Marie de France

Consider the fairytale aspect of the “Guigemar” storyline. What is the treatment of love? of sexuality? And how does this treatment correspond with the magical qualities of the narrative? With whom does one sympathize in reading of Guigemar’s and his lover’s efforts to be reunited with one another? Why?
Guigemar’s unnamed lady represents a certain literary type: the ‘mal mariée’ or unhappily married wife who is mistreated by her husband. Would the Church be likely to approve of the way in which Marie handles this plot element? Why? Who do you imagine was the target audience of this story? What is the message to this audience?
In “Yonec” the theme is also of the ‘mal mariée.’ How is the relationship with her lover described as though to appear sanctioned ‘by God?’ To what purpose? Note the animal imagery. What might it symbolize? What might the trip through the hill to her lover’s kingdom symbolize?
In “Guigemar” and “Yonec”, Marie seems to take the side of the woman. There are at least two stories, however, where this is not the case. In both “Bisclavet” and “Equitan,” the punishment of the wife and subsequent rehabilitation of the husband is the focus. What are the differences in the relationships in these four stories? What does this discrepancy suggest about Marie’s attitude toward love? Note the animal imagery in “Bisclavet.” Which character(s) act in a civilized or “courtly” manner? Which behave in fierce of bestial ways?
How might any of the stories correspond with or contradict Pope Innocent III’s depiction of humanity?

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