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Courtly Love

As truth be told we try to complete the end of the story to see the ending result. Real life will never arranges itself exactly like a romance. So enjoy every moment until the end of the story because the memories before the fairy tale ending are worth making. Before there were cell phones and computers men used to show their devotion to a woman with matters of the heart, and of hope. Their futures were intertwined in the erotic desire, and loyalty expressed with the hearts content. During courtship a woman is in control of the relationship where a mans obedience and submission inspires him to do great deeds. Back in the day men would express their emotions, but in todays society we find that men are to appear as masculine and factual. Where has all the romance gone or has romance hasnt left its just changed form.

Ideal Love

In 1168, Eleanor of Aquitaine left the court of her husband Henry II and took up residence in her ancestral lands of Poitou. Having served as viceregent for the king in England, she had no difficulty pursuing her duties as a ruling duchess, and she wielded the power of a feudal lord and accepted the responsibilities that went with it. With a deft hand and a discerning eye, she turned a district that had been on the outskirts of events for forty years into the center of economic and social life.

As a result of this sudden burst of activity, Eleanor's court in the city of Poitiers drew vassals paying homage, squires training to be knights, young ladies acquiring their education, and visiting future kings and queens related by blood or marriage to the duchess. Because she was a woman of renowned beauty, charm and style as well as extraordinary wit and iron will, the poets, chroniclers, musicians, philosophers, artists, who always flocked around her also congregated at Poitiers. It was out of royalty and romance that the movement of courtly love emerged.

Eleanor of Aquitaine

The Stages of Courtly Love

Attraction to the lady, usually via eyes/glance Worship of the lady from afar Declaration of passionate devotion Virtuous rejection by the lady Renewed wooing with oaths of virtue and eternal fealty Moans of approaching death from unsatisfied desire (and other physical manifestations of lovesickness) Heroic deeds of valor which win the lady's heart Consummation of the secret love Endless adventures and subterfuges avoiding detection

The Twelve Rules of Love from The Art of Courtly Love by Andreas Capellanus
1. Thou shalt avoid avarice like the deadly pestilence and shalt embrace its opposite. 2. Thou shalt keep thyself chaste for the sake of her whom thou lovest. 3. Thou shalt not knowingly strive to break up a correct love affair that someone else is engaged in. 4. Thou shalt not chose for thy love anyone whom a natural sense of shame forbids thee to marry. 5. Be mindful completely to avoid falsehood.

Rules continued

6. Thou shalt not have many who know of thy love affair. 7. Being obedient in all things to the commands of ladies, thou shalt ever strive to ally thyself to the service of Love. 8. In giving and receiving love's solaces let modesty be ever present. 9. Thou shalt speak no evil. 10. Thou shalt not be a revealer of love affairs. 11. Thou shalt be in all things polite and courteous. 12. In practicing the solaces of love thou shalt not exceed the desires of thy lover.

Six "Not so good" Things About Courtly Love

1. Unrealistic Typically the courtly love relationship was not between husband and wife. 2. Adulterous Although this aspect bothers modern readers more than past readers. 3. Put women on an inaccessible pedestal 4. In some situations, it enabled the knight from reaching his full potential. - Ex: Guinevere and Lancelot 5. Distraction 6. Suffering symptoms of love

The Literary Convention of Courtly Love

- In France and England, courtly love became a central theme of lyric and epic poetry.
- The literary convention of courtly love appears in works of most of the major authors of the Middle Ages including Geoffrey Chaucer (Canterbury Tales). - Courtly love conventions are found in the medieval genres of lyric, the allegory and the Romance (such as Sir Gawain and the Green Knight)

The Literary Convention of Courtly Love cont.

In the 12th century, literature written in French was referred to as "romance" to differentiate it from "real" literature, which was written in Latin. - Eventually, the term "romance" began to refer not to any literature written in French, but to the specific sort of literature that was popular among the French-speaking court audiences of France and Anglo-Norman England: stories of the chivalric adventures of knights and their ladies. - There have been debates about whether courtly love was a social reality or simply a literary fiction. Regardless, it was a widespread and significant notion.

Courtly Love in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

- Some argue that in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the poets term courtesy can be likened to the idea of courtly love. - Authors did not necessarily use the term courtly love, but it is a useful modern label for this idea, one that appears frequently in medieval literature. - The ideals of courtly love were often contrary to Christian moral codes. As a perfect knight in the service of the Virgin Mary, Gawain is caught in the tension between courtly loves code of behavior, the expectations of duty and courtesy, and the strict moral demands of Christianity.

- In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Sir Gawain must respect both the laws concerning courtly love and the laws of chivalry. - The knights code of honor requires that Sir Gawain do whatever a lady asks, and because of this Gawain must accept the girdle from the Lady, but he must also keep the promise he has made to his host that he will give whatever he gains that day. - When Gawain chooses to keep the girdle, he is breaking his promise to the host but honoring the lady. After learning that the Green Knight is actually his host, Gawain realizes that even though he has accomplished his quest, he has failed to be virtuous. - This demonstrates the conflict between honor and knightly duties. By breaking his promise, Gawain believes he has lost his honor and failed in his duties.

The Feminist Perspective

What is feminism?
A feminist describing it in her own words: When I think of being a feminist advocate it means working for equality in many areas. It means working for equality across lines of race,gender, class, age, and sexuality, because women are represented and affected by these forms of discrimination. Creating a society with justice and equality for all necessitates advocacy in all these areas, not simply a blindsided focus on what some may deem "women's issues". For me, equality for everyone is a "women's rights issue". As women we are members of society, a society ingrained with prejudice and discrimination, be it based on gender or race,class,or sexuality. These inequalities affect all of us, and for me, feminism is about ending those inequalities in every form they take. I want equality in every aspect of my life, and I don't think that makes it an equal rights issue rather than a feminist issue. If my goals to promote equality include equality between the genders then, to me, it's feminist. -Anonymous User of

Relevancy: How is feminism related to early English literature?

Feminist critiques shed light on the gap in perspective of the female category in any medium. Given that male clerics were the probably the authors of most of the pieces we are reading, the female perspective is lacking. Without the female perspective, traditions that may be harmful for women, such as courtly love continue in different forms.

Masculine Images
Physically strong hero/ protector
Wise father figure. Super lover extraordinaire

Mens Images of Women

Aloof princess in a tower
Emitter of life. Virginal and sweet. (The MadonnaWhore complex)

Arguments a Feminist Might Make

Against the male hero: Why are the majority of known heroes men? It may be that women were not in a position for heroics. Against the father: If the father knows best, why are there so many accounts of violence being part of their parenting or lack thereof? Against the male lover: Come on now. Do I really have to spell it out?

Arguments Continued
Against the princess: Doesnt placing them on so high and so remote a pedestal drift into the realm of women as objects? Against the mother: Post-partum depression and child abuse from mothers doesnt exist? Against the virgin: This perception, much like the male equivalent, relies on categorizing a person solely based on their sexual behavior. What if the man or woman is a good parent or participant in the community?

Things to look out for in a medium

How does the portrayal of a category (sex) interact with how the reader thinks of a person/character? Does the person seem to deserve personhood?
Would a characters actions be viewed differently if they were a different sex? Is the female perspective simply not there? If so, does it harm the women that are in the medium? Do ideas of sex/gender from the time period of a piece linger into the present and is that a bad thing? (Misogyny, perhaps?) Does any mention of sex-related words lead to the character being a stereotype?

Application to Courtly Love

Women as property Any moral dubiousness is not the violation of the sanctity of marriage so much as the other mans affront to the husbands ownership of the wife. Thus, the wife that loses some culpability in wrongdoing because
the primary grievance is between the two men.

More Courtly Love

Women as divinity Courtly love places women on a pedestal, simply for the man to worship. She is not an individual because any analysis of her stops at her beauty. The man raises the woman up to a level that she cannot come down from and interact on a level with the rest of the world. Women as inhuman When women do act of their own agency, they are mischievous or manipulative. (Morgan Le Fay in Gawain?) There is no moral reasoning behind a womans actions, therefore she probably always means ill. (When she means anything by it at all)

Modern Love vs. Courtly Love

Female Archetypes Class Distinction Similarities Differences

Female Archetypes
Modern: Personality Independence Not looking for love, love finds her Initial rejection Growth of love through an external situation Conflict between being true to self and surrendering to affection

Female Archetypes
Courtly Love: Separated into classes, and each class has identifiable characteristics associated with it Marriage Initial rejection, but eventual submission through the persuasion of the man in the steps of courtly love Conflict between love, class, and social duties.

Class Distinction
Courtly Love: Women divided into three classes: Middle class Noblewoman Woman of High Nobility Men divided into four classes: Middle class Noble Man of High Nobility Clerk Different rhetoric for different classes Ex. Middle class man partitioning a noblewoman has a different argument than a middle class man to a middle class woman Women of different classes given different levels of cleverness More noble, the more clever and thus, the best lover

Class Distinction
Modern: Not a huge compartmentalization Rise in personality also bridges gap between class distinction, especially because as a majority, there is still an emphasis on the mind as being more essential to a relationship than outward beauty.

Emphasis on character as being the most important aspect of a prospective lover Descriptions of love and symptoms of love Transcendence of class Literature: Rejection, some internal conflict Psychology of love Mere exposure effect Sternbergs Triangular Love Theory
Rules of Courtly Love

Differences: Modern Love vs. Courtly Love

Different definitions Modern: A feeling or disposition of deep affection or fondness for someone, typically arising from a recognition of attractive qualities, from natural affinity, or from sympathy and manifesting itself in concern for the other's welfare and pleasure in his or her presence (OED) Courtly Love: A certain inborn suffering derived from the sight of and excessive mediation upon the beauty of the opposite sex, which causes each one to wish above all things the embraces of the other and by common desire to carry out all of loves precepts in the others embrace (Capellanus)

Love is not limited to a specific type of person No courtship rules with the same rigidity More casual: Man or woman can initiate relationship Class is not as much of an issue Emphasis on the man and how to properly courtship Love doesnt have to be concealed for it to succeed No (or very few) arranged marriages Courtly love: Marriage is not an excuse not to love