One point that stood out to me from the past two readings of this week was the difference in the level of virtue exhibited in each story. I noted a couple of aspects of Guigemar that contrasted some classic ideas of virtue. Whereas, I thought Sir Cleges was pretty moral in its entirety.
Although the moral of Guigemar distills the timeless notion that “love conquers all”, it seemed to me that there were some aspects of the story that were a bit unusual in terms of what one expects from a classic moral tale. It all started at the point when we learn about Guigemar’s future lover and her jealous husband. First off, as we noted in class, the description of her chapel exhibited some obvious ironies. The location of the mural of Venus, although consistent with the story’s underlying theme, is not only unusual, but even blasphemous as a decoration in the chapel. The second aspect that I found odd didn’t occur to me as immoral until I gave it a second reading. Although I initially read over the lines “It appears to me that Guigemar/ stayed with her a year and a half./ Their life was full of pleasure” without a second glance, I gave it a little more thought the second time over and came to the conclusion that not only were Guigemar and his lover lying to her husband, but they continued to lie successfully for well over a year. So in these lines alone we’re reminded that they lied, committed adultery, and did so for a prolonged period of time. I think because everything worked out for the best in the tale’s happy ending, it was easy for me to ignore the moral inconsistencies.
Sir Cleges, on the other hand, did not exhibit the same type of moral inconsistencies. The scene where he brutally beats the porter, the usher, and the steward does stand out as a bit harsh in comparison to the rest of the story, yet Sir Cleges’ actions are never frowned upon. The three men at the castle took advantage of Sir Cleges’ kindness and generosity to begin with, so he maintains his moral character because it can be widely agreed upon that these men deserved what they got.