Erec and Enide Themes
by Chrétien de Troyes

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Erec and Enide Themes

The primary theme of Erec and Enide is the importance of honor. In numerous places, the author shows knights’ appropriate and inappropriate behavior to demonstrate the meaning of honor. Erec conducts himself honorably overall, defending the fair damsel Enide after he sees her mistreated. After their marriage, however, he first becomes lazy and then arrogant. Through the course of his heroic quest, on which she accompanies him, he restores himself to truly honorable conduct and earns greater respect when he returns to King Arthur’s Court.

Another important, related theme is that appearances are unreliable. When Erec first sees Enide, she is dressed in humble garments, and he soon learns that her father is poor. However, her beauty shines through and her conduct matches it, so he realizes that she is his ideal bride.

The power of true love is also key, as this is a chivalric romance. Erec wins Enide quickly, through defending her honor and fighting another knight, but he seems to think that is enough. Languishing at court makes him soft, and he takes his wife for granted. Facing some adventures together, and Erec’s standing up for her against the Count, bring them to a deep understanding of the real meaning of love.