Courtois d'Arras, written in the early 13th century, is for the most part a retelling of the story of the prodigal son. Like most plays of the Middle Ages, it adapts biblical stories for its contemporary period, with the Courtois being no exception. Here, the home of the father takes the symbolic place of heaven on stage right and the tavern takes the place of hell on stage left. The first half of the play does not feel like a mystery play however, as it mostly takes place in a tavern, mocking the son for his stupidity. What interests me is the son's long monologue upon leaving the tavern where he realizes that he is ruined. The psychological torment of the desire to return home coupled with the shame of his misdeeds makes for a fascinating character study equal to the indecisiveness of Hamlet. The sharp turn away from farce makes this monologue all the more striking, and underlines the internal anguish of the character.
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M.A. French Literature Florida State University