A Nominalist Reading of the Ending of Malory’s Morte Darthur: Ockham’s Notion of the Metaphysical Freedom of the Will and Earthly Emotions





Arthurian literature, decadence, emotions, nominalism


Unlike the romances of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, which portray heroes who display exemplary characters, Malory’s Morte Darthur is marked by its depiction of heroes who surrender to their extreme love, grief or anger. Yet, this shift towards the portrayal of faulty characters who experience imperfect emotions is not abrupt, but rather a result of the gradual development of the medieval poetic discourse of emotion over the centuries. This paper proposes that the bleak sentiment which characterises the ending of Morte Darthur can be better understood if read within the cultural context that contributed to the shaping of the period’s discourse of emotions. The paper suggests that Malory’s choice to conclude his book in this way cannot be viewed in isolation from the text’s immediate political context represented by the turbulence that accompanied the Wars of the Roses, and which resulted in the spread of a utilitarian, humanist sentiment that revolves around the individual’s basic human needs. The paper, accordingly, suggests a correspondence between the nominalist discourse of emotions and the text’s decadent discourse of emotions.

Author Biography

Israa Qallab, The University of Jordan

Assistant Professor of Medieval English Literature

Department of English Language and Literature

The University of Jordan


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Date of Publication


How to Cite

Qallab, I. (2024). A Nominalist Reading of the Ending of Malory’s Morte Darthur: Ockham’s Notion of the Metaphysical Freedom of the Will and Earthly Emotions. International Journal of Arabic-English Studies, 24(2), 437–456. https://doi.org/10.33806/ijaes.v24i2.726



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