12 thoughts on “Jan 21: Question

  1. In Lanval, love is shown because he falls in love with a beautiful woman and she tests his loyalty by telling him that he needs to keep their love a secret, and as long as he does that, he can visit her whenever he wants. Even though he accidentally broke his promise to keep her secret, he still loved her, and when he was in trouble, she proved her loyalty and love to him by coming to his aid and telling everyone that she was his beloved. There are also themes of the same in Bisclavret, however I believe that Bisclavret’s wife never really loved him. If she had, she would still love him even after finding out that he was a werewolf.
    “The path he’d always taken to
    Enter the forest–this she shows;
    She sent him to get his clothes.
    Thus was Bisclavret betrayed
    And by his own wife waylaid.”
    In the above quote, it says how she made the knight steal Bisrclavret’s clothes, but I believe that she would never have asked him to steal her husband’s clothes if she truly loved him and was loyal to him from the beginning of their marriage.

  2. The subjects of these two Marie de France poems have inverted relationships. Lanval is loyal to his beautiful lover, and she to him, even in the face of great danger (or Queen Guinevere’s desire). In contrast, Bisclavret is betrayed by his wife, who claims to be “loyal in any affair” (stanza 5). However, as this is shown as the utterly wrong choice, even if one’s husband is a werewolf, and the wife gets her comeuppance when Bisclavret bites her nose off. By setting up these two contrasting relationships, Marie de France establishes the importance of being loyal to love.

    • It’s true that the emphasis was on loyalty in love, and that Bisclavret’s wife did not demonstrate the level of loyalty that Lanval’s lover does, but to me it seems far more complicated than a black and white love or lack of love. While the end results of the two pieces were completely different, Lanval’s lover is not necessarily a perfect example of loyalty in love. She does come to save him and prove his innocence, which is loyal, but there is no real proof that she truly loves him. She did not want him to even mention their relationship, and all of their interactions seemed like business transactions, particularly their meeting. Yes, there is loyalty in one case, but it did not seem to me as if either case was one of real love.

  3. In the poem Lanval, love, and loyalty to the one you love, is of the upmost importance. Lanval, a dejected knight, falls in love with a fairy woman. This love gives him a sense of self-worth and purpose which he has not previously gotten from serving as a knight in the king’s court. Being in love with his beloved also makes him even more generous and noble. After falling in love, Lanval becomes so happy that “there was no stranger or dear friend to whom Lanval did not give” (214-215). In contrast, the love between Bisclavret and his wife lacks any sense of loyalty. Bisclavret’s wife is terrified that he is a werewolf, and she knowingly betrays him and goes on to marry another man. Unlike Lanval, being in love has made Bisclavret a more spiteful and vengeful person. He violently attacks his wife and her new husband. Marie de France shows that lack of love and betrayal can lead to us embracing our inner monsters, while true love and loyalty make us honorable.

  4. In “Bisclavret,” Marie de France poses two contrasting relationships in terms of loyalty. Bisclavret’s wife is the portrait of betrayal, leaving her husband soon after he disclosed that he was a werewolf. What makes it worse is that she blatantly told him she would be loyal no matter what his secret: “You should never hide anything from me, nor/ Ever doubt I’m loyal in any affair.” This interaction and her subsequent unfaithfulness implies that she does not love Bisclavret. Contrasting her selfishness is the relationship between the King and Bisclavret. The wolf turns the loyalty he had for his wife and projects it onto the King, furthering the contrast between Bisclavret and his wife’s characters. Despite having a limited history with the wolf, the King is also loyal to Bisclavret and gives him the benefit of the doubt when the wolf was about to be killed after ripping the nose off his former wife. Because of his loyalty, Bisclavret was able to return to his human state and justice was served to his wife and her new husband.

    “Lanval” illustrates a relationship of loyalty similar to that of Bisclavret and the King; however, it expresses one of a romantic nature. Lavnal is loyal to his love by rejecting the offers of Queen Guinevere, and although he breaks his promise in a moment of weakness it is evident he cares for her very much and feels great remorse for his actions. In turn, the woman is loyal to him by testifying as his beloved. Their relationship differs from those in “Bisclavret” because the two do love each other, as illustrated when Lanval expresses, “I never wish to part from you:/ this is what I most desire.”

  5. The themes of loyalty and love conveyed and compared in Marie de France’s poems Lanval and Bisclavret go hand in hand. Each different type of love has a special meaning. For example the love for a child vs. the love for a spouse. The way love and loyalty are conveyed help make clear the perpesctives that Marie needs to complete each obstacle/ scenrio that comes her way. For people to love they need to have loyalty. The poem talks about selfish love, and how it can be punished. “Any wise and courtly lady of noble disposition, who sets a high price on her love and is not fickle, deserves to be sought after by a rich prince in his castle, and loved well and loyally, even if her only possession is her mantle. Those who are fickle in love and resort to trickery end up becoming a laughing-stock and are deceived in their turn.” the seneschal’s wife to Equitan.

  6. At the beginning of Lanval, my first thought was perhaps he had fallen asleep in that meadow with his horse and dreamed of the lovely maidens, the lavishly decorated tent, and of course his precious, unnamed love, whose “beauty surpassed the lily and the new rose when they bloom in summer” (94-96). The whole encounter, including her instant profession of love and consequent day of love-making, seem very dream-like indeed, begging the true merit of their love. And when she commands Lanval to keep their love a secret, his loyalty to her is put in question. However, save the anger-fueled slip to the queen about their relationship, Lanval truly proves his loyalty to her by not only remaining faithful and adoring to her alone, but also (in a way) giving up on everything else when he believed he’d lost her for good. And so in turn she proves her loyalty by returning to him and saving his honor. In contrast there is a similar relationship in Bisclavret; not between a man and a woman, however, but a man and his king. Bisclavret is a well-regarded knight whose “lord the King held him dear” (stanza 2). And even through the betrayal of his wife and literal transformation from man to beast, Bisclavret remains loyal to his king: “Wherever the King might go, It didn’t want to be separated, so It went along with him constantly. That it loved him was easy to see” (stanza 11). The king shows equal love and loyalty in return, having the patience to believe the werewolf creature might actually be his beloved long-lost knight Bisclavret, and when it is proven true, “The king ran to hug him tight; He kissed him a hundred times that day” (stanza 15). So even though the relationships are different, love and loyalty clearly exist in both these poems.

    • I like your point about non-romantic love and loyalty in the two poems. My initial reaction to this question, given the two romances made the relationships seem very black and white. Lanval and his mystical fairy woman being especially the image of perfection, not just in loyalty, but in looks as well, “when he was newly dressed, there was no handsomer young man under heaven. He was not at all foolish or base” (lines 175-77), “She holds a falcon on her fist,
      and a greyhound runs behind her.(lines 573-74), “she is the loveliest in the world, of all the women who live.” (591-92), not to beat a dead horse but in essence Marie seems to be trying to portray a perfect love, between perfect humans, so to speak. Whereas in stark contrast, Bisclavret himself is a beast of sorts, and his wife judgmental (by Marie’s standards, which by the president set by Stephanie Meyers may not be so different today). However, grandeur and joking aside, when we look at the manly love, the bromance of these two poems, I think there is something more genuine there. As mentioned above, the king feels sympathy and caring for Bisclaveret despite his condition, as he has been a faithful servant and confidant. We see a similar case between Lanval and his fellow knights and noblemen, of whom Marie took the time to name. It seemed men upon men were willing to proclaim their affirmations of Laval’s character. All this goes to demonstrate what seems like the perfect fraternity, which is not too far off as we do see a sort of not just manly, but brotherly love.Interesting that as a female writer of her time, Marie de France seemed to have more realism when it came to male relationships. I wonder if this was by choice or demand (I would say more likely the later).

  7. A really interesting thing about comparing the idea of loyalty in Lanval and Bisclavret is how each piece addresses disloyalty. Both treat the concept in disloyalty in very extreme but polar opposite measures. In Lanval, the title character does break his promise but his disloyalty becomes moot as his maiden comes in at the nick of time and instead of chastising him she wins the case for his freedom and the two of them leave for a place called Avalon that’s described as being “a very beautiful island” (line 643) where they never have to interact with anyone from their past lives again. That sounds like a pretty good result to breaking a substantial promise. On the other end of the spectrum is Bisclavret in which the disloyal wife of the title gets her nose ripped off, is exposed for her disloyalty, exiled, and all of her children are cursed with the same disfigurement as her. Lanval presents this idea that disloyalty and broken promises can be forgiven relatively easily if the connection between those two people is true at heart. Bisclavret shows disloyalty as something unforgivable, in which the disloyal person is laid to waste and cursed for the rest of their days. There’s no real overlap between the two in that regard.

  8. Both of Marie de France’s poems, though in different ways, are meant to show the importance of loyalty toward one’s love, no matter the trials or consequences you face later on. Though the story of Lanval, this is done in a positive way, as both Lanval and his true love display unwavering trust and affection towards one another. Lanval keeps her presence in his life a secret, per her wishes, and when Lanval was in trouble in King Arthur’s court, she faithfully came to his aid and rescued her gallant night from the castle. Though the story has a somewhat ambiguous ending, “With her he went to Avalon, / so the Bretons tell us, / to a very beautiful island; / the young man was carried off there. / No one ever heard another word of him, / and I can tell no more.” it can be surmised that they both lived happily ever after, representing the good that comes when you stand by your love’s side.

    Conversely, Marie also portrays the importance of loyalty towards one’s love in a negative fashion through the story of Bisclavret, showing the harm that befalls upon those who so easily abandon their love in times of strife. When a woman finds out that her husband, a respected knight who loves her very dearly, is actually a werewolf, she abandons him without a second thought to go live with some random Joe that has a crush on her, stealing the clothes that can turn him back to a human to boot. Whether this is done out of spite or out of guilt, Bisclavret is still stuck as a werewolf, and has to make do by becoming King Arthur’s virtual lapdog because he can’t change himself back to a human. Marie clearly frowns upon this shallow mockery of love, and has Bisclavret’s former wife get her just desserts by having her promptly banished from the realm and her nose bitten clean off. Though she does live a long life with her new man and has many children afterwards, it is mentioned that more than one of the women are born without a nose as well, insinuating that her crime not only punishes her but her bloodline as well, shaming herself and her house forevermore.
    By depicting the anguish that befalls a person when they betray their lover, Marie emphasizes the value of remaining loyal to your beloved just as efficiently as with the story of Lanval, providing both a positive and negative motivator for people to behave themselves.

  9. The theme of loyalty in both of these pieces is the main characters’ saving grace. Bisclavret’s loyalty to the King is what saves him Had he not been such a loyal subject, then a loyal dog, he likely would have been killed. Lanval accidentally lets it slip he is in love with the maiden, but he does this in the process of trying to be loyal to her. Though the course of events that follows, he remains loyal to his beloved. Perhaps if he had not been so loyal, she would not have come to save him in the end.

    The theme of love, however, is mostly conveyed through showing how false love leads to consequences. Both the Queen and Bisclavret’s wife fall for someone who is not their husband, and both suffer for it. Bisclavret’s wife gets her nose bitten off, and the Queen suffers humiliation when everyone agrees that Lanval’s beloved is far prettier than she. Both of these poems address how untrue love and betrayal never work out in the end.

  10. The most prominent difference in the two poems lies in the way disloyalty is conveyed. In Bisclavret, the disloyal wife is attacked and cursed with having nose-less children for her deceit. There is a clear message about the consequences for your wrongdoings. However, the themes of Lanval are more muddled. Obviously, Lanval is disloyal to his lover when he admits to their relationship against her wishes. Despite his betrayal, his love comes to clear his name and the ride off to Avalon together. The poem shows greater depths, where her love for him is more precious than her agitation over him going back on his word. Love is a fickle and precarious concept in Bisclavret, whereas it stands most important in Lanval.

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