Grade 12 British Literature



Sir Philip Sidney it's one of the premier tutor writers of this time period and without he's just really one of the best ones because he's able to take the sonnet and to take it to a new level I'm going to discuss some of that and more later on in our lesson but first of all we're gonna go ahead and give you a heads up a little bit on why he has become such an important part of Tudor literature literary criticism the analytical study and evaluation of literature and quite an interesting origin you know literary criticism that is you see it all began with Sidney Sir Philip Sidney the man who planted and wanted the seed which grew into literary criticism and he certainly was the gentleman for the task soldier poet writer scholar not to mention the family ties with the nobility Sidney was a Renaissance man in the fullest sense of the word in fact his writings became some of the greatest examples of Elizabethan literature of his writings Arcadia is the best prose fiction of his time Astro fell and Stella is the most influential sonnet sequence oh and most importantly an apology for poetry is the source for the entire genre of literary criticism it was Sidney who first developed literary criticism as a pattern for critiquing literature outlining his ideas in his famous book an apology yes he defended literary genres especially poetry but he also established a high quality standard that previously hadn't existed he strongly believed that literature like any other product should have certain rules for defining the stamp of fine workmanship rather amusing it is that Sidney should encourage such restraint and discipline in literature when his personal life was characterized by rashness nonetheless encouraged well ordered literature he did in fact Sidney believed that good literature especially poetry more effectively teaches than say Phyllis topical theories glasses listen to what he says I say the philosopher teaches but he teaches obscurely but the poet is the food for the tenderest stomachs the poet is indeed the right popular philosopher ironically Sydney wrote this statement in a book reflecting on the influence of the then immensely popular Greek philosophers Sydney's brilliant contributions to literature and poetry with a result of his classical education and favorable circumstances not to mention his incredible talent yes he was certainly a well-rounded Renaissance man you heard that Renaissance man theme keeps cropping up and all of our authors during this time which makes sense because this is during the time of the Renaissance and the Reformation so the men of this era who are going to be influencing the politics and writing the literature are going to be reflecting that and Sir Philip Sidney is just one of the many men who comes to the forefront at this time early in Tudor literature had been rather depressing at times especially before the composition of Sidney's apology since the time of Chaucer there really had been no English poet that had arisen to compare with the great literary masters of French and Italian poetry now and why is why it in Surrey had come to the forefront you had some glory that was there but they had been done now several decades and the interim between this Wyatt and Sir Ian Sidney was not very proof as I seen but literature was not that great so until Sidney comes on to the scene there is nobody and after Sidney well let's just say that the tremendous flowering of English literature that develops during the 1600s was in no small measure a response to Sidney's example in the style of writing and the level of writing that he develops so he becomes then for us kind of a hinge upon which Tudor literature turns up until it's time your building when you hit Sydney then it kind of like kicks off and just totally develops into the Golden Age of English literature Sydney is a man that does reflect his times like you heard mentioned he was that Renaissance man and he is he is involved in so many different things and one of those would be this conflict that is occurring between the Protestants and the Catholics Sydney was a very staunch Protestant his father was a close companion to Edward the 6th who was the first official Protestant monarch but he was more than that he was present in France during the Saint Bartholomew's Day Massacre when catherine de medici who was the queen mother she sent out the french army and at that time all the protestants were in paris for the wedding between Henry the 4th and the Catholic princess and between seventy and a hundred thousand Protestants were killed that day during that massacre and he was there in the city during that time and it just impacts him mightily so he's definitely a part of those religious controversies of his day and he's also involved in many of the political issues that are arising during this time he is a rising Minister of State he becomes the darling of Queen Elizabeth she wants to groom him and to create in him the type of statesman that she can entrust with diplomatic missions and she does that she makes him a cup bearer for a year so he's in constant contact with her being groomed mean develops being molded into the type of man she can trust and she sends him off to Germany into the Low Countries in the Netherlands to form a Protestant League against Spain which was really a desire of his heart because he's so believes in in Protestantism but he wasn't quite ready for the for the accomplishment though because his character is very rash and he just was too zealous and what he believed and he exceeded his orders that the Queen had given to him and she has to recall him back to court because he just overstepped his boundaries in this maddack mission he was engaged upon when he gets back he's kind of banished from court soon after because Elizabeth Elizabeth plays with getting married her whole entire reign but in this particular time he was very upset with this man she was considering to marry and he writes her a letter you know denouncing it and she doesn't really appreciate that so he's banished from a year from court there turns out to be a good thing because he does some very extensive writing during that time eventually he recovers himself when he comes back and he becomes a military commander of the Protestant Dutch who are fighting in Spain he was trying to come back in and me keep the Netherlands and halt and part of their empire and he is he is killed during that time in all of Europe mourns for him he really was really impacted them intensely not just with his writings but with his fervency of religion and in his ability to be a diplomat even though he made mistakes he was a very worthy statesman so that brings us to a significant literary influence that he is going to develop once his writings are published remember men of the Tudor period didn't publish their own writings they were published after their death once they're published is then that English literature under girl goes some profound changes which we'll be talking about as we discuss this reading and part of his genius lies in the range of his impact it's not as if he were only a great literary critic or only a great poetic innovator he was a master of many areas which reflects his Renaissance training for example and you're gonna want to know these things may will show up on your test Arkadia which is his the prime example of his prose fiction also apology for poetry which reflects reflects his opinion on literary criticism and then lastly Astro fil and Stella which is the first time that the English literature experiences the sonnet sequence so we're going to be able to go through some of those things and see how he blazed a trail in the literature world with his energy and his vitality and his genius he was such an incredible a man so that when he dies you know like I mentioned before all of your morons him because he was a courier par excellence you know above anything that they had seen and for months the English nobility are gonna wear black and mourning for him when he does die he impacts so many people edmund spenser in the Faerie Queene whom will be studying in just a few short lessons models one of his characters after Sydney and so you gotta just think you know even Shakespeare is influenced by him so you just you sit back and wonder and you're like well what if he'd been able to live a little bit longer what might he not have been able to have done had his life not been cut short we don't know but we do know what he has done with many of his works and so that brings us to the sonnets you have Astor Phil and Stella and these sonnets are going to spark a vogue for a similar sequence of poetry in in England aster Phil and Stella are going to cause other writers to want to model their writings after this type of sequence like I mentioned Shakespeare and Spencer and it's going to be one of the most frequently republished works in the language language the Sun is right here now Cindy gets his ideas for this particular sonic sequence from Petrarch Marie Petrarch from Wyatt in Surrey when we were talking about how they brought the Italian sonnet in well Sidney as well is going to be influenced by him and he is going to be proclaimed the English Petrarch the one who sets up for England much what Patrick did for Italy he is writing with his readership in mind you always write towards your audience you know know you've been found in that and that's been pounded into you and your grammar classes and it just goes to show you even the literature we study you have to know your audience his characters are going to speak in an English accent they're going to be voicing English concerns they're going to be speaking about the spirit of the time that they are used to and so he is going to create for us sonot that is very much appropriate for his day an agent his nation now his si sonnet sequence that I've mentioned I want to define that for you because it's basically many sonnets put together like you can see by one poet but they're not just a bunch of poets starting together like an anthology they have a specific purpose because they all have a unifying theme or subject that they are talking about so they just build on each other in that sense now can you tell me what that theme might be it was going to be very similar to what wide in Surrey talked about in their sonnets love unrequited love is their theme or you can say unreciprocated love it's not going to be giving back and then his particular sonnet sequence is composed of a hundred and eight sonnets that's quite a lot of Sun it's to write and he also includes eleven songs within the sequence so you can imagine you start out with son at one and go all the way to 108 there are quite a many different topics that are going to be discussed now one thing that it's really interesting is the name of the sonic sequence astra phil and stella and the definition of their names is something that we need to remember because it's very much plays into the themes that are going to be talked about in each of his sonnet astra phil means star lover and he is in love with the very distant and the very unattained unattainable stella whose name means star so think of yourself here on earth and you gaze off at those stars and at nighttime and how far away they are and how unutterably unreachable they are and that's exactly the position you have in these sonnets Astra Phil loves the star he loves Stella but he could never have her so these sonnets are going to be recounting Astro fields alternating hope and despair as he tries to pursue Stella and win her love and it really follows the typical love cycle the man falls in love with a beautiful woman who utterly to stains his love and the lover then becomes emotionally servile to her he treats her some kind of goddess to whom he prays for for mercy she would just smile at him his life would just be static if she refuses him if she scorns him he just gets sick to his stomach and you just have this vast range of emotions that he's going through and the song and sequence ends with him just being frustrated and resigned to his faith and he can never have his star so remember that as we go through these sonnets that they are building from sonnet to sonnet within itself that's the big picture but then again remember what we talked about with our Sun it's each one is going to have a very specific point a very specific theme that it's building on within those 14 little minds that is given to it so what we're gonna do as we begin discussing these money sonnets that you have in your book is we're gonna go through and give you the themes and show how that is developed within the sonnets structure when the sonnet 20 been is going to be developing the theme of Love Boat love that is identified with suffering and eventual death that is very clearly pointed out to us in the first opening lines let's take a look at that on page 169 you have he has his death wound he calls love or that Cupid that murdering boy that was a thief that threw its bloody bullet at him his arrow you know Cupid's arrow and he had this wrongful prey he's very much consumed with the fact that he's been dealt a very nasty blow by Cupid and how dare he be ambushed without his knowing you know he didn't ask to be put into love but now he's been struck with it and it's really affecting him because the first section of this sonnet is developing these feelings of bitterness that he was this wrongful prey that this little thief of a loved God has come in and taken away his peace of mind from him with this hopeless love that he's been had so the octet is setting us up for this bitterness and what we need to figure out is how does it progress that is where the sestet it's going to come into how does a stir filled with this bitterness that he feels with being struck with this love because he is obviously frustrated and we concede that in the sonnet as it progresses and the sestet then brings the resolution to the sonnet by showing us that he ends up in this state of self-pity and helplessness he is um has this oh woe is me type attitude that he cannot and he's helpless as well because he says look at the last one he says but err I could fly thumbs it pierced my heart it's he's just hopeless how could how could he have avoided being it being forced to fall in love he couldn't he never had enough time to run and then it was too late he was stricken so that is the beginning of of our discussion of a stir fill and we can see already just the range of emotions that he has and how that is going to tie into it now we're gonna skip up to a to sonnet 31 or to skip over 11 intervening sonnets we're gonna discuss done at 31 which has very specific theme that is similar to of sonnet 20 again this concept of this unjust suffering that he has have been forced to endure and that brings us to the octave which is setting us up with this comparison to the moon it's identifying Astro feel sad progress of love with the moon itself take a look at the first couple lines with me and we're gonna see how he develops that I love this fun and it's absolutely fascinating it says with how sad steps Oh moon thou climb is the skies how silently and with what how way in a face what may be that even in heavenly place that busy Archer and his sharp arrow tries Astra Phil is not settling for any mean comparison here he's saying Oh moon you to feel what I am feeling you too are lonely you are a pail of faith you're being affected by love he's like how could that be that even the moon himself is being forced to endure such things as we humans do so the sestet then is going to build off of that it's going to bring about this self-righteous tone that he has where he's asking how can these beauties who say they want to be loved yet when they're loved scorn us with such abandon and disdain he's like I don't understand it women want to be loved I'm loving this woman but yet she's courting me so he takes on this self-righteous tone of saying well I'm doing all that I can and you have some of the a petulant tone as well as he be moans the loss that he was enduring here in this frustration when all it is doing it's backing up the theme of this unjust suffering that he has and how wrong she is to be so proud and scornful of his love for her but he doesn't always stay depressed and downhearted because son at 41 takes us along to a new theme here we see where he becomes hopeful in nature he has the Octavia setting up for us is optimistic moment do you remember what was occurring in sonnet 41 what is the backdrop what is the setting for this hopefulness do you remember let's take a look on page 170 and hopefully that will refresh your mind I'm sonnet 41 is dealing with some medieval traditions it's going to be talking about the joust and these achievements of horsemanship and endurance that the Knights were supposed to have so he wins this this prize of horsemanship and everybody is praising him and his skills even people from France so he's very hopeful and he says really the true cause of his victory is Stella because she looked on and from her heavenly face sent forth the beams which made so fair my race so in this Sidney is saying that all these people who are saying it's just his great talent that he won this he says no way it was my love for Stella and the fact that she was there smiling at me that gave him the inspiration for him to win and that's what the sestet develops for us that Stella becomes his inspiration um and Sydney is really brilliant in this because he's developing that convention of courtly love here he's really reiterating that facet of or that particular principle of love romance that the lover is stirred too bold deeds out of love for his mistress and a desire to impress her positively sonnet 63 is another hopeful sonnet because in this one he is triumphant and he is triumphant because he's able to take a rather insignificant rule and make it become incredibly important for example this one deals with grammar and Stella had told him no twice he says that he had asked her he was craving this this one particular thing from her and she kept saying no and she said it twice and he says well then success then is that must mean that she means yes because Tim knows make a make a yes and so there is hope developed in the sestet that she's going to accept him um take a look there it's I love the last line it says for grammar says oh this dear Stella way for grammar says to grammar who says nay that in one speech two negatives affirm and right there you can see the two negative she has so he says two wrongs make a right to nose making yes two negatives equal a positive you learn that in math class so he is extremely optimistic here that when she's saying no she's really meaning yes but you can see that just his obsession with her and his own desires here causing him to create maybe an illusion out of what is really not there which you can do when you fall in love that you can pretend or you can project upon someone what you want to see that may not necessarily be there so that doesn't negate the fact that Sidney can has proved for us that sons can be very witty in nature as well and be very full of that keen sense of verbal sparring that can go back and forth here and we see that how he took that was just a grammar rule and created a very fun sonnet for us there now the last segment that we're gonna talk about is leave me o love and this one you can compare with Suri's one where he says ferrule ferrule of farewell love and all thy laws forever where he rejects love there but Sydney and Syria are going to have two totally different meanings because here we see in this particular assignment how that he is rejecting earthly love for heavenly love and really what this sonnet is demonstrating for us is the Christian side of the Renaissance because Sydney as we've talked about he is very much involved in in in religion in his faith and in Protestantism and you can see many biblical allusions in here take a look at the third line it says um he goes grow rich and never in that which never taketh rust to that sweet yolk were lasting freedoms be and throughout this sonnet you have this sense where he is forsaking an earthly love because it doesn't bring satisfaction and he is turning not to learning but to God who is sufficient for all that he needs so okay let's take a transition here now because we're gonna leave the sonnets and go to more prose we're going to see how he is going to develop an apology for poetry and an apology here simply refers to a defense an apology is the finest treatise of literary criticism and of prose essay that's going to come out of Tudor England it's going to blend a logic levity and moral earnestness and wit all together it's a beautiful thing I was just reading through it again just very recently and I was just amazed at how well organized it is and how each line fits so like dovetails together so well and what it's doing its defending poetry against criticism it's defend mean hurt as a defense against the accusation that poetry is a waste of time and then it is morally corrupting genre and Sydney says no no no no no he asserts that the study of poetry is superior it's not inferior it is superior to any form of study except for theology Sydney is very conscience through conscious throughout his defense that it is fiction he is defending and those who study the other academic disciplines are regularly betrayed by the very fact that they have to be literal so he's saying while the poet the poet here is more free than your other scholars because he's under no illusions he can make a fictional statement as true as any other and sometimes even more true because what he's asserting doesn't have to be literal doesn't have to stick straight with the facts and like poetry is a beautiful way to communicate truth because it is delightful to read it's going to teach as it delights which is something that philosophy in history or some of the other disciplines cannot do so he asserts that poetry's purpose is to teach by delighting you see Sydney was firmly convinced that poetry was the best teacher for for communicating knowledge and virtue it was the monarch of the Arts and Sciences take a look with me on page 172 the third paragraph it says now there and of all Sciences is our poet the monarch for and this is why he is for he does not only show the way but give us so sweet a prospect into the way as will entice any man to enter into it and if your goal of poetry is to communicate morality then if poetry is going to bring men through the door then use it because the value of poetry is what is counting here and he says that poetry is superior to anything take a look with me at the very top of the page then it's he's going to show a contrast to us between philosophy and history compared to poetry he says the philosopher therefore and historian are they which would win the goal of getting people to be more moral the one by precept the other by example but both not having both do both halt they are limited in their ability to do this but poetry Sidney is arguing is better because it has both of these things poetry doesn't deal with just John or poetry deals with the generalities not just with the specifics like history has to empower tree teaches universal ideas not just one little thing here and there from history that the historian has to concern himself with he's also arguing that poetry is superior to philosophy because poetry is able to make ideas visible to the mind which is very important if you can see a picture of something your understanding of that concept is greatly broadened so philosophy can't do that the poetry can and so Sidney says that poetry makes sure that knowledge will be visible through virtuous action so philosophy is concerned with the abstract but it can't create a visual picture history is concerned with details but it can't do generalizations so poetry therefore has the best of both worlds plus the added factor that it's very entertaining as it does so in int'l lights its readers causing them to walk through that door of learning of knowledge and morals and virtues and so you can see that Sidney has really captured himself quite well here and giving us this defensive poetry and this is just a very short excerpt of a greater work that would illustrate some more of those concepts that we just don't have the time to go into right now unfortunately but it'd be very fascinating reading and you might just want to go out and get it to see what else he would have to say all right let's take a look at your assignment and get you ready for what you do have to read which is pages 173 to 177 and you'll be reading about Sir Walter Raleigh but as you get involved with him don't forget that you will also have a quiz to take in your next lesson

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