October 6

The Franklin's Prologue and Tale


The Franklin: a freeholder, a landowner who is not of aristocratic birth but a freeman holding his lands in his own right. This franklin is a rich provincial landowner who has held several public offices.

The Gentilesse Business

The Franklin's interruption of the Squire (and the Host's interruption of the Franklin.)

A Note on Genre

The Franklin's Tale is a Breton "lay," (the Bretons being the Celtic people of NW France, modern Brittany). A lay (from French lai) is a brief romance, containing familiar romance ingredients:

But lays have simpler plots, less episodic action, and often center upon some emotional dilemma.

The Franklin on Marriage

Is he seeking to reconcile marriage with the ideals of courtly love? (See lines 73-98).

Rash Promises and Nefarious Bargains

Dorigen makes a rash promise (speaking "in play" but also offering her trouthe, her pledged word). Aurelius takes her at the letter rather than the spirit of her words.

As for Aurelius's bargain with the magician, the Franklin isn't particularly interested in whether or not the rocks actually vanish but rather in the series of moral dilemmas that arise out of the magician's transformation of perceived reality.

Franklin's Final Question and a Few More

"Which was the mooste free, as thinketh you?" (949)

Free: can signify both "at liberty" and (the active meaning in this context) "generous."

Note the play/gaming aspect of his words: his audience is invited to participate in debate, to reconsider the events he has just described.