Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Mary McAlpin

Committee Members

John Romeiser, Anne-Helene Miller, Mary Dzon


In three romances Yvain, Lancelot, and Perceval, Chrétien de Troyes utilizes the intimate relationships of his courtly knights and their lady loves to explore and present the Christian ideology of Bernard of Clairvaux as expressed by his four degrees of love in the treatise, On Loving God. Previous scholarly works have only examined the Christian ideology and symbolism in Chrétien's romances as isolated occurrences specific to a single text. In contrast, I argue Chrétien's romances form a progression mirroring the Bernardian steps (or degrees) man must make in order to draw closer to and deepen his relationship with God. In order to achieve his progression, Chrétien utilizes the tenets of courtly love to explain and explore how loving and being loved advances man both secularly and spiritually towards the goal of union with the Beloved. Courtly love in Chrétien's romances explores the relationship between the secular and the divine to become a love which transcends the secular and connects man to God.

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