The paper begins by examining the structure of a joke as illustrative of the nature of the selection of things, selves, and others from the Real. The equivocal character of such selections, even in their very singularity, is brought out and is shown to extend beyond that of the Joke, to the Story and to the process of language. The mismatch of interpersonal positions is shown to depend upon a tacit understanding that apes the structure of trust. This blind trust is capable of being developed into a genuine one through the acceptance of the irremediable difference of the other and the risk it involves.
This philosophy of narrative is then tested against Chaucer’s The Franklin’s Tale where the nature of trust or “trouthe” is one of the central moral concerns. The article questions the various approaches to the dilemmas staged in the Tale, particularly with regard to the nature of marriage, since this is a prime example of the tragicomic trajectories of those who engage in mutual acts of “trouthe.”