Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Medieval Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Thomas H. Seiler

Second Advisor

Dr. E. Rozanne Elder

Third Advisor

Dr. Kathleen W. Smith

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


Many critics confess to a "vague uneasiness" with the meaning of Chretien de Troyes' Erec et Enide, especially with the motivation for Erec's adventures. Such critics as D. W. Robertson, E. Talbot Donaldson, and Northrup Frye posit methodological approaches to the meaning and understanding of vernacular romances. However, researching Cistercian monasticism, especially William of St. Thierry, I noted similarities between and parallels in the structure of a spiritual quest for God and a model of the secular quest found in Chretien de Troyes' Erec et Enide.

Approaching the romance by examining and discussing the parallels in structure and thought between this work and a work of Cistercian spirituality, I shall posit that there exists an interplay in Chretien's text between the ideals of love and knighthood (secular ethics) and a set of religious ideals espoused by Cistercian spirituality.