The Second Branch Of The Mabinogi And Sir Orfeo Use Borders And Border Crossings

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In Medieval Literature, a variety of borders are often used to serve different purposes but mainly to advance the plot through border crossings. The purpose of this essay is to consider the extent to which the authors of The Second Branch of the Mabinogi and Sir Orfeo use borders and border crossings to advance the text through a consideration of geographical, political and spiritual borders. The Second Branch of the Mabinogi relies mostly on the constant and unresolvable political border throughout the whole text to frame the story and drive the actions, whereas Sir Orfeo uses the physical, political and spiritual border in equal weighting in order to advance the plot.
The political border in The Second Branch of the Mabinogi exists to
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This is later shown when a messenger of Matholwch relays that, “He wishes to unite your two families, lord […] he wishes to join together the Island of the Mighty and Ireland” (p. 23). Although this places an emphasis on unity between the two countries, the political barrier is still present because it is not until “That answer was taken to Matholwch” (p. 23) that he entered Wales. In this way, the political and geographical borders are tied together because the political situation between the countries dictates the crossing of the geographical border. A further instance of this is when Branwen sends a bird with a message to cross the sea from Ireland to Wales. This results in “The men of the Island of the Mighty coming over, having heard of my punishment and dishonour’” (p. 29) because of their long-standing and unresolved political tension. Thus, the political border is the most important as it explains why the physical borders were crossed. This is contrasted in Sir Orfeo where the geographical border results in a newly formed political border. The physical border between the Faërie Kingdom and the Kingdom of Orfeo is discovered as being “Under a fair ympe-tree” , where the Queen was abducted and taken to the Faërie Kingdom. The discovery of this location allows Orfeo to attempt to prevent the second and final abduction of his wife. Orfeo attempts this by
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