Hunt For Love In Early British Literature

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Can love hold the same concept in all time periods? Does love hold power over people or do people hold power over love? The hunt for love is a recurring theme in early British literature, specifically the Anglo-Saxon, Anglo-Norman, and seventeenth century time periods. Four poems show a unique perspective on love, depending on when they were written. Early periods show men having control over love, or marriage, while the women patiently awaits the man’s decision. Later periods show women having a strong voice and stance towards love and marriage due to society’s acceptance or adaption. The Wife’s Lament, Eliduc, and Pamphilia and to Amphilanthus (“Sonnet 16”) deal with the hunt for love, but they express them in different ways. The poems may …show more content…
One of Marie de France’s lais, Eliduc, represents a knight whom finds adventure in two lands. In the lais, the hunt for love is looked at from two different perspectives. Eliduc, the knight, finds himself in a tangle of relationships. At the beginning of the poem, Marie introduces Eliduc along with two women: Guildeluec and Guilliadun. The first happened to be Eliduc’s wife, whom he loved dearly. After being banished from his home country, he left to fight a war in another country where he met, and fell in love with, the second woman. Before leaving, Marie writes “[b]ut he assured Guildeluec / that he would be faithful to her” (ll. 83-84). As Eliduc falls in love with Guilliadun, he becomes distressed: “He wanted to keep his faith, / but he couldn’t keep himself / from loving the girl” (ll. 467-69). From the Anglo-Saxon period, women have grown to have more power in a relationship; they would rather play with love than show obedience to a man’s control. Sharon Kinoshita writes in her article “marriages contracted for political and familial gain excluded the possibility of true love, which by definition had to be unconstrained and freely chosen” (33). The king does not know, or have concrete evidence of Eliduc and Guilliadun’s love. They fall in love with each other without the pressure of an arranged marriage. Therefore, according to Kinoshita, they have true love …show more content…
He promised Guildeluec he would stay faithful, yet fell in love with another women. Guilliadun had no clue about his wife and believed he was faithful to her. However, when they both realize this, neither of them are angry. After seeing how much Eliduc loved Guilliadun, Guildeluec gave up her claim: “[S]he sought and asked his leave / to depart from him, / she wanted to be a nun, serve God” (ll. 1122-24). Marie’s female characters do not accuse the man of his betrayal or lies, they simply accept what happened and move on or try to make the situation different for themselves. Even though love is widely spread through the poem, it does not truly appear pure and whole. The hunt for love comes at a price for the women in the poem, more specifically Guildeluec who gives up her marriage for another woman. Kinoshita pushes the point: “But this 'freedom, ' gained under the cover of a thematics of courtly love, is not without its victims: it comes at the cost of female sacrifice, in the form of . . . the saint-like forbearance of Guildeluèc” (51). In earlier periods, love hardly receives power in social and marital affairs. Between the Anglo-Saxon and Anglo-Norman periods, the idea of love changed to grant more power in society. Love does not stand as merely a feeling, but a force that cannot be controlled by men or women anymore. Eliduc loves Guilliadun, and when Guildeluec sees this she believes she cannot stand against the power

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