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Lanval, was written by
Marie de France back during the twelfth-century. In her lay,
“Lanval,” Marie de France explores the theme of love through an
isolated, idealized world where traditional gender roles are both
challenged and reversed. She tells a story about a man by the name of Lanval who
served as a knight for the great King Arthur. Throughout the story as we read Lanval was a gracious
knight who showed a lot of courage; however he didn’t have much. King Arthur didn’t really show much
gratitude towards him as well. One day the King gave every one of his fellow knights
a gift. Everyone besides Lanval of course, and that sparked a
fuse in his head. This caused Lanval to end up leaving and wandering off
where he finds these females. Who leads him to meet his soon to be lover. She then tells him
that he can’t tell anyone about them and their love should be kept
a secret or she would have to leave him. One day he returned and the Queen started questioning
him about his love life but he tells her that he has already found someone that
he loves. She would then try to charge him with treason and
tells him if his lover doesn’t show up to court to prove his innocence then he will
be banished. Eventually his lover would show up declaring her love
for Lanval, thus saving him from being banished. “If he can be
acquitted through me, let him be set free by your barons”. (Norton 623-624)
Lanval is then set free leaving him and his lover to live happily ever after. Marie de France
doesn’t use the stereotypical, the man is the hero, the male comes to save the day, however she
reverses the roles of the two. His lover is the hero as she comes to save the day for
Lanval who is on the verge of getting banished. It also goes to show that even though his lover told
him to never tell anyone about their relationship she is admired or idealized
for her courage to go to the court and confess just to set her lover free. That was just a
brief introduction of the story, next I am going to talk a little about Marie de France.

          According
to some sources, Marie de France was a part of the Anglo-Saxon
culture, which was in the 12th century. Marie de France which means “Mary of
France” was a very prominent poet who had her own style (New World).
She was born in France and lived majority of her life in England which is where
she wrote her poetry. We believed this to be case because her poems and works
were written in a language and that was in the northern region of England.
Although there isn’t much known about Marie, she is
possibly the half-sister of Henry the second and daughter of Geoffrey IV (Bloch). She
wrote poetry mostly about romance that included mystic and valor. It is
thought that we know very little about her because her writings are believed to
be secret fantasies of romance and wealth. Secret fantasies because it’s highly possible
that she was nun in England. She had her own unique way of writing and didn’t
follow all the rules. The length in her poems were fairly shorter than others
and nor did all of them follow the same rhyme pattern throughout the poems.

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Next I am going to go deep into how gender roles played
an important part in this story. The basic definition of gender roles is a set of
societal norms that dictate the types of behaviors which are generally
considered acceptable, appropriate, or desirable for people based on their actual sex (dictionary). There are four
types of gender stereotypes. The first one is personality traits, this is simplified
as women are expected to be more emotional while the men are more aggressive or
forceful (Vangrove). Another one is called domestic behaviors (Vangrove). In this type of
stereotype they use the old methods that we all know of and that is how the
women is in control of the kids, they prepare the food,
and take care of the house. While in other
areas the men are considered the working type. They are expected to work to pay off finances and also
take care of the exterior side of the home. The third type of stereotype is occupations (Vangrove). In this type, women are expected
to be more liable as teachers and nurses, where men are given the roles of being a doctor or
other jobs. Finally the last type is the physical appearance of
someone (Vangrove). Men are considered to have more muscle built than
females. Women are also portrayed to where dresses and skirts
while men where the working pants (Parenthood). In the story Lanval, Lanval is portrayed as the female character because he
is the one who is in a down stage in his life. He isn’t as aggressive as the other knights, he also isn’t
treated fairly as the other knights. He gets emotional and runs away where he finds love at
first sight. Which are traits that is portrayed a female would have. Men are
stereotypically the primary ones to tell a female to keep a secret but in this
story it was the other way around. Women weren’t known to own their own kinds of property, but the Fairy
Queen in this story had owned her very own tent.
Just like the stereotypical woman
being beautiful, the fairy was very beautiful but also powerful, as a man would be
considered to be. Men are placed in a role where they are dominant and
show that they have control in a relationship. Marie de France reverses this stereotype by giving the
fairy dominance. She makes him follow her commands and he knows if he
doesn’t
comprehend then she will leave him. She tells Lanval not to tell anyone about their secret
affair, but that is shorty ruined when the Queen asks Lanval
about his love life. When he needed her to come she didn’t come, that was to show Lanval
her complete control over him. I feel that in reality if a man needs comfort from his
woman and she chooses to not comfort him in his time of need, he will leave her. Lanval is
portrayed as the damsel in distress when he is in court with King Arthur. He figured he
would end up getting banished, however a queen in shining armor is portrayed in this. The Fairy Queen
rides on a horse to save Lanval from being punished. In reality we
assume that it would be the other way around with the Knight saving the
princess or queen. Another thing is that, in the story it tells us that a women basically stood
up to a full court. In no other sense would a woman have the guts enough
to stand up in front of a judge or a King at the matter and the rest of his
court to demand the freedom for someone.
After Lanval is set free from the
court he then hops on the horse behind the Fairy Queen and rides away. Marie de France
really acted as though Lanval was a princess being saved by Prince Charming or
somebody by doing this.

The ladies that Marie de France makes the female
stereotype appear with their excellent bodies and sex claim. Just when their
cleverness has gotten under way does it wind up plainly clear that they are not
the quiet hearted submissive trophies that most men in stories would take home
to show off. They utilize their looks and their lack of clothing to
occupy men in high places and influence those men to their desires. They likewise show
their intense talking aptitudes while tending to the court and guarding Lanval, the story’s new-age damsel in
distress. Also their bodies have complete control over men and
it’s amazing because most ladies of the time couldn’t be so strong with
their male partners. Their way of talking to the King and holding Lanval
under tight restraints might be the extension to lighting up the basic picture for
ladies all over the place.

As stated before Lanval was a Knight for King Arthur.  Not just a regular knight, but one who had
many amazing qualities that other knights envied. Not only was he physically talented but he was one who
definitely had an appearance that attracted many. His courage was almost indescribable, but unfortunately Lanval
was never real praised or recognized for this abilities, bravery, and loyalty. His loneliness in
the unwanted place soon causes his to wander and come upon a stream. At this stream his
horse seems a little frightened and they end up taking a break, not too long after
he sees two ladies coming towards the stream with items in their hand. As they approach
the stream they tell Lanval that they are there to bring him to their mistress
who was in a tent not far from their location. As he comes to the tents he admires how beautiful it
was,
he describes it as finely adorn and his emperor’s back home could not even afford the right side of the
tent.
Astonished by the beauty of the tent, the women inside was just the icing on the cake for
Lanval. He falls in love with her beauty at first sight, he then promises
to do anything for her as she promises to make him a happy man. He is granted food
water and living space all in promise that he will keep their love a secret. After spending
much time together she tells Lanval his stay has come to an end and he must
leave.
He leaves and goes home that night almost doubting the beautiful ladies
existence. As he comes home he sees men around dressed as nice as
he then began to live a new type of life, a more generous life.

In conclusion I have gave a brief summary of Marie de
France’s story Lanval. I also talked a little about who Marie de France was and
her background history. Also I talked about her unique style of writing. I then
went into talking about the different types of gender roles in society, as well as how
they play a part in both the story Lanval and in reality. Following the
gender roles topic I discussed how Marie de France viewed women and how she
uses her views in the context. After that I went on and talked about Lanval and how
he was treated. I I discussed how he found love and happiness. I found
this story very interesting and I really liked how the author switched the gender
roles of males and females.

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