The Franklin's Tale

Lauren Prince


The Franklin's tale is the Franklin's way to settle the marriage debate. It represents how he feels about marriage, that it should be based on mutual respect and enduring love. The tale is about a wife and her husband. The couple is dearly in love and makes promises to each other of eternal love and to treat each other well. The husband is a knight, and must leave for a long time. The wife is very upset by this since her love has gone away and spends many days crying and thinking of her husband without doing much. When her friends finally get her out she is bothered by the black rocks giving her more fear about her husband's safety and prays to God that he shall come back.

When going out with friends she is approached by Aurelius who confesses his love for her, but she tells him she is loyal to her husband and tells him that only if he can clear the coast of all the rocks that she will be with him. Aurelius knows this is impossible, but with the help of a magician who he promises a thousand pounds to he is able to create the illusion of all the rocks being gone. The wife says she will keep her promise but asks for some time where she debates suicide because she would rather die than be disloyal. During this time her husband returns and she confesses to him the promise she has made, and he tells her to keep her promise because he'd rather that than have her die. Aurelius lets the wife break her promise after hearing her husband let her go, and the magician lets Aurelius free of his debt because of his noble actions.


The Franklin has a white beard, lives pleasurably, is hospitable, and a Knight of the Shire. He believes complete pleasure is true and perfect happiness.

To understand the tale

A Franklin is a landowner of free, but not noble birth.

In the Filocolo, Giovanni Baccaccio tells a similar story of a loyal wife who makes a promise to a man that is an impossible task, but he completes. Then the husband lets her keep her promise and the man releases her.

Rocks symbolize stability, reliability, and not allowing one to be persuaded, enticed or deviated from principles or standards.

Black symbolizes cold or negative aspect suggesting passivity, ignorance, death, or evil.


Fyve Fadme: Five fathoms was around 30ft which gave plenty of clearance for virtually any ship.

Sovereignty: Supreme power or authority

Servitude: State of being a slave or completely subject to someone more powerful.

Penance: Voluntary self-punishment inflicted as an outward expression of repentance for having done wrong.

Languor: The state of feeling, often pleasant, of tiredness or inertia.

Essential Questions

At the end of the tale, the Franklin asks: which was the most generous, as it seems to you?

The questions I would like to consider are:

  • What are the ideals of marriage in the tale? Did the Knight and his wife truly have the ideal marriage?
  • Who lost the deal in the end?