Dame Sirirh: The Weeping Bitch

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Dame Sirirh is the old and widely circulated story known as the "Weeping Bitch" story. In the English version, which is in a mixture of rhymed couplets and six-line stanzas, a clerk named Wilekin is in love with a merchant's wife named Margery. While the merchant is away at a fair in Boston in Lincolnshire, Wilekin visits Margery, tells her of his love, and asks her to take him as her lover. She rejects him, whereupon, on the advice of a friend, he goes to visit Dame Sirith, who, for a promised reward, agrees to help him gain Margery's love by playing a trick on her. To do this, Sirith first feeds pepper and mustard to her dog, who, for reasons that become clear later, is a female, and the dog's eyes begin to run. Sirith then goes, with the dog, to see Margery and feigns great…show more content…
When Margery asks why she is unhappy, Sirith explains that she had a daughter who was married to a good husband, but rejected the advances of a clerk during the husband's absence, whereupon the clerk magically changed her daughter into a female dog, and here she is, still crying for not having granted the clerk his will. Margery sees the similarity to her own case, becomes frightened at the possible canine consequences, and asks Sirith to bring Wilekin to her. He arrives, and Margery agrees to be his lover. The main interest of this fabliau - and the way it differs most from the French fabliaux - is in its use of direct speech and the way in which that direct speech is used for purposes of characterization. Of the 450 lines in the poem 397 are direct speech, and the personalities and the attitudes of the three characters are gradually revealed through that direct speech, so that what were stock characters in the analogues - the amorous clerk, the young wife, and the old woman - become in this poem developed characters, people who have a three-dimensional quality to them. Margery is the least developed, though we do learn
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