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Love in Yvain

             Chretien de Troyes' romance, Yvain: The Knight of the Lion, gives readers great insight into the concept of Love in King Arthur's time. Love is initiallyrevered as the greatest and most pure of all achievements, and the lady's reciprocation the ultimate prize. As the story progresses, however, a less idealistic understanding of Love is exposed. Although the concept of Love is still pure, the actual actions and relationships of those supposedly held in rapture by it show that another force is at work.
             The narrator of Yvain portrays Love in the most idealistic terms. It is shown to have extraordinary power over Yvain, as when he first sets eyes upon Laudine. His emotions during that dramatic encounter are described in terminology more fitting for battle: "Love had conducted a raid on his land and had succeeded completely in taking her quarry. His enemy had led away his heart." This choice of imagery shows how Yvain not just impressed by the woman's beauty, but truly unable to control his overwhelming emotions. The war metaphor continues, as the narrator describes how Yvain is "wounded" by the encounter, and his lady shall be his physician. First, it is important to note the manner in which Yvain falls in love with the noble lady. It is not by watching her gentle and courteous behavior, as he sees her continually tearing her clothes and weeping over the death of her husband. Rather, he loves her solely for her beauty, and as he longs for her to cease her mourning, not because he is distressed at her pain, but because she is messing up her hair and scratching her perfect skin. It is ironic that he'd pursue a love interest in the woman whose husband he has just slain, but according to the narrator he has no choice but to cherish her and pursue a life with her. Once he has given up his heart to her, Yvain is discribed as completely conquered.
             When Laudine has unwittingly won the love of the valiant knight, he professes it to her in great boasts: ".

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