Lancelot: Or, the Knight of the Cart

Behind the Courtly Facade: The Function of Irony in Chretien de Troyes' Le Chevalier de la Charrette

Jordan Reid Berkow

Final Paper

Medieval Court

December 14, 2002

Behind the Courtly Facade:

The Function of Irony in ChrÃtien de Troyes' Le Chevalier de la Charrette

But love is blind, and lovers cannot see

The pretty follies that themselves commit.

- William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

The tale of Lancelot, or Le Chevalier de la Charrette, proffers a most interesting challenge to a reader of ChrÃtien de Troyes' Arthurian Romances, for the story presents a compelling paradox, simultaneously glorifying Lancelot's devotion to Queen Guinevere while undercutting the depiction of love with a biting sense of irony . Few modern scholars contend that the depiction of courtly love in Lancelot is wholeheartedly positive, intended to portray Lancelot as the flower of chivalry and a paragon of virtue, holding instead that irony is pervasive throughout the tale as ChrÃtien's own voice and sense of morality jousts with the conflicting sen commissioned by his patron, the Countess Marie de Champagne, daughter of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. Irony is present in Lancelot for a wide variety of reasons common to many writers of the era, but predominantly because of ChrÃtien's discomfort with the material. The following...

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