Someone recently bought our

students are currently browsing our notes.

X

Medieval Romance Complete Exam Notes

English Notes > Middle English Notes

This is an extract of our Medieval Romance Complete Exam Notes document, which we sell as part of our Middle English Notes collection written by the top tier of Oxford University students.

The following is a more accessble plain text extract of the PDF sample above, taken from our Middle English Notes. Due to the challenges of extracting text from PDFs, it will have odd formatting:

Northrop

Frye's

Theory

of

Archetypes:


Summer

=

Romances:

marked

by

extraordinarily

persistent

nostalgia,

and

a

search

for

some

kind

of


imaginative

golden

age

in

time

or

space.

Typically

have

virtuous

heroes

and

beautiful

heroines

who


represent

ideals

and

villains

that

threaten

their

ascendancy.


Plot:

The

common

plot

is

a

basic

quest

sequence:

Struggle:

perilous

journey

and

minor

adventures


Ritual

death:

crucial

struggle,

usually

a

battle

in

which

either

the

hero

or

his

foe,

or

both,

must

die


Recognition:

the

exaltation

of

the

hero


Characters:

In

romance

the

reader's

values

are

bound

up

with

hero

who

unequivocally

represents

what

is


supposed

to

be

right

and

virtuous.

If

the

tale

rises

to

the

level

of

myth,

the

hero

will

show

signs

of

divinity


and

the

enemy

will

have

demonic

qualities.


Hero

from

upper

world:

spring,

dawn,

order,

fertility,

vigor,

youth

Battle

in

our

world

against

an

Enemy


from

lower

world:

winter,

darkness,

confusion,

sterility,

moribund

life,

old

age


Eiron;

hero:

an

unequivocally

right

and

virtuous

character,

old

wise

man:

often

a

magician

who

effects


action

or

sybilline:

often

the

lady

for

whose

sake

or

at

whose

bidding

the

quest

is

performed


Alazon:

Enemy:

in

religious

tales

this

character

may

take

the

form

of

a

horrible

monster

that

represents


different

ideas

of

Satan;

Secular

story

=

the

enemy

may

be

guarding

a

hoard

of

gold,

which

may

represent


power

and

wisdom


Bomolochoi:

spirits

of

nature

(shy

nymph,

elusive

half--wild

creatures,

wild

man):

elude

moral

antithesis


because

they

are

partly

of

the

moral

neutrality

of

the

world

or

partly

of

the

world

of

mystery

that

is

never


seen;

These

characters

intensify

and

focus

the

romantic

mood


Many

characters

that

are

on

the

virtuous

side

in

romance

have

a

counterpart:

the

hero's

helper

is

balanced


by

the

traitor;

the

heroine,

by

siren

or

beautiful

witch;

and

the

dragon,

by

helpful

animals.


Jung

(dream

terms):

quest--romance

is

search

of

libido

or

desire

of

self--fulfillment

that

will

deliver

it

from


the

anxieties

of

reality;

antagonists

are

sinister

figures,

giants,

ogres,

witches

and

magicians

of

parental


origin


Frazer

(ritual

terms):

quest--romance

signifies

fertility

(food

and

drink,

bread

and

wine,

body

and

blood,


union

of

male

and

female)

over

wasteland


Phases

of

Romance

1.

Complete

innocence:

birth

of

the

hero,

an

event

which

is

commonly

associated

with

a

flood

or

water


imagery;

symbolizing

that

fertility

and

youth

is

the

real

wealth

2. Youthful

innocence

of

inexperience:

usually

presents

a

pastoral

world,

a

generally

pleasant

wooded


landscape

with

glades,

valleys,

etc;

story

tends

to

center

on

a

youthful

hero,

still

overshadowed

by

parents


+

surrounded

by

youthful

companions

3. Completion

of

an

ideal:

typical

quest

where

the

hero

goes

on

an

adventure

to

destroy

the

monster

+


evil

--

return

goodness

and

fertility

to

the

land

4.

Happy

society

resists

change:

The

hero's

society,

which

is

innocent,

is

assaulted

by

an

enemy,

which

is


experience,

but

it

withstands

+

survives

the

assault;

=

moral

allegory

or

morality

play

5.

Reflective

or

idyllic

view:

Here

experience

and

adventure

is

contemplated,

a

similar

world

as

that

in


the

second

phase

is

present,

but

with

a

knowledge

of

experience

that

did

not

previously

exist

6. Society

ceases

to

exist

beyond

contemplation:

These

are

tales

often

told

in

quotation

marks

by

one


individual

to

a

small

group;

there

is

a

coziness

to

this

type

of

tale

as

it

is

free

from

confrontation

and

has

a


relaxed

and

entertaining

tone

1.

HISTORY

OF

ROMANCE


12th

century

France

developed

courtly

culture

--

Eleanor

of

Aquitaine

+

her

daughter

Marie

de


Champange.

* e.g

poems

based

on

works

of

Marie

de

France

and

Chretian

de

Troues;

Le

Fresne

and

Lanval,


Yvain.

* The

chansons

de

geste,

Old

French

for

"songs

of

heroic

deeds

[or

lineages]

epic

poems

* Earliest

known

examples

date

from

the

late

11

+

early

12th

centuries,

nearly

a

hundred

years


before

the

emergence

of

the

lyric

poetry

of

the

trouveres

(troubadours)

and

the

earliest

verse


romances.

* Material

probably

taken

from

oral

tradition

+

works

of

court

poet,

supplied

by

travelling


'trouveres'

to

jongleurs

who

performed

them

--

circulated

widely

in

Europe:

* Waned

in

France

during

13th

century

but

grew

in

England

--

continued

to

be

read

/heard

in


Anglo--Norman,

esp

at

courtly

level,

but

began

to

appear

increasingly

in

English

8 English

texts

dates

1125--1300,

grew

to

36

between

1350

-1400

(excl.

Chaucer

and

Gower).

90%

of


13/14th

century

English

romances

derive

from

French

originals,

but

they

took

on

their

own

character

as


they

developed:

* English

poets

employed

forms

and

techniques

from

Latin

+

French

but

from

their

own

Anglo-
Saxon

predecessors,

particularly

the

alliterative

verse

seen

in

The

Awntyres.

* Like

all

redactors,

they

shaped

received

material

to

reflect

their

own

cultural

context/personal


interests


Social

connotations:

division

of

the

romance

corpus

into

'courtly',

'non--courtly'

or

'popular'

literature


adds

to

the

confusion

of

the

classification

of

Romance.

Theoretically,

romances

were

for

the

aristocracy


were

in

French,

and

those

for

the

middle

and

lower

classes

were

in

English:

* The

critical

proclivity

has

been

to

view

'courtly'

romance

as

superior

to

'non--courtly'

though


that

is

shifting

somewhat.

* 2nd

half

of

14th

cent.

French

has

become

largely

an

acquired

language

and

was

being

replaced


by

English

among

the

upper

classes,

evidence

that

Aristocrats

read

/heard

some

vernacular


literature.

* Chaucer

was

familiar

with

'popular'

works

--

his

+

some

other

romances

like

SGGK

are

'courtly'


in

artistry

--

for

the

nobility,

but

are

believed

to

have

trickled

down

the

social

scale

and

that


some

popular

works

rose

in

the

other

direction.

--

era

of

cross-currents


Audience:

complex

social

stratification

that

defies

the

imagined

3

estate

system

which,

in

reality,


encompasses

many

classes,

some

in

motion

like

the

bourgeoisie

/

yeomanry:

* Not

necessarily

a

single

group

=

audience

classification

associated

with

poem's

quality

as

well


its

reflection

of

class

/

interest

/

values

* Authors

identified

not

by

specific

person

but

level

education

/

literary

ability

/

social

class--
environment

* Original

authorship

obscured

by

scribal

overlays,

dialect

differences,

+

time

between

original


presentation

and

manuscript

production.

* As

literacy

grew

during

the

later

fourteenth

century,

spurred

greatly

by

desire

for

moral


edification

as

evidenced

by

manuscripts

that

contain

didactic

works

along

with

romances.


For

Northrop

Frye

(Anatomy

of

Criticism)

Romance

is

a

wish

fulfillment

or

Utopian

Fantasy

which

arises


at

the

transfiguration

of

the

world

of

everyday

reality,

whether

in

an

effort

to

restore

it

to

the

conditions


of

some

lost

Eden,

or

to

inaugurate

and

usher

in

some

new

and

ultimate

realm

fro,

which

morality

and


imperfections

have

been

effaced.


"The

quest-romance

is

the

search

of

the

libido

or

desiring

self

for

a

fulfillment

that

will

deliver

it


from

the

anxieties

of

reality

but

will

still

contain

that

reality"

(1957)

Buy the full version of these notes or essay plans and more in our Middle English Notes.