Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
William J. Taylor
Marie--de France--active 12th century--Lais., French literature--To 1500--Criticism and interpretation., French poetry--To 1500--Criticism and interpretation.
In this thesis, I examine Marie de France's applications of the oath in her Breton lais. With her own admittance that she writes to pay homage to a king, I argue that the oath represents a prominent feature of language and rhetoric that Marie uses to demonstrate the overarching power structure of the feudal society in which she is bound. I also propose that she critiques the sovereign's usurpation of language by using this trope throughout her works. Looking specifically at "Bisclavret," "Equitan," and "Yonec," I contend that Marie looks at how the sovereign uses the oath of power to control the bodies of his subjects, yet I claim further that Marie imagines moments wherein a return to an oath of pure language and mere ethos is possible. With these fantasies, she critiques sovereign authority, imaginatively subverting its power over language while fantasizing about a world devoid of sovereignty. Ultimately, however, I suggest that Marie resigns herself to this sovereign usurpation of language as these fantasies fail and the sovereign reigns in the end.
Rich, Barry, "The implications of linguistic bondage in the lais of Marie de France : an analysis of the oath in Bisclavret, Equitan, and Yonec" (2013). Theses. 37.