The Beard Show that Grows on You: The Role of the Beard in Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte Darthur

Nason, Kelsey, English - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Fowler, Elizabeth, AS-English-Eng Lit Ops, University of Virginia

Not being known for his vivid character descriptions, Sir Thomas Malory’s unusual focus on beards in his Le Morte Darthur drew my attention and becomes the focus of my exploration. Beards, as a malleable aspect of appearance, but also a biologically driven growth, present a fascinating amalgam between innate and performative features of the human. In this thesis, through four different beard-related scenes, I examine the beard in its different roles and how its functions in these roles can inform our concepts of masculinity and identity at large—beards act as a commodity traded among men, a prominent symbol of masculinity and male action (or the fragility thereof), and a marker of Arthur’s atypical journey from boy, to king, to man.

MA (Master of Arts)
Sir Thomas Malory, Beards, King Arthur, Le Morte Darthur, Masculinity
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