Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

M.A. in English

First Advisor

Daniel O'Sullivan

Second Advisor

Olivier G. Tonnerre

Third Advisor

Anne Quinney

Relational Format



This study is an examination of the marvelous encounter in the Lais of Marie de France, a collection of twelve short narratives attributed to the twelfth century. Four of the lais – Guigemar, Bisclavret, Lanval, and Yonec - were selected for close analysis of the marvelous motifs and themes that are central to each story. Beginning with a summary of some of the proposed sources of the lais, many of which are Celtic in origin, the analysis subsequently examines the language of the text that describes the encounters between the feudal and "Other" world. In particular, the words poür, pensis, and esguarder and their use within the selected lais are investigated. An evaluation of the narrative function of the marvelous encounter is the final part of this study, an assessment of how the marvelous is used to both advance the plot of each lai and play with audience expectations. The source, language, and function of the marvelous contribute to an understanding of the role of the marvelous and medieval opinions of its nature in the text.



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