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Fairies, Monsters and the Queer Otherworld: Otherness in Sir

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Amy Morgan

on 15 October 2014

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Transcript of Fairies, Monsters and the Queer Otherworld: Otherness in Sir

Fairies, Monsters and the Queer Otherworld: Otherness in Sir Orfeo
Three Main Points
The fairies and their monstrous characteristics.
The transformations of Orfeo and Heurodis following their exile.
The queer nature of the Otherworld with specific reference to time and space.
'So fair creatours y-core'
'she cried, made loathsome outcry, she rubbed her hands and scratched her face profusely until it bled. Her rich robe she tore all to pieces and was driven out of her wits'.


Transformations of Heurodis and Orfeo
Queer Otherworld
The Otherworld is depicted as a queer space which is out of sync with normative time, life cycles and boundaries.

Rather than being a place of exclusion for supernatural or queer beings, it represents an alternative to heteronormative society that is powerful and dangerous.
Name: Amy Louise Morgan

University: University of Surrey

Contact: a.l.morgan@surrey.ac.uk
[Such fair and exquisite creatures]
Correlated with Violence
Orfeo's Transformation
'after that the steward was king'
Oren Falk, 'The Son of Orfeo: Kingship and Compromise in a Middle English Romance'
'For a medieval audience, Orfeo's lack of an heir of his flesh effectively undermines all of his other achievements.'
Fairies and their Monstrous Characteristics
'Then he beheld all about him,
And saw lying within the walls,
People that were brought there,
And seemed dead but were not.
Some were headless,
Some had no arms and
Others had horrific wounds to their bodies.
Some were bound like madmen.
Some had choked to death,
Others had been drowned or burnt.
Wives lay in childbirth,
Some dead and some driven to madness;
And many more looked as though they
had simply fallen asleep at noon.
Each had been brought there
through the power of the Otherworld'.
Gail Ashton, 'Medieval English Romance in Context', 99:
'frozen-in-death tableau'
Anne Marie D'arcy, 'The Faerie King's
', 12:
'no sense of animation'
'seemed dead but were not'
'The rich stone's light
shone as bright as the sun does at noon'
'O dear life, what is with you. that ever has yet been so calm but now cries strangely and shrilly, Thy body that was white and exquisite with your nails is torn to pieces. Allas thy face that was so rosy, is all pale as if thou were dead; and your slender fingers are all bloody and pale'.
'beautiful, without blemish'
long black beard
Idyllic Pastoral Space
'fair country, as bright as sun on summer's day, smooth and level and all green'
Castle: 'riche and royal', 'wonderously high', 'bright' and 'glowing like crystal'
Amy Louise Morgan
University of Surrey

Gallery of Bodies
Full transcript