The Lais of Marie de France

by

Marie de France

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on The Lais of Marie de France can help.
Guigemar, a brave Breton knight, is the protagonist of Marie’s first lay. When Guigemar comes of age, he sets off for Flanders to win fame, and no other knight can equal him in skill or courage. Despite his renown, however, he also gains a reputation for his indifference to romance; because of this, everyone thinks there’s something wrong with him. But one day, while hunting, he shoots a hind in the forest. He gets injured in the process, and the magical animal utters a curse that Guigemar won’t heal until he falls in love with a woman, and until Guigemar and the woman suffer for each other. Then, Guigemar wanders aboard an enchanted ship that conveys him to an ancient city, where he falls in love with a beautiful young lady, an elderly lord’s wife, who offers to shelter him and nurse him back to health. After she reciprocates his feelings, they live together for a blissful year and a half. They also exchange love tokens as pledges of faithfulness to each other (a knotted shirt and a belt that only the two of them are able to undo). But after the elderly lord discovers them, Guigemar is forced to sail back to Brittany. Eventually, he finds the lady again at his friend Meriaduc’s castle, and they confirm each other’s identities using the love tokens. After laying siege to Meriaduc’s castle and killing him to win the lady for himself, Guigemar happily takes her away with him for good.

Guigemar Quotes in The Lais of Marie de France

The The Lais of Marie de France quotes below are all either spoken by Guigemar or refer to Guigemar. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Love and Suffering Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin edition of The Lais of Marie de France published in 1986.
I. Guigemar Quotes

The animal, wounded and in great pain, lamented in these words: ‘Alas! I am mortally wounded. Vassal, you who have wounded me, let this be your fate. May you never find a cure, nor may any herb, root, doctor or potion ever heal the wound you have in your thigh until you are cured by a woman who will suffer for your love more pain and anguish than any other woman has ever known, and you will suffer likewise for her, so much so that all those who are in love, who have known love or are yet to experience it, will marvel at it.

Related Characters: Guigemar
Related Symbols: Animals
Page Number: 44
Explanation and Analysis:

But love had now pierced him to the quick and his heart was greatly disturbed. For the lady had wounded him so deeply that he had completely forgotten his homeland. He felt no pain from the wound in his thigh, yet he sighed in great anguish and asked the maiden serving him to let him sleep. As he had dismissed her, she returned to her mistress, who was, like Guigemar, affected by the ardour which had kindled within her heart.

Related Symbols: Animals
Page Number: 48
Explanation and Analysis:

Guigemar besieged the town and would not leave until it was captured. His friends and followers increased in number so much that he starved all those inside. He captured and destroyed the castle and killed the lord within. With great joy he took away his beloved. Now his tribulations were over.

Page Number: 54
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Lais of Marie de France LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Lais of Marie de France PDF

Guigemar Character Timeline in The Lais of Marie de France

The timeline below shows where the character Guigemar appears in The Lais of Marie de France. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
I. Guigemar
Gender Roles and Class Status Theme Icon
...knight named Oridial, who has a beautiful daughter named Noguent and a handsome son named Guigemar. When Guigemar is old enough, his father places him in the service of another king.... (full context)
Love and Suffering Theme Icon
Gender Roles and Class Status Theme Icon
There is just one problem with Guigemar—“Nature [has] done him such a grievous wrong” that he has no interest in romance whatsoever.... (full context)
Love and Suffering Theme Icon
Magic and Storytelling Theme Icon
Once, Guigemar goes home to visit his family. After a few weeks, he decides to go hunting.... (full context)
Love and Suffering Theme Icon
Magic and Storytelling Theme Icon
Dismayed, Guigemar sends his squire for help and binds his wound with his shirt, wondering what to... (full context)
Love and Suffering Theme Icon
Gender Roles and Class Status Theme Icon
Magic and Storytelling Theme Icon
By the time Guigemar gets up from the bed, he discovers he can’t disembark, as the ship has sailed... (full context)
Love and Suffering Theme Icon
...is frightened. The maiden, reassuring her friend, steps aboard the ship and finds the sleeping Guigemar. She assumes he’s dead and calls her lady. The lady grieves over the handsome young... (full context)
Love and Suffering Theme Icon
Magic and Storytelling Theme Icon
With difficulty, the women support Guigemar until he’s settled into the maiden’s bed. They wash his wound and feed him. But... (full context)
Love and Suffering Theme Icon
Virtue, Vice, and Justice Theme Icon
That night, Guigemar frets in solitude, realizing that because of the curse, he’s bound to suffer no matter... (full context)
Love and Suffering Theme Icon
Virtue, Vice, and Justice Theme Icon
Gender Roles and Class Status Theme Icon
...lovelorn, the young lady returns from mass, and her maiden urges her to speak to Guigemar. When they greet each other, the knight is afraid to speak of his feelings, since... (full context)
Love and Suffering Theme Icon
Finally, love forces Guigemar to speak his feelings. He tells the young lady that he’s dying of his longing... (full context)
Love and Suffering Theme Icon
Gender Roles and Class Status Theme Icon
Magic and Storytelling Theme Icon
Guigemar stays with the young lady for a year and a half, and it’s a happy... (full context)
Love and Suffering Theme Icon
Virtue, Vice, and Justice Theme Icon
Magic and Storytelling Theme Icon
...a few trusted men with him to break down the chamber door. When he sees Guigemar inside, he orders the knight killed, but Guigemar fearlessly wields a wooden pole, ready to... (full context)
Love and Suffering Theme Icon
Magic and Storytelling Theme Icon
As Guigemar sails, he laments and prays that if he’ll never see the young lady again, then... (full context)
Love and Suffering Theme Icon
Magic and Storytelling Theme Icon
...has imprisoned the young lady in a marble tower, and she suffers there, grieving for Guigemar, for over two years. At one point, distraught, she decides to drown herself at the... (full context)
Love and Suffering Theme Icon
...until, one day, Meriaduc holds a tournament against a neighboring enemy. Meriaduc invites his friend Guigemar to come, and Guigemar duly arrives with many knights of his own. Then Meriaduc summons... (full context)
Love and Suffering Theme Icon
Gender Roles and Class Status Theme Icon
When Guigemar declares his intention to take the lady away from Meriaduc, Meriaduc refuses to let her... (full context)