Many a times, perhaps the medieval writers were tempted to use the themes, with whose symbolic significance; they were not consciously cognizant with. Yet there is no denying the fact that many a medieval writers had the capacity to delve in deliberate religious allegory. In fact the medieval mind had a special aptitude and gift for engaging in religious allegory, which the contemporary civilization seems to have totally lost. Still it is a fact that much before the medieval literature came into existence, there existed a long Judaic-Christian tradition of interpreting the religious texts in an allegorical context. A significant number of medieval texts seem to point towards the continuation of this tradition from biblical to Middle Ages. Especially, ‘The Romance of the Rose’ by Guillame de Lorris and ‘The Book of Good Love’ by Juan Ruiz, a Spanish priest, are the two texts of medieval origin that are rich in religious themes and allegorical expression.
Allegory is a form of literary expression in which the objects and persons used command a meaning and significance that extends beyond the apparent theme of the text. Thus a work of literature using allegory has a two pronged meaning, one that is literal and the other that is symbolic. Hence the use of allegory in the works of literature has the special capacity for stimulating and engrossing the human interest in the sense that it not only manages to entertain the reader by its obvious perspective, but also allows one to extend one's imagination in the abstract and sometimes religious ideas and themes. 'The Romance of the Rose' and 'The Book of Good Love' are the two allegorical works that tend to personify the Christian vices and virtues like truth, honesty, beauty, lust and envy. Still, the forte of these two works is that at a superficial level, they seem to be two utterly tempting tales involving worldly pleasures. It is their special ability to present the mundane and the religious in one tale, through the masterly use of allegory, which makes them special.
'The Romance of the Rose' happens to be the most important allegorical romance of the Middle Ages (Daiches 82). The noteworthy thing about this work of literature is that it is a dream allegory. The entire story in 'The Romance of the Rose' is told by a narrator who witnesses it in his dream. However, the narrator manages to get out of his sleep by the end of the story. Thus the very form of this work assumes an allegorical significance in the sense that the dream world in which the narrator experiences the tale of courtly love and the real world in which he wakes up represent the Christian theme of the dichotomy existing between the real world and the world to come. The initiation of the story on a May morning, at a pristine location, rich in natural beauty and involving a young couple alludes to the biblical tale of the fall of Adam from the Garden of Eden. This tale is basically a tale of courtly love in which the innate qualities of the heroine are personified (Daiches 82). Throughout the story, the hero is presented as wooing the heroine, an endeavor in which he is sometimes aided by personified virtues like courtesy and kindness, while at other times dejected by personified virtues like shame and fear (Daiches 82). The primary objective of the hero is to get the "rose", which in fact stands for the ladies chastity, a virtue that commands an elevated status in the Christian theology. Thus 'The