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2005 English Abstracts

2005 Research Fair Archive - English Abstracts

“The Best of Islands”:
Environmentalism in Geoffrey of Monmouth and Mary Stewart’s Merlin
by Leslie C. Lee  (Faculty Sponsor:  Georgi Donavin)

In the year 1136, Geoffrey of Monmouth opened his text “The History of the Kings of Britain” with a detailed description of the island’s natural history and beauty, inspiring his people to recall the past glories of the British homeland. Geoffrey’s account of the character of Merlin is used in Mary Stewart’s adaptation of the legend, The Crystal Cave. Stewart’s text is marked by voluptuous descriptions of the landscape, flora and fauna, and atmosphere of the Western British and Breton settings of the Arthurian story, as well as interesting forays into the pagan religions and animistic beliefs of the peoples of Dark Age Britain. This paper will examine the ways in which The Crystal Cave incorporates physical elements of the landscape to retell Geoffrey of Monmouth’s account of the Arthurian story, in order to express Stewart’s powerful environmentalism and a biocentric view of Merlin’s powers.

Appropriating the Feminine Subtext in T.H. White’s "The Once and Future King”
by Verity Erickson  (Faculty Sponsor:  Georgi Donavin)

In The Once and Future King, T.H. White reconfigures the traditional representations of Guinevere, Morgause and Elaine for a modern appropriation of the Arthurian tradition. Adapting Malory’s Morte Darthur, White reverses the conventional roles of Guinevere and Morgause, portraying the former as an aging queen torn between marital duty and respect for her beloved Arthur and mutual passion for his homely and conflicted best friend Lancelot, and the latter as Arthur’s licentious and spiteful half-sister obsessed with avenging her brother by destroying Camelot. Elaine assumes her traditional role as a passive and dependant pawn controlled by the male patriarchy. White’s characterization reveals the destructive consequences of sexual impropriety, particularly in instances initiated by women, and attempts to explore and eradicate the underlying suppression of female sexuality prevalent in the Arthurian tradition through a juxtaposition of traditionally unsympathetic characters with self-realized and conscientious re-appropriations.