THE FRANKLIN’S TALE
He is a brave Knight who seeks a wife that will enter into a marriage where both parties show patience to each other.
She becomes Arveragus’ wife who is unhappy when her husband is away.
He is a wealthy neighbor who harbors a secret love for Dorigen.
There was once a Knight named Arveragus in the land of Brittany.
He was brave and prosperous and he wished to make his life complete by taking a suitable wife. He decided to marry a fair maiden named Dorigen, provided she would make a vow with him that they would respect each other and practice patience towards each other’s behavior and words.
After they were married, the Knight had to travel to distant lands in order
to obtain more wealth. In his absence, his wife Dorigen soon became depressed and mourned her husband’s absence.
She felt lonely in her castle on the coast of rocky France and she would spend many an hour contemplating life while gazing at the waves crashing on the rocks at the foot of the cliff. Her wealthy neighbor often invited her to join in the parties that he hosted, but she always refused until one day in May she was persuaded to attend a picnic.
Aurelius, the neighbor, decided he would confess his love for Dorigen, but
she repelled his advances.
However, he was persistent and in a joke, she said should would agree to his advances if he could remove all the rocks from the coast of Brittany. Despondent, Aurelius prayed to Apollo to send a flood to cover the rocks. Eventually, Arveragus returned home and husband and wife were happy again in each other’s company.
Meanwhile, Aurelius’ brother new of a man who had deciphered a book of magic
and on payment of '1,000 would cast a spell that would clear the coast of rocks. The deed was performed and Aurelius asked Dorigen to keep her promise.
She was much grieved at this outcome and confided in her husband what had happened. The noble Knight told his wife that she must keep her promise even though it was made in jest, and this would deeply grieve and wound him. However, Aurelius, hearing of the sacrifice and nobility of Arveragus could not force himself to take Dorigen, and he sent the woman back to her husband.
Aurelius then found that he did not have enough gold to pay the '1,000, but
the brother’s friend, learning that the bargain was not completed, forgave Aurelius the debt.
The Franklin poses the question at the end – Who was the finest gentleman in
We again have the repeating theme of a three-way love affair in this story,
mirroring those that have gone before as in the Knight’s Tale and the Miller’s Tale.
Chaucer now seems to provide a mid course between what the Wife of Bath
advocated, where a woman has complete sovereignty over a man, and the Clerk’s Tale where a woman should be completely subservient.
Unlike these two tales, the Franklin’s Tale has a thread of nobility running through it and all the characters portrayed.
Here we have the wife refusing to be unfaithful whilst the husband is away,
but she feels duty bound to keep a promise even though it was spoken in jest. Her husband insists that she should keep her promise, and then finally the neighbor refuses to hold Dorigen to the oath that she
So, in conclusion, everybody has been respectful and honest to everybody else.
The moral of the tale therefore, is that one noble deed performed will lead
to another, and then another. In this way, good overcomes evil.