Perhaps the most enduring image from the Middle Ages is that of the knight. This archetype has endured in our pop cultural consciousness for centuries and informs much of our perception of the era. However, much of our perceptions of knights is through the lens of people living in the 21st century. How did the depiction of the knight in medieval literature impact people reading during the Middle Ages? And how did this perception impact the perception of men in society? This analysis will focus on different depictions of Arthurian characters; through an analysis of the chivalric code and the sometimes conflicting standards appearing in much of the literature, a medieval masculine ideal becomes apparent.
John C. Polles is a junior English major with minors in writing and LGBTQ studies. He works as senior tutor at the Writing Center and is president of the English Club and co-chair of Continuum. His studies primarily focus on issues of difference in literature, gender and sexuality, and writing centers.