Date of Award

Spring 1948

Degree Type

Thesis - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Perhaps no other century in the history of literature has received more debunking and less treatment at the hands of literary historians than the fifteenth. While it is true that the artistic merits of its literature are oftentimes questionable, nevertheless, there is much that is praiseworthy. Furthermore, it is the literary link between the Chaucerian and the Elizabethan ages, and an understanding of its problems and accomplishments is necessary if one wishes properly to comprehend the achievements of these great eras. For that reason, the present work undertakes a detailed study of imagery used to portray the Virgin in Marian lyrics of the fifteenth century. An aspect of religious verse was selected because the secular verse has already been so much more thoroughly treated. The selections used in this study include all the lyric poems of the fifteenth century which have the Blessed Mother as their dominant inspiration, theme, or character. Although it would be presumptuous to say that no single Marian lyric has been omitted, it is my hope that the selection is practically exhaustive. This study attempts to assemble the numerous figures for the Virgin into definite classes and to test their artistic merit by applying to them standards for imaginative writing. In general, it endeavors to give a fairly accurate picture of the nature of figurative expression in a century which has long been ignored as a period of literary dormancy.



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