Pilgrim’s Prize (Pt.13): The Franklin’s Tale (Chaucer Journal)
Simple tale of knightly romance this time around. The Franklin’s Tale involves a woman grief stricken by the disappearance of her husband while he is off at war. Then, one day, while she is lounging at an inland palace of sorts, a squire confesses his love for her to which she responds she cannot love him unless removing all the large stones in Brittany. Odd request but the squire promises; he pays a magic-man to cast an illusion making it seem as though the stones had been removed. But, when the lady hears of this and her husband returns, the husband reluctantly agrees that she must honor her agreement. Thankfully, for the lady, the squire has a morally upright heart and releases the maiden from her promise. Just the same, the magic-man releases the squire from his debt and everyone lives happily ever after—except the squire who rues the rest of his days with a broken heart. The end.
Really, it is not the happiest of tales. But it is a fun tale for it shows the reverse side of medieval romances, that while the knight is away, everyone else plays. Well, “plays” is too strong a word for the melodrama here, but it at least captures the idea that every time a knight goes on a quest or off to war, the people he leaves behind suffers as well and have their own journeys.
Narratively, the tale is straight forward. There is no complex, multi-person adventures. Not really. Furthermore, the resolution of acting knightly and one will receive mercy, is likewise the archetype manner of conflict resolution in secular Christian literature. Though the Squire doesn’t quite attain his desire, he does escape from crushing debt. So, his failure to “acquire” his heart’s desire is more of a class position than anything else, though it also intermixes with monogamy.
Our modern tale-teller, Frank McDonald, treats us to a fairy-tale adaptation of The Franklin’s Tale.
Honestly, it is not my cup of tea. Creatively, it is very bland, unoriginal, and though well-written, just a re-tread of Chaucer’s own story but with some filler trimmed down. There is not much more to say about it than that the author decided to more or less copy the tale into a prose format; as an attempt at re-creating Chaucer’s narrative, it is just lazy. Dull.
I supposed I could go on with my thoughts on the rendition, but it would be unneeded hostility. Suffice to say, I give this attempt a 3.5/10.
Cover Image Artist: https://yurionna.deviantart.com/art/The-Franklin-s-Tale-Cover-270053015