Advertisement

The gentil example : thematic parallels in Froissart’s Chroniques and Chaucer’s Franklin’s tale

chaucer franklinThe gentil example : thematic parallels in Froissart’s Chroniques and Chaucer’s Franklin’s tale

By Maureen Therese Mulligan

MA Thesis, University of Saskatchewan, 2007

Abstract: My project is founded on an inter-genre, comparative approach between Chaucer’s Franklin’s Tale from the Canterbury collection, and Jean Froissart’s Chroniques, the innovative and epic account of French history in the thirteenth century. I have adopted a method of thematic comparison between the two in an effort to illuminate parallels of example and authorial intent in the works of these almost exactly contemporaneous authors. My thesis therefore becomes a selective examination of the ethical functions of their literature.

Twentieth century scholarship focusing on the similarities between Geoffrey Chaucer and Jean Froissart has left little doubt that the two shared numerous sources and analogues in selections of their poetry, were at least aware of each other personally, and were born into similar social backgrounds. What remains to be done, and what has received little critical attention in the decades since serious work began on the similarities between them, is a study of the ideological values that Chaucer and Froissart shared specifically evidenced in their writing. The ideas they wanted to promote, the contemporary moral and social debates they engaged in, are equally as fascinating as the similarities in their love poetry. I intend to go beyond the biographical and source study that has dominated discussion on Chaucer and Froissart and embark on a project of tracing thematic parallels in two of their works, specifically focusing on the issue that I find most obvious between them: the desire to create and record literary discussions of ethical behaviour.

Twentieth century scholarship focusing on the similarities between Geoffrey Chaucer and Jean Froissart has left little doubt that the two shared numerous sources and analogues in selections of their poetry, were at least aware of each other personally, and were born into similar social backgrounds. Studies of their dream poetry, specifically by Haldeen Braddy, have produced rich comparisons between the two, and sparked subsequent discussions such as whether the literary influence was mutual, and which poetic influences the two had in common. So much is clear. What remains to be done, and what has received little critical attention in the decades since serious work began on the similarities between them, is a study of the ideological values that Chaucer and Froissart shared, specifically evidenced in their writing. The ideas they wanted to promote, the contemporary moral and social debates they engaged in, are equally as fascinating as the similarities in their love poetry. I intend to go beyond the biographical and source study that has dominated discussion on Chaucer and Froissart and embark on a project of tracing thematic parallels in two of their works, specifically focusing on the issue that I find most obvious between them: the desire to create and record literary discussions of ethical behaviour. My thesis therefore becomes a selective examination of the ethical functions of their literature. In short, I believe that adopting a thematic treatment of comparison between Chaucer’s Franklin’s Tale and Froissart’s Chroniques can illustrate, in a concise and manageable framework, some of their authors’ under-investigated commonalities.

Click here to read this thesis from the University of Saskatchewan

Sign up to get a Weekly Email from Medievalists.net

* indicates required

medievalverse magazine