In an adventure formula, conflict with the villain is essential for moving the story along and provides wit, suspense, as well as illustrating what should not be done. In Chrétien de Troyes Lancelot, Meleagant fills the role of the impersonal villain, one who is an antithesis to the hero with no emotional attachment or personal threat to him and who is a threat from the outside. Later, Malory wrote Le Morte D’Arthur and designed a new type of villain, that of Mordred, who is a personal villain, one who is closely trusted by the hero. In this evolution of the villain, the threat comes from within, making the fight more threatening. These evolutions of the villain do more than offer a new type of enemy to be fought; these two types also serve as barometers of change in chivalry. As chivalry begins to decline, Meleagant turns into Mordred and the threat moves from the outside to the inside. By looking at the use of treachery by Meleagant and Mordred, the sexual aspects of each character, and the portrayal of their prowess as knights, the changes in the villain and consequently chivalry can be charted.
Jennifer Hebel, ’06 Port Byron, IL
Majors: English, Classical Studies
Sponsor: Shannon Reed