Who are the main characters in the Franklin's Tale and what is the main theme?

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Franklin is a landowner and he has a son whom he says behaves without any understanding of higher virtues like gentleness, justice or compassion. These sorts of vitues comprise a quality known as gentillesse. The main characters of The Franklin's Tale are Arveragus, Dorigen, who is wed to the knight Arveragus, and Aurelius, a young squire. Dorigen and Arveragus have a marriage built on equality between them, an unheard of concept in Medieval Europe and England. For this reason they keep their arrangement a secret by putting on a pretense in public. The knight Arveragus goes abroad to seek his fortunes and, while alone and pinning for her dear husband's return, Dorigen is approached by the love sick squire Aurelius. She rebuffs his proposals of an illicit relationship but makes a rash and joking promise to be his if he can make the coastal rocks disappear to ensure her husband's safe return.

The prominent themes of The Franklin's Tale are how to establish a harmonious and loving mariage, which is through equality of respect and gentillesse along with the theme of gentillessse itself: that these virtues comprising gentillesse are essential to happiness, respect, honor and valor. Touching on honor, this too is a theme, however some argue that in the end when Arveragus advises Dorigen that, since Aurelius has removed the rocks, she must keep her promise, he is banking on Aurelius's qualities of gentillesse and honor instead of insisting that, regardless of consequence, he and Dorigen must honor her promise, which he also does adivse. As it happens, Aurelius does show his gentillesse and honor by releasing Dorigen from her promise.

s412889 | Student

True love is built on equality is a major theme of this tale. Through this tale Chaucer, the author, is trying to critique his society. That is why equality in marriage is such a big thing in this tale. In this historical period, women were not seen as equals. They were seen as property, submissive, love sick people. What they say doesn't matter and this marriage stands against all that. In the end the marriage works and Dorigen wants to stay faithful to her husband. This is most likely because of the type of relationship they have; one that is built on equality. The main characters are Dorigen, Arveagus, Aurelius, and the Magician.

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