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Contrasting the Identical: Differentiation of the "Indistinguishable" Characters of Amis and Amiloun

Abstract

The fourteenth-century Middle English verse romance, Amis and Amiloun, is a well known exemplum of ideal friendship. The two characters exhibit all the traits of mutual loyalty that one expects in sworn brothers, and much description is offered in the text relating how much they resemble each other. What is often overlooked is how different they really are. They are not so much two individuals cut from the same pattern, as are Roland and Olivier, as they are complements of each other. Amiloun is the rugged, vigorous, knight who quests and earns his spurs. Amis is a refined, chivalrous knight unsuited for life outside the court's comfort and safety. In many ways the virility of the one contrasts with the effete qualities of the other. This disparity is shown to be so sharp that it becomes easy to identify them on opposite extremities of the gender scale, the "masculine" one contrasting with – or complementing – the "feminine" other.

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Ford, J.C. Contrasting the Identical: Differentiation of the "Indistinguishable" Characters of Amis and Amiloun . Neophilologus 86, 311–323 (2002). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1014428421031

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Keywords

  • Verse
  • Comparative Literature
  • Historical Linguistic
  • Mutual Loyalty
  • English Verse