Le Fresne

How did Fresne’s ring and clothing affect the overall direction of her stories? How might the stories have concluded if her biological mother had left her with nothing initially?

4 thoughts on “Le Fresne

  1. Fresne’s ring and clothing play an essential role in the climax of the narrative. They are the signal to everyone, even to the abandoned girl herself, that she is of noble descent, and not of just any noble family, but the one that the one that is marrying into the life of the man she loves. Although the mother initially worries that Fresne might “try to cause trouble” (Marie de France 367), she later decides to “love and admire her” (Marie de France 384). That suggests that the clothing and ring are the sparks that leads to Fresne’s life changing its course completely, although they are not the only things that drive the mother to have kind feelings toward the girl. Had the mother left the girl with nothing to begin with, the tale most likely would have ended with the lord marrying the other daughter instead of Fresne. In that sense, the articles of clothing and ring are actants that present Fresne for who she really is.

  2. If it had not been for these tokens of nobility, Sir Guroun would have remained wedded to Codre. Also worth note is that the porter is initially attracted to the object in the ash tree because the clothe is so beautiful. If this had not caught his eye he perhaps would not have found the child in time to save it from death. Even if he did find the child without the attraction of the clothe, it is likely that she would have remained with him and his daughter rather than having been raised by the Abbess because it seems to be the supposed nobility of the child which makes the Abbess want to claim her. In the Breton Lay version it is hinted that the mother feels some kinship with Fresne: “Scant could sche feel more pine or reuth/ War it hir owen childe in sooth” (357-8). This seems to be due to Fresne’s innate nobility which is visible to those around her even though they do not know she is a noble. Although without the tokens of the clothe and the ring Fresne would not have married Guroun, it is likely that she still would have received favor elsewhere because of her noble nature.

  3. Without the ring and expensive clothing, the big reveal towards the end would have never played out the way it did. The mother would look upon her daughter and see nothing but lowly damsel, entirely undeserving of the knight’s marriage and love, especially when positioned against the other daughter, who retained her nobleness throughout her life. Like our other stories, the plot would simply fall flat without these objects. There wouldn’t be any struggle or climax, but rather a simple, bummed out tale about how this girl isn’t good enough to marry her beloved and she’s sent away in favor of someone else. Not exactly the most romantic nor interesting of stories. The ring and clothing allow this mundane tale to further develop into a love story with the happily ever after expected. They also serve as the uncovering of the mother’s sins, the forgiveness she seeks from her husband, and the revelation of the truth of Fresne’s birth and heritage.

  4. As I said in the other discussion question, the clothes actually have quite a bit of influence on the story (as opposed to the ash tree). They are specifically described in great detail and beauty, which many of the objects are not, or the people for that matter. They are very elaborate and flashy, and therefore proclaim very brightly that Fresne is of noble birth. They attract attention from the beginning, accept with Gurun, who simply heard that Fresne was very very pretty. That is the exception of the cloth’s influence. But later, they also find to be more suitable for a wedding bed than what was originally provided, giving Fresne an opportunity to display her selflessness and kindness. And ultimately, the clothes reunite Fresne with her family because of their uniqueness and beauty. So yes, they do hold a lot of influence and pretty much their own role in the story.

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