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The goal of this essay is to demonstrate how Marie de France maintains her optimism about love despite the somber and depressing ways her poems conclude. A review of her writings reveals that, regardless of the resolution she opted for, the narrator consistently exhibited positivity in poems like Guigemar, Le Fresne, Lanval, and Milun. (Arden 3-11).
In Guigemar, the author tells the story of the valiant knight Guiemar, who was unaffected by his sexual desires throughout his existence. He had little interest in or regard for women. In the poem, the novelist talks of the successful travels of knight and his great skill as a warrior. Upon returning home to his family, Guigemar went hunting with other knights, resulting in the inception of his predicament with love. An arrow he shot at a hind, sprung back to enter his thigh. In retaliation, the hind cursed him to be cured only by a woman's love (Arden 3-11).
Suffering from the shot, he boarded a lone ship that took him to another kingdom where he was cared for and fell in love with the king's wife. For the first, Guigemar experienced the anguish of loving somebody. The lady too came to love him. Love at first sight! The author says even the lady could not understand the love she felt for Guigemar. Having made sacred pledges against loving anybody else, they got separated for a long while. Throughout this poem, the writer shows hope for both Guigemar and the lady. It pays off ultimately when they meet Meriaduc's castle.
Through Le Fresne, Marie de France tells of two knights both successfully married. When one knight's wife bears twins, the other knight's wife, out of jealousy, slanders and accuses her of committing adultery. The conniving woman bore twins later on and gave out one, Le Fresne, to a maid who dropped her in a nearby town. She falls in love with Gurun, who is later prevailed to marry La Codre, her twin sister, unbeknown to her. When her mother finds out her true identity, she confesses. Gurun divorces La Codre and marries his love, Le Fresne. There is optimism since ultimately, the two lovers get married and La Codre also finds a husband.
Further, Marie De France uses Lanval, a much hated and successful knight at the king's court to show her optimism. Rather than being appreciated for his loyalty, he is subjected to poverty and loneliness while in service of King Arthur. His life changes when he meets a fine beautiful lady who has travelled a long way in search of him for love. Seeing her, Lanval falls in love and promises to do anything for her. Later on, the queen seduces him. He turns her down by belittling her beauty in comparison to his beloved. Despite losing access to his lady when he is charged of seducing the queen, Lanval is saved from the noose by her come back.
Using Milun, Marie de France illustrates optimism in the love between Milun and a noble's daughter. They have a child who is taken to her sister for upbringing. Even though she is married off to another nobleman, their love does not dim. They continue communicating for twenty years. The family is reunited when Milun and his son battle and the beloved's husband passes on. The author achieves her ultimate goal of reuniting the loved ones.
Arden, Heather M. "The End Game in Marie De France's Lais: The Search for a Solution." Dalhousie French Studies, 61 (2002): 3-11. Print.
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