Essay on Ambiguity in Reason in Orlando Furioso

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Ambiguity in Reason in Orlando Furioso

Ariosto addresses an underlying battle between reason and lust in Orlando Furioso, similar to the clash between duty and desires in Vergil’s Aeneid, yet opposite in interpretation. Vergil presents the message that duty overpowers desires, while Ariosto shows the opposite effect when he equates reason, rules, and authority with duty, and love, passion, and lust with desire. The "mettlesome charger" represents Lust that will not stop fighting to obtain its goals and cannot be gently coerced from its direction. Reason rarely overcomes Lust after it is set into action; once it is "tasted" it cannot be forgotten. Bradamant is torn between lust and reason when she must choose between her desires
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Later, Rinaldo can no longer keep his promise to Ruggiero, and he blames Aymon for this failure. He denounces his father and shuns filial respect. Aymon ignores Rinaldo’s pleas and "[means] to dispose of his daughter as he [pleases]" (44.75). Clearly, Aymon sees Bradamant as a piece of property. He wants to gain money and a good name to honor his family through Bradamant’s marriage. He does not care whether or not love kindles between his daughter and the man she will spend her life with; he only seeks control over his daughter and the situation. Even though Rinaldo is acting against his father, therefore defying his duties and authority, his innocent intentions justify his action while Aymon’s actions display his self-centered motives.

Beatrice hates Rinaldo’s actions even more than Aymon does and declares her son arrogant. She openly stands against a union between Bradamant and Ruggiero and tries to use her power to get what she wants, a marriage between Bradamant and Leo. She assumes that Bradamant’s ambitions match her own and encourages her child to choose death over a "penniless knight" (44.38). If Bradamant acts otherwise and follows Rinaldo’s plan, "Beatrice [will] never more own her for a daughter" (44.38). Beatrice’s reasoning is based solely on greed; she wants Bradamant to submit to her own desires and ideas and focuses on gaining wealth when choosing Bradamant’s husband.

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