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Part 2: Motifs, themes, structures

The Uses of Enchantment in The Franklin’s Tale

Martine Yvernault

Résumé

Chaucer drew on several sources (essentially Boccaccio’s Decameron) and resorted to the Breton lays as a genre he imitated in The Franklin’s Tale. Courtly love, magic and supernatural situations make up the expected framework of the tale claiming to be an apparently well-rounded lay. Yet the role played by binding agreements, contracts and consent in the tale alters the traditional definition of magic, emphasizes the natural and suggests that more pragmatic issues are at stake in late 14th century society in which creation questions the place of the marvellous, one of the components of romance, as the medieval world was gradually turning to techné.

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Texte intégral

  • 1 The Uses of Enchantment was translated into French in 1976; Bruno Bettelheim, Psychanalyse des cont (...)
  • 2 Vladimir Propp, Morphologie du conte, Paris, Seuil, 1970, p. 35-80.

1This title borrowed from Bruno Bettelheim’s work1 may sound anachronic in relation to a reading of Chaucer’s Franklin’s Tale but the two terms that appear in the title are relevant when approaching Chaucer: ‘uses’ suggests that the contents may serve a practical purpose, transforming the story into a pretext. Similarly, the term ‘enchantment’ applies to the magnetic, poetic quality of a story – a jewel in itself – the facets of which may, however, reveal deception, testing, and conflict between values embodied by beings classified according to the categories established by Vladimir Propp.2 Enchantment, Bettelheim posits, is instrumental in psychological development, but rational interpretation should never completely chase out the wonderful in a tale.

  • 3 Trouthe’ refers to loyalty, fidelity, honesty, in moral terms. Yet the focus being on the covenant (...)

2Very much the same may be said of The Franklin’s Tale. It is an enigmatic text, based on a puzzling challenge set against the backdrop of a seemingly romance setting in which a lady, Dorigen, whose husband is overseas – ‘to seke in armes worshipe and honour’ (139) – pledges her word (such a valuable term in a narrative framework) to love gentle Aurelius if he succeeds in removing ‘the grisly rokkes blake’ (187) lying all along the coast of Brittany. This does take place with the learned help of a magician. Yet the relatively easy performance of the challenge or task is in fact a first clue to approach Chaucer’s ‘uses of enchantment’ or his treatment of magic: Chaucer resorts to magic in order to expose better the reality of daily life in late medieval England. His demonstration is based both on the reproduction and distortion, even inversion, of marvellous elements: thus ‘trouthe’ is not conceived as a strictly moral value but is part and parcel of the binding implications of agreements in an emerging merchant economy.3 This is confirmed by another sort of inversion: the magic task is fairly easy, even natural, whereas the human laws at work in the multiplicity of covenants – linked as in a complex chain – are far more complex.

  • 4 Romances feed on love and adventures. Courtly love is linked with a specific conception of the medi (...)
  • 5 Il Filostrato is one of Boccaccio’s works. Filostrato means ‘the one prostrated by love’; Boccaccio (...)
  • 6 In a recent study, Barry Windeatt has shown that Aurelius’s behaviour is, in fact, a perfect exampl (...)

3Chaucer’s use of genre and convention (romance, courtly life and courtly love4) is visible not only in the literary fabric of the text but above all in the expected ekphrases which are also conjured up in the magician’s house in Orleans. Yet listeners and readers should know better: these scenes and pictures are not vivid or true reflections of reality; they stage traditional medieval tableaux (visions of the beloved and hunting scenes) sparked by the imagination yet blurred. They are water-colours in their expression, washed away by what may be poetic overuse and the passing of time, finally dispelled by the clapping of the magician’s hands. These images emerge as a faded palimpsest, the surface of which reflects more realistic faces and figures, for instance that of a young woman concerned with her marriage pledge. It would take Chaucer but a few lines to shift the dignified setting to the context of a fabliau in which the lady is confronted with the same domestic predicament, only her solutions would be more physical than Dorigen’s moral hesitations. Likewise, the courtly manners of grief-stricken Aurelius – presented as yet another Filostrato5 – are finally swept away by his major concern: payment of his debt in gold.6 All these convoluted situations – worse pitfalls than the black rocks – are solved by Arveragus, not the traditional figure of the lord in the courtly love triangle, but the inured and experienced husband who knows, better than the magician, how to untie the binding ropes of contracts, using a merchant’s skill.

  • 7 Boccace, Décaméron, Paris, Librairie Générale Française, 1994, p. 783-788.
  • 8 Nicholas R. Havely, Chaucer’s Boccaccio. Sources for Troilus and The Knight’s and Franklin’s Tales, (...)

4The Franklin’s Tale immediately follows The Squire’s Tale, and the Franklin interrupts the Squire, gratifying him, however, with a few compliments (The Franklin’s Prologue, 1-2). It is worth remembering that the subject of the Squire’s tale was precisely the enchantments of the East, in the form of a wonderful bronze horse that might have flown out of one of The Arabian Nights. The Franklin’s Tale shifts the narrative focus from magic to more realistic concerns even if its sources remain works of fiction, in particular Boccaccio’s Decameron. The 5th story told on the 10th day similarly connects a marriage pledge with a magical request in which Dianora expects Ansaldo to cause a garden to be covered with flowers and fruit in spite of the biting January cold.7 Boccaccio’s Filocolo also provides a similar source of inspiration since it contains a supernatural request (Tarolfo is likewise expected by a lady to cause spring to appear in a wintry garden), but the magical task is outweighed by Tarolfo’s pledge of half his estate to one who will perform the wonder for him.8

  • 9 See L. D. Benson’s introduction to his edition of Chaucer’s works, Riverside Chaucer, ed. cit., p. (...)
  • 10 This is particularly true of Marie de France; Michel Zink, Littérature française du Moyen Age, Pari (...)

5Chaucer’s tale claims to be a ‘Breton lay’, which has been defined as ‘a variety of brief romance purportedly descending from the original Celtic inhabitants of Britain and usually dealing with love and the supernatural’.9 Michel Zink’s own definition insists on form since he recalls that the lai may be a musical composition or a tale in verse.10 The Franklin thus intimates that he will comply with the genre (37-43), recalling ‘thise olde gentil Britouns’ and their command of this poetical art, but he probably means his lay to be an artful envelope in which less lyrical words are dangerously pledged rather than artfully arranged. The tale is also marked by the role played by the sea or water, not ornamental but instrumental in the pragmatic composition of what initially promises to be a Breton lay. I thus intend to explore water imagery as a key to the Franklin’s lie – whether intentional or not – when he offers to tell a lay.

Rational reflections

  • 11 ‘“Right as ther dyed nevere man,” quod he, / “That he ne lyvede in erthe in some degree, / Right so (...)
  • 12 Sebastian I. Sobecki, The Sea and Medieval English Literature, Cambridge, D. S. Brewer, 2008, p. 4- (...)
  • 13 Martine Dulaey, ‘Des forêts de symboles’. L’initiation chrétienne et la Bible (Ier-VIe siècles), Pa (...)

6The first set of water images is related to the sea and the vision of ‘the grisly rokkes blake’ involved in the so-called magic trick (175-222). Dorigen’s frequent walks on the cliff, described in these lines, play on the two senses of reflection. The sea, conventionally a mirror, leads to a fairly rational meditation that is far from the magic to which the rocks will be submitted. Moreover this meditation is unexpected on the part of ‘the faireste under sonne’, since it is a sort of echo of Egeus’s and Theseus’s comments in The Knight’s Tale concerning the meaning of human life and time.11 Moreover, far from the enclosed gardens of medieval castles, the passage depicts Dorigen wandering on a cliff and gazing sadly at the ships that remind her of her husband’s departure. Thus the sea, embodying both the soothing perspective of his return and an unstable space revealing the pitfalls and hardships represented by the rocks, expresses the ambivalence of the tale’s meaning and the ambiguity of the seemingly safe covenant into which Dorigen will enter. Reflection is repeatedly emphasized by the verbs ‘thinke’ and ‘biholde’, but it is striking that the absence she so keenly feels should be counterbalanced by her perception of intense sailing activity (‘as she many a ship and barge seigh / Seillinge hir cours’, 178-179), as if the vision of the sea, as significant in terms of testing as the desert, also linked to moral imagery or romance literature,12 was here offset by references to economic traffic. In other words, the sea juxtaposes jarring visions: it allows the late Middle Ages to cling to the well-known memory of Tristan and Ysolde drinking the magic philtre on the ship; this contrasts with the common image of the ship as a symbolic microcosm,13 and vies with realistic representations of the ships needed in Chaucer’s time for the armies and for increasing economic exchanges. Inevitably, even if fears and superstitions remained, even if the moral peregrinatio motif and the idea of God as Deus gubernator (the divine helmsman) still held currency, the cliff in The Franklin’s Tale partly dispels the symbolism of the sea, and its magic. The description of ‘many a ship and barge’ opens the space of the enclosed castle nearby onto the horizon, suggesting yet more limitless expanses promising journeys of discovery and extending the perception of the trade routes. As she gazes at the sea, beyond the shore, Dorigen cries for her absent husband but the scene implicitly also expresses the rise of pragmatic conceptions of the promising sea space. Indeed, the notion of the world beyond one’s field of vision had, throughout the medieval period, been essentially theological. As Paul Zumthor very clearly posits in La Mesure du monde, people living in the Christian western world became convinced that other spaces existed which offered a wealth of possibilities:

  • 14 Paul Zumthor, La Mesure du monde. Représentation de l’espace au Moyen Âge, Paris, Seuil, 1993, p. 2 (...)

[…] au cours déjà du XIIe siècle, la chrétienté latine s’était progressivement dégagée de ce que J. Le Goff dénomme une ‘géographie de la nostalgie’ : axée, par contraste avec un espace réel étroit, clos, bien connu, sur l’espace rêvé de l’imaginaire. S’y substitue, en quelques générations, une ‘géographie du désir’, agressive et conquérante, avide de maîtriser l’étendue. Le désir de quelques hommes entreprenants et courageux se détourne des finitudes rassurantes, en quête d’horizons illimités : en quête de dé-couverte (qui est révélation visuelle), d’in-ven-tion (qui, du latin venire, signifie pénétration).14

  • 15 The idea of hollow spaces lying in the depths of the sea is not new. It is found in the Bible (Jona (...)

7The Franklin’s Tale partly goes against the poetical criteria of the lay with which it claims to comply: here there is no secrecy, no lyrical mystery, no pleasure experienced even in terrifying wonders or monsters. Conversely, Dorigen’s action of walking on the cliff opens and tears up romance landscape into both horizontal and vertical, vertiginous perspectives leading her to question her familiar world and its system of values: ‘whan she saugh the grisly rokkes blake, / For verray feere so wolde hir herte quake / That on hire feete she mighte hire noght sustene’ (187-189). Thus, considering all the dimensions implied in the vision of the sea, Dorigen’s action opens the possibility of dangerous depths,15 unstable limits, the opening of the known world onto outer spaces contradicting the Eden-like garden described a few lines later. This leads her to a metaphysical meditation on the meaning of creation, on the dialectical tension between creation and destruction and on the tangible (the rocks as obstacles) as opposed to the irrational (why were the rocks created since they only cause disasters?).

8Magic may have been the playful and at the same time helpless answer Chaucer’s characters found to these questions that had so long eluded human solutions. That the solution of magic inevitably also entailed an intricate entanglement of contracts, relying on human laws and economic values, may have reflected – beyond the reality of the times – Chaucer’s option for a down-to-earth conclusion to a tale told by an affluent owner, one of a fellowship riding towards Canterbury but, above all, pilgrims on earth and ‘real’ men and women.

  • 16 S. Sobecki, op. cit., p. 69.

9At this stage, we – as readers or listeners – should not be deceived by Dorigen’s walks to the cliff. Like Homer’s Penelope, her action fills the time before her husband returns, but these walks also express what Sebastian Sobecki defines as an ‘addiction’ to ‘the rokkes blake’, just as Tristan was addicted to the sea,16 an addiction which in fact is part of the so-called lay’s construction and which reinforces closure and constraint. Magic, then, is only a practical, rather naïve solution which conceals a maze-like plot indeed unusual in a lay, reflected in Dorigen’s equally maze-like situation and in the maze of interlocking pledges.

Poetical ‘Books in the Running Brooks’?17

  • 17 This title is borrowed from Duke Senior’s speech in act II, scene 1, in Shakespeare’s As You Like I (...)
  • 18 Derek Brewer, An Introduction to Chaucer, London & New York, Longman, 1988, p. 89-90.

10Dreams provide a conventional frame for medieval literary works. This invisible and aesthetic frame allows for creations that range from the strictly poetical, to the political, or theological, as in Le Roman de la Rose, in Machaut’s poetry, in Pearl, or in the works of Deguileville’s Pèlerinage de la Vie Humaine or Langland’s Piers Plowman. Influenced by classical models such as Artemidorus’s Onirocriticon or Macrobius’s Somnium Scipionis, dreams often reinforce the measure of enchantment woven into medieval texts, exposing thus the rich combination of the visual and the imagination while, through the boxed-in poetical construction, suggesting that the poet is – though a borrower from other sources – a fully-fledged creator as is asserted through the ‘poet-in-the-poem device.’18 At a time when the plague was rampant in medieval Europe, the flight towards the enchanted gardens of dreams and of poetry was a plausible temptation imaged by the Eden-like country refuge where, for instance, Boccaccio’s characters found shelter in 1348.

11Enchantment, however, is very ambiguous: it serves to play with imagination and belief (willingly suspended), to play with the senses (in terms of meaning and perception), and as a chosen ambiguity between the real and the illusory. This seems to be the lesson Dorigen and Aurelius learn for resorting to magic, an art which is a snare involving a series of traps or trap-like covenants that transform the courtly love game into regret and remorse. This realistic lesson emerges in the fact that The Franklin’s Tale is not boxed-in within the mesmerizing aura of the conventional dream envelope.

12Or should one look for enchantment, or even a measure of disenchantment, elsewhere, in the narration itself, in the magic of words, telling being the real agent of pleasurable metamorphosis? Yet the enchanter of the tale is not the expected magician, and the Franklin himself provides the caveat: he is a ‘burel man’, his speech is ‘rude’ and he ignores ‘rhetorik’ (44-47). The Franklin though, claims to copy the manner of the ‘olde gentil Britouns.’ His tale tells of the courting of a lady with conventional hyperbolic style: she is ‘the fairest under sonne’ (62). The courtly pattern is also adhered to: the newly-wed knight yearns for adventures and leaves home to follow the call of glory and honour. Yet beyond these expected features of romance, which are present in the lay, the tale seems to look in other directions.

  • 19 The testing motif echoes The Clerk’s Tale borrowed from Boccaccio’s 10th story told on the 10th day (...)
  • 20 The Latin illusio is connected to ludere / ‘to play’; for further developments on this notion, see (...)
  • 21 The term apiri-daeza refers to an orchard surrounded by a wall; the Hebrew term pardès stems from i (...)

13First, while the knight has left possibly on a glorious quest, his story is not related, and his absence from home reveals the potential fragility of the marriage bond. Absence therefore may appear as a means of testing his wife’s value.19 Second, the treatment of Dorigen’s melancholy appears in two fragments of the poem: the conventional vision of the lady waiting for the loved one and whiling away her time in a garden bathed with ‘riveres’ and ‘welles’ (226), and the frightful perspective of the gloomy expanses of the sea seen from ‘the bank an heigh’, close to the castle commented on previously. The garden is also intended to be read into as an illusion. It is a temporary refuge from reality and a place devoted to play, which is the very etymology of the term illusion.20 The garden scene (223-245) displays a typical medieval locus voluptatis, or locus amoenus, recalling Persian apiri-daeza,21 bathed with pleasant rivers likely to provide soothing amnesia as opposed to the cruel memories sparked by the vision of the sea. Idleness, as well as traditional pastimes (229-247) occupy the month of May in a garden which turns its back on the sea. Yet Eden, as we know, was also a place where deception lay in wait and some potential clues scattered in the description should be observed.

  • 22 Michael Camille, The Medieval Art of Love: Objects and Subjects of Desire, New York, Harry N. Abram (...)
  • 23 Roger Caillois, Les Jeux et les hommes. Le masque et le vertige, Paris, Gallimard, 1967; J. Huizing (...)
  • 24 Art du jeu / jeu dans l’art de Babylone à l’Occident médiéval, Paris, Éditions de la Réunion des mu (...)
  • 25 Mark 15:24.

14First, the narrator insists on the mimetic nature of the garden, which is not the original Eden, but a parody: ‘That nevere was ther gardyn of swich prys, / But if it were the verray paradis’ (239-240). Then, this Eden contains games of an ambiguous sort. ‘Ches’, in particular, refers not just to the game but also to strategies. The chess game used in art, carved out on the ivory lids of mirrors, frequently served to express or suggest the game of love. In other words, chess provided a sexual form of language set within a mimetic frame, as Michael Camille explains: ‘Associated with warfare, mathematics and male rationality, the chessboard became a simulacrum of medieval society.’22 As such, the game played in the apparently blissful garden is, in fact, proleptic of the pledge since it implies that there are rules to be respected, as there are in any game, as Roger Caillois and Johan Huizinga explicitly show.23 In the lay, ‘ches and tables’ provide a play element, pointing to the well-known pun on game, and an inversion through which the player is, in turn, played with, suggesting that the boards used for these games mirror political and social transactions and that fate may be sealed on such boards, as it is on battlefields.24 The chess game disturbs the apparent peace of the place for yet another reason: the Franklin mentions these courtly games while disparaging them in the Prologue as he disparagingly refers to his own son who loses ‘al that he hath’ ‘at dees’ (18-19). ‘Dees’ in medieval texts and pictorial representations conjures up the memory of the Passion of Christ, the sharing of his clothes or dice-playing at the foot of the Cross.25 Did the Franklin intend the garden to be understood as a poetic creation reflected in the running brook of an idle locus amoenus? One may doubt this since the text is torn between contradictory representations of water conveying both anxiety and serenity, but converging to suggest the trap into which Dorigen falls.

‘Grisly rokkes blake’ or magic shows? Working wonders in water

15Meanings are blended to orient the contents of the ‘lay’ away from the literary convention, and away from the enigmatic challenge that can only be achieved through a magic trick. This trick is weakened by the poor treatment of the marvellous in The Squire’s Tale. Blending is made explicit by the yoking together of the real and the supernatural as the poem draws towards its conclusion.

16Dorigen’s challenge weaves together the supernatural (‘Looke what day that endelong Britaine / Ye remoeve alle the rokkes, stoon by stoon’, 320-321) and the pragmatic as well as the altruistic intention that stems from her metaphysical meditation on divine destruction: ‘That they ne lette ship ne boot to goon’ (322). The removal of the fateful rocks, as one may easily understand, is achieved through the physical attraction of the sun and the moon, Phebus and Lucina. The moon, or Lucina in mythological imagery, is ‘goddesse / Bothe in the see and riveres moore and lesse’ (382), which means that the sea below the cliff and the rivers in the garden are not rival images but converge to stress Dorigen’s inescapable situation, and force the reader to find another reading of the poem which lies neither in magic nor in the work’s generic classification as a lay.

  • 26 See on this point, Riverside Chaucer, ed. L. D. Benson, p. 661; John Reidy’s introduction to The Tr (...)
  • 27 Ibid.
  • 28 Richard Kieckhefer, Magic in the Middle Ages, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2000, ‘Magic i (...)
  • 29 See Scott Lightsey, ‘Chaucer’s Secular Marvels and the Medieval Economy of Wonder’, Studies in the (...)

17The terms ‘illusioun’, ‘apparence’, ‘semed’ suggest that the whole story is about trapping and covering just as the rocks are covered by water for a given time as negotiated with the magician. Though not a scientist himself, Chaucer was interested in philosophy, science and astronomy – one of the seven liberal arts26 – an interest which is confirmed by another of his works, The Treatise on the Astrolabe.27 Chaucer’s concern with education and science, as rational treatment of the physical, discards magic and he emphasises the natural phenomenon, i.e. the tide. It is necessary to re-examine certain motifs in order to discover another approach to the text. The ambivalence of the chess-game played in the garden may inform the description of the ‘grisly rokkes blake’, the stones rising off the coast through the water’s surface. These black boulders and the ships sailing there may be read as the pawns on a vast, watery chess-board which Dorigen hopes to have removed in order to facilitate the return of her knight. In this way, she herself becomes a pawn in the hands of both Aurelius and Arveragus. Perhaps the only real form of magic lies in the narrative anamorphosis of the courtly chess-board into a larger transaction space reflected on the surface of the sea with the numerous ships sailing by or the challenge of the rocks expressing the binding, sometimes contradictory, ties of any negotiation. The space of the sea thus mirrors Chaucer’s contemporary world in which contracts were no longer the pacts with supernatural beings so common in the romances,28 or courtly pledges, but serious legal and financial transactions. The expression ‘to maken illusioun’ (592) reinforces the combination of a magic contract and of concrete achievement. Medieval wonders and mirabilia were gradually disappearing, or their narrative effects vied with the asserted presence of mechanicalia29 and the accumulation of rational approaches to natural prodigies. In this respect, it is significant that the magician, initially called a ‘tregetour’ – a conjurer – should finally be defined as a ‘philosophre’, an ambiguous term referring to a magician and also to a philosopher and a scientist.

  • 30 See Philippe Ariès et Georges Duby (eds), Histoire de la vie privée. 2. De l’Europe féodale à la Re (...)
  • 31 This quote is borrowed from Lianna Farber, An Anatomy of Trade in Medieval Writing: Value, Consent, (...)
  • 32 Quoted by Derek Pearsall, ‘Derek Brewer: Chaucerian Studies 1953-78’, in Charlotte Brewer and Barry (...)
  • 33 According to C. S. Lewis’s definition in The Discarded Image: An Introduction to Medieval and Renai (...)

18In Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, the pilgrimage is based on geographical displacement from London to Canterbury, but displacement above all concerns repeated dislocations in the narrators’ portrayals and stories, in the use of convention, motifs and genres reclassified into less enchanting yet contemporary realities. Thus, the pledge between Dorigen and Arveragus is not primarily courtly love but suggests the reality and formal nature of marriage as mutual agreement in medieval western societies.30 Honour and ‘trouthe’ are re-negotiated into more pragmatic values formalized by contracts that gained increasing meaning in a world of exchanged commodities and agreed transactions, even if ‘the tale’s happy ending depends on a string of renunciations of the kind of relations that commodification promotes’, as Lianna Farber posits.31 Moreover, ‘renunciation’ expresses the awareness that agreements must be complied with, and that parties succeed in maintaining the ‘trouthe’ of their binding pledges without ever jeopardizing what Derek Brewer has termed the ‘humanity and decency of spirit’.32 That spirit, of course, is not contradicted by the rational inclination of the medieval individual to be ‘an organizer, a codifier, a builder of systems’.33

19The Franklin’s Tale is hardly the lay it claims to be, and the quest for enchantment leads readers and listeners to the magic of a rich text with its variety of sources, motifs and images negotiated by the lively narrator who is said to be ‘Epicurus owene sone’ (General Prologue, 336). Enchantment, thus, may be understood as witchcraft, magic, or simply the bewitching quality of the text. ‘Humanity and decency of spirit’ coexist with the commodification and organization implied by the rise of a merchant economy as is suggested by the contracts and teeming legal terms found in the text (‘swoor’, ‘swere’, ‘breke youre trouthe’, ‘bihighte’). Water does hide, for a while, ‘the grisly rokkes blake’ but that temporary elimination points above all to the gradual dissolution, the toning down and the reclassification of literary forms like the lay, the romance value of which cannot vie with some of the codes and realities of the merchant class.

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Notes

1 The Uses of Enchantment was translated into French in 1976; Bruno Bettelheim, Psychanalyse des contes de fées, Paris, Robert Laffont, 1976.

2 Vladimir Propp, Morphologie du conte, Paris, Seuil, 1970, p. 35-80.

3 Trouthe’ refers to loyalty, fidelity, honesty, in moral terms. Yet the focus being on the covenants and their material implications as well, the context reflects the merchant society of Chaucer’s England. In other texts ‘trouthe’ refers strictly to moral values and personal discipline as in Chaucer’s poem Balade de Bon Conseyl, The Riverside Chaucer, ed. Larry D. Benson, 1987; Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1989, p. 653.

4 Romances feed on love and adventures. Courtly love is linked with a specific conception of the medieval lady. A relevant definition is provided by Charles Muscatine: ‘The Lady is traditionally desirable and difficult, and her favors are not lightly given. Love itself is a humbling and refining passion, open only to the worthy’, in Charles Muscatine, Chaucer and the French Tradition. A Study in Style and Meaning, Berkeley and Los Angeles, University of California Press, 1957, p. 13.

5 Il Filostrato is one of Boccaccio’s works. Filostrato means ‘the one prostrated by love’; Boccaccio’s story is in fact the expression of his own dejection caused by the absence of Maria d’Aquino; see R. K. Gordon, The Story of Troilus, Toronto, Buffalo, London, University of Toronto Press, 1978, p. xiii.

6 In a recent study, Barry Windeatt has shown that Aurelius’s behaviour is, in fact, a perfect example of ‘the petitionary process’ which is central to medieval culture, courtly life, political pleas, and here to the young man’s beseeching of the magician both to perform a magic task and to postpone the debt, thus making the magician’s status fairly unstable; Barry Windeatt, ‘Plea and Petition in Chaucer’, in Gerald Morgan (ed.), Chaucer in Context. A Golden Age of English Poetry, Bern, Peter Lang, 2012, p. 209.

7 Boccace, Décaméron, Paris, Librairie Générale Française, 1994, p. 783-788.

8 Nicholas R. Havely, Chaucer’s Boccaccio. Sources for Troilus and The Knight’s and Franklin’s Tales, Woodbridge, Boydell & Brewer, 1980, p. 155.

9 See L. D. Benson’s introduction to his edition of Chaucer’s works, Riverside Chaucer, ed. cit., p. 14.

10 This is particularly true of Marie de France; Michel Zink, Littérature française du Moyen Age, Paris, Presses universtaires de France, 1992, p. 147-148 and p. 274-275. The definitions of both Benson and Zink follow the Franklin’s own definition of the genre in the Prologue to his tale: ‘Thise olde gentil Britouns in hir dayes / Of diverse aventures maden layes, / Rimeyed in hir firste Briton tongue; / Whiche layes with hir instrumentz they songe, / Or elles redden hem for hir pleasaunce’ (37-41).

11 ‘“Right as ther dyed nevere man,” quod he, / “That he ne lyvede in erthe in some degree, / Right so ther lyvede never man,” he seyde, / “In al this world, that som tyme he ne deyde. / This world nys but a thurghfare ful of wo, / And we been pilgrymes, passynge to and fro”’ (2843-2848); Riverside Chaucer, ed. L. D. Benson, p. 63.

12 Sebastian I. Sobecki, The Sea and Medieval English Literature, Cambridge, D. S. Brewer, 2008, p. 4-5; p. 63-64.

13 Martine Dulaey, ‘Des forêts de symboles’. L’initiation chrétienne et la Bible (Ier-VIe siècles), Paris, Librairie Générale Française, 2001, p. 96-97.

14 Paul Zumthor, La Mesure du monde. Représentation de l’espace au Moyen Âge, Paris, Seuil, 1993, p. 240.

15 The idea of hollow spaces lying in the depths of the sea is not new. It is found in the Bible (Jonah’s story, for instance) and in Plato, who posited the circulation of water in the centre of the earth, stirring the imagination into the belief of a mundus subterraneus; Alain Corbin, Le Territoire du vide. L’Occident et le désir du rivage, Paris, Flammarion, 1990, p. 23.

16 S. Sobecki, op. cit., p. 69.

17 This title is borrowed from Duke Senior’s speech in act II, scene 1, in Shakespeare’s As You Like It: ‘And this our life, exempt from public haunt, / Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, / Sermons in stones, and good in everything’; William Shakespeare, As You Like It, ed. Alan Brissenden, Oxford and New York, Oxford University Press, 1994, p. 125.

18 Derek Brewer, An Introduction to Chaucer, London & New York, Longman, 1988, p. 89-90.

19 The testing motif echoes The Clerk’s Tale borrowed from Boccaccio’s 10th story told on the 10th day, both texts hinging on the ruthless testing of Grisildis.

20 The Latin illusio is connected to ludere / ‘to play’; for further developments on this notion, see Johan Huizinga, Homo ludens. Essai sur la fonction sociale du jeu, Paris, Gallimard, 1951, p. 32.

21 The term apiri-daeza refers to an orchard surrounded by a wall; the Hebrew term pardès stems from it; Jean Delumeau, Une Histoire du paradis, Paris, Fayard, 1992, p. 13. Another useful reference on gardens is Sur la Terre comme au ciel. Jardins d’Occident à la fin du Moyen Âge, Paris, Éditions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, 2002.

22 Michael Camille, The Medieval Art of Love: Objects and Subjects of Desire, New York, Harry N. Abrams, 1998, p. 124.

23 Roger Caillois, Les Jeux et les hommes. Le masque et le vertige, Paris, Gallimard, 1967; J. Huizinga, op. cit.

24 Art du jeu / jeu dans l’art de Babylone à l’Occident médiéval, Paris, Éditions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, 2012, p. 12-14.

25 Mark 15:24.

26 See on this point, Riverside Chaucer, ed. L. D. Benson, p. 661; John Reidy’s introduction to The Treatise on the Astrolabe, ibid, p. 662-683.

27 Ibid.

28 Richard Kieckhefer, Magic in the Middle Ages, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2000, ‘Magic in the Romances and Related Literature’, p. 105-115 in chapter 5, ‘The Romance of Magic in Courtly Culture’, p. 95-115.

29 See Scott Lightsey, ‘Chaucer’s Secular Marvels and the Medieval Economy of Wonder’, Studies in the Age of Chaucer, 23, The New Chaucer Society, The University of Notre Dame Press, 2001, p. 316.

30 See Philippe Ariès et Georges Duby (eds), Histoire de la vie privée. 2. De l’Europe féodale à la Renaissance, Paris, Seuil, 1999 ; here, ‘Mariages chrétiens’, in chapter 2, ‘Tableaux’, p. 130 sq.

31 This quote is borrowed from Lianna Farber, An Anatomy of Trade in Medieval Writing: Value, Consent, and Community, Ithaca and London, Cornell University Press, 2006, p. 82.

32 Quoted by Derek Pearsall, ‘Derek Brewer: Chaucerian Studies 1953-78’, in Charlotte Brewer and Barry Windeatt (eds), Traditions and Innovations in the Study of Medieval English Literature: The Influence of Derek Brewer, Cambridge, D. S. Brewer, 2013, p. 20.

33 According to C. S. Lewis’s definition in The Discarded Image: An Introduction to Medieval and Renaissance Literature, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1964, p. 10.

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Martine Yvernault, « The Uses of Enchantment in The Franklin’s Tale », Études Épistémè [En ligne], 25 | 2014, mis en ligne le 01 avril 2014, consulté le 20 septembre 2017. URL : http://episteme.revues.org/216 ; DOI : 10.4000/episteme.216

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Martine Yvernault

Martine Yvernault est Professeur de littérature médiévale anglaise au sein du Département d’Études Anglophones de la Faculté des Lettres de l’Université de Limoges. Elle appartient à l’EA 1087, Espaces Humains Interactions Culturelles ; elle est responsable de l’axe 2 intitulé « lieux autres ». Sa recherche est centrée sur la littérature et la civilisation médiévales anglaises, ciblant plus spécifiquement la fin du XIVe siècle et incluant les liens de la littérature médiévale anglaise avec les œuvres continentales (corpus ancien français, italien, en particulier). Les thématiques qu’elle traite sont : représentation et sens des espaces décrits (espaces naturels, lieux domestiques et architecturaux) ; déplacement (voyages réels et fictifs, pèlerinages géographiques et symboliques) ; sources bibliques et ce que leur usage révèle sur le rapport des hommes du Moyen Âge au divin, à la religion et ses bouleversements à la fin du XIVe siècle ; vie intime telle qu’elle apparaît dans les rêves, les visions, les émotions et expressions corporelles individuelles (langage du corps, gestes, postures) ; place de l’art, de l’image et, plus particulièrement, des « images-objets » dans les textes. Parmi ses publications récentes, on peut noter : The Franklin’s Tale (traduction), dans Colette Stévanovitch et Anne Mathieu (dir.), Les Lais bretons, (Brepols, 2010, p. 425-479) ; « Entendre des voix : réception et perception dans deux lais bretons moyen-anglais (Lay le Freine, Sir Orfeo) et le Franklin’s Tale de Chaucer », dans Catherine Delesalle-Nancey (dir.), Cercles 32, Université de Rouen, 2014, p. 90-107.

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