Chaucer's The Franklin's Tale from the Canterbury Tales

2211 Words Jun 16th, 2018 9 Pages
Chaucer's The Franklin's Tale from the Canterbury Tales

The Franklin’s Tale, one of the many stories comprising the Canterbury Tales, is one of Chaucer’s most celebrated and most contradictory works. This tale set in medieval Brittany narrates the uncanny marriage of the knight Arveragus and his lady Dorigen. This unlikely union was based on mutual trust, love and truthfulness and knew neither the rule of the lady that was typical of courtly love, nor the domination by the husband that was expected of a traditional marriage. In the controversial scene that will be discussed here, Arveragus orders Dorigen to give herself to a man to whom she had made the reckless promise of giving her love if he could accomplish an impossible deed.
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In their vows Arveragus and Dorigen constantly refer to each other, as shows the presence of many pronouns:
He freely gave his promise as a knight
That he would never darken her delight
By exercising his authority
Against her will, or showing jealousy,
[…]
To which Dorigen replies:
God grant there never be betwixt us twain,
Through any fault of mine, dispute or strife.
Sir, I will be your true and humble wife, (Chaucer 337-338)
Trouthe is what the promise is based on but it is not the promise itself. The promise is respect and truth to each other, obedience but not authority.
Finally, we should also note that Arveragus poses one condition to this agreement: that it should remain private and that it should never stain his honor.
Save that his sovereignty in name upon her
He should preserve, lest it should shame his honour. (Chaucer 338)

After such an ideal marriage agreement comes the time to try its practicability. Arveragus leaves for two years of battle and noble deeds and Dorigen waits in worry and despair. So far, the marriage is safe. No one, not even his wife expected Arveragus to stay home by her side. The rules of knighthood compelled him to go fight. Derek Brewer, Professor Emeritus of English literature at the University of
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