Romance Disguises in Le Morte Darthur and The Faerie Queene Open Access

Howard, James (2016)

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This dissertation begins and ends with examples of disguises that are neglected in literary criticism. The overall goal of this project is to approach romance disguises in relation to questions of performance and self-fashioning. Disguise, as both a concealment of character and a form of characterization, positions characters within networks of social exchange and networks of meaning. As a case study of disguise, the project analyzes two English romances respectively from the fifteenth and sixteenth century, Le Morte Darthur and The Faerie Queene. The first chapter provides an overview of previous work on disguise, defines disguise as a form of allegorical and social concealment, and connects disguise to ongoing discussions of self-fashioning and identity. The second chapter focuses on tournament disguises and the way they model circuits of relationships between characters. The third chapter studies the Fair Unknown tradition in the characters of Gareth and Britomart as they fashion themselves into knights using disguise. The fourth chapter examines what happens when characters cannot interpret disguises, either because they are invisible or because they leave no trace of their disguised status. Whereas disguise in Le Morte Darthur primarily influences how communities form and dissolve, The Faerie Queene focuses more intently on visual interpretation itself, and how meaning can emerge from fabricated representations.

Table of Contents

Introduction. 1

Chapter 1: How to Fashion a Gentleman: Disguise and Identity. 6

Chapter 2: The Tournament Disguise in Le Morte Darthur and The Faerie Queene. 58

Chapter 3: Perceptions of Chivalry and Establishments of Worth in the Fair Unknown: Gareth and Britomart. 110

Chapter 4: Invisible Knights, Enchanted Disguises, and the Limits of Social Recognition. 166

Conclusion. 189

Notes. 196

Works Cited. 223

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