Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts (BA)
College of Humanities and Fine Arts
Narrative binds people together with a common language and experience. It provides a singular manner for communication and interaction. Without this interaction, there would be no society or culture to speak of; with no way to articulate and control sounds, humans would be forced to communicate through the use of motions and gestures, deprived of the beauty and magic of language. Words can somehow capture pain, joy, beauty, awe, sadness, excitement, emotion and the very thrill that comes from being alive in a way that nothing else can. Language can inspire and influence as much as it can inflict pain and despair, making it truly the most powerful, and even magical, human resource. It is for this reason that books are capable of, essentially, casting a spell over the reader by having the ability to transport him to another world using nothing but words. It is the words themselves that have the ability to not only let someone believe she is actually in whatever situation she is reading about but to be able to invoke real emotions in her. This is just as true today as it was hundreds of years ago in the Middle Ages. Medieval society was fully aware of the existence of magic all around them and they believed that words and language were capable of casting spells over people much like bookworms today believe in the power of books to inspire and transport the mind to somewhere else. People in the Middle Ages had a deep and fervent belief in the existence of magic in the world around them as well as a need for clarity and a way to connect to the world around them. This strong belief in the magical properties inherent in the world around them and the belief that words could harness this magic can only be understood by looking at the mentality held by medieval society towards magic and those who practice it as well as the literature produced during this time. Although attitudes toward magic and those who could and would harness it are vastly different in the Middle Ages than they are today, there is a commonality between the two eras in the way that beliefs in magic are portrayed through literature; literature always reflects the way a society views issues and so medieval society's mentality towards magic can be seen through the literature of the time.
Lavado, Ana Maria, "The Magic of Books: A History of Medieval Magic and Literature" (2013). Honors Theses. 44.