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A study of Guenevere in the Middle English romances



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In this thesis I will examine Guenevere as she appears in the Middle English romances, including Malory's Morte Darthur.1 Chapter I will provide introductory material to and will serve as a framework for the remaining two chapters. It will offer a suitable definition of 'romance' and will outline the general features of the genre. Characterization in ME romances and, more specifically, the characterization of women will be discussed. Within this frame­work the ensuing discussion of Guenevere in the romances will become more meaningful. In Chapter II I will examine Guenevere as she appears in nine ME romances, namely: The Wedding of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnell, Arthour and Merlin, Merlin, The Awntyrs off Arthure at the Terne Wathelyne, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the alliterative Morte Arthure, Launfal, Sir Launfal, and the stanzaic Le Morte Arthur.2 The romances examined do not necessarily have anything in common beyond the facts that they contain Arthurian matter and present portraits of Guenevere. I have not discussed the romances chronologically but, rather, I have grouped them in such a way as to facilitate my discussion of Guenevere. In Chapter III I will examine Guenevere as she appears in Malory's Morte Darthur.3 Here we see her in various roles; particularly we see her as the lover of Lancelot and as Arthur's wife and queen. This Chapter will conclude with a summary of the findings of Chapters II and III. 1. The few major studies on this topic are: T.P. Cross and W.A. Nitze, Lancelot and Guenevere: A Study on the Origins of Courtly Love (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press,1 930); K.G.T. Webster, Guinevere, A Study of Her Abductions (Milton, Mass.: Turtle Press, 1951); P. DiPasquale, Jr., "Malory's Guinevere: Epic Queen, Romantic Heroine and Tragic Mistress," Bucknell Review, 16(2), 1968, 86-102. 2. The texts of the romances used in this thesis are: The Wedding of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnell, in Middle English Verse Romances, ed. D. B. Sands (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc., 1966), pp. 323-347; Of Arthour and of Merlin, ed. O.D. Macrae-Gibson (London: Oxford Univ. Press, 1973), EETS 268, vol. 1; Merlin, ed. H.B. Wheatley, intro. by W. E. Mead (1865; rpt. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co. Ltd., 1899), EETS, OS 10, 21, 36, 112, in 2 vols.; The Awntyrs off Arthure at the Terne Wathelyne, ed. R.J. Gates (Philadelphia: Univ. of Penn. Press, 1969); Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, ed, J.R.R. Tolkien and E.V. Gordon (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1967), 2nd ed. rev. by N. Davis; Morte Arthure, ed. E. Brock (London: N. Trübner & Co., 1865), EETS, OS 8; Launfal, ed. G.L. Kittredge, Amer. J. of Phil., 10 (1), 1889, 1-33; Sir Launfal, in Middle English Metrical Romances, ed. W.H. French and C.B. Hale (1930; rpt. New York: Russell & Russell, 1964), vol. 1, pp. 345-380; Le Morte Arthur, ed. J.D. Bruce (London: Oxford Univ. Press, 1903), EETS 88. 3. The text used in this thesis is Malory Works, ed. E. Vinaver (London: Oxford Univ. Press, 1971), 2nd ed.





Master of Arts (M.A.)








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