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362 Study Questions: Marie de France, "Equitan"
Norman French, Breton lai, octosyllabic couplets, fin
amour, feudalism, courtly love, knight, chivalry, locus
Identification: Equitan, the Seneschal,
the Seneschal's Wife
- What region does Equitan rule?
- What is King Equitan's favorite (but sinful!) pastime
- What is the Seneschal like? How does Marie describe
his character and his activities?
- Marie compares love to what sort of injury? What is
the source for this imagery in classical mythology?
- How does the Seneschal's wife react to the king's advances?
- We find out the King does not wish
to marry. Why is this a "subject to be discussed" at
great length in the kingdom? (I.e., why would the commoners
this?) Why do you suppose the King doesn't want to marry?
- What violent "solution" does
the Seneschal's wife offer to the love-triangle?
- How does Equitan die?
- How does the Seneschal's wife die?
- How are those two death's symbolically appropriate?
A: "Lord," she said, "please
come hunting in the forest in the region where I live.
in my husband's castle, be bled there, and take a bath
on the third day. My husband will be bled and take a bath
you. Make sure you tell him to keep you company. I shall
have the baths heated and the two tubs brought in. The
in his bath will be so boiling hot that no mortal man could
escape scalding or destruction."
B. The king looked up and saw him approaching.
To conceal his wickedness he jumped feeet first into the
tub, completely naked. He paid no heed to the danger involved
and was scalded to death. His evil plan had rebounded
him, whereas the seneschal was safe and sound. He saw what
had just happened to the king. Seizing his wife immediately,
he tossed her head first into the bath.