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"GUIGEMAR" Marie de France (late 12th century) Marie de France's first lai (lai) is about Guigemar, son of oridial, vassal of King Hoel of Bri-tanny. Guigemar is a typical courtly knight, but he does not display the customary interest in love that a knight should. While hunting, he tries to kill a white deer, but the arrow ricochets and ends up wounding him instead. The deer places a curse upon him to remain wounded until cured by a woman's love. The injured knight journeys to a remote land where an old king is married to a lovely woman whom he guards jealously. She treats Guigemar's wound, and the two end up falling in love and exchanging tokens (a knotted shirt and a chastity belt). However, the lady's husband discovers their clandestine affair and sends Guigemar away. Eventually the lady goes in search of him but ends up being taken captive by Lord Meriaduc. When Guigemar chances upon Lord Meriaduc's castle, he recognizes the lady by her possession of his love token. He then engages Meriaduc in battle and kills him. The lai concludes with Guige-mar being reunited with his beloved.
The lai contains a strong fairy-tale motif (the enchanted animal) and constitutes a type of story common in the medieval period: the unhappily married woman, usually of an older and possessive/jealous husband, who falls in love with a knight errant. The poem celebrates "true" love—based on the individuals' compatibility and emotional attachment—over duty. A number of scholars have seen this as indicative of the triumph of the individual heart over the dictates of society and the strictures of arranged marriages. others have examined the seemingly Celtic concepts of the story, attempting to contextualize Anglo-Norman society.
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