Last Updated on August 7, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 518
The characters of Reynard the Fox, a collection of European fables, are all anthropomorphized animals living in a semi-fictional Europe. Some of the major characters in the cycle are as follows:
Writing an essay?
Get a custom outline
Our Essay Lab can help you tackle any essay assignment within seconds, whether you’re studying Macbeth or the American Revolution. Try it today!
Reynard the Fox
The eponymous Reynard is a trickster character who survives by his wit and cunning. Many of the animals dislike or downright hate Reynard, and he is considered a thief, murderer, and troublemaker. Despite being repeatedly summoned to answer for his crimes, Reynard always manages to wriggle his way out of any punishment. He claims that he behaves as he does because it is simply his nature as a fox to do so.
King Lion is the king of the animals in the story, and he assembles all of his subjects at Whitsuntide to speak their grievances against Reynard. He is greedy, and he allows Reynard to leave after hearing the story of the fox's alleged cave of silver and gold, which he wants for himself.
Grimbert is Reynard's ever-loyal nephew. He consistently defends his uncle before King Lion's court, and when the animals become so angry that they decide to kill Reynard, Grimbert alone runs to warn him.
Bruin is the first animal sent to bring Reynard to court to answer for his crimes. He believes himself too intelligent to be tricked by the crafty fox, but he is tricked into a trap after Reynard promises him honey. Bruin is beaten by a woodcutter and his neighbors before escaping.
Tybert is initially Reynard's only defender aside from Grimbert. He is sent to retrieve Reynard after Bruin fails, but he is also tricked with the promise of mice to eat. Tybert is caught in a trap set for Reynard by a priest's son, where he is beaten by the priest's household.
Cuwaert is chosen to accompany Reynard on a trip to Rome, as he is the fastest animal and could chase the fox down if he tried to escape on the journey. While in Reynard's home before the journey, he is killed and eaten by Reynard and his family, and his head is sent back to King Lion's court.
Bellyn is the other companion on Reynard's trip to Rome, chosen for his moral fortitude. It is assumed that if he vouches for Reynard, then the pope would surely pardon him. He isn't particularly intelligent, though, and he is sent to unwittingly deliver Cuwaert's head back to King Lion.
Lapreel appears with further grievances after Reynard murders Cuwaert, complaining that Reynard cruelly kicked him between the eyes while pretending to pray.
Another of Reynard's family, his aunt Rukenaw is a member of King Lion's court and another defender of her nephew. She helps Reynard prepare for his duel with Isengrim by shaving him and covering him in oil so that he will be difficult for the wolf to grab.
Isengrim is in some ways the opposite of Reynard. Rather than small, weak, and cunning, Isengrim is large, strong, and lacking Reynard's mental prowess. Most importantly, he is one of Reynard's most vocal opponents, and he challenges him to a duel at the end of the cycle.