MLA style, including works cited page
2400 – 2800 words
at least four (4) secondary research sources and (2) primary texts, all of them quoted
The purpose is to argue for a particular reading or interpretation of a given text or passage. Your
paper should have an argumentative thesis, and you should seek to prove that thesis through
textual evidence, which is to say I want you to quote from the text, analyze those quotations
through close reading, and thereby argue for an interpretation of your chosen text.
Prompt: Compare and contrast the interpretations (or significance/role) of Merlin’s character within the two texts.
Text #1: History of the Kings of Britain (Novel) by Geoffrey of Monmouth
Text #2: Vita Merlini (Poem) by Geoffrey of Monmouth
Feel free to use these sources or your own:
Brooke, Christopher. “Geoffrey of Monmouth as a Historian.” Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism, edited by Jelena O. Krstovic, vol. 44, Gale, 2001. Literature Resource Center, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/H1420034337/LitRC?u=tall85761&sid=LitRC&xid=86cd2dc8. Accessed 17 Apr. 2019. Originally published in Church and Government in the Middle Ages, edited by C. N. L. Brooke, Cambridge University Press, 1976, pp. 77-91.
Tatlock, J. S. P. “Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Vita Merlini.” Speculum, vol. 18, no. 3, 1943, pp. 265–287. JSTO, www.jstor.org/stable/2853704.
Christine Chism. “‘Ain’t Gonna Study War No More’: Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia RegumBritanniae and Vita Merlini.” The Chaucer Review, vol. 48, no. 4, 2014, pp. 457–479. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/10.5325/chaucerrev.48.4.0458.
Dalton, Paul. “The Topical Concerns of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia Regum Britannia: History, Prophecy, Peacemaking, and English Identity in the Twelfth Century.” Journal of British Studies, vol. 44, no. 4, 2005, pp. 688–712. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/431937.
Some notes I’ve gathered from each text (May use if needed):
- Amazed auditors with her ambiguous words, relating the darkest moments in British history
- British prophet
- Enters midpoint as a possible solution to the quandary of Vortigern’s collapsing fortress
- Youth without a father whose blood will stabilize the fortress’s foundation
- Tried to resolve the violent dialectic of family struggle by removing a family from the equation
- More uncanny than merely a fatherless being
- Hybrid of a spirit (supernatural figure of irresistible sexual desire or a royal nun)
- Does not evade the conflicts of masculine desire and resistance the destabilize foundation in the text
- Intensifies them, playing them out in a meta-historical key
- Vortigern accepts his authority as a narrative informant
- Acknowledges the human cost of British foundational violence
- Literary meditation on the larger dialectics of British history renders the violence magnificent, monstrous, even pleasurable
- Geoffrey’s acknowledgment that there is no solution to the problem of human transience
- Allows Geoffrey to dramatize the problem in a narrative vein that distances it from what is tragic and pathetic
- Presents Britain as a coveted object of desire, a treasure to be possessed, and a living palimpsest on which Kings inscribe their deeds
- Explorer of the fecund British landscape
- 12 years later
- Watched the stars as routinely as a modern businessman would watch the nightly news
- Prophesies compulsively not to Kings in portentous circumstances but to anyone in earshot
- Enters in the beginning and is neither the fatherless child nor hybrid of desire and constraint
- Becomes very antisocial after the death of his 3 companions, which causes him to lose the desire to connect emotionally with any human being
- Addresses the creatures of the woods as his dear companions, identifying most closely with the wolf
- After he is partially healed, he returned to society, not sociality
- Coldly addressed his wife/sister
- Love, desire, the capacity to connect to other humans had become too costly to sustain
- During his first healing, he is depicted as a prophet whose insights serve neither Kings are God
- Insights disenchant human relations, revealing them to be hypocritical and futile (emphasis on his 3 laughs)
- Society torments human with its betrayal, foolishness, and need; sociopathic laughter is all her can muster
- Incident communicates the force of his masculinity and broader enmity against ongoing social relations
- Only comforted by the return to the woods – highlights the absence of social relations
- Exhibits a fascination with Britain’s natural world as an exquisite structure and a marvelous creation of God’s deputy, Nature