Two examples of the construction of noble masculinity in English literature at the end of the fourteenth century
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This project delves into the concept of chivalry – the defining feature of masculinity in medieval English literature. Working closely with two texts; Chaucer’s The Book of the Duchess and the anonymous Sir Gawain and the Green Knight , the goal of the paper is to identify features of chivalry and masculinity in the literature of the late 14 th century, and illustrate not only how they function within the texts themselves, but also as markers of identity in a historical context. The conclusion reached is that the idealized version of chivalry first found in the French romances of the 12 th century began to evolve during the Hundred Years War as new methods of warfare began to rise. What is left at the end of the 14 th century is a new masculinity based on chivalry which rejects empty token markers of nobility in favor of an inner, or spiritual nobility.