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Marie de France: Bisclavret (The Werewolf) (12th Century)
Terms in this set (18)
Bisclavret: The Lay of the Werewolf
-in Breton means werewolf
-Aristocratic, courtly environment
-Debt to fairy and folktales
-Bisclavret is a good man, not deserving of curse
-Early fall from happiness to betrayal
-Lady has secret love by random knight
-has a sense of female weakness contrasted by mercy of King
-King is a kind of saviour figure to Bisclavret
-Story that will be remembered
-She is not evil, has good motivation, she was very afraid
he must unclothe himself to turn and that he must hide his clothing in order to facilitate his transformation back to man. Without his clothes, he would "remain a werewolf forever."
Battle of the sexes
-Lady is suspicious of what Bisclavret does every three days (turns into werewolf)
- Bisclavret demands trust and lady demands truth
- Bisclavret tells Lady of secret and his Clothing weakness and she betrays him
-Marie then reveals the wife's true feelings - she is disgusted and no longer "wished to lie with him." She begins to plot how to rid herself of the burden, and to that end contacts a knight who had always wanted her as a lover, but whose advances she had repudiated. She offers her "love and body" if he will steal Bisclavret's clothing. The knight agrees, and Bisclavret is seen no more. The lady marries the knight, Bisclavret's friends search for him a while, but when he is not found, all are forced to move on.
Kings Court summary
King finds werewolf while hunting
-The king brings the wolf back to his castle, where the wolf becomes a favorite amongst all. The king orders it protected, and the wolf loves the king in turn. All of his men feed and guard it, and Bisclavret even sleeps each knight amongst the knights. They have never seen anything quite like him.
-King holds court and summons all
-Bisclavret sees wife and tries to attack
-King and men believe she has done something to provoke attack
-King and werewolf go to woods, wife takes king a gift,
-werewolf tears off her nose
- Lady is tortured and questioned and reveals she is his wife
-Bisclavret's clothing is returned and he turns back into his human form.
-King returns all his land and banishes Lady
-Marie ends her lay insisting that this story is true, and that it is immortalized in the lay.
Love - Selfish love is punished
Loyalty - Lapses in loyalty provide the central thrust on occasion - like in "Equitan" or Bisclavret - but the idea that lords can show a lack of loyalty to their vassals is sprinkled throughout.
-2. Another theme is to treat others how you would like to be treated. This theme is demonstrated when the wolf-form Bisclavret is noble and respectful towards the king when he comes to hunt him. With this loyalty, the king invited Bisclavret to stay in his kingdom; he also became noble and loyal to the wolf.
The wife of the werewolf is disloyal because she steals Bisclavret's clothes, preventing him to turn back to human. She then runs off with a young knight that has always loved her.
This story takes place in a 12th century medieval kingdom located in Brittany.
1. Bisclavret's clothes represent humanity. In order to stay in 'man' form, he must keep his clothes near and safe. He had to keep the objects that kept him human out of harms way. This relates to us as readers because it's saying that without protecting your humanity, you can become corrupt or wild.
2. The wife also represented shame and fear. When she took the clothing away, she was ashamed of her own husband; she was embarrassed of his secret. As for fear, she shows this when she ran off with the knight. She was very fearful of the wolf and what he might do to her. Her motifs teach us to accept others despite their differences and flaws.
How does this lai define monstrosity? Who is the monster within it?
the wolf represents our beastly, perhaps sexual side - its implications are more skillfully handled in the lay than such a simple interpretation suggests.
What major political and cultural changes does the Norman Conquest bring?
French language, French domination, Feudal system, Chivalry codes
Is the fate of Bisclavret's wife justified?
What do you think is the significant of the different geographical spaces within the text?
What is the significance of Bisclavret's behavior towards the king?
Is this a misogynistic text?
hatred of women
Marie de France
Author of BIsclarev and Yonec
Born in France, but spent time in England
The Lais are dedicated to a "noble king," likely King Henry II of England
Clearly well-educated, which likely makes her a nun and/or noble woman
One possibility: the illegitimate daughter of a nobleman, Geoffrey of Anjou, who later became the abbess of Shaftesbury, ca. 1181. This would make her the half-sister of Henry II (whose father was also Geoffrey).
Works include: the Lais; Fables; Espurgatoire de Saint Patrice (St. Patrick's Purgatory); and a life of St. Audrey
a social system that existed in Europe during the Middle Ages in which people worked and fought for nobles who gave them protection and the use of land in return
Associated with Brittany, a northwestern region in France
Short in length
Similar to the genre of romance
May have been performed in accompaniment with a harp
Features noble men and women
Contains supernatural elements
Draws upon classical myths and Celtic folklore
Often centers on romantic relationships
medieval concept of love sometimes referred to as fin'amor
Thought to have originated in southern France
Highly idealized behavior
Based on the feudal relationship between lord and retainer
Drew upon religious language and imagery
It's not clear whether courtly love was a real social phenomenon or just parody
Capelanus view of Courtly love
Good character is the one real requirement for worthiness of love.
Marriage should not be a deterrent to love.
Two men may love one woman or two women one man.
Love is reinforced by jealousy.
Love constantly waxes and wanes.
The value of love is commensurate with its difficulty of attainment.
Thought of the beloved never leaves the true lover.
Public revelation is deadly to love in most instances
author of Bisclarev
Marie de France
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