The Complexity of Ethics in Marie de France's "Bisclavaret"

Categories: Marriage

Marie de France's medieval tale, "Bisclavaret," explores the intricate dynamics of ethics and the consequences of withheld information within a marital relationship. The story revolves around a wife who employs an ethical framework to protect herself when her husband, unbeknownst to her, transforms into a monstrous creature. This essay delves into the emotional and logical aspects of the narrative, examining the wife's motivations and the potential harm that lurks beneath the surface.

Introduction: Unveiling the Ethical Dilemma

In "Bisclavaret," the wife grapples with the challenge of preserving her own safety while navigating the emotional turmoil of her husband's hidden identity.

The narrative unfolds with the wife's ethical decision to distance herself from her monstrous spouse, a choice driven by a desire for self-preservation rather than betrayal. This essay explores the pathos and logos embedded in the tale, shedding light on the complexities of love, trust, and ethical considerations.

Pathos: Unveiling the Depths of Love

The emotional aspect of the narrative is evident through the wife's deep concern for her husband's well-being.

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Her genuine love is expressed when she voices her worries, saying, "Husband, right long and wearisome are the days that you spend away from your home." Her heartache at the thought of harm befalling him demonstrates the profound emotional connection they share. Her plea for information is not driven by mistrust but rather by a genuine desire to ensure his safety, revealing the emotional complexity inherent in the ethical choices she makes.

Logos: Deciphering the Rationality Behind Ethical Choices

Examining the logical dimension of the tale, it becomes evident that the wife's actions are motivated by a quest for self-preservation.

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The husband's secretive nature, transforming into a monster and venturing into the forest for three days each week, poses a threat that goes beyond the ordinary challenges of marital life. The beastly nature of Bisclavaret, as demonstrated by its unprovoked attacks on others, including the king and a previous wife, underscores the potential danger the wife faces. Her decision to keep him at bay is not a betrayal but a calculated move to protect herself from harm that could have been inflicted if the beast lost control in her presence.

Conclusion: Navigating the Ethical Labyrinth

In conclusion, Marie de France's "Bisclavaret" unveils a complex web of ethical considerations within the confines of a marital relationship. The wife's decision to distance herself is a nuanced response to the challenges posed by her husband's monstrous alter ego. The interplay of pathos and logos highlights the depth of emotions and the rationality behind her actions. This tale serves as a timeless exploration of the intricacies involved in balancing love, trust, and self-preservation within the framework of ethical decision-making.

Updated: Dec 29, 2023
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The Complexity of Ethics in Marie de France's "Bisclavaret". (2016, Dec 08). Retrieved from

The Complexity of Ethics in Marie de France's "Bisclavaret" essay
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