragedy in that Shakespeare's works 
are not unrelentingly serious. For example, he 
often eased the intensity of the action by using the 
device of comic relief — the following of a serious 
scene with a lighter, mildly humorous one. 
Nevertheless, the following general characteristics 
are shared by Shakespearean tragedy and classic 
Greek tragedy: 

• The main character, called the tragic hero, comes 
to an unhappy or miserable end. 

• The tragic hero is generally a person of importance 
in society, such as a king or a queen. 

• The tragic hero exhibits extraordinary abilities but 
also a tragic flaw, a fatal error in judgment or 
weakness of character, that leads directly to his or her 



Outside forces may also 
contribute to the hero's 
downfall. If so, the 
person or force with 
whom the hero battles is 
called the antagonist. 
A series of causally 
related events lead 
inevitably to the 
catastrophe, or tragic 
resolution. This final 
stage of the plot usually 
involves the death of the 
hero, but other 
characters may also be 

The tragic hero usually 
recognizes his or her 
tragic flaw by the end 
and so gains the 
audience's sympathy. 
The tragic hero meets his 
or her doom with 
courage and dignity, 
reaffirming the grandeur 
of the human spirit. 

^.4|S;v> i^^hakespeare on the Big CJcreen 

Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare's first 
great tragedy, is a tale of teenaged lovers 
from two feuding families in medieval 
Verona, Italy. A 1997 film version featured 
Leonardo Di Caprio and Clare Danes. 

Julius Caesar focuses on Roman emperor 
Brutus, a close friend of Julius Caesar's 
who reluctantly joins the plot to 
assassinate him. Marlon Brando played 

Mark Anthony in the 1953 Version. Leonardo DiCaprio and Clare Danes as 

Romeo and Juliet, 1997 

Hamlet tells the story of a prince of 

Denmark whose procrastination leads to disaster. Kenneth Branagh directed 

and starred in the 1996 epic film that uses all of Shakespeare's original script. 

Othello focuses on a North African soldier whose great flaw "is the green-eyed 
monster," jealousy. In 1995, Laurence Fishburne appeared in the title role. 

King Lear tells of an aged monarch who fails to distinguish honesty from flat- 
tery. A Thousand Acres, an update of the King Lear story, became a film in 1997. 

Macbeth, which appears in this book (see page 323), is a powerful drama of 
ambition and murder. Several images appearing throughout the selection are 
from Orson Welles's 1948 version and Roman Polanski's 1971 version. 

YOUR TURN Why do you think that so many of Shakespeare's plays have 
been adapted to film? 

Strategies for Reading: Shakespearean Tragedy 

1. Trace the plot's main events, especially the 4. 

Trace the plot's main events, especially the 
causes and effects that lead to the catastrophe. 
Watch for the first event that sets the series in 
motion. At what point is there no turning back? 
Sort out the antagonists in the play. Who is 
against whom, and what are the conflicts? 
Identify the tragic hero. Make sure that you can 
justify your choice with reasons. 

Determine the hero's admirable character traits 
as well as his or her tragic flaw. 
Analyze how the tragic hero faces destiny. Does 
he or she show courage and dignity in defeat? 
Monitor your reading strategies and modify 
them when your understanding breaks down. 
Remember to use your Strategies for Active 
Reading: predict, visualize, connect, question, 
clarify, and evaluate. 



PREPARING to fflead 

The Tragedy of Macbeth 


Connect to Your Life) 

Ambitious Goals Lazy people are often blamed for 
having too little ambition. At the same time, many 
overachievers are criticized for excessive single- 
mindedness or for doing the wrong things to achieve 
their goals. Think about your own ambitions and the 
people you would describe as ambitious. When is 
ambition good? When is it undesirable or even evil? 
Share your ideas in a class discussion. 

Build Background 

A Scottish Clan Ambition is a driving force in Macbeth. The title character is 
based to some extent on a historical Macbeth, a king of 1 lth-century 
Scotland who seized the monarchy after killing his predecessor, Duncan I. 
The play was written to please King James I, who had been the King of 
Scotland (as James VI) before the death of his cousin Elizabeth in 1603 
brought him to the English throne. King James became the patron, or chief 
sponsor, of Shakespeare's acting company, thereafter known as the King's 
Men. The Tragedy of Macbeth was probably first performed in the 
summer of 1606, with James I and the visiting king of 
Denmark in attendance. 

Shakespeare's desire to please King James 
may account for the prominence of witchcraft in 
Macbeth. The new king was quite interested in 
the subject, having himself written a book on 
witchcraft, called Demonology, which was 
published in 1597. Belief in witchcraft was 
widespread in Shakespeare's day, particularly 
among less educated people. Members of the 
nobility, whether or not they truly believed in 
witches, at times used accusations of witchcraft as a 
way to get rid of political enemies. 



Focus Your Reading: Literary Analysis 

IHttMmmM.-! so l iloquy/aside Authors of 
plays rely on certain conventions to give the audience 
more information about the characters. Two such 
conventions are the soliloquy and the aside. 

• A soliloquy is a speech that a character makes 
while alone on stage, to reveal his or her 
thoughts to the audience. 

• An aside is a remark that a character makes in 
an undertone to the audience or another 
character but that others on stage are not 
supposed to hear. A stage direction clarifies that 
a remark is an aside; unless otherwise specified, 
the aside is to the audience. Here is an example: 

Macbeth. [Aside] Glamis, and Thane of 

The greatest is behind.— [7b Ross and Angus] 

Thanks for your pains. 
[Aside to Banquo] Do you not hope your 

children shall be kings . . . ? 

■n»;M;VMMftU'ftg| blank verse"! Like most plays 
written before the 20th century, Macbeth is a verse 
drama, a play in which the dialogue consists 
almost entirely of poetry with a fixed pattern of 
rhythm, or meter. Many English verse dramas are 
written in blank verse, or unrhymed iambic 
pentameter, a meter in which the normal line 
contains five stressed syllables, each preceded by 
an unstressed syllable: 

So foul and fair a day I have not seen. 

Blank verse has been a popular medium for drama 
because it easily accommodates the rhythms of 
spoken English. 

nm;r:UW:i^ M [>i dramatic ironY] Irony is 
based on a contrast between appearance or 
expectation and reality. In dramatic irony, what 
appears true to one or more characters in a play is 
seen to be false to the audience. The audience has 
a more complete picture of the action, because it 
knows more details. In Act One of Macbeth, 

dramatic irony can be found in Duncan's words to 
Lady Macbeth upon his arrival at the Macbeths' castle. 

Conduct me to mine host. We love him highly 
And shall continue our graces toward him. 

Duncan is sure of Macbeth's loyalty and says that he 
will continue to honor Macbeth with marks of his 
favor. However, the audience knows that Macbeth is 
planning to murder Duncan to increase his own 
power. The audience recognizes the irony of Duncan's 
trusting remarks. 


Foreshadowing is a writer's use of hints or clues to 
suggest what events will occur later in a work. The 
witches' prophesies are the most explicit hints of what 
is going to happen in the play. As you read Macbeth, 
list examples of foreshadowing and the events you 
think they hint at. 

Act, Scene, Lines What the Lines Hint At 

Act Two, Scene 1, lines 62-64 

Macbeth will murder 


A theme is a central idea 
conveyed by a work of literature. Not to be confused 
with the work's subject (what it is about in a literal 
sense), a theme is a general perception about life or 
human nature. Longer works like Macbeth usually 
contain several themes. As you read the play, take 
notes about what it has to say about the following 


impulses and desires 


fate and our efforts 

to control it 

appearance versus reality 


the supernatural 

reason and mental 




Focus Your Reading: Active Reading Skills 

Using Your f JJ reaper s notebook 

As you read Macbeth, record any of your questions 
or comments about Shakespeare's use of dramatic 
conventions or language. For specific suggestions, 
refer to the Active Reading strategies that follow. 

jJEU READING DRAMA | The printed 

text of Shakespeare's Macbeth, like that of any 
drama, consists mainly of dialogue spoken by the 
characters (with labels that show who is speaking) 
and stage directions that specify settings (times 
and places) and tell how characters behave and 
speak. The play is divided into acts, which are 
themselves divided into scenes. The beginning of a 
new scene usually involves a change in setting. 

Strategies for Reading Macbeth 

1. Read the opening list of characters— the dramatis 
personae— to familiarize yourself with the charac- 

2. Study the plot summary and stage directions at 
the beginning of each scene. Try to develop a 
mental picture of the setting of the scene's action. 

3. Pay attention to the labels that show who is 
speaking and to stage directions that indicate to 
whom the characters are speaking. Try to envision 
what each character might look and sound like if 
you were seeing the play performed on a stage. 

4. To get a better sense of what the dialogue might 
sound like, try reading some of it aloud. 



Though Shakespeare wrote in modern English, the 
language of his time was quite different from 
today's English. Here are some major differences: 
• Grammatical forms: In Shakespeare's day, people 
still commonly used the pronouns thou, thee, thy, 
thine, and thyself in place of forms of you. Verb 
forms that are now outdated were also in use— 
art for are and cometh for comes, for example. 

• Grammatical structures: Helping verbs were used 
far less than they are today. For example, instead of 
saying "Don't you know he has?" Lady Macbeth says 
"Know you not he has?" 

• Unusual word order: Shakespeare often puts verbs 
before subjects, objects before verbs, and other 
sentence parts in positions that now seem unusual. 
For instance, Lady Macbeth says "O, never shall the 
sun that morrow see!" instead of "O, the sun shall 
never see that morrow!" 

• Unfamiliar vocabulary: Shakespeare's vocabulary 
included many words no longer in use (like seeling 
meaning "blinding") or with meanings different from 
their meanings today (like choppy meaning 
"chapped"). Shakespeare also coined new words, 
some of which (like assassination) have become a 
permanent part of the language. The Guide for 
Reading notes accompanying the play will clarify the 
meanings of many of the unfamiliar words. 

Strategies for Reading Shakespeare's Language 

As you read Macbeth, you may find it helpful to go 
through the scenes several times to improve your 
understanding of the language. 

1. Skim each scene quickly to get a general sense of 
what is going on. 

2. Study the Guide for Reading notes for help with the 
unfamiliar vocabulary and phrasing. 

3. Go through the scene again, paraphrasing the lines 
in your head to clarify their meaning. 

4. Read through the scene— or at least the important 
speeches— one more time, focusing on the figurative 
language and sensory images (imagery that appeals 
to the five senses) and the clues they contain about 
the characters and themes. 

5. Focus on the wording of the dialogue, especially 
asides or soliloquies, to make inferences about the 
characters' feelings, attitudes, thoughts, and 




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Orson Welles as Macbeth 

(film, directed by Orson Welles, 1948) 



William Shakespeare 


Duncan, king of Scotland 

His sons 

Noblemen of Scotland 

Menteith (men-teth) 
Caithness (kath'ms) 

Fleance (fla'sns), son to Banquo 

Siward (syco'erd), earl of Northumberland, 
general of the English forces 

Young Siward, his son 

Seyton (sa'ten), an officer attending on 

Son, to Macduff 

An English Doctor 

A Scottish Doctor 

A Porter 

An Old Man 

Three Murderers 

Lady Macbeth 

Lady Macduff 

A Gentlewoman attending on Lady Macbeth 

Hecate (hek'Tt), goddess of witchcraft 

Three Witches 


Lords, Officers, Soldiers, Messengers, and 





An open place in Scotland. 

The play opens in a wild and lonely place in medieval Scotland. Three 
witches enter and speak of what they know will happen this day: The 
civil war will end, and they will meet Macbeth, one of the generals. 
Their meeting ends when their demon companions, in the form of a 
toad and a cat, call them away. 

[Thunder and lightning. Enter three Witches.] 

First Witch. When shall we three meet again 
In thunder, lightning, or in rain? 

Second Witch. When the hurlyburly's done, 
When the battle's lost and won. 

Third Witch. That will be ere the set of sun. 

First Witch. Where the place? 

Second Witch. Upon the heath. 

Third Witch. There to meet with Macbeth. 

First Witch. I come, Graymalkin! 

Second Witch. Paddock calls. 

Third Witch. Anon! 

All. Fair is foul, and foul is fair. 

Hover through the fog and filthy air. 


3 hurlyburly: turmoil; uproar. 

8-9 Graymalkin . . . Paddock: two 

demon helpers in the form of a cat 
and a toad; anon: at once. 

10 Fair . . . fair: The witches 
delight in the confusion of good 
and bad, beauty and ugliness. 

[Stage Direction] Exeunt Latin: 
They leave (the stage). 


Opening scene, Macbeth 
(film, directed by Roman 
Pdianski, 1971) 


King Duncan's camp near the battlefield. 

Duncan, the king of Scotland, waits in his camp for news of the 
battle. He learns that one of his generals, Macbeth, has been 
victorious in several battles. Not only has Macbeth defeated the 
rebellious Macdonwald, but he has also conquered the armies of the 
king of Norway and the Scottish traitor, the thane of Cawdor. 
Duncan orders the thane of Cawdor's execution and announces that 
Macbeth will receive the traitor's title. 

[Alarum within. Enter Duncan, Malcolm, Donalbain, 
Lennox, with Attendants, meeting a bleeding Captain.] 

Duncan. What bloody man is that? He can report, 
As seemeth by his plight, of the revolt 
The newest state. 

Malcolm. This is the sergeant 

Who like a good and hardy soldier fought 
5 'Gainst my captivity. Hail, brave friend! 

Say to the King the knowledge of the broil 
As thou didst leave it. 

Captain. Doubtful it stood, 

As two spent swimmers that do cling together 
And choke their art. The merciless Macdonwald 

10 (Worthy to be a rebel, for to that 

The multiplying villainies of nature 
Do swarm upon him) from the Western Isles 
Of kerns and gallowglasses is supplied; 
And Fortune, on his damned quarrel smiling, 

15 Showed like a rebel's whore. But all's too weak; 

For brave Macbeth (well he deserves that name), 
Disdaining Fortune, with his brandished steel, 
Which smoked with bloody execution 
(Like valor's minion), carved out his passage 

20 Till he faced the slave; 

Which ne'er shook hands nor bade farewell to him 
Till he unseamed him from the nave to the chops 
And fixed his head upon our battlements. 

Duncan. O valiant cousin! worthy gentleman! 

25 Captain. As whence the sun 'gins his reflection 

Shipwracking storms and direful thunders break, 
So from that spring whence comfort seemed to come 
Discomfort swells. Mark, King of Scotland, mark. 
No sooner justice had, with valor armed, 

30 Compelled these skipping kerns to trust their heels 

[Stage Direction] alarum within: 
the sound of a trumpet offstage, a 
signal that soldiers should arm 

5 'gainst my captivity: to save me 
from capture. 

6 broil: battle. 

7-9 Doubtful . . . art: The two 
armies are compared to two 
exhausted swimmers who cling to 
each other and thus cannot swim. 

9-13 The officer hates 
Macdonwald, whose evils 
(multiplying villainies) swarm like 
insects around him. His army 
consists of soldiers (kerns and 
gallowglasses) from the Hebrides 
(Western Isles). 

19 valor's minion: the favorite of 
valor, meaning the bravest of all. 

22 unseamed him . . . chops: split 
him open from the navel to the 
jaw. What does this act suggest 
about Macbeth? 

25-28 As whence . . . discomfort 
swells: As the rising sun is 
sometimes followed by storms, a 
new assault on Macbeth began. 



But the Norweyan lord, surveying vantage, 
With furbished arms and new supplies of men, 
Began a fresh assault. 

Duncan. Dismayed not this 

Our captains, Macbeth and Banquo? 

Captain. Yes, 

35 As sparrows eagles, or the hare the lion. 

If I say sooth, I must report they were 

As cannons overcharged with double cracks, so they 

Doubly redoubled strokes upon the foe. 

Except they meant to bathe in reeking wounds, 
40 Or memorize another Golgotha, 

I cannot tell — 

But I am faint; my gashes cry for help. 

Duncan. So well thy words become thee as thy wounds 
They smack of honor both. Go get him surgeons. 

[Exit Captain, attended.] 

[Enter Ross and Angus.] 

45 Who comes here? 

Malcolm. The worthy Thane of Ross. 

Lennox. What a haste looks through his eyes! So 
should he look 
That seems to speak things strange. 

Ross. God save the King! 

Duncan. Whence cam'st thou, worthy thane? 

Ross. From Fife, great King, 

Where the Norweyan banners flout the sky 

50 And fan our people cold. Norway himself, 

With terrible numbers, 
Assisted by that most disloyal traitor 
The Thane of Cawdor, began a dismal conflict, 
Till that Bellona's bridegroom, lapped in proof, 

55 Confronted him with self-comparisons, 

Point against point, rebellious arm 'gainst arm, 
Curbing his lavish spirit; and to conclude, 
The victory fell on us. 

Duncan. Great happiness! 

Ross. That now 

Sweno, the Norways' king, craves composition; 
60 Nor would we deign him burial of his men 

Till he disbursed, at Saint Colme's Inch, 
Ten thousand dollars to our general use. 

Duncan. No more that Thane of Cawdor shall deceive 

31-33 the Norweyan . . . assault: 

The king of Norway took an 
opportunity to attack. 

36 sooth: the truth. 

37 double cracks: a double load of 

39-40 Except . . . memorize 
another Golgotha: The officer's 
admiration leads to exaggeration. 
He claims he cannot decide 
whether (except) Macbeth and 
Banquo wanted to bathe in blood 
or make the battlefield as famous 
as Golgotha, the site of Christ's 

45 Thane: a Scottish noble, similar 
in rank to an English earl. 

48-58 Ross has arrived from Fife, 
where Norway's troops had 
invaded and frightened the 
people. There the king of Norway, 
along with the thane of Cawdor, 
met Macbeth (described as the 
husband of Bellona, the goddess of 
war). Macbeth, in heavy armor 
(proof), challenged the enemy, and 
achieved victory. 

59 craves composition: wants a 

60 deign: allow. 

61 disbursed, at Saint Colme's 
Inch: paid at Saint Colme's Inch, an 
island in the North Sea. 



Our bosom interest. Go pronounce his present death 
65 And with his former title greet Macbeth. 

Ross. I'll see it done. 

Duncan. What he hath lost noble Macbeth hath won. 


63-64 deceive our bosom interest: 

betray our friendship; present 
death: immediate execution. 

65 What reward has the king 
decided to give to Macbeth? 



A bleak place near the battlefield. 

While leaving the battlefield, Macbeth and Banquo meet the witches, 
who are gleefully discussing the trouble they have caused. The 
witches hail Macbeth by a title he already holds, thane of Glamis. 
Then they prophesy that he will become both thane of Cawdor and 
king. When Banquo asks about his future, they speak in riddles, 
saying that he will be the father of kings but not a king himself. 

After the witches vanish, Ross and Angus arrive to announce that 
Macbeth has been named thane of Cawdor. The first part of the 
witches' prophecy has come true, and Macbeth is stunned. He 
immediately begins to consider the possibility of murdering King 
Duncan to fulfill the rest of the witches' prophecy to him. Shaken, he 
turns his thoughts away from this "horrid image. " 

[Thunder. Enter the three Witches.] 

First Witch. Where hast thou been, sister? 

Second Witch. Killing swine. 

Third Witch. Sister, where thou? 

First Witch. A sailor's wife had chestnuts in her lap 
And mounched and mounched and mounched. "Give 

me," quoth I. 
"Aroint thee, witch!" the rump-fed ronyon cries. 
Her husband's to Aleppo gone, master o' the 

But in a sieve I'll thither sail 
And, like a rat without a tail, 
I'll do, I'll do, and I'll do. 

Second Witch. I'll give thee a wind. 

First Witch. Th' art kind. 

Third Witch. And I another. 

First Witch. I myself have all the other, 
And the very ports they blow, 
All the quarters that they know 
I' the shipman's card. 

2 Killing swine: Witches were 
often accused of killing people's 

5 mounched: munched. 

6 "Aroint thee, witch!" . . . ronyon 
cries: "Go away, witch!" the fat- 
bottomed (rump-fed), ugly 
creature (ronyon) cries. 

7-8 The woman's husband, the 
master of a merchant ship (the 
"Tiger"), has sailed to Aleppo, a 
famous trading center in the 
Middle East. The witch will pursue 
him. Witches, who could change 
shape at will, were thought to sail 
on strainers (sieve). 



View and Compare 

In what ways do each of these images convey the eerie 
nature of the witches' scene? 


Act 1, Scene 3: Macbeth 
and Banquo meet one of 
the witches, The Throne 
of Blood (film, directed 
by Akira Kurosawa, 
Japan, 1957) 


* M 


Act 1, Scene 3: Banquo and 
the Witches (film,. 1961) J 

•*.*• . 

I'll drain him dry as hay. 
Sleep shall neither night nor day 
Hang upon his penthouse lid. 
He shall live a man forbid. 
Weary sev'nights, nine times nine, 
Shall he dwindle, peak, and pine. 
Though his bark cannot be lost, 
Yet it shall be tempest-tost. 
Look what I have. 

Second Witch. Show me! Show me! 

First Witch. Here I have a pilot's thumb, 
Wracked as homeward he did come. 

[Drum within.] 

Third Witch. A drum, a drum! 
Macbeth doth come. 

All. The Weird Sisters, hand in hand, 
Posters of the sea and land, 
Thus do go about, about, 
Thrice to thine, and thrice to mine, 
And thrice again, to make up nine. 
Peace! The charm's wound up. 

[Enter Macbeth and Banquo.] 

Macbeth. So foul and fair a day I have not seen. 

Banquo. How far is't called to Forres? What are these, 
So withered, and so wild in their attire, 
That look not like the inhabitants o' the earth, 
And yet are on't? Live you? or are you aught 
That man may question? You seem to understand me, 
By each at once her choppy finger laying 
Upon her skinny lips. You should be women, 
And yet your beards forbid me to interpret 
That you are so. 

Macbeth. Speak, if you can. What are you? 

First Witch. All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, Thane of Glamis! 

Second Witch. All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, Thane of 

Third Witch. All hail, Macbeth, that shalt be King hereafter! 

Banquo. Good sir, why do you start and seem to fear 
Things that do sound so fair? I' the name of truth, 
Are ye fantastical, or that indeed 
Which outwardly ye show? My noble partner 
You greet with present grace and great prediction 

14-23 The witch is going to 
torture the woman's husband. She 
controls where the winds blow, 
covering all points of a compass 
(shipman's card). She will make 
him sleepless, keeping his eyelids 
(penthouse lid) from closing. Thus, 
he will lead an accursed (forbid) 
life for weeks (sev'nights), wasting 
away with fatigue. 

33 posters: quick riders. 

36 Nine was considered a magical 
number by superstitious people. 

42-46 aught: anything; choppy: 
chapped; your beards: Beards on 
women identified them as witches. 
Banquo vividly describes the 
witches. What does he notice 
about them? 

48-50 What is surprising about 
the three titles the witches use to 
greet Macbeth? 

53 Are ye fantastical: Are you (the 
witches) imaginary? 



Of noble having and of royal hope, 
That he seems rapt withal. To me you speak not. 
If you can look into the seeds of time 
And say which grain will grow and which will not, 
60 Speak then to me, who neither beg nor fear 

Your favors nor your hate. 

First Witch. Hail! 

Second Witch. Hail! 

Third Witch. Hail! 

65 First Witch. Lesser than Macbeth, and greater. 

Second Witch. Not so happy, yet much happier. 

Third Witch. Thou shalt get kings, though thou be none. 
So all hail, Macbeth and Banquo! 

First Witch. Banquo and Macbeth, all hail! 

70 Macbeth. Stay, you imperfect speakers, tell me more! 
By Sinel's death I know I am Thane of Glamis, 
But how of Cawdor? The Thane of Cawdor lives, 
A prosperous gentleman; and to be King 
Stands not within the prospect of belief, 

75 No more than to be Cawdor. Say from whence 

You owe this strange intelligence, or why 
Upon this blasted heath you stop our way 
With such prophetic greeting. Speak, I charge you. 

[Witches vanish.] 

Banquo. The earth hath bubbles, as the water has, 
so And these are of them. Whither are they vanished? 

Macbeth. Into the air, and what seemed corporal melted 
As breath into the wind. Would they had stayed! 

Banquo. Were such things here as we do speak about? 
Or have we eaten on the insane root 
85 That takes the reason prisoner? 

Macbeth. Your children shall be kings. 

Banquo. You shall be King. 

Macbeth. And Thane of Cawdor too. Went it not so? 

Banquo. To the selfsame tune and words. Who's here? 

[Enter Ross and Angus.] 

Ross. The King hath happily received, Macbeth, 
90 The news of thy success; and when he reads 

Thy personal venture in the rebels' fight, 
His wonders and his praises do contend 

54-57 My noble partner .... rapt 
withal: The witches' prophecies of 
noble possessions (having) — the 
lands and wealth of Cawdor — and 
kingship (royal hope) have left 
Macbeth dazed (rapt withal). Look 
for evidence that shows what 
Macbeth thinks of the prophecies. 

65-68 The witches speak in 
riddles. Though Banquo will be less 
fortunate (happy) than Macbeth, 
he will be father to (get) future 
kings. What do the witches predict 
for Banquo? What do you think 
their predictions mean? 

75-76 whence: where. Macbeth 
wants to know where the witches 
received their knowledge (strange 

80 whither: where. 

81 corporal: physical; real. 

84 insane root: A number of 
plants were believed to cause 
insanity when eaten. 

92-93 His wonders . . . Silenced 
with that: King Duncan hesitates 
between awe (wonders) and 
gratitude (praise) and is, as a 
result, speechless. 



Which should be thine or his. Silenced with that, 
In viewing o'er the rest o' the selfsame day, 

95 He finds thee in the stout Norweyan ranks, 

Nothing afeard of what thyself didst make, 
Strange images of death. As thick as hail 
Came post with post, and every one did bear 
Thy praises in his kingdom's great defense 

100 And poured them down before him. 

Angus. We are sent 

To give thee from our royal master thanks; 
Only to herald thee into his sight, 
Not pay thee. 

Ross. And for an earnest of a greater honor, 
105 He bade me, from him, call thee Thane of Cawdor; 

In which addition, hail, most worthy Thane! 
For it is thine. 

Banquo. What, can the devil speak true? 

Macbeth. The Thane of Cawdor lives. Why do you dress me 
In borrowed robes? 

Angus. Who was the Thane lives yet, 

no But under heavy judgment bears that life 

Which he deserves to lose. Whether he was combined 
With those of Norway, or did line the rebel 
With hidden help and vantage, or that with both 
He labored in his country's wrack, I know not; 

ii5 But treasons capital, confessed and proved, 

Have overthrown him. 

Macbeth. [As/de] Glamis, and Thane of Cawdor! 

The greatest is behind. — [To Ross and Angus] Thanks for 

your pains. 
[Aside to Banquo] Do you not hope your children shall 

be kings, 
When those that gave the Thane of Cawdor to me 
120 Promised no less to them? 

Banquo. [Aside to Macbeth] That, trusted home, 
Might yet enkindle you unto the crown, 
Besides the Thane of Cawdor. But 'tis strange! 
And oftentimes, to win us to our harm, 
The instruments of darkness tell us truths, 
L25 Win us with honest trifles, to betray's 

In deepest consequence. — 
Cousins, a word, I pray you. 

96-97 nothing afeard ... of 
death: Although Macbeth left 
many dead (strange images of 
death), he obviously did not fear 
death himself. 

104 earnest: partial payment. 

106 addition: title. 

111-116 Whether he was . . . 
overthrown him: The former thane 
of Cawdor may have been secretly 
allied (combined) with the king of 
Norway, or he may have supported 
the traitor Macdonwald (did line 
the rebel). But he is guilty of 
treasons that deserve the death 
penalty (treasons capital), having 
aimed at the country's ruin 

116 aside: a stage direction that 
means Macbeth is speaking to 
himself, beyond hearing. 

120 home: fully; completely. 

121 enkindle you unto: inflame 
your ambitions. 

123-126 to win us . . . 
consequence: Banquo warns that 
evil powers often offer little truths 
to tempt people. The witches may 
be lying about what matters most 
(in deepest consequence). 









Macbeth. [Aside] Two truths are told, 

As happy prologues to the swelling act 

Of the imperial theme. — I thank you, gentlemen. — 

[Aside] This supernatural soliciting 

Cannot be ill; cannot be good. If ill, 

Why hath it given me earnest of success, 

Commencing in a truth? I am Thane of Cawdor. 

If good, why do I yield to that suggestion 

Whose horrid image doth unfix my hair 

And make my seated heart knock at my ribs 

Against the use of nature? Present fears 

Are less than horrible imaginings. 

My thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical, 

Shakes so my single state of man that function 

Is smothered in surmise and nothing is 

But what is not. 

Banquo. Look how our partner's rapt. 

Macbeth. [Aside] If chance will have me King, why 
chance may crown me, 
Without my stir. 

Banquo. New honors come upon him, 

Like our strange garments, cleave not to their mold 
But with the aid of use. 

Macbeth. [Aside] Come what come may, 

Time and the hour runs through the roughest day. 

Banquo. Worthy Macbeth, we stay upon your leisure. 

Macbeth. Give me your favor. My dull brain was wrought 
With things forgotten. Kind gentlemen, your pains 
Are registered where every day I turn 
The leaf to read them. Let us toward the King. 
[Aside to Banquo] Think upon what hath chanced, and, at 

more time, 
The interim having weighed it, let us speak 
Our free hearts each to other. 

Banquo. [Aside to Macbeth] Very gladly. 

Macbeth. [Aside to Banquo] Till then, enough. — Come, friends. 


144 my stir: my doing anything. 

146-147 Come what . . . roughest 
day: The future will arrive no 
matter what. 

148 stay: wait. 

150-152 your pains . . . read them: 

I will always remember your 
efforts. The metaphor refers to 
keeping a diary and reading it 

153-155 at more time . . . other: 

Macbeth wants to discuss the 
prophecies later, after he and 
Banquo have had time to think 
about them. 



A room in the king's palace at Forres. 

King Duncan receives news of the execution of the former thane of 
Cawdor. As the king is admitting his bad judgment concerning the 
traitor, Macbeth enters with Banquo, Ross, and Angus. Duncan 
expresses his gratitude to them and then, in a most unusual action, 
officially names his own son Malcolm as heir to the throne. To honor 
Macbeth, Duncan decides to visit Macbeth's castle at Inverness. 
Macbeth, his thoughts full of dark ambition, leaves to prepare for 
the king's visit. 

[Flourish. Enter Duncan, Lennox, Malcolm, Donalbain, and 

Duncan. Is execution done on Cawdor? Are not 
Those in commission yet returned? 

Malcolm. My liege, 

They are not yet come back. But I have spoke 

With one that saw him die; who did report 
5 That very frankly he confessed his treasons, 

Implored your Highness' pardon, and set forth 

A deep repentance. Nothing in his life 

Became him like the leaving it. He died 

As one that had been studied in his death 
10 To throw away the dearest thing he owed 

As 'twere a careless trifle. 

Duncan. There's no art 

To find the mind's construction in the face. 
He was a gentleman on whom I built 
An absolute trust. 

[Enter Macbeth, Banquo, Ross, and Angus.] 

O worthiest cousin, 

15 The sin of my ingratitude even now 

Was heavy on me! Thou art so far before 
That swiftest wing of recompense is slow 
To overtake thee. Would thou hadst less deserved, 
That the proportion both of thanks and payment 

20 Might have been mine! Only I have left to say, 

More is thy due than more than all can pay. 

Macbeth. The service and the loyalty I owe, 
In doing it pays itself. Your Highness' part 
Is to receive our duties; and our duties 

2 those in commission: those who 
have the responsibility for 
Cawdor's execution. 

6 set forth: showed. 

8-11 He died as . . . trifle: He died 
as if he had rehearsed (studied) 
the moment. Though losing his life 
(the dearest thing he owed), he 

behaved with calm dignity. 

14-21 O worthiest . . . pay: The 

king feels that he cannot repay 
(recompense) Macbeth enough. 
Macbeth's qualities and 
accomplishments are of greater 
value than any thanks or payment 
Duncan can give. 



25 Are to your throne and state children and servants, 

Which do but what they should by doing everything 
Safe toward your love and honor. 

Duncan. Welcome hither. 

I have begun to plant thee and will labor 
To make thee full of growing. Noble Banquo, 
30 That hast no less deserved, nor must be known 

No less to have done so, let me infold thee 
And hold thee to my heart. 

Banquo. There if I grow, 

The harvest is your own. 

Duncan. My plenteous joys, 

Wanton in fullness, seek to hide themselves 

35 In drops of sorrow. Sons, kinsmen, thanes, 

And you whose places are the nearest, know 
We will establish our estate upon 
Our eldest, Malcolm, whom we name hereafter 
The Prince of Cumberland; which honor must 

40 Not unaccompanied invest him only, 

But signs of nobleness, like stars, shall shine 
On all deservers. From hence to Inverness, 
And bind us further to you. 

Macbeth. The rest is labor, which is not used for you. 
45 I'll be myself the harbinger, and make joyful 

The hearing of my wife with your approach; 
So, humbly take my leave. 

Duncan. My worthy Cawdor! 

Macbeth. [As/de] The Prince of Cumberland! That is a step 
On which I must fall down, or else o'erleap, 
50 For in my way it lies. Stars, hide your fires! 

Let not light see my black and deep desires. 
The eye wink at the hand; yet let that be, 
Which the eye fears, when it is done, to see. [Exit.] 

Duncan. True, worthy Banquo: he is full so valiant, 
55 And in his commendations I am fed; 

It is a banquet to me. Let's after him, 
Whose care is gone before to bid us welcome. 
It is a peerless kinsman. 

[Flourish. Exeunt.] 

28-29 I have . . . growing: The 

king plans to give more honors to 
Macbeth. What might Macbeth be 
thinking now? 

33-35 My plenteous . . . sorrow: 

The king is crying tears of joy. 

39 Prince of Cumberland: the title 
given to the heir to the Scottish 
throne. Now that Malcolm is heir, 
how might Macbeth react? 

42 Inverness: site of Macbeth's 
castle, where the king has just 
invited himself, giving another 
honor to Macbeth. 

45 harbinger: a representative 
sent before a royal party to make 
proper arrangements for its arrival. 

52-53 The eye ... to see: 

Macbeth hopes for the king's 
murder, although he does not 
want to see it. 




Macbeth's castle at Inverness. 

Lady Macbeth reads a letter from her husband that tells her of the 
witches' prophecies, one of which has already come true. She is 
determined that Macbeth will be king. However, she fears that he 
lacks the courage to kill Duncan. After a messenger tells her the king 
is coming, she calls on the powers of evil to help her do what must 
be done. When Macbeth arrives, she tells him that the king must die 
that night but reminds him that he must appear to be a good and 
loyal host. 

[Enter Lady Macbeth alone, with a letter.] 

Lady Macbeth. [Reads] "They met me in the day of 

success; and I have learned by the perfect'st report they 

have more in them than mortal knowledge. When I 

burned in desire to question them further, they made 
5 themselves air, into which they vanished. Whiles I stood 

rapt in the wonder of it, came missives from the King, 

who all-hailed me Thane of Cawdor, by which title, 

before, these Weird Sisters saluted me, and referred me 

to the coming on of time with 'Hail, King that shalt 
10 be!' This have I thought good to deliver thee, my 

dearest partner of greatness, that thou mightst not lose 

the dues of rejoicing by being ignorant of what 

greatness is promised thee. Lay it to thy heart, and 

15 Glamis thou art, and Cawdor, and shalt be 

What thou art promised. Yet do I fear thy nature. 

It is too full o' the milk of human kindness 

To catch the nearest way. Thou wouldst be great; 

Art not without ambition, but without 
20 The illness should attend it. What thou wouldst highly, 

That wouldst thou holily; wouldst not play false, 16-21 Yet do . . . holily: Lady 

And yet wouldst wrongly win. Thou'ldst have, great Glamis, Macbeth fears her husband is too 

That which cries "Thus thou must do," if thou have it; good (to ° fuM °' the milk ° f 

, . , human kindness) to seize the 

And that which rather thou dost fear to do throne by murder (the nearest 

25 Than wishest should be undone. Hie thee hither, way). Lacking the necessary 

That I may pour my spirits in thine ear wickedness (illness), he wants to 

And chastise with the valor of my tongue 9ain power virtuously (holily). 

All that impedes thee from the golden round 

Which fate and metaphysical aid doth seem 
30 To have thee crowned withal. 

[Enter Messenger.] 








What is your tidings? 
Messenger. The King comes here tonight. 

Lady Macbeth. Thou'rt mad to say it! 

Is not thy master with him? who, were't so, 
Would have informed for preparation. 

Messenger. So please you, it is true. Our Thane is coming. 
One of my fellows had the speed of him, 
Who, almost dead for breath, had scarcely more 
Than would make up his message. 

Lady Macbeth. Give him tending; 

He brings great news. 

[Exit Messenger.] 

The raven himself is hoarse 
That croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan 
Under my battlements. Come, you spirits 
That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here, 
And fill me, from the crown to the toe, top-full 
Of direst cruelty! Make thick my blood; 
Stop up the access and passage to remorse, 
That no compunctious visitings of nature 
Shake my fell purpose nor keep peace between 
The effect and it! Come to my woman's breasts 
And take my milk for gall, you murd'ring ministers, 
Wherever in your sightless substances 
You wait on nature's mischief! Come, thick night, 
And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell, 
That my keen knife see not the wound it makes, 
Nor heaven peep through the blanket of the dark 
To cry "Hold, hold!" 

[Enter Macbeth.] 

Great Glamis! worthy Cawdor! 
Greater than both, by the all-hail hereafter! 
Thy letters have transported me beyond 
This ignorant present, and I feel now 
The future in the instant. 

Macbeth. My dearest love, 

Duncan comes here tonight. 

Lady Macbeth. And when goes hence? 

Macbeth. Tomorrow, as he purposes. 

Lady Macbeth. O, never 

Shall sun that morrow see! 
Your face, my Thane, is as a book where men 
May read strange matters. To beguile the time, 

35 had the speed of him: rode 
faster than he. 

38 raven: The harsh cry of the 
raven, a bird symbolizing evil and 
misfortune, was supposed to 
indicate an approaching death. 

40-54 Lady Macbeth calls on the 
spirits of evil to rid her of feminine 
weakness (unsex me) and to block 
out guilt. She wants no normal 
pangs of conscience (compunctious 
visitings of nature) to get in the 
way of her murderous plan. She 
asks that her mother's milk be 
turned to bile (gall) by the unseen 
evil forces (murd'ring ministers, 
sightless substances) that exist in 
nature. Furthermore, she asks that 
the night wrap (pall) itself in 
darkness as black as hell so that no 
one may see or stop the crime. Do 
you think Lady Macbeth could 
actually kill Duncan? 






Look like the time; bear welcome in your eye, 

Your hand, your tongue; look like the innocent flower, 

But be the serpent under't. He that's coming 

Must be provided for; and you shall put 

This night's great business into my dispatch, 

Which shall to all our nights and days to come 

Give solely sovereign sway and masterdom. 

Macbeth. We will speak further. 

Lady Macbeth. Only look up clear. 

To alter favor ever is to fear. 
Leave all the rest to me. 



63-66 To beguile . . . under't: To 
fool (beguile) everyone, act as 
expected at such a time, that is, as 
a good host. Who is more like a 
serpent, Lady Macbeth or her 

68 my dispatch: my management. 

70 give solely sovereign sway: 

bring absolute royal power. 

72 To alter . . . fear: To change 
your expression (favor) is a sign of 

In front of Macbeth's castle. 

King Duncan and his party arrive, and Lady Macbeth welcomes them. 
Duncan is generous in his praise of his hosts and eagerly awaits the 
arrival of Macbeth. 


[Hautboys and torches. Enter Duncan, Malcolm, 
Donalbain, Banquo, Lennox, Macduff, Ross, Angus, and 

Duncan. This castle hath a pleasant seat. The air 
Nimbly and sweetly recommends itself 
Unto our gentle senses. 

Banquo. This guest of summer, 

The temple-haunting martlet, does approve 
By his loved mansionry that the heaven's breath 
Smells wooingly here. No jutty, frieze, 
Buttress, nor coign of vantage, but this bird 
Hath made his pendent bed and procreant cradle. 
Where they most breed and haunt, I have observed 
The air is delicate. 

[Enter Lady Macbeth.] 

Duncan. See, see, our honored hostess! 

The love that follows us sometime is our trouble, 
Which still we thank as love. Herein I teach you 
How you shall bid God 'ield us for your pains 
And thank us for your trouble. 

Lady Macbeth. All our service 

In every point twice done, and then done double 

[Stage Direction] hautboys: oboes. 

1 seat: location. 

3-10 This guest . . . delicate: The 
martin (martlet) usually built its 
nest on a church (temple), where 
every projection (jutty), sculptured 
decoration (frieze), support 
(buttress), and convenient corner 
(coign of vantage) offered a good 
nesting site. Banquo sees the 
presence of the martin's hanging 
(pendent) nest, a breeding 
(procreant) place, as a sign of 
healthy air. 



Were poor and single business to contend 
Against those honors deep and broad wherewith 
Your Majesty loads our house. For those of old, 
And the late dignities heaped up to them, 
20 We rest your hermits. 

Duncan. Where's the Thane of Cawdor? 

We coursed him at the heels and had a purpose 
To be his purveyor; but he rides well, 
And his great love, sharp as his spur, hath holp him 
To his home before us. Fair and noble hostess, 
25 We are your guest tonight. 

Lady Macbeth. Your servants ever 

Have theirs, themselves, and what is theirs, in compt, 
To make their audit at your Highness' pleasure, 
Still to return your own. 

Duncan. Give me your hand; 

Conduct me to mine host. We love him highly 
30 And shall continue our graces towards him. 

By your leave, hostess. 


16 single business: weak service. 
Lady Macbeth claims that nothing 
she or her husband can do will 
match Duncan's generosity. 

20 we rest your hermits: we can 

only repay you with prayers. The 
wealthy used to hire hermits to 
pray for the dead. 

21 coursed him at the heels: 

followed him closely. 

22 purveyor: one who makes 
advance arrangements for a royal 

23 holp: helped. 

25-28 Legally, Duncan owned 
everything in his kingdom. Lady 
Macbeth politely says that they 
hold his property in trust (compt), 
ready to return it (make their 
audit) whenever he wants. Why do 
you think Lady Macbeth is being 
especially gracious to Duncan? 

Act 1, Scene 6: Duncan 
at Macbeth's castle 
(film, 1971) 

. ^ : 


. .---X 


A room in Macbeth's castle. 

Macbeth has left Duncan in the middle of dinner. Alone, he begins to 
have second thoughts about his murderous plan. Lady Macbeth 
enters and discovers that he has changed his mind. She scornfully 
accuses him of cowardice and tells him that a true man would never 
back out of a commitment. She reassures him of success and explains 
her plan. She will make sure that the king's attendants drink too 
much. When they are fast asleep, Macbeth will stab the king with the 
servants' weapons. 

[Hautboys. Torches. Enter a Sewer, and divers Servants with 
dishes and service over the stage. Then enter Macbeth.] 

Macbeth. If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well 
It were done quickly. If the assassination 
Could trammel up the consequence, and catch, 
With his surcease, success, that but this blow 
Might be the be-all and the end-all here, 
But here, upon this bank and shoal of time, 
We'ld jump the life to come. But in these cases 
We still have judgment here, that we but teach 
Bloody instructions, which, being taught, return 
To plague the inventor. This even-handed justice 
Commends the ingredience of our poisoned chalice 
To our own lips. He's here in double trust: 
First, as I am his kinsman and his subject, 
Strong both against the deed; then, as his host, 
Who should against his murderer shut the door, 
Not bear the knife myself. Besides, this Duncan 
Hath borne his faculties so meek, hath been 
So clear in his great office, that his virtues 
Will plead like angels, trumpet-tongued, against 
The deep damnation of his taking-off; 
And pity, like a naked new-born babe, 
Striding the blast, or heaven's cherubin, horsed 
Upon the sightless couriers of the air, 
Shall blow the horrid deed in every eye, 
That tears shall drown the wind. I have no spur 
To prick the sides of my intent, but only 
Vaulting ambition, which o'erleaps itself 
And falls on the other — 

[Enter Lady Macbeth.] 

How now? What news? 

[Stage Direction] Sewer: the 
steward, the servant in charge of 
arranging the banquet and tasting 
the King's food; divers: various. 

1-10 Again, Macbeth argues with 
himself about murdering the king. 
If it could be done without causing 
problems later, then it would be 
good to do it soon. If Duncan's 
murder would have no negative 
consequences and be successfully 
completed with his death 
(surcease), then Macbeth would 
risk eternal damnation. He knows, 
however, that terrible deeds 
(bloody instructions) often 

12-28 Macbeth reminds himself 
that he is Duncan's relative, 
subject, and host and that the king 
has never abused his royal powers 
(faculties). In fact, Duncan is such a 
good person that there is no 
possible reason for his murder 
except Macbeth's own driving 



Act 1, Scene 7: Orson Welles as Macbeth and Jeanette Nolan as Lady Macbeth (film, 1948) 

Lady Macbeth. He has almost supped. Why have you left the 

30 Macbeth. Hath he asked for me? 

Lady Macbeth. Know you not he has? 

Macbeth. We will proceed no further in this business. 
He hath honored me of late, and I have bought 
Golden opinions from all sorts of people, 
Which would be worn now in their newest gloss, 
35 Not cast aside so soon. 

Lady Macbeth. Was the hope drunk 

Wherein you dressed yourself? Hath it slept since? 
And wakes it now to look so green and pale 
At what it did so freely? From this time 
Such I account thy love. Art thou afeard 

40 To be the same in thine own act and valor 

As thou art in desire? Wouldst thou have that 
Which thou esteem'st the ornament of life, 
And live a coward in thine own esteem, 
Letting "I dare not" wait upon "I would," 

45 Like the poor cat i' the adage? 

Macbeth. Prithee peace! 

I dare do all that may become a man. 

32-35 I have ... so soon: The 

praises that Macbeth has received 
are, like new clothes, to be worn, 
not quickly thrown away. What has 
Macbeth decided? 

35-38 Was the hope drunk . . . 
freely: Lady Macbeth sarcastically 
suggests that Macbeth's ambition 
must have been drunk, because it 
now seems to have a hangover (to 
look so green and pale). 

39-45 Such I . . . adage: Lady 
Macbeth criticizes Macbeth's 
weakened resolve to secure the 
crown (ornament of life) and calls 
him a coward. She compares him 
to a cat in a proverb (adage) who 
wouldn't catch fish because it 
feared wet feet. 



Who dares do more is none. 

Lady Macbeth. What beast was't then 

That made you break this enterprise to me? 
When you durst do it, then you were a man; 

50 And to be more than what you were, you would 

Be so much more the man. Nor time nor place 
Did then adhere, and yet you would make both. 
They have made themselves, and that their fitness now 
Does unmake you. I have given suck, and know 

55 How tender 'tis to love the babe that milks me. 

I would, while it was smiling in my face, 
Have plucked my nipple from his boneless gums 
And dashed the brains out, had I so sworn as you 
Have done to this. 

Macbeth. If we should fail? 

Lady Macbeth. We fail? 

60 But screw your courage to the sticking place, 

And we'll not fail. When Duncan is asleep 
(Whereto the rather shall his day's hard journey 
Soundly invite him), his two chamberlains 
Will I with wine and wassail so convince 

65 That memory, the warder of the brain, 

Shall be a fume, and the receipt of reason 
A limbeck only. When in swinish sleep 
Their drenched natures lie as in a death, 
What cannot you and I perform upon 

70 The unguarded Duncan? what not put upon 
His spongy officers, who shall bear the guilt 
Of our great quell? 

Macbeth. Bring forth men-children only, 

For thy undaunted mettle should compose 
Nothing but males. Will it not be received, 
75 When we have marked with blood those sleepy two 

Of his own chamber and used their very daggers, 
That they have done't? 

Lady Macbeth. Who dares receive it other, 

As we shall make our griefs and clamor roar 
Upon his death? 

Macbeth. I am settled and bend up 

so Each corporal agent to this terrible feat. 

Away, and mock the time with fairest show; 

False face must hide what the false heart doth know. 


54 I have given suck: I have nursed 
a baby. 

60 but . . . place: When each string 
of a guitar or lute is tightened to 
the peg (sticking place), the 
instrument is ready to be played. 

65-67 that memory ... a limbeck 
only: Memory was thought to be 
at the base of the brain, to guard 
against harmful vapors rising from 
the body. Lady Macbeth will get 
the guards so drunk that their 
reason will become like a still 
(limbeck), producing confused 

72 quell: murder. 

72-74 Bring forth . . . males: Your 
bold spirit (undaunted mettle) is 
better suited to raising males than 
females. Do you think Macbeth's 
words express admiration? 

79-82 I am settled . . . know: Now 

that Macbeth has made up his 
mind, every part of his body (each 
corporal agent) is tightened like a 
bow. He and Lady Macbeth will 
return to the banquet and deceive 
everyone (mock the time), hiding 
their evil intent with gracious 



Connect to the Literature 

1. What Do You Think? Comprehension Check 

At this point, what 
are your impressions 
of Macbeth and his 

Think Critically 

What predictions do the three 

witches make about Macbeth's 


What do Macbeth and his wife 

plan to do to make the last 

prediction come true? 

What predictions do the witches 

make about Banquo? 

2. What values do you think motivate Macbeth? 

3. At this point in the play, who would you say is the more 
forceful character, Macbeth or Lady Macbeth? Why? 

• their ambitions and fears 

• their attitudes toward Duncan 

• their attitudes toward murder 

• their attitudes toward each other 

4. Do you think Macbeth would have formed his murderous 
plan if the witches hadn't made their predictions to him? 
Explain who you think controls Macbeth's fate. 

5. What might the witches' predictions about Banquo mean? 





Scene 7, what does Macbeth mean in the final sentence of 
his soliloquy, lines 25-28? You may want to refer to your 
nOl reaper 's notebook for notes you took on the 
Strategies for Reading Shakespeare's Language. 

Extend Interpretations 

7. What If? Imagine that you are a friend and adviser of Macbeth 
and his wife. What advice would you give them? What would 
you tell them about the three witches' predictions? 

8. Critic's Corner According to the critic L. C. Knights, "Macbeth 
defines a particular kind of evil— the evil that results from a 
lust for power." On the basis of what you have read so far, 
do you agree? Is excessive ambition the only source of 
Macbeth's "evil"? Support your opinion with details from 
Act One. 

Literary Analysis 


is a speech that reveals a character's 
private thoughts to the audience. An 
aside is a character's remark that 
others on the stage are not supposed 
to hear. Although unrealistic, the 
soliloquy and the aside allow 
playwrights to reveal characters' 
thoughts and motives that would 
otherwise remain hidden. 

Paired Activity Working with a 
partner, identify revealing soliloquies 
and asides in Act One of Macbeth, 
and explain the thoughts and 
motives that they reveal. You might 
fill in a chart like the one below. 

Act, Scene, 


What It 


or Aside? 


Act One, 



Scene 3, 



and his 


belief in the 




Consider Duncan's speeches and 
actions, as well as the remarks that 
Macbeth and others make about 
him. What sort of person does 
Duncan seem to be? How good a 
king is he? 



View and Compare 

What aspects of Macbeth's character do 
these images convey? 

. : «*5rtv;»v 





HJIS (, - r>C? 

Laurence Olivier, Memorial 
Theatre, Stratford-upon- 
Avon, England (1955) 



Jjmi--*ii J: 


John Gielgud, Piccadilly 
Theatre, London (1942) 




■^aaaawc* ■ v.-«s 




Toshiro Mifune as Macbeth, T/;e Throne of Blood 
(film, 1957) 

Raul Julia, New York Shakespeare Festival 

Act 2 





The court of Macbeth's castle. 

It is past midnight, and Banquo and his son Fleance cannot sleep. 
When Macbeth appears, Banquo tells of his uneasy dreams about the 
witches. Macbeth promises that they will discuss the prophecies later, 
and Banquo goes to bed. Once alone, Macbeth imagines a dagger 
leading him toward the king's chamber. When he hears a bell, the 
signal from Lady Macbeth, he knows it is time to go to Duncan's room. 

[Enter Banquo, and Fleance with a torch before him.] 

Banquo. How goes the night, boy? 

Fleance. The moon is down; I have not heard the clock. 

Banquo. And she goes down at twelve. 

Fleance. I take't, 'tis later, sir. 

Banquo. Hold, take my sword. There's husbandry in heaven; 
Their candles are all out. Take thee that too. 
A heavy summons lies like lead upon me, 
And yet I would not sleep. Merciful powers, 
Restrain in me the cursed thoughts that nature 
Gives way to in repose! 

[Enter Macbeth, and a Servant with a torch.] 

Give me my sword. 
Who's there? 

Macbeth. A friend. 

Banquo. What, sir, not yet at rest? The King's abed. 
He hath been in unusual pleasure and 
Sent forth great largess to your offices. 
This diamond he greets your wife withal 
By the name of most kind hostess, and shut up 
In measureless content. 

Macbeth. Being unprepared, 

Our will became the servant to defect, 
Which else should free have wrought. 

Banquo. All's well. 

I dreamt last night of the three Weird Sisters. 
To you they have showed some truth. 

Macbeth. I think not of them. 

Yet when we can entreat an hour to serve, 

4-5 There's husbandry ... all out: 

The heavens show economy 
(husbandry) by keeping the lights 
(candles) out — it is a starless night. 

6 heavy summons: desire for 

14 largess to your offices: gifts to 
the servants' quarters. 

16 shut up: went to bed. 

17-19 Being . . . wrought: Because 
we were unprepared, we could not 
entertain the king as we would 
have liked. Do you believe in 
Macbeth's sincerity here? 

22 can entreat an hour: both have 
the time. 



We would spend it in some words upon that business, 
If you would grant the time. 

Banquo. At your kind'st leisure. 

25 Macbeth. If you shall cleave to my consent, when 'tis, 
It shall make honor for you. 

Banquo. So I lose none 

In seeking to augment it but still keep 
My bosom franchised and allegiance clear, 
I shall be counseled. 

Macbeth. Good repose the while! 

30 Banquo. Thanks, sir. The like to you! 

[Exeunt Banquo and Fleance.] 

Macbeth. Go bid thy mistress, when my drink is ready, 
She strike upon the bell. Get thee to bed. 

[Exit Servant.] 

Is this a dagger which I see before me, 

The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee! 
35 I have thee not, and yet I see thee still. 

Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible 

To feeling as to sight? or art thou but 

A dagger of the mind, a false creation, 

Proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain? 
40 I see thee yet, in form as palpable 

As this which now I draw. 

Thou marshal'st me the way that I was going, 

And such an instrument I was to use. 

25-29 If you ... be counseled: 

Macbeth asks Banquo for his 
support (cleave to my consent), 
promising honors in return. 
Banquo is willing to increase 
(augment) his honor provided he 
can keep a clear conscience and 
remain loyal to the king (keep my 
bosom . . . clear). How do you 
think Macbeth feels about 
Banquo's virtuous stand? 

33-43 Is this a dagger ... to use: 

Macbeth sees a dagger hanging in 
midair before him and questions 
whether it is real (palpable) or the 
illusion of a disturbed (heat- 
oppressed) mind. The floating, 
imaginary dagger, which leads 
(marshal'st) him to Duncan's room, 
prompts him to draw his own 
dagger. Is Macbeth losing his 

Act 2, Scene 2: 
Duncan's murder, 
Jon Finch as 
Macbeth (film, 1971] 


Mine eyes are made the fools o' the other senses, 

45 Or else worth all the rest. I see thee still; 

And on thy blade and dudgeon gouts of blood, 
Which was not so before. There's no such thing. 
It is the bloody business which informs 
Thus to mine eyes. Now o'er the one half-world 

50 Nature seems dead, and wicked dreams abuse 
The curtained sleep. Witchcraft celebrates 
Pale Hecate's offerings; and withered murder, 
Alarumed by his sentinel, the wolf, 
Whose howl's his watch, thus with his stealthy pace, 

55 With Tarquin's ravishing strides, towards his design 

Moves like a ghost. Thou sure and firm-set earth, 
Hear not my steps which way they walk, for fear 
Thy very stones prate of my whereabout 
And take the present horror from the time, 

60 Which now suits with it. Whiles I threat, he lives; 

Words to the heat of deeds too cold breath gives. 

[A bell rings.] 

I go, and it is done. The bell invites me. 
Hear it not, Duncan, for it is a knell 
That summons thee to heaven, or to hell. 



44-45 Mine eyes . . . the rest: 

Either his eyes are mistaken (fools) 
or his other senses are. 

46 on thy blade . . . blood: drops 
of blood on the blade and handle. 

60-61 Whiles I . . . gives: Talk 
(threat) delays action (deeds). 

63 knell: funeral bell. 

Macbeth's castle. 

As Lady Macbeth waits for her husband, she explains how she 
drugged Duncan's servants. Suddenly a dazed and terrified Macbeth 
enters, carrying the bloody daggers that he used to murder Duncan. 
He imagines a voice that warns, "Macbeth shall sleep no more" and is 
too afraid to return to the scene of the crime. Lady Macbeth takes the 
bloody daggers back so that the servants will be blamed. Startled by a 
knocking at the gate, she hurries back and tells Macbeth to wash off 
the blood and change into his nightclothes. 

[Enter Lady Macbeth.] 

Lady Macbeth. That which hath made them drunk hath made me 

What hath quenched them hath given me fire. Hark! Peace! 
It was the owl that shrieked, the fatal bellman 
Which gives the stern'st good-night. He is about it. 
The doors are open, and the surfeited grooms 
Do mock their charge with snores. I have drugged their 


3 fatal bellman: town crier. 

5 surfeited grooms: drunken 

6 possets: drinks. 



View and Compare 

In the scene portraying Duncan's murder, how 
do you interpret the dynamics between 
Macbeth and Lady Macbeth in each photo? 


Act 2, Scene 2: After Duncan's murder, 
Derek Jacobi as Macbeth and Cheryl 
Campbell as Lady Macbeth, Royal 
Shakespeare Company (1993) 


Act 2, Scene 2: After Duncan's murder, 
Toshiro Mifune as Macbeth and Isuzu 
Yamada as Lady Macbeth, 
The Throne of Blood (film, 1957) 

Sf r 


That death and nature do contend about them 
Whether they live or die. 

Macbeth. [Within] Who's there? What, ho? 

Lady Macbeth. Alack, I am afraid they have awaked, 
10 And 'tis not done! The attempt, and not the deed, 

Confounds us. Hark! I laid their daggers ready; 
He could not miss 'em. Had he not resembled 
My father as he slept, I had done't. 

[Enter Macbeth.] 

My husband! 

Macbeth. I have done the deed. Didst thou not hear a noise? 

15 Lady Macbeth. I heard the owl scream and the crickets cry. 
Did not you speak? 

Macbeth. When? 

Lady Macbeth. Now. 

Macbeth. As I descended? 

Lady Macbeth. Ay. 

Macbeth. Hark! 

Who lies i' the second chamber? 

Lady Macbeth. Donalbain. 

20 Macbeth. This is a sorry sight. 

Lady Macbeth. A foolish thought, to say a sorry sight. 

Macbeth. There's one did laugh in's sleep, and one cried 
That they did wake each other. I stood and heard them. 
But they did say their prayers and addressed them 
25 Again to sleep. 

Lady Macbeth. There are two lodged together. 

Macbeth. One cried "God bless us!" and "Amen!" the other, 
As they had seen me with these hangman's hands, 
List'ning their fear. I could not say "Amen!" 
When they did say "God bless us!" 

30 Lady Macbeth. Consider it not so deeply. 

Macbeth. But wherefore could not I pronounce "Amen"? 
I had most need of blessing, and "Amen" 
Stuck in my throat. 

Lady Macbeth. These deeds must not be thought 

After these ways. So, it will make us mad. 

35 Macbeth. Methought I heard a voice cry "Sleep no more! 
Macbeth does murder sleep" — the innocent sleep, 

9-10 Why does the sound of 
Macbeth's voice make his wife so 

11 confounds: destroys. If Duncan 
survives, they will be killed (as his 
attempted murderers) 

27-28 as they . . . fear: He 

imagines that the sleepers could 
see him listening to their 
exclamations of fear, with his 
hands bloody like those of an 

28-33 Why is Macbeth so troubled 
by the fact that he cannot say 



Sleep that knits up the raveled sleave of care, 
The death of each day's life, sore labor's bath, 
Balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course, 
Chief nourisher in life's feast. 

Lady Macbeth. What do you mean? 

Macbeth. Still it cried "Sleep no more!" to all the house; 

"Glamis hath murdered sleep, and therefore Cawdor 

Shall sleep no more! Macbeth shall sleep no more!" 
Lady Macbeth. Who was it that thus cried? Why, worthy Thane, 

You do unbend your noble strength to think 

So brainsickly of things. Go get some water 

And wash this filthy witness from your hand. 

Why did you bring these daggers from the place? 

They must lie there. Go carry them and smear 

The sleepy grooms with blood. 

Macbeth. I'll go no more. 

I am afraid to think what I have done; 
Look on't again I dare not. 

Lady Macbeth. Infirm of purpose! 

Give me the daggers. The sleeping and the dead 
Are but as pictures. 'Tis the eye of childhood 
That fears a painted devil. If he do bleed, 
I'll gild the faces of the grooms withal, 
For it must seem their guilt. [Exit. Knocking within.] 

Macbeth. Whence is that knocking? 

How is't with me when every noise appals me? 
What hands are here? Ha! they pluck out mine eyes! 
Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood 
Clean from my hand? No. This my hand will rather 
The multitudinous seas incarnadine, 
Making the green one red. [Enter Lady Macbeth.] 

Lady Macbeth. My hands are of your color, but I shame 
To wear a heart so white. [Knock.] I hear a knocking 
At the south entry. Retire we to our chamber. 
A little water clears us of this deed. 
How easy is it then! Your constancy 

Hath left you unattended. [Knock.] Hark! more knocking. 
Get on your nightgown, lest occasion call us 
And show us to be watchers. Be not lost 
So poorly in your thoughts. 

Macbeth. To know my deed, 'twere best not know myself. 


Wake Duncan with thy knocking! I would thou couldst! 


36-40 the innocent sleep . . . life's 
feast: Sleep eases worries (knits up 
the raveled sleave of care), relieves 
the aches of physical work (sore 
labor's bath), soothes the anxious 
(hurt minds), and nourishes like 
food. Why is Macbeth so 
concerned about sleep? 

47 this filthy witness: the 

evidence, that is, the blood. 

56-57 I'll gild . . . guilt: She'll cover 
(gild) the servants with blood, 
blaming them for the murder. How 
is her attitude toward blood 
different from her husband's? 

61-63 This my hand . . . one red: 

The blood on my hand will redden 
(incarnadine) the seas. 

68-69 Your constancy . . . 
unattended: Your courage has left 

70-71 lest . . . watchers: in case 

we are called for and found awake 
(watchers), which would look 

73 To know . . . myself: To come to 
terms with what I have done, I 
must forget about my conscience. 




Within Macbeth's castle, near the gate. 

The drunken porter staggers across the courtyard to answer the knocking. 
After Lennox and Macduff are let in, Macbeth arrives to lead them to the 
king's quarters. Macduff enters Duncan's room and discovers his murder. 
Lennox and Macbeth then go to the scene, and Macbeth, pretending to be 
enraged, kills the two servants. Amid all the commotion, Lady Macbeth 
faints. Duncan's sons, Malcolm and Donalbain, fearing for their lives, 
quietly leave, hoping to escape the country 


[Enter a Porter. Knocking within.] 

Porter. Here's a knocking indeed! If a man were porter 
of hell gate, he should have old turning the key. 
[Knock.] Knock, knock, knock! Who's there, i' the name 
of Belzebub? Here's a farmer that hanged himself on 
the expectation of plenty. Come in time! Have napkins 
enow about you; here you'll sweat for't. [Knock.] 
Knock, knock! Who's there, in the other devil's name? 
Faith, here's an equivocator, that could swear in both 
the scales against either scale; who committed treason 
enough for God's sake, yet could not equivocate to 
heaven. O, come in, equivocator! [Knock.] Knock, 
knock, knock! Who's there? Faith, here's an English 

2 old turning the key: plenty of 
key turning. Hell's porter would be 
busy because so many people are 
ending up in hell these days. 

4 Belzebub: a devil. 

Act 2, Scene 3: The porter (right), with Lennox and 
Macduff, in a stage production of Macbeth (1948 

tailor come hither for stealing out of a French hose. 
Come in, tailor. Here you may roast your goose. 
[Knock.] Knock, knock! Never at quiet! What are you? 
But this place is too cold for hell. I'll devilporter it no 
further. I had thought to have let in some of all 
professions that go the primrose way to the everlasting 
bonfire. [Knock.] Anon, anon! [Opens the gate.] I pray 
you remember the porter. 

[Enter Macduff and Lennox.] 

Macduff. Was it so late, friend, ere you went to bed, 
That you do lie so late? 

Porter. Faith, sir, we were carousing till the second cock; 
and drink, sir, is a great provoker of three things. 

Macduff. What three things does drink especially 

Porter. Marry, sir, nose-painting, sleep, and urine. 

Lechery, sir, it provokes, and unprovokes: it provokes 
the desire, but it takes away the performance. 
Therefore much drink may be said to be an 
equivocator with lechery: it makes him, and it mars 
him; it sets him on, and it takes him off; it persuades 
him, and disheartens him; makes him stand to, and not 
stand to; in conclusion, equivocates him in a sleep, and, 
giving him the lie, leaves him. 

Macduff. I believe drink gave thee the lie last night. 

Porter. That it did, sir, i' the very throat on me; but I 
requited him for his lie; and, I think, being too strong 
for him, though he took up my legs sometime, yet I 
made a shift to cast him. 

Macduff. Is thy master stirring? 

[Enter Macbeth.] 

Our knocking has awaked him; here he comes. 

Lennox. Good morrow, noble sir. 

Macbeth. Good morrow, both. 

Macduff. Is the King stirring, worthy Thane? 

Macbeth. Not yet. 

Macduff. He did command me to call timely on him; 
I have almost slipped the hour. 

Macbeth. I'll bring you to him. 

Macduff. I know this is a joyful trouble to you; 
But yet 'tis one. 

4-13 The porter pretends he is 
welcoming a farmer who killed 
himself after his schemes to get 
rich (expectation of plenty) failed, 
a double talker (equivocator) who 
perjured himself yet couldn't talk 
his way into heaven, and a tailor 
who cheated his customers by 
skimping on material (stealing out 
of a French hose). 

23 second cock: early morning, 
announced by the crow of a 

28-35 The porter jokes that 
alcohol stimulates lust (lechery) but 
makes the lover a failure. 

36-40 More jokes about alcohol, 
this time described as a wrestler 
finally thrown off (cast) by the 
porter, who thus paid him back 
(requited him) for disappointment 
in love. Cast also means "to vomit" 
and "to urinate," two other ways 
of dealing with alcohol. 

45 timely: early. 

46 slipped the hour: missed the 



Macbeth. The labor we delight in physics pain. 
50 This is the door. 

Macduff. I'll make so bold to call, 

For 'tis my limited service. [Exit.] 

Lennox. Goes the King hence today? 

Macbeth. He does; he did appoint so. 

Lennox. The night has been unruly. Where we lay, 
Our chimneys were blown down, and, as they say, 

55 Lamentings heard i' the air, strange screams of death, 

And prophesying, with accents terrible, 
Of dire combustion and confused events 
New hatched to the woeful time. The obscure bird 
Clamored the livelong night. Some say the earth 

60 Was feverous and did shake. 

Macbeth. 'Twas a rough night. 

Lennox. My young remembrance cannot parallel 
A fellow to it. 

[Enter Macduff.] 

Macduff. O horror, horror, horror! Tongue nor heart 

Cannot conceive nor name thee! 
Macbeth and Lennox. What's the matter? 

65 Macduff. Confusion now hath made his masterpiece! 
Most sacrilegious murder hath broke ope 
The Lord's anointed temple and stole thence 
The life o' the building! 

Macbeth. What is't you say? the life? 

Lennox. Mean you his majesty? 

70 Macduff. Approach the chamber, and destroy your sight 
With a new Gorgon. Do not bid me speak. 
See, and then speak yourselves. 

[Exeunt Macbeth and Lennox.] 

Awake, awake! 
Ring the alarum bell. Murder and treason! 
Banquo and Donalbain! Malcolm! awake! 
75 Shake off this downy sleep, death's counterfeit, 

And look on death itself! Up, up, and see 
The great doom's image! Malcolm! Banquo! 
As from your graves rise up and walk like sprites 
To countenance this horror! Ring the bell! 

[Bell rings.] 

[Enter Lady Macbeth.] 

49 physics: cures. 

51 limited service: appointed duty. 

53-60 Lennox discusses the 
strange events of the night, from 
fierce winds to the continuous 
shrieking (strange screams of 
death) of an owl (obscure bird). 
The owl's scream, a sign of death, 
bodes more (new hatched) uproar 
(combustion) and confusion. 

65-68 Macduff mourns Duncan's 
death as the destruction 
(confusion) of order and as 
sacrilegious, violating all that is 
holy. In Shakespeare's time the 
king was believed to be God's 
sacred representative on earth. 

71 new Gorgon: Macduff 
compares the shocking sight of the 
corpse to a Gorgon, a monster of 
Greek mythology with snakes for 
hair. Anyone who saw a Gorgon 
turned to stone. 

75 counterfeit: imitation. 

77 great doom's image: a picture 
like the Last Judgment, the end of 
the world. 

78 sprites: spirits. The spirits of the 
dead were supposed to rise on 
Judgment Day. 



80 Lady Macbeth. What's the business, 

That such a hideous trumpet calls to parley 
The sleepers of the house? Speak, speak! 

Macduff. O gentle lady, 

'Tis not for you to hear what I can speak! 
The repetition in a woman's ear 
85 Would murder as it fell. 

[Enter Banquo.] 

O Banquo, Banquo, 
Our royal master's murdered! 

Lady Macbeth. Woe, alas! 

What, in our house? 

Banquo. Too cruel anywhere. 

Dear Duff, I prithee contradict thyself 
And say it is not so. 

[Enter Macbeth, Lennox, and Ross.] 

90 Macbeth. Had I but died an hour before this chance, 

I had lived a blessed time; for from this instant 

There's nothing serious in mortality; 

All is but toys; renown and grace is dead; 

The wine of life is drawn, and the mere lees 
95 Is left this vault to brag of. 

[Enter Malcolm and Donalbain.] 

Donalbain. What is amiss? 

Macbeth. You are, and do not know't. 

The spring, the head, the fountain of your blood 
Is stopped, the very source of it is stopped. 

Macduff. Your royal father's murdered. 

Malcolm. O, by whom? 

ioo Lennox. Those of his chamber, as it seemed, had done't. 

Their hands and faces were all badged with blood; 

So were their daggers, which unwiped we found 

Upon their pillows. 

They stared and were distracted. No man's life 
105 Was to be trusted with them. 

Macbeth. O, yet I do repent me of my fury 
That I did kill them. 

Macduff. Wherefore did you so? 

Macbeth. Who can be wise, amazed, temp'rate, and furious, 
Loyal and neutral, in a moment? No man. 
no The expedition of my violent love 

81 trumpet calls to parley: She 

compares the clanging bell to a 
trumpet used to call two sides of a 
battle to negotiation. 

91-95 for from . . . brag of: From 
now on, nothing matters (there's 
nothing serious) in human life 
(mortality); even fame and grace 
have been made meaningless. The 
good wine of life has been 
removed (drawn), leaving only the 
dregs (lees). Is Macbeth being 
completely insincere, or does he 
regret his crime? 

101 badged: marked. 



Outrun the pauser, reason. Here lay Duncan, 
His silver skin laced with his golden blood, 
And his gashed stabs looked like a breach in nature 
For ruin's wasteful entrance; there, the murderers, 
us Steeped in the colors of their trade, their daggers 

Unmannerly breeched with gore. Who could refrain 
That had a heart to love and in that heart 
Courage to make's love known? 

Lady Macbeth. Help me hence, ho! 

Macduff. Look to the lady. 

Malcolm. [Aside to Donalbain] Why do we hold our tongues, 
120 That most may claim this argument for ours? 

Donalbain. [Aside to Malcolm] What should be spoken here, 
Where our fate, hid in an auger hole, 
May rush and seize us? Let's away, 
Our tears are not yet brewed. 

Malcolm. [Aside to Donalbain] Nor our strong sorrow 
125 Upon the foot of motion. 

Banquo. Look to the lady. 

[Lady Macbeth is carried out.] 

And when we have our naked frailties hid, 
That suffer in exposure, let us meet 
And question this most bloody piece of work, 
To know it further. Fears and scruples shake us. 
130 In the great hand of God I stand, and thence 

Against the undivulged pretense I fight 
Of treasonous malice. 

Macduff. And so do I. 

All. So all. 

Macbeth. Let's briefly put on manly readiness 
And meet i' the hall together. 

All. Well contented. 

[Exeunt all but Malcolm and Donalbain.] 

135 Malcolm. What will you do? Let's not consort with them. 
To show an unfelt sorrow is an office 
Which the false man does easy. I'll to England. 

Donalbain. To Ireland I. Our separated fortune 
Shall keep us both the safer. Where we are, 
ho There's daggers in men's smiles; the near in blood, 
The nearer bloody. 

110-111 The . . . reason: He claims 
his emotions overpowered his 
reason, which would have made 
him pause to think before he killed 
Duncan's servants. 

113 breach: a military term to 
describe a break in defenses, such 
as a hole in a castle wall. 

118 Lady Macbeth faints. Is she 
only pretending? 

119-120 Why do . . . ours: 

Malcolm wonders why he and 
Donalbain are silent, since they 
have the most right to discuss the 
topic (argument) of their father's 

126-129 Banquo suggests that they 
all meet to discuss the murder 
after they have dressed (our naked 
frailties hid), since people are 
shivering in their nightclothes 
(suffer in exposure). 

129-132 Though shaken by fears 
and doubts (scruples), he will fight 
against the secret plans 
(undivulged pretense) of the 
traitor. Do you think Banquo 
suspects Macbeth? 

135-137 Malcolm does not want 
to join (consort with) the others 
because one of them may have 
plotted the murder. 



Malcolm. This murderous shaft that's shot 

Hath not yet lighted, and our safest way 
Is to avoid the aim. Therefore to horse! 
And let us not be dainty of leave-taking 
But shift away. There's warrant in that theft 
Which steals itself when there's no mercy left. 


Outside Macbetb's castle. 

145-146 There's . . . left: There's 
good reason (warrant) to steal 
away from a situation that 
promises no mercy. 

[Enter Ross with an Old Man.] 

Old Man. Threescore and ten I can remember well; 
Within the volume of which time I have seen 
Hours dreadful and things strange; but this sore night 
Hath trifled former knowings. 

Ross. Ah, good father, 

5 Thou seest the heavens, as troubled with man's act, 

Threaten his bloody stage. By the clock 'tis day, 
And yet dark night strangles the traveling lamp. 
Is't night's predominance, or the day's shame, 
That darkness does the face of earth entomb 
10 When living light should kiss it? 

Old Man. 'Tis unnatural, 

Even like the deed that's done. On Tuesday last 
A falcon, tow'ring in her pride of place, 
Was by a mousing owl hawked at and killed. 

Ross. And Duncan's horses (a thing most strange and certain), 
15 Beauteous and swift, the minions of their race, 

Turned wild in nature, broke their stalls, flung out, 
Contending 'gainst obedience, as they would make 
War with mankind. 

Old Man. 'Tis said they eat each other. 

Ross. They did so, to the amazement of mine eyes 
20 That looked upon't. 

[Enter Macduff.] 

Here comes the good Macduff. 
How goes the world, sir, now? 

Macduff. Why, see you not? 

Ross. Is't known who did this more than bloody deed? 

1-4 Nothing the old man has seen 
in seventy years (threescore and 
ten) has been as strange and 
terrible (sore) as this night. It has 
made other times seem trivial 
(hath trifled) by comparison. 

6-10 By the clock . . . kiss it: 

Though daytime, an unnatural 
darkness blots out the sun 
(strangles the traveling lamp). 

12-13 a falcon . . . and killed: The 

owl would never be expected to 
attack a high-flying (tow'ring) 
falcon, much less defeat one. 

15 minions: best or favorites. 

17 contending 'gainst obedience: 

The well-trained horses rebelliously 
fought against all constraints. 



Macduff. Those that Macbeth hath slain. 

Ross. Alas, the day! 

What good could they pretend? 
Macduff. They were suborned. 

25 Malcolm and Donalbain, the King's two sons, 

Are stol'n away and fled, which puts upon them 

Suspicion of the deed. 

Ross. 'Gainst nature still! 

Thriftless ambition, that will raven up 
Thine own live's means! Then 'tis most like 
30 The sovereignty will fall upon Macbeth. 

Macduff. He is already named, and gone to Scone 
To be invested. 

Ross. Where is Duncan's body? 

Macduff. Carried to Colmekill, 

The sacred storehouse of his predecessors 
35 And guardian of their bones. 

Ross. Will you to Scone? 

Macduff. No, cousin, I'll to Fife. 

Ross. Well, I will thither. 

Macduff. Well, may you see things well done there. Adieu, 
Lest our old robes sit easier than our new! 

Ross. Farewell, father. 

40 Old Man. God's benison go with you, and with those 
That would make good of bad, and friends of foes! 

[Exeunt omnes.] 

24 What . . . pretend: Ross 
wonders what the servants could 
have hoped to achieve (pretend) 
by killing; suborned: hired or 

27-29 He is horrified by the 
thought that the sons could act 
contrary to nature ('gainst nature 
still) because of wasteful 
(thriftless) ambition and greedily 
destroy (raven up) their father, the 
source of their own life (thine own 
live's means). 

31-32 to Scone . . . invested: 

Macbeth went to the traditional 
site (Scone) where Scotland's kings 
were crowned. 

40-41 The old man gives his 
blessing (benison) to Macduff and 
all those who would restore good 
and bring peace to the troubled 



Duncan's Murder 


Preparing to Read 

Build Background 

Dne of Shakespeare's 
avorite sources for his plays 
vas the Chronicles (1577), 
i collection of histories and 
Ascriptions of the British 
sles written by Raphael 
Holinshed and others. The 
ollowing passage reveals 
i/lacbeth's involvement in 
Duncan's murder. 

1. laund: glade. 

2. elder: ancient. 

3. quarrel: cause. 

4. pretend: claim. 

5. lay sore upon him: pressed 
him hard. 

It fortuned, as Macbeth and Banquo journeyed toward Forres, where the 
King then lay, they went sporting by the way together without other 
company save only themselves, passing through the woods and fields, 
when suddenly, in the midst of a laund, 1 there met them three women in 
strange and wild apparel, resembling creatures of elder 2 world; whom 
when they attentively beheld, wondering much at the sight, the first of 
them spoke and said, "All hail, Macbeth, Thane of Glamis!" (for he had 
lately entered into that dignity and office by the death of his father Sinel). 
The second of them said, "Hail, Macbeth, Thane of Cawdor!" But the 
third said, "All hail, Macbeth, that hereafter shalt be King of Scotland!" 

Then Banquo. "What manner of women," saith he, "are you, that seem 
so little favorable unto me, whereas to my fellow here, besides high offices, 
ye assign also the kingdom, appointing forth nothing for me at all?" "Yes," 
saith the first of them, "we promise greater benefits unto thee than unto 
him, for he shall reign indeed, but with an unlucky end; neither shall he 
leave any issue behind him to succeed in his place, where contrarily thou 
indeed shalt not reign at all, but of thee those shall be born which shall 
govern the Scottish kingdom by long order of continual descent." Herewith 
the foresaid women vanished immediately out of their sight. . . . Shortly 
after, the Thane of Cawdor being condemned at Forres of treason against 
the King committed, his lands, livings, and offices were given of the King's 
liberality to Macbeth. . . . 

Shortly after it chanced that King Duncan, having two sons by his wife 
(which was the daughter of Siward Earl of Northumberland), he made the 
elder of them (called Malcolm) Prince of Cumberland, as it were thereby to 
appoint him his successor in the kingdom immediately after his decease. 
Macbeth, sore troubled herewith, for that he saw by this means his hope 
sore hindered ... he began to take counsel how he might usurp the king- 
dom by force, having a just quarrel 3 so to do (as he took the matter), for 
that Duncan did what in him lay to defraud him of all manner of title and 
claim which he might, in time to come, pretend 4 unto the crown. 

The words of the three Weird Sisters also (of whom before ye have heard) 
greatly encouraged him hereunto; but specially his wife lay sore upon him 5 
to attempt the thing, as she that was very ambitious, burning in unquench- 
able desire to bear the name of a queen. At length, therefore, communicat- 
ing his purposed intent with his trusty friends, amongst whom Banquo was 
the chiefest, upon confidence of their promised aid he slew the King at 
Inverness or (as some say) at Bothgowanan, in the sixth year of his reign. 




Connect to the Literature 

1. What Do You Think? 

What mental picture 
from this act lingers 
most in your mind? 
Jot down words and 
phrases to describe it. 

Comprehension Check 

• Whom do Macbeth and his wife 
plan to take the blame for 
Duncan's murder? 

• What prompts people to think that 
Malcolm and Donalbain may be 
guilty of killing their father? 

• In the absence of Malcolm and 
Donalbain, who will become king? 

Think Critically 

2. How does the nocturnal setting of Act Two, Scene 1, 
contribute to the scene's overall mood, or atmosphere? 

the time of night at which the events take 


Banquo's observations about the night 

Macbeth's remarks about the night 

3. Why do you think Macbeth imagines that he sees a dagger 
at the end of Act Two, Scene 1 ? 


4. I MWiJilJit Tflfljl READING DRA M/T] Review any questions 
about or reactions to stage directions in your 

Q reader s notebook. What effect do you think each 
of the following sound effects might have on the audience? 

• the bell at the end of Scene 1 

• the owl referred to in Scene 2 

• the knocking that ends Scene 2 and continues in Scene 3 

• the "alarum bell" in Scene 3 

5. Consider the porter's humorous comments on the types of 
people who wind up at the gates of hell. How is Macbeth 
like or unlike the sinners that the porter describes? 

6. How does Lady Macbeth compare with her husband at this 
point in the play? Cite evidence to support your opinion. 

7. Do you think the Macbeths are finished with their killing? If 
so, why? If not, whom do you think they might kill next? 

Literary Analysis 

I BLANK VERSE I One of the most 

popular verse forms in English, 
blank verse consists of unrhymed 
iambic pentameter, in which the 
normal line contains five stressed 
syllables, each preceded by an 
unstressed syllable: 

Will all great Neptune's ocean 
wash this blood 

Paired Activity Working with a 
partner, copy a representative 
passage from Macbeth, marking the 
unstressed (") and stressed (') 
syllables. Then discuss the following 

• Shakespeare sometimes 
introduces rhyming pairs of lines 
for emphasis or as signals to the 
actors, indicating entrances or 
changes of scene. What are some 
examples in Act Two? 

• Shakespeare sometimes has 
characters speak in prose. Why 
do you think he uses prose for 
the porter's opening remarks in 
Act Two, Scene 3? 


Find examples of figurative language 
that help convey Macbeth's fears 
and doubts before the murder of 
Duncan, his horror of the act itself, 
and the guilt he feels afterward. 

Extend Interpretations 

8. What If? Do you think Macbeth would have killed Duncan if 
his wife had not urged him to do so? Cite evidence from the 
first two acts to support your opinion. 



Act 3 





Macbeth's palace at Forres. 

Banquo voices his suspicions of Macbeth but still hopes that the 
prophecy about his own children will prove true. Macbeth, as king, 
enters to request Banquo's presence at a state banquet. Banquo 
explains that he will be away during the day with his son Fleance but 
that they will return in time for the banquet. Alone, Macbeth 
expresses his fear of Banquo, because of the witches' promise that 
Banquo's sons will be kings. He persuades two murderers to kill 
Banquo and his son before the banquet. 

[Enter Banquo.] 

Banquo. Thou hast it now — King, Cawdor, Glamis, all, 
As the Weird Women promised; and I fear 
Thou play'dst most foully for't. Yet it was said 
It should not stand in thy posterity, 
But that myself should be the root and father 
Of many kings. If there come truth from them 
(As upon thee, Macbeth, their speeches shine), 
Why, by the verities on thee made good, 
May they not be my oracles as well 
And set me up in hope? But, hush, no more! 

[Sennet sounded. Enter Macbeth, as King; Lady Macbeth, as 
Queen; Lennox, Ross, Lords, and Attendants.] 

Macbeth. Here's our chief guest. 

Lady Macbeth. If he had been forgotten, 

It had been as a gap in our great feast, 
And all-thing unbecoming. 

Macbeth. Tonight we hold a solemn supper, sir, 
And I'll request your presence. 

Banquo. Let your Highness 

Command upon me, to the which my duties 
Are with a most indissoluble tie 
For ever knit. 

Macbeth. Ride you this afternoon? 

Banquo. Ay, my good lord. 

Macbeth. We should have else desired your good advice 
(Which still hath been both grave and prosperous) 

3-4 it was said . . . posterity: it 

was predicted that the kingship 
would not remain in your family. 

6-10 If ... in hope: Banquo is 
impressed by the truth (verities) of 
the prophecies. He hopes the 
witches' prediction for him will 
come true too (be my oracles as 

[Stage Direction] sennet sounded: 

A trumpet is sounded. 

14-15 A king usually uses the 
royal pronoun we. Notice how 
Macbeth switches to /, keeping a 
personal tone with Banquo. 

15-18 Banquo says he is duty- 
bound to serve the king. Do you 
think his tone is cold or warm 

21 grave and prosperous: 

thoughtful and profitable. 



In this day's council; but we'll take tomorrow. 
Is't far you ride? 

Banquo. As far, my lord, as will fill up the time 
25 'Twixt this and supper. Go not my horse the better, 

I must become a borrower of the night 
For a dark hour or twain. 

Macbeth. Fail not our feast. 

Banquo. My lord, I will not. 

Macbeth. We hear our bloody cousins are bestowed 
30 In England and in Ireland, not confessing 

Their cruel parricide, filling their hearers 
With strange invention. But of that tomorrow, 
When therewithal we shall have cause of state 
Craving us jointly. Hie you to horse. Adieu, 
35 Till you return at night. Goes Fleance with you? 

Banquo. Ay, my good lord. Our time does call upon's. 

Macbeth. I wish your horses swift and sure of foot, 
And so I do commend you to their backs. 

[Exit Banquo.] 

40 Let every man be master of his time 

Till seven at night. To make society 
The sweeter welcome, we will keep ourself 
Till supper time alone. While then, God be with you! 

[Exeunt all but Macbeth and a Servant.] 

Sirrah, a word with you. Attend those men 
45 Our pleasure? 

Servant. They are, my lord, without the palace gate. 

Macbeth. Bring them before us. 

[Exit Servant.] 

Macbeth. To be thus is nothing, 

But to be safely thus. Our fears in Banquo 
Stick deep, and in his royalty of nature 

50 Reigns that which would be feared. 'Tis much he dares, 

And to that dauntless temper of his mind 
He hath a wisdom that doth guide his valor 
To act in safety. There is none but he 
Whose being I do fear; and under him 

55 My genius is rebuked, as it is said 

Mark Antony's was by Caesar. He chid the Sisters 
When first they put the name of King upon me, 
And bade them speak to him. Then, prophet-like, 

25-27 Go not . . . twain: If his 
horse goes no faster than usual, 
he'll be back an hour or two 
(twain) after dark. 

29 bloody cousins: murderous 
relatives (Malcolm and Donalbain); 
bestowed: settled. 

32 strange invention: lies; stories 
they have invented. What kinds of 
stories might they be telling? 

33-34 when . . . jointly: when 
matters of state will require the 
attention of us both. 

40 be master of his time: do what 
he wants. 

43 while: until. 

44-45 sirrah: a term of address to 
an inferior; Attend . . . pleasure: 

Are they waiting for me? 

47-48 To be thus . . . safely thus: 

To be king is worthless unless my 
position as king is safe. 

51 dauntless temper: fearless 

55-56 my genius . . . Caesar: 

Banquo's mere presence forces 
back (rebukes) Macbeth's ruling 
spirit (genius). In ancient Rome, 
Octavius Caesar, who became 
emperor, had the same effect on 
his rival, Mark Antony. 



They hailed him father to a line of kings. 

Upon my head they placed a fruitless crown 

And put a barren scepter in my gripe, 

Thence to be wrenched with an unlineal hand, 

No son of mine succeeding. If't be so, 

For Banquo's issue have I filed my mind; 

For them the gracious Duncan have I murdered; 

Put rancors in the vessel of my peace 

Only for them, and mine eternal jewel 

Given to the common enemy of man 

To make them kings, the seed of Banquo kings! 

Rather than so, come, Fate, into the list, 

And champion me to the utterance! Who's there? 

[Enter Servant and two Murderers.] 

Now go to the door and stay there till we call. 

[Exit Servant.] 

Was it not yesterday we spoke together? 
Murderers. It was, so please your Highness. 

Macbeth. Well then, now 

Have you considered of my speeches? Know 
That it was he, in the times past, which held you 
So under fortune, which you thought had been 
Our innocent self. This I made good to you 
In our last conference, passed in probation with you 
How you were borne in hand, how crossed; the instruments; 
Who wrought with them; and all things else that might 
To half a soul and to a notion crazed 
Say "Thus did Banquo." 

First Murderer. You made it known to us. 

Macbeth. I did so; and went further, which is now 
Our point of second meeting. Do you find 
Your patience so predominant in your nature 
That you can let this go? Are you so gospeled 
To pray for this good man and for his issue, 
Whose heavy hand hath bowed you to the grave 
And beggared yours for ever? 

First Murderer. We are men, my liege. 

Macbeth. Ay, in the catalogue ye go for men, 

As hounds and greyhounds, mongrels, spaniels, curs, 
Shoughs, water-rugs, and demi-wolves are clept 
All by the name of dogs. The valued file 
Distinguishes the swift, the slow, the subtle, 
The housekeeper, the hunter, every one 

60-69 They gave me a childless 
(fruitless, barren) crown and 
scepter, which will be taken away 
by someone outside my family 
(unlineal). It appears that I have 
committed murder, poisoned (filed) 
my mind, and destroyed my soul 
(eternal jewel) all for the benefit 
of Banquo's heirs. 

70-71 Rather . . . utterance: 

Rather than allowing Banquo's 
heirs to become kings, he calls 
upon Fate itself to enter the 
combat arena (list) so that he can 
fight it to the death (utterance). 
Why does he feel that he needs to 
fight Fate? 

75-83 Macbeth supposedly proved 
(passed in probation) Banquo's 
role, his deception (how you were 
borne in hand), his methods, and 
his allies. Even a half-wit (half a 
soul) or a crazed person would 
agree that Banquo caused their 

87-90 He asks whether they are so 
influenced by the gospel's message 
of forgiveness (so gospeled) that 
they will pray for Banquo and his 
children despite his harshness, 
which will leave their own families 



According to the gift which bounteous nature 
Hath in him closed; whereby he does receive 
Particular addition, from the bill 

100 That writes them all alike; and so of men. 
Now, if you have a station in the file, 
Not i' the worst rank of manhood, say't; 
And I will put that business in your bosoms 
Whose execution takes your enemy off, 

105 Grapples you to the heart and love of us, 

Who wear our health but sickly in his life, 
Which in his death were perfect. 

91-100 The true worth of a dog 
can be measured only by 
examining the record (valued file) 
of its special qualities (particular 

103-107 Macbeth will give them a 
secret job (business in your 
bosoms) that will earn them his 
loyalty (grapples you to the heart) 

and love. Banquo's death will 
make this sick king healthy. 

Act 3, Scene 1: Macbeth with 
the murderers (film 1971) 

'/ I 


Second Murderer. I am one, my liege, 

Whom the vile blows and buffets of the world 
have so incensed that I am reckless what 
I do to spite the world. 

First Murderer. And I another, 

So weary with disasters, tugged with fortune, 
That I would set my life on any chance, 
To mend it or be rid on't. 

Macbeth. Both of you 

Know Banquo was your enemy. 
Murderers. True, my lord. 

Macbeth. So is he mine, and in such bloody distance 
That every minute of his being thrusts 
Against my near'st of life; and though I could 
With barefaced power sweep him from my sight 
And bid my will avouch it, yet I must not, 
For certain friends that are both his and mine, 
Whose loves I may not drop, but wail his fall 
Who I myself struck down. And thence it is 
That I to your assistance do make love, 
Masking the business from the common eye 
For sundry weighty reasons. 

Second Murderer. We shall, my lord, 

Perform what you command us. 

First Murderer. Though our lives — 

Macbeth. Your spirits shine through you. Within this hour 
at most 
I will advise you where to plant yourselves, 
Acquaint you with the perfect spy o' the time, 
The moment on't; for't must be done tonight, 
And something from the palace (always thought 
That I require a clearness), and with him, 
To leave no rubs nor botches in the work, 
Fleance his son, that keeps him company, 
Whose absence is no less material to me 
Than is his father's, must embrace the fate 
Of that dark hour. Resolve yourselves apart; 
I'll come to you anon. 

Murderers. We are resolved, my lord. 

Macbeth. I'll call upon you straight. Abide within. 

[Exeunt Murderers.] 

111 tugged with: knocked about 

115-117 Banquo is near enough 
to draw blood, and like a 
menacing swordsman, his mere 
presence threatens (thrusts 
against) Macbeth's existence. 

119 bid my will avouch it: justify it 
as my will. 

127 Your spirits shine through 
you: Your courage is evident. 

131-132 and something . . . 
clearness: The murder must be 
done away from the palace so that 
I remain blameless (I require a 

135 absence: death. Why is the 
death of Fleance so important? 

137 Resolve yourselves apart: 

Decide in private. 

139 straight: soon. 



140 It is concluded. Banquo, thy soul's flight, 

If it find heaven, must find it out tonight. 



Macbeth's palace at Forres. 

Lady Macbeth and her husband discuss the troubled thoughts 
and bad dreams they have had since Duncan's murder. 
However, they agree to hide their dark emotions at the night's 
banquet. Lady Macbeth tries to comfort the tormented 
Macbeth, but her words do no good. Instead, Macbeth hints at 
some terrible event that will occur that night. 

[Enter Lady Macbeth and a Servant] 

Lady Macbeth. Is Banquo gone from court? 

Servant. Ay, madam, but returns again tonight. 

Lady Macbeth. Say to the King I would attend his leisure 
For a few words. 

Servant. Madam, I will. 


Lady Macbeth. Naught's had, all's spent, 

5 Where our desire is got without content. 

Tis safer to be that which we destroy 
Than by destruction dwell in doubtful joy. 

[Enter Macbeth.] 

How now, my lord? Why do you keep alone, 
Of sorriest fancies your companions making, 
10 Using those thoughts which should indeed have died 

With them they think on? Things without all remedy 
Should be without regard. What's done is done. 

Macbeth. We have scotched the snake, not killed it. 

She'll close and be herself, whilst our poor malice 
15 Remains in danger of her former tooth. 

But let the frame of things disjoint, both the worlds suffer, 

Ere we will eat our meal in fear and sleep 

In the affliction of these terrible dreams 

That shake us nightly. Better be with the dead, 
20 Whom we, to gain our peace, have sent to peace, 

Than on the torture of the mind to lie 

In restless ecstasy. Duncan is in his grave; 

After life's fitful fever he sleeps well. 

Treason has done his worst: nor steel nor poison, 

4-7 Nothing (naught) has been 
gained; everything has been 
wasted (spent). It would be better 
to be dead like Duncan than to live 
in uncertain joy. 

8-12 Does Lady Macbeth follow 
her own advice about forgetting 
Duncan's murder? 

16-22 He would rather have the 
world fall apart (the frame of 
things disjoint) than be afflicted 
with such fears and nightmares. 
Death is preferable to life on the 
torture rack of mental anguish 
(restless ecstasy). 



View and Compare 

Compare the facial expressions of these two Lady 
Macbeths. Which better fits your idea of her attitude as 
she tries to persuade Macbeth to forget about Duncan? 


Act 3, Scene 2: Jon Finch 
as Macbeth and Francesca 
Annis as Lady Macbeth 
(film, 1971) 




Act 3, Scene 2: 
Laurence Olivier as Macbeth 
and Vivian Leigh as Lady Macbeth, 
Memorial Theatre, Stratford-upon- 
Avon, England (1955) 

w 1 


25 Malice domestic, foreign levy, nothing, 

Can touch him further. 

Lady Macbeth. Come on. 

Gentle my lord, sleek o'er your rugged looks; 
Be bright and jovial among your guests tonight. 

Macbeth. So shall I, love; and so, I pray, be you. 
30 Let your remembrance apply to Banquo; 

Present him eminence both with eye and tongue: 
Unsafe the while, that we 

Must lave our honors in these flattering streams 
And make our faces vizards to our hearts, 
35 Disguising what they are. 

Lady Macbeth You must leave this. 

Macbeth. O, full of scorpions is my mind, dear wife! 
Thou know'st that Banquo, and his Fleance, lives. 

Lady Macbeth. But in them Nature's copy's not eterne. 

Macbeth. There's comfort yet; they are assailable. 
40 Then be thou jocund. Ere the bat hath flown 

His cloistered flight, ere to black Hecate's summons 
The shard-borne beetle with his drowsy hums 
Hath rung night's yawning peal, there shall be done 
A deed of dreadful note. 

Lady Macbeth. What's to be done? 

45 Macbeth. Be innocent of the knowledge, dearest chuck, 
Till thou applaud the deed. Come, seeling night, 
Scarf up the tender eye of pitiful day, 
And with thy bloody and invisible hand 
Cancel and tear to pieces that great bond 

50 Which keeps me pale! Light thickens, and the crow 

Makes wing to the rooky wood. 
Good things of day begin to droop and drowse, 
Whiles night's black agents to their preys do rouse. 
Thou marvell'st at my words; but hold thee still: 

55 Things bad begun make strong themselves by ill. 

So prithee go with me. 


27 sleek: smooth. 

31 present him eminence: pay 

special attention to him. 

33 lave . . . streams: wash (lave) 
our honor in streams of flattery — 
that is, falsify our feelings. 

34 vizards: masks. 

38 in them . . . not eterne: Nature 
did not give them immortality. 

40-44 jocund: cheerful; merry; Ere 
the bat . . . note: Before nightfall, 
when the bats and beetles fly, 
something dreadful will happen. 

45 chuck: chick (a term of 

46 seeling: blinding. 

49 great bond: Banquo's life. 

51 rooky: gloomy; also, filled with 
crows (rooks). 

55 Things brought about through 
evil need additional evil to make 
them strong. 




A park near the palace. 

The two murderers, joined by a third, ambush Banquo and Fleance, 
killing Banquo. Fleance manages to escape in the darkness. 

[Enter three Murderers.] 

First Murderer. But who did bid thee join with us? 

Third Murderer. Macbeth. 

Second Murderer. He needs not our mistrust, since he delivers 
Our offices, and what we have to do, 
To the direction just. 

First Murderer. Then stand with us. 

5 The west yet glimmers with some streaks of day. 

Now spurs the lated traveler apace 
To gain the timely inn, and near approaches 
The subject of our watch. 

Third Murderer. Hark! I hear horses. 

Banquo. [Within] Give us a light there, ho! 

Second Murderer. Then 'tis he! The rest 

10 That are within the note of expectation 

Already are i' the court. 

First Murderer. His horses go about. 

Third Murderer. Almost a mile; but he does usually, 
So all men do, from hence to the palace gate 
Make it their walk. 

[Enter Banquo, and Fleance with a torch.] 

Second Murderer. A light, a light! 

Third Murderer. 'Tis he. 

15 First Murderer. Stand to't. 

Banquo. It will be rain tonight. 

First Murderer. Let it come down! 

[They set upon Banquo.] 

Banquo. O, treachery! Fly, good Fleance, fly, fly, fly! 
Thou mayst revenge. O slave! 

[Dies. Fleance escapes.] 

Third Murderer. Who did strike out the light? 

First Murderer. Was't not the way? 

20 Third Murderer. There's but one down; the son is fled. 

Second Murderer. We have lost 

2-4 He needs . . . just: Macbeth 
should not be distrustful, since he 
gave us the orders (offices) and we 
plan to follow his directions 

6 lated: tardy; late. 

9 Give us a light: Banquo, nearing 
the palace, calls for servants to 
bring a light. 

9-11 Then 'tis . . . court: It must be 
Banquo, since all the other 
expected guests are already in the 

15 Stand to't: Be prepared. 

18 Thou mayst revenge: You 

might live to avenge my death. 

19 Was't not the way: Isn't that 
what we were supposed to do? 
Apparently, one of the murderers 
struck out the light, thus allowing 
Fleance to escape. 



Best half of our affair. 
First Murderer. Well, let's away, and say how much is done. 


The hall in the palace. 

As the banquet begins, one of the murderers reports on Banquo's 
death and Fleance's escape. Macbeth is disturbed by the news and 
even more shaken when he returns to the banquet table and sees the 
bloody ghost of Banquo. Only Macbeth sees the ghost, and his 
terrified reaction startles the guests. Lady Macbeth explains her 
husband's strange behavior as an illness from childhood that will soon 
pass. Once the ghost disappears, Macbeth calls for a toast to Banquo, 
whose ghost immediately reappears. Because Macbeth begins to rant 
and rave, Lady Macbeth dismisses the guests, fearful that her 
husband will reveal too much. Macbeth, alone with his wife, tells of 
his suspicions of Macduff, absent from the banquet. He also says he 
will visit the witches again and hints at bloody deeds yet to happen. 



[Banquet prepared. Enter Macbeth, Lady Macbeth, Ross, 
Lennox, Lords, and Attendants.] 

Macbeth. You know your own degrees, sit down. At first 

And last the hearty welcome. 
Lords. Thanks to your Majesty. 

Macbeth. Ourself will mingle with society 

And play the humble host. 

Our hostess keeps her state, but in best time 

We will require her welcome. 

Lady Macbeth. Pronounce it for me, sir, to all our friends, 
For my heart speaks they are welcome. 

[Enter First Murderer to the door.] 

Macbeth. See, they encounter thee with their hearts' thanks. 
Both sides are even: here I'll sit i' the midst. 
Be large in mirth; anon we'll drink a measure 
The table round. [Moves toward Murderer at door.] 
There's blood upon thy face. 

Murderer. 'Tis Banquo's then. 

Macbeth. 'Tis better thee without than he within. 
Is he dispatched? 

Murderer. My lord, his throat is cut. That I did for him. 

Macbeth. Thou art the best o' the cutthroats! Yet he's good 
That did the like for Fleance. If thou didst it, 

1 your own degrees: where your 
rank entitles you to sit. 

5 keeps her state: sits on her 
throne rather than at the banquet 

11 measure: toast. Macbeth keeps 
talking to his wife and guests as he 
casually edges toward the door to 
speak privately with the murderer. 

16 dispatched: killed. 



Thou art the nonpareil. 

Murderer. Most royal sir, 

Fleance is scaped. 

Macbeth. [Aside] Then comes my fit again. I had else been 

Whole as the marble, founded as the rock, 

As broad and general as the casing air. 

But now I am cabined, cribbed, confined, bound in 

To saucy doubts and fears. — But Banquo's safe? 

Murderer. Ay, my good lord. Safe in a ditch he bides, 
With twenty trenched gashes on his head, 
The least a death to nature. 

Macbeth. Thanks for that! 

There the grown serpent lies; the worm that's fled 
Hath nature that in time will venom breed, 
No teeth for the present. Get thee gone. Tomorrow 
We'll hear ourselves again. 

[Exit Murderer.] 

Lady Macbeth. My royal lord, 

You do not give the cheer. The feast is sold 
That is not often vouched, while 'tis a-making, 
'Tis given with welcome. To feed were best at home. 
From thence, the sauce to meat is ceremony; 
Meeting were bare without it. 

[Enter the Ghost o^Banquo, and sits in Macbeth's place.} 

20 nonpareil: best. 

22 fit: fever of fear. 

24 casing: surrounding. 

30 worm: little serpent, that is, 

32 no teeth for the present: too 

young to cause harm right now. 
Contrast this comment with his 
privately expressed fears. 

33 hear ourselves: talk together. 

Act 3, Scene 4: Orson Welles as Macbeth 
faces Banquo's ghost (film, 1948) 


Macbeth. Sweet remembrancer! 

Now good digestion wait on appetite, 
40 And health on both! 

Lennox. May't please your Highness sit. 

Macbeth. Here had we now our country's honor, roofed, 

Were the graced person of our Banquo present; 

Who may I rather challenge for unkindness 

Than pity for mischance! 
Ross. His absence, sir, 

45 Lays blame upon his promise. Please't your Highness 

To grace us with your royal company? 
Macbeth. The table's full. 

Lennox. Here is a place reserved, sir. 

Macbeth. Where? 

Lennox. Here, my good lord. What is't that moves your 
50 Macbeth. Which of you have done this? 

Lords. What, my good lord? 

Macbeth. Thou canst not say I did it. Never shake 

Thy gory locks at me. 
Ross. Gentlemen, rise. His Highness is not well. 
Lady Macbeth. Sit, worthy friends. My lord is often thus, 
55 And hath been from his youth. Pray you keep seat. 

The fit is momentary; upon a thought 

He will again be well. If much you note him, 

You shall offend him and extend his passion. 

Feed, and regard him not. — Are you a man? 
60 Macbeth. Ay, and a bold one, that dare look on that 

Which might appal the devil. 
Lady Macbeth. O proper stuff! 

This is the very painting of your fear. 

This is the air-drawn dagger which you said 

Led you to Duncan. O, these flaws and starts 
65 (Impostors to true fear) would well become 

A woman's story at a winter's fire, 

Authorized by her grandam. Shame itself! 

Why do you make such faces? When all's done, 

You look but on a stool. 
70 Macbeth. Prithee see there! behold! look! lo! How say you? 

Why, what care I? If thou canst nod, speak too. 

If charnel houses and our graves must send 

33-38 Macbeth must not forget his 
duties as host. A feast will be no 
different from a meal that one pays 
for unless the host gives his guests 
courteous attention (ceremony), 
the best part of any meal. 

38 sweet remembrancer: a term of 
affection for his wife, who has 
reminded him of his duty. 

41-44 The best people of Scotland 
would all be under Macbeth's roof 
if Banquo were present too. He 
hopes Banquo's absence is due to 
rudeness rather than to some 
accident (mischance). 

47 Macbeth finally notices that 
Banquo's ghost is present and 
sitting in the king's chair. As you 
read about this encounter, consider 
how Macbeth's reaction affects his 

52 gory: bloody. 

54-59 Sit . . . not: Lady Macbeth 
tries to calm the guests by claiming 
her husband often has such fits. 
She says the attack will pass quickly 
(upon a thought) and that looking 
at him will only make him worse 
(extend his passion). Why does 
Lady Macbeth make up a story to 
tell the guests? 

61-69 She dismisses his 
hallucination as utter nonsense 
(proper stuff). His outbursts (flaws 
and starts) are the product of 
imaginary fears (impostors to true 
fear) and are unmanly, the kind of 
behavior described in a woman's 
story. Do you think her appeal to 
his manhood will work this time? 


Those that we bury back, our monuments 
Shall be the maws of kites. 

[Exit Ghost.] 

Lady Macbeth. What, quite unmanned in folly? 

Macbeth. If I stand here, I saw him. 

Lady Macbeth. Fie, for shame! 

Macbeth. Blood hath been shed ere now, i' the olden time 
Ere humane statute purged the gentle weal; 
Ay, and since too, murders have been performed 
Too terrible for the ear. The time has been 
That, when the brains were out, the man would die, 
And there an end! But now they rise again, 
With twenty mortal murders on their crowns, 
And push us from our stools. This is more strange 
Than such a murder is. 

Lady Macbeth. My worthy lord, 

Your noble friends do lack you. 

Macbeth. I do forget. 

Do not muse at me, my most worthy friends. 
I have a strange infirmity, which is nothing 
To those that know me. Come, love and health to all! 
Then I'll sit down. Give me some wine, fill full. 

[Enter Ghost.] 

I drink to the general joy o' the whole table, 
And to our dear friend Banquo, whom we miss. 
Would he were here! To all, and him, we thirst, 
And all to all. 

Lords. Our duties, and the pledge. 

Macbeth. Avaunt, and quit my sight! Let the earth hide thee! 

Thy bones are marrowless, thy blood is cold; 

Thou hast no speculation in those eyes 

Which thou dost glare with! 
Lady Macbeth. Think of this, good peers, 

But as a thing of custom. 'Tis no other. 

Only it spoils the pleasure of the time. 

Macbeth. What man dare, I dare. 

Approach thou like the rugged Russian bear, 
The armed rhinoceros, or the Hyrcan tiger; 
Take any shape but that, and my firm nerves 
Shall never tremble. Or be alive again 
And dare me to the desert with thy sword. 

72-74 If burial vaults (charnel 
houses) give back the dead, then 
we may as well throw our bodies 
to the birds (kites), whose 
stomachs (maws) will become our 
tombs (monuments). 

76-79 Macbeth desperately tries 
to justify his murder of Banquo. 
Murder has been common from 
ancient times to the present, 
though laws (humane statute) 
have tried to rid civilized society 
(gentle weal) of violence. 

86 muse: wonder. 

92-93 To all . . . to all: Macbeth 
toasts everyone, including Banquo. 

94-97 avaunt: go away. Macbeth 
sees Banquo again. He tells 
Banquo that he is only a ghost, 
with unreal bones, cold blood, and 
no consciousness (speculation). 



If trembling I inhabit then, protest me 

The baby of a girl. Hence, horrible shadow! 

Unreal mock'ry, hence! 

[Exit Ghost.] 

Why, so! Being gone, 
I am a man again. Pray you sit still. 

no Lady Macbeth. You have displaced the mirth, broke the good 
With most admired disorder. 

Macbeth. Can such things be, 

And overcome us like a summer's cloud 

Without our special wonder? You make me strange 

Even to the disposition that I owe, 
ii5 When now I think you can behold such sights 

And keep the natural ruby of your cheeks 

When mine is blanched with fear. 
Ross. What sights, my lord? 

Lady Macbeth. I pray you speak not. He grows worse and worse; 
Question enrages him. At once, good night. 
120 Stand not upon the order of your going, 

But go at once. 

Lennox. Good night, and better health 

Attend his Majesty! 

Lady Macbeth. A kind good night to all! 

[Exeunt Lords and Attendants.] 

Macbeth. It will have blood, they say: blood will have blood. 
Stones have been known to move and trees to speak; 
125 Augures and understood relations have 

By maggot-pies and choughs and rooks brought forth 
The secret'st man of blood. What is the night? 

Lady Macbeth. Almost at odds with morning, which is which. 

Macbeth. How say'st thou that Macduff denies his person 
no At our great bidding? 

Lady Macbeth. Did you send to him, sir? 

Macbeth. I hear it by the way; but I will send. 
There's not a one of them but in his house 
I keep a servant feed. I will tomorrow 
(And betimes I will) to the Weird Sisters. 
135 More shall they speak; for now I am bent to know 

By the worst means the worst. For mine own good 
All causes shall give way. I am in blood 
Stepped in so far that, should I wade no more, 

100-108 Macbeth would be 
willing to face Banquo in any other 
form, even his living self. If 
trembling . . . girl: If I still tremble, 
call me a girl's doll. 

111 admired: astonishing. 

111-117 Macbeth is bewildered by 
his wife's calm. Her reaction makes 
him seem a stranger to himself 
(strange even to the disposition 
that I owe): she seems to be the 
one with all the courage, since he 
is white (blanched) with fear. 

120 Stand . . . going: Don't worry 
about the proper formalities of 

123-127 Macbeth fears that 
Banquo's murder (it) will be 
revenged by his own murder. 
Stones, trees, or talking birds 
(maggot-pies and choughs and 
rooks) may reveal the hidden 
knowledge (augures) of his guilt. 

129-130 How say'st . . . bidding: 

What do you think of Macduff's 
refusal to come? Why do you think 
Macbeth is suddenly so concerned 
about Macduff? 

132-133 There's . . . feed: Macbeth 
has paid (feed) household servants 
to spy on every noble, including 

134 betimes: early. 

135 bent: determined. 

136-141 For mine . . . scanned: 

Macbeth will do anything to 
protect himself. He has stepped so 
far into a river of blood that it 
would make no sense to turn back. 
He will act upon his unnatural 
(strange) thoughts without having 
examined (scanned) them. 







Returning were as tedious as go o'er. 

Strange things I have in head, that will to hand, 

Which must be acted ere they may be scanned. 

Lady Macbeth. You lack the season of all natures, sleep. 

Macbeth. Come, we'll to sleep. My strange and self-abuse 
Is the initiate fear that wants hard use. 
We are yet but young in deed. 



A heath. 

The goddess of witchcraft, Hecate, scolds the three witches for 
dealing independently with Macbeth. She outlines their next 
meeting with him, planning to cause his downfall by making him 
overconfident. (Experts believe this scene was not written by 
Shakespeare but rather was added later.) 

[Thunder. Enter the three Witches, meeting Hecate.] 

First Witch. Why, how now, Hecate? You look angerly. 

Hecate. Have I not reason, beldams as you are, 
Saucy and overbold? How did you dare 
To trade and traffic with Macbeth 
In riddles and affairs of death; 
And I, the mistress of your charms, 
The close contriver of all harms, 
Was never called to bear my part 
Or show the glory of our art? 
And, which is worse, all you have done 
Hath been but for a wayward son, 
Spiteful and wrathful, who, as others do, 
Loves for his own ends, not for you. 
But make amends now. Get you gone 
And at the pit of Acheron 
Meet me i' the morning. Thither he 
Will come to know his destiny. 
Your vessels and your spells provide, 
Your charms and everything beside. 
I am for the air. This night I'll spend 
Unto a dismal and a fatal end. 
Great business must be wrought ere noon. 
Upon the corner of the moon 
There hangs a vap'rous drop profound. 
I'll catch it ere it come to ground; 

142 season: preservative. 

143-145 His vision of the ghost 
(strange and self-abuse) is only the 
result of a beginner's fear (initiate 
fear), to be cured with practice 
(hard use). 

2 beldams: hags. 

7 close contriver: secret inventor. 

13 loves . . . you: cares only about 
his own goals, not about you. 

15 Acheron: a river in hell, 
according to Greek mythology. 
Hecate plans to hold their meeting 
in a hellish place. 

20-21 This . . . end: Tonight I'm 
working for a disastrous (dismal) 
and fatal end for Macbeth. 



And that, distilled by magic sleights, 
Shall raise such artificial sprites 
As by the strength of their illusion 
Shall draw him on to his confusion. 
30 He shall spurn fate, scorn death, and bear 
His hopes 'bove wisdom, grace, and fear; 
And you all know security 
Is mortals' chiefest enemy. 

[Music and a song within. "Come away, come away," etc.] 

Hark! I am called. My little spirit, see, 
35 Sits in a foggy cloud and stays for me. 


First Witch. Come, let's make haste. She'll soon be back again. 


23-29 Hecate will obtain a magical 
drop from the moon, treat it with 
secret art, and so create spirits 
(artificial sprites) that will lead 
Macbeth to his destruction 

34-35 Like the other witches, 
Hecate has a demon helper (my 
little spirit). At the end of her 
speech, she is raised by pulley to 
the "Heavens" of the stage. 


The palace at Forres. 

Lennox and another Scottish lord review the events surrounding the 
murders of Duncan and Banquo, indirectly suggesting that Macbeth is 
both a murderer and a tyrant. It is reported that Macduff has gone to 
England, where Duncan s son Malcolm is staying with King Edward 
and raising an army to regain the Scottish throne. Macbeth, angered 
by Macduff's refusal to see him, is also preparing for war. 



[Enter Lennox and another Lord.] 

Lennox. My former speeches have but hit your thoughts, 
Which can interpret farther. Only I say 
Things have been strangely borne. The gracious Duncan 
Was pitied of Macbeth. Marry, he was dead! 
And the right valiant Banquo walked too late; 
Whom, you may say (if't please you) Fleance killed, 
For Fleance fled. Men must not walk too late. 
Who cannot want the thought how monstrous 
It was for Malcolm and for Donalbain 
To kill their gracious father? Damned fact! 
How it did grieve Macbeth! Did he not straight, 
In pious rage, the two delinquents tear, 
That were the slaves of drink and thralls of sleep? 
Was not that nobly done? Ay, and wisely too! 
For 'twould have angered any heart alive 
To hear the men deny't. So that I say 
He has borne all things well; and I do think 

1-3 My former . . . borne: Lennox 
and the other lord have shared 
suspicions of Macbeth. 

6-7 whom . . . Fleance fled: 

Lennox is being ironic when he 
says that fleeing the scene of the 
crime must make Fleance guilty of 
his father's death. 

8-10 who . . . father: He says that 
everyone agrees on the horror of 
Duncan's murder by his sons. But 
Lennox has been consistently 
ironic, claiming to believe in what 
is obviously false. His words 
indirectly blame Macbeth. 

12 pious: holy. 

15-16 For 'twould . . . deny't: 

Again, he is being ironic. If the 
servants had lived, Macbeth might 
have been discovered. 



That, had he Duncan's sons under his key 

(As, an't please heaven, he shall not), they should find 

What 'twere to kill a father. So should Fleance. 

But peace! for from broad words, and 'cause he failed 

His presence at the tyrant's feast, I hear 

Macduff lives in disgrace. Sir, can you tell 

Where he bestows himself? 

Lord. The son of Duncan, 

From whom this tyrant holds the due of birth, 
Lives in the English court, and is received 
Of the most pious Edward with such grace 
That the malevolence of fortune nothing 
Takes from his high respect. Thither Macduff 
Is gone to pray the holy King upon his aid 
To wake Northumberland and warlike Siward; 
That by the help of these (with Him above 
To ratify the work) we may again 
Give to our tables meat, sleep to our nights, 
Free from our feasts and banquets bloody knives, 
Do faithful homage and receive free honors — 
All which we pine for now. And this report 
Hath so exasperate the King that he 
Prepares for some attempt of war. 

Lennox. Sent he to Macduff? 

Lord. He did; and with an absolute "Sir, not I!" 
The cloudy messenger turns me his back 
And hums, as who should say, "You'll rue the time 
That clogs me with this answer." 

Lennox. And that well might 

Advise him to a caution t' hold what distance 
His wisdom can provide. Some holy angel 
Fly to the court of England and unfold 
His message ere he come, that a swift blessing 
May soon return to this our suffering country 
Under a hand accursed! 

Lord. I'll send my prayers with him. 


21 from broad words: because of 
his frank talk. 

24 bestows himself: is staying. 

25 from . . . birth: Macbeth keeps 
Malcolm from his birthright. As the 
eldest son of Duncan, Malcolm 
should be king. 

27 Edward: Edward the Confessor, 
king of England from 1042 to 
1066, a man known for his virtue 
and religion. 

28-29 that . . . respect: Though 
Malcolm suffers from bad fortune 
(the loss of the throne), he is 
respectfully treated by Edward. 

29-37 Thither . . . for now: 

Macduff wants the king to 
persuade the people of 
Northumberland and their earl, 
Siward, to join Malcolm's cause. 

40-43 The messenger, fearing 
Macbeth's anger, was unhappy 
(cloudy) with Macduff's refusal to 
cooperate. Because Macduff 
burdens (clogs) him with bad news, 
he will not hurry back. 



B a n q u o ' s Murder 


Preparing to Read 

Build Background 

As this passage from the 
Chronicles begins, Macbeth 
has been courting the favor 
of the people. As you read, 
follow the reasoning that 
leads Macbeth to murder. 


This was but a counterfeit zeal of equity 1 showed by him, partly 
against his natural inclination, to purchase thereby the favor of the 
people. Shortly after, he began to show what he was, instead of equity 
practicing cruelty. For the prick of consciene (as it chanceth ever in tyrants 
and such as attain to any estate by unrighteous means) caused him ever to 
fear lest he should be served of the same cup as he had ministered to his 
predecessor. The words also of the three Weird Sisters would not out of 
his mind, which as they promised him the kingdom, so likewise did they 
promise it at the same time unto the posterity of Banquo. He willed there- 
fore the same Banquo, with his son named Fleance, to come to a supper 
that he had prepared for them; which was indeed, as he had devised, pre- 
sent death at the hands of certain murderers whom he hired to execute 
that deed, appointing them to meet with the same Banquo and his son 
without the palace, as they returned to their lodgings, and there to slay 
them, so that he would not have his house slandered but that in time to 
come he might clear himself if anything were laid to his charge upon any 
suspicion that might arise. 

It chanced by the benefit of the dark night that, though the father were 
slain, yet the son, by the help of almighty God reserving him to better 
fortune, escaped that danger; and afterward, having some inkling (by the 
admonition of some friends which he had in the court) how his life was 
sought no less than his father's, who was slain not by chance-medley 2 (as 
by the handling of the matter Macbeth would have had it to appear) but 
even upon a prepensed 3 device, whereupon to avoid further peril he fled 
into Wales. 

1. equity, fairness. 

2. chance-medley: accidental 

3. prepensed: premeditated. 

Thinking Through the Literature 

1. Based on this and the preceding selection from Holinshed's Chronicles, 
what can you conclude about politics and power in Macbeth's Scotland? 

2. What does the inclusion of the three witches suggest about the 
historical accuracy of Holinshed's Chronicles! 

3. Comparing Texts Compare the information from Holinshed's Chronicles 
with the plot and characters so far in Macbeth. What events and 
characters are similar? What differences do you detect? Why do you 
think Shakespeare portrays King James's ancestor Banquo in a more 
flattering light than he appears in the Chronicles! 




Connect to the Literature 

1. What Do You Think? 

How has your 
impression of 
Macbeth and Lady 
Macbeth changed? 

Think Critically 

Comprehension Check 

• What suspicions does Banquo 

• Why does Macbeth fear Banquo? 

• What happens to Fleance when 
Banquo is killed? 

• Where does Banquo's ghost 





what Macbeth and Lady Macbeth say to each other in Act 
Three, Scene 2. What notes did you take in your 
rp READER s notebook about what these characters 
discuss? How would you restate Lady Macbeth's soliloquy 
(lines 4-7) in contemporary language? 

3. How has the relationship between Macbeth and his wife 
changed since the death of Duncan? 

• Macbeth's view of Duncan's murder 

• Lady Macbeth's view of Duncan's murder 

• Macbeth's refusal to tell his wife about his 
plan to murder Banquo 

• Macbeth's "fit" at the banquet and his wife's 
reaction to it 

4. Why aren't Macbeth and Lady Macbeth happy being king 
and queen? Cite evidence to support your opinion. 

5. Why is the escape of Fleance significant in the light of the 
witches' earlier predictions? 


Literary Analysis 


introduce irony into their works 
when they convey a contrast or 
discrepancy between appearance 
and reality— between the way things 
seem and the way they really are. In 
dramatic irony, what appears true 
to one or more characters in a play 
is seen to be false by the audience. 

Cooperative Learning Activity With 
a small group of classmates, focus 
on one of the first three acts of 
Macbeth and analyze at least two 
remarks or incidents that create 
dramatic irony. Explain why the 
remarks or incidents are ironic, 
detailing the contrast between what 
characters think and what the 
audience knows. Then consider how 
the irony affects your enjoyment of 
the play. Before presenting your 
group's ideas to the class, organize 
your thoughts in a chart. 

What Characters 

What Audience 

Extend Interpretations 

6. Critic's Comer In Act Three, Scene 1, Macbeth meets with 
two murderers, but three murderers take part in the actual 
murder in Scene 3. Critics have speculated about the 
identity of the third murderer, with some thinking that it 
may be Macbeth himself. How do you explain this situation? 

7. Comparing Texts What do Macbeth and his wife have in 
common with the villainous characters in "The Pardoner's 
Tale" from Chaucer's Canterbury Tales (page 141)? 

8. Connect to Life Think about present-day explanations of the 
behavior of criminals. In what ways might Macbeth's state of 
mind and behavior in Act Three be similar to those of 
criminals today? Cite evidence to explain your response. 



/Vet 4 


A cave. In the middle, a boiling cauldron. 

The three witches prepare a potion in a boiling kettle. When Macbeth 
arrives, demanding to know his future, the witches raise three 
apparitions. The first, an armed head, tells him to beware of Macduff. 
Next, a bloody child assures Macbeth that he will never be harmed by 
anyone born of woman. The third apparition tells him that he will 
never be defeated until the trees of Bimam Wood move toward his 
castle at Dunsinane. Macbeth, now confident of his future, asks about 
Banquo's son. His confidence fades when the witches show him a line 
of kings who all resemble Banquo, suggesting that Banquo's sons will 
indeed be kings. Macbeth curses the witches as they disappear. 

Lennox enters the cave and tells Macbeth that Macduff has gone to 
the English court. Hearing this, Macbeth swears to kill Macduff's family. 

[Thunder. Enter the three Witches.] 

First Witch. Thrice the brinded cat hath mewed. 

Second Witch. Thrice, and once the hedge-pig whined. 

Third Witch. Harpier cries; 'tis time, 'tis time. 

First Witch. Round about the cauldron go; 
In the poisoned entrails throw. 
Toad, that under cold stone 
Days and nights has thirty-one 
Swelt'red venom sleeping got, 

1-3 Magical signals and the call of 
the third witch's attending demon 
(Harpier) tell the witches to begin. 

The Three Witches (1783), Henry Fuseli. Oil on canvas, 
Royal Shakespeare Theatre Collection, London. 


Boil thou first i' the charmed pot. 

10 All. Double, double, toil and trouble; 
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble. 

Second Witch. Fillet of a fenny snake, 
In the cauldron boil and bake; 
Eye of newt, and toe of frog, 
15 Wool of bat, and tongue of dog, 

Adder's fork, and blindworm's sting, 
Lizard's leg, and howlet's wing; 
For a charm of pow'rful trouble 
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble. 

20 All. Double, double, toil and trouble; 
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble. 

Third Witch. Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf, 

Witch's mummy, maw and gulf 

Of the ravined salt-sea shark, 
25 Root of hemlock, digged i' the dark; 

Liver of blaspheming Jew, 

Gall of goat, and slips of yew 

Slivered in the moon's eclipse; 

Nose of Turk and Tartar's lips; 
30 Finger of birth-strangled babe 

Ditch-delivered by a drab: 

Make the gruel thick and slab. 

Add thereto a tiger's chaudron 

For the ingredience of our cauldron. 

35 All. Double, double, toil and trouble; 
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble. 

Second Witch. Cool it with a baboon's blood, 
Then the charm is firm and good. 

Enter Hecate and the other three Witches.] 

Hecate. O, well done! I commend your pains, 
40 And every one shall share i' the gains. 
And now about the cauldron sing 
Like elves and fairies in a ring, 
Enchanting all that you put in. 

Music and a song, "Black spirit," etc.] 

Second Witch. By the pricking of my thumbs, 
45 Something wicked this way comes. 

Open locks, 
Whoever knocks! 
Enter Macbeth. 1 

4-34 The witches are stirring up a 
magical stew to bring trouble to 
humanity. Their recipe includes 
intestines (entrails, chaudron), a 
slice (fillet) of snake, eye of 
salamander (newt), snake tongue 
(adder's fork), a lizard 
(blindworm), a baby owl's 
(howlet's) wing, a shark's stomach 
and gullet (maw and gulf), the 
finger of a baby strangled by a 
prostitute (drab), and other 
gruesome ingredients. They stir 
their brew until it is thick and slimy 

[Stage Direction] Enter Hecate . . . : 

Most experts believe that the 
entrance of Hecate and three more 
witches was not written by 
Shakespeare. The characters were 
probably added later to expand 
the role of the witches, who were 
favorites of the audience. 



Macbeth. How now, you secret, black, and midnight hags? 
What is't you do? 

All. A deed without a name. 

50 Macbeth. I conjure you by that which you profess 

(Howe'er you come to know it), answer me. 

Though you untie the winds and let them fight 

Against the churches; though the yesty waves 

Confound and swallow navigation up; 
55 Though bladed corn be lodged and trees blown down; 

Though castles topple on their warders' heads; 

Though palaces and pyramids do slope 

Their heads to their foundations; though the treasure 

Of nature's germens tumble all together, 
60 Even till destruction sicken — answer me 

To what I ask you. 

First Witch. Speak. 

Second Witch. Demand. 

Third Witch. We'll answer. 

First Witch. Say, if th' hadst rather hear it from our mouths 
Or from our masters. 

Macbeth. Call 'em! Let me see 'em. 

First Witch. Pour in sow's blood, that hath eaten 
65 Her nine farrow; grease that's sweaten 

From the murderer's gibbet throw 
Into the flame. 

All. Come, high or low; 

Thyself and office deftly show! 

[Thunder. First Apparition, an Armed Head.] 

Macbeth. Tell me, thou unknown power — 

First Witch. He knows thy thought. 

70 Hear his speech, but say thou naught. 

First Apparition. Macbeth! Macbeth! Macbeth! Beware Macduff; 
Beware the Thane of Fife. Dismiss me. Enough. 

[He descends.} 

Macbeth. Whate'er thou art, for thy good caution thanks! 
Thou hast harped my fear aright. But one word more — 

75 First Witch. He will not be commanded. Here's another, 
More potent than the first. 

[Thunder. Second Apparition, a Bloody Child.} 

Second Apparition. Macbeth! Macbeth! Macbeth! 

Macbeth. Had I three ears, I'ld hear thee. 

50-61 Macbeth calls upon 
(conjure) the witches in the name 
of their dark magic (that which 
you profess). Though they unleash 
winds to topple churches and make 
foaming (yesty) waves to destroy 
(confound) ships, though they 
flatten wheat (corn) fields, destroy 
buildings, and reduce nature's 
order to chaos by mixing all seeds 
(germens) together, he demands 
an answer to his question. How has 
Macbeth's attitude toward the 
witches changed from his earlier 

63 masters: the demons whom the 
witches serve. 

65-66 farrow: newborn pigs; 
grease . . . gibbet: grease from a 
gallows where a murderer was 

[Stage Direction] Each of the three 
apparitions holds a clue to 
Macbeth's future. What do you 
think is suggested by the armed 

74 harped: guessed. The 
apparition has confirmed 
Macbeth's fears of Macduff. 

[Stage Direction] Whom or what 
might the bloody child represent? 



Act 4, Scene 1: Macbeth meets the second apparition (film 1971) 

Second Apparition. Be bloody, bold, and resolute; laugh to scorn 
The pow'r of man, for none of woman born 
Shall harm Macbeth. 


Macbeth. Then live, Macduff. What need I fear of thee? 
But yet I'll make assurance double sure 
And take a bond of fate. Thou shalt not live! 
That I may tell pale-hearted fear it lies 
And sleep in spite of thunder. 

[Thunder. Third Apparition, a Child Crowned, with a tree in his 

What is this 
That rises like the issue of a king 
And wears upon his baby-brow the round 
And top of sovereignty? 

All. Listen, but speak not to't. 

Third Apparition. Be lion-mettled, proud, and take no care 
Who chafes, who frets, or where conspirers are. 
Macbeth shall never vanquished be until 
Great Birnam Wood to high Dunsinane Hill 
Shall come against him. [Descends.] 

Macbeth. That will never be. 

79-81 How do you think this 
prophecy will affect Macbeth? 

83-84 Despite the prophecy's 
apparent promise of safety, 
Macbeth decides to seek double 
insurance. The murder of Macduff 
will give Macbeth a guarantee 
(bond) of his fate and put his fears 
to rest. 

[Stage Direction] Whom or what 
might the child crowned represent? 

87 issue: child. 

88-89 the round and top: the 


90-94 The third apparition tells 
Macbeth to take courage. He 
cannot be defeated unless Birnam 
Wood travels the 12-mile distance 
to Dunsinane Hill, where his castle 
is located. 



95 Who can impress the forest, bid the tree 

Unfix his earth-bound root? Sweet bodements, good! 
Rebellious dead rise never till the Wood 
Of Birnam rise, and our high-placed Macbeth 
Shall live the lease of nature, pay his breath 
100 To time and mortal custom. Yet my heart 

Throbs to know one thing. Tell me, if your art 
Can tell so much — shall Banquo's issue ever 
Reign in this kingdom? 

All. Seek to know no more. 

Macbeth. I will be satisfied. Deny me this, 
105 And an eternal curse fall on you! Let me know. 

Why sinks that cauldron? and what noise is this? 


First Witch. Show! 

Second Witch. Show! 

Third Witch. Show! 

no All. Show his eyes, and grieve his heart! 
Come like shadows, so depart! 

[A show of eight Kings, the eighth with a glass in his hand, and 
Banquo last.} 

Macbeth. Thou art too like the spirit of Banquo. Down! 

Thy crown does sear mine eyeballs. And thy hair, 

Thou other gold-bound brow, is like the first. 
ii5 A third is like the former. Filthy hags! 

Why do you show me this? A fourth? Start, eyes! 

What, will the line stretch out to the crack of doom? 

Another yet? A seventh? I'll see no more. 

And yet the eighth appears, who bears a glass 
120 Which shows me many more; and some I see 

That twofold balls and treble scepters carry. 

Horrible sight! Now I see 'tis true; 

For the blood-boltered Banquo smiles upon me 

And points at them for his. [Apparitions descend.] What? 
Is this so? 
125 First Witch. Ay, sir, all this is so. But why 

Stands Macbeth thus amazedly? 

Come, sisters, cheer we up his sprites 

And show the best of our delights. 

I'll charm the air to give a sound 
no While you perform your antic round, 

That this great king may kindly say 

Our duties did his welcome pay. 


95 impress: force into service. 

96 bodements: prophecies. 

97-100 Rebellious . . . custom: 

Macbeth boasts that he will never 
again be troubled by ghosts 
(rebellious dead) and that he will 
live out his expected life span 
(lease of nature). He believes he 
will die (pay his breath) by natural 
causes (mortal custom). 

106 Why . . . this: The cauldron is 
sinking from sight to make room 
for the next apparition. 

[Stage Direction] A show . . . : 
Macbeth next sees a procession 
(show) of eight kings, the last 
carrying a mirror (glass). According 
to legend, Fleance escaped to 
England, where he founded the 
Stuart family. James I of England, 
the king when this play was first 
performed, was the eighth Stuart 
king, the first to rule over both 
England and Scotland. 

112-124 Macbeth is outraged that 
all eight kings in the procession 
look like Banquo. The mirror held 
by the last one shows a future with 
many more Banquo look-alikes as 
kings. The twofold balls and treble 
scepters pictured in the mirror 
foretell the union of Scotland and 
England in 1603, the year that 
James became king of both realms. 
Banquo, his hair matted (boltered) 
with blood, claims all the kings as 
his descendants. What do you 
think is going through Macbeth's 

[Music. The Witches dance, and vanish.] 

Macbeth. Where are they? Gone? Let this pernicious hour 
Stand aye accursed in the calendar! 
Come in, without there! 

[Enter Lennox.] 

Lennox. What's your Grace's will? 

Macbeth. Saw you the Weird Sisters? 

Lennox. No, my lord. 

Macbeth. Came they not by you? 

Lennox. No indeed, my lord. 

Macbeth. Infected be the air whereon they ride, 
And damned all those that trust them! I did hear 
The galloping of horse. Who was't came by? 

Lennox. Tis two or three, my lord, that bring you word 
Macduff is fled to England. 

Macbeth. Fled to England? 

Lennox. Ay, my good lord. 

Macbeth. [Aside] Time, thou anticipat'st my dread exploits. 
The flighty purpose never is o'ertook 
Unless the deed go with it. From this moment 
The very firstlings of my heart shall be 
The firstlings of my hand. And even now, 
To crown my thoughts with acts, be it thought and done! 
The castle of Macduff I will surprise, 
Seize upon Fife, give to the edge o' the sword 
His wife, his babes, and all unfortunate souls 
That trace him in his line. No boasting like a fool! 
This deed I'll do before this purpose cool. 
But no more sights! — Where are these gentlemen? 
Come, bring me where they are. 


133-135 pernicious: deadly, 
destructive; aye: always. After the 
witches vanish, Macbeth hears 
noises outside the cave and calls 

144-156 Frustrated in his desire to 
kill Macduff, Macbeth blames his 
own hesitation, which gave his 
enemy time to flee. He concludes 
that one's plans (flighty purpose) 
are never achieved (o'ertook) 
unless carried out at once. From 
now on, Macbeth promises, he will 
act immediately on his impulses 
(firstlings of my heart) and 
complete (crown) his thoughts 
with acts. He will surprise 
Macduff's castle at Fife and kill his 
wife and children. Why does 
Macbeth decide to kill Macduff's 








Macduff's castle at Fife. 

Ross visits Lady Macduff to assure her of her husband's wisdom and 
courage. Lady Macduff cannot be comforted, believing that he left out 
of fear. After Ross leaves she tells her son, who is still loyal to his 
father, that Macduff was a traitor and is now dead. A messenger 
warns them to flee but is too late. Murderers sent by Macbeth burst 
in, killing both wife and son. 

[Enter Lady Macduff, her Son, and Ross.] 

Lady Macduff. What had he done to make him fly the land? 

Ross. You must have patience, madam. 

Lady Macduff. He had none. 

His flight was madness. When our actions do not, 
Our fears do make us traitors. 

Ross. You know not 

Whether it was his wisdom or his fear. 

Lady Macduff. Wisdom? To leave his wife, to leave his babes, 
His mansion, and his titles, in a place 
From whence himself does fly? He loves us not, 
He wants the natural touch. For the poor wren, 
(The most diminutive of birds) will fight, 
Her young ones in her nest, against the owl. 
All is the fear, and nothing is the love, 
As little is the wisdom, where the flight 
So runs against all reason. 

Ross. My dearest coz, 

I pray you school yourself. But for your husband, 

He is noble, wise, judicious, and best knows 

The fits o' the season. I dare not speak much further; 

But cruel are the times, when we are traitors 

And do not know ourselves; when we hold rumor 

From what we fear, yet know not what we fear, 

But float upon a wild and violent sea 

Each way and move — I take my leave of you. 

Shall not be long but I'll be here again. 

Things at the worst will cease, or else climb upward 

To what they were before. — My pretty cousin, 

Blessing upon you! 

Lady Macduff. Fathered he is, and yet he's fatherless. 

Ross. I am so much a fool, should I stay longer, 
It would be my disgrace and your discomfort. 

3-4 When our . . . traitors: 

Macduff's wife is worried that 
others will think her husband a 
traitor because his fears made him 
flee the country (our fears do make 
us traitors), though he was guilty 
of no wrongdoing. 

9 wants the natural touch: lacks 
the instinct to protect his family. 

12-14 All . . . reason: Lady 
Macduff believes her husband is 
motivated entirely by fear, not by 
love of his family. His hasty flight is 
contrary to reason. 

14-15 coz: cousin (a term used for 
any close relation); school: control; 
for: as for. 

17 fits o' the season: disorders of 
the present time. 

18-22 But . . . upon you: Ross 
laments the cruelty of the times 
that made Macduff flee. In such 
times, people are treated like 
traitors for no reason. Their fears 
make them believe (hold) rumors, 
though they do not know what to 
fear and drift aimlessly like ships 
tossed by a tempest. 



30 I take my leave at once. [Exit. 

Lady Macduff. Sirrah, your father's dead; 

And what will you do now? How will you live? 

Son. As birds do, mother. 

Lady Macduff. What, with worms and flies? 

Son. With what I get, I mean; and so do they. 

Lady Macduff. Poor bird! thou'dst never fear the net nor lime, 

28-30 Moved by pity for Macduff's 
family, Ross is near tears (my 
disgrace). He will leave before he 
embarrasses himself. 

30-31 Why does Lady Macduff tell 
her son that his father is dead, 
though the boy heard her 
discussion with Ross? 











The pitfall nor the gin. 

Son. Why should I, mother? Poor birds they are not set for. 
My father is not dead, for all your saying. 

Lady Macduff. Yes, he is dead. How wilt thou do for a father? 

Son. Nay, how will you do for a husband? 

Lady Macduff. Why, I can buy me twenty at any market. 

Son. Then you'll buy 'em to sell again. 

Lady Macduff. Thou speak'st with all thy wit; and yet, i' faith, 
With wit enough for thee. 

Son. Was my father a traitor, mother? 

Lady Macduff. Ay, that he was! 

Son. What is a traitor? 

Lady Macduff. Why, one that swears, and lies. 

Son. And be all traitors that do so? 

Lady Macduff. Every one that does so is a traitor and must be 

Son. And must they all be hanged that swear and lie? 

Lady Macduff. Every one. 

Son. Who must hang them? 

Lady Macduff. Why, the honest men. 

Son. Then the liars and swearers are fools; for there are liars 

and swearers enow to beat the honest men and hang up 


Lady Macduff. Now God help thee, poor monkey! But how wilt 

thou do for a father? 
Son. If he were dead, you'ld weep for him. If you would 

not, it were a good sign that I should quickly have a new 

Lady Macduff. Poor prattler, how thou talk'st! 

[Enter a Messenger.] 

Messenger. Bless you, fair dame! I am not to you known, 
Though in your state of honor I am perfect. 
I doubt some danger does approach you nearly. 
If you will take a homely man's advice, 
Be not found here. Hence with your little ones! 
To fright you thus methinks I am too savage; 
To do worse to you were fell cruelty, 
Which is too nigh your person. Heaven preserve you! 
I dare abide no longer. [Exit. 

Lady Macduff. Whither should I fly? 

I have done no harm. But I remember now 

32-35 The spirited son refuses to 
be defeated by their bleak 
situation. He will live as birds do, 
taking whatever comes his way. His 
mother responds in kind, calling 
attention to devices used to catch 
birds: nets, sticky birdlime (lime), 
snares (pitfall), and traps (gin). 

40-43 Lady Macduff and her son 
affectionately joke about her 
ability to find a new husband. She 
expresses admiration for his 
intelligence (with wit enough). 

44-54 Continuing his banter, the 
son asks if his father is a traitor. 
Lady Macduff, understandably hurt 
and confused by her husband's 
unexplained departure, answers 

55-63 Her son points out that 
traitors outnumber honest men in 
this troubled time. The mother's 
terms of affection, monkey and 
prattler (childish talker), suggest 
that his playfulness has won her 

64-72 The messenger, who knows 
Lady Macduff is an honorable 
person (in your state of honor I am 
perfect), delivers a polite but 
desperate warning, urging her to 
flee immediately. While he 
apologizes for scaring her, he warns 
that she faces a deadly (fell) cruelty, 
one dangerously close (too nigh). 



I am in this earthly world, where to do harm 
75 Is often laudable, to do good sometime 

Accounted dangerous folly. Why then, alas, 

Do I put up that womanly defense 

To say I have done no harm? — What are these faces? 

[Enter Murderers.] 

Murderer. Where is your husband? 

so Lady Macduff. I hope, in no place so unsanctified 
Where such as thou mayst find him. 

Murderer. He's a traitor. 

Son. Thou liest, thou shag-eared villain! 

Murderer. What, you egg! 

[Stabbing him.] 

Young fry of treachery! 

Son. He has killed me, mother. 

Run away, I pray you! 

80 unsanctified: unholy. 

82 shag-eared: long-haired. Note 
how quickly the son reacts to the 
word traitor. How do you think he 
feels about his father? 

83 young fry: small fish. 


[Exit Lady Macduff, crying "Murder!" followed by Murderers.] 


England. Before King Edward's palace. 

Macduff urges Malcolm to join him in an invasion of Scotland, where 
the people suffer under Macbeth's harsh rule. Since Malcolm is 
uncertain of Macduff's motives, he tests him to see what kind of king 
Macduff would support. Once convinced of Macduff's honesty, 
Malcolm tells him that he has ten thousand soldiers ready to launch 
an attack. Ross arrives to tell them that some revolts against Macbeth 
have already begun. Reluctantly, Ross tells Macduff about the murder 
of his family. Wild with grief, Macduff vows to confront Macbeth and 
avenge the murders. 

[Enter Malcolm and Macduff.] 

Malcolm. Let us seek out some desolate shade, and there 
Weep our sad bosoms empty. 

Macduff. Let us rather 

Hold fast the mortal sword and, like good men, 
Bestride our downfall'n birthdom. Each new morn 
New widows howl, new orphans cry, new sorrows 
Strike heaven on the face, that it resounds 
As if it felt with Scotland and yelled out 
Like syllable of dolor. 











Malcolm. What I believe, I'll wail; 

What know, believe; and what I can redress, 

As I shall find the time to friend, I will. 

What you have spoke, it may be so perchance. 

This tyrant, whose sole name blisters our tongues, 

Was once thought honest; you have loved him well; 

He hath not touched you yet. I am young; but something 

You may discern of him through me, and wisdom 

To offer up a weak, poor, innocent lamb 

T' appease an angry god. 
Macduff. I am not treacherous. 
Malcolm. But Macbeth is. 

A good and virtuous nature may recoil 

In an imperial charge. But I shall crave your pardon. 

That which you are, my thoughts cannot transpose. 

Angels are bright still, though the brightest fell. 

Though all things foul would wear the brows of grace, 

Yet grace must still look so. 
Macduff. I have lost my hopes. 

Malcolm. Perchance even there where I did find my doubts. 

Why in that rawness left you wife and child, 

Those precious motives, those strong knots of love, 

Without leave-taking? I pray you, 

Let not my jealousies be your dishonors, 

But mine own safeties. You may be rightly just, 

Whatever I shall think. 
Macduff. Bleed, bleed, poor country! 

Great tyranny, lay thou thy basis sure, 

For goodness dare not check thee! Wear thou thy wrongs; 

The title is affeered! Fare thee well, lord. 

I would not be the villain that thou think'st 

For the whole space that's in the tyrant's grasp 

And the rich East to boot. 
Malcolm. Be not offended. 

I speak not as in absolute fear of you. 

I think our country sinks beneath the yoke; 

It weeps, it bleeds, and each new day a gash 

Is added to her wounds. I think withal 

There would be hands uplifted in my right; 

And here from gracious England have I offer 

Of goodly thousands. But, for all this, 

When I shall tread upon the tyrant's head 

Or wear it on my sword, yet my poor country 

Shall have more vices than it had before, 

1-8 In response to Malcolm's 
depression about Scotland, 
Macduff advises that they grab a 
deadly (mortal) sword and defend 
their homeland (birthdom). The 
anguished cries of Macbeth's 
victims strike heaven and make the 
skies echo with cries of sorrow 
(syllable of dolor). 

8-15 Malcolm will strike back only 
if the time is right (as I shall find 
the time to friend). Macduff may 
be honorable (honest), but he may 
be deceiving Malcolm to gain a 
reward from Macbeth (something 
you may discern of him through 

18-24 Malcolm further explains 
the reasons for his suspicions. Even 
a good person may fall (recoil) into 
wickedness because of a king's 
command (imperial charge). If 
Macduff is innocent, he will not be 
harmed by these suspicions, which 
cannot change (transpose) his 
nature (that which you are). Virtue 
cannot be damaged even by those 
who fall into evil, like Lucifer (the 
brightest angel), and disguise 
themselves as virtuous (wear the 
brows of grace). 

25-31 Malcolm cannot understand 
how Macduff could leave his 
family, a source of inspiration 
(motives) and love, in an 
unprotected state (rawness). He 
asks him not to be insulted by his 
suspicions (jealousies); Malcolm is 
guarding his own safety. 

34 affeered: confirmed. 



More suffer and more sundry ways than ever, 
By him that shall succeed. 

Macduff. What should he be? 

Malcolm. It is myself I mean; in whom I know 
All the particulars of vice so grafted 
That, when they shall be opened, black Macbeth 
Will seem as pure as snow, and the poor state 
Esteem him as a lamb, being compared 
With my confineless harms. 

Macduff. Not in the legions 

Of horrid hell can come a devil more damned 
In evils to top Macbeth. 

Malcolm. I grant him bloody, 

Luxurious, avaricious, false, deceitful, 
Sudden, malicious, smacking of every sin 
That has a name. But there's no bottom, none, 
In my voluptuousness. Your wives, your daughters, 
Your matrons, and your maids could not fill up 
The cistern of my lust; and my desire 
All continent impediments would o'erbear 
That did oppose my will. Better Macbeth 
Than such an one to reign. 

Macduff. Boundless intemperance 

In nature is a tyranny. It hath been 
The untimely emptying of the happy throne 
And fall of many kings. But fear not yet 
To take upon you what is yours. You may 
Convey your pleasures in a spacious plenty, 
And yet seem cold — the time you may so hoodwink. 
We have willing dames enough. There cannot be 
That vulture in you to devour so many 
As will to greatness dedicate themselves, 
Finding it so inclined. 

Malcolm. With this there grows 

In my most ill-composed affection such 
A stanchless avarice that, were I King, 
I should cut off the nobles for their lands, 
Desire his jewels, and this other's house, 
And my more-having would be as a sauce 
To make me hunger more, that I should forge 
Quarrels unjust against the good and loyal, 
Destroying them for wealth. 

46-49 yet my . . . succeed: To test 
Macduff's honor and loyalty, 
Malcolm begins a lengthy 
description of his own fictitious 
vices. He suggests that Scotland 
may suffer more under his rule 
than under Macbeth's. 

50-55 Malcolm says that his own 
vices are so plentiful and deeply 
planted (grafted) that Macbeth 
will seem innocent by comparison. 

58 luxurious: lustful. 

59 sudden: violent; smacking: 

61 voluptuousness: lust. 

63 cistern: large storage tank. 

63-65 His lust is so great that it 
would overpower (o'erbear) all 
restraining obstacles (continent 

66-76 Macduff describes 
uncontrolled desire (boundless 
intemperance) as a tyrant of 
human nature that has caused the 
early (untimely) downfall of many 
kings. When Malcolm is king, 
however, his lustful appetite 
(vulture in you) can be satisfied by 
the many women willing to give 
(dedicate) themselves to a king. Do 
you think Macduff's prediction is 

76-78 Malcolm adds insatiable 
greed (stanchless avarice) to the 
list of evils in his disposition 











Macduff. This avarice 

Sticks deeper, grows with more pernicious root 
Than summer-seeming lust; and it hath been 
The sword of our slain kings. Yet do not fear. 
Scotland hath foisons to fill up your will 
Of your mere own. All these are portable, 
With other graces weighed. 

Malcolm. But I have none. The king-becoming graces, 
As justice, verity, temp'rance, stableness, 
Bounty, perseverance, mercy, lowliness, 
Devotion, patience, courage, fortitude, 
I have no relish of them, but abound 
In the division of each several crime, 
Acting it many ways. Nay, had I pow'r, I should 
Pour the sweet milk of concord into hell, 
Uproar the universal peace, confound 
All unity on earth. 

Macduff. O Scotland, Scotland! 

Malcolm. If such a one be fit to govern, speak. 
I am as I have spoken. 

Macduff. Fit to govern? 

No, not to live. O nation miserable, 
With an untitled tyrant bloody-scept'red, 
When shalt thou see thy wholesome days again, 
Since that the truest issue of thy throne 
By his own interdiction stands accursed 
And does blaspheme his breed? Thy royal father 
Was a most sainted king; the queen that bore thee, 
Oft'ner upon her knees than on her feet, 
Died every day she lived. Fare thee well! 
These evils thou repeat'st upon thyself 
Have banished me from Scotland. O my breast, 
Thy hope ends here! 

Malcolm. Macduff, this noble passion, 

Child of integrity, hath from my soul 
Wiped the black scruples, reconciled my thoughts 
To thy good truth and honor. Devilish Macbeth 
By many of these trains hath sought to win me 
Into his power; and modest wisdom plucks me 
From over-credulous haste; but God above 
Deal between thee and me! for even now 
I put myself to thy direction and 
Unspeak mine own detraction, here abjure 

84-90 Macduff recognizes that 
greed is a deeper-rooted problem 
than lust, which passes as quickly 
as the summer (summer-seeming). 
But the king's property alone (of 
your mere own) offers plenty 
(foisons) to satisfy his desire. 
Malcolm's vices can be tolerated 
(are portable). Do you think 
Macduff's position is sensible? 

91-95 Malcolm claims that he 
lacks all the virtues appropriate to 
a king (king-becoming graces). His 
list of missing virtues includes 
truthfulness (verity), consistency 
(stableness), generosity (bounty), 
humility (lowliness), and religious 

102-114 Macduff can see no 
prospect of relief for Scotland's 
suffering under a tyrant who has 
no right to the throne (untitled). 
The rightful heir (truest issue), 
Malcolm, bans himself from the 
throne (by his own interdiction) 
because of his evil. Malcolm's vices 
slander his parents (blaspheme his 
breed)— his saintly father and his 
mother who renounced the world 
(died every day) for the sake of 
her religion. Since Macduff will not 
help an evil man to become king, 
he will not be able to return to 



The taints and blames I laid upon myself 

For strangers to my nature. I am yet 

Unknown to woman, never was forsworn, 

Scarcely have coveted what was mine own, 

At no time broke my faith, would not betray 

The devil to his fellow, and delight 

No less in truth than life. My first false speaking 

Was this upon myself. What I am truly, 

Is thine and my poor country's to command; 

Whither indeed, before thy here-approach, 

Old Siward with ten thousand warlike men 

Already at a point was setting forth. 

Now we'll together; and the chance of goodness 

Be like our warranted quarrel! Why are you silent? 

Macduff. Such welcome and unwelcome things at once 
'Tis hard to reconcile. 

[Enter a Doctor.] 

Malcolm. Well, more anon. Comes the King forth, I pray you? 

Doctor. Ay, sir. There are a crew of wretched souls 
That stay his cure. Their malady convinces 
The great assay of art; but at his touch, 
Such sanctity hath heaven given his hand, 
They presently amend. 

Malcolm. I thank you, doctor. 

[Exit Doctor.] 

Macduff. What's the disease he means? 

Malcolm. 'Tis called the evil: 

A most miraculous work in this good king, 
Which often since my here-remain in England 
I have seen him do. How he solicits heaven 
Himself best knows; but strangely-visited people, 
All swol'n and ulcerous, pitiful to the eye, 
The mere despair of surgery, he cures, 
Hanging a golden stamp about their necks, 
Put on with holy prayers; and 'tis spoken, 
To the succeeding royalty he leaves 
The healing benediction. With this strange virtue, 
He hath a heavenly gift of prophecy, 
And sundry blessings hang about his throne 
That speak him full of grace. 

[Enter Ross.] 

114-125 Macduff has finally 
convinced Malcolm of his honesty. 
Malcolm explains that his caution 
(modest wisdom) resulted from his 
fear of Macbeth's tricks. He takes 
back his accusations against 
himself (unspeak mine own 
detraction) and renounces (abjure) 
the evils he previously claimed. 

133-137 Malcolm already has an 
army, 10,000 troops belonging to 
old Siward, the earl of 
Northumberland. Now that 
Macduff is an ally, he hopes the 
battle's result will match the justice 
of their cause (warranted quarrel). 
Why is Macduff left speechless by 
Malcolm's revelation? 

141-159 Edward the Confessor, 
king of England, could reportedly 
heal the disease of scrofula (the 
evil) by his saintly touch. The 
doctor describes people who 
cannot be helped by medicine's 
best efforts (the great assay of art) 
waiting for the touch of the king's 
hand. Edward has cured many 
victims of this disease. Each time, 
he hangs a gold coin around their 
necks and offers prayers, a healing 
ritual that he will teach to his royal 
descendants (succeeding royalty). 



Macduff. See who comes here. 

160 Malcolm. My countryman; but yet I know him not. 

Macduff. My ever gentle cousin, welcome hither. 

Malcolm. I know him now. Good God betimes remove 
The means that makes us strangers! 

Ross. Sir, amen. 

Macduff. Stands Scotland where it did? 
Ross. Alas, poor country, 

165 Almost afraid to know itself! It cannot 

Be called our mother, but our grave; where nothing, 

But who knows nothing, is once seen to smile; 

Where sighs and groans, and shrieks that rent the air, 

Are made, not marked; where violent sorrow seems 
170 A modern ecstasy. The dead man's knell 

Is there scarce asked for who; and good men's lives 

Expire before the flowers in their caps, 

Dying or ere they sicken. 

Macduff. O, relation 

Too nice, and yet too true! 

Malcolm. What's the newest grief? 

175 Ross. That of an hour's age doth hiss the speaker; 
Each minute teems a new one. 

Macduff. How does my wife? 

Ross. Why, well. 

Macduff. And all my children? 

Ross. Well too. 

Macduff. The tyrant has not battered at their peace? 

Ross. No, they were well at peace when I did leave 'em. 

180 Macduff. Be not a niggard of your speech. How goes't? 

Ross. When I came hither to transport the tidings 
Which I have heavily borne, there ran a rumor 
Of many worthy fellows that were out; 
Which was to my belief witnessed the rather 
185 For that I saw the tyrant's power afoot. 

Now is the time of help. Your eye in Scotland 
Would create soldiers, make our women fight 
To doff their dire distresses. 

Malcolm. Be't their comfort 

We are coming thither. Gracious England hath 

162-163 Good God . . . strangers: 

May God remove Macbeth, who is 
the cause (means) of our being 

164-173 Ross describes Scotland's 
terrible condition. In a land where 
screams have become so common 
that they go unnoticed (are made, 
not marked), violent sorrow 
becomes a commonplace emotion 
(modern ecstasy). So many have 
died that people no longer ask for 
their names, and good men die 
before their time. 

173-174 relation too nice: news 
that is too accurate. 

175-176 If the news is more than 
an hour old, listeners hiss at the 
speaker for being outdated; every 
minute gives birth to a new grief. 

179 well at peace: Ross knows 
about the murder of Macduff's 
wife and son, but the news is too 
terrible to report. 

181-188 Notice how Ross avoids 
the subject of Macduff's family. He 
mentions the rumors of nobles 
who are rebelling (out) against 
Macbeth. Ross believes the rumors 
because he saw Macbeth's troops 
on the march (tyrant's power 
afoot). The presence (eye) of 
Malcolm and Macduff in Scotland 
would help raise soldiers and 
remove (doff) Macbeth's evil (dire 



Lent us good Siward and ten thousand men. 
An older and a better soldier none 
That Christendom gives out. 

Ross. Would I could answer 

This comfort with the like! But I have words 
That would be howled out in the desert air, 
Where hearing should not latch them. 

Macduff. What concern they? 

The general cause? or is it a fee-grief 

Due to some single breast? 
Ross. No mind that's honest 

But in it shares some woe, though the main part 

Pertains to you alone. 

Macduff. If it be mine, 

Keep it not from me, quickly let me have it. 

Ross. Let not your ears despise my tongue for ever, 
Which shall possess them with the heaviest sound 
That ever yet they heard. 

Macduff. Humh! I guess at it. 

Ross. Your castle is surprised; your wife and babes 
Savagely slaughtered. To relate the manner 
Were, on the quarry of these murdered deer, 
To add the death of you. 

Malcolm. Merciful heaven! 

What, man! Ne'er pull your hat upon your brows. 
Give sorrow words. The grief that does not speak 
Whispers the o'erfraught heart and bids it break. 

Macduff. My children too? 

Ross. Wife, children, servants, all 

That could be found. 

Macduff. And I must be from thence? 

My wife killed too? 

Ross. I have said. 

Malcolm. Be comforted. 

Let's make us med'cines of our great revenge 
To cure this deadly grief. 

Macduff. He has no children. All my pretty ones? 
Did you say all? O hell-kite! All? 
What, all my pretty chickens and their dam 
At one fell swoop? 

194 would: should. 

195 latch: catch. 

196 fee-grief: private sorrow. 

197-198 No mind . . . woe: Every 
honorable (honest) person shares 
in this sorrow. 

205-207 To relate ... of you: Ross 
won't add to Macduff's sorrow by 
telling him how his family was 
killed. He compares Macduff's dear 
ones to the piled bodies of killed 
deer (quarry). 

209-210 The grief . . . break: 

Silence will only push an 
overburdened heart to the 
breaking point. 

212 Macduff laments his absence 
from the castle. 

216-219 He has no children: 

possibly a reference to Macbeth, 
who has no children to be killed 
for revenge. Macduff compares 
Macbeth to a bird of prey (hell- 
kite) who kills defenseless chickens 
and their mother. 



220 Malcolm. Dispute it like a man. 

Macduff. I shall do so; 

But I must also feel it as a man. 
I cannot but remember such things were 
That were most precious to me. Did heaven look on 
And would not take their part? Sinful Macduff, 
225 They were all struck for thee! Naught that I am, 

Not for their own demerits, but for mine, 
Fell slaughter on their souls. Heaven rest them now! 

Malcolm. Be this the whetstone of your sword. Let grief 
Convert to anger; blunt not the heart, enrage it. 

230 Macduff. O, I could play the woman with mine eyes 
And braggart with my tongue! But, gentle heavens, 
Cut short all intermission. Front to front 
Bring thou this fiend of Scotland and myself. 
Within my sword's length set him. If he scape, 

235 Heaven forgive him too! 

Malcolm. This tune goes manly. 

Come, go we to the King. Our power is ready; 
Our lack is nothing but our leave. Macbeth 
Is ripe for shaking, and the pow'rs above 
Put on their instruments. Receive what cheer you may. 
240 The night is long that never finds the day. 


225 naught: nothing. 

228 whetstone: grindstone used 
for sharpening. 

230-235 O, I could play . . . him 
too: Macduff won't act like a 
woman by crying or like a braggart 
by boasting. He wants no delay 
(intermission) to keep him from 
face-to-face combat with Macbeth. 
Macduff ironically swears that if 
Macbeth escapes, he deserves 
heaven's mercy. 

236-240 Our troops are ready to 
attack, needing only the king's 
permission (our lack is nothing but 
our leave). Like a ripe fruit, 
Macbeth is ready to fall, and 
heavenly powers are preparing to 
assist us. The long night of 
Macbeth's evil will be broken. 




Connect to the Literature 

What Do You Think? 

Do you have any 
sympathy for 
Macbeth at this 
point in the play? 
Why or why not? 

Comprehension Check 

• What three messages does 
Macbeth receive from the three 

• What happens to Lady Macduff 
and her children? 

• After learning of his family's fate, 
what does Macduff vow to do? 

Think Critically 

| READING DRAMA I Envision Act Four, 

Scene 1, as it might be performed on a stage. Also, review 
any notes about this scene that you may have recorded in 
your nJ readers notebook. What sights and sounds 
(and perhaps smells) would you expect the audience to 

3. How would you describe the attitude toward the 
supernatural expressed in this play? 

4. Why do you think Macbeth is so interested in learning about 
the future? 

5. Consider Macduff's reaction to the news of his family's 
murder. Do you find his behavior realistic? Why or why not? 

6. What do you think will happen when Malcolm and Macduff 
confront Macbeth? 

• the predictions of the three apparitions 

• the motives of all three men 

• Macduff's pledge to fight Macbeth 

7. Do you think Malcolm would make a good king? Why or 
why not? 


Literary Analysis 

FORESHADOWING [ One way that 

writers heighten their audiences' 
interest is by foreshadowing 
upcoming events. Foreshadowing 

is a writer's use of hints or clues to 
suggest what events will occur later 
in a work. 

Activity Create a third column in 
the chart you've been using to keep 
track of foreshadowing. In the new 
column, indicate whether each 
instance of foreshadowing you have 
listed has actually hinted at what 
you thought it did, at least as far as 
you know at this point in the play. 

Act, Scene, What the 

Lines Lines Hint At Accurate? 

Act Two, 
Scene 1, 
lines 62-64 

Macbeth will 




Extend Interpretations 

8. Comparing Texts Recall the views of vengeance, heroism, 
and kingship expressed in Beowulf (page 30). Which 
characters in Macbeth would you say are most like 
Beowulf? Which would you say are more like the monsters? 
Cite details from the two works as support. 

9. Connect to Life Consider the methods present-day politicians 
use to gauge public response to their actions and to shape 
their policies. On which of these methods might Macbeth 
rely if he were a leader today? 



View and Compare 

What characteristics — costuming, posture, 
facial expressions — link these images of Lady 
Macbeth? What qualities set them apart? 




Judith Anderson 
as Lady Macbeth 


Francesca Annis as Lady 
Macbeth (film, 1971) 


Ellen Terry as Lady 
Macbeth (1889), 
John Singer Sargent, 
National Portrait 
Gallery, London 

Isuzu Yamada as 
Lady Macbeth, 
The Throne of 
Blood (film, 1957) 


% V 

Act 5 


Macbeth's castle at Dunsinane. 

A sleepwalking Lady Macbeth is observed by a concerned attendant, 
or gentlewoman, and a doctor. Lady Macbeth appears to be washing 
imagined blood from her hands. Her actions and confused speech 
greatly concern the doctor, and he warns the attendant to keep an 
eye on Lady Macbeth, fearing that she will harm herself. 

[Enter a Doctor of Physic and a Waiting Gentlewoman.] 

Doctor. I have two nights watched with you, but can 
perceive no truth in your report. When was it she last 

Gentlewoman. Since his Majesty went into the field I have 
5 seen her rise from her bed, throw her nightgown upon 

her, unlock her closet, take forth paper, fold it, write 
upon't, read it, afterwards seal it, and again return to 
bed; yet all this while in a most fast sleep. 

Doctor. A great perturbation in nature, to receive at once 
10 the benefit of sleep and do the effects of watching! In 
this slumb'ry agitation, besides her walking and other 
actual performances, what (at any time) have you heard her 

Gentlewoman. That, sir, which I will not report after her. 

15 Doctor. You may to me, and 'tis most meet you should. 

Gentlewoman. Neither to you nor any one, having no 
witness to confirm my speech. 

[Enter Lady Macbeth, with a taper.] 

Lo you, here she comes! This is her very guise, and, 
upon my life, fast asleep! Observe her; stand close. 

20 Doctor. How came she by that light? 

Gentlewoman. Why, it stood by her. She has light by her 
continually. 'Tis her command. 

Doctor. You see her eyes are open. 

Gentlewoman. Ay, but their sense is shut. 

25 Doctor. What is it she does now? Look how she rubs her hands. 

Gentlewoman. It is an accustomed action with her, to 

4 went into the field: went to 

9-10 A great ... of watching: To 

behave as though awake 
(watching) while sleeping is a sign 
of a greatly troubled nature. 

15 meet: appropriate. 

16-17 The attendant won't repeat 
what Lady Macbeth has said, 
because there are no other 
witnesses to confirm her report. 
What is she worried about? 

18-19 guise: usual manner; stand 
close: hide yourself. 

20 that light: her candle. 

21-22 Why might Lady Macbeth 
want a light by her at all times? 



View and Compare 

Which of these portrayals of Lady Macbeth's 
madness do you find more intriguing? 



Diana Rigg as Lady Macbeth, National Theatre, London 




I .%'■* ', -....'•'..■♦ 





I ■ 


Isuzu Yamada as Lady Macbeth in 
The Throne of Blood (film, 1957) 



seem thus washing her hands. I have known her 
continue in this a quarter of an hour. 

Lady Macbeth. Yet here's a spot. 

Doctor. Hark, she speaks! I will set down what comes 
from her, to satisfy my remembrance the more strongly. 

Lady Macbeth. Out, damned spot! out, I say! One; two. 
Why then 'tis time to do't. Hell is murky. Fie, my lord, 
fie! a soldier, and afeard? What need we fear who 
knows it, when none can call our pow'r to accompt? 
Yet who would have thought the old man to have had 
so much blood in him? 

Doctor. Do you mark that? 

Lady Macbeth. The Thane of Fife had a wife. Where is 
she now? What, will these hands ne'er be clean? No 
more o' that, my lord, no more o' that! You mar all 
with this starting. 

Doctor. Go to, go to! You have known what you should 

Gentlewoman. She has spoke what she should not, I am 
sure of that. Heaven knows what she has known. 

Lady Macbeth. Here's the smell of the blood still. All the 
perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand. 
Oh, oh, oh! 

Doctor. What a sigh is there! The heart is sorely charged. 

Gentlewoman. I would not have such a heart in my 
bosom for the dignity of the whole body. 

Doctor. Well, well, well. 

Gentlewoman. Pray God it be, sir. 

Doctor. This disease is beyond my practice. Yet I have 
known those which have walked in their sleep who 
have died holily in their beds. 

Lady Macbeth. Wash your hands, put on your nightgown, 
look not so pale! I tell you yet again, Banquo's buried. 
He cannot come out on's grave. 

Doctor. Even so? 

Lady Macbeth. To bed, to bed! There's knocking at the 
gate. Come, come, come, come, give me your hand! 
What's done cannot be undone. To bed, to bed, to bed! 


Doctor. Will she go now to bed? 

Gentlewoman. Directly. 

32-35 Lady Macbeth refers to 
hell's darkness, and then she relives 
how she persuaded her husband to 
murder Duncan; she had believed 
that their power would keep them 
from being held accountable 

39-42 Lady Macbeth shows guilt 
about Macduff's wife. Then she 
addresses her husband, as if he 
were having another ghostly fit 

50 sorely charged: heavily 

51-52 The gentlewoman says that 
she would not want Lady 
Macbeth's heavy heart in exchange 
for being queen. 

55 practice: skill. 

60 on's: of his. 

61 What has the doctor learned so 
far from Lady Macbeth's 



Doctor. Foul whisp'rings are abroad. Unnatural deeds 
Do breed unnatural troubles. Infected minds 
To their deaf pillows will discharge their secrets. 

70 More needs she the divine than the physician. 

God, God forgive us all! Look after her; 
Remove from her the means of all annoyance, 
And still keep eyes upon her. So good night. 
My mind she has mated, and amazed my sight. 

75 I think, but dare not speak. 

Gentlewoman. Good night, good doctor. 



The country near Dunsinane. 

The Scottish rebels, led by Menteith, Caithness, Angus, and Lennox, 
have come to Birnam Wood to join Malcolm and his English army. 
They know that Dunsinane has been fortified by a furious and brave 
Macbeth. They also know that his men neither love nor respect him. 

67 Foul whisp'rings are abroad: 

Rumors of evil deeds are 

70 She needs a priest more than a 

72 annoyance: injury. The doctor 
may be worried about the 
possibility of Lady Macbeth's 
committing suicide. 

74 mated: astonished. 



[Drum and Colors. Enter Menteith, Caithness, Angus, Lennox, 

Menteith. The English pow'r is near, led on by Malcolm, 
His uncle Siward, and the good Macduff. 
Revenges burn in them; for their dear causes 
Would to the bleeding and the grim alarm 
Excite the mortified man. 

Angus. Near Birnam Wood 

Shall we well meet them; that way are they coming. 

Caithness. Who knows if Donalbain be with his brother? 

Lennox. For certain, sir, he is not. I have a file 
Of all the gentry. There is Siward's son 
And many unrough youths that even now 
Protest their first of manhood. 

Menteith. What does the tyrant? 

Caithness. Great Dunsinane he strongly fortifies. 
Some say he's mad; others, that lesser hate him, 
Do call it valiant fury; but for certain 
He cannot buckle his distempered cause 
Within the belt of rule. 

Angus. Now does he feel 

His secret murders sticking on his hands. 

3-5 for their dear . . . man: The 

cause of Malcolm and Macduff is 
so deeply felt that a dead 
(mortified) man would respond to 
their call to arms (alarm). 

10-11 many . . . manhood: many 
soldiers who are too young to 
grow beards (unrough) — that is, 
who have hardly reached 

15-16 Like a man so swollen with 
disease (distempered) that he 
cannot buckle his belt, Macbeth 
cannot control his evil actions. 



Now minutely revolts upbraid his faith-breach. 
Those he commands move only in command, 
Nothing in love. Now does he feel his title 
Hang loose about him, like a giant's robe 
Upon a dwarfish thief. 

Menteith. Who then shall blame 

His pestered senses to recoil and start, 
When all that is within him does condemn 
Itself for being there? 

Caithness. Well, march we on 

To give obedience where 'tis truly owed. 
Meet we the med'cine of the sickly weal; 
And with him pour we in our country's purge 
Each drop of us. 

Lennox. Or so much as it needs 

To dew the sovereign flower and drown the weeds. 
Make we our march towards Birnam. 

[Exeunt, marching.] 


Dunsinane. A room in the castle. 

Macbeth awaits battle, confident of victory because of what he 
learned from the witches. After hearing that a huge army is ready to 
march upon his castle, he expresses bitter regrets about his life. While 
Macbeth prepares for battle, the doctor reports that he cannot cure 
Lady Macbeth, whose illness is mental, not physical. 

18 Every minute, the revolts 
against Macbeth shame him for his 
treachery (faith-breach). 

22-25 Macbeth's troubled nerves 
(pestered senses) — the product of 
his guilty conscience — have made 
him jumpy. 

25-29 Caithness and the others 
will give their loyalty to the only 
help (med'cine) for the sick country 
(weal). They are willing to sacrifice 
their last drop of blood to cleanse 
(purge) Scotland. 

29-31 Lennox compares Malcolm 
to a flower that needs the blood 
of patriots to water (dew) it and 
drown out weeds like Macbeth. 

[Enter Macbeth, Doctor, and Attendants.] 

Macbeth. Bring me no more reports. Let them fly all! 
Till Birnam Wood remove to Dunsinane, 
I cannot taint with fear. What's the boy Malcolm? 
Was he not born of woman? The spirits that know 
All mortal consequences have pronounced me thus: 
"Fear not, Macbeth. No man that's born of woman 
Shall e'er have power upon thee." Then fly, false thanes, 
And mingle with the English epicures. 
The mind I sway by and the heart I bear 
Shall never sag with doubt nor shake with fear. 

[Enter Servant.] 

The devil damn thee black, thou cream-faced loon! 
Where got'st thou that goose look? 

Servant. There is ten thousand — 

Macbeth. Geese, villain? 

1 Macbeth wants no more news of 
thanes who have gone to 
Malcolm's side. 

2-10 Macbeth will not be infected 
(taint) with fear, because the 
witches (spirits), who know all 
human events (mortal conse- 
quences), have convinced him that 
he is invincible. He mocks the self- 
indulgent English (English 
epicures), then swears that he will 
never lack confidence. 

11-12 loon: stupid rascal; goose 
look: look of fear. 



Act 5, Scene 3: Orson Welles as Macbeth with Edgar Barrier as the Servant (film, 1948) 

Servant. Soldiers, sir. 

Macbeth. Go prick thy face and over-red thy fear, 
15 Thou lily-livered boy. What soldiers, patch? 

Death of thy soul! Those linen cheeks of thine 
Are counselors to fear. What soldiers, whey-face? 

Servant. The English force, so please you. 

Macbeth. Take thy face hence. 

[Exit Servant.] 

Seyton! — I am sick at heart, 
20 When I behold — Seyton, I say! — This push 

Will cheer me ever, or disseat me now. 

I have lived long enough. My way of life 

Is fallen into the sere, the yellow leaf; 

And that which should accompany old age, 
25 As honor, love, obedience, troops of friends, 

I must not look to have; but, in their stead, 

Curses not loud but deep, mouth-honor, breath, 

Which the poor heart would fain deny, and dare not. 


[Enter Seyton.] 
30 Seyton. What's your gracious pleasure? 

Macbeth. What news more? 

14-17 Macbeth suggests that the 
servant cut his face so that blood 
will hide his cowardice. He 
repeatedly insults the servant, 
calling him a coward (lily-livered) 
and a clown (patch) and making 
fun of his white complexion (linen 
cheeks, whey-face). 

20-28 This push . . . dare not: The 

upcoming battle will either make 
Macbeth secure (cheer me ever) or 
dethrone (disseat) him. He bitterly 
compares his life to a withered 
(sere) leaf. He cannot look forward 
to old age with friends and honor, 
but only to curses and empty 
flattery (mouth-honor, breath) 
from those too timid (the poor 
heart) to tell the truth. 



Seyton. All is confirmed, my lord, which was reported. 

Macbeth. I'll fight, till from my bones my flesh be hacked. 
Give me my armor. 

Seyton. Tis not needed yet. 

Macbeth. I'll put it on. 

Send out mo horses, skirr the country round; 
Hang those that talk of fear. Give me mine armor. 
How does your patient, doctor? 

Doctor. Not so sick, my lord, 

As she is troubled with thick-coming fancies 
That keep her from her rest. 

Macbeth. Cure her of that! 

Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased, 
Pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow, 
Raze out the written troubles of the brain, 
And with some sweet oblivious antidote 
Cleanse the stuffed bosom of that perilous stuff 
Which weighs upon the heart? 

Doctor. Therein the patient 

Must minister to himself. 

Macbeth. Throw physic to the dogs, I'll none of it! — 
Come, put mine armor on. Give me my staff. 
Seyton, send out. — Doctor, the thanes fly from me. — 
Come, sir, dispatch. — If thou couldst, doctor, cast 
The water of my land, find her disease, 
And purge it to a sound and pristine health, 
I would applaud thee to the very echo, 
That should applaud again. — Pull't off, I say. — 
What rhubarb, senna, or what purgative drug, 
Would scour these English hence? Hear'st thou of them? 

Doctor. Ay, my good lord. Your royal preparation 
Makes us hear something. 

Macbeth. Bring it after me! 

I will not be afraid of death and bane 
Till Birnam Forest come to Dunsinane. 

Doctor. lAs/Vie] Were I from Dunsinane away and clear, 
Profit again should hardly draw me here. 


35 mo: more; skirr: scour. 

39-45 Macbeth asks the doctor to 
remove the sorrow from Lady 
Macbeth's memory, to erase (raze 
out) the troubles imprinted on her 
mind, and to relieve her 
overburdened heart (stuffed 
bosom) of its guilt (perilous stuff). 
Do you think Macbeth shares his 
wife's feelings of guilt? 

47-54 Macbeth has lost his faith in 
the ability of medicine (physic) to 
help his wife. Then as he struggles 
into his armor, he says that if the 
doctor could diagnose Scotland's 
disease (cast . . . land) and cure it, 
Macbeth would never stop praising 

54 Pull't off: referring to a piece 
of armor. 

56 scour: purge; them: the English. 

58-60 Macbeth leaves for battle, 
telling Seyton to bring the armor. 
He declares his fearlessness before 
death and destruction (bane). 







The country near Birnam Wood. 

The rebels and English forces have met in Birnam Wood. Malcolm 
orders each soldier to cut tree branches to camouflage himself. In this 
way Birnam Wood will march upon Dunsinane. 

[Drum and Colors. Enter Malcolm, Siward, Macduff, Siward's 
Son, Menteith, Caithness, Angus, Lennox, Ross, and Soldiers, 

Malcolm. Cousins, I hope the days are near at hand 
That chambers will be safe. 

Menteith. We doubt it nothing. 

Siward. What wood is this before us? 

Menteith. The wood of Birnam. 

Malcolm. Let every soldier hew him down a bough 
And bear't before him. Thereby shall we shadow 
The numbers of our host and make discovery 
Err in report of us. 

Soldiers. It shall be done. 

Siward. We learn no other but the confident tyrant 
Keeps still in Dunsinane and will endure 
Our setting down before't. 

Malcolm. 'Tis his main hope; 

For where there is advantage to be given, 
Both more and less have given him the revolt; 
And none serve with him but constrained things, 
Whose hearts are absent too. 

Macduff. Let our just censures 

Attend the true event, and put we on 
Industrious soldiership. 

Siward. The time approaches 

That will with due decision make us know 
What we shall say we have, and what we owe. 
Thoughts speculative their unsure hopes relate, 
But certain issue strokes must arbitrate; 
Towards which advance the war. 

[Exeunt, marching.] 

4-7 Malcolm orders his men to cut 
down tree branches to camouflage 
themselves. This will conceal 
(shadow) the size of their army 
and confuse Macbeth's scouts. 
Consider the prophecy about 
Birnam Wood. What do you now 
think the prophecy means? 

10 setting down: siege. 

10-14 Malcolm says that men of 
all ranks (both more and less) have 
abandoned Macbeth. Only weak 
men who have been forced into 
service remain with him. 

14-16 Macduff warns against 
overconfidence and advises that 
they attend to the business of 

16-21 Siward says that the 
approaching battle will decide 
whether their claims will match 
what they actually possess (owe). 
Right now, their hopes and 
expectations are the product of 
guesswork (thoughts speculative); 
only fighting (strokes) can settle 
(arbitrate) the issue. 




Dunsinane. Within the castle. 

Convinced of his powers, Macbeth mocks the enemy; his slaughters 
have left him fearless. News of Lady Macbeth's death stirs little emotion, 
only a comment on the emptiness of life. However, when a messenger 
reports that Birnam Wood seems to be moving toward the castle, 
Macbeth grows agitated. Fearing that the prophecies have deceived 
him, he decides to leave the castle to fight and die on the battlefield. 

[Enter Macbeth, Seyton, and Soldiers, with Drum and Colors. 

Macbeth. Hang out our banners on the outward walls. 
The cry is still, "They come!" Our castle's strength 
Will laugh a siege to scorn. Here let them lie 
Till famine and the ague eat them up. 
Were they not forced with those that should be ours, 
We might have met them dareful, beard to beard, 
And beat them backward home. 

[A cry within of women.] 

What is that noise? 
Seyton. It is the cry of women, my good lord. [Exit.] 

Macbeth. I have almost forgot the taste of fears. 
The time has been, my senses would have cooled 
To hear a night-shriek, and my fell of hair 
Would at a dismal treatise rouse and stir 
As life were in't. I have supped full with horrors. 
Direness, familiar to my slaughterous thoughts, 
Cannot once start me. 

[Enter Seyton.] 

Wherefore was that cry? 
Seyton. The Queen, my lord, is dead. 

Macbeth. She should have died hereafter; 

There would have been a time for such a word. 
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow 
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day 
To the last syllable of recorded time; 
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools 
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle! 
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player, 
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage 
And then is heard no more. It is a tale 
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, 
Signifying nothing. 

4 ague: fever. 

5-7 Macbeth complains that the 
attackers have been reinforced 
(forced) by deserters (those that 
should be ours), which has forced 
him to wait at Dunsinane instead 
of seeking victory on the 

9-15 There was a time when a 
scream in the night would have 
frozen Macbeth in fear and a 
terrifying tale (dismal treatise) 
would have made the hair on his 
skin (fell of hair) stand on end. But 
since he has fed on horror 
(direness), it cannot stir (start) him 

17-23 Macbeth wishes that his 
wife had died later (hereafter), 
when he would have had time to 
mourn her. He is moved to express 
despair about his own meaningless 
life: the future promises 
monotonous repetition (tomorrow, 
and tomorrow, and tomorrow), 
and the past merely illustrates 
death's power. He wishes his life 
could be snuffed out like a candle. 

24-28 Macbeth compares life to 
an actor who only briefly plays a 
part. Life is senseless, like a tale 
told by a raving idiot. Do you feel 
sorry for Macbeth here? 



[Enter a Messenger.] 

Thou com'st to use thy tongue. Thy story quickly! 

30 Messenger. Gracious my lord, 

I should report that which I say I saw, 
But know not how to do't. 

Macbeth. Well, say, sir! 

Messenger. As I did stand my watch upon the hill, 
I looked toward Birnam, and anon methought 
35 The wood began to move. 

Macbeth. Liar and slave! 

Messenger. Let me endure your wrath if't be not so. 
Within this three mile may you see it coming; 
I say, a moving grove. 

Macbeth. If thou speak'st false, 

Upon the next tree shalt thou hang alive, 

40 Till famine cling thee. If thy speech be sooth, 

I care not if thou dost for me as much. 
I pull in resolution, and begin 
To doubt the equivocation of the fiend, 
That lies like truth. "Fear not, till Birnam Wood 

45 Do come to Dunsinane!" and now a wood 

Comes toward Dunsinane. Arm, arm, and out! 
If this which he avouches does appear, 
There is nor flying hence nor tarrying here. 
I 'gin to be aweary of the sun, 

50 And wish the estate o' the world were now undone. 

Ring the alarum bell! Blow wind, come wrack, 
At least we'll die with harness on our back! 


38-52 The messenger's news has 
dampened Macbeth's 
determination (resolution); 
Macbeth begins to fear that the 
witches have tricked him (to doubt 
the equivocation of the fiend). His 
fear that the messenger tells the 
truth (avouches) makes him decide 
to confront the enemy instead of 
staying in his castle. Weary of life, 
he nevertheless decides to face 
death and ruin (wrack) with his 
armor (harness) on. 

Dunsinane. Before the castle. 

Malcolm and the combined forces reach the castle, throw away their 
camouflage, and prepare for battle. 

[Drum and Colors. Enter Malcolm, Siward, Macduff, and their 
Army, with boughs.] 

Malcolm. Now near enough. Your leavy screens throw down 
And show like those you are. You, worthy uncle, 
Shall with my cousin, your right noble son, 
Lead our first battle. Worthy Macduff and we 
Shall take upon's what else remains to do, 



Act 5, Scene 6: The attack on Dunsinane Castle (film, 1961) 

According to our order. 

Siward. Fare you well. 

Do we but find the tyrant's power tonight, 
Let us be beaten if we cannot fight. 

Macduff. Make all our trumpets speak, give them all breath, 
Those clamorous harbingers of blood and death. 

[Exeunt. Alarums continued.] 

1-6 Malcolm commands the 
troops to put down their branches 
(leavy screens) and gives the battle 

7 power: forces. 

10 harbingers: announcers. 


Another part of the battlefield. 

Macbeth kills young Siward, which restores his belief that he cannot be 
killed by any man born of a woman. Meanwhile, Macduff searches for 
the hated king. Young Siward's father reports that Macbeth's soldiers 
have surrendered and that many have even joined their attackers. 

[Enter Macbeth.] 

Macbeth. They have tied me to a stake. I cannot fly, 
But bearlike I must fight the course. What's he 
That was not born of Woman? Such a one 
Am I to fear, or none. 

1-4 Macbeth compares himself to 
a bear tied to a post (a reference 
to the sport of bearbaiting, in 
which a bear was tied to a stake 
and attacked by dogs). 



[Enter Young Siward.] 

5 Young Siward. What is thy name? 

Macbeth. Thou'lt be afraid to hear it. 

Young Siward. No; though thou call'st thyself a hotter name 
Than any is in hell. 

Macbeth. My name's Macbeth. 

Young Siward. The devil himself could not pronounce a title 
More hateful to mine ear. 

Macbeth. No, nor more fearful. 

10 Young Siward. Thou liest, abhorred tyrant! With my sword 
I'll prove the lie thou speak'st. 

[Fight, and Young Siward slain.} 

Macbeth. Thou wast born of woman. 

But swords I smile at, weapons laugh to scorn, 
Brandished by man that's of a woman born. [Exit.] 

[Alarums. Enter Macduff.] 

Macduff. That way the noise is. Tyrant, show thy face! 
15 If thou beest slain and with no stroke of mine, 

My wife and children's ghosts will haunt me still. 

I cannot strike at wretched kerns, whose arms 

Are hired to bear their staves. Either thou, Macbeth, 

Or else my sword with an unbattered edge 
20 I sheathe again undeeded. There thou shouldst be. 

By this great clatter one of greatest note 

Seems bruited. Let me find him, Fortune! 

And more I beg not. 

[Exit. Alarums.] 

[Enter Malcolm and Siward.] 

Siward. This way, my lord. The castle's gently rendered: 
25 The tyrant's people on both sides do fight; 

The noble thanes do bravely in the war; 
The day almost itself professes yours, 
And little is to do. 

Malcolm. We have met with foes 

That strike beside us. 

Siward. Enter, sir, the castle. 

[Exeunt. Alarum.] 

11-13 Do you think Macbeth is 
justified in his confidence? 

14-20 Macduff enters alone. He 
wants to avenge the murders of his 
wife and children and hopes to 
find Macbeth before someone else 
has the chance to kill him. Macduff 
does not want to fight the 
miserable hired soldiers (kerns), 
who are armed only with spears 
(staves). If he can't fight Macbeth, 
Macduff will leave his sword 
unused (undeeded). 

20-23 After hearing sounds 
suggesting that a person of great 
distinction (note) is nearby, 
Macduff exits in pursuit of 

24 gently rendered: surrendered 
without a fight. 

27 You have almost won the day. 

28-29 During the battle many of 
Macbeth's men deserted to 
Malcolm's army. 



View and Compare 

Which portrayal of Macbeth's death better captures the 
mood of the scene as you interpret it? 


The fallen Macbeth in 
The Throne of Blood 
(film, 1957) 

Macduff and Macbeth fight (film, 1971) 





Another part of the battlefield. 

Macduff finally hunts down Macbeth, who is reluctant to fight 
because he has already killed too many Macduffs. The still-proud 
Macbeth tells his enemy that no man born of a woman can defeat 
him, only to learn that Macduff was ripped from his mother's womb, 
thus not born naturally Rather than face humiliation, Macbeth 
decides to fight to the death. After their fight takes them elsewhere, 
the Scottish lords, now in charge of Macbeth's castle, discuss young 
Siward's noble death. Macduff returns carrying Macbeth's bloody 
head, proclaiming final victory and declaring Malcolm king of 
Scotland. The new king thanks his supporters and promises rewards, 
while asking for God's help to restore order and harmony. 

[Enter Macbeth.] 

Macbeth. Why should I play the Roman fool and die 
On mine own sword? Whiles I see lives, the gashes 
Do better upon them. 

[Enter Macduff.] 

Macduff. Turn, hellhound, turn! 

Macbeth. Of all men else I have avoided thee. 
But get thee back! My soul is too much charged 
With blood of thine already. 

Macduff. I have no words; 

My voice is in my sword, thou bloodier villain 
Than terms can give thee out! 

[Fight. Alarum.] 

Macbeth. Thou losest labor. 

As easy mayst thou the intrenchant air 
With thy keen sword impress as make me bleed. 
Let fall thy blade on vulnerable crests. 
I bear a charmed life, which must not yield 
To one of woman born. 

Macduff. Despair thy charm! 

And let the angel whom thou still hast served 
Tell thee, Macduff was from his mother's womb 
Untimely ripped. 

Macbeth. Accursed be that tongue that tells me so, 
For it hath cowed my better part of man! 
And be these juggling fiends no more believed, 
That palter with us in a double sense, 

1-3 Macbeth vows to continue 
fighting, refusing to commit 
suicide in the style of a defeated 
Roman general. 

4-6 Macbeth does not want to 
fight Macduff, having already 
killed so many members of 
Macduff's family. Do you think 
Macbeth regrets his past actions? 

8-13 Macbeth says that Macduff is 
wasting his effort. Trying to wound 
Macbeth is as useless as trying to 
wound the invulnerable 
(intrenchant) air. Macduff should 
attack other, more easily injured 
foes, described in terms of helmets 

15-16 Macduff . . . untimely 
ripped: Macduff was a premature 
baby delivered by cesarean section, 
an operation that removes the 
child directly from the mother's 

18 cowed my better part of man: 

made my spirit, or soul, fearful. 



That keep the word of promise to our ear 

And break it to our hope! I'll not fight with thee! 

Macduff. Then yield thee, coward, 

And live to be the show and gaze o' the time! 
We'll have thee, as our rarer monsters are, 
Painted upon a pole, and underwrit 
"Here may you see the tyrant." 

Macbeth. I will not yield, 

To kiss the ground before young Malcolm's feet 
And to be baited with the rabble's curse. 
Though Birnam Wood be come to Dunsinane, 
And thou opposed, being of no woman born, 
Yet I will try the last. Before my body 
I throw my warlike shield. Lay on, Macduff, 
And damned be him that first cries "Hold, enough!" 

[Exeunt fighting. Alarums.] 

[Retreat and flourish. Enter, with Drum and Colors, Malcolm, 
Siward, Ross, Thanes, and Soldiers.] 

Malcolm. I would the friends we miss were safe arrived. 

Siward. Some must go off; and yet, by these I see, 
So great a day as this is cheaply bought. 

Malcolm. Macduff is missing, and your noble son. 

Ross. Your son, my lord, has paid a soldier's debt. 
He only lived but till he was a man, 
The which no sooner had his prowess confirmed 
In the unshrinking station where he fought 
But like a man he died. 

Siward. Then he is dead? 

Ross. Ay, and brought off the field. Your cause of sorrow 
Must not be measured by his worth, for then 
It hath no end. 

Siward. Had he his hurts before? 

Ross. Ay, on the front. 

Siward. Why then, God's soldier be he! 

Had I as many sons as I have hairs, 
I would not wish them to a fairer death. 
And so his knell is knolled. 

Malcolm. He's worth more sorrow, 

And that I'll spend for him. 

Siward. He's worth no more. 

They say he parted well and paid his score, 
And so, God be with him! Here comes newer comfort. 

19-22 The cheating witches 
(juggling fiends) have tricked him 
(palter with us) with words that 
have double meanings. 

23-27 Macduff scornfully tells 
Macbeth to surrender so that he 
can become a public spectacle (the 
show and gaze o' the time). 
Macbeth's picture will be hung on 
a pole (painted upon a pole) as if 
he were part of a circus sideshow. 

27-34 Macbeth cannot face the 
shame of surrender and public 
ridicule. He prefers to fight to the 
death (try the last) against 
Macduff, even though he knows all 
hope is gone. What is your opinion 
of Macbeth's attitude? 

[Stage Direction] Retreat . . . : The 
first trumpet call (retreat) signals 
the battle's end. The next one 
(flourish) announces Malcolm's 

36-37 Though some must die (go 
off) in battle, Siward can see that 
their side does not have many 

44-46 Ross tells old Siward that if 
he mourns his son according to the 
boy's value, his sorrow will never 

46 hurts before: wounds in the 
front of his body, which indicate 
he died facing his enemy. 

50 knell is knolled: Young Siward's 
death bell has already rung, 
meaning there is no need to 
mourn him further. What do you 
think of old Siward's refusal to 
grieve for his son? 



[Enter Macduff, with Macbeth's head.] 

Macduff. Hail, King! for so thou art. Behold where stands 
55 The usurper's cursed head. The time is free. 

I see thee compassed with thy kingdom's pearl, 
That speak my salutation in their minds; 
Whose voices I desire aloud with mine — 
Hail, King of Scotland! 

All. Hail, King of Scotland! 


60 Malcolm. We shall not spend a large expense of time 
Before we reckon with your several loves 
And make us even with you. My Thanes and kinsmen, 
Henceforth be Earls, the first that ever Scotland 
In such an honor named. What's more to do 

65 Which would be planted newly with the time — 

As calling home our exiled friends abroad 
That fled the snares of watchful tyranny, 
Producing forth the cruel ministers 
Of this dead butcher and his fiendlike queen, 

70 Who (as 'tis thought) by self and violent hands 

Took off her life — this, and what needful else 
That calls upon us, by the grace of Grace 
We will perform in measure, time, and place. 
So thanks to all at once and to each one, 

75 Whom we invite to see us crowned at Scone. 

[Flourish. Exeunt omnes.] 

[Stage Direction] Macduff is 
probably carrying Macbeth's head 
on a pole. 

55-56 The time . . . pearl: Macduff 
declares that the age (time) is now 
freed from tyranny. He sees 
Malcolm surrounded by Scotland's 
noblest men (thy kingdom's pearl). 

60-75 Malcolm promises that he 
will quickly reward his nobles 
according to the devotion (several 
loves) they have shown. He gives 
the thanes new titles (henceforth 
be Earls) and declares his 
intention, as a sign of the new age 
(planted newly with the time), to 
welcome back the exiles who fled 
Macbeth's tyranny and his cruel 
agents (ministers). Now that 
Scotland is free of the butcher 
Macbeth and his queen, who is 
reported to have killed herself, 
Malcolm asks for God's help to 
restore order and harmony. He 
concludes by inviting all present to 
his coronation. 



Murper MyvreRy 

Preparing to Read 

Build Background 

Ohio-born author James Thurber 
(1894-1961) had a long association 
with the literary magazine The New 
Yorker, to which he contributed not 
only stories and other humorous 
pieces but also comical drawings. 
Thurber, in his writings, often portrayed 
an average person attempting to 
function as normally as possible in a 
perplexing, modern-day world. 

Focus Your Reading 

HUMOR I "The Macbeth 

Murder Mystery" ridicules certain 
ideas or customs. As you read, think 
about what Thurber is making fun of 
and to what purpose. 

by James Thurber 

It was a stupid mistake to make," said the American 
woman I had met at my hotel in the English lake 
country, "but it was on the counter with the other 
Penguin books — the little sixpenny ones, you know, 
with the paper covers — and I supposed of course it was 
a detective story. All the others were detective stories. 
I'd read all the others, so I bought this one without 
really looking at it carefully. You can imagine how mad 
I was when I found it was Shakespeare." I murmured 
something sympathetically. "I don't see why the 
Penguin-books people had to get out Shakespeare's 
plays in the same size and everything as the detective 
stories," went on my companion. "I think they have 
different-colored jackets," I said. "Well, I didn't notice 
that," she said. "Anyway, I got real comfy in bed that 
night and all ready to read a good mystery story and 
here I had 'The Tragedy of Macbeth' — a book for high- 
school students. Like 'Ivanhoe.'" "Or 'Lorna Doone,'" 
I said. "Exactly," said the American lady. "And I was 
just crazy for a good Agatha Christie, or something. 
Hercule Poirot is my favorite detective." "Is he the 
rabbity one?" I asked. "Oh, no," said my crime-fiction 
expert. "He's the Belgian one. You're thinking of Mr. 
Pinkerton, the one that helps Inspector Bull. He's good, 

Over her second cup of tea my companion began to 
tell the plot of a detective story that had fooled her 
completely — it seems it was the old family doctor all 
the time. But I cut in on her. "Tell me," I said. "Did 
you read 'Macbeth'?" "I had to read it," she said. 
"There wasn't a scrap of anything else to read in the 
whole room." "Did you like it?" I asked. "No, I did 
not," she said, decisively. "In the first place, I don't 
think for a moment that Macbeth did it." I looked at 
her blankly. "Did what?" I asked. "I don't think for a 
moment that he killed the King," she said. "I don't 
think the Macbeth woman was mixed up in it, either. 



You suspect them the most, of course, but those 
are the ones that are never guilty — or shouldn't 
be, anyway." "I'm afraid," I began, "that I — " 
"But don't you see?" said the American lady. "It 
would spoil everything if you could figure out 
right away who did it. Shakespeare was too 
smart for that. I've read that people never have 
figured out 'Hamlet,' so it isn't likely 
Shakespeare would have made 'Macbeth' as 
simple as it seems." I thought this over while I 
filled my pipe. "Who do you suspect?" I asked, 
suddenly. "Macduff," she said, promptly. "Good 
God!" I whispered, softly. 

"Oh, Macduff did it, all right," said the 
murder specialist. "Hercule Poirot would have 
got him easily." "How did you figure it out?" I 
demanded. "Well," she said, "I didn't right away. 
At first I suspected Banquo. And then, of course, 
he was the second person killed. That was good 
right in there, that part. The person you suspect 
of the first murder should always be the second 
victim." "Is that so?" I murmured. "Oh, yes," 
said my informant. "They have to keep 
surprising you. Well, after the second murder I 
didn't know who the killer was for a while." 
"How about Malcolm and Donalbain, the King's 
sons?" I asked. "As I remember it, they fled right 
after the first murder. That looks suspicious." 
"Too suspicious," said the American lady. 
"Much too suspicious. When they flee, they're 
never guilty. You can count on that." "I believe," 
I said, "I'll have a brandy," and I summoned the 
waiter. My companion leaned toward me, her 
eyes bright, her teacup quivering. "Do you know 
who discovered Duncan's body?" she demanded. 
I said I was sorry, but I had forgotten. "Macduff 
discovers it," she said, slipping into the historical 
present. "Then he comes running downstairs and 
shouts, 'Confusion has broke open the Lord's 
anointed temple' and 'Sacrilegious murder has 
made his masterpiece' and on and on like that." 
The good lady tapped me on the knee. "All that 
stuff was rehearsed" she said. "You wouldn't 
say a lot of stuff like that, offhand, would you — 
if you had found a body?" She fixed me with a 
glittering eye. "I — " I began. "You're right!" she 

said. "You wouldn't! Unless you had practiced it 
in advance. 'My God, there's a body in here!' is 
what an innocent man would say." She sat back 
with a confident glare. 

I thought for a while. "But what do you make 
of the Third Murderer?" I asked. "You know, 
the Third Murderer has puzzled 'Macbeth' 
scholars for three hundred years." "That's 
because they never thought of Macduff," said 
the American lady. "It was Macduff, I'm certain. 
You couldn't have one of the victims murdered 
by two ordinary thugs — the murderer always has 
to be somebody important." "But what about 
the banquet scene?" I asked, after a moment. 
"How do you account for Macbeth's guilty 
actions there, when Banquo's ghost came in and 
sat in his chair?" The lady leaned forward and 
tapped me on the knee again. "There wasn't any 
ghost," she said. "A big, strong man like that 
doesn't go around seeing ghosts — especially in a 
brightly lighted banquet hall with dozens of 
people around. Macbeth was shielding 
somebody!" "Who was he shielding?" I asked. 
"Mrs. Macbeth, of course," she said. "He 
thought she did it and he was going to take the 
rap himself. The husband always does that when 
the wife is suspected." "But what," I demanded, 
"about the sleepwalking scene, then?" "The 
same thing, only the other way around," said my 
companion. "That time she was shielding him. 
She wasn't asleep at all. Do you remember where 
it says, 'Enter Lady Macbeth with a taper'?" 
"Yes," I said. "Well, people who walk in their 
sleep never carry lights!" said my fellow-traveler. 
"They have a second sight. Did you ever hear of 
a sleepwalker carrying a light?" "No," I said, "I 
never did." "Well, then, she wasn't asleep. She 
was acting guilty to shield Macbeth." "I think," 
I said, "I'll have another brandy," and I called 
the waiter. When he brought it, I drank it rapidly 
and rose to go. "I believe," I said, "that you 
have got hold of something. Would you lend me 
that 'Macbeth'? I'd like to look it over tonight. I 
don't feel, somehow, as if I'd ever really read it." 
"I'll get it for you," she said. "But you'll find 
that I am right." 



"I've found out/' I said, 
triumphantly, "the name 
of the murderer!" 

Illustration by 
James Thurber 


I read the play over carefully that night, and 
the next morning, after breakfast, I sought 
out the American woman. She was on the 
putting green, and I came up behind her silently 
and took her arm. She gave an exclamation. 
"Could I see you alone?" I asked, in a low voice. 
She nodded cautiously and followed me to a 
secluded spot. "You've found out something?" 
she breathed. "I've found out," I said, 
triumphantly, "the name of the murderer!" 
"You mean it wasn't Macduff?" she said. 
"Macduff is as innocent of those murders," I 
said, "as Macbeth and the Macbeth woman." I 
opened the copy of the play, which I had with 
me, and turned to Act II, Scene 2. "Here," I 
said, "you will see where Lady Macbeth says, 'I 
laid their daggers ready. He could not miss 'em. 
Had he not resembled my father as he slept, I 
had done it.' Do you see?" "No," said the 
American woman, bluntly, "I don't." "But it's 
simple!" I exclaimed. "I wonder I didn't see it 
years ago. The reason Duncan resembled Lady 
Macbeth's father as he slept is that it actually 
was her father!" "Good God!" breathed my 
companion, softly. "Lady Macbeth's father 
killed the King," I said, "and, hearing someone 
coming, thrust the body under the bed and 
crawled into the bed himself." "But," said the 
lady, "you can't have a murderer who only 
appears in the story once. You can't have that." 

"I know that," I said, 
and I turned to Act II, 
Scene 4. "It says here, 
'Enter Ross with an old 
Man.' Now, that old 
man is never identified 
and it is my contention 
he was old Mr. Macbeth, whose ambition it was 
to make his daughter Queen. There you have 
your motive." "But even then," cried the 
American lady, "he's still a minor character!" 
"Not," I said, gleefully, "when you realize that 
he was also one of the weird sisters in disguise!" 
"You mean one of the three witches?" 
"Precisely," I said. "Listen to this speech of the 
old man's. 'On Tuesday last, a falcon towering 
in her pride of place, was by a mousing owl 
hawk'd at and kill'd.' Who does that sound 
like?" "It sounds like the way the three witches 
talk," said my companion, reluctantly. 
"Precisely!" I said again. "Well," said the 
American woman, "maybe you're right, but — " 
"I'm sure I am," I said. "And do you know 
what I'm going to do now?" "No," she said. 
"What?" "Buy a copy of 'Hamlet,'" I said, "and 
solve that!" My companion's eyes brightened. 
"Then," she said, "you don't think Hamlet did 
it?" "I am," I said, "absolutely positive he 
didn't." "But who," she demanded, "do you 
suspect?" I looked at her cryptically. 
"Everybody," I said, and disappeared into a 
small grove of trees as silently as I had come. 

Thinking Through the Literature 

What do you think of the American woman's 
solution to the centuries-old mystery of the third 
murderer and her explanation of the sleepwalking 
scene? Would you say that she has a thorough 
understanding of Macbeth? Explain. 

What is Thurber poking fun at in his satire, and 


Comparing Texts Recall murder mysteries you 
have read or seen on TV and in movies. What 
characteristics of murder mysteries does the 
woman's attitude toward Macbeth reveal? 



Comprehension Check 

• What happens to Lady Macbeth in 
Act Five? 

• How do the apparitions' three 
predictions in Act Four come true? 

• Who becomes king of Scotland 
after Macbeth is killed? 

Connect to the Literature 

1. What Do You Think? 

Were you surprised 
by the outcome of 
events for the 
Macbeths? Why or 
why not? 

Think Critically 

2. How does Lady Macbeth change during the play? 

• her early ambition 

• her remarks in the sleepwalking scene (Act 
Five, Scene 1) 

• the remarks of the doctor and the gentlewoman 
as they observe her in the scene 


IMWJsl&I ^ CT READING DRAMA ] Some playwrights use 
numerous stage directions, but Shakespeare does not. 
Imagine Lady Macbeth's sleepwalking scene as it might 
appear on a stage. In what type and color of garment might 
Lady Macbeth be dressed? How might she speak and move? 
You may want to refer to any notes you have taken about 
Lady Macbeth in your li) reader s notebook. 

4. In the play's opening scene, the witches say "Fair is foul, and 
foul is fair." How is this paradox, or apparent contradiction, 
manifested in Act Five? 

5. Do you think Macbeth's downfall is more a result of fate or 
of his own ambition? Support your response. 

6. Even though Macbeth is a villain, how is he also a tragic 
hero? Review the characteristics of tragedy listed on page 321, 
and use examples of Macbeth's character traits as support. 

7. Do you think Lady Macbeth can be considered a tragic 
hero? Why or why not? 

Literary Analysis 

I THEME | A work of literature usually 
conveys a central idea about life or 
human nature, called a theme. 
Longer works like Macbeth usually 
contain several themes. 

Cooperative Learning Activity 

Review your notes about the 
possible themes you discovered as 
you read Macbeth. Then, with a 
small group of classmates, discuss 
what ideas the play conveys about 
the following topics: 

• ambition 

• appearance versus reality 

• fate and our efforts to control it 

• impulses and desires 

• loyalty 

• marriage 

• reason and mental stability 

• the supernatural 

Then write a sentence stating each 
theme, and cite specific evidence 
from the play to support it. 

1 CONFLICT"] Identify an 

external conflict in any act of the 
play. Then find an example of an 
internal conflict. How does the 
outcome of each conflict help 
convey one or more of the play's 

Extend Interpretations 

8. Critic's Corner In a famous assessment of Shakespeare's 
plays, the poet and critic Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote, 
"The interest in the plot is always ... on account of the 
characters, not vice versa." Do you agree that Macbeth's 
characters are more interesting than its plot? Explain. 

9. Connect to Life What aspects of Macbeth make it relevant to 
readers and audiences today? Support your answer. 



The Author's Style 

Shakespeare's Poetic Language 

Style refers to the particular way in which a work is written. It 
reflects a writer's unique way of communicating ideas. 
Shakespeare was a poet as well as a playwright. He is as famous 
for his powerful poetic language as for his universal themes and 
keen insight into human behavior. 


Key Aspects of Shakespeare's Style 

precise and sometimes lofty diction, or word choice 

coinage of new words (often by using one part of speech 
as another) and use of words with double meanings 

inversions of word order for poetic effect 

restatements of ideas for emphasis 

vivid imagery and pairs of images that appeal to more 
than one of the senses 

imaginative figurative language, including personifications, ^ 
metaphors, similes, and hyperboles 

Analysis of Style 

At the right are four excerpts from Macbeth. Study the list above, 
and read each excerpt carefully. Then do the following: 

• Identify an example of each aspect of Shakespeare's style in the 
excerpts. Notice, for example, the personification in the first line of 
the second excerpt (sleep's having the ability to knit). 

• Look through the play to find three or four additional examples of 
Shakespeare's stylistic devices. 

• Try drawing or describing the images in the examples you 


1. Speaking and Listening Share your examples of Shakespeare's 
stylistic devices by reading them aloud to a small group of class- 
mates. Then discuss how the examples illustrate different aspects 
of Shakespeare's style. 

2. Changing Style Choose a famous soliloquy or another famous 
passage from Macbeth, then rewrite it in informal, contemporary 
language that expresses the same ideas. Share your rewritten ver- 
sion with classmates. 

3. Imitating Style Working with a partner, write an additional scene