Duality and Order: Establishing the Otherworld's Dominance and Role in the Hero's Journey Open Access

Chokshi, Roshani Hitesh (2013)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/7p88cg63m?locale=en


The Middle English Breton lais famously boast an array of characters who later stoked the fantastical imaginations with their depictions of Otherworld figures such as supernatural villains, allies and lovers. My thesis examines the role of these Otherworld characters and evaluates their relationship with the main character in terms of the main character's spiritual and psychological transformation. Ultimately, I am examining why these Breton lais written around the 14th century necessitate the presence of the Otherworld figures. My research spans across three prominent Breton lais: Sir Orfeo, Sir Launfal and Guingamor. Each of these lais has an important supernatural character who establishes a change of fate for the protagonist. Among the topics my research addresses are the depiction of fairy motifs (such as grafted trees, portals into the Otherworld and depictions of fairies), the gender disparity between two characters (in the lais of Sir Launfal and Guingamor, the Otherworldly character evolves into a romantic interest) and finally the psychological suggestions embedded in the lai that depict the main character in all of his complexity. In order to achieve this, I contrast each lai with what I believe is its Celtic and Classical source story to deduce what was left out, and why, and how these additions or subtractions from the "original" story inform our understanding of the Otherworld.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Ch.1 Sir Orfeo: A Tale of Spiritual Redemption-4

Ch. 2 Aíthed Narratives and The Fairy King's Motives-16

Ch. 3 Introduction to Sir Launfal and the Tale of Oísin-30

Ch. 4 Entrance to the Otherworld and the Amorous Fairy Conventiona-43

Ch. 5 Guingamor, The Lai of Stunted Growth and Minimal Complexity-56

Ch. 6 Biblical and Classical Motifs in Guingamor-66


Works Cited-75

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