Study Questions to the Franklin's Tale

line 37 Make sure you know who the Bretons are. What was the "firste Briton tonge"? Look up "lay" in your dictionary of literary terms. What do you think of first when you know you're about to hear a Breton, i.e., Celtic, story? Marvels, of course.

46-56 Do you think his speech really is "rude"? Why does he say this? What is a muse? What are rhetorical figures? What is he talking about?

57-80 The works "knight" and "lady" are real social terms, but when you hear the Franklin's reference to a "lay" you might reasonably suppose that you are going to hear a romance-style story involving what I have called "the love myth." Notice all the key words that point to the myth (what are they?). There is a twist in this fellow's method of following the code of this kind of unreal love--a twist that will allow him to square his fantasy life with his real day-to-day life. What is it? Do you think it will work?

81-88 Are you surprised that the lady immediately grasps the strange proposal that the knight makes and responds in kind? What do you think of the deal from her point of view?

89-118 What do you make of the idea of "obeying" in line 90? Think about the adulterous nature of the love in the love myth when you read lines 92-95. Is this idea the same as that in lines 96-98? How did we get to "patience" in line 101? (Notice that it is a Christian virtue. Who is speaking this whole little "sermon"?)

119-130 Is this the Franklin's idea? What does it then tell you about the Franklin? What do you think of his logic?

136-156 A year isn't very long. Now we're back to the "knights and ladies" set of values. How would you feel about this, ladies? Dorigen clearly doesn't think much of it.

175-192 Keep track of the local geography. Why does walking along the shore not afford Dorigen any comfort?

193-222 What do you think of the propriety (look it up) of Dorigen's prayer? What do you think of Dorigen's logic?

229-252 Now if you know anything about the love myth, you know that gardens are where love takes place--walled gardens that are always filled with flowers in full bloom. A dangerous place for a married woman! May is the month of love, as you know by now.

253-294 What do you think of Aurelius? Of what social class is he? How do you know? What are his virtues; what recommends him as a man? He is a perfect figure of the man in love, according to the love myth. Who were Echo and Narcissus?

307-334 What do you think of Dorigen's answer to his plea? Pay special attention to line 315. Put that side by side with line 325-326--and 327. Now what do you think of her? Is she playing fair? What should Aurelius make of her speech? Is there any ambiguity (look it up) in what she says?

351-358 This is the way a true lover who's lady "shows him no mercy" is supposed to act.

359-409 Aurelius prays to Apollo and Lucina. Is there any irony in his mention of Lucina? What is she goddess of, besides the moon (and what is her more usual name)? If Apollo does as he asks, will the resulting circumstances fulfill his agreement with Dorigen?

429-443 How much time passes? Clerk = cleric. Remember that all learning (more or less) is to be had from the Church, even if afterwards it is applied to other purposes than religion. What is this arrow Chaucer talks about?

445-492 Orleans is a very old university town along the Loire River in France. You'll find it below Paris on your map of France--a long way from Brittany. Magic was always and everywhere condemned by the Church in the Middle Ages. Is Aurelius' brother's idea better than his own? Will it fulfill the terms of his agreement better?

500-506 All students speak Latin; it is the language of their studies. We don't know how he could know how they came, but what is the effect of his revelation? (Note that this is not someone either of them ever met back in their old school days at Orleans.)

517-542 A very famous passage. Pay attention to the progression of images revealed to the brothers. Notice lines 535 and 542. Hmmmm. Why the emphasis on books?

549-553 Is this what he has agreed to? A thousand pounds is a king's ransom! You could live in the style to which you are accustomed on ten.

555-558 Would you say that this statement is a bit rash? Could he pay it?

598-600 These terms of condemnation are clearly the Franklin's. Clearly this is a very technical matter requiring a great deal of expertise. Not just anyone can be a good magician. Pay special attention to line 626.

641-650 Would you say there was a bit of pressure being applied here?
655-656 Is that the way you would have stated it?
659-660 Do you think so?
661 Has he?

667-669 Like Gawain at the Green Knight's words.

679 Just when you need him.

684-694 Being an old Breton story, it is not Christian. The call upon Fortune is therefore appropriate, though we (Christian readers) know it is misguided. She is caught in a not uncommon dilemma: death or dishonor--certainly present in our society in all-too-many rape cases. Dorigen takes the high road, makes the right decision, but then...

695-786 (The pages in my text are reversed, but they are there.) Do you think it is easy to commit suicide? especially if the results of no calamity have yet fallen upon you, you are in no pain, and no one but yourself knows of it? It isn't easy for Dorigen. Do you blame her? Many peope have.
If you were going to commit suicide, how would you think about it? One way might be to think of people who have committed suicide. Would that stiffen your resolve? Remember that Dorigen is alone at this point.

795-814 What do you think of her husband's response? Does line 802 accord with their marriage agreement? Does it cause a problem between the two clauses of that agreement? Do you remember what "trouthe" means? (It is an important word in Sir Gawain as well.) What about lines 809-811? Does this fall within the terms of the agreement?

821-826 Now the Franklin breaks in (or is it Chaucer the narrator?) to caution you as reader not to jump to any conclusions. What do you think of his reasoning here?

827-838 Why does Chaucer site the meeting here (830)? Notice that he tends to follow her around.

851-852 Do you remember what the word "churl" means? He links it with "franchise" and "gentilesse" (gentle-ness).

857-858 Aurelius sees it as a conflict between (Arviragus') shame and "trouthe." Do you?

867-868 Nice words. Remember them.

881-884 . . .and they lived happily ever after? Is it that simple--really?

885-892 He would have had to pay it in any case, no?

932-933 Notice all this use of "free," and the frequent use of "gentle."

949-952 So here's what it comes down to--for the Franklin. You might think of this as the sort of question asked in those dialogues of "luf-talkyng" I mentioned. What is the right answer? Or is it a trick question?


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Rev 9/97