Image of Lúthien by Matt Stewart
Answer one group of questions on “Sir Orfeo”:
1. How does Sir Orfeo transform the Greco-Roman Orpheus legend? Name several additions and changes: consider the characters, setting, plot, conclusion, tone. How does realm of faërie compare/contrast with Hades? What are the effects of Sir Orfeo borrowing from the homecoming of Odysseus and the testing of the loyal steward to re-write the ending of the Orpheus legend?
2. Who is Herodis? What is her experience like with Orpheus, with the Faerie King, in Faerie itself, and when reunited with her husband? If medieval fantasy is acting as “psychological allegory,” what underlying social, psychological and spiritual realities might Herodis’ story be revealing?
3. Using Tolkien’s “On Fairy Stories” for further analysis: How is Tolkien’s element of fantasy present in the poem? How are the elements of recovery, escape, and consolation present in the poem? Could Sir Orfeo be described as possessing eucatastrophe? Why or why not?
Answer one group of questions on Beren and Lúthien:
4. What does Beren Erchamion mean in Sindarin? What other words in English sound like “Beren” and how might these be related to Beren’s character? What does Lúthien Tinúviel mean? How do they get their second names?
5. What is Lúthien doing when Beren sees her for the first time? How is she like Princess Mee? Like the Pearl-Maiden? How does Lúthien transform over the course of the narrative — physically, emotionally, relationally?
- Explain the ending of the story: “Yet in her choice the Two Kindreds have been joined; and she is the forerunner of many in whom the Elder see yet, though all the world is changed, the likeness of Luthien the beloved, whom they have lost.”
6. What losses does Beren experience, esp. at the beginning of the story? What rash oath does Beren take / impossible task does he agree to and why? To what extent does he succeed? How do Melian, Luthien, and Huan help him?
7. What are the Silmarils, and what do they symbolize? How do they compare to the pearl in “Pearl”? (Consider http://bestiary.ca/beasts/beast548.htm.)
8. Identify two points of interest in Beal’s “Orphic Powers in the Legend of Beren and Lúthien”.
9. Add your own two questions for discussion.