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Medieval Literature Essay

740 words - 3 pages

Medieval literature

As the Western Roman Empire started collapsing, many government positions were taken over by Christians who condemned drama for its making fun of religion, its debauchery and paganism. It is then in the 5th century that the medieval era began and miracle plays were established.

Medieval miracle plays, also known as Saints plays, are one of the three principal kinds of vernacular drama that emerged from the European Middle ages. A miracle play is based on incidents from the lives and works of the Saints. During this era people believed that the power of saints could solve their problems. Holy relics supposedly taken from the bodies of saints were kept by the ...view middle of the document...

The Nicholas plays are similar, an example being Jean Bodel’s Le Jeu de Saint Nicolas (c. 1200), which details the deliverance of a crusader and the conversion of a Saracen king. Few English miracle plays are extant, because they were banned by Henry VIII in the mid-16th century and most were subsequently destroyed or lost.
Miracle plays started off as simple tropes. Tropes were simple verbal accompaniments of liturgical text. They slowly however, started to become more elaborate due to the demand of plays that were not only about biblical stories. The plays moved outside the church and were controlled by the people rather than the priests. Vernacular forms of these plays as well as morality plays emerged towards the end of the middle ages era and as a result the miracle play became less popular.

Geoffrey Chaucer who was considered as the greatest English poet of the middle ages is a fundamental figure in developing the legitimacy of the vernacular plays. He is best known as the writer of The Canterbury Tale which is a collection of stories told by fictional pilgrims on the road to the cathedral at Canterbury; these tales would help to shape English literature.
Miracle plays essentially...

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