Lais of Marie de France Essay examples

1049 Words Oct 13th, 2013 5 Pages
Knights of Old and Harry Potter
October 7, 2012

Love and Marie de France

According to American mythologist, Joseph Campbell, “The greatest love was during the Medieval Ages, when noble hearts produced a romantic love that transcended lust” (Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth with Bill Moyers [2001]). The Lais of Marie de France are primarily concerned with this idea of love--specifically, courtly love--between a man and a woman. Courtly love, a union modeled after the feudal relationship between a knight and his liege lord, became a popular convention in the 12th century (“Backgrounds to Romance: ‘Courtly Love’”). Instead of proving loyalty to a lord, the man would have to prove his love to a woman. Marie de France, however,
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Characters demonstrating pure, selfless—even self-denying--devotion are portrayed throughout the lais as examples of true love. In the story of “Eliduc,” a brave, loyal knight is forced to find a new lord in another land and temporarily leave his wife, Guildeleuc. Although Eliduc meets a new love (Guilliadun), he remains faithful to his wife, demonstrating loyalty, suffering, and therefore a more pure kind of love. He finally marries Guilliadun, but only after Guildeleuc decides to give herself up to God and leave Eliduc. By letting Eliduc marry his true love, Guildeleuc also shows love in its most giving form, but in this case it is a truly spiritual love. This story thus displays two types of selfless love represented by each of his wives: love of God and the love between a man and a woman. Significantly, at the end of the lay, “He placed his beloved lady with his former wife, by whom she was received honorably as a sister, . . . “ (Burgess and Busby 126). This suggests that pure love can take both a spiritual and worldly form.
Central to the Lais of Marie de France, then, is courtly love. While her lais are idealistic in their portrayal of loyalty and romantic chivalry, historically, marriages among the nobility were dispassionate and practical (Joseph Campbell). Troubadours began to introduce stories of interpersonal relationships and the possibility of romantic love. Although this kind of love directly contradicted the views of the church, it inspired people

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