Aventure or grace: Lucky in Love in the Franklin's Tale?
The end of the Franklin's Tale is undoubtedly satisfactory to all the parties in the action. Everyone gains something, intangible though the gains of the warm inner glow may be: such rewards are, if less than anticipated, perhaps more than deserved. This general satisfaction has not extended to all readers of the tale. The capacity of the characters to experience and practise true love, Christian marriage, gentillesse, trouthe, self-control, and self-abnegation has been examined and explained in a large critical literature, and the challenge of the teasing final question has been exhaustively answered. Whether or not the tale was intended to address itself to such serious matters when it was written, the last eighty years of Chaucerian criticism have determined that it does so now; and once the proposition is assumed that the tale is seriously concerned with difficult issues of right conduct and divine guidance, the ending cannot but fail to resolve its complexity.