Date Approved

2008

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

English Language and Literature

Committee Member

Annette Wannamaker, PhD, Chair

Committee Member

Christine Neufeld, PhD

Abstract

Guinevere has existed in literature for nearly a millennium, evolving to suit societal values and mores. She has metamorphosed from Arthur’s noble queen to Lancelot’s jealous lover, from a motherly sovereign to a vindictive adulteress as each author struggled to apply his own literary and societal conventions to a character that is both inherited and created.

In addressing the evolution of Guinevere, this thesis has followed her progression through three works: The Knight of the Cart by Chrétien de Troyes, Le Morte d’Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory, and The Idylls of the King by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. In addition, this thesis has drawn upon literary criticism, including that of Maureen Fries and Norris J. Lacy, in proving how Guinevere’s character marks the societal values and beliefs of each author’s time period, as well as how she exemplifies the struggle to understand female characters in literature.

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