The Literary Imagination: Studies in Dante, Chaucer, and Shakespeare

By Derek Traversi | Go to book overview

3
The Franklins Tale

THE Franklin’s Tale is commonly thought of as providing a kind of resolution to round off a series of tales in which Chaucer is said to be engaged in developing a varied and subtle exploration of the realities of marriage as a central and dominating reality of human life.1 The idea is not without its merits but needs to be approached with caution, for reasons that have to do with the very nature of Chaucer’s art: an art that tends to be distrustful of final “solutions,” and that shows itself increasingly conscious of the inadequacy of “tale-telling” in relation to whatever “truth” may be presumed to exist beyond the varied and intractable waywardness that constitutes the reality of human life in time. In any consideration of the so-called marriage theme, it is necessary to stress two points: in the first place, the theme, inasmuch as it can be said to exist, is conceived as part of a larger design in which “patience” and “grace” are the ultimate realities; and, secondly, that any conceivable resolution of the issues raised in the course of its development must lie, not primarily in the “dramatic” development of their relation to one another, but rather in the referring of them all to the ultimate end, essentially outside and beyond the pilgrimage, which may be presumed to govern their existence. Any skepticism that we may think we detect in the poet’s attitude to that “end” concerns, not so much his readiness to believe in its

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The Literary Imagination: Studies in Dante, Chaucer, and Shakespeare
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 5
  • Author's Note 7
  • 1 - The Theme of Poetry in Dante's Purgatorio 11
  • 2 - Why Is Ulysses in Hell? 47
  • 3 - The Franklins Tale 87
  • 4 - The Manciple's Tale 120
  • 5 - [Unaccommodated Man] in King Lear 145
  • 6 - The Imaginative and the Real in Antony and Cleopatra 197
  • 7 - Shakespeare's Dramatic Illusion in the Tempest 228
  • Index 260
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