In class we agreed that Enide is a wise, loyal, and loving person while Erec is more pompous than anything. Erec and Enide showcases Enide worthiness and utter goodness which are so great that her name is even included in the title. Enide is a complement to Erec, filling in what he's lacking, such as intelligence. One of my favorite aspects in this story are the descriptions of Erec and Enide. With great sarcasm Chretien de Troyes writes "What shall I say of [Erec's] virtues?" which is followed by a description of what he was wearing, rather than any virtues. (3). Where as with Endie he writes "What shall I say of her beauty?" followed by a thoroughly detailed description of Endie's beauty (7).
Enide is first described by her brilliant looks, "the maid was charming, in sooth, for Nature had used all her skill in forming her. Nature herself had marveled more than five hundred times how upon this one occasion she had succeeded in creating such a perfect thing. Never again could she so strive successful to reproduce her pattern" (7). Though it was her beauty that made Erec take interest in her, Enid is so much more than just her amazing looks. Enide is not a shallow or fragile women, she's shown as being extremely capable.
For Erec, it's as if Enide is mostly a pretty maiden for him to look at, he doesn't even learn her name until they are getting married! It's as if she is given a full sense of identity once she is married. However, the story does not end with Erec and Enid's wedding, we roll right into the adventure of marriage. Enide is a wonderful wife to Erec, she is familiar with traditional feminine duties, has refined manners, is able to take on physical work, and voices her concern. She demands to keep watch at night while Erec sleeps and demonstrates her cunning when she tricks Gaolin and saves Erec from death. Even with all of Enide's strong characteristics, she never stops being a sweet, loving, refined wife.
In the later half of the story we see Mabonagrain and his mistress who function as parallels of Erec and Enide's relationship. Whereas Mabonagrain is enslaved by his mistress's love, Erec is empowered by Enide's. This mistress acts just for her own satisfaction, but Enide focuses on Erec's well being. The author is making a big statement in leaving Mabonagrain's lady unnamed. She is shown as being uncaring that her lover is miserable and an outcast from society, causing her emptiness and self-absorption to rob her of her own identity.
Do you think that Chretien de Troyes is being a pro-feminist through having such a strong female character. Did the author seem at all misogynistic for his portrayal of women, such as those who aren't given full identities such as Mabonagrain's mistress?