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27 March, 2020
Thesis Statement: In Marie de France's Lais, the motif of the bird is used as a figure of her
The use of human-animal transformations in the Lais of Marie de France arises from
an oral-storytelling tradition in which animals were linked to certain human behaviors or
characteristics. Crowing roosters, singing birds, hunting dogs, and assorted horses appear in
Marie's Lais to position action in an environment known to a courtly public. Birds,
specifically, emerge in 27 fables out the 102 (Bruckner 158). Marie not only uses this animal
to amuse and engage us but also to make us curious. Why did Marie choose such creatures?
Why did Marie choose such bird figures for her laws? How did the birds associate with
The collection of birds in the Fables comprises hen, jay, sparrows, seagull, owl,
jackdaw, titmouse, cuckoo, nightingale, peacock, hawk, dove, swallow, raven, crow, eagle,
crane, kite, and cock. Even though the aviary included does not include exotic animals such
as dragons and lions as seen in other fables, it does offer an idea of the known nature of a
majority of the animals included in the fable's forests, clearings, ponds, yards, and barn-yards.
There arises an argument regarding Marie's placement of the last and first fables,
increasing the outside frame of epilogue and prologue with a narrative combination that
appropriately frames everything by fabling on the kind of the fables. A hen that continues
searching for food even if its mistress offers a full daily ration perfectly mirrors a rooster on
his dung heap looking for food and instead discovers a gem. Collectively, they form two
issues that define Marie's use of birds in her collection (Glyn 245). One concern arises from
the combination of epimythium and narrative when performing birds reflect instances of
human hierarchies and social world. The other issue stems from the continuous slippage
between the human and the bird.
In Milun and Laustic, there contains a range of experiences which include, the brief
moment in time of the other, the fuller story of one, the sorrowful ending of the other, the
joyous ending for one, the barrenness of another, and the fruitfulness of one woman. In spite
of the disparities, there are also key similarities between the two. Both portray the use of
birds, the Laustic’s nightingale and Milun’s swan, as messengers, that comfort and reinforce
the lovers in a setting that is unreceptive to their affection, and the dilemma of the married
woman who falls in love with someone else other than her husband. Marie is keen not to alter
the natural purpose of the aviary, but to employ their natural environment to develop the
bonds. In the two lais, she makes use of the birds that comprise a variety of symbolic
connections from which she can gather to make the image more textured and richer.
In Marie's Lais, Laustic is possibly the most anthologized, to a great extent due to its
brevity and denseness. Marie uses only160 lines to create a small gem, filled with intensity
and meaning. The two lover's story is famous. Even though there is a garden dividing the two
houses, the two lovers cannot meet there since the woman is the wife of a cruel, jealous man.
They only stare at each other and communicate from...