Understanding Fate, Women, And Oaths

2337 Words10 Pages
Understanding Fate, Women, and Oaths in ‘The Franklin’s Prologue and Tale’ From a Comparison with ‘The Knight’s Tale’ ‘The Franklin’s Tale’ narrates the romantic conflict between Dorigene, a distressed maiden, Arveragus, a “meke” knight (739), and Aurelius, a besotted squire. Although Dorigene and Arveragus are contently married, Aurelius continues to court Dorigene and attempts to win her over by removing “alle the rokkes, stoon by stoon” (993) from the coast of Brittany. When Aurelius informs Dorigene that he has successfully vanished the rocks, she realizes she is bound “to been [his] love” (990) by a promise made in “pley”, and bemoans her situation for “a day or tweye”: “ ‘Allas!’ quod she, ‘that ever was I born!/ Thus have I seyd,’ quod she, ‘thus have I sworn’ ”. (Franklin’s Tale. 1463-64). The first part of this couplet is extraordinary passive and demonstrates Dorigene’s belief that human lives are fated from birth. On the other hand, the active syntax of the second line suggests that Dorigene has agency over her words and her promise and assumes partial responsibility for her situation. The tonal gap between the two halves captures a contradiction in Dorigene’s lament that is replicated and magnified in ‘The Franklin’s Tale’. Although the Franklin attempts to “quit” with ‘The Knight’s Tale’ and presents his characters as equally dependent on fate and the gods, he ‘overgoes’ his social superior by emphasizing ideas that the Knight ignores or otherwise undermines
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