Views Of Courtly Love And Marriage In The Lay Of The Werewolf By Marie De France

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Courtly love and marriage in the medieval time period were often two contradicting forces. Whether courtly love or marriage was viewed as right or wrong always depended on the situation the lovers were in, or the person telling the lover’s tale. Marie de France paints these two opposite views in two of her lays— the “Lay of Yonec”, and the “Lay of the Werewolf.” She also shows readers how the two opposite views on courtly love are sparked due to varying situations. Courtly love is seen in some cases to be just and beautiful while marriage is selfish and cold, but Marie flips these ideals showing also the “bad” side to courtly love and the good of marriage—all while giving her own personal opinions on the appropriate time for courtly love. Marriage …show more content…
Marriage is outlined as two faithful people who love each other and are both good citizens in the kingdom. The husband of the lay goes missing for weeks sometimes and leads the reader, and his wife to believe he may be unfaithful. He then reveals to his wife the truth— he is a werewolf. She cannot bear to even sleep by him and suddenly is not so faithful a wife anymore. What causes her to turn against her husband is not said particularly, but perhaps she had assumed her husband was cheating on her with a courtly love type affair, so she decided to cheat as well and now this reveal by him presented her an opportunity to leave her husband for her lover. In this lay, a conniving wife with her courtly love comes crashing down on marriage and dashes it to pieces instead of a stone hearted husband crushing courtly love. The courtly love is viewed as twisted and cruel, and the husband’s anger toward the lover is no longer malicious as it was in the “Lay of Yonec”, but righteous anger ready to tear apart the unfaithful couple. The unfaithful couple here were not rewarded with riches, but chased out of the kingdom for their wrongs. It is instead the faithful husband and servant to the king who is given riches to replace those his wife stole from him …show more content…
If husbands are old and jealous and unloving then courtly love is acceptable. However, if it is the wife who is sneaky and unfaithful then courtly love is unjust and must be done away with. Marriage is deemed suitable if the husband and wife love each other truly and if they are both faithful (and presumably close in age). It is deemed unfitting if the husband is abusive, crass, or does not allow the girl to live how she wishes to in her youth. Marie shows in both types of love the good and bad that can come from each and the emotional affect it can have on those involved. Depression, love, joy, and righteous anger can all be seen in the struggles of courtly love and its fight for a definite place in medieval literature. Courtly love is at time a joyous thing and at other times a devious one, marriage is forbidding and yet can be trusting and faithful. Marie de France illustrates both sides of each love, providing her own framework and guidelines for the acceptance of courtly love in

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