A la guise de Gales l’atorna: Maternal Inf luence in Chrétien’s Conte du Graal
Schwartz, Debora B.
Essays in Medieval Studies, vol. 12 (1995)
Chrétien de Troyes’s Conte du Graal has been read as a sort of Bildungsroman tracing the trajectory of a rustic youth toward exemplary knighthood. The formal education of the hero is limited to his interaction with three teachers. The first of these is his mother, whose tutelage he quickly leaves behind (and whose advice he either misapplies or, in one instance, openly scorns); her death shortly after his departure effectively eliminates her from further direct intervention into her son’s education. Perceval’s second teacher is the vavassor Gornemant de Gohort, who shows him how to bear arms, strips him of the exterior signs of his mother’s influence, and symbolically knights him. The third and final teacher is a hermit, Perceval’s maternal uncle, with whom he passes Easter weekend five years after the events recounted in the first part of the romance.