Love through the Ages.

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'Troilus and Criseyde'. Geoffrey Chaucer.


Criseyde lives in Troy and catches the eye of Troilus. He is overwhelmed by desire. With the help of Pandarus, he wins her love. Troilus goes to war with the Greeks. Criseyde falls in love with Diomedes. Achilles kills Troilus. Troilus' spirit is freed and is relived that he no longer has to suffer the pain of love.

  • He is characterised by the ideals of courtly love. He once scoffed at the idea of love but has no succumbed to it. His attitude is submissive, devoted and binded by love and so, surrenders his dignity in his pursuit.#
  • It does almost abide by the ideals of courtly love, however, Troilus falls in love with Criseyde's appearance and physically.
  • Troilus was a warrior before he fell in love with Criseyde. Courtly love subdued his strength.
  • She holds a very complacent stance as she is fully aware that she holds all of the power in the relationship. Criseyde strives to keep her independence, as does many women within Courtly love. 
  • Chaucer almost defends Criseyde despite her betrayal of Troilus, and so, evokes the idea that women are often the ones who are betrayed. 
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'The Miller's Tale' - Geoffrey Chaucer.


  • A carpernter takes in a lodger, who in turn, makes a pass at the carpenter's wife Alison. Alison agrees to meet the boarder called Nicholas. Alison is also being pursued by a musician called Absolon, who proclaims his love for her, despite Alison's love for Nicholas. Absolon comes to the window of Alison, where she promises him a kiss if he closes his eyes, he does so and Nicholas proceeds to try and fart in Absolon's face. Instead, Absolon burns Nicholas' rear end with a hot iron and calls for water. The carpenter wakes up and cuts the rope tying the tub to the roof. All 3 men recieve punishment.

Main points:

  • Chaucer explores the tension between Spiritual love and Physical love whereupon neither forms of love truly succeeds in their aims. Absolon represents Spiritual love and was sorely humiliated in his pursuit of Alison. Nicholas represents Physical love and despite having successfully wooed Alison, he is burned on his rear end. John the Carpenter is declared mad and painfully injured by the fall, perhaps John is the intersection between the sphere's of love, or it could be said that he has not advanced with Courtly love.
  • Element of Sexuality and Violent. A mere kiss from Absolon evolves into a small joke and so transcends into violent with the Hot Iron, Here, the sexuality is extra-marital and is immoral, and so, requires an element of punishment.
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'The Eyes of which I Speak' - Petrarch


  • abba abba cdcdcd - Rhyme Scheme is typically Petrarchan. The scheme foregrounds the Volta.
  • Change in the Rhyme Scheme indicates a change in the mood.
  • Iambic Pentameter. Rising metre, elevated and upbeat.
  • 2 Quatrains. Octet and a Sestet.
  • The Sonnet is restrictive and requires a great deal of skill to construct.


  • Contrasts life and death whilst simultaneously using Romantic language.
  • He is pulled away from himself and is no longer a sexual being on the basis that he is consumed by courtly love.
  • He is idealising Laura's physical presence. Language evokes the idea of Unrequited love and the pain it induces. Petrarch could be considered a victim of courtly love.
  • Written in Italian, compare to Chaucer who considers that sometimes meanings are lost in translation. 
  • Compare to other Sonneteers who use contrasts. 
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'Sonnet 134' - Petrarch


  • abab cdcd eff eff - Untypical Rhyme Scheme. 2 Quatrains. 2 Tercets. 
  • No Volta, making his dismay seem eternal. 
  • A/B/A/B - Acts like point and counterpoint.
  • Change in Rhyme Scheme - the solution of a problem that has been underlined in the octet.
  • Each line is oxymoronic. Almost relates to the notion of love. Constant contraditctions that are evoked by the feeling of love.


  • The Language contrasts sight and blindness, love and hate, peace and war.
  • Juxtaposes the passion against the fear and the longing of love. 
  • The use of Anaphora indicates a sense of binding and restrictiveness about love. 
  • His passion and dedicated towards Laura is almost synonymous with pain and disturbance. 
  • The constant Oxymorons highlight the idea that love is almost certainly attached to another idea, such as pain, hope, dreams. 
  • The language abides by the restrictions of courtly love, to which he experiences a sincere amount of Unrequited love.
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'I Want to be Inside You' - Ronsard

  • Ronsard is utterly devoted to Helene to which his Sonnets are directed at her. Ronsard is bound by the ideals of courtly love.
  • The Title of the Sonnet indicates a sense of obsession and dedication. It is ambiguous and could relate to a sense of physical obsession over Helene. However, in the light of Courtly love it is more likely that he wants to be closer to Helene and understand her every move wholeheartedly.
  • The Sonnet explores Ronsard's pain of being rejected by Helene and evokes the idea that he wants to be inside of another person to understand their mind. A common trait of courtly love
  • He is aware that he is literally unmanned by Courtly love. He attempts to regain his masculinity by colonising her and invading her body in order to understand her thoughts. 
  • It almost indicates a sense of ownership at a time where a Patriarchal society is succumbing to women. 
  • In some cases, Ronsard is almost speaking of the act of seduction and suggests a convincement about her lack of knowledge surrounding his love for her.
  • The Sonnet explores the idea of unrequited love, spirtual love and physical love and the anguishes therein.
  • He does not use militaristic language, much like Romeo and Juliet. He wants to inhabit the body and regain his masculinity.
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'Of His Lady's Old Age' - Ronsard

  • Links to Yates and Shakespeare's Sonnet's. 
  • It is a warning that she will regret rejecting him, and so, when she is old she will only have a mere memory of his pursuit of her. 
  • Almost follows the principles of 'carpe diem'. 
  • Proposes the question of; 'Would it be comfort to be envied for something that you haven't fully achieved?'
  • He is almost obnoxious in his pursuit. He is aware that he is a great poet and would be remembered in the future. Clearly, he is not deficient in inner-conviction.
  • For her, the poem would remain just a distant memory of a song, when she attempts to relive her past.
  • It is inherently a proud poem. One day she will think herself blessed to be sang to by a poet.
  • The poem is a plea to a young woman and warning her of the future. 


  • 2 Stanza's
  • Takes the form of Iambic pentameter.
  • Rhyme scheme -  A B B A C C A - D D E F F E 
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'Farewell, Love, And All Thy Laws...' - Wyatt

Summary of the poem:

  • Wyatt focusses specifically upon the pain of the man, whereupon there is no flattery of the women, previously seen in other Sonnets by that of Petrarch and Ronsard.
  • He talks of knowledge and logic that calls him away from love. Implying that by loving another person, is lucidly stepping away from the bounds of knowledge.
  • Wyatt rejects courtly love on the pretences that he was a lover of Anne Boleyn, a wife of Henry VIII's. Ultimately the poem indicates his fervent animosity surrounding courtly love.
  • It is clear that Wyatt handles rejection in a very different way to Petrarch. Wyatt focusses on the pain that he has endured through the ideals of courtly love.

Key quotes;

  • ''Baited Hooks'' - implys that women are temptresses and are catching men. Also indicates a sense of animalistic tendencies surrounding women and courtly love.
  • ''Plato'' - Knowledge and Logic lure Wyatt away from love.
  • ''liberty is lever'' - links to Socrates quote about levers. levers cause an action, which is powerful. Links to 'Troilus and Criseyde' in terms of Troilus being relieved to be free from love.
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'Set Me Whereas The Sun Doth..' - Howard.

  • Constant use of Oxymorons. Much like Petrarch who uses opposing ideas to show the conflicting nature of love.
  • Takes the structure of 3 Quatrains and Rhyming couply at the en. Much like Shakespeare who uses a rhyming couplet to act as a resolution to the problems discussed previously.
  • Howard has stepped away from the Petrarchan Rhyme Scheme.
  • Intention of the poem is to suggest that no matter what the situation is for him and his lover, his love will not waver and will always advance forward.
  • Applies to the ideals of courtly love on the basis that he is very much attached to the idea of love and romanticism. Unlike Wyatt, Howard does not necessarily endure rejection.
  • Title of the poem means 'put me down where the sun hits the lawn'. Particularly implies that he wants to be laid where the sky meets the earth. Could suggest that he wants to be at the intersect of physical love (earth) and spiritual love (sky).
  • It could also be said that Howard is personifying the sun to be himself, where he suggests that the woman is his ruler, and so, she is in control of where he is set.
  • The rhyme scheme of the poem is very fluid and has a quick tempo. When being read at a fast pace, it almost emulates the speed of love, the transitions that we go through as humans, and so, ultimately creates a sense of resonance surrounding the prospect of 'Carpe Diem', Seiz the day.


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'Sonnet 75' - Spenser.


  • Spenser is attempting to record their love in the sand by writing his lovers name. The waves washed away her name and later alludes to the idea that love is passing and transcient. Much like life and beauty.


  • Rhyme Scheme - called the Spenserian Sonnet (Which Tennyson later adopted in 'The Lotos Eaters and Choric Song'. ) A B A B | B C B C | C D C D | E E
  • The rhyme scheme almost indicates a sense of tension between ideas, whereupon he is attempting to immortalise love, but nature and life makes his notion futile.
  • He makes it clear that their love with last through generations on paper. If it will not last literally in the sand, it will be passed along and known in the future. Ultimately, Spenser makes a Prophetic statement.
  • Much like Ronsard's '' Of His Lady's Old Age' - he is aware of his talent as a poet, and predicts that their love will endure time through literative means, and so, almost takes the form of spiritual love.
  • Almost unconsciously proposes the idea, that if love is so fleeting, why must we strive to have it? - Are we merely creating an atmosphere where we expect loss but still strive to have the fleeting moment?
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'Sonnet 116' - Shakespeare.


  • Shakespeare explores the idea that true love should have no barriers. In a way, Shakespeare could be viewed as being particularly naive. But rather, it seems as though Shakespeare is stripping back the superficial aspects of love, whereupon he states that there is no reason to deny marriage to ''true minds''.
  • The use of the rhyming couplet at the end acts as the resolution to the anguishes explored.


  • ''love is not love'' - He explores the idea that love does not change when circumstances change, it is an ''ever-fixed mark''. This suggests that if love changes when circumstances change, then it is not true love it is merely weakened affection attempting to grapple onto a futile relationship.
  • ''ever-fixed mark'' can relate to a lighthouse. In its most basic terms a lighthouse can be percieved as a sanctuary for those at sea, guiding them to safety, and so, love is a sanctuary, it is safe and it is a solid pathway. The Lighthouse could also signify a beacon of hope. Much like the ''green light'' in 'The Great Gatsby' it is a symbol for aspirations and love.
  • ''love's not time's fool''. This suggest that love does now weaken over time, it should, by nature enhance over time.
  • ''Sickle's compass'' - The Sickle can be personified in terms of death and the grim reaper, it has a morbid quality to the prose, implying that by acting as a barrier to true love you are almost catalysing disheartening consequences.
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'On His Deceased Wife' - John Milton.


  • Cyclical structure. Binding to the reality of his life. ''day brought back my night''. Rhyme scheme changes after the Octet.
  • Octet = Dreams, Mythology, Sex being a sin and religion.
  • Sestet = Purity, Saint-like connotations, sanctuary, reality.
  • Represents Unconditional love, loss and betrayal. The pain of her absence is accentuated through his dreams whereupon when he wakes up, reality savours strongly of bitterness.


  • Religious Connotations surround the Lexis - ''Saint'' - ''White'' - ''Pure''.
  • It is highly indicative of Milton's inclination towards the Puritans in the light of the Civil war.
  • The representation of unconditional love lacks in sexual references. ''Me thought I saw my late espoused Saint''.
  • Use of Mythological references - ''Alcestis'' who is a princess in Greek mythology who is known for the love of her husband.  Which allows exploration of modern ideas to classic examples. This idea was repeatedly used by Tennyson.
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'Scorn Not The Sonnet' - Wordsworth.


  • Wordsworth attempts to revitalise the Sonnet which had become less popular following the Renaissance period.
  • He talks highly of the emotional power of the Sonnet, and so gives his poem a reflexive quality. (poetry talking about poetry).
  • There is no volta,no real change in tone or attitude and follows the same idea throughout the whole poem.
  • Takes the structure of Iambic pentameter, with integrated musical imagery, which fits in with teh idea of the 'sonnet' being the 'little song'. Sonnets were designed to be sung on the basis that not many people could read when the Sonnets originated.
  • Use of Famous Sonneteers: Shakespeare, Petrarch, Spenser and Milton He is not necessarily putting himself on the same level as these poets, but rather he is highlighting the beauty of the sonnet and what previous poets have provided us with the sonnets that they produced.
  • Wordsworth could be considered to be a Metaphysical poet, who focuses primarily upon the psychological nature of the sonnet and what it personally brings to us, as opposed to the means of conveying love and the idea of physical love.
  • Criticism by John Dryden - ''He affects the metaphysics'. Criticism of John Donne.


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'On The Sonnet' - Keats.

  • Keats was on of the Romantic poets alongside Wordsworth and Shelley, who was particularly inventive with the Sonnet.
  • The Sonnet is reflexive upon itself much like 'Scorn Not The Sonnet', There is a free rhyme scheme meaning that there is no general restriction with the sonnet regarding tempo and rhythm,
  • Keats is suggesting that poets should have been more inventive with the sonnet as opposed to restricting them to Petrarcian or Spenserian rhyme scheme.
  • Much like the sonnet, he wishes that people were more inventive with beauty. He considers ''dull rhymes'' to be a poor representation of beauty.
  • When constructing poetry, he suggests that we should look at every chorc, and work hard evoke the complexity of emotion that we wish to convey.
  • Keats suggests that by letting the inspirations of creativity free, a new world of literature can be found.

Key Quotes:

  • ''Dull Rhymes''.
  • ''Constrained''.
  • ''Every Chord''.
  • ''She will be bound with garlands of her own''.
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