The purpose of this thesis is to examine the role of the female messenger archetype in Chrétien de Troyes's romances within the context of the rising courtly literature written in France throughout the early twelfth century. The romances by Chrétien that will serve as cases in point for this thesis are Érec et Énide, Lancelot, and Yvain. I analyze the various courtly ladies of the lower nobility to whom Chrétien attributes direct discourse and study how their verbal influence over the plot and the extent to which they are directly involved in the action of that plot correlate to one another. This, as a counterpoint to the queen's traditional role as seemingly powerful, but ultimately passive object in the chivalric paradigm, demonstrates how Chrétien uses the female messenger archetype within his romances. While this study focuses on examining the existence of the female messenger archetype, it also acknowledges the variation amongst the different female characters, even as they fit into the role of the female messenger archetype within Chrétien's individual works. Lastly, the ambiguity of Énide's character, as the oldest example of the female messenger archetype, in comparison with the examples from Chrétien's later works, suggests a possible development in Chrétien's use of the female messenger archetypes, specifically a crystallization of the literary function of both the queen and the female messenger figures in his corpus.

Thesis Completion




Thesis Chair/Advisor

Smith, Geri


Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)


College of Arts and Humanities


Modern Languages and Literatures



Access Status

Open Access

Release Date