The body speaks in The Franklin’s Tale
in Medieval literary voices
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Concentrating on v.1479–80, the point at which the knight Arveragus ‘brast anon to wepe’, this chapter offers a reading of The Franklin’s Tale that foregrounds the disruptive presence in that tale of the body as a conduit for truths about the self that challenge those that can be consciously tolerated and intelligibly uttered. When we weep, the body is speaking. Here, as it forces a sudden disruption and decline in Arveragus’s speech register and ethical focus, the voice of the body erupts in such a way as to crystallise one of the tale’s most urgent concerns with what might really constitute truth, unravelling what has gone before, putting the reader’s experience on a different footing and forcing a reappraisal of the characters’ self-concepts. And this, in turn, raises questions about the relationship between, on the one hand, the rhetoric and ideals explicitly at work within the world of the tale and, on the other, the felt presence not only of its teller, the Franklin, but also of its author, Chaucer.

Medieval literary voices

Embodiment, materiality and performance

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