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The Supernatural In The Works Of Marie De France

1260 words - 5 pages

In Yönec and Bisclavret by Marie De France, the element of the supernatural is used to emphasize virtue. Those who embrace the supernatural are portrayed as worthy and morally upright, while those who are repulsed by the supernatural are portrayed as evil and immoral. In Bisclavret, the lord's supernatural situation draws attention to the virtues of love and loyalty. In Yönec, Muldumarec's shape-shifting abilities are used to emphasize the virtues of courtly love. Muldumarec's prophecy before his death establishes him as a character who is so virtuous that he is blessed with prescience. In both tales, those who stand between a supernatural being and their pursuit of virtue are severely punished.
In Bisclavret, the supernatural lord is, “a good knight, handsome, known to be / all that makes for nobility. / Prized, he was, much, by his liege lord; / and by his neighbors was adored.” (De France 17-20) His virtue is established before his mythical curse is revealed. His wife, “a worthy soul, / most elegant and beautiful” (21-22) is concerned that his is breaking his marriage vows and has taken a mistress. She pleads, “Tell me, dear husband; tell me, pray, / What do you do? Where do you stay? / It seems to me you've found another! / You wrong me, if you have a lover!” (48-52) In order to convince his wife that he is innocent, he tells her of his condition. Upon hearing his confession, “Terror, she felt, at this strange tale. / She thought what means she could avail / herself of how to leave this man. / She could not lie with him again.” (98-102) She is so disgusted by the concept that her loyal husband is not purely human, she agrees to be the lover of a chevalier if he will help her distance herself from the beast she imagines her husband has become.
The lord, trapped in a wolf's form, still displays his virtuous nature, even when his life is in danger. As he is about to be ripped to shreds by hunting dogs, “His eye, distinguishing, could see / the king; to beg his clemency / he seized the royal stirrup, put / a kiss upon the leg and foot.” (147-148) The lord displays his loyalty to the king, even when it could prove fatal. His loyalty to his king is handsomely rewarded. The king, accepting that this wolf has the mind of a human, is depicted as wise and virtuous for his acceptance of the bisclavret.
When the lord, still trapped in the body of a wolf, sees his wife and her new husband, the chevalier, he attacks each of them. Instead of distancing himself from the apparently vicious animal, the wise king deduces that the wolf has some legitimate grievance with the couple and has them punished. As a result of the king's astute actions, the lord is restored to his human form and his wife's descendents are branded by the curse of being born with no noses as a penalty for their mother's lack of loyalty.
The cast of characters in Yönec is introduced in such a way that it would be impossible to mistake their level of virtue. The seigneur of Carẅent...

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