Courtly Love


Analysis of the Old Love Tradition Illustrated In Poems by Chaucer

November 8, 2021 by Essay Writer

Courtly Love in Chaucer’s poetry

Chaucer’s literature was spread across many different spheres of interest throughout his life, often focussing on society and religion. An observer of his own social group, he wrote satirical interpretations of those surrounding him, subverting the traditional writing styles of Beowulf (900AD-1100AD), Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (14th century) and even Petrarch (1304-1374), into something that was almost similar to social commentary. Chaucer’s relationship with the courtly love tradition is interesting to examine because of its fluctuating nature; his attitude to courtly love in his earlier writing is very different to the presentation of courtly love in The Canterbury Tales . The woman presented in A Complaint to his Lady is very different for instance to the woman of The Miller’s Tale (who arguably is not so much a heroine of courtly love) in that she is very distant, and rebuts his advances, whilst Alison in The Miller’s Tale is open to the men’s proposals to gain her affections. Therefore one can assume Chaucer’s intentions in writing the poem are ambiguous at best; it is challenging to decide whether Chaucer uses a satirical presentation of courtly love, or whether he is genuinely adhering to the concept of both courtly love and the chivalric tradition.

The tradition of courtly love is based around five elements, which define the relationship between the two participants. The love was primarily a relationship between aristocratic men and women, and was often adulterous. The relationship would be conducted in secret and would often involve the ritualistic exchange of gifts. The final defining element of the affair was the flouting of rigid courtly marriage, which was often only formed for political and financial reasons. Glorification of this kind of extramarital affair was found in songs of gallant knights and their fair ladies, and led to the spread of this kind of relationship in the fourteenth, fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The poem itself represents the prescribed courtly love heroine; however its adherence to the protocol of the tradition is variable.

The portrait of the traditional courtly love heroine can be found in Prologue of The Canterbury Tales In the description of the prioress, we are told her ‘nose was elegant, her eyes glass-grey; Her mouth was very small, but soft and red, Her forehead, certainly, was fair of spread…’. This represents her noble features, and her eyes are a metaphor for her treatment of her lover; the courtly love heroine rarely acknowledged the advances of her lover and instead, gives only the merest hint that she shares his feelings. The ‘glassy’ nature of the heroine’s eyes shows a degree of superficiality in the relationship between the man and woman; perhaps even an emptiness of character, even a lack of personality where the heroine becomes a mechanism for the man to project his idealistic feelings upon.

A Complaint to his Lady is a poem written from a man directly to a woman whom he clearly adores, detailing his struggle for her affections, and how she is causing him a considerable amount of torment. For example the line ‘so desepaired I am from alle bliss,’ shows an almost self-pitying lamentation that continues until the beginning of part III. The third part of the poem sees the narrator confessing that ‘I can but love hir best, my swete fo;’ which symbolises a sweetness previously absent, a sweetness connected to his love for her, which changes the tone of the poem. The poem takes the form of a monologue; whilst he appears to be talking to his lady, it becomes obvious that she is not there, or is at least unresponsive, and therefore one can presume he is alone. The main element of the poem is distance and suffering, created by this woman, regardless of his devotion to her. Chaucer here represents love as a kind of poison, shown by his statement ‘Thus am I slayn with Loves fyry dart!’, and subsequently leaving the protagonist unable to understand her treatment of him; ‘love hath taught me no more of his art’.

The perspective of the protagonist changes as the poem progresses, beginning with establishing the circumstances in which he is in love with her, and then moving on to describe the manner in which she treats him. The quotation ‘The more I love, the more she doth me smerte’ represents the paradoxical effect of the courtly love; the woman will appear to grow more distant. At the beginning of part III, the protagonist describes his woman as ‘Faire Rewtheless’; this is revealing about her mannerisms and ‘Rewtheless’ represents a cold attitude, is very similar to the eyes of the prioress which are described as ‘eyes glass-grey’. The fourth section of the poem is the longest, and represents the efforts of the protagonist to glean some kind of response from his woman. He compares his own shortcomings with her ‘gentileness and debonairtee’, and almost sarcastically states that he is not worthy of her service. Chaucer states that ‘Thogh that I be unconnyng and unmete, to serve, as I coude best, ay your hynesse,’ says that even though he is uncouth and unkempt, he would serve the woman as best as he could. This over exaggerated display of emotion implies that the poem could be satirical; however because there is no comparative character, or change of theme, one cannot be sure of Chaucer’s intention regarding the poem. It is interesting that he refers to the lady as a queen, therefore of higher status than himself reinforcing the idea that she has become almost demigod-like, given it is likely that they would have belonged to the same social strata. Part of the attraction of courtly love was the extravagance and exaggeration of action; for women of this period, they would have been repressed for most of their lives, constantly adhering to rules enforced by the crown, or perhaps their own family, and this affair was a rebellion against normality for them, almost a liberating experience. The final stanza of the poem, the protagonist proposes an ultimatum of sorts; to grant him some kind of pity, (i.e. respond in some way to his advances), otherwise nothing, no bliss, nor hope will dwell in his troubled heart. From a modern day point of view, the poem becomes repetitive, and the concept appears false; however at the time of writing, this level of extravagance was not uncommon and therefore from a historical perspective, the poem is likely to be a good example of typical courtly love poetry, such as that of Petrarch and Boccaccio.

The presentation of the heroine in this poem is comparable with other courtly love heroines in Chaucer’s tales, in particular Alison, from the Miller’s Tale, Pertelote, The Nun’s Priests Tale, The Prioress, The Prologue and Criseyde, Troilus and Criseyde. Criseyde is very similar to the Prioress in many ways; however is assertive in her role as a courtly love heroine, playing an active part in the poem, demonstrated by book III, verse 115. She states ‘Alas, I would have though, whoever told, such tales of me, my sweetheart would not hold, Me false so easily’, showing perhaps a more effective, realistic heroine than the woman in A Complaint to his Lady.

In contrast, courtly heroes often use hyperbole to attempt to convey the depth of the affection they feel towards their women, for example when Chaucer’s protagonist says ‘But I, my lyf and deeth, to yow obeye’ (My life and death, to you obey). This essentially states that she has total control over his heart; a fairly typical declaration within courtly love poetry; Boccaccio used many similar assertions in his novel Elegia di Madonna Fiammetta . The courtly love hero is often of a noble disposition, as demonstrated by book I, verse 27 of Troilus and Criseyde. The knightly element of courtly love can be exemplified by earlier literature, such as the description of King Arthur in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, written in the fourteenth century, around the same time as A Complaint to his Lady. The nobleness of the courtly gentleman is described in Lines 85-88 of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, when the author describes Arthur himself, as ‘Bot Arthure wolde not ete til al were served, He was so joly of his joyfness and sumquat childgered, His lif liked hym light, he lovied the lass’ (Line 85-88). Paraphrased, the above means “But Arthur would not eat until all were served. He was so youthfully gay and somewhat boyish, he liked an active life .” The general sense of courtly love therefore is a noble relationship outside convention, between a lady and gentleman; the woman is typically more distant while the man ritualistically tries to ‘woo’ her, using any means necessary, and in the case of A Complaint to his Lady, suffers immensely due to the depth of his love for her.

Throughout A Complaint to his Lady, the protagonist changes his opinion concerning who is to be blamed for his affliction; in the first two stanzas, he blames himself for becoming so attached, but then unsatisfied with this, blames the emotion of love itself for his sadness. Eventually however he reaches the conclusion that it is her ruthlessness, described as ‘thogh ye never wil upon me rewe, I moste yow love and been ever as trewe’, that causes him so much pain. Chaucer here portrays a hero who will eagerly fall in ‘love’ with a woman, however will be unable to control his own emotions. This degree of instability coupled with obvious exaggeration of his feelings causes us to question whether he is a satirical figure, but also if the nature of this love is genuine as opposed to merely a whim. His status as a courtly love hero is also questionable, because he is portrayed as an ineffectual character as opposed to a gallant, noble member of the court.

Assuming there are five main elements of courtly love, many of those should be found in the poem. The most prominent element of courtly love in the poem is the aspect of aristocracy, presented by the protagonist’s placement of himself in servitude to the woman. On numerous occasions he places himself below her, begging her not to ‘from your service dryve’. There is very little in the way of ritualism in the poem to suggest that the couple share gifts or even any kind of relationship at all; Chaucer uses language in such a way that it infers she barely is aware of his existence. This presents the reader with a quandary especially regarding the purpose of the poem. Secrecy of their affair is not alluded to at any point in the poem; this perhaps represents the ambiguity of what has thus far occurred between them, and perhaps therefore it does not follow the tradition in that the relationship (if it can be defined as such) is not adulterous, as far as we can tell. In order to establish this, it may be useful to examine Chaucer’s own life, and his personal situation at this point .

In 1368, Chaucer was married to Philippa Roet, a lady in waiting to the Queen, and was an esquire to the house of Edward III. He had also had a son, named Thomas, born in 1367. This information is useful in terms of a biographical perspective on the poem. Chaucer was still a young man at the point of writing A Complaint to his Lady (aged 24) and it is conceivable that the poem was written on a personal basis, detailing some kind of affair he himself was having at the time. This knowledge is useful, because therefore if the poem is autobiographical, the lady he is speaking of is obviously not his wife, thus fulfilling the extramarital nature of a courtly love relationship as presented in the poem. Without any biographical knowledge however there is no mention of any other relationship, which causes the reader to question the very essence of ‘fine love’ in that we can find very little evidence for it from the poem alone. There are however some isolated elements of the tradition found in the poem, however whether they culminate in a traditional courtly love ritual poem is dubious.

The structure of the poem is revealing in terms of the intention behind its writing; the changing forms, and inconsistency present the reader with an almost unfinished poem, sufficiently unrefined to justify this assertion. There are three main changes of form; parts I and II are written in rhyme royal. Part II however does not strictly adhere to the concept of rhyme royal and contains elements of terza rima. Part III sees the complete transition from rhyme royal to terza rima; iambic tercets make the poem sound more rhythmic than it had been previously. After part III however the form of the poem turns into decasyllabic lines, with stanzas being largely ten lines long, with the exception of stanzas eight and nine, which are nine and eight lines long respectively. The final part of the poem is the least rigidly formatted, and has an irregular rhyme scheme. One of the main rhyme patterns of the final section is AABAABCDDC, however not all stanzas follows this pattern. This inconsistency therefore is important in ascertaining the writer’s literary capability, almost the level of sophistication his work had reached at the time he’d written the poem. If one were only to examine the structural cohesion of the poem, then one could conclude he was still very much a developing poet.

The rhyme scheme of parts I-III is fairly regular because it adheres to two poetic forms, rhyme royal and terza rima . The use of rhyme royal was a fairly common pattern to use during this period, and often was used in less sophisticated rhyming poetry of the time. Chaucer’s use of terza rima however allows the reader insight into the influence of the courtly love tradition on the poem in that in order to use the form, Chaucer would have had to be exposed to it, in its original format by its patrons, at some point during his missions to Europe. In Italy at this point, Petrarch and Boccaccio especially were writing poetry that was very heavily focussed on the tradition of courtly love, experimenting with terza rima; exposure to this may have prompted Chaucer to write A Complaint to his Lady, and to view the poem as an experiment would add credibility to the idea that Chaucer was still developing as a poet, and therefore his ideas were still unrefined, thus explaining the poem’s content. Why Chaucer did not choose to finish the poem in this manner is unknown.

There was usually no prescribed rhyme scheme used in the courtly love tradition, except the obvious assumption that it should rhyme. From the composition of the poem one can assume that Chaucer’s influences were mixed; his travels to Italy influenced his work, as demonstrated by the use of terza rima and the protocols he follows when addressing his lady. Another influence of folklore becomes apparent through the emotions he claims to feel regarding her, and the influence of the knightly tales as demonstrated by the noble tone of ‘For neither pitee, mercy, neither grace’. The structure of this poem in comparison with later works shows more of an experimental motivation; for instance, in The Miller’s Tale the structure is simple; rhyming couplets and one long, extended stanza. This structure therefore adds far more focus to the plot as opposed to the intricacies of rhyme. The Canterbury Tales were also intended for an audience, to be performed verbally; whether A Complaint to his Lady was intended for public consumption may affect whether the tradition of courtly love actually forms the basis of the poem, because usually, poems written for personal courtship would not be shared with the wider public. The lack of aural consideration in the poem creates the impression that the poem was not supposed to be performed for the general public, even though the concept of ‘fine love’ was very popular in folklore of the time. The Canterbury Tales were however written to be performed verbally; several paintings of Chaucer performing his poetry exist, including “Chaucer at the Court of Edward III” .

Graphological interpretation of the poem is difficult because by modern standards, it is fragmented and inconsistent; however, there are some features of the poem that define certain elements. For example, Chaucer frequently uses commas, which adds to the internal monologue effect he uses, causing the reader to feel as though we are entering conversation with him. This presents a paradox in terms of stylistic quality because the reader almost feels intrusive, whilst being ‘spoken’ to at the same time. ‘This hevy lif I lede, lo, For your sake’ for example is paradoxical because Chaucer is apparently addressing his lady, and yet appears to be addressing the reader in a simplistic sense because of the use of the second person, personal pronoun of ‘you’. There are also several questions used in the poem, which again engages the reader, making it more accessible to an audience. An example of this is ‘Allas, whan shal that harde wit amende?’ which is a kind of ponderous question. It includes no specific address however invites the reader to respond in some way.

In terms of language and lexical choices, the poem is far easier to comprehend than when considering grammar. Broadly, the poem uses three semantic fields; that evolving around the tradition of courtly love, beauty and other such finery, one of religion based ideas, and one of servitude and self deprecation. These are of course very broad spectrums. The field of courtly love is the central theme of the poem, as demonstrated the assertion of ‘gentilnesse and your debonairtee?’ The language used is obviously connected to the overriding theme of the poem. The use of religious imagery is perhaps more interesting; it represents a deep rooted relationship with the social values of the period and perhaps the element of Christianity that was undoubtedly present in the courtly love tradition. The demigod-like presentation of the woman only serves to enhance the enchanting aura that appears to surround the woman in Chaucer’s poem, and because of the depth of religious focus at the time, this was a very powerful feeling to manipulate within poetry itself. The comparison however with the godlike features of the woman, such as his idealisation of her, as in “Myn hertes lady and hool my lyves queen”, with the position of servitude he finds himself in is bizarre because from a historical point of view, a man is wholly authoritative over a woman. In modern literature, the woman is often seen rejecting the idealisation of the opposite sex due to love, and instead is becoming more internally directed by her own thoughts and emotions. The semantic field of servitude is one common across much of the courtly love poetry experienced; Petrarch, for example regularly wrote so that the role of the man and the woman were reversed; servitude moved from the role of the woman to that of the man, thus subverting tradition and therefore making the concept almost strange to read, if one is in the contextual mindset as the poem demands.

The significance of connotation is surprisingly small in this poem because Chaucer was not a great user of metaphor, especially in his earlier poetry; the emergence of figurative language emerged during the age of prescriptivism, from around 1450, some years after his death. Chaucer does use figurative language in some of The Canterbury Tales, however in terms of The Nun’s Priests Tale, the idea of anthropomorphism is more prevalent than metaphor per se. Chaucer’s meaning is very much found at face value; there are wider implications of what he says, however there is little linguistic subtext, in comparison for example with William Shakespeare. There is however much more contextual connotation, in his exploration of the woman and her role in his life, and the religious connections this has.

Overall, the poem follows many aspects of the tradition of courtly love, however investigations into form and Chaucer’s personal life may be more revealing about the motivations of the poem; whether the poem was intended for public consumption is unclear, however since the poem appears to be intensely personal, it seems unlikely. Contextually however, rambling tombs of poems dedicated to one’s ‘true love’ were not uncommon; exaggerated gestures of undying love were commonplace particularly in the aristocratic circles in which Chaucer placed himself, and therefore he may have been persuaded to write in this manner by a variety of ‘peer pressure’. The differences between the tradition of courtly love and the poem will be further explored in Part Two, as well as Chaucer’s personal life which may have influenced the degree to which the poem adheres to tradition, and how far it diverges in comparison with The Canterbury Tales.

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Evaluation of the Conceptualized Tradition of Love Depicted In Medieval Writing and Arthurian Folk Tales

November 8, 2021 by Essay Writer

Everyone has heard a story about a young, handsome, and virtuous man who sets out on a quest to either save or win the heart of a young and beautiful woman. This type of story is known as a tale of courtly love. The Theme of courtly love is very common in medieval literature and especially in Arthurian legends. Most of these medieval tales of courtly love centered around a knight in shining armor that would go to extreme lengths to prove his worthiness to a beautiful young woman. Chivalry and nobility are two of the prominent themes in stories of courtly love. Marie de France, one of the few female authors that were credited for their work during this era, wrote a lai titled Lanval that does not fit the tradition mold of courtly love that was common in her time. Through my analysis of Lanval and the use of the tale of Gareth, a more traditional tale of courtly love, I will show how the story of Lanval does not fit the typical structure of a tale of courtly love.

In a way this story follows the typical courtly love pretty well except the roles of the man and the woman are reversed in this story. It is the brave and handsome knight that is pursued by the beautiful woman. This is evident when the fairy says, “Sweet love, because of you I have come from my land; I came to seek you from far away” (de France, 156). Not only is she the one, who sought him out but also, she is the one who is proving her love to him through gifts and service. Another way the roles are reversed is that it is Lanval who submits to the authority of the fairy out of love. Typically once the knight in shining armor has won the heart of the young maiden she submits herself to him, however it is Lanval who tells the fairy, “If such joy might be mine that you would love me, there is nothing that you might command, within my power, that I would not do for you, whether foolish or wise” (de France, 156). In the male dominated society of the medieval era this idea of a man submitting completely to a woman was very uncommon. In many tales of courtly romance the man must go out and do a great act of heroism to save the woman from some great threat, like a dragon or a wizard. In Lanval it is the fairy that rides in on a white horse to save Lanval from the wrath of queen Guinevere. The story of Lanval has altered the traditional roles of a courtly love story. Instead of having a knight in shining armor and a damsel in distress Lanval Has a damsel in shining armor, and a knight in distress.

It would not be hard to argue that Sir Gareth is the ideal knight in shining armor. First off Gareth looks the part, he is described as handsome and fair at the beginning of the tale. Someone would have to search quite a few round tables to find a knight that embodies the idea of chivalry better than Sir Gareth. The knight’s code of chivalry holds Arthurian Knights to a high code of honor that at times seems paradoxical. A chivalrous knight must be bold, brave, and fierce on the battlefield, but loving, humble, and gentle when serving a woman. Gareth fights his way through knight after knight in this tale, yet he allows Lynet to mock and belittle him for most of the time they are on his journey together. Then after all that he has already done for Lynet Gareth still has to serve Lynet for a year and win a tournament in order to win her affection. It is not the fact that he does all of this that makes Gareth the ideal knight in shining armor, but the fact that he does it all with humility and chivalry. Gareth clearly fills the stereotypical male role in a tale of courtly love.

Jack Parsley

Lanval and Courtly Love

Lanval and Gareth have a lot of similarities in these two stories. Both knights are described as handsome, kind and, virtuous men. Lanval and Gareth both had to work to earn the respect of their fellow knight. Despite both of them being handsome and kind neither of them had fallen in love prior to the tales they were in. In the beginning of his tale Lanval was a foreigner and a loner who was not well liked by the other knights. Gareth was ridiculed and mocked by the knights shortly before becoming one, and his reputation revolved around his “pretty hands” and being a kitchen boy. Lanval and Gareth had several differences as well. Lanval was the opposite of an archetypal knight in shining armor while Gareth embodied everything about being a good and chivalrous knight. Gareth had to defeat evil knights, fight off thieves, fight in a tournament, and give a year of service, to earn the love of Lynet. Lanval had the love of the fairy lady offered to him on a silver platter. In addition to being pursued by his love Lanval was also spoiled with gifts from her. These two knights have very similar personalities, but they are in extremely different situations. If Lanval had been written into a traditional tale of courtly love I have no doubt that he would have made a great knight in shining armor. If a beautiful and powerful fairy woman had sought after Gareth, I believe that he too would have acted in a very similar way to Lanval. Ultimately it was the plot that provided the differences between these two very similar characters.

Lanval is not your typical Arthurian legend so I will use the tale of Gareth from Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur. The tale of Gareth begins with Gareth arriving at King Arthur’s Pentecost feast as an unknown guest. Gareth is mocked for his appearance and is called “Beaumains” or pretty hands. Gareth does not get offended by the mocking and does not get offended by being forced to go and help in the kitchen. A young damsel named Lynet arrives in King Arthur’s court and asks Arthur to send knights to help save her sister who’s castle is under attack from the Red Knight. Arthur refuses to send any knights to help the young damsel, but Gareth asks Arthur to send him on this mission and he asks to be knighted by Sir Lancelot. Arthur agrees to these requests and makes Gareth a knight and sends him away with Lynet. Lynet is not pleased that she is being send off with only the help of this kitchen boy. Lynet abuses Gareth throughout all the trials they face on the way to save Lynet’s sister. These trials included fighting off thieves, fighting the Black Knight, fighting the Green Night, and finally fighting the Red Knight. It is not until Gareth defeats the Red Knight that Lynet grows fond of him, but in order for him to prove his love for her he must serve her faithfully for a year. At the end of his year of service Gareth and Lynet plan a tournament for Gareth to win the hand of Lynet. Gareth fights his way through several knights in this tournament and then goes on to marry Lynet.

Marie de France wrote the tale of one of the lesser know knights in King Arthur’s court, Lanval. Lanval is the son of a king from a land far away. Lanval could actually play the role of the knight in shining armor or prince charming very well if Marie de France had written this story differently. At the beginning of the story Marie de France states, “For his valor, for his generosity and his bravery, most men envied him” (de France, 154). Despite Lanval being described as the kind of man that any woman at the time would have loved to be pursued by, the handsome and charming prince is not the hero of this story. Lanval is lonely and not treated well in King Author’s court. Lanval’s loneliness ends when he meets a beautiful and powerful fairy in the woods. She pursues him and spoils him with riches in order to win his affection. Lanval has everything he has ever wanted but there is one catch, he cannot tell anyone about his love. Lanval’s inability to keep his love a secret is what causes the main conflict of the story. Queen Guinevere recognizes some changes in Lanval’s behavior after he falls in love, and she thinks that these changes have made him much more desirable. The Queen decides to try and seduce Lanval and after he refuses she accuses Lanval of having no desire for women. This gets under his skin and gets him to say that not only is Guinevere not as beautiful his mistress, but she is not even as beautiful as the servants of his mistress. This causes two problems, he has broken his promise to the fairy to keep their love a secret, and he has insulted the most powerful woman in the kingdom. The queen, enraged by Lanval’s comments, goes to Arthur and gets Lanval put on trial for insulting the queen. Lanval has to either prove that his love is as beautiful as he says or he will be punished. Even though Lanval broke his promise his promise the fairy comes in a reveals herself to the court. Once Lanval’s love is in the court King Arthur can clearly see that she is as beautiful as Lanval described and he clears Lanval of the charges. After that the two of them ride off on her horse into Avalun, the land of the fairies.

While the two knights are very similar characters the ladies they loved were not. The fairy lady that won Lanval’s heart is very different than most ladies in Arthurian Legends. The fairy lady is strong, independent, powerful, and virtuous. These are a lot of the same categories that would usually be associated with the heroes of the legends. Lynet falls into a more typical female role for the time. Lynet is completely dependent on Gareth to save her kingdom. Lynet is also not kindhearted or sweet at first to her knight in shining armor. She makes Gareth work hard to earn her affection and she does not treat him well while works to earn that affection. Lynet is a pretty good example of a damsel in distress while she does not have a whole lot of substance to her character. There is another type of lady in these Arthurian legends that I think deserves mention, Queen Guinevere. Guinevere is powerful like the fairy lady but does not appear as virtuous. Guinevere tries to seduce Lanval and after he refuses her advance tries to get him killed for insulting her beauty. Guinevere sometimes plays the role of damsel in distress and Arthur or another knight must come and save her. Guinevere also helps to highlight another theme in courtly love that it is acceptable to commit adultery if it is out of love. Guinevere does not commit adultery with Lanval in this tale but she sleeps with Sir Lancelot in several other legends. Guinevere and Lynet were typically how women were portrayed in medieval literature and the fairy lady was something of an anomaly.

The attitude towards courtly love in Lanval isn’t necessarily negative. Marie de France isn’t trying to attack the idea of courtly love and she still highlights nobility and chivalry in her story, but she is ultimately trying to say that both men and women can play either role. If I had to define her attitude towards courtly love I would define it as progressively feministic. Being one of the few female writers of the time to actually get credit for her work it would not be a stretch of the imagination to assume that Marie de France wanted to advance the role of women in literature. Marie herself was progressing the role of women in literature so it makes sense that she would use a strong female character in her story to help advance the role of women in literature.

Lanval is far from your typical tale of courtly love because the roles of man and the woman are reversed, but Lanval still has several similarities to typical Arthurian legends like the tale of Gareth. Marie de France still portrayed the ideas of chivalry and honor in her tale while still promoting the role of women in literature. I believe Marie de France was trying to show that courtly love could come in a nontraditional form.

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Taking a Second Look at Courtly Love: Shakespeare’s The Tempest

November 8, 2021 by Essay Writer

William Shakespeare’s usage of the trope of courtly love in The Tempest is not what it seems. In The Tempest, a man trained in the art of magic, Prospero, causes a shipwreck on his island. On this ship is his brother, Antonio, who usurped Prospero’s dukedom in Milan and sent him off to sea. The King of Napes, Alonso, is also on this ship, and his son, Ferdinand, falls in love with Prospero’s daughter, Miranda. The trope of courtly love is most clearly seen in the affection between Miranda and Ferdinand. This trope emerged in medieval European literature, and some of its characteristics include a flawless lady who is unattainable or not easily accessed, a need for secrecy, and participants taken from the nobility. At first, one may think that courtly love is used to show how fairytale-perfect Miranda and Ferdinand’s love is, but actually, the utter perfection of their love calls upon the reader to question its authenticity. This skepticism adds yet another layer to Prospero’s character, as he might be the one controlling the love, and speaks to the condition of women during Shakespeare’s own time.

Aspects of Ferdinand and Miranda’s relationship clearly align with the trope of courtly love. When Ferdinand first lays eyes on Miranda, he exclaims, “Most sure, the goddess/ On whom these airs attend!” (I.ii.423-4) She is so beautiful, so flawless, that he does not believe he is human. She is also unattainable, as Prospero strives to add some difficulty to this love, so they appreciate it more. Ferdinand is sent to undertake labor on the island while Miranda watches. Prospero even commands Miranda not to tell Ferdinand her name, a command which she disobeys (III.i.36-7). This adds a level of secrecy to their relationship. Ferdinand and Miranda think they now have a secret between them, but Prospero is actually there, unseen, watching over them (III.i.14). Both characters are also members of nobility. Ferdinand is the son of the King of Naples, and Miranda is the daughter of the former Duke of Milan. Their relationship adheres so closely, so perfectly to the trop of courtly love. It is too perfect to believe, and that is exactly what Shakespeare wants the reader to think.

While Ferdinand and Miranda’s relationship may seem like the truest of love, it may just be another one of Prospero’s spells. With Ferdinand and Miranda together, Prospero has his dignity and his noble stature restored. He also gets some revenge on his usurping brother. The premise of this courtly love seems all too convenient. The play hints multiple times that this arrangement all might just be for Prospero’s gain, even tough he claims that he has “done nothing but in care of” Miranda (I.ii.16). That is what he first tells Miranda to try and console her when she is distraught about the shipwreck. Right from the start, Prospero assures Miranda that he is doing this all for her, casting himself as an affectionate father. However, this intention shows that he has already planned Ferdinand and Miranda’s marriage, that Miranda does not have a choice. He may claim that his efforts are all for her, but Prospero inadvertently reveals that his work is all for him. Prospero casts a spell on Miranda, putting her to sleep, which shows that he has no problem using his magic on her. He even goes so far as to tell her, “I know thou canst not choose” (I.ii.186). The lack of specificity in this phrase leads the reader to wonder whether Miranda has any choice at all.

Another example of Prospero’s self-interested planning arises during Miranda and Ferdinand’s wedding celebration. When Prospero calls upon Iris, Ceres, and Juno, he says, “Spirits, which by mind art/ I have from their confined/ called to enact/ My present fancies” (IV.i.120-3). This statement is supposed to be a blessing to Miranda and Ferdinand’s marriage, but Prospero says it is all for him, his fancies. He is doing all this for himself and to showcase his art, not for his daughter and her newlywed. A second instance highlights Prospero’s controlling nature through the use of imagery; the first time the audience sees Miranda and Ferdinand, they are playing chess. Prospero “discovers” them, which in Shakespeare’s time meant to reveal characters previously unseen (V.i.172). Prospero revealing the couple playing chess makes them appear to be a show he is putting on, as if they are playing characters rather than themselves. The newlyweds are also playing chess, a game that symbolizes the conquering of kingdoms, thus indicating that their relationship might exist solely to restore Prospero’s nobility. The evidence clearly shows that Prospero has manipulated Miranda and Ferdinand; their love may not be as true as it first appears.

Why would Shakespeare choose to manipulate courtly love as Prospero has manipulated Miranda and Ferdinand? For one thing, this manipulation serves to add another layer to Prospero’s character. He may appear to be a loving father at first read, but scrutinizing the details reveals that he is rather cunning. Making Prospero more dynamic gives his final speech, the epilogue, more meaning. He disowns his magic once his dukedom is restored and begs the audience to set him free with applause. Perhaps Prospero knows that the audience has picked up on his poor behavior, and that is where this guilt comes from. He wants the audience to acknowledge the fact that his end (dukedom) justifies his means (the manipulation of his own daughter). Shakespeare could also be commenting on the way women were treated in his time. The only two women we hear of in the play are married off in exchange for power. They were pawns (a purposeful reference to chess) used to build relationships between kingdoms. Miranda is not the only woman being used to achieve nobility. After all, the whole purpose of the men traveling was to marry King Alonso’s daughter off to the King of Tunisia, a trip which occasioned Prosper’s tempest. Here, Shakespeare is warning against using daughters as a way to gain power, as doing so is disingenuous and unfair. Prospero did not even have to use his magic; he made it clear that Miranda had no choice.

In The Tempest, Shakespeare reinterprets courtly love to make the audience second-guess what appears to be true love. In terms of theme and psychology, the relationship between Ferdinand and Miranda serves far more purposes than one may initially assume. Shakespeare’s usage of the trope courtly love in The Tempest seems all too perfect, and thus prompts the reader to question if Shakespeare is presenting true love or solely the workings of Prospero. Such manipulation of courtly love speaks to both Prospero’s character and the limitations to women during the English Renaissance.

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Love Horoscope and Ideal Zodiac Gifts

November 8, 2021 by Essay Writer

On this Valentine’s Day, get to know about your love life this year.


Aries are courageous, enthusiastic and determined and are natural leaders.

2018 Love Mantra: You need to discover your hidden feelings.

If your date is an Arian man: Your relationship will be ruled by spontaneity and chemistry this year. You are in for great surprises and Arian man loves to treat their women like a queen. They are very expressive, so Be impulsive, don’t be shy and Laugh aloud.

The ideal Valentine gift: The Arian man is classy and spontaneous who loves personalised experiences. Gifts can range from a hand crafted item, a watch, a tangy cologne or gadgets.

If your date is an Arian woman: An Arian woman loves to be treated and spoken with gentleness. Punctual and observant, the Arian woman loves attention and mostly demands all your attention. Be ready to make sure you don’t look at the bill or your watch!

The ideal Valentine gift: Arian woman loves to travel and an ideal gift will be to take her to a holiday. Since she also loves music, you may take her to musical concerts. A diamond ring or a great book are other great gift ideas.

Compatible signs: Scorpio and Virgo

Lucky colour: Green

Lucky stone: Jade


Taurus are friendly, realistic and loves being in a relationship.

2018 Love Mantra: This year will be all about love and passion

If your date is a Taurean man: Taurean man are affectionate and demonstrative; love to express their feelings and will show how much he cares in words and in action. You will have a great time and get set to be serenaded with hugs, flowers, great food and passionate conversation.

The ideal Valentine gift: For a Taurean man, the gift options range from an after-shave lotion, colourful shirts, socks, mural, sculpture,a rocking chair, cushion covers to match the sofa to a money plant for good luck.

If your date is a Taurean woman: She is a woman who loves good food and simple yet beautiful things. It will definitely mean a lot to her if you can cook for her instead of taking her to some fancy restaurant.

The ideal Valentine gift: Gift ideas include art, handbag, kitchen utensils interesting linen,home décor or gift her pottery.

Compatible signs: Virgo and Capricorn

Lucky colour: Purple

Lucky stone: Pearl


Gemini are romantic people who take their relationship very seriously and stay truthful and committed.

2018 Love Mantra: This year will turn out to be the most romantic year; you just need to live the moment and capture the essence of romance.

If your date is a Gemini man: Gemini men are light hearted, love to live the moment and enjoy to the fullest; they are talkative and humourous with a touch of witty sarcasm, and their life will be full of wonderful stories. They love outdoor activities and love dining out. So you may get lucky for a special fine dining experience. Ensure you dress to look your best.

The ideal Valentine gift: The Gemini men love to dress and look their best. Their favourites are crisp one shade shirts, cuff links, stationery and powerful masculine cologne.

If your date is a Gemini woman: Gemini woman is more interested in live music performances, theatre, art and live bands. She loves the ambience as well as good manners. If you are going on a date or are spending time together, try to give her your complete attention and see how special she makes you feel.

The ideal Valentine gift: There are many gifting options to choose from: romantic songs on a CD, dark red lipstick, mascara, soft cushions and matching quilt, a great mythological story book, set of pearls earrings, a bling clutch bag. Take your pick!

Compatible signs: Libra and Aries

Lucky colour: Brown

Lucky stone: Tiger eye


Cancer are generous, imaginative, sensitive and honest people

2018 Love Mantra: Understand people and expect love from other

If your date is a Cancerian man: Cancerian man is soft hearted and soft spoken. They mingle with people easily and have the ability to adjust to become one with you. You may get many surprises ,and get ready for a red carpet treatment. You will also have a cosy wine and dine experience. You will be surrounded by many gifts, flowers, cake, instrumental music sets and may even get a surprise ring in your glass!

The ideal Valentine gift: Gift options include plants, pens, electronic gadgets, a new phone or a snazzy office bag with stylish zips.

If your date is a Cancerian woman: A Cancerian woman loves nature and is a vivid traveller. They love to have a good conversation with a chilled wine. You can expect to be charmed in an outdoor setting, enjoying the sunset before heading for dinner.

The ideal Valentine gift: She will be interested in flavoured tea, pots and pans, incense sticks, painting or sculpture of fairies or a Zen Buddha, a pack of tarot cards with love spells in them would intrigue her.

Compatible signs: Virgo and Taurus

Lucky colour: Cream

Lucky stone: White sapphire


Leo are very ambitious and enthusiastic people. They are loyal in a relationship and make good friends.

2018 Love Mantra: This year you need to believe in the miracle of love

If your date is a Leo man: Leo man needs your attention and you need to give him the love and attention he desires. Leo man loves new styles and outdoor activities. You can surprise him with a grand meal, an outdoor activity like swimming, fishing or animal gazing


The ideal Valentine gift: Creative gift ideas include a unique calendar with his name inscribed, a selection of alcohol, a branded gift item or an adventure trip to indulge his wild side.

If your date is a Leo woman: She loves to hear you and is easily impressed with uninterrupted conversations around her favourite subjects. She loves compliments and appreciation of her artistic knowledge; so you know how to win her.

The ideal Valentine gift: Impress her with a hamper of lovely things that include the best slices, jam, chocolate, coffees and great cake mixes. She will definitely love a session at a spa and if you want to be extravagant buy her a great piece of jewellery.

Compatible signs: Aries and Gemini

Lucky colour: Orange

Lucky stone: Red coral


Virgo are one of the most generous, loyal and insightful people.

2018 Love Mantra: Be elegant and be honest that will help your love to flourish

If your date is a Virgo man: A Virgo man is fond of feminine woman who wears trinkets and anklets. You know how to dress to let him make you feel wonderful.

The ideal Valentine gift: They are lovers of gadgets, gaming console, great shades, formal shirt, leather boots. You can even win his heart with a home cooked meal.

If your date is a Virgo woman: She has a great attitude towards others and loves to explore new things. You can impress her with a good joke. She loves funny conversations and so be the knight in shining armour and make her laugh.

The ideal Valentine gift: To win her, you need to think creative and gifts like a handwritten letter will bring a smile on her face. She will love gift hampers that include linen, kitchen accessories. Other gifting options are :a quaint tea set, a beautiful vase, scented candles, incense sticks and holders or a lovely writing pad.

Compatible signs: Aries and Aquarius

Lucky colour: Yellow

Lucky stone: Cats eye


Libra are the most hardworking and honest people. They love long-term commitments and are loyal partners.

2018 Love Mantra: Charisma will work all that you desire

If your date is a Libran man: You can look forward to a great day with some really good surprises. Librian man is adventurous and he is quite likely to take you to great locations and then for a long drive to speak his heart.

The ideal Valentine gift: You need some exquisite and rare things like antiques, carpets to gift. A bottle of Chardonnay, retro music / records, a painting or a great musical evening are another hifting options to impress him.

If your date is a Libran woman: Libran women love to dress and are interested in finding new styles and fashions.

They love when their partner you go that extra mile to make her feel special. Make sure you wear great pair of shoes!

The ideal Valentine gift: She is down to earth and will be impressed with a nice dress, handbag, boots, ear loops, blingy scarves or a portrait of her sketched and framed.

Compatible signs: Aries and Gemini

Lucky colour: Lavender

Lucky stone: Amethyst


Scorpio are very protective and loves to be in control in their relationship.

2018 Love Mantra: You need to become more realistic about everything you desire

If your date is a Scorpio man: Scorpio are great lovers and are deeply passionate. They love to impress their partner with flowers, perfect lighting, chilled champagne, strawberries and chocolates cosy conversations. They are very charming that you will fall in love.

The ideal Valentine gift: They appreciate art so gift items with piece of art, a personalised pen or photo frame or a fancy lamp will be perfect.

If your date is a Scorpio woman: A Scorpion woman is very possessive and expects the best of everything. She is very compassionate and expects chivalry so go ahead and charm her.

The ideal Valentine gift: You may just need scented cinnamon candles, perfumes, bag and shoes to make her happy.

Compatible signs: Virgo and Capricorn

Lucky colour: Red

Lucky stone: Ruby


Sagittarius are sincere and broad-minded people who are loyal to the end.

2018 Love Mantra: Never underestimate your relationship

If your date is a Sagittarian man: They are enthusiastic and it is nice to be around them. You can raise your bar and expect yourself to be treated to fine wine, gourmet food and an experience worth remembering.

The ideal Valentine gift: He has a certain love for leather jacket, watch or a silk shirt. You may need a good soul and even a thoughtful deed will touch his generous heart.

If your date is a Sagittarian woman: They love life to the fullest and are free-spirited. They love to go with the flow and will be fun to be with.

The ideal Valentine gift: Gift her a class of yoga or buy her a great pair of jeans.

Compatible signs: Capricorn and Pisces

Lucky colour: Pink

Lucky stone: Rose quartz


Capricorn are grounded people and faithful lovers.

2018 Love Mantra: Find love on the friendship you build

If your date is a Capricorn man: They have a witty sense of humour and it is easy to become friends with them. They have the ability to make you feel special. Even though they are slow and cautious, Capricorn men are dependable and steady partners. Their style is solid, so expect sweet gestures.

The ideal Valentine gift: Gift them a bottle of the best wine, a chic tie or gift vouchers from their favourite music store that will definitely make their day.

If your date is a Capricorn woman: Capricorn women like to be wooed, celebrated and taken care of. Plan a fun evening and let her do all the talking.

The ideal Valentine gift: Shoes and solid tees is what you should pick your Capricorn woman just make sure they are brand. She doesn’t like surprises, so pick something she’s had her eye on from before.

Compatible signs: Sagittarius and Scorpio

Lucky colour: White

Lucky stone: Opal


2018 Love Mantra: Go with the flow in love

If your date is an Aquarian man: He can seem self-absorbed and aloof but will be attentive as he will take you to an open-air restaurant and you will enjoy your date immensely. It’s wise to be slow and steady with him and allow him to take the lead.

The ideal Valentine gift: A cologne, a well-tailored shirt, books on technology and sports gear will excite him.

If your date is an Aquarian woman: Independent and breezy she may not be your easiest date. Small caring gestures mean a lot to her. Book a table at her favourite restaurant.

She may be moody or quiet, give space, don’t judge.

The ideal Valentine gift: She loves chunky jewellery, traditional clothes, instrumental music and flavoured coffee.

Compatible signs: Sagittarius and Libra

Lucky colour: Yellow

Lucky stone: Emerald


2018 Love Mantra: Make connections, follow your heart

If your date is a Piscean man: Romantic and considerate he will make sure that special place he chooses to take you to is perfect. Enjoy luxury with this special man!

The ideal Valentine gift: A swimming gear, a beach ball, colourful frisbee, camping equipment will thrill the outdoor-loving Piscean.

If your date is a Piscean woman: Piscean women epitomise class, compassion and beauty and are extremely dreamy and committed in love. She will make you feel special with her charm.

The ideal Valentine gift: The way to win her heart is to buy tickets to watch a live cookery show, cookbooks or pearl/ruby jewellery that will make her happy.

Compatible signs: Sagittarius and Virgo

Lucky colour: Blue

Lucky stone: Blue sapphire

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