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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Amadas et Ydoine, the search for inner and outer harmony Mearns, Barbara Lucille


Amadas et Ydoine, a romance written between 1190 and 1220, describes "pure" love and all the obstacles it can overcome. The central concern of this work is the resolution of conflict in order to attain harmony and union on both a social and personal level. Written during the transition period between the 12th and 13th centuries, the romance reflects many changing and conflicting attitudes of the time, especially those concerning women. In these I examine the romance and the part women play in it on three different levels: the intertextual, the narrative perspective and the psychological. On the intertextual level, I compare Amadas et Ydoine with Tristan et Iseult to show that the author is trying to create a type of transcendent-Tristan. His variances of the accepted "perfect" romance of the time reveal his opinions about women and sexual roles. In Chapter 2, I examine the integral part played by the narrator. He is an extremely ambiguous personage who manages to praise Ydoine perpetually while describing her several acts of deception. At the same time he denounces women as a group while offering no proof of his accusations. I examine his portrayal of Ydoine and the inconsistent nature of his periodic interruptions of the narration. In Chapter 3, I look at the actions of Amadas in the light of Jungian and "Campbellian" concepts. I see his maturation process as being what Jung calls the individuation process and what Campbell labels the hero voyage. I consider the steps Amadas takes in order to bring to a conscious level his anima, or feminine principle, as being the major part of his maturation. Amadas et Ydoine is a romance of struggle, but one in which social and personal harmony are finally achieved. The bridge of those two types of harmony is the female. On the intertextual level, it is Ydoine who guides Amadas and who motivates him to guard their vital connection to the macrocosmos. On the psychological level, it is the anima who guides Amadas, helps him face his unconscious, surrender his ego, and molds him into a well-rounded personality. The narrator incarnates opposing views of both the 12th and 13th centuries, and by doing so reveals how impossible and ridiculous those extreme attitudes about women actually are. Consequently, the romance can be regarded as a re-enactment of coming to terms with our unconscious, healing the conflict with the contrasexual component of our beings, which in turn helps to heal the split between male and female on a social level and results in both internal and external harmony.

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