“The Franklin’s Tale” is one of the stories in Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, a work in Middle English that, though unfinished, is considered one of the masterpieces of English literature. Like most of The Canterbury Tales, “The Franklin’s Tale” is written in iambic pentameter couplets. It is 896 lines in length. Although the poet was working on The Canterbury Tales from the 1380’s until the year of his death, this story cannot be dated with any certainty. It is also a matter of conjecture as to where Chaucer meant to place “The Franklin’s Tale” within the larger narrative. However, expressing as it does Chaucer’s own ideals of behavior, clearly “The Franklin’s Tale” would have been a cornerstone of the completed work.
The story is told by an important, wealthy landowner, elderly but still vigorous, who delights in fine food and drink and prides himself on his hospitality. However, his tale does not focus on worldly pleasures but rather on moral issues, the demands of honor, the true definition of gentility, and the substance of an ideal marriage.
“The Franklin’s Tale” is set in Brittany. It begins with the marriage of a lady, Dorigen, to Arveragus, a knight who has taken great pains to win her. Arveragus takes the unusual step of setting up the marriage as a relationship between equals, with the sole proviso that in public his wife will treat him as her sovereign. In a...
(The entire section is 524 words.)