Tuesday, March 1, 2011

L’Amour Courtois: Really a phenomenon of just the Middle Ages?

After the “epopee” or epic that greatly valorizes the honor of a chevalier who dies in the battle field, literature took on a new dimension, with love playing an essential role. The chevalier was now more eager to prove his worth to his mistress than to his land. It was not just important to love but win his love over the others.
Almost ten centuries later, the concept of love, for men, does not seem to have changed much. This is especially true for Indian men (am not commenting on others as I hardly know any). L’amour courtois rejects all kinds of indiscretion and also any hasty confession of love, everything has to be done as per a “code of conduct”: friendship --> courtship (the most important and probably also the longest lasting stage) --> love.
Is it related to the masculinity of men and their perpetual need to prove it to themselves and to others? Even in today’s age, men prefer a woman who plays the role of the Dame courtoise, or of the Indian “devi” in the Indian context, who needs to be venerated and pleased. A woman, who breaks this code of conduct, is not quite popular among men. What is really interesting is to trace this to the Indian mythology. Studies on collective unconscious conclude that at the back of the mind, the Indian woman has an intense desire to imitate Sita, to please her spouse. But we must not forget that in order to get this treatment from her, Rama first had to break the “baan” and win her over. But the modern scenario resembles l’amour courtois more where it is not enough to prove just one’s physical strength but also to seduce her with mastery over the art of loving.
As I am no expert of either medieval age literature or Indian mythology or have any concrete proof to support this hypothesis, I can only express my opinion and wait for a counterargument. I would love to read your point of view on this. Please respond to this post.