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The English Romance in TimeTransforming Motifs from Geoffrey of Monmouth to the Death of Shakespeare$
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Helen Cooper

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780199248865

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199248865.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 22 January 2022

Unhappy endings: ‘The most accursed, unhappy, and evil fortuned’

Unhappy endings: ‘The most accursed, unhappy, and evil fortuned’

(p.361) CHAPTER EIGHT Unhappy endings: ‘The most accursed, unhappy, and evil fortuned’
The English Romance in Time

Helen Cooper (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

The happy ending is often taken as the definitive feature of romance; this chapter looks at the exceptions. Each of the motifs discussed in earlier chapters can impel disaster, as Judas and Mordred survive exposure in an open boat, magic is increasingly assimilated to witchcraft, and fairy prophecy predicts calamity. A number of the prose romances, not least Valentine and Orson and Malory’s Morte Darthur, end in parricide and war. The logical end of such treatments was to recast Arthurian romance as tragedy, as happened in The Misfortunes of Arthur, where the problematic succession of Arthur is used as the material for a revenge play. Shakespeare’s reworking of the story of King Lear keeps its original framing clearly enough to recall the romance underlying it.

Keywords:   tragedy, Arthurian romance, happy ending, magic, Judas, Morte Darthur, Mordred, Valentine and Orson, Misfortunes of Arthur, King Lear

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