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Maria de France "Eliduc" is an interesting story written by Marie de France. Actually, the story mainly focuses on Eliduc, the knight, who was falsely accused and driven out from his homeland. The knight had to part ways with his legal wife, Guildeluec went to serve an old England king. During this period of service in England, Eliduc fell madly in love with the youngest daughter of the king named Guilliadun. Apparently, Eliduc is portrayed as a virtuous and noble character in Maria de France's story. The long-established chivalry conduct codes were broken the moment Eliduc fell deeply in love with Guilliadun.
Basically, Eliduc is a moral and courageous character. However, Eliduc's ethics were corrupted when he demonstrated his affection for Guilliadun selfishly and used unethical methods to conquer his adversaries at war. Furthermore, the misdeeds of the young knight could only be cleansed by the self-sacrificing love of Guildeluec towards him. Eventually, avaricious persons aroused offensive slanders within the court of the king. With an uncertain atmosphere hanging around, the king of Brittany assumed that the insults were true. As a result, the relationship between Eliduc and the king tarnished. Subsequently, the noble Eliduc begged for his innocence with defiance. By displaying his courtesy and faithfulness to the king of Brittany, the respectable knight expelled himself from the kingdom. Guildeluec, the knight's wife was a better woman as compared to his mistress because she is faithful to her husband and comes from an influential and excellent family.
It was quite obvious that Eliduc's love for Guildeluec was honourable but this love was a dignified pledge in love affair, prepared by certain rules of apriority. Although bonded by courtly love, Eliduc's dedication to her was supposed to be upheld by devotion and righteousness. In reciprocation of this love, Guildeluec illustrated her respect and faithfulness to her husband. With such a knightly romance, it's a common understanding that Eliduc had to run off from the kingdom, as it was bonded with love and trust. From a personal point of view, Eliduc left behind his morals and ethics when he left Brittany. By offering his help, Eliduc assisted the old king by getting the better of his adversaries in an unethical manner. Eliduc organized and planned unconventional schemes against the enemies of the old king: Actually, they hid and waited for the adversary to return from their invasion.
The traditional chivalry codes were broken and fell apart when Eliduc executed the ambush since he deceived the enemy and didn't play it fair. Eliduc's wife was very patient with him even at the times when he lost his morals and ethics following the planned attacks. On the other hand, Guilliadun was young and naÃ¯ve, and only wanted to have her way considering her position as the king's daughter. Apparently, Guilliadun became attracted and interested in Eliduc after hearing of his splendid actions. Moreover, Guilliadun made all the advances regarding the relationship whereas Eliduc acted according to his own selfish desires and accepted Guilliadun's affection. By doing so, the knight betrayed the trust of his wife Guildeluec and Guilliadun didn't care about it either. Thus, Guilliadun is portrayed as a very selfish and immoral woman because she opted to have an affair with a man who was already committed to someone else without caring about his wife. Worst of all, she used her position as the old king's daughter to her own advantage even though it didn't favour Eliduc's wife.
The princess's longings and desires had blinded her and led her across the line between immorality and morality. Blinded by her love for the knight, the princess let him get away with unrighteous and shameless acts. For instance, "Eliduc was furious, stood up, rushed at the sailor, and struck him with the oar so that he knocked him out flat. / Then with his foot he pushed him away overboard and the ways bore his body away." (Marie de France 122). The knight is no longer noble and pure as it was depicted initially. Furthermore, his respect and honor had been tarnished by the bad deeds he had committed.
As a result of his selfish nature and love for Guilliadun, Eliduc's world came to an end. Noticeable within sight, Eliduc's wife, Guildeluec was in a position to recognize the devious behavior of her husband. Guildeluec seems to be a responsible and reasonable woman as compared to Guilliadun. In the same line of thought, Guildeluec is an extremely patient and persevering woman considering that her love for her husband remains strong even though he doesn't appreciate her but instead grieves because he would not be able to see Guilliadun again. Eliduc had changed to someone completely different from the man Guildeluec had married several years back. As a consequent of his highly secretive nature, Guildeluec became very depressed because she did not have any idea the reasons behind it.
Though the story revolves around Eliduc, Guildeluec's husband and the three different roles played by Guildeluec make the story unique. The first role that Guildeluec played was that of a supportive wife. The idea that the role of a woman in life was to take care of her husband and it's the one Eliduc's wife plays perfectly. Guildeluec also played the role of a feminist and this is clearly demonstrated by the conscious act of choosing herself over her husband. Apparently, after Eliduc's wife heroically asks him for a divorce, she decides to be a nun so as to serve God "Then she established her way of life and the rules of the order" (Marie de France 125). Or possibly, this is just a good example of a woman who is med-evil supporting her man. Also, Guildeluec's heroin nature is portrayed when she saves her lord mistress. Her loyalty and faithfulness to Eliduc is seen when she laments to herself and frequently asks him whether he had heard any gossips implying that she had misbehaved while away "for she would willingly defend herself in front of his people". (Marie de France 120).
In accordance with Maria de France, Guildeluec was a strong woman considering that she survived well after being separated from her husband and also remained loyal to him. She says that she doesn't need a man to be happy and let's go of her husband without any grudge. As if that was not enough, she refuses to stand on the way of true love and divorces her husband so that he could be with the one he loves. The same woman she had saved before becomes her husband's mistress and she lets them be. Her endless kindness and mercy is well seen after she saves Guilliadun and accepts that she is the one her husband loves "This is my husbands beloved who he laments so," (Marie de France 124). On the contrary, Guilliadun is a very inconsiderate and unreasonable person since she goes ahead and snatches the husband of a woman who saved her life. Unquestionably, Guilliadun is not sensitive at all and has no conscience. If anyone was to let go of Eliduc was her but then she chooses to cling on him.
In line with Maria de France, the two women Guilliadun and Guildeluec involved with the knight turn their emotional misery inward when they discovered the existence of each other. Eliduc's wife turns to religion while his mistress shuts herself into a long sleep. Nevertheless, Guilliadun's love for Eliduc is real and sincere because she betrays her people and her father for his sake. After all, she suffers seriously following the loss of her beloved. If Guildeluec had reacted in a different manner in regard to the affair, the three would have died sinners. Guildeluec was a very faithful, forgiving, and noble woman and thus demonstrated beyond any reasonable doubt the loyalty of love. Even though Guilliadun did know that Eliduc is married at first, she ought to have broken up with him after the sailor informed her. Furthermore, it's questionable that she easily agreed to date Eliduc without investigating whether he was married or not. Actually, it could have been much easier for her to do so since she was a princess and only needed to order one of her chamberlain to investigate on her behalf.
Beyond and above, Guilliadun is not brave and bold because after discovering that her boyfriend has constantly hidden his marriage from her she collapses instead of confronting him. Guilliadun could have been in a better position to defend the sailor from Eliduc's wrath if she had not fainted. On the other hand, she may be considered as emotionally weak based on her reaction toward this shocking information. Remarkably, Guilliadun ends up joining the same convent as Guildeluec after getting married to Eliduc and living together for several years. This shows her lack of conscience because after all that she has done to cause Guildeluec distress, Guilliadun should have moved far a way to avoid further grief brought by painful memories. Nonetheless, Guildeluec is an amazing woman with a heart of gold. When her husband brings home his supposed dead mistress, she instantly takes notice of his unhappiness and she is quite bothered by the situation regardless of all the suffering he's put her through. Guildeluec realizes that Guilliadun's body has been taken to the chapel and she quickly heads there with intentions of helping. She uses the weasel's mate flower to revive Guilliadun after which she explains to her how much Eliduc loves her and chooses to let them get married. "Fair one,' the lady replied, 'nothing on earth could make him joyful, you may be assured of that," (Marie de France 125). Guilliadun may not be considered as a bad woman because she realized Eliduc was married when she was already involved with him. But the move she makes after discovering this is what makes her inconsiderate and insensitive. She sincerely loved Eliduc and even ran away from her family to be with him in the woods but the man was already committed to someone else and this alone was a good reason to let go of him. Therefore, it may be said that Guildeluec is a better woman than Guilliadun.
Robert, Hanning & Joan, Ferrante. The Lais Of Marie de France. London: Penguin Books, 1986.