Literature Assignment



Write a complete and detailed essay on ONE of the following topics.
Your essay must be typed, double-spaced and from 3 to 4 pages.
In constructing your essay, please follow the rubric for essay writing on page one of
No outside secondary sources are necessary for this essay. This essay is to be your own
work based on what you have read and learned in class.
Rabelais’s Gargantua
Discuss the theme of war as it unfolds. What causes the war? How does Picrochole
behave with respect to Grandgousier? In what way does Rabelais satirize the horrors of
war and its destructive impact on society?
Discuss the theme of education by contrasting scholasticism with its methods, teachers
and outcome to humanism.
Discuss the function and role of Brother John Mincemeat in the construction of the
Abbey of Thélème and how the abbey, as a utopia, reflects humanist ideals. You may
also want to reflect on how the monk stands in opposition to monasticism.
Cervantes’s Exemplary Stories
Discuss social satire in Rinconete and Cortadillo by examining the lives of the two young
thieves and contrasting their world to that of Monipodio. How does the microcosm of
Monipodio’s underworld reflects the macrocosm of society at large?
Discuss the interplay of fate vs. action and illusion vs. reality in The Jealous
Extremaduran. Who falls prey to illusion? Are there any guarantees in life? How does
free will throw our preconceived notions? Why does Cervantes leave his stories open-ended?


Gargantua and Pantagruel


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Gargantua and Pantagruel by François Rabelais is comprised of a series of books published between 1532 through 1564 and proposed that when one does not become highly critical to analyze the existence, he is easy to fall prey to the concepts of chameleons and charlatans. Therefore it becomes critical to apply knowledge into the actual practice which does not allow one to become highly stagnant to the constant memorization and its repository. It has to be understood that education is not primarily about reading, but it is associated with the action. There are various educational methods, and one is seen to miss all the meaning if he succumbs to the conformity and prejudice.
In order to undermine the convention and tradition of medieval scholasticism, Rabelais has chosen to use satire. In this given book, Gargantua and Pantagruel, both the primary characters of Ponocrates and sophister-doctor Master Tubal Holoferns can be seen as the educational icons possessing opposing ideologies. The character of Ponocrates is seen to embody itself with a Renaissance scholastic approach whereas Master Tubal Holofernes has been seen to epitomize a very medieval scholastic method of learning. 
Gargantua has been asked by Master Tubal Holoferns to recite the text by heart, and further instructions have been given to Gargantua to become abysm of knowledge. The giant throat of Gargantua has been filled by the best available educational ale. But this method has become highly stale. Silly names like Theodolite, Donat, Le Facet, and Alanus in Parabolic have been satirized by Rabelais in the great medieval works of literature, but these are no longer useful for quenching one's thirst for knowledge. The medieval scholars and other educational methods have seen to become “rabble of others” (Page 60). Gargantua was seen to study heard, and he spent most of his time but did not gain any profit leading him to become doted, simple, foolish and blockish. Therefore, it can be seen that the medieval scholasticism and its lessons are not enough for educating the individuals. 
Rabelais is seen to have a disdain for memorizing anything without applying it. He has a belief that any individual who is sequestered in the room full of books will fail to grasp the actual meaning of education. Because one fails to grasp and apply what they have learned. In this way, Ponocrates have been offering an appropriate method of learning. Ponocrates is seen to embody a perspective on the basis of Aristotelian knowledge being highly inspired by the humanist movement of Renaissance. The ideal vision of Rabelais is seen to fall short of the methods by Ponocrates. 
According to Ponocrates, the change in the educational habits of Gargantua would be requiring a violent shift in his educational paradigm. All his habits need to be altered and to forget all his learning. During the medieval scholastics, there was an apparent jab.  If not impossible then it has to be considered that the task was difficult and would require Gargantua to change his lifestyle. This would mean that one has to devote himself to his education and to alter his study habits. It has been suggested by Rabelais that only half an hour has been spent by the medieval scholastics while memorizing their texts along with letting the minds wonder about the cooking in the kitchen. Whereas Ponocrates is seen to ask Gargantua to “put himself on such a road and way of studying, that he lost not any one hour in the day, but employed all his time in learning and honest knowledge. (Page, 71)
This method has more preference than the other method and presents the focal point of this work by Rabelais. Education is far from the mere act of memorization and to devote one's hours to study and educate without applying it, is a foolish and total waste of time. Rabelais has depicted that the world of nobleman is not noble and similarly the educated individuals are not educated.  One has to shun and shed all the prejudices for adopting proper living and to stop judging one from its cover. Perceptions and Judgments are not important and should not be used for equating the things in reality. There is a need to ask the right questions along with analyzing the environment critically so as not to fall prey to the perpetual slave towards all the false image. 
These were some of the lessons that were undermined from Rabelais’ Gargantua and Pantagruel

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