His Tale is part of the "marriage debate" (the Wife of Bath's Tale, followed by the Clerk, then the Merchant and lastly the Franklin). These stories look at the idea of dominance in marriage ("maistrie"). The Wife of Bath's Tale concerns a totally dominant woman; the Clerk tells of a totally subservient woman; the Merchant of a deceitful woman and a cuckolded man and the Franklin's Tale presents a marriage of harmony and balance - an "ideal" relationship which is...
... middle of paper ...
...franchise and alle gentillesse". He releases her from her promise with a legal quitclaim and calls her "the treweste and the beste wyf that evere yet I knew in al my lyf"
His generosity is mirrored by the clerk (magician), who releases Aurelius from his debt of a thousand pounds for the illusion. The Tale ends very abruptly with a rhetorical question from the Franklin, concerning the nature of "franchise"
"Lordinges, this question, thanne, wole I ask now,
Which was the mooste fre, as thinketh yow?"
In this conclusion to the "marriage debate" Chaucer makes his case against courtly precept and social custom, as well as against the religious ideas expresses in medieval times. The case he makes establishes his own highly civilised and indeed Epicurean idea of "gentillesse" in general and in particular, in marriage.
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