An Analysis of the Legal Sense of the Word Fin (Finalis Concordia) in Piers Plowman Sir Gawain, Sir Gawain, Pearl, Chaucer’s Works, and Especially the Ending of Troilus and Criseyde, and Especially the Ending of Troilus and Criseyde
In the “Swich fyn” passage of Troilus, Chaucer exploits the double meanings of fyn as “ending” and as the legal instrument known as the fyn, in full finalis concordia. The latter term describes a compromise settlement of a fictitious suit resulting in a secure conveyance of land between two consenting parties. The term appears in PPl in the passage describing the marriage of Mede, where the fictive element of the legal instrument, in which lies are sworn in order to transfer wealth, reinforces the allegorical union between Fals and Mede. The Gawain poet also deploys the term in its legal sense in both Pearl and SGGK, in passages heavily laden with legal terminology, in order to emphasize the quid pro quo arrangements upon which both feudal relationships and personal salvation depend. Chaucer makes extended use of the term in the problematic ending of Troilus in a self-conscious effort to acknowledge his awareness of the ending’s conventionality. By signalling his audience with the word fyn that his ending has as much of the necessary convention as does the finalis concordia, he effects a reconciliation of the apparent conflict between the professed sentiments of the ending and the implied sentiments of the rest of the poem.