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Durham e-Theses
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Beyond the Grail:: the roles of objects as psychological markers in Chretien deTroyes's Conte du Graal

Tether, Leah Roseann (2004) Beyond the Grail:: the roles of objects as psychological markers in Chretien deTroyes's Conte du Graal. Masters thesis, Durham University.



Chretien de Troyes's Conte du Graal has long been considered a Bildungsroman. This thesis considers precisely what processes it is that bring about the maturation of Perceval, the hero. It firstly studies Perceval's initial innocence in the first episode of the romance, his meeting with the five knights. Perceval appears to be preoccupied with surface appearance only, being unable to see beyond it and understand true significances. Medieval theories on childhood development and faculty psychology, derived from sources such as Aristotle and Boethius, help to elucidate this seemingly odd behaviour, for a correlation does indeed emerge between these and Perceval's initial fixation on the superficialities of objects. Perceval begins, it seems, at a developmental stage which, for medieval authorities, would correspond to early childhood. That a key to Perceval's development is indeed signalled via the perception of objects, is then shown via an analysis of three further scenes. In the Tent scene, Perceval progresses such that he can now not only perceive objects, he can also recall them and identify familiar objects, such as food. In the Grail Procession, he suddenly becomes able to judge the quality of objects within their universal class, though his preoccupation still remains with surface appearance. However, in the Blood Drops scene, Perceval learns to look beyond superficiality and recognise significance. Thus, Perceval's turning point, we learn, does not occur, as so often suggested, at the Grail Casfie. Rather, medieval developmental theories suggest that ultimate maturity must occur when he, for the first time, acknowledges more than mere superficiality: when he sees the blood drops and understands their higher significance. This equips Perceval with the perceptual tools he requires to understand the Hermit's lesson and presumably, had Chretien finished the romance, look beyond the Grail, understand its meaning and achieve the task.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Arts
Thesis Date:2004
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:09 Sep 2011 09:58

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