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Comparison Of Honor Essay

1982 words - 8 pages

A Comparison of Honor The Middle Ages were a time when honor was considered the most important things one could possess in their lives. Honor was the cornerstone for everything that was good about medieval society and people would do anything to protect what honor they had. The three poems The Franklin's Tale, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and Sir Orfeo all have honor as a central theme in the stories they tell us. Honor is portrayed in different ways as it is shown in each of these poems. The theme of honor is shown to be held higher than anything else in The Franklin's Tale, while in Sir Orfeo his love for his wife seems to push honor aside. The honor that is seen in Sir Gawain and the ...view middle of the document...

Arveragus and Dorigen being very high up on the social class system, had to keep their social image free from any dishonorable events in order to keep there good name. If the word got out that Dorigen made this deal her good name would be ruined and she would most likely fall from her high social position. Arveragus almost seemed more concern with their public image saying "I forbid you, on pain of death, ever, while life or breath lasts, to tell anyone of this misadventure"(753). This shows that, above all, what the public thought of their image was most important. Arveragus, being a knight, could not have a wife that made pledges to other men, especially ones that involved her being with that other man. A knight was supposed to have control over everything in his life including his wife. In theory, a knight's wife would almost be a servant of the husband and a wife should never be as promiscuous as Dorigen was in making the pledge to Aurelius.On the other side of this issue is the poem of Sir Orfeo. In this story love, unlike that in The Franklin's Tale, was put above everything including honor. Orfeo can not live without his wife so he decides to go into the woods where he will die. "For now that I have lost my queen, /… Into the wilderness I will flee, / and there live for evermore"(209). This act shows that he is so upset about his wife that he will give up the life of a king and take that of a beggar. Orfeo shows how much he really cared for his wife by taking a solitary life of a beggar. During the Middle Ages status was very important and many people would have done something like Arveragus did to protect their honor. Giving up the position of being a king is a very public occurrence and shows that Orfeo didn't care about his public image or his good name, all he cared about was being with his wife. Before Orfeo's wife was taken by the fairy king, he had himself and his whole army out to protect his queen. Orfeo was going to do everything it took, this includes dying, to ensure that the love of his life would be there with him forever.Honor and love are very important in each of the three poems. The ways that love is treated in each of the poems is different. In The Franklin's Tale love is second to honor, nothing could make these people give up their good name in the public eye. In Sir Orfeo, love is all that matters and honor doesn't seem to even be a big part in the poem except for at the end when Orfeo tests his steward. "King Orfeo now had proved and knew/ his steward was both loyal and true, / and loved him as duly should"(553). This shows that although the king did put love before honor, he still felt that honor was very important. Orfeo felt that it was important enough to tell people that the king was dead just to see their reactions. In this story it seems as if being honored is more important than having people think that you're an honorable man. Orfeo didn't care what people thought as he left for the forest but on his...

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