Marie de France
In his poems, Marie de France glorifies the theme of love. All the three poems (Lais, Lanval and Laustic) portray the different aspects of love Marie communicates to the society. Much of the poems centre on the types of love, for example, the Lais portrays the selfish and unselfish love and their manifestation, for example, adultery and marriage (France 12). Marie de France exonerates the notion of celibacy by showing the essence of love in a person’s life, even if it is the selfish love. However, Marie de France aligns his thoughts to the pure and unselfish love which mattered most in the society. Selfish and impure love serve personal interests and are not beneficial for relationships and marriages. Pure and unselfish love is a metric for happiness and success for the relationship. Marie de France pens down instances of sexual encounters, adulterous affairs and impure thoughts to depict the different kinds of love during the medieval times. The paper will analyze the three poems (Lais, Lanval and Laustic) to depict these different forms of love and their manifestation in the medieval times.
The Lanval depicts a courtly and unselfish love. Lanval is a knight serving King Arthur. He meets the most beautiful woman through some maiden women he crossed path with in the fields. The beautiful lady swears to offer Lanval her undying love. She reiterates her pure love when she voices her choice of Lanval over everything. Lanval swears to the same offer. However, Lanval has to keep the relationship a secret, after which he would continue to have the lady’s love all to himself (De France 22). Lanval manages to keep the relationship under wraps for most of the period, until the unfortunate advances by the queen materialize.
The queen’s proposition notified the advent of selfish love, and consequently the loss of pure love. Queen Guinevere, the wife to King Arthur proposes an adulterous relationship to Lanval. Marie de France describes the proposition as enticing, considering the type of words and imagining the diction the queen used (De France 19). Clearly, the decision to fall into the queen’s advances lied solely with Lanval. Conversely, Lanval upheld his pure love and relationship with his lover. He rejects the queen’s advances though she continued to pester him with her intuitive lusts. The queen’s lust drove her to the point of accusing Lanval of being a homosexual. Such a stance manifests a selfish love; the queen desired Lanval more to fulfill her lusts, but did not mind or consider the needs or beliefs of Lanval. She was determined in every way to have her way. Such kind of selfish love pushes human beings to do the unexpected and even unethical behaviors. Selfish love is only beneficial to one party, while the other individual will almost be drained of the ounces of love he/she has.
Lanval defends himself from the queen’s accusations of being a homosexual. He cites his pure love for the lady, one whom he chose over all the ladies and that her maidens were more beautiful than the queen. Lanval’s disclosure clearly breaks the agreement he had with her love; that of not disclosing their relationship to the public. It is perceived as the right thing to do in defending his reason for rejection of the queen’s advancements, but Lanval’s stands to lose his lover by exposing their relationship. By declaring that the maidens of his lover were more beautiful than the queen, Lanval is charged with treason. He has to prove to the courts that these ladies or his lover were more beautiful than the queen. Proving that would mean further openly disclosing his lover and their relationship, which goes against the initial agreement with his lover. The lady has to testify for Lanval that she was indeed her lover, or else Lanval would be banished. Marie de France inculcates the benefits of pure and unselfish love. Lanval expected the lady to condemn him to the court’s fate as he had broken the agreement, but the lady showed up to testify and defend Lanval (De France 31). Indeed she was more beautiful than the queen. Such beauty was incomparable in the whole of the land. Eventually, Lanval is set free and he proceeded on with her lover to live the happily ever after period. After Lanval tried to grab a second chance for the woman’s love, she did not reject him. A pure and unselfish love is like that. Marie de France creates the stereotype of the pure and unselfish love, one where both parties bear the brunt for each other. Mutual needs or goals are fulfilled by such love, unlike the selfish love where the needs and goals of a single entity precede over the relationship.
Marie de France depicts the manifestation of the selfish and impure love in the Lais. Marie de France pens the account of a young woman sheltered away in a tower by her rich husband. The woman spent at least seven years in this tower with minimal contact with the outside world (LLC 25). She was unable even to meet her friends and parents. The only contact was with the sister to her rich old husband. Such pressure and conditions condemned her to sorrow as she let herself live freely without care in the world. Her beauty faded away, like most women. Her marriage to her husband was official, but the treatment she received in this marriage was unjustified and cruel. We may try to offer sympathy to the lady, but Marie de France offers another turn of events with the woman’s involvement in an affair. The woman gets involved in an affair with a knight. The knight was a transformed hawk. As expected, their affair grows to a stronger relationship. Not only did they share the sexual connection, but also deep love for each other.
The knight’s love and the growing relationship transforms the woman as she became happier. One cannot justify or condemn the woman’s involvement with the knight, but her happiness and redemption offers a worthy consolation to the audience. Even Marie de France offers no opinion or justification for the affair. By societal standards, it is unethical and immoral, even though the love seems pure and unselfish. Later on, the husband learns of the affair and kills the knight (Davey 16). The cruel behavior and selfish concerns reiterate the impure and selfish love in this marriage. Mostly, the husband’s demands are met while the woman is condemned to suffering and isolation in the tower. Unselfish love and impure love should not be allowed to thrive. Marie de France holds the same position as she depicted the woman to be pregnant with the knight’s child. The child became the avenger as he later killed his stepfather. The end might justify the means (the extramarital affair), but the selfish and impure love is destroyed and happiness is eventually upheld.
LAUSTIC (THE NIGHTINGALE)
The Nightingale alludes the negative treatment and perception of the adulterous life. Marie de France incorporates three characters: two knights and a lady. One of the knight is married to the lady and lives close to the other knight (a bachelor) (Murray 13). With his inclination to adventure and sexual lusts, the bachelor tried to entice the neighbor’s wife. The lady was much resilient, though the young man had implanted his lustrous desire for the neighbor’s wife. The affair can only materialize if both parties agree to it and are led by their sexual desires. The young man became resilient also in his advances. Their close proximity and the unlimited audience offered by the lady cultivated the affair as the woman started to visualize herself with the young man and occasionally exchanging gifts through the window. The young man is famed for his adventurous behavior and sexual prowess. As such, it is clear he desired the neighbor’s wife only to fulfill her selfish desires or as part of his adventures. On the woman’s part, she is married to the other knight and was devoted to him. She may have been blinded by the continued persistence of the young man as she loved the young man.
The two could never meet considering the diligence of the woman’s husband, damning them to the option of the window for communication and sexual fantasies. Therefore, the young man and the wife were never alone negating the chances of both parties consummating their love. The husband’s diligence portrays his protective nature and probably little suspicion about the wife’s affair. As the affair matures, the woman clearly depicts her selfish and impure love. She was already married and was expected to be entire...