Story 21

November 21, 2020

A new day begins! Be sure to read Mary McKinley’s introduction to the third day of tales! As she points out, as our storytellers gather in Oisille’s room for their daily Bible study, they are so taken by the lesson that they don’t hear the bell for mass, just as the monks missed the bell for vespers the previous evening when they were listening to Saffredent’s tale. The two groups have exchanged roles, in a way.

Marguerite de Navarre shows us in the prologue to this day that, even though our narrators are supposed to be men and women who are not “of letters” and are simply relating incidents they have witnessed or heard, they take their task seriously and want to craft good tales. After they attend mass and have a meal, she tells us, they “[retire] to their rooms to consult their notes until it [is] time to go out to the meadow.”

In the first tale of the third day, Parlamente tells the story of Rolandine, a plain-looking young woman who, neglected by her father and despised by the queen (presumably Anne de Bretagne), remains unmarried as she nears the age of thirty despite her great virtue and chastity. She eventually falls in love with the illegitimate son of a noble family (he, too, is “ill-endowed with good looks”), and, despite numerous obstacles, the two secretly marry, although they do not consummate the marriage. Rolandine speaks eloquently to the queen of their right to be together and remains constant to her husband even when her father locks her in a castle in the forest, but her husband’s love for her finally diminishes and he pursues a wealthy German woman. Rolandine’s constancy is rewarded in the end, though, for after her husband’s death, her father regrets his treatment of her and allows her to marry a gentleman with whom, after a few more obstacles, she lives happily ever after in a large house where the two love each other dearly and raise two sons.  

One thought on “Story 21

  • I really enjoy how Marguerite takes a real-life story and is able to craft a detailed and lengthy female-centered narrative, portraying here a sensitive and strong Rolandine who is as lucid, articulate, and eloquent as she is devoted, loving, and loyal. The reference to God’s law is a reminder of descriptions of Joan of Arc, and her enduring love in separation an allusion to Heroët’s Parfaite Amye. Rolandine ‘s amazing speech is effectively anchored in a revealing unequal social context of class, economic, and cultural power structure. A very serious novella, followed by a bit of irony in how Parlemente, Longarine, and Oisille respond to Gueburon and Hircan’s bad faith refusal to concede the existence of moral constancy in women.

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