Gender and Conversion in the Middle English Otuel Romances

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The Chaucer Review


Each of the three Middle English Otuel romances adapts the interfaith pairing of Otuel and Belesent found in Otinel, their chanson de geste source. This article compares the Otuel romances to each other and to Otinel by examining three core scenes in which Otuel and Belesent interact. The Otuel-Belesent pairing is also considered in the context of interfaith relationships found in similar Middle English romances, which reveal the unconventionality of the Otinel/Otuel tradition. The analysis shows that the relationship between Otuel and Belesent was used by poets in opposing ways: either to affirm the possibility of genuine conversion of non-Christians, or to reject any possibility of such a conversion.


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