Reynard the Fox Analysis

Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

Noble the Lion’s court

Noble the Lion’s court. Imaginary court meant to represent the court of the French king. The animals present their grievances to Noble the king, whose weakness and indecision are the targets of satire. The rapacious demands for vengeance by the courtiers and the sophistry of those pleading their cases re-create an important institution of the time but cast it in a ridiculous light. A fictitious court run by animals provides the authors with a certain immunity and poetic license. The world they present is a world turned upside down, and the absurd conduct of the characters is part of that world. Reynard’s trial at the court enables the authors to indulge in a lengthy satire on women and their sexual appetites and to poke fun at cuckolded husbands.

Ysangrin the wolf’s den

Ysangrin the wolf’s den. Scene of the adultery of Reynard and Hersent, a dark and private place that provides an ideal setting for animals to imitate the conduct of humans. Courtly love and its rules of privacy and secrecy are satirized in this episode.

Reynard the fox’s den

Reynard the fox’s den. Place with the characteristics of an actual fox’s den. It has openings large enough for a fox to enter and exit but not big enough to accommodate a larger animal. Its size and shape enable the author to write a farcical scene in which Hersent, caught at the entrance, is raped by Reynard,...

(The entire section is 537 words.)


(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

Bellon, Roger. “Trickery as an Element of the Character of Renart.” Forum for Modern Language Studies 22, no. 1 (January, 1986): 34-52. Examines Reynard the Fox in terms of its use of archetypal elements of the medieval fable. Provides insight into the social significance of the trickster character.

Blake, N. F. “Reflections on William Caxton’s Reynard the Fox.” Canadian Journal of Netherlandic Studies 4, no. 1 (May, 1983): 69-76. Provides a thorough exploration of William Caxton’s translation of the medieval classic. Blake’s treatment provides a general consideration of Reynard’s place in the Germanic literary tradition, folk narrative, and European fable.

Owen, D. D. R., trans., ed. The Romance of Reynard the Fox. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 1994. Notes and introduction offer a comprehensive overview of the fable, its history, its place in medieval art, and its revelations about medieval society.

Varty, Kenneth. “Animal Fable and Fabulous Animal.” Bestia: Yearbook of the Beast Fable Society 3, no. 1 (May, 1991): 5-14. Discussion of European beast fables considers Reynard the Fox within its historical, aesthetic, and ideological context. Also considered is the evolution of the animal in European folklore.

Varty, Kenneth. Reynard the Fox: A Study of the Fox in Medieval English Art. Leicester, England: Leicester University Press, 1967. Considers Reynard the Fox’s impact on the visual art and literature of the medieval period. Presentation includes color plates and textual excerpts.