First Advisor

Gina Greco

Date of Publication

Spring 7-25-2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in French


World Languages and Literatures




Chrétien de Troyes (active 12th century) -- Criticism and interpretation, Quests (Expeditions) in literature, Death instinct in literature, Masochism in literature



Physical Description

1 online resource (iii, 95 pages)


While we can easily acknowledge that many aspects the texts written by Chrétien de Troyes have been studied and discussed through the centuries, it is always possible to apply a new reading to the author's work. Like many authors of the same time period, the author of Le Conte du graal and LeChevalier de la charrette was not only writing for the audience of his time but was also openly targeting an audience set in a different century and social context. This timeless aspect of Chrétien's work is part of what makes his texts intricate and still relevant to this day. It also allows us to understand the impact they had by the time they were written as well as the long lasting interest that has been keeping them current throughout eight centuries. While the courteous aspect of these texts seems to be mostly relevant to the audience of a certain time period it is possible for us to conduct a psychoanalytical reading of Chrétien's work in order to appreciate the long- lasting qualities of these tales almost eight hundred years later. By using the drive theory established by Freud along with the work of Lacan based on search for the I, studies which were both established during the twentieth century, we will analyze the untold motivations of the quest and define the relationship between the knight and his physical and inner journey. In this study we will consistently question these motivations. In order to understand them we will first discuss the implications of the quest in a set medieval context which will then lead us to look at this behavior outside of this timeframe in order to focus on the psychological elements of these texts.


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