medieval, bride journeys, gender politics, narrative, sea voyages, Marie de France, Eliduc, Guigemar, Arthurian
This paper analyzes the common medieval trope of the sea voyage in Marie de France's medieval romances, "Guigemar" and "Eliduc." Through framing both texts through an ecocritical lens tied to the associated symbolism of water and feminity, the paper highlights the importance of the sea due to it's association with female passivity in the medieval era. However, this paper focuses primarily on the narrative tropes found in the two stories and shows that throughout the lais, Marie both implements and subverts the assumptions of the Medieval sea voyage trope, which is clearly defined in Albrecht Classen’s article “Sea Voyages in Medieval Romances: Symbolic Trails through Existential Experiences and Female Suffering on the Water.” Classen explains that a sea voyage has some very specific narrative features; first, “they are often taken for the purpose of marriage”; secondly, they are often solitary journeys, “without any crew of sailors”; and thirdly, they serve to transform the traveler and the place where the traveler ends up (Classen 27). Every step of this journey also is laced with female suffering, suffering that proves the constancy of noble women, in contrast to the changeable, feminine-coded sea. This paper examines the ways in which "Eliduc" and "Guigemar" align with Classen's tropes for the bridal sea voyage, and, more importantly, where these stories differ from the narrative tropes of Marie's time.
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Olsen, Rebekah, "'Across the Sea': The Narrative Function of Medieval Bridal Sea Voyages in Marie de France’s “Guigemar” and “Eliduc"" (2021). Student Works. 356.
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