The allegory of love in Roman de la Rose

Essay by flygirl_thereseCollege, Undergraduate March 2005

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The Allegory of Love in Roman de la Rose

The Romance of the Rose is an allegory of courtly society and courtly love. It is a narration of a love affair described through the device of dream vision. These two narrative devices (allegory and dream vision) provide the text with a form of authority and legitimacy.

The narrative device of dream vision has the following functions in the text: (1) it allows the free play of allegory, (2) it is a vehicle of didactism (through the character of Reason and God of Love) and (3) it makes the sometimes perplexing and mystifying world of personifications and symbolic objects characteristic of medieval allegory more acceptable, ergo, legitimate. But more importantly, de Lorris uses dream vision "as a way of authenticating his narrative. He cites Macrobius in support of his claim that [the Romance] is a prophetic dream, and that everything in it came true, exactly as the dream predicted" .

"Some say that there is nothing in dreams but lies and fables; however, one may have dreams which are not in the least deceitful, but which later becomes clear...whoever thinks or says that it is foolish or stupid to believe that a dream may come true, let him think me mad if he likes; for my part I am confident that a dream may signify the good and ill that may befall people, for many people dream many things secretly, at night, which are later seen openly."

I turn to the allegorical aspect of the text. The allegorical mode of narration started with belief that everything in the Bible could be interpreted allegorically (Neo-Platonism); by exegesis, the bare narrative could be shown to have a spiritual meaning. Allegory gradually became extended from mere Biblical commentary and was widely applied in different...