Rhiannon painting by Judith Shaw

What I plan on writing my final paper on is the honor that Rhiannon beholds, even though as a female character her nobility is constantly looked over. She is the most noble character in “Pwyll Pendefig Dyfed” and continues to show her honor in “Manawydan, the son of Llŷr”. The article above is just a short summary of Rhiannon’s role in the Mabinogion. I believe she is the most honorable character, but due to her femininity she is disgraced in her most noble moments. Men, in the same scenarios, would come out on top and not be left to carry people up and down a hill like a horse. I do not know if this is what the author intended. I believe the author unintentionally made Rhiannon such an honorable character. Through a patriarchal view, Rhiannon is not as noble as her male counterparts, but if a modern approach is taken to the reading, then it is seen that she is the only character with any guts or common sense.


Margery Kemp: In Middle English.

I don’t have too much to say about this post,  but I found what the first book of Margery Kemp in Middle English on Youtube and felt that since I hadn’t contributed to the Commonplace blog in a few days,  I could get back into things by posting it here,  but it seems that Youtube isn’t supported here anymore,  so here’s the link directly.   What do you guys think of this version?


What’s an Anchorage? & Julian of Norwich

achorage achorage diagram

Above are two images found on the internet (via Google because who would use Bing), the first claims to be an image of an anchorage, the second a diagram of what is believed to be the floor plan of a typical anchorage. This supports our class discussion today about the conditions anchorites and anchoresses lived in.

If you Google search “What is an anchorage?”, the provided definition is “an anchorite’s dwelling place”. I found this interested considering a significant majority of people who chose to live their lives in this manner of devotion where women (anchoresses). However, I found out that anchorite is not a gender-specific term; it is defined as “a religious recluse”. “Anchoress” then means a female anchorite. I made the simple comparison about how the word “waiter” refers to a server or one who waits (either male or female), but a “waitress” is just a a way of identifying a female waiter.

Although we went over is briefly in class, the following is a description of the setup of her anchorage and what she would have owned:

“The window called the Squint was to open into the church so that the anchoress could receive communion and follow the church services. The second window provided access to her attendant who would deliver food and remove any waste. The third window provided visitors with the means to talk to Julian asking for her advice and prayers. All Julian had in the cell was a crucifix, a hard bed and a small altar. Her clothes would have been plain consisting of a kirtle with a mantle, black head-dress, wimple, cape or veil.”

Another interesting fact I found on Wikipedia (can we trust it, who knows, haha) is that plague epidemics were common in the Fourteeth century, and whether she was an unmarried laywoman, a widow, or a nun, a factor that may have played into her decision to live the life of an anchoress may have been the ultimate quarantine from the rest of the population (since she suffered an illness beforehand that brought her close to death). Although she states that she completely trusts in God’s will, when she is ill she does seem to regret death should it come now (at the time of her sickness): “I trusted in God of his mercy; but it was to have lived that I might have loved God better and longer time, that I might have the more knowing and loving of God in bliss of heaven. For methought all the time that I had lived here, so little and so short in reward of that endless bliss, I thought nothing” (589). Julian may have reasoned that living in quarantine away from the rest of the population and the spread of disease, she may have a better chance of living longer to worship the lord and earn her place in heaven/”bliss”.

Gawain and the Green Knight reference in Guild Wars 2

Guild Wars 2, an MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game) that I play has a very obvious reference to Gawain and the Green Knight in it that I thought I’d share.

To try and put things simply, the world of Guild Wars 2 is one of fantasy. One of the races is a plant humanoid type called Sylvari, a collectively inquisitive and adventurous race made entirely out of plant-material. If you make a character a Sylvari you have the option of doing a chain of quests called “Green Huntsman,” where you will learn about and fight a mysterious green Sylvari decked out in emerald green armor.


Bercilak, as you eventually discover is the name of this evil brute, goes around challenging weak opponents to duels and killing them. You find him just as he’s about to execute another innocent Sylvari, challenging him to fight you instead. When you eventually succeed in destroying him, however, he revives and charges you once more. After several iterations of this Bercilak leaves, challenging you to a final duel a few days later. As you continue along the quest chain you find the blacksmith, Occam, who forged Bercilak’s emerald armor. Occam reveals to you that the armor is imbued with magic, resurrecting him from death.

Occam gives you the hammer he used to forge the armor, and with it you break the armor off of Bercilak before putting him down for good.

Another way of going about this quest is by requesting help from Gairwen, a Sylvari whose husband was killed defending her from Bercilak. He highly desires her, and if you convince her to help you she tempts him with a kiss before stealing his helmet, breaking the equipment’s magic and allowing you to fight the Green Knight normally.

Interestingly enough, this was actually my first real reference to the stoy of Gawain and the Green Knight. I had never read it before I played this story quest, and reading the original story made the quest that much more fascinating. The slight variations in the names and plot were fun to spot, and the quest remains one of my favorites.


I’ve been a little silent these past few weeks, but if I may, I’d like to let my creative juices flow.

I don’t usually like theories about literature (especially something as old and unknown as Gawain), but I find myself thinking of the scenarios that led to the events in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Asking so broad a question can sometimes be daunting and other times be just silly. Sometimes that kind of questions is so vast that it actually does more harm than good in a meaningful literary discussion. Who cares if Peter was actually Mrs. Darling’s child that died and is trapped in limbo? A lot of people do. It seems that some get caught up in the idea that Chuckie is the only one of The Rugrats that is actually alive and they don’t notice the other important themes of gender and parenting in the show. But people like talking about these theories! They seem to flood our Facebook news feeds and lead to shady websites selling God knows what, but at least they start an important dialogue to think more creatively about the media that shapes our lives. Literary criticism, after all, uses different theories to look at a text. If we think critically, we can start to question our notions about the things that we as humans produce.

So that gets me to Gawain. We mentioned in class that Arthurian legend is like fanfiction. It exists only because readers and listeners of stories started to create their own. I am a strong believer that books (among other things) belong to their readers. So how might I go about writing my own fanfic for Arthur? It, in essence, would be a theory that I devise and then apply to my own story about previously created characters and places. What if the only way to win Arthur’s (totally not-platonic) love was to prove that he is manly enough to take on the Green Knight’s challenge? Their romantic endeavors could be explored in a hot and heavy battle against the forces of the Fairy World. Maybe the Green Knight is actually Gawain’s son that is a time traveler (timey-wimey). I’m not sure if any of these make sense, but I don’t think that’s the point. Storytellers didn’t seem to care what is and what isn’t canonical. They just wrote a story that allowed their voice to be heard in this mass of Arthurian mythology. I think that is what is so special about humans. It’s why we all use the internet. We can add our thoughts with other billions of people to create social movements or raise money for an important cause. I don’t want to understate the importance that I think community has in writing and creating new things. Literature doesn’t exist in a vacuum to be consumed into nothingness like everything else in this world. If you want the Green Knight to be an illusion that only Gawain can see and everyone else just goes along with his delusion because he’s actually a patient in a mental ward and Arthur is his doctor, then go for it! Save that for posterity.

What’s a theory that you have about anything that we’ve read?

Animated Franklin’s Tale

I know that we don’t go over the Franklin’s Tale until Monday,  but I figured that this would be some good prep viewing for the pichukuchu on Monday.    Personally,  this tale is one of my favorites because it preaches honesty and generosity.  The Franklin is one of the few ‘noble’ characters in The Canterbury Tales  What do you all think?

Nicholas as a social outsider in the Miller’s tale

Hi everyone, last year I wrote a paper about the character Nicholas in the Miller’s tale and how he is a social outsider mainly because he is merely a student that is between social classes and is never fully accepted or appreciated by anyone. In my paper I talk about the word “pryvetee” which roughly translates as secrets in the text, but can refer to the secrets kept between men and women within the public and private spheres of life as it pertains to their gender identity, sexuality and even religious beliefs. As a student, Nicholas is not as important in the eyes of the public as John the Carpenter, who owns his own home and has a paying job. However, Nicholas is able to breach John’s private life by catching the attention of Allisoun, and spends the tale taking advantage of her sexually and taking advantage of John mentally. While I understand that on the surface this tale was meant to be funny, filled with fart jokes and public humiliation, beyond the surface there are some really serious issues about how men and women live and work together within the home and from the outside. I took a more serious approach to the tale, noting that it seems Allisoun is just an object of desire for Nicholas, Absolon and even John, who feels that he controls or owns her. Since Nicholas is able to have free roam of John’s home while he is away at work, he is able to stop being a social outsider and force himself into John’s private life. I feel that Nicholas acts in a very malicious way, whether by taking advantage of Allisoun, humiliating Absolon or by using his intelligence and cleverness to trick John. As I’ve said, I wrote a whole paper about this tale, so I’ve given a lot of thought into the characters and their progression through the tale, so I’d love to hear outside opinions about the idea of “pryvetee” and if I’m possibly being too hard on Nicholas.

The General Prologue

I know everyone has probably read this at least once before, but this was my first time. I actually enjoyed this much better than The Parlement of Fowles. Chaucer’s vivid descriptions were great. I was picturing what each of the characters looked like in my head. Then I looked up some illustrations of each character. I pictured most of them far uglier than what I found on Google though. I don’t know anything about Chaucer or The Canterbury Tales, and I was wondering if there were film adaptations of these stories?