Friday, September 5, 2014

It's either very obvious or goes right over your head..

The first thing I want to discuss with you guys are the signs that Chretien is being extremely sarcastic. Initially, I read the entire piece not realizing his motives and so I missed a lot of really important points. However, skimming the piece a second time, there are specific points that made it pretty obvious.

One of these is displayed at the very beginning on page 38. In a fit of fury and indignation, Erec whisks his wife off on an adventure, refusing any soldiers or aid just to prove his manliness. However, it soon becomes clear that neither of these two know where they're going. "Erec starts, and leads his wife he knows not whither, as chance dictates." If we didn't understand that Erec was sort of simple-minded to begin with, we definitely do now. He conveys the image of an eight year old who stomps off the playground in anger after being teased without paying attention to where he's going.

Another example of Chretien's sarcasm and possibly his criticism of the chivalric code is shown in the scene when Erec and Enide encounter robbers and highwaymen. The funny thing about this is that the robbers seem to have their own code of chivalry, as ridiculous as that sounds. "They give him leave and he rides off, crouching well beneath his shield, while the other two remain aloof. In those days it was the custom and practice that in an attack two knights should not join against one; thus if they too had assailed him, it would seem that they had acted treacherously." In other words, it's alright to rob someone, but two against one just isn't fair so that's a no no. I mentioned in class that this story reminds me of Don Quixote and I think is a good example as to why: it's not just one or two people who seem insane, nearly every character is ridiculous in their own ways.

Can you think of any more obvious signs of Chretien's mockery and sarcasm throughout the story? What do you think he's trying to say through these specific scenes of ridiculous action?


  1. Sarcasm is my second language, most times my first, so reading this was actually humorous to me. Right in the beginning of the story on page three while describing Erec Chretien says, “And what should I say about his virtues? Mounted on his horse, and clad in an ermine mantle, he came galloping down the road, wearing a coat of splendid flowered silk which was made at Constantinople”. This is a great example of sarcasm. He claims not to question Erec’s virtues but then describes how he went into the woods to protect the queen looking glamorous rather than in his armor. When Erec forgets his armor it shows his lack in virtues. Takes a queen to protect a queen I suppose. It almost felt as if the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Which takes place in the same time era and has a lot of humor behind the storyline mocking the knights and kings. One of Erec’s virtues is that he has to be in charge always. Throughout the story while Erec takes Enide on an heroic quest (almost to her death bed) we see him get mad at her every time she tries to help him, until page 47. “…I crave your pardon. Rise quickly now, for you are betrayed beyond all doubt, though guiltless and free from any crime. The Count is proven traitor…”. Erec then thanks her for looking out for him. But my question is why now? Why was this time okay? We had touched base on this a little bit in class. I personally think that this was a “sneak peek” as to whom Erec really is. He wants to look virtues and noble protecting his damsel so he doesn’t want her help, but inside he knows he does need her. Enide helps Erec throughout this quest and he never thinks to say thank you but instead yells at her. This just goes back to the proverb which says in more or less words that important things are overlooked. Until the end of the story Erec doesn’t realize that he actually needs Enide.

  2. One of the best parts of this story is Chretien's subtle sarcasm--though ironic or mildly satirical might be more accurate. And why he chooses that particular tone for this particular story is a very good question. I'd have liked to see both of you develop a reading of it based on the _whole_ story though, not just incidents early on. It's important to note how much Erec especially changes from beginning to end, and the fact that he is rewarded for it at the end of the story on so many levels.