Foreign Languages & Literatures ETDs


Anna Angeli

Publication Date



This work explores the evolution of troped rape in Arthurian literature from the 12th century to modern day. I focus on three works: Chrétien de Troyes Erec et Enide, Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queene, and Marion Zimmer Bradley's The Mists of Avalon. In each, I examine the five functions of troped rape — the establishing of military prowess, the encoded patriotic message, the moral test, and the aesthetic and class marker. These five functions remain intact but evolve in accordance with historical and social context, the real societal conditions and common perception of women influencing each work's representation of rape. In the 12th century, Chrétien de Troyes' atypical Arthurian romances were still largely focused on the male characters, favoring their development over the female characters'. In the 16th century, Spenser also favored the male point of view but problematized his re-imagined Arthurian legend with male anxiety about women in power and the changing colonial military understanding of Elizabethan England. In the late 20th century, Bradley injected the myths with the female voice, undermining the phallocentric take on rape by writing it from the victim's point of view.


Arthurian literature, rape

Document Type




Degree Name

Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies

Level of Degree


Department Name

Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures

First Advisor

Bishop, Stephen

First Committee Member (Chair)

Baackmann, Susanne

Second Committee Member

Peters-Newell, Marina