The Vulnerable Hero: Havelok and the Revision of Romance

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In the early-fourteenth-century Middle English romance, Havelok the Dane, it is the hero Havelok’s childhood—his experience of it and the narrator’s focus on it—that fills out the tale, fills the hero’s speech, and motivates his drive to reclaim his kingdom. In a genre better known for its invincible heroes, “litel” and “naked” immediately establish this hero’s defining characteristic: vulnerability. Ultimately, this romance dramatizes an experience of vulnerability—rhetorically and culturally epitomized by childhood—as the core of a less aristocratic heroic subjectivity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)330-352
JournalChaucer Review
StatePublished - 2008


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