Essay on Courtly Love as an Ennobler in Romantic Literature

Essay on Courtly Love as an Ennobler in Romantic Literature

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Lancelot, the knight of the cart, is in love with Queen Guinevere, who constantly compromises his reputation by embarrassing him . Chretien de Troyes writes Lancelot in The Knight of the Cart to be deeply in love, so much so that he constantly sacrifices his reputation for the queen. Classically, “the romantic hero developed from an extravagant to an ideal character” (Williams 275) in typical Romance literature. Although Romance literature has many variations, Lancelot portrays this transition from the extravagant, noble, knight to an ideal character in the tale. Lancelot depicts what is ideal for what a woman would want, and this in turn does ennoble him. Lancelot is ennobled by courtly love, but unintentionally. By placing himself above rumor and concern for his reputation, he emerges as a modern ennobled knight even though his love generates embarrassing consequences superficially.
Chretien begins the Knight of the Cart with the Queen, whom Lancelot is in love with, being captured and taken away. Lancelot is distraught at this and must go save her. Embarrassingly enough, one of the first things Lancelot endures is having to ride in a cart typically meant for criminals to get information pertinent to the queen’s whereabouts. “The people marveled at the knight who was being transported in the dwarf’s cart. They did not hide their feelings, but all--rich and poor, young and old--mocked him loudly as he was borne through the streets; the knight heard many a vile and scornful word at his expense” (de Troyes 212). Lancelot jumps into the cart and commit this very embarrassing acts because of his love for Guinevere. His willingness to compromise his reputation for love initially embarrasses himself, but it ennobles him as the tale ...


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...s it because he loves her, that doesn’t negate from his status as a noble knight, and he ennobles himself by putting what is important to him above his reputation. He follows all the rules about manners and behavior, his only downfalls occur when Guinevere acts to embarrass him, which is hardly his fault if he wants to be an ideal lover. Regardless of the embarrassing consequences, Lancelot’s love for Guinevere ennobles his character.


Works Cited
Cooper, Helen. Shakespeare and the Medieval World. London: Arden Shakespeare, 2010. Print.
de Charny, Geoffroi. From the Book of Chivalry. Trans. Margaret Ehrhart.
de Troyes, Chretien. Arthurian Romances. New York: Penguin, 1991. Print.
Hardin, Richard F. “The Performance of Nobility in Early Modern European Literature”. The Sixteenth Century Journal. 32.1 (2001): 171-172. Web.
Williams, Raymond. Keywords. “Romantics”.

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