Characters Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Aucassin (oh-kah-SAN), the son of Count Garin de Beaucaire. He loves Nicolette, a slave girl bought from the Saracens by a captain who has reared her as his own daughter. Aucassin’s father is relentlessly opposed to the marriage, and both Aucassin and Nicolette are imprisoned in the course of the proceedings. At last they run away together and live happily for a time, until they are captured by Saracens. A storm scatters the ships, and the one on which Aucassin is a prisoner drives ashore at Beaucaire, of which he is now count, his parents having died.
Nicolette (nee-koh-LEHT), Aucassin’s lover. After the lovers are separated by the Saracens, she reaches Carthage and there learns that she is the daughter of the King of Carthage. He wants her to marry a king of the Saracens, but she remains true to Aucassin. She makes her way to Beaucaire, where they are married at last.
Count Garin de Beaucaire
Count Garin de Beaucaire (gah-RAN duh boh-KEHR), father of Aucassin. He is opposed to Nicolette as a daughter-in-law.
Count Bougars de Valence
Count Bougars de Valence (boo-GAHR deh vah-LAHNS), at war with Count Garin. Having his father’s promise to let him see Nicolette on his return from battle, Aucassin fights so fiercely that he captures Count Bougars. When his father refuses to keep the bargain, Aucassin releases Count Bougars and is cast temporarily into a dungeon.
The King of Carthage
The King of Carthage, who proves to be Nicolette’s father.
Bibliography (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Ferrante, Joan M. “Courtly Literature.” In Woman as Image in Medieval Literature: From the Twelfth Century to Dante. New York: Columbia University Press, 1975. Describes Aucassin and Nicolette as a “parody romance” in which the usual role expectations of men and women are reversed.
Loomis, Laura Hibbard. Foreword to Aucassin and Nicolete. In Medieval Romances, edited by Roger Sherman Loomis and Laura Hibbard Loomis. New York: Random House, 1957. Emphasizes the dramatic and performance qualities of this chante-fable. Discusses the characterizations of Aucassin and Nicolette and the linkings of music to lyrics, lyrics to prose, and romance to fables.
Mason, Eugene. Introduction to Aucassin and Nicolette and Other Medieval Romances and Legends. New York: E. P. Dutton, 1951. Places Aucassin and Nicolette and the other romances within a historical perspective, emphasizing the contradictions inherent in an understanding of the Middle Ages and its literature.
Stevens, John. “Man and God: Religion and Romance.” In Medieval Romance: Themes and Approaches. New York: W. W. Norton, 1973. In this chapter in his illuminating study of medieval romance, Stevens discusses the complex relationship between romantic and religious ideals. Posits that the author uses Aucassin’s blasphemous speech about preferring Hell to Heaven as an illustration of the hyperbolic absurdity of young love.
Tattersall, Jill. “Shifting Perspectives and the Illusion of Reality in Aucassin and Nicolette.” French Studies 38, no. 3 (July, 1984): 257-267. Describes how the author deliberately works against the audience’s expectations by using a multiplicity of perspectives, switches in narrative viewpoints, and a variety of types of characterization.