S-Space College of Humanities (인문대학) English Language and Literature (영어영문학과) 영학논집(English Studies) 영학논집(English Studies) No.38 (2018)
정복할 수 없는 가장 가까운 땅: 중세 로맨스가 동원하는 여성의 사랑과 자발성의 역설
A Land Unconquerable, yet the Closest: Medieval Romance and the Paradox of the Female Voluntary Love
- Issue Date
- 서울대학교 인문대학 영어영문학과
- 영학논집, Vol.38, pp. 21-49
- Roman d’Enéas; Bevis of Hampton; The Knight’s Tale; Geoffrey Chaucer; medieval romance; courtly love; feminism; voluntariness; subjectivity; female desire
- This paper explores how the medieval romance introduces the concept of female voluntary love both as an imagination of the female desire and as a possible means to control it by focusing on the heroines in Roman d’Enéas, Bevis of Hampton, and Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Knight’s Tale. As a conqueror, each male protagonist in the three texts vanquishes the outer landscape surrounding him, while also seeking to subjugate the incorporate realm of the female/feminine through the means of love. The rituals of courtly love codify the lovers’ mutual engagement, emphasizing the idea of female consent and desire in the newly-prevalent realm of the heterosexual erotic love. Roman d’Enéas transforms Vergil’ s silent Lavinia into lovestruck Lavine, making the fin’amor between Eneas and Lavine fundamental for the narrative of founding a legitimate empire. In fact, Lavine’s spontaneous passion for Eneas functions only in favor of the male protagonist, and it is disclosed that the female voluntariness in the codes of courtly love is not, after all, exclusive of subtler compulsion; rather, it is conditioned to direct the female desire into an unavoidable, exploitable emotion. In Bevis of Hampton, the protagonist’s adulturous mother presents female desire as inherently threatening. The text seeks to resolve the problem of uncontrollable female sexuality through Josian, a pagan heroine whose voluntary love for Bevis impels her to uphold her virginity and fidelity for him. The prevalent misogyny in Bevis of Hampton leaves Bevis disregarding the codes of courtly love, while imputing the desire of love exclusive to Josian. However, in emphasizing Josian’s implicit voluntariness, the text renders her sexual autonomy almost indomitable, resonant with the hagiographical tradition of Christian women saints. Bevis of Hampton utilizes female voluntary love as a resolution to bridle the unreliability of female desire, only to reveal the bare mechanisms of it; in the world of Bevis of Hampton, love is a woman’s desire, as well as a man’ s convenient, if not potentially backfiring, tool to control her. Finally, the ideology of love in medieval courtly romance is critically examined in The Knight’s Tale through Theseus’ attempt to subjugate the feminine arbitrariness and the arbitrary female under his reign and control. Theseus’ final speech encompasses once again the chaotic world within his idea of inevitable, ultimate order, only to show his restless anxiety in controlling it; so is the marriage of Emily to Palamon, who eventually is said to share mutual love with him despite her initial wish to remain a virgin. Confined within the genre, Emily is left with no choice but to “voluntarily” love her husband. The Knight’s Tale suggests that Emily’s love itself is an ideological construct.