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Title: Some modes of symbolism in Old English poems
Author: Savage, Anne Elaine
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: Royal Holloway, University of London
Date of Award: 1982
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The purpose of this thesis is to investigate the symbolic dimension of some Old English poems with a wide range of forms and styles: Beowulf, The Wanderer, The Seafarer, The Dream of the Rood, Exodus and The Phoenix. In the introduction, a consideration of two approaches to the Anglo-Saxon poetic tradition, the oral and the literary, leads to discussion of the difficulty involved in the definition of a tradition which is neither strictly oral nor literary. It is suggested that a fuller understanding of the symbolic dimension of the poetry could contribute to a more comprehensive definition of that tradition, and resolve at least some of the critical problems of interpretation in individual poems. The following chapters explore, within a general reading, the nature and role of symbolism in each poem. The conclusion sums up, in a form simplified for the purpose of comparison, the relationship of symbol to symbolized in the individual poems, and comment is made on the Anglo-Saxon symbolic sensibility, its poetic language and the language of its critics. The role of didactic tone and direct moral statement in symbolism is considered. It is concluded that traditional, apparently similar diction and imagery can be directed by connotation and structure to produce profoundly different total effects in different poems. Together with structure, ambiguity, non-differentiation of the literal from the figurative, and a sense of identification between subjects, rather than representation of one by another, plays a major part in the relationship of symbol to symbolized. Therefore critical terminology should not rely on a vocabulary of discrete classes of meaning.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: English Literature