Women In Ywain Essay, Research Paper
In Chr?tien de Troyes’ Ywain, women represent the moral virtue and arch of all mid-evil civilization. Women of this time had to be an object of love, which meant they had to have beauty, goodness, and be truthful. They had to be a representative of all chivalrous ideals. They also act as civilizing influences throughout the story. Women are put in the story to give men a reason for acting brave and noble. Men become knights in order to demonstrate to women that they are strong and capable of defending themselves against danger. This, they hope, will win the women’s heart.
In mid-evil times, the first-born son of a landowner is entitled to his father’s estate, while other sons and daughters are not given anything. Knights are usually not the first-born son, and thusly do not receive any grants of land from their father. If a landowner only has a daughter, she becomes an heiress, and inherits her fathers land but has to find a husband to take over this land. A knight’s dream is to marry a wealthy heiress, and become a landowner. People become knights in order to battle other knights, to show their courage, and win the respect of these heiresses, so they will be able to gain an estate of their own and move up the social scale. Chr?tien tells a story that would entertain the desires of knights and give the hope that they to would be able to find a damsel just like Ywain did.
Early in the story, Ywain battles and defeats a knight, who, mortally wounded, flees to his castle. Ywain pursues him, but upon reaching the castle, he is trapped by the portcullis, which crashes down upon him, killing his horse. He is rescued by Lunette, the companion of the dead knight’s wife. He then falls in love with the grieving widow of the knight, Alundyne, whom he has just slain; subsequently, he marries her and becomes the protector of her property. In doing this, Ywain has just done what every knight dreams of, marring a wealthy damsel and taking over her land.
Women in the story all seem to be described as beautiful, which leads me believe that this was indeed written to attract the attention of knights and make them think that they too could find themselves a gorgeous damsel to marry. Lunete is described as a handsome brunette, very discreet, shrewd, and intelligent. Another example of this is when many of Arthur’s knights are joined by “some ninety ladies, each of who are handsome, well-mannered, noble, sophisticated, prudent, and wise, persons of high lineage.” So, part of a woman’s role in the story is to be an object of love, and representative of the chivalrous ideals, which all Knights believe in.
Women in this story act as civilizing influences, which lead, guide and calm those they talk to. Ywain is considered a great knight who is always looking for adventure, and not always acting properly. He is portrayed as arrogant, the type of person who would do anything to become the perfect knight, no matter what the cost. Then he meets a woman he loves and gets married. Alundyne brings about a change in Ywain that makes him realize he does not have to be a perfect knight and he learns to act properly.
Ywain acts uncivilized when his wife leaves him for breaking his vow to her, and seems to go crazy. He runs into the woods and reverts back to primitiveness by stripping naked and staying in the forest. He seems to lose his mind, when his woman leaves him. The Queen’s servant, a woman, finds him there and anoints him. She brings about a calming influence on Ywain, that apparently brings him back to a sane state of mind, making him act much more civilized.
Chr?tien was writing this story to entice the imaginations of his audience, and his main audience was probably knights. He depicts women as a civilizing influence that will calm them down and allow them to become landowners. Marrying an heiress, as Alundyne is, would give them property and raise their social class. This too is a civilizing influence since they would no longer have to ride around tournaments and showing off their bravery to impress other woman. Women are portrayed as the group that holds all things together, without them there would be chaos and no one would act civilized.