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Overcoming Obstacles Of Social Conventions In The Medieval Story, Eliduc

2037 words - 8 pages

Eliduc is a typical medieval story of courtly love. The Lai contains the common characteristics of other Marie de France’s Lais; as a worthy and valiant knight is confused about his love life. The knight is caught between the duty he owes his wife and the new love he feels for a foreign princess. Oddly enough, the two female characters, his wife and his secret lover have similar names; Guildeleuc and Guilliadun. This is significant because these two women meet and rather than becoming enemies as would be expected, they work as a team and live together. Over time the title of the Lai has changed to Guildeleuc and Guilliadun because it is based on the two women. Common to other medieval stories, Eliduc is moving and purifying, as it involves two innocent female characters who are caught up in a love triangle with a man who never meant to stray from his wife or emotionally hurt either of the women. Although Eliduc is similar to other Lais in many ways, it ends differently than others that have been discussed in class. The majority of Marie de France’s work ends in tragedy in terms of love, Eliduc does not, it ends with positive love. While the love between Eliduc and Guilliadun should not work out because of the secrets and adultery, the couple manages to break the social conventions of medieval society and are able to live happily together for quite some time. The three main characters in Eliduc manage to overcome obstacles of social conventions through their absolute freedom and unrestricted desires.
In terms of gender ideals of medieval society, the main characters in the story are very conventional. To begin with the story meshed nicely with the social conventions that Gayle Rubin explains in Traffic of Women. According to Rubin, the gender differences do not rely so much on the biological characteristics of males and females, but rather the social conventions that are imposed on them. Gender is only viewed as a small part in the social system which actually determines the role that men and women have in society. It is Rubin’s belief that the social and political systems are the first cause of gender discrimination and the oppression of women in a society. It is these conventions and customs that are ingrained in the minds of children from a very early age. Girls are taught to perceive themselves as less gifted by nature because of their anatomical characteristics. These conventions could make Guilliadun feel as that though she needs to accept her husband’s adulterous choices because that is how women should be treated by their husbands, or so they have been told.
In the beginning Eliduc is viewed as the perfect knight as he is dutiful and faithful both to his lord and to his wife, and he is also valiant and courtly. Eliduc is a man like no other in the land. Because Eliduc was so loyal to his king he was granted special privileges “he could hunt in the forests, there was no forester bold enough to dare try and stop him.”...

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