An Essay Entitled 'doubt And Ambiguity In Chaucer's Knight's Tale'

1587 words - 6 pages

The Franklin attempts to adopt the form of the traditional Breton Lay, telling a story of romance concerned with human relationships and social order. To some extent he succeeds, but in some aspects the Franklin, who I am sure has best interests at heart, fails miserably. The Franklin, in his prologue, tells the rest of the company that he 'lerned nevere rethorik'. He does not know how to use figures of speech and that the company must forgive him for his simple, bare and plain tale. This is all very well, but immediately he slips into rhetoric when describing Arveragus of Kayrrud telling his company of his chivalric exploits and hard won affections of his lady. The Franklin firstly describes lady Dorigen as 'the faireste under sonne' and in the next line undermines her beauty by saying 'eek therto comen of so heigh kynrede'. The Franklin knows what high rhetoric is. Even if he didn't know before, he certainly knows after listening to the Knight's Tale. By telling us that lady Dorigen is more importantly a woman of noble birth with some wealth to her name, than a beautiful heavenly creature, the Franklin makes us doubt whether Arveragus actually wants her for her beauty or for her wealth. The whole tale is certainly a glimpse of how life and love would work out perfectly well if everyone is truthful, kept to their word and honored their fellows. But here in the first paragraph of the tale, we are led immediately to doubt whether everything is as peachy as it seems.We need look no further than a few more lines to find exactly the same thing happening from Dorigen's perspective. The Franklin tells us that the lady submitted to him for his 'worthiness', but 'namely for his meke obeysaunce'. Clearly Arveragus was not of such noble birth that it was the main cause, but she submitted to him because she pitied him and she thought he would serve her. Where are the chivalric exploits? Where are the 'many a labour's? The reason the Franklin gives us is that he does not possess the 'Colours of rethoryk'. The Franklin makes us doubt whether there where any heroic deeds done to win the heart of the lady, or whether he was pitiful and whiny until she gave in. Arveragus, after only a year or so of marriage, goes to a foreign country to seek a name for himself. This supports the claim that he was still a 'nobody' before they married and it was not because of his 'gentillesse' that she agreed to take him as husband. He may have had matrimonial strife because of this very issue. The Franklin does say 'Ne sholde upon hym take no maistrie' and 'hire obeye, and folwe hir wyl in al', in other words: "You can wear the pants, my dear."The Franklin delves into an interjection that lasts 41 lines. He teaches the company about the laws of love and the boundaries of marriage and the only way in which a couple can stay together forever without any problems. Mainly he states that both parties must be servant and master in some respect. The man must be 'Servant in love, and...

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