Historical Characteristics of Literature

Literature is an emotional element of art that depicts the cultural and traditional aspect of society during a certain period. Literary works have themes true to the common ideologies possessed by a society in a secular region during a particular time period. These ideas expressed in literary works directly reflect cultural ideas. During the Middle Ages in Europe traditional aspects of life included; the belief and obedience to the institution of the church, a structured social class dependent on feudalism and common characteristics of heroism, loyalty and strength.

The reflection of prominent societal views during the middle ages are shown through the literary works such as Beowulf, The Canterbury Tales and Nursery Rhymes which include themes of admirable character traits, the extent to which feudalism effected the organization of people; and the devotion of society to the church.

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In England, heroism and being able to show off one’s authority and strength was a common public fascination. During this time, there was a lot of pressure on men of middle and higher/elite classes to provide and protect their property. This meant the development of men’s dominance and circumstantial superiority to other men. The dominance of men at the expense of other men’s superiority led to the Code of Comitatus.

The Code of Comitatus is the loyalty of a group of men to their leader. Their leader is normally one who exemplifies qualities of heroism, bravery and strength. The reason for the Code of Comitatus being held at great value is because it is the way of uniting men in a similar region and upholding peace amongst the public. In the novel Beowulf, the main character Beowulf demonstrates these qualities that were accolated highly for having. Beowulf’s first introduction into Hrothgar’s mead hall was him saying “I drove five great giants into chains” (“From Beowulf” 36), which immediately establishes his dominance because of his rema…