2: Renard

PART TWO: RENARD THE FOX


Week 5: 30 January – 3 February

Tuesday 31/01:
❊ READING FOR TODAY: none
❊ lecture: introduction, Renard in the Western European tradition, and commentated reading of Renard (1): 25-65
Thursday 02/02:
❊ READING FOR TODAY: Renard (2): 65-93
Important passages:
justice and judgement, 68 (398) – 74 (610), 79 (780) – 83 (948)
plotting: 84 (979) – 90 (1184), 92 (1247)  – 93 (1272)

❊ BLOG WRITING FOR TODAY: weekly commentary (4)
❊ lecture: commentated reading
❊ discussion

Week 6: 6-10 February

Tuesday 07/02:
❊ READING FOR TODAY: Renard (3): 94-140
❊ lecture: commentated reading + 140-end and an overview of what happens in the other branches of the Romance of Renard

7 Responses to 2: Renard

  1. Julia McInnis says:

    The author of “Renard the Fox” seems to write from a moral perspective. Throughout Branches II, Va, and I, it appears that the author disapproves of Renard’s shenanigans and hopes that others will escape the evil traps Renard sets for them. In other words, just because Renard is the protagonist does not mean the author is on his side. For example, on page 46, lines 742 – 746, Renard is described as an “offspring of the devil”, and Tibert noticing the trap is “by good luck”. The author makes known his or her feelings about Renard. This is also accomplished by ensuring that most of the animals escape from Renard’s traps.
    However, in Branch VIII when Renard is reformed and no longer intends to do evil, the author then takes Renard’s side. Ysengrin the wolf, who was an important character in the rest of the book, gets killed off fairly easily, even though he was previously tough to beat. Renard and his companions are seemingly innocent, the would-be victims of Hersent and Ysengrin’s anger.

    On another note, Renard is an interesting character, and possibly represents psychopaths. He shares many features with human psychopaths, such as superficial charm (eg: when speaking to his victims, the King), no real sense of guilt or remorse, a superficial sense of grandiosity, and he inflicts pain on others simply because he enjoys it or to make a point(eg: raping Hersent). Like human psychopaths, he settles down as he ages because he is no longer physically capable of committing such crimes. On page 141, lines 16-20, “Now he felt too tired to rush. ‘Alas! There is no need anymore/ For me to sin as I did before,’/ He said. “When I could count on my speed,/ I was known for many an evil deed.'” In general, I find “Renard the Fox” an interesting commentary on human psychopathy.

  2. Robert Simpson says:

    Much of the outstanding elements or inclusions in the literature seem to be of great importance and focus at certain times, and at other times quite the opposite.

    The example I wish to draw from this is the instance of Hersent’s rape; during what should only be considered an attempted trial of Renard for his crimes, Hersent is not only given time during court to state her case, but is forced to answer to accusations herself. As if there wasn’t enough to discuss regarding this matter (the socio-political implications of agency/subversion, as well as agency/nobility), it is more intriguing that Renard’s family seems not care two figs (sorry) that he admittedly raped another woman of nobility and “pissed on her children” – almost a direct quote. Why was this never addressed? At first I thought that its seeming irrelevance to the actual story line made it eligible for omission. Now, as our discussions seem to revolve solely around character development and the sense of didactic purposefulness of the author through his writings, I must ask for clarification as to why medieval authors tend to avoid certain potholes in plots that would complicate certain areas of character development – so anyone feel free to pipe in.

  3. Brianna Braun says:

    For the Trail of Renard, I didn’t quite understand why Noble easily dismissed the case “Forget about it, Ysengrin – the only thing that you can win is more dishonour to your name…this woe you bring to our attention, doesn’t deserve the slightest mention” (95: 45-47, 53-54). Why should Ysengrin forget about what happened so quickly? I’m sure anyone would be angered and revengeful if their enemy raped their wife and pissed/beat their children. Is Nobel taking sides here even though he’s supposed to be the ‘justice’ system? I think that this DOES deserve attention; if it didn’t anyone could do anything they wanted. I didn’t really understand Nobel’s intentions here with letting Renard get away with it. I have to also agree with Robert, how it’s interesting that Renard’s family had nothing to say about him defiling someone other than his wife. It also made me wonder why the badger, Grinbert, turned it around on Hersent “However I think Madame Hersent is very far from innocent” (97: 125-126). I don’t think it’s fair that this all turned about on her, when she was the victim of a horrendous crime. Is he just a ‘yes man’ for Nobel, always taking his side without much thought to the other?

    As for Renard’s pilgrimage, I was surprised at how he wanted to repent his sins and be forgiven, “And pray that God omnipotent will forgive me for all that I’ve done wrong. I feel ashamed to have lived so long!” (142: 52-54). Why does this sudden change of heart and realization of guilt come over him, when he’s done heinous things before without feeling guilty? I also noted the priest’s response when he saw Renard, “Nomine Mary! God be praised! Renard, I am really amazed” (144: 99-100) and the reason why this surprised me was because the page before, the peasant said “Renard, you’ve always been a liar, a master of deceit and guile. You think I’m a fool! This is just your style” (143: 78-81) which makes it seem like everyone should know about his follies. But I guess that priest’s can’t judge and are there for the reason to repent sins.

  4. Tiffany says:

    I do not think that Renard deserves forgiveness, let alone opportunity for repentance. The King’s trial raised a question for me: by what laws do the beasts follow? If they adhered to laws for ‘survival of the fittest,’ then perhaps the deceitful Renard can escape unscathed, for he was only snatching hens to satisfy his and his family’s hunger; he was only raping Hersent to spread his seed (if that is even possible between species… ANYWAY); he was only trapping and harming his foes to protect himself in case of future predatory attacks (Wolves, Bears). However, this Romance attributes human language/practices/ideas/values to animals, and if we assume that they can then be ‘judged’ on the basis of a human justice system, then there is absolutely no way that Renard can be forgiven. For example, in the aforementioned cases of theft and rape, there was no consideration of who the hens/Hersent belonged to. In a truly human trial, I am sure that would be taken into consideration – in fact, it would probably be the reason for the trial! Somehow, Renard always gets the slip, and that could be because these characters are Animals no matter what they say or do or think. Actually, I have to actively remind myself every couple pages that these-animals-are-NOT-human! This romance is tricky (like a Fox?!) in that way, and I think that the interplay between Animal-Human is what makes it interesting to me.

    One more thing that I look forward to discussing in class: the ending.
    My opinion in advance: it was disappointing.
    My thoughts on this work as a whole: entertaining!

  5. Manu G says:

    in Renard we see the true face of the popular literary character known as the antihero. Despite all of the character actions, which at best can be viewed as selfish and at worst down right evil and Machiavellian which at face value one would believe the reader would despise and thrive for the characters punishment, however in renard with his sly and cunning nature the reader begins to sympathies and in the end cheer for the constant and unbelievable success of this character. This stems to speech of a greater humanist view that even in the most evil of actions we seek to humanize and understand the perpetrator and if we are able to justify the action of the evil then we are able to live with the idea that evil truly doesn’t exist, as for ever evil action there is a justifiably reasoning underlying it and never is there an action which is done for the pure nature of evil intentions and self advancement through the subjugation of ones peers.

  6. Jennifer Wu says:

    A few things caught my attention:

    Did Tibert bite off one of the priest’s…*ahem* BALLS???? The dark humour amused and surprised me…like how he was left with one “bell”

    I just noticed the animals are riding horses…

    The continued reference to religion showed how important it was in the time period, and both Renard and ROTR seems to point criticism towards hypocritical clergy… priests with concubines, and mention of Cluniacs (who were criticized for breaking vows of poverty), and so on.

  7. Alastair says:

    I feel like overall Renard is not purely malicious, he is just utterly selfish and has no control over his vices. He is pretty much incapable of thinking ahead, or even calculating what will happen after the most immediate effects of his actions. When the King sends Bruin and Tibert to try to summon Renard, he sees that if he gets them trapped and injured then he wont have to go to court with them. Does he not figure that the King will get even madder, and send even more people to bring him to court?

    I think this is one of Renard’s most “animal” traits. He lives almost exclusively in the moment, and doesn’t seem to be able to plan out how to deal with the consequences he incurs. If he were a human, I would say that he has obsessive compulsive or Oppositional defiant disorder.

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