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Chretien de Troyes wrote Erec and Enide almost ten centuries ago as one of five Arthurian Romances during a time when the chivalry, the code of knightly and courtly conduct, was hyper-idealized. Chivalry required knights to continually participate in tournaments and quests, and help those in need to bring about the greater social good, by defending good against evil, while it required maidens to not simply be saved by knights, but to support the knights in their endeavors. Through the story of the knight, Erec, and his wife, Enide, Chretien shows the struggle to balance love and chivalry. As the best knight of King Arthur’s court, and as the most beautiful lady in the kingdom, Erec and Enide are both great individually; however, their union …show more content…
After Erec wins the sparrow hawk competition, the couple experiences an attraction for one another through the eyes. Chretien writes, “He [Erec] could not gaze at her [Enide] enough; the more he looked at her, the more she pleased him…But the damsel, for her part, looked at the knight no less than he looked at her, with favorable eye and loyal heart, in eager emulation (56).” The way they gaze upon each other without exchanging words reveals the physical but disconnected relationship typical of courtly love. Contrary to troubadour lyrics that typically describe an attraction to the lady though a man’s gaze, Chretien’s emphasis on presenting Enide’s gaze suggests her importance to their relationship. By contrasting their stereotypical superficial courtly love attraction with the untraditional emphasis on Enide’s presence and involvement in the attraction between the two, Chretien challenges the courtly love ideal that suggests that women’s chivalric role is simply to be pursued and he lays the foundation for her importance in the development of the couple’s relationship which he will further

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