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Criticism of Geoffrey Chaucer’s "Franklin’s Tale" of The Canterbury Tales
Throughout this article, I will compare, analyze, translate (interpret) and evaluate Geoffrey Chaucer’s “Franklin’s Tale”, The Canterbury Tales. I will explore different ‘schools of literary criticism’ and tools such as: biographical; comparative ethical expressive historical; impressionistic or aesthetic; mimetic pragmatic psychic community; textual and theoretical criticism to achieve the purpose of this article.
The setting of the Story was mainly in Brittany (formerly Armorica, France – south of the English Channel. However, Orleans and other French cities were mentioned, as well as Britain (as in the British Isles).
The language used in the story was mainly French. Latin was used by an English Scholar who introduced Aurelius’ brother to the master magician/staff of Orleans. It can be assumed that English (as in Middle English) was also used, due to Arveragus’s (knight’s) expedition to Britain and the presence of the English Staff.
The dress was, of course, like that worn in those days of Chaucer’s time. A knight would wear armor while typical clothing would consist of what was worn in Chaucer’s time.
The introduction of the story mainly happened during the spring (lines 901 – 909) –
“So one day, right in morwe-tyde,
To the garden where he sat,
In this they had a great law
Of other things and more,
They walk for a long day and meet each other.
And this was the sixth day of May,
Whom May hadde with his gentle Swords hade
This garden is full of fruits and flours;
-Therefore, the weather was sunny and pleasant, like in the spring season in a temperate geographical place like in Western Europe, especially, in the south of France.
The events of this story unfolded over a period of two years, while Aurelius was really ill (caused by love sickness) (lines 1101 – 1103) –
“Anger in anchorage and torment
Two-year-old Aurelius was sleeping,
Every foot of his on the erthe gon;
until the end of the story. There was no interesting event (hope to be cheated), in itself, the Story centered on ‘marriage and promises’ where the main characters act in an abstract, circular and literal way.
The situation of the story was very serious. For example, “The Miller’s Tale” is very comical; “Knight’s Tale” is very durable, and so on. “Franklin’s Tale” is a more moralistic tale, somewhat similar to the plot of morality plays common after Chaucer’s time. At the beginning of the story, it started out as a sunny day (see my first comment). At its peak, the tone was dark and gloomy (see my second quote), and then calmed down (with a sigh of relief) at the end.
The style of the story, unlike the tone in “The Miller’s Tale”, was gentle, kind and innocent. The latter was a parody (in a crude and “Jerry Springer Showesque” style) of “A Knight’s Tale” that was cute and romantic.
Like the style, shape and structure of the story, it is very suitable for the message of the story. For example, the Story dealt with honesty, integrity and honor. It also derives from the “Knight’s Tale” and “Squire’s Tale” which, ironically, Franklin admires and imitates. (He wanted to be like a Knight while he wanted his son to be like a Squire – part of his ambition to become a noble, ironically, Chaucer took the same path to nobility in his own life). In short, the shape and structure of the Story acts as a pipe that carries the water (the message) to the climactic ending.
In the Story, we could understand the image/style. We can see, hear, hear, taste and smell what the character is doing and the environment. In other words, it appeals to our visual (beautiful gardens), auditory, olfactory, tactile and olfactory senses. Moreover, the images are kinetic (in her movement) and synaesthetic (the Squire’s fire and the black rocks on the beach).
Of course the style is maintained by the attitude and voice of the main characters: Arveragus (Knight); Dorigen (Knight’s wife); Aurelius (Squire) and his brother, and Staff (magician). This character is not evenly divided in the traditional hero/antagonist way. For example, in “The Knight’s Tale” Palamon was the hero while Arcita was the antagonist, and also in “The Miller’s Tale” Nicholas was the hero while Absolon was the antagonist. As a result, the main characters at the end of “Franklin’s Story” came out very noble and tender by their noble deeds. (Power 1620 – 1625) –
“Lordynges, this question, let me ask now,
As you say, which one was the most perfect?
Now he says to me, yes you should notice.
I don’t care; My story is over.”
In continuation, the characters in the story are played in the following way. Arveragus made a pact with his new wife, Dorigen, that their marriage would be like a court where he would continue to serve her needs as he would serve his future daughter. He wanted not to dominate her (which is different from “The Clerk’s Story” – male dominated and “Bath’s Story” – female dominated) but rather for them to be friends, while they can share their secrets. share the inner ones together. Later, Arveragus went to Britain to reap the glory of his knighthood in the world. Dorigen, alone, went to a spring ball (against the morals of those days, therefore, a married woman should not be at any public outing without her partner, especially a dance) where she danced with a charming gentleman who he wanted to have sex with her. In response, choosing not to be rude or pushy (which is a common practice among women of her class) she tried to avoid his advances and promised to give him a chance to talk to her if he could get some raise the rocks of the coast of Brittany. In her mind, this task seemed impossible. In unrestrained lust, Aurelius suffered his physical pain for more than two years until his brother came to his aid and he met a magician who was able to fulfill his wish with the help of astrological trickery. Next, he promised the magician a fortune. The magician acted. To Dorigen’s dismay and surprise, the impossible task was accomplished. In honor, she realized that she could not renege on her promise to Aurelius. Terrified, she turns to Arveragus (who rejects the idea of equal partnership in a relationship because, now, it’s the man who makes the decision and thus the cliche – “helping the damsel in distress”) for help. In honor, he told her that she should keep her promise. However, it must be separate in order not to betray their unorthodox arrangement, marriage with their friends (community).
Then, after a lot of severe mental torture, she turned to Aurelius, who was drooling in his mouth like a piece of food left at a feast. Finally, she told him about her husband’s knowledge and response. The Squire was so moved by her story that he sent her home still ‘a virgin out of wedlock.’ Oh, by the way, Aurelius realized that he still had that little fortune to pay the magician for his mysterious services. Instead of ‘taking a losing action’, he decided to magically negotiate with the witch for money (the Squire wasn’t exactly worth a fortune). In a kind of domino effect, the wizard let him off the hook when he realized what was going on throughout that unimaginable line of “as contagious as the bubonic plague in the countryside of Central Europe”. Just like in a fairy tale, everyone (well the married couple) lived happily ever after.
During the plot, we can witness several forms of conflict such as: man against man; man versus nature; man vs. people against themselves; man against gods, and man against society. In the first conflict, we witnessed Dorigen against Aurelius. In the second, the magician perfectly manipulates nature to create an illusion with the help of astrological directions. In the third, Dorigen’s reminiscences of the stories of how the noble maidens of the Ancient Ages sacrificed their lives to honor their virginity and their gods and goddesses, while she struggled fiercely with herself and her dilemma of how to leave a promise without breaking it. A promise to the Squire and not to break the marriage vow (of adultery) to her husband. Fourth, the unorthodox interpretation of Knight’s marriage versus society’s view of what marriage should be – patriarchal in nature (no ifs and no buts…).
From the conflict and plot, we can extract the theme of this story, which is related to the sexuality and nobility of the soul. Through conflict and trials, the main characters have proven themselves worthy and worthy, which is supported by the last stanza of the Story that asks a question “who is the best of them all?” To which, I answered Knight because he risked the most because of his unconditional love and faith in the author and to live in such an unconventional society that is not according to his status in his society.
The look of the poem is everything. At the same time, it is threefold. In other words, Franklin’s, Chaucer the narrator and Chaucer the author played a role in shaping the story. First, Franklin tells the story to demonstrate his genius and civic idealism (even faux nobility). (The importance of this view to the story is reflected, somewhat ironically, in Franklin’s portrait of the “General Preface”). The storyteller Chaucer noted the connection between the tale and the Knight’s and Squire’s tales (of which he admired); his revenge on the host who treated him violently, and his middle story between the servant and the wife took bath stories about marriage and the relationship between men and women. Chaucer the poet basically transferred his personal beliefs (in my opinion) into marriage which shows Franklin’s story which was in conflict with Chaucer’s society in his time. (My high school advanced English class was once told by Mr. Lambert, a Cambridge University student and native Briton, that Chaucer was punished for beating a prince during his lifetime). As I have argued, Franklin’s life was somewhat similar to that of the poet Chaucer because of the life path Chaucer took to become a fake nobleman in his lifetime, rather than being born into nobility through the ‘traditional blue blood path’.
I did not find that Chaucer borrowed this story. In fact, I strongly believe that this story was inspired by Chaucer’s own imagination and beliefs.
As for the Story, modern readers (90s audio) will find this story more in line with Chaucer’s time (14th century) than ours where we are fed up with cheesy talk shows (Jerry Springer) and soap operas. , rather than the morality plays and religious entertainments of Chaucer’s time.
Personally, I am very – in love – with this Story. I appreciate the dignity of its characters and themes. The story was very well written and relatable by Franklin; Chaucer the narrator, and Chaucer the poet.
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