4. 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?
5. 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?
6. Read the handout titled Sex before Sexuality and use at least three of the different types of love to describe love in Marie’s stories.
Guigemar’s unnamed lady represents a certain literary type: the ‘mal mariée’ or unhappily married wife who is mistreated by her husband.
This interdisciplinary, cultural perspective on the relation of courtly love and the representation of women in Marie de France's "Lais" puts the discourse of courtly love and its image of women in the "Lais" into a dialogue with the historical representation of women in the "Coutumes de Beauvaisis" in order to understand better the discursive space available for the representation of women. Despite of the valorization of women in the courtly love discourse, the space to speak of women is very similar and very limited in both the "Lais" and the "Coutumes." Marie de France nonetheless leverages this limited space to authorize her own poetic production.