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Evaluation, Essay Example

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Essay

Introduction

The story of song of Roland is an absolute introduction to the ethos of the world due to its shortness and richness. It is a heroic poem that talks about the Battle of Roncesvalles in 778 at the time of Charlemagne’s reign. The story was written in the mid 11th century and is ranked among the oldest existing major works of the French literature. The story follows the epic rules with the exception of length. A host of characters exist outside the main cast whereby each one is given some lines of description to cover the basics, i.e. who, where, how, why and what they are doing. The story provides a strong historical examination and background of major themes of the story. It is essentially one of the old inexhaustible stories, whose main themes include Good and evil, Vassalage, the Benevolent God, the Will of God and Man’s place as well as duty and Responsibility.

The poem is recited in a sequential order, the manner in which the events were happening. For example, the Aeneid begins with the Trojans already in exile and roaming at sea, but afterwards the characters narrate in detail the collapse of Troy. This approach used in Aeneid has got something to do with the marvelous amount of material epic that poets are working with. All through the poem, flashbacks are not experienced, and there are no divergences from the fairy-tale of Roland’s encounter and the revenge carried out by Charlemagne. The unknown author of the poem chose to narrate this story in a straight forward fashion and does not need to be nervous about when and where to fill in back story. This approach is less thrilling, and the poet risks scripting an epic that is submissively, but passionlessly, from beginning to the end.

The range of events is impressive, and the poem covers an extensive stretch of time. The poet alternates short, summarized segments, exclusive of dialogue and compressing longer times, with detailed sections that read more or less like drama. Therefore, in this opening, there is the back story and a summary. Following immediately is Marsile’s hopeless council in Saragossa that begins with a rich description of the situation, and then progressively moves into passages complete with dialogue. Short summarized sections are also evident in Laisse 7 which is also a sweet summary piece compressing Blancandrin’s journey to King Charles. Blancandrin’s bid to King Charles is what follows and the argument that ensues between Charlemagne and his vassals. Later, dialogue takes over, and we witness the result as it opens out. Laisse 31 compresses Ganelon’s time of voyage to Saragossa, at which he concurs with Blancandrin to try and bring about Roland’s death. The narrator discloses this progress and we do not listen to the entire dialogue when they made their agreement. This rhythm is used throughout the poem.

Another striking quality of this poem is it’s symmetry in the structure and characters. The two halves in the poem are governed by two battles. In the first battle, it was won by evil while the second battle by good. The epic begins in council where both parties decide on what they will do, and ends as Charles decides what ought to be done as a result of his victory. The poem was written at the start of the Crusades. It is planned to get Christians irritated, and not to praise people like Oliver, but to worship and glorify people like Roland. This is because of his faults and virtues, the exact kind of man desired for the Crusades: a person ready to die and give up the lives of other people.

Conclusion

The story of Song of Roland was greatly ignored by critics and public reading until the twentieth century. In their informal examinations of the French literature, the earliest commentators of this work considered it lacking primitive, in emotionalism as well as inferior to Latin and Greek epic. Apart from its historical value, the story of Song of Roland is also a must read as literature. This is because it is a magnificent example of the heroic epic. It also serves as a piece of art which is accessible with elevated style and tone of absolute moral purpose, which is remindful of the Old Testament (Harrison, 1970, p.83).

Works cited

Harrison 1970. The song of Roland. Signet Classic: Cambridge University Press.

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