Date of Award

5-2007

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Major

English

Major Professor

Laura Howes

Committee Members

Mary Dzon, Stanton Garner

Abstract

The purpose of this thesis is to study the specific condition of female characters in the literature of the Holy Grail. While this women do not occupy a substantial portion of the narratives, they exude a feminine authority over the test and its progression. The female characters of Perceval's sister in both the Vulgate's Queste del Saint Graal and Malory's "Tale of Sankgreal" and Sigune and Cundrie of Wolfram's Parzival play integral roles to the ultimate achievement of the Grail by their male counterparts. By contextualizing these characters within the medieval Christian tradition, as presented by Caroline Walker Bynum, it is evident that they participate in a large convention of the unique female religious experience of the time. This special feminine spirituality allows them both autonomy and control over the story's events.

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