King Arthur : a study of the origins, endurance, and psychology of a legend : an honors thesis (HONRS 499)

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Authors
Pfeifer, Catherine T.
Advisor
Guy, Stephen W., 1949-
Issue Date
2003
Keyword
Degree
Thesis (B.?.)
Department
Honors College
Other Identifiers
Abstract

Arthurian legend is examined through a discussion of its origins, various versions, and the underlying drives behind its creation and its permanence. Early historical and literary works and their writers are studied, as well as the attitudes and opinions expressed in the works that illustrate the writers' motivations and the biases that influenced them. This study looks at the importance of the similarities and differences between works, as well as is the lasting impact of the works on the legend itself. Subsequent writers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries have their works examined as well. A discussion of the underlying motives and attitudes that influenced these writers sheds light on the range of works and the flexibility of the Arthurian legend as a whole. The strengths and weaknesses of each story are reflected in the ways that each adds to or subtracts from the legend, and those strengths and weaknesses also affect the readability of the work and its popularity, which in turn affects the legend's spread. The overall significance of the legend is discussed as well, using psychological principles to uncover the causes for the legend's persistence through time and across culture. The main focus is on psychoanalysis and its examination of underlying motivations in human behavior, but links are also drawn between myth in general and the Arthur legend in specific. Throughout the thesis, examination of the legend's extraordinary persistence is emphasized, as are the factors that connect writers of all times and cultures to one another and to their audiences.