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451 Study Questions for Chaucer's
breton lai, Franklin
Useful Middle English terms:
tregetour (illlusionist), magyk natureel (science/white
Review the Franklin's Portrait in the
- The Franklin
- The Franklin is described in particular detail. What
is his beard like? What color are his cheeks? (What modern
legendary figure does he resemble from our holiday season?)
- What does it mean when the text reads
the Franklin "was
Epicurus' very son"? Who is Epicurus and what is
his philosophy? Click here for a hint.
- To what patron saint is the Franklin compared explicitly?
Why is this an appropriate comparison?
- What does it mean that "a bettre envyned man was
- What substances "snow" inside
the Franklin's house?
- What is always set up and ready to go in the Franklin's
Identify the following characters:
The Host (Harry Bailey),
The Franklin, The Squire, Arveragus, Dorigen, Aurelius,
unnamed brother of Aurelius, the Clerk of Orleans
- What is a Franklin?
- From what Italian work did Chaucer take this tale?
- What was the reputation of Orleans in the medieval
world of the 1300s?
Before starting the Franklin's Tale, read
the linking material from †he conclusion of the "The
[V (F) 671-708].
- Who interrupts the Squire's Tale? What is the tone
of that interruption?
- The Franklin compares his own son to the Squire. Note,
however, the unusual expression the Franklin uses to
describe his affection for his son in line 683. He says
his soon is "levere" (dearer) than what? What does this
suggest about how the Franklin assesses value? How does
this contrast with his outburst, "Fy on possessioun"
a few lines later?
- What is the Host's reaction to the Franklin's "gentilesse"?
- Note Harry Bailey's statement in lines 696-98. How
does this contrast with the earlier rules of the storytelling
game that called for each pilgrim to tell a total of
(From "The Franklin's Prologue" itself):
- What is the setting for our story (i.e.,
what geographic region?
- According to line 735, what is Dorigen's
family like in terms of social rank?
- What vow of "his free wyl" does Arveragus
swear to Dorigen? What is the one exception or "but"
(i.e. save) that Arveragus adds to this vow?
- What (odd?) vow does Dorigen make in
return? When will she no longer be a humble and trewe
wife, according to her vow?
- According to the Franklin, how compatible
are "maistrie" and "the God of Love"? What happens
to cupid when Mastery or Domination shows up?
- In lines 768-70, whom does the Franklin
appear to be addressing in the pilgrimage company,
given the content of earlier tales?
- In lines 771-75, when the Franklin
talks of patience, whom does he appear to be addressing
in the pilgrimage company, given the content of earlier
- In lines 778-86, when the Franklin
talks about how all creatures sometimes "do amys,"
whom does he appear to be addressing in the pilgrimage
company, given the content of earlier tales?
long have Arveragus and Dorigen been married according
to line 806?
- Why does Dorigen weep and sigh?
- What does Arveragus do to help alleviate
his wife's loneliness?
- What physical object in the sea causes
Dorigen to have panic attacks?
- What question does Dorigen ask of God
in lines 871-72, and how does this connect to the Clerk's
- How does Dorigen's discussionin line 885-886 connect
with the Boethian theme of the Knight's Tale?
- How do Dorigen's friends try to distract her from her
panic attacks and her "derke fantasye"?
- Aurelius first meets Dorigen at a dance.
He is a servant of what goddess? (see lines 937 et
- How long had Aurelius been in love with Dorigen? What
is his emotional condition after her marriage? What are
some of the genres he has written in protesting his love
- How aware is Dorigen initially concerning Aurelius's
passion for her?
- How does Dorigen respond to Aurelius's romantic outburst
(lines 967-78) when she finally gets a chance to respond
in line 980 et passim?
- When Dorigen finally creates the possibility of an
affair, what condition does she set "in pley"? (What
does she think the odds are that such a task could ever
- Note the odd word choice Dorigen uses when she says,
"Lat swiche folies out of youre herte slyde." What does
the word "slide" imply about the nature of Dorigen's
heart? Is it slippery? Slimey? Unstable? Unfixed?
- Why does Aurelius pray to Apollo and Lucina (i.e.,
Selene or Diana, the moon-goddess) and Neptune?
- What happens to Aurelius when he finishes his prayer?
Who finds him in this condition?
- How much longer does Aurelius suffer with unrequited
love for Dorigen?
- Aurelius' brother is a clerk, who happens to another
clerk in what French city?
- This French clerk has studied what forbidden knowledge?
- What is a "tregetoure?
- [Lecture] The descirption of magical illusions in lines
1140-51 come from what Welsh literary work?
- How does the brother think this French clerk can help
- What language does the clerk use to address the two
visiting brothers and how does this illustrate his education?
- What (freakishly) does the clerk or Orleans already
know about the two brothers?
- When Aurelius's brother asks about the other students
they knew "in olde dawes," what response does the Orleans
clerk give him? [Lecture: How does this connect with
the Inquisition in southern France?]
- What are some of the illusions the Orleans clerk uses
to demonstrate his power? List any two.
- How much does the Orleans clerk charge Aurelius for
his services? [Lecture: How much is that equivalent to
in modern money, approximately?]
- How does Dorigen react in lines 1339 et passim when
she sees the illusion of clear seas?
- When Dorigen discusses her plight, she alludes to Nicerate's
wife, Lucretia, Alceste, Laodomia, Porcia, and other
women. What do these women have in common, and what does
that suggest Dorigen is herself considering as a way
to escape her problems?
- What news does Dorigen share with Arveragus when he
A.“Yet I graunte yow to been youre love,
Syn I yow se so pitously complayne.
Looke what day that endelong Britayne
Ye remoeve alle the rokkes, stoon by stoon,
That they ne lette ship ne boot to goon--
I seye, whan ye han maad the coost so clene
Of rokkes that ther nys no stoon ysene,
Thanne wol I love yow best of any man."