In addition to these rules, Old English poetry often features a distinctive set of rhetorical devices. The most common of these is the kenning, used throughout Beowulf . A kenning is a short metaphorical description of a thing used in place of the thing’s name; thus a ship might be called a “sea-rider,” or a king a “ring-giver.” Some translations employ kennings almost as frequently as they appear in the original. Others moderate the use of kennings in deference to a modern sensibility. But the Old English version of the epic is full of them, and they are perhaps the most important rhetorical device present in Old English poetry.
Historical context of Christopher Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus is religious, as it hints at cultural changes taking place during Marlowe’s time. In 16th century Europe, there was a conflict between Roman Catholicism and the Protestant English Church. During this entire period, Calvinism was popular within the English churches; however, it was controversial. According to Calvinistic doctrine, the status of the people was predestined as saved or damned. Scholars and readers have debated on the stance that Marlowe’s play takes regarding the Calvinist doctrine, in whether Faustus is predestined to hell or not. The Renaissance period provides context for this play by Marlowe.
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