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What is the primary message of the book Yvain, the Knight of the Lion?

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tthetford | eNotes Newbie

Posted July 1, 2010 at 6:18 AM via web

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What is the primary message of the book Yvain, the Knight of the Lion?

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ecofan74 | College Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted July 3, 2010 at 2:43 AM (Answer #1)

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The numerous texts in the medieval Arthurian cycle, whether they are French or German in origin, express many of the same ideas concerning chivalry as a social system.  Authors of these texts, however, typically do not offer the reader knights who are the picture of perfection.  Instead, they are knights who are perfectable.  As such, the quests on which the knights embark are less about tangible goals; the knights quest to become better knights.  Chretien de Troyes's four Arthurian romances certain fit into this category.

Chretien de Troyes's Yvain, the Knight of the Lion depicts a knight, Yvain, who hears the story of a knight, Calogrenant, who had been wronged.  Yvain vows to avenge Calogrenant, and hearing that King Arthur likewise promises to do so, leaves before anyone else can go.  After he avenges Calogrenant, he assumes control over the castle of the knight he defeated.  As the story progresses, Yvain finds other opportunities to demonstrate his fighting prowess in tournaments, but he also engages in a series of actions to uphold the honor of various maidens.  As such, the primary message of the text furthers the idea that women are virtually revered in the world of the medieval romance.  One of the knight's most coveted responsibilities is to uphold the honor of maidens, and Yvain does just that on numerous occasions.  In doing so, in the end the protagonist upholds the system of chivalry, regains any honor he has lost.   

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