Summary and Analysis of The Franklin's Tale (The Canterbury Tales)
Prologue to the Franklin's Tale:
The Franklin praises the Squire for his eloquence, considering his youth. He tells the Squire that he has no peer among the company and that he wishes that his own son were as commendable as the Squire. The Host suggests that the Franklin tell the next tale. The Franklin begins by apologizing in advance for his rough speech and lack of education.
The Franklin's Tale:
The Franklin's Tale begins with the courtship of the Breton knight Arviragus and Dorigen, who come to be married happily. Their marriage is one of equality, in which neither of the two is master or servant. However, soon after they marry Arviragus is sent away to
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The student consulted his tables and contrived to make the rocks disappear for a week. When Dorigen learned of this, she was overcome with grief, realizing that she must forfeit either her body or her fair name. She thinks about the numerous instances in which a faithful wife or a maiden destroyed herself rather than submitting herself to another. She cites the maidens of Lacedaemon who chose to be slain rather than defiled, and Hasdrubal's wife, who committed suicide during the siege of Carthage, and Lucrece, who did the same when Tarquin took her by force. Arviragus returned home and Dorigen told him the truth of what had happened. He tells her that he will bear the shame of her actions, and that adhering to her promise is the most important thing. He therefore sends her to submit to Aurelius. When Aurelius learns how well Arviragus accepted his wife's promise, Aurelius decides to let Dorigen's promise go unfulfilled. He claims that a squire can be as honorable as a knight. Aurelius then went to pay the law student, even though his affair remained unconsummated. The law student forgave Aurelius' debt, proving himself honorable. The tale thus ends with this question: who was the most generous? Arviragus, Aurelius, or the student.
The Franklin's Tale presents one of the few examples of a functional marital relationship. There is no overt strain in the marriage