Over time, things change. Sometimes there is nothing we can do about it, other times we can do something about it, but are too hesitant to do it, so it happens anyways. Change can be for the good, or for the bad, it all depends on what is needed to improve society, and what is wanted to improve language. In Beowulf, Old English, a period from 449 to1066a.d, is used and it is so unrecognizable, we need English professors to give us a translation of what the writing means. William Shakespeare’s play, "Hamlet," is during the renaissance times of 1485 to 1660 a.d., the words and phrases used are more understandable than that of Beowulf, we still need to analyze it, so we can get the full effect of the writing. Modern day writing of William Golding’s Lord of the Flies is more understandable, because we use that style of the English Language every day, so it is easy to read. In the past two thousand years, literature has advanced in ways that affect the way we speak languages, and write literature.
Old English uses sounds and letters from the Roman alphabet to compose the language that is used in Beowulf. It uses runic characters for the sounds in the story. A few of these runic characters are "asc" (pronounced "ash") (æ), "eth" (ð), and "thorn" (þ). This is taken from Beowulf,
"Sorrow not, sage! It beseems us better
friends to avenge than fruitlessly mourn them.
Each of us all must his end abide
in the ways of the world; so win who may
glory ere death! When his days are told,
that is the warrior's worthiest doom.
Rise, O realm-warder! Ride we anon,
and mark the trail of the mother of Grendel.
No harbor shall hide her -- heed my promise! --
enfolding of field or forested mountain
or floor of the flood, let her flee where she will!
But thou this day endure in patience,
as I ween thou wilt, thy woes each one." (1.45)
This happens after Beowulf mourns the loss of his friends. He also basks in the pride of killing Grendel. This type of language then transforms into Middle English, which in turn transforms into the renaissance, which is also known as Elizabethan times.
The Renaissance was the time that William Shakespeare made spoken art and extraordinary pieces of literature available to everyone. His words spoken were very descriptive and held the attention of everyone listening to him. This form of literature made it possible for everyone to enjoy listening to properly spoken English. William Shakespeare lived in the Elizabethan times of the Renaissance. This defines how easy it is to read compared to Beowulf.
Now I am alone.
O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I!
Is it not monstrous that this player here,
But in a fiction, in a dream of passion,
Could force his soul so to his own conceit
That from her working all his visage wann'd,
Tears in his eyes, distraction in's aspect,
A broken voice, and his whole function suiting
With forms to his conceit? and all for nothing!
For Hecuba! (2)
The significance of this quotation is that it hasn’t been transformed in any way, shape, or form, and yet it is still readable. The quotation is still hard to understand, but we can still read it and get a good idea of what it means. After this period came the Romantic period, than the dark writings of the early 20th century, then came the post-war era that we know and love today.
The post-war era is the form of literature that is what we speak, write, and watch. This era is significant because it introduced us to the world through television, and transformed our lives around it. The literature of Lord of the Flies is of the post-war era, and we can easily understand it, because we have grown up being taught literature that people have used for the better part of the 20th century. Literature has transformed many times to get to the condition that it is in now. It has not transformed much over the past sixty years, which is why we can still understand poems wrote that long ago. The characters in Lord of the Flies speak much differently than the characters in Hamlet. They use less description and more of the words that are used today. Here is a quotation from the Lord of the Flies.
"He found himself understanding the wearisomeness of this life, where every path was an improvisation and a considerable part of one’s waking life was spent watching one’s feet." (3.76)
This quotation means that literature is the same as what it is now, as it was sixty years ago. It also shows how far humans have come with literature, going from using sounds and symbols to write out a story, to using very descriptive and lengthy statements about the way things are, to having the literature use less description and more clarity in the literature of today.
Change is inevitable. Literature needed to change as we improved our intelligence with evolution. It needed to accommodate our intellect and brainpower as they grew over the years. Literature needed to be changed, like a part of machinery, if the part does not work, change it with a new part that works. Society needs change to adapt to our change as humans. Change is a different setting, when something needs to be done