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The franklins tale raises issues about what it really means to be "noble" Consider how this tale forms an examination of the values that held medieval society together and how this is subtly questioned by Chaucer.

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January 31st 2006 Joshua Gray - The Franklins tale essay The franklins tale raises issues about what it really means to be "noble" Consider how this tale forms an examination of the values that held medieval society together and how this is subtly questioned by Chaucer. INTRODUCTION Chaucer raised many questions through the Canterbury Tales dealing with events of the time including marriage, a woman's place in the world and changing attitudes. In the Franklins tale the most prominent issue he raises is to deal with what it means to be noble. Chaucer is questioning the social class system throughout England in Medieval society and raises many questions for the reader about it. To be a noble in Chaucer's time you had to be born into nobility. To be a noble meant you were able to bear arms and were responsible for the protection of the whole community. They generally lived in castle, owned land and were supported in peace and war by inferiors. However, a knight might own a scrubby patch of land and have a small house in the country, but if he could trace his family back to nobility he was still declared a 'noble'. Gentillesse was a code of behavior associated with the noble class. This included a number of qualities. ...read more.


She is not required to accept any man and is a harsh and unforgiving mistress, setting her loyal knight difficult and often arbitary tasks, so that the man can achieve perfection. However once the couple are married all the power shifts to the man and the woman becomes his property. "....Prively she fil of his accord to tame him for her housbonde and hir lord" However, Averagus goes against the traditions and states that he wants Dorigen to retain her power and hand back the 'Miritrie' to her. Chaucer is proposing a question to his listeners: What happens once the social order has been re-arranged. The answer is a disaster, Dorigen, left to her own devices, gives her self away. When Averagus comes back he assumes power again and orders Dorigen to keep her promise. "Ye shul your trouthe holden, by my fay!" A new idea has failed here. Nonetheless, it seems odd that Chaucer, who wanted a change in social class, would do this. He is trying to say that change is needed. Society needs to change for anything else to change; although Averagus does not mind being equal he does not want it to be publicized for fear of being shamed or ridiculed. 'The name of soverainetee...for share of his degree" 3/ They have moved on but society hasn't and has thus prevented this change. ...read more.


4/ Chaucer is revealing that all the characters have taken gentilless into the wrong context and are all obsessed with the 'truthe' aspect of it. Truth should be upheld together with all the other virtues of gentilleness like Justice, Mercy and Generosity. On it's own it becomes evil. It may be true that "truthe is the hyeste thing that a man may hepe" but 'highest' does not mean 'only'. It is indeed a virtue but unless it keeps company with the other virtues that collectively make gentillesse it can become a force for evil rather than good. All the characters hold truth to the highest degree and as we can see it turns out to be a disaster. It is Avergus who tells Doregin to hold her trouth and thus allows all the characters to perform truly gentille acts, as idea of gentillesse as it has been taken out of context many times throughout the play. CONCLUSION Chaucer's message, which echoes throughout the tale, is to alert his audience to the fact that "gentillesse" is not so much a right of birth and breeding, but a fundamental human trait which can be found in any man regardless of his lineage. It is not a concept that is intended to be limited to the high born. The message is that all ranks of society are capable of noble actions and that such virtue can be found in the streets as well as the castles. ...read more.

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