The function of the figure of Gauvain underwent an historical change. As a courtly character in the classical romances, he reacted in the interests of Arthurian society to its deficiencies, so that the action provoked by the disturbances came to rest. In the later romances, a process of emancipation in the role of the protagonist sets in. The personal motivation connected with this role stood in conflict with the function of the figure of Gauvain as established in the tradition of the genre, and this led to problems of causality in the texts. Despite this process of emancipation, however, the figure remained remarkably stable in a consistent narrative model. In this model, Chrétien de Troyes had set the figure up as an antagonist to that of the protagonist and the figure of Keus, the other courtly character. This model describes the deployment and of the various figures and their tendency to act in particular ways, and could be verified in all of Chrétien’s romances as a basic structure of Gauvain’s actions, but showed itself to be a particular motivation for his actions in the romances with Gauvain's quest.
"Im Kontext der strukturalistischen Methode wird in dieser gewichtigen Arbeit [...] eine systematische, funktionale Analyse der Gauvainfigur in ausgewählten französischen, deutschen und niederländischen Versromanen des 12.und 13. Jh. unternommen"Michael Dallapiazza in: Germanistik 3-4/2008