1. Marie identifies Equitan in line 9 as “a most courtly man.” Does the lai show him as being the master of (or subject to) the sort of discourse and beliefs expressed in the first two books of The Art of Courtly Love? See how many examples you can find. How does the story show this to be a good or bad thing? (Yes, the editors’ commentary has something to say about the second part of this question, but contribute your own ideas as well.) Find specific evidence in the text.
2. The editors’ commentary suggests that “Guigemar” and “Equitan” present contrasting views of adulterous lovers. Do your own comparison (and contrast).
3. How do the primary sources in the “Relations Between the Sexes” chapter of Speed’s book contribute to your understanding of the adulterous and marital relationships in “Guigemar” and “Equitan”? What about the “Order of the Palace” excerpts in “The Royal Court”?
4. Marie addresses her contemporaries (rather than us) in her “Prologue”: what might be some of the benefits of inviting the readers to “gloss the letter” (line 15)?
1. “Milun” and “Chaitivel” show us the daughters of barons (okay, I’m assuming that the “lady” in “Chaitivel” is the daughter of a baron since she is wealthy and lives in a castle) and their relationships with young knights, though the plots contrast in almost all other ways. One woman initiates a love affair, the other keeps herself at a distance from her suitors. Who acts better? How do the tales convey these evaluations to the readers? Are there aspects of their circumstances that may contribute to their different actions and attitudes?
2. Tournaments are pivotal to the plot’s development in “Milun” and in “Chaitivel.” What kinds of information do the tournaments reveal in each story? What aspects of tournaments make them function well to accomplish such revelations? In what ways do these tournaments resemble (or not) those described in Duby’s biography of William Marshall?
3. What do Marie’s lais show about how the marital system of the late twelfth century operates? Consider the roles of love, loyalty, property, and physical desire. You may draw your ideas from all of the assigned lais. What does “love” come to mean in the lais? How is love shaped by the social system of the culture?
4. Consider The Art of Courtly Love in light of Marie’s lais. How does one shed light on the other and the two together help illumine the twelfth century?