Essay On Morality In Middle English Breton Lays

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Morality in Middle English Breton lays Medieval culture and romance display dualities through paradigms such as those of the sinner or the saint, the virgin or the mistress and the protector or defiler of women. Middle English Breton lays often exploit those paradigms and create one dimensional characters out of them in order to study their function in the plot. While a complex inner world does not prevail in these lays, there are various elements one should take into account in order to draw the line between wrong and right. Often influenced by Celtic legends as well as Christian beliefs and ideas, the Breton lay is in part defined by the interaction of fantasy and realism. It flirts with magic as well as religion and probes the fascination and anxiety these two provoked in the Middle Ages. In…show more content…
Both of them are provocative women who unmistakably draw their power over men and society through their sexuality. However it is only Gwennere that is eventually punished while Lady Triamore's sexuality is shrouded in magic. She thus remains unharmed and can even be perceived as virtuous for saving her lover following the violation of their pact that takes place as part of the Melusinian structure of pacts1. Middle English romance, including Breton lays, often chooses to depict evil through the Christian belief that sexuality equals corruption. For instance in Marie de France's Bisclavret, a noble and handsome baron reveals to his wife that he is a werewolf. Disgusted by this revelation her evil nature surfaces as she contacts a knight and offers him her love and body if only he helps her dispose of her husband. That said women such as Sir Launfal's Gwennere and Bisclavret's wife exemplify the frustration that sexual power brings about in the actual Middle English

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