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
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