The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography (Vols. 1-30)
Abraham, David H. "Cosyn and Cosynage: Pun and Structure in the Shipman's Tale." 11 (1977): 319-27.
The structure of the Shipman's Tale can be understood in terms of Chaucer's puns on "cosyn," referring to relationship (between the monk and the merchant, and, indirectly, between the monk and the merchant's wife), and "cosynage," referring to deception. Used no fewer than sixteen times, the two meanings of "cosyn" take on different emphases in the two parts of the tale. In the first part the "relationship" aspect of "cosyn" dominates, with the "deception" aspect submerged. In the second part, the deception aspect dominates. The structure of the tale depends, then, on the structure of the pun.
Acker, Paul. "The Emergence of an Arithmetical Mentality in Middle English Literature." 28 (1994): 293-302.
Arithmetical methods passed from Pythagoras to Boethius, who passed these ideas on to Cassiodorus and Isidore. Bartholomaeus Anglicus picks up these ideas in De proprietatibus rerum, translated by Trevisa into Middle English. In the twelfth century, algorism began to replace arithmetic. Gower refers to this new arithmetic in the Confessio amantis in a stanza borrowed from Brunetto Latini. The Court of Sapience also reveals a shift in mathematical models. The Art of Nombryng and Mum and the Sothsegger give evidence that even those writers not concerned with mathematics were becoming aware of it.
Adams, Robert. "The Egregious Feasts of the Chester and Towneley Shepherds." 21 (1986): 96-107.
The playwrights of the Chester and Towneley cycles include feasts at the beginning of each play in order to dramatize the difference between Christ, the coming Good Shepherd, and the poor shepherds who disregard the law by eating what is specifically forbidden in the Levitical codes and who are more interested in their own dinners than in feeding their sheep.
Aers, David. "Criseyde: Woman in Medieval Society." 13 (1979): 177-200.
Troilus and Criseyde examines the disparity between social reality and the courtly love tradition, especially for women. As a widow, Criseyde lacks a protective male figure, so she uses her sexuality (as best she can) to survive in a male-dominated society. Criseyde's response to Pandarus's reports of Troilus's love shows her awareness of her powerless social position. When she shifts to discussing love, Criseyde examines the inequality between her impotent social position outside of love and her powerful position with in the courtly love tradition. Criseyde's dream about the eagle reveals her well-grounded social and psychological fears. Pandarus uses Criseyde's subordinate social position to manipulate her into sleeping with Troilus. Emphasizing her powerlessness, Chaucer depicts Criseyde's relationship to Troilus in terms of hunter (male) and hunted (female). Later, she is equated with Antenor, a move by which Chaucer suggests that women are no better than prisoners. Troilus and Criseyde's love collapses because of the social status of women. Criseyde's refusal to elope with Troilus indicates her submission to antifeminist social norms. When Criseyde becomes Diomede's lover, her seeming betrayal of Troilus reveals her to be entirely socialized in a society which forces and condemns her betrayal. Finally, Troilus responds to Criseyde with compassion, while Pandarus's response to her demonstrates social convention.
Aers, David. "The Parliament of Fowls: Authority, the Knower and the Known." 16 (1981): 1-17.
Chaucer's poetic construction forces his readers to overlook problems inherent in the idea of "commune profyt." By choosing explicitly pagan material in considering questions posed by Augustine in the De civitate dei, Chaucer undermines the pagan text. By noticing the juxtaposition of the two texts, readers recognize the "human mediations involved in all human knowledge" (9). The conflict between the lower classes of birds and the eagles in the Parliament of Fowls indicates a social conflict. Ultimately, Chaucer subverts all dogmas and all attempts to replace personal knowing with authoritative interpretation.
Alford, John A. "The Wife of Bath Versus the Clerk of Oxford: What Their Rivalry Means." 21 (1986): 108-32.
Chaucer sets up the Wife of Bath and the Clerk as opposites. They represent rhetoric and philosophy respectively, and seen as personifications of these concepts, their rivalry makes sense. The debate between philosophy and rhetoric rests on a moral issue: philosophy seeks truth where rhetoric does not. A number of classical and medieval writers emphasized the conflict between rhetoric and philosophy. Among them are Plato (Gorgias), Cicero (De oratore), Lucan (The Double Indictment), Augustine (De doctrina christiana), Martianus Capella (The Marriage of Philology and Mercury), John of Salisbury (Metalogicon), and Petrarch (De vita solitaria). Lucan and Capella personify the two points of view, and Capella's creations have a number of qualities paralleled in Chaucer's descriptions of the Clerk and the Wife of Bath, whose descriptions evoke the traditional associations with philosophy and rhetoric. Chaucer adds the detail that the Wife is deaf, perhaps as an additional commentary on the nature of rhetoricians. Each tale exhibits the characteristics of the personified discipline telling the story. The Wife of Bath's Tale focuses on experience and uses a number of rhetorical devices, particularly in the argument. The Clerk's Tale displays a number of characteristics associated with logic and philosophy. The jabs that the Wife and the Clerk take at one another show the Clerk to be superior, even at rhetoric, thus reasserting the traditional view that rhetoric is subservient to philosophy both in "discourse and life" (130).
Alford, John A., V. A. Kolve, and R. A. Shoaf. "Judson Boyce Allen (March 15, 1932-July 23, 1985)." 21 (1986): 85-89.
Judson Boyce Allen brought new approaches to medieval studies. For a listing of Allen's criticism, see "Publications of Judson Boyce Allen," pp. 90-92.
Allen, Judson Boyce, and Patrick Gallacher. "Alisoun Through the Looking Glass: or Every Man His Own Midas." 4 (1969): 99-105.
The Wife of Bath creates a trap for the reader out of multiple views of metamorphosis. In the Middle Ages, metamorphosis had moral implications, contributing to irony which readers perceived as "real discontinuities behind apparent correspondence" (99). By holding up an ideal, an author could not only show readers God, but also cause them to evaluate their own flaws. In the Wife of Bath's Tale there are four levels of irony, and three probe the theme of judgment. In modifying the tale of Midas, the Wife tells on herself, a fact that readers recognize at the end of her Prologue. Both she and Midas are more victims than victimizers. She wants to possess what is unobtainable and to be someone she is not. Chaucer creates irony through the contrast between the Wife as she is and as she wants to be.
Allen, Peter L. "Reading Chaucer's Good Women." 21 (1987): 419-34.
The women Chaucer portrays in the Legend of Good Women are both writers and readers. In the Prologue, however, Chaucer asserts that, where possible, experience is a better authority than books. The prologue to the Legend of Good Women also raises questions regarding Chaucer's earlier works. Because the legends force readers to dispute their judgment and their ability to read perceptively, the legends highlight the reading process. Chaucer undermines the authority forcing him to write the legends especially in his use of abbreviatio and occupatio (occultatio) and in the alteration of his sources to make difficult women into tractable ones. By compelling the reader to challenge the narrator and the authorities, Chaucer pushes readers to become confident in their own judgment.
Ambrisco, Alan S., and Paul Strohm. "Succession and Sovereignty in Lydgate's Prologue to The Troy Book." 30 (1995): 40-57.
In the prologue to the Troy Book Lydgate presents the problems of literary succession. Much like political successions, literary succession is continually interrupted and resumed. First Lydgate admits his debt to preceding authors, attempting to fill in the fissure between his present and the literary past by referring to the Troy Book. Because it is merely imaginary, the text does not have a temporal element, thus escaping the problems of historicity plaguing Guido delle Colone's Historia destructionis Troiae and Lydgate's reworking of it. The Troy Book thus reappears through various lacunae in the text in interrupted lines of succession. Lydgate contrasts this text to more historical texts such as De excidio Troiae historia and Ephemeris belli Troiani. A conflict erupts in Lydgate's work between historical, linear authority and self-asserted authority in Guido's text which rests on the subjugation of Benoît's Roman de Troie. But Lydgate makes merit the most important qualification for legitimacy. In his prologue, Lydgate attempts to create a gap in the succession of literary authorities which he and Guido can fill. Politically Henry IV follows much the same process, affirming himself as king in the line of succession. In both cases, memory reworks both political and social history, providing links for succession where before none existed.
Anderson, David. "Theban Genealogy in the Knight's Tale." 21 (1987): 311-20.
Chaucer never specifically records the genealogy of Palamon and Arcite in the Knight's Tale, but he carefully refers to Statius's Thebiad. These references suggest that Palamon and Arcite are the survivors of Oedipus's house. Once this genealogy is established, readers also perceive that it illuminates the theme of fraternal opposition in the tale.
Anderson, J. J. "The Narrators in the Book of the Duchess and the Parliament of Fowls." 26 (1992): 219-35.
Though the narrators of Chaucer's dream visions seem to share the same naiveté, they are all variations upon the narrators of the French dream visions, and this fact suggests that Chaucer was experimenting with different narrative personas. Comparing the personas in Book of the Duchess and Parliament of Fowls makes this conclusion particularly clear. The two speakers open their poems differently, expressing different views of love, reading, and writing. Their experiences of the dream world are similar in that the dream world provides a welcome respite from the waking world, but in the end, neither narrator seems to profit much from the dream, though their responses to their dreams are quite different.
Anderson, J. J. "The Three Judgments and the Ethos of Chivalry in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight." 24 (1990): 337-55.
The writer of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight carefully presents most elements of romance while simultaneously critiquing romance. In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight the poet connects religion to chivalry so that the two elements are inseparable. The poet deemphasizes the supernatural elements, and permits the narrative to point to the subtext, a critique of chivalry and romance. Gawain, Bercilak, and Arthur represent three thematic elements that give three judgments of Gawain's behavior. The poet depicts the different sides of Gawain and of chivalry so that readers scrutinize the ethos of chivalry.
Andreas, James. "'Newe science' from 'Olde bokes': A Bakhtinian Approach to the Summoner's Tale." 25 (1990): 138-51.
In the Summoner's Tale Chaucer festively inverts tradition so as not to present a perversion of Christianity. Authorities in the Middle Ages approved the romance form for tales, and the fabliau was a comic, carnivalesque inversion of the romance. In Chaucer's use of these forms, laughter is produced by placing the past in the present. The Summoner develops a conflict between a friar and a layman. The Summoner fits the profile of a carnival tale-teller as a parody of his profession who is damned according to tradition. Numerous other associations and details connect the Summoner with carnival tradition. Throughout the Summoner's Tale and the following tales, the attitude of carnival allows the Summoner and other pilgrims such as the Squire to parody Christian traditions.
Andreas, James R. "'Wordes betwene': The Rhetoric of the Canterbury Links." 29 (1994): 45-64.
Bakhtin's theories of discourse are presaged in the works of Geoffrey of Vinsauf from which Chaucer borrows in the Canterbury Tales. This foreshadowing is most clear in Chaucer's views of language in which the word becomes a magical illusion allowing "the living and the dead [to] speak to one another through the magical medium of the utterance" (45). Such conversation is most apparent in the links between the Canterbury Tales. The feast metaphor accurately describes the amplificatio present throughout the tales. Chaucer also seems to use Vinsauf's trope of expolitio, in that Chaucer implies something is more important that what he says. Both Vinsauf and Bakhtin posit that the "most crucial aspect of languge . . . is the fact that it can . . . replicate itself with ever finer gradations of meaning and expression" (50). For Chaucer the activity of translation provides an opportunity for renewal which creates delight. The links between the tales not only provide the opportunity for dialogue, but they also characterize and aculturate each speaker. The nature of speech as dialogue is most apparent in the Man of Law's Prologue. The links also provide a space in the narrative for laughter to occur.
Andrew, Malcom. "Context and Judgment in the General Prologue." 23 (1989): 316-37.
The study of the Canterbury Tales has gone in some unsatisfactory directions because critics have "assumed a context in order to establish an interpretation" (317). Many scholars have attempted to focus on finding answers to detailed questions, such as the identity of the Tabard. This activity primarily creates a context for a particular interpretation, but often contexts so made are difficult to limit. Chaucer scholars often attempt to define a moral purpose for the Canterbury Tales, an activity that also leads to limiting the text. Though such kinds of interpretation have led to a greater understanding of the text, they have limited the text unnecessarily.
Anonymous. "Chaucer's Audience: Discussion." 18 (1983): 175-81.
This article is a transcription of the panel on Chaucer's audience at the April, 1982, meeting of the New Chaucer Society in San Fransisco. It followed four papers by Paul Strohm, Richard Firth Green, R. T. Lenaghan, and Patricia J. Eberle, also published in volume 18 (1983) of the Chaucer Review. The discussion includes contributions by Alan Gaylord, Richard Green, Lee Patterson, Paul Strohm, Rossell Hope Robbins, George Reineke, James Dean, Patricia Eberle, John Leyerle, John Fleming, Anne Middleton, and R. T. Lenaghan.
apRoberts, Robert P. "Love in the Filostrato." 7 (1972): 1-26.
Criseyde's sensuality makes her the ideal kind of woman to have a paramour. Boccaccio shows successful love only as that which is hidden because the lover cannot prove the force of his love unless it is forbidden by society. Pandarus convinces Troilus that he will be most capable of procuring Criseyde's love, though the kind of love Troilus desires is outside of marriage, and therefore dishonorable. This kind of love results in greater sensual delight. Boccaccio indicates that sensuality is one of the characteristics of the perfect mistress. Troilus and Criseyde have a love whose sensuousness results from its secret, dishonorable nature. Troilus wants Criseyde to desire him, not to pity him, and Boccaccio characterizes Criseyde as "burning with desire" (15). Criseyde, like other women according to Boccaccio, longs for love, and this longing fuels her desire. No matter how great her love and sexual desire grow, Criseyde is aware that theirs is an immoral love. Sensual desire motivates Troilus from the beginning, and the progress of his love is merely an increasing sexual desire. Boccacio presents Criseyde as the perfect mistress with the exception that she is not faithful, a weakness of all young women in Boccaccio's view. Troilus, however, believes that dishonorable love is so intense that those who participate in it become faithful. The great love which Boccaccio presents, therefore, is a love based on mutual physical desire, satisfied under circumstances which maintain this desire at its highest intensity. This love is possible only outside of marriage.
Archer, John. "The Structure of Anti-Semitism in the Prioress's Tale." 19 (1984): 46-54.
Medieval Christianity taught that the Jews were solely responsible for Jesus's death and that they perpetually commit that sin. In the Middle Ages, Herod's slaughter of the innocents continued to be associated with Jews, who were believed to kill male virgins in satanic rituals. The Prioress plays on the perception of Jews as murderous usurers in her depiction of the little boy. Anti-Semitism also informs perceptions of secular law and Old and New Testament law throughout the tale.
Archibald, Elizabeth. "Declarations of 'Entente' in Troilus and Criseyde." 25 (1991): 190-213.
Troilus and Criseyde is more than a psychological drama; it is a "drama of intentions" (190) examined from the angles of good intentions, bad intentions, and mistaken intentions. Recognition of how intentions differ from what happens or how intentions oppose what characters say allows readers to recognize ironies. Throughout the poem, "entente" is linked to truth, sexuality, and departure, among a variety of other meanings and connotations. Often these associations are created by rhyme patterns. Chaucer can thereby draw attention to the difficulty of following through one's intentions and suggest to the reader the complexities of the human psyche. Of course, Chaucer's intentions are most difficult to discern.
Archibald, Elizabeth. "The Flight from Incest: Two Late Classical Precursors of the Constance Theme." 20 (1986): 259-72.
The various Constance works are connected by a number of plot similarities. In these stories, the protagonist runs away because of an incestuous proposition. Previous scholars argued that an Exchanged Letter links these tales, but in fact, they are also connected by the Flight from Incest as seen in the Clementine Recognitions and Apollonius of Tyre. Both works lack the Exchanged Letter, but include the Flight from Incest and are thereby linked to the Constance group. The Incestuous Father motif probably developed out of a matriarchal society in which men gained legitimacy as rulers through marriage.
Arn, Mary-Jo. "Three Ovidian Women in Chaucer's Troilus: Medea, Helen, Oënone." 15 (1980): 1-10.
Chaucer uses Ovid's Medea as an ironic figure shadowing Criseyde. From Ovid's Helen, Chaucer borrows Criseyde's response to Troilus's first proposal and to his offer to elope. Chaucer's Criseyde also uses correspondence taken from Oënone, but this borrowing does not have the same effect as the material from Medea and Helen.
Astell, Ann W. "Orpheus, Eurydice, and the 'Double Sorwe' of Chaucer's Troilus." 23 (1989): 283-99.
The phrase "double sorwe" (I.1) is a key to understanding Troilus and Criseyde. The poem is split into two parts and parallels the story of Orpheus and Eurydice, though Boethian philosophy undergirds the poem. As in the treatment of the Orpheus and Eurydice story by Bernardus, Troilus's love for Criseyde is connected to a desire to know God, which Troilus reveals in the "Canticus Troili." Troilus must, however, continually struggle with the problem of loving in a fallen world. This conflict appears most clearly in the despair that both Troilus and Criseyde experience once Criseyde is chosen to be traded for Antenor. In the end readers recognize the "tension between philosophy and poetry, moralitee and myth" (296). Troilus's love for Criseyde transforms him, finally leading him to seek the divine.
Bachman, W. Bryant, Jr. "'To maken illusioun': The Philosophy of Magic and the Magic of Philosophy in the Franklin's Tale." 12 (1977): 55-67.
The two questions underlying Dorigen's complaint about the black rocks show Boethius's influence on Chaucer. In the Consolation of Philosophy, Boethius asserts that evil does not exist. Since experience contradicts this premise, however, Boethius must find an explanation for evil. Boethius then offers patience as a solution; patience is also a solution to Dorigen's problem of the black rocks. Dorigen's complaint can evoke two responses: readers either sympathize with her fears, or they condemn her for her lack of patience. Both the Consolation and the Franklin's Tale posit the role of human perception in terms of the problem of evil. Dorigen also attributes her problem to Boethian Fortune. Arveragus presents the only possible response to this kind of universe--a choice to keep his word, the only thing humans can control.
Bailey, Susan E. "Controlled Partial Confusion: Concentrated Imagery in Troilus and Criseyde." 20 (1985): 83-89.
Troilus and Criseyde reveals several image clusters such as "sterre" and "steere," "fall" and "faille," and "sonne," "sone," and "fader." These groups add depth to a number of passages and suggest greater varieties of meaning for the work as a whole.
Baird, Joseph L. "The 'Secte' of the Wife of Bath." 2 (1968): 188-90.
The Clerk's use of the legal sense of "secte" in the epilogue to his tale suggests that the Clerk recognizes and responds to the case the Wife of Bath makes for her view of women and marriage.
Baird, Joseph L. "Secte and Suite Again: Chaucer and Langland." 6 (1971): 117-19.
The use of "secte" in Middle English literature supports a reading of it as legal action or suit in the epilogue to the Clerk's Tale.
Baird, Joseph L., and Lorrayne Y. Baird. "Fabliau Form and the Hegge Joseph's Return." 8 (1973): 159-69.
Most of the Joseph plays show Joseph as an impotent old man with a young wife, but only the Hegge dramatist draws direct attention to the fabliau-love-triangle possibilities of this view. Examination of the Hegge Joseph's Return shows that it followed the lover's triangle pattern, borrowing the unexpected entrance of the husband, his loss of sight, discovery of the wife, her strategic escape from a difficult situation, and the husband's repentance and acceptance of the situation with joy.
Balaban, John. "Blind Harry and the Wallace." 8 (1974): 241-51.
Traditionally, Blind Harry is Henricus Caecus and the author of Schir William Wallace. Though some of the evidence against Harry's authorship may be explained away, other problems are not so easily dismissed. That Harry's name is not mentioned in the earliest copy of The Wallace may result from the fact that this copy has no title page, or Ramsay, the scribe, may have left it off when making his copy. John Mair, in Historia majoris Brittaniae (De gestibus Scotorum) first mentions Blind Harry. From what scholars know of Mair, they can estimate that Blind Harry lived in the last half of the fifteenth century. As the writer of Wallace states in the eleventh book, his source is a Latin book by John Blair, perhaps the same one who serves Wallace in the tale, but this book most likely never existed and is the writer's nod to authority. The writer of Wallace does not state that he is blind, and metrical patterning suggests that this poem could not have been recited from memory. Harry seems to have been quite familiar with Chaucer, imitating metrical patterns, descriptions, and tone. Thus, the traditional Blind Harry does not seem to be the writer of Wallace. Scholars must also note that medieval writers often referred to the devil as "Harry," so the name "Blind Harry" must be an alias. The historical inaccuracies in Wallace serve to popularize it, making William Wallace seem a god instead of a rebel.
Barney, Stephen A. "Suddenness and Process in Chaucer." 16 (1981): 18-37.
Chaucer uses sudden action to emphasize both good and bad events. Troilus and Criseyde has the most occurrences of sudden appearances and events of all of Chaucer's works, though the Wife of Bath's, Knight's, Miller's, and Squire's Tales also use this technique. Chaucer uses suddenness of emotions when depicting courtly manners and quick judgments for moral questions (26). By tracing suddenness through Troilus and Criseyde, readers realize that Chaucer makes "humorous, ridiculous, or contemptible" what is sudden (30). Chaucer also focuses significantly on process, the process of time as opposed to Fortune, the process of time as a consolation, and the process of penitence. Though Troilus falls in love suddenly, he continues to love Criseyde by process, thereby expressing patience.
Beichner, Paul E. "Confrontation, Contempt of Court, and Chaucer's Cecilia." 8 (1974): 198-204.
Direct translation of the Latin version of the dialogue between Cecilia and Almachius in the Second Nun's Tale will demonstrate how Chaucer improved on the Latin. Chaucer omits material to heighten the tension of the dialogue or adds other material for similar effect.
Beidler, Peter G. "Art and Scatology in the Miller's Tale." 12 (1977): 90-102.
Chaucer changes his analogues by making Alisoun put her buttocks out of the window and by adding the fart. That Alisoun would participate in a trick like this emphasizes her unladylike qualities and allows the Miller to demonstrate a contrast to the elevated Emily of the Knight's Tale. Alisoun's behavior also points out that Absolon's courtly love should be more holy and directed towards the Virgin Mary. The fart more cleverly ties the flood plot to the kiss-and-burn plot, and it completes the effrontery to all of Absolon's senses.
Beidler, Peter G. "Chaucer and the Trots: What to Do about Those Modern English Translations." 19 (1985): 290-301.
Modern students often succumb to the temptation to read Chaucer's works in a modern English translation instead of taking the time and effort to read his writings in Middle English. Though translations sometimes succeed in giving an accurate rendering of Chaucer's meaning, such good fortune lasts only for a few lines. Though there is no one way to encourage students to put away their modern English translations, teachers can teach their students to read Middle English and point out the places, such as those discussed here, where Chaucer's original is so much better than the modern English translation. Furthermore, many translations are downright inaccurate and misleading.
Beidler, Peter G. "Chaucer's Reeve's Tale, Boccaccio's Decameron IX, 6, and Two 'Soft' German Analogues." 28 (1994): 237-51.
Chaucer was most likely familiar with Decameron IX, 6, a story quite similar in many ways to the Reeve's Tale. Close comparison of the various analogues reveals a series of specific similarities--not present in other analogues--between Chaucer's version of the cradle-trick story and Boccaccio's. Critics should make a distinction between various kinds of analogues. A "source" is a story that Chaucer is known to have used directly; a "hard analogue" is one that he probably knew, to judge by the date of the analogue, the language in which it was written, and the details of plot and characterization, but that cannot be proven to be a direct source; a "soft analogue" is one that Chaucer could scarcely have known, to judge by the date, the language in which it was written, and the lack of specific similarities. Decameron IX, 6 is a hard analogue because Chaucer knew Boccaccio's work, knew the Italian language, and adopted certain details not available in other known analogues. On the other hand, two German tales are soft analogues. Chaucer presumably did not know either Das Studentenabenteuer or Rüdiger von Munre's Irregang und Girregar. No evidence shows that Chaucer knew German or was familiar with German literature. While both of the German tales share certain similarities with the Reeve's Tale, there are fundamental differences between these versions and Chaucer's cradle-trick story.
Beidler, Peter G. "The Climax in the Merchant's Tale." 6 (1971): 38-43.
Similarities between Damyan and Priapus, and between the situations of Damyan and May and Pyramus and Thisbe, have been suggested as evidence that Damyan does not reach climax in his love-making with May. Damyan and Priapus, however, are more different than alike, and the situation of Pyramus and Thisbe is not at all like that of Damyan and May. Nor can readers use timing as a basis upon which to decide that Damyan does not reach climax. In the garden scene, Chaucer demonstrates that he is more interested in telling January's tale than in speculating about whether Damyan achieves climax. Questions regarding Damyan's sexual climax are extraneous to the tale.
Beidler, Peter G. "Noah and the Old Man in the Pardoner's Tale." 15 (1981): 250-54.
The plague background of the Pardoner's Tale suggests that the old man was a Noah-figure to Chaucer's audienc--the good survivor of a purifying destruction.
Beidler, Peter G. "The Pairing of the Franklin's Tale and the Physician's Tale." 3 (1969): 275-79.
The Physician's Tale and the Franklin's Tale are essentially alike. Virginia's strengths highlight Dorigen's impatience, her careless creation of her situation, and her wavering between death and dishonor.
Beidler, Peter G. "The Plague and Chaucer's Pardoner." 16 (1982): 257-69.
Reading the Pardoner's Tale in light of the plague deepens readers' understanding of the tale. The three rioters of the tale enjoy themselves in the tavern as did those who historically survived the plague. The treasure appears under the tree because it had belonged to a victim of the plague, and the old man is a survivor of the plague from a nearby village. Boccaccio's Decameron provides useful contemporary evidence about medieval attitudes toward the plague. A plague setting allows the Pardoner to suggest that money is corrupt and that all humans must be prepared to die. The Host responds angrily to the Pardoner because the Pardoner's sinfulness makes the Host and the other pilgrims vulnerable as the next plague victims.
Beidler, Peter G. "The Reeve's Tale and Its Flemish Analogue." 26 (1992): 283-92.
The Flemish Een bispel van .ij. clerken, a derivative of Jean Bodel's Old French De Gombert et des deux clers, is a likely source for the Reeve's Tale. Chaucer probably also knew the Old French tale from which the Flemish version derives. Careful analysis of ten elements in De Gombert and the Flemish version shows how each contributes to the Reeve's Tale.
Beidler, Peter G. "William Cartwright, Washington Irving, and the 'Truth': A Shadow Allusion to Chaucer's Canon's Yeoman's Tale." 29 (1995): 434-39.
The epigraph to Irving's "Rip Van Winkle" borrows from Chaucer's Canon's Yeoman's Tale, though Irving was probably not aware of the derivation of his quotation. Rather, he took the epigraph from a seventeenth-century play by William Cartwright. Irving treats the subject of truth in a manner similar to that of Chaucer.
Beidler, Peter G., and Albert E. Hartung. "Jonathan Burke Severs." 12 (1977): 85-89.
Jonathan Burke Severs sought to instill in others his love of Chaucer. Severs spent his life learning and writing about Chaucer, and he deserves honor for his efforts. For a bibliography of Severs's criticism, see pp. 87-89.
Beidler, Peter G., and Therese Decker. "Lippijn: A Middle Dutch Source for the Merchant's Tale?" 23 (1989): 236-50.
Most scholars have ignored Middle Dutch plays, but the fourteenth-century play Lippijn may have been a source for Chaucer's Merchant's Tale. Chaucer may have encountered this play on one of his trips to the Low Countries. A number of parallels exist between Lippijn and the Merchant's Tale, including the specific details of the love triangle, the description of love making, and the husband's blindness. If Chaucer did know Lippijn, he altered his source to create more depth. A prose translation of Lippijn is provided.
Bennett, Michael. "John Audley: Some New Evidence on His Life and Work." 16 (1982): 344-55.
John Audley was a monastery chaplain at Haughmond during the early fifteenth century. Blind and deaf at the end of his life, he wrote a number of works that research into his biography can illuminate. Before going to Haughmond, he served as chaplain to the Lestrange family and was with them in London. This exposure to aristocracy and to the culture of London lends sophistication to his poetry.
Benson, C. David. "Incest and Moral Poetry in Gower's Confessio Amantis." 19 (1984): 100-09.
In the Confessio amantis Gower treats two incestuous stories, those of Canacee and Apollonius of Tyre. Gower creates a sense of necessity in both, suggesting that passionate love is so strong that it overwhelms reason and that these characters can therefore be exonerated to some extent. While demonstrating the sinfulness of such passion, however, Gower does not provide genuine penitential solutions for these sins.
Benson, C. David. "The Knight's Tale as History." 3 (1968): 107-23.
Though many scholars classify the Knight's Tale as a romance, it actually bears great similarity to fourteenth-century chronicles, as Chaucer's attention to realistic historical detail suggests. Chaucer adds to and deletes from Boccaccio's Teseida as well as Statius's Thebiad to create a classical world which would be believable to a medieval audience, though the poem does not accurately represent the world of Greece and Thebes. By including a large amount of historical detail, Chaucer also examines chivalry in a pre-Christian state. Chaucer shows the best of secular knighthood and suggests that it foreshadows Christian chivalry.
Benson, C. David. "'O nyce world': What Chaucer Really Found in Guido Delle Colonne's History of Troy." 13 (1979): 308-15.
Chaucer borrows the narrative stance for Troilus and Criseyde from Guido's Historia destructionis Troiae. Following Guido, Chaucer makes the narrator a cynical historian.
Benson, C. David. "Their Telling Difference: Chaucer the Pilgrim and His Two Contrasting Tales." 18 (1983): 61-76.
Chaucer does not give enough information about the pilgrim identified with himself in the Canterbury Tales for critics to claim that the pilgrim is a well-developed character. The tales this pilgrim tells, however, present a dramatic contrast between clever and poor art. The Tale of Sir Thopas is not satiric, but a highly imaginative, carefree tale of nothing. The Tale of Melibee is the stylistic opposite of Thopas. Melibee is highly moral and has little imaginative content either in words or ideas. Chaucer does not merely contrast good with bad art, but different ways to use language. Thus Thopas and Melibee work best when read as a unit.
Benson, C. David. "Troilus and Cresseid in Henryson's Testament." 13 (1979): 263-71.
Troilus represents the pagan chivalric hero whose knightly prowess and virtue are brought into question by readers' awareness of the Fall of Troy, by Criseyde's rejection of chivalric virtues, and by a Christian awareness of the restrictions of pagan virtue. Because Fortune allows Criseyde to suffer longer, she gains insight into her world and herself. Troilus never attains this kind of knowledge. When, in Henryson's Testament of Cresseid, Troilus gives Criseyde money, readers recognize that Troilus is faithful to a memory only; he does not recognize the beggar--Criseyde. The parallel deaths of Troilus and Criseyde indicate that Criseyde has learned to look beyond herself but that Troilus has not.
Benson, C. David, and Barry A. Windeatt. "The Manuscript Glosses to Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde." 25 (1990): 33-53.
Because of printing and binding conditions, many of the glosses on Troilus and Criseyde are not printed. In order to rectify the situation, all the glosses from all the manuscripts are reproduced here and connected to the text by line numbers.
Benson, Donald R. "The Marriage 'Encomium' in the Merchant's Tale: A Chaucerian Crux." 14 (1979): 48-60.
The Merchant's encomium on marriage presents several interpretive problems. The audience has great difficulty determining the speaker, whether or not the passage is an encomium or a mock-exhortation, and what kind of marriages the passage praises as exemplary. Because scholars lack decisive information from the tale, this passage is likely to remain a crux.
Bergan, Brooke. "Surface and Secret in the Knight's Tale." 26 (1991): 1-16.
Language constantly fluctuates between transparency and opacity, and standard forms are always shifting. The Knight's Tale can be read with greater understanding when readers recognize the "transitional moment" in which "the shock of the new makes us conscious of language as surface" (3). Comparison to Boccaccio's Book of Theseus shows Chaucer's rhetorical changes and choices. Ironic subtext lies under every intense emotional moment. The narrator maintains the suddeness that ceremony should ritualize out of existence. The Knight's fascination with order leads him to partition off sections of his tale, as he does in the three temples, the three prayers, and the three signs. The Knight is, however, intent on subverting the romance genre, so the order he creates is always undercut. The "interpenetration" of romance and epic that the Knight creates mirrors Chaucer's interpenetration of oral and written tradition in the Canterbury Tales (14).
Berger, Harry, Jr. "The F-Fragment of the Canterbury Tales: Part I." 1 (1966): 88-102.
The Squire's Tale may be about magic, but the Squire tells the tale in such a way that he spends an inordinately large amount of time announcing what he will not include. The material that the Squire chooses to include is often complicated and awkward, but it reveals his interests and how he wants his audience to think of him. Clearly, the Squire desires the noble life of the past as does the Knight, but he gets in the way of his own story. Unfortunately, the Squire is not as skilled a narrator as the Knight. Where the Knight can use disclaimers, occupatio, apologies, and style shifts to control the tale,the Squire's use of the same devices indicates that he has lost control of his story. The Franklin points to the Squire's advantage of birth and urges the Squire to cultivate his natural tendencies of gentillesse into knightly virtues, but he also points out the dangers of the aristocratic idyll. Like the Knight and the Squire, the Franklin also wants to see the renewal of courtly ideals, but he realizes that one must be detached from them to see their weaknesses and correct them.
Berger, Harry, Jr. "The F-Fragment of the Canterbury Tales: Part II." 1 (1967): 135-56.
The Franklin's Tale is highly symbolic. Unlike the Squire, the Franklin has the ability to control his tale: rhetorical devices do not get in the way. The tale presents the dangers of recreation, while at the same time, it is a recreation. The Franklin aligns himself with the forces of common sense as opposed to those of courtly love. He spends a good deal of time on magic, and in the process "magic, courtly love, [and] fiction are given qualified approval as amusements for the social hour" (148). The Franklin's digressions demonstrate his view of life--that the future is not a decline from youth, but full of promise--and they follow the Franklin's pattern of "withdrawal and return, play and work" (151). The conclusion of the tale attempts to examine the application of old knightly ideals to a new world filled with commerce and clerkly activities.
Berry, Craig A. "The King's Business: Negotiating Chivalry in Troilus and Criseyde." 26 (1992): 236-65.
Chaucer's poetic negotiation of the chivalric code appears most prominently in Troilus and Criseyde. Reading Troilus and Criseyde against the backdrop of contemporary events suggests a number of parallels, such as that between England and Troy. This kind of reading also suggests the kinds of social and court views Chaucer would have supported, such as the one which suggested that a knight successful in the bedroom might experience defeat on the battlefield. The tensions Chaucer engages, however, express the dichotomy of the chivalric code and its relationship to knighthood and the behavior of both men and women. The use of fear to manipulate the reactions of women particularly addresses an incident in Andreas Capellanus's Art of Courtly Love, and records of real instances in which knights rescued "ladies in distress" can be found in the fourteenth century.
Berryman, Charles. "The Ironic Design of Fortune in Troilus and Criseyde." 2 (1967): 1-7.
At the beginning of Troilus and Criseyde, the characters believe that Fortune is fickle, but they behave as if they can defeat Fortune by "trouthe." Finally, however, they experience Fortune's capriciousness and realize that the world is mutable and that no one is free from Fortune's wheel.
Besserman, Lawrence L. "Chaucerian Wordplay: The Nun's Priest and His Womman Divyne." 12 (1977): 68-73.
The Nun's Priest's line "I kan noon harm of no womman divyne" (70) is filled with punning references to the Prioress, her tale, and her sins.
Besserman, Lawrence. "A Note on the Sources of Chaucer's Troilus V, 540-613." 24 (1990): 306-08.
Troilus's address to Criseyde's "paleys desolat" (v 540-53) in Troilus and Criseyde borrows from a passage in the Filostrato which borrows from Lamentations 1:1 and Ovid's Remedia amoris.
Bestul, Thomas H. "Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde: The Passionate Epic and Its Narrator." 14 (1980): 366-78.
In Troilus and Criseyde Chaucer creates a narrator whose story saddens him and who is concerned to express emotion in his own narrative. In Books II and III, the narrator's intrusions into the story become vehicles to express emotions the characters must feel and to keep the narrator in the readers' minds. The narrator's emotional involvement continues; it deepens as the work progresses, and in Book V, the narrator introduces the inexpressibility topos. Though he is saddened, the narrator distances himself from the action of the story, thereby demonstrating a Christian response that the audience should emulate.
Bestul, Thomas H. "The Man of Law's Tale and the Rhetorical Foundations of Chaucerian Pathos." 9 (1975): 216-26.
Chaucer's use of rhetorical devices creates an emotional response to Griselda and Constance. In the Man of Law's Tale, as in others, Chaucer explores the idea that emotion is the most convincing part of poetry. Rhetorical tradition encourages the use of detail, which Chaucer uses to his advantage in describing Donegild's mistreatment of Constance in order to increase the pathos of this section. The Man of Law's Tale thus gives evidence for the medieval view that as long as the passions are properly directed, they are not dangerous. The intense pathos of their stories causes the audience to recognize the virtues of Constance and Griselda. Indeed, the pathos of the Man of Law's Tale derives in large measure from Chaucer's use of rhetorical devices to shape the emotions of his readers.
Biggam, C. P. "Aspects of Chaucer's Adjectives of Hue." 28 (1993): 41-53.
Chaucer uses primarily English hue lexemes, and he uses the most basic formation for each word. He uses color adjectives primarily for people; the greatest occurrence of these adjectives is in the Knight's Tale. Overall, Chaucer uses more color terms than his contemporaries. Chaucer also employs colors symbolically in accordance with ancient and pagan traditions.
Blake, N. F. "Chaucer and the Alliterative Romances." 3 (1969): 163-69.
Because of the mention of alliteration in the Parson's Prologue, most scholars assume that Chaucer knew alliterative romances. Examination of his work suggests, however, that while Chaucer was familiar with the technique of alliteration, he did not set out to copy alliterative romances.
Blamires, A. "A Chaucer Manifesto." 24 (1989): 29-44.
The Prologue to the Legend of Good Women is a "poetic manifesto" (29). The poet struggles with Cupid's tyranny that has denied him the experience of love and forced him to rely on book knowledge. In the beginning the speaker focuses on book learning and devalues experience, a point of view closely associated with his religious sensibilities. Later however, the poet shifts his attention from books to daisies, thus directly contradicting his earlier stance. Because readers do not realize that the daisy represents Alceste, they laugh at the narrator's worship of the daisy and perceive heretical overtones in that activity. Thus in this instance, Chaucer proclaims himself a poet of texts, not of sight or experience.
Blanch, Robert J. "Supplement to the Gawain-Poet: An Annotated Bibliography, 1978-1985." 25 (1991): 363-86.
This bibliography fills the need of medievalists for a more complete bibliography of criticism on Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, Purity, and Patience.
Blanch, Robert J., and Julian N. Wasserman. "The Current State of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Criticism." 27 (1993): 401-12.
Current criticism centers on the problem of "poetic closure" through "historical backgrounds and cultural studies; socio-historical interpretations . . .; feminist analyses; semiotic theories; psychological investigations; and myth-and-ritual stances" (401). New Historical approaches would greatly benefit scholarship on this poem, as would the application of psychoanalytic and feminist theories.
Bleeth, Kenneth. "Joseph's Doubting of Mary and the Conclusion of the Merchant's Tale." 21 (1986): 58-66.
The end of the Merchant's Tale in which January regains his sight parallels the end of the story of Joseph and Mary, told in the Cherry-Tree Carol and Ludus Coventriae, where Joseph is enlightened with regard to the spiritual nature of Mary's pregnancy. May's explanation of her behavior in terms of January's blindness is an ironic reversal of Joseph's response to Mary. Both January and Joseph apologize, and both finally respond to the pregnancy by stroking the womb of their wives. But in the end Joseph has been enlightened, whereas January refuses to perceive.
Bloomfield, Morton W. "The Friar's Tale as a Liminal Tale." 17 (1983): 286-91.
The Friar's Tale is a tale of a liminal experience in which the summoner fails to avoid passing over the threshold of death and hell.
Bloomfield, Morton W. "Personification-Metaphors." 14 (1980): 287-97.
Some images function like personifications but are veiled, and these are personification-metaphors. True personifications continue for an extended period in the text, while a personification-metaphor may only encompass one or two lines. Unlike Shakespeare and Milton, Chaucer did not use personification-metaphors often. The appendix provides a list of additional personification-metaphors in Keats.
Blyth, Charles. "Virgilian Tragedy and Troilus." 24 (1990): 211-18.
Troilus and Criseyde may be defined as a Virgilian tragedy placed between recorded history and the emotional response such a tragedy evokes. Gavin Douglas's translation of the Aeneid demonstrates his recognition of this position in that he alludes both to Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde and to Henryson's Testament of Cresseid in his wording and by his use of rhyme royal. Virgil refers to tragedies in both the books about the fall of Troy and tragedy of Dido. To view these passages as tragic, however, readers must view them in retrospect.
Boenig, Robert. "Musical Irony in the Pardoner's Tale." 24 (1990): 253-58.
Machaut popularized an antiphonal music style during the early decades of the fourteenth century. In this music the melody line shifts between parts with great frequency and is distinguished by the different instruments playing each part. The musicians in the Pardoner's Tale play "the wrong instruments for a successful performance" (257); thus they foreshadow the lack of cooperation between the three rioters.
Boffey, Julia. "The Reputation and Circulation of Chaucer's Lyrics in the Fifteenth Century." 28 (1993): 23-40.
Though the impact of Chaucer's lyrics on fifteenth-century writers is difficult to determine, his influence can be traced in three different ways: "general situations" and "rhetorical strategies" (28), rhyme royal and ballad stanza forms, and rhymes. Examinations of sample texts illustrate imitations in each of the three ways. That other writers imitate Chaucer so much suggests that Chaucer's short poems circulated in some form. Among the poems in which passages which specific passages can be found illustrating that other writers borrowed passages and methods from Chaucer's works are Hoccleve's Mother of God and Balade to Sir Henry Somer, Lydgate's Temple of Glass, the Complaint of the Black Knight, the Troy Book, A Pageant of Knowledge, Thoroughfare of Woe, the Fall of Princes, and the Flower of Courtesy. In addition, the translator of Partonope de Blois, and the writer of the Kingis Quair also use some of chaucer's methods and lift certain passages. Unfortunately, however, because the original poems were never bound and scribes had difficulties copying them, there are a number of textual problems which make the influence of Chaucer's works difficult to trace.
Boitani, Piero. "Chaucer's Labyrinth: Fourteenth-Century Literature and Language." 17 (1983): 197-220.
In the House of Fame, Chaucer borrows from a number of sources, showing the literary milieu of his time. The poem may be"a maze where signs are lost and confused" (216), but it is a wonderful dream.
Bolton, W. F. "The Topic of the Knight's Tale." 1 (1967): 217-27.
The Knight's Tale is more than the story, love, history, or imagination, but rather it particularizes fiction, history, and "concepts of knighthood, courtly life, and courtly literature" (271) which do not appear overtly in the tale. Ultimately, the tale is about love and death.
Booth, Mark W. "'Sumer Is Icumen in' as a Song." 14 (1979): 158-65.
"Sumer Is Icumen in" cannot be properly evaluated as a text unless scholars view it in the context of performance as a round. The "cuccu" sound repeated throughout the song commemorates and produces the coming summer in a state of "inattentive levity" (163).
Børch, Marianne. "Poet and Persona: Writing the Reader in Troilus." 30 (1996): 215-28.
In Troilus and Criseyde the narrative voice disappears and reappears throughout the text. But regardless of the different situations throughout the poem, readers experience a single voice and presence that Chaucer establishes by building in a number of carefully selected details. Chaucer places this narrator in a position between the text and the reader so that it is "impossible for the mode of reception to become other than essentially moral" (222). Furthermore, as he does in Troilus and Criseyde Chaucer experiments with the position of author and narrator in the Canterbury Tales, particularly the Clerk's Tale,.
Bornstein, Diane. "An Analogue to Chaucer's Clerk's Tale." 15 (1981): 322-31.
The material of the Clerk's Tale was popular as didactic material promoting wifely obedience. Even Christine de Pisan refers to Griselda in her Cité des Dames. Brian Anslay of Henry VIII's household translated the material analogous to the Clerk's Tale, closely following Christine's French version. Anslay's text is reprinted here.
Bornstein, Diane. "Chaucer's Tale of Melibee as an Example of the Style Clergial." 12 (1978): 236-54.
In order to develop a uniquely English prose style, translators during Chaucer's time followed methods popular in France such as the style clergial or the style curial (237), since an English poetry had developed by following, then diverging from, continental models. Examination of the text (as indicated in a table following the article) shows that Chaucer deviated from the French Livre de Melibee et Prudence, deliberately adding phrases and making other changes in order to develop a chancery style.
Boswell, Jackson Campbell, and Sylvia Wallace Holton. "References to the Canterbury Tales." 29 (1995): 311-36.
As a result of updating Caroline Spurgeon's 500 Years of Chaucer Criticism and Allusions for the Short-Title Catalogue, Boswell and Holton found a number of previously unnoticed references to the characters, both pilgrims and characters in the tales themselves. Their findings are listed in this article.
Boswell, Jackson Campbell, and Sylvia Wallace Holton. "References to Troilus, Criseyde, and Pandarus." 29 (1994): 93-109.
As a result of updating Caroline Spurgeon's 500 Years of Chaucer Criticism and Allusions for the Short-Title Catalogue, Boswell and Holton found a number of previously unnoticed references to the primary characters in Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde. The list presented in this article refers only to those items not previously mentioned.
Boucher, Holly Wallace. "Nominalism: The Difference for Chaucer and Boccaccio." 20 (1986): 213-20.
Dante and the poet of the Queste del Sainte Graal both believed that poetry revealed truth and imitated divine order. Chaucer and Boccaccio, however, display different attitudes toward literature. Nominalism altered artists' perception of literature so that by the fourteenth century, they no longer thought that art revealed truth or divine order. Fourteenth-century writers play with words and meanings, as Boccaccio does in the tale of Frate Cipolla and as Chaucer does in the Summoner's Tale.
Bowers, Bege K. "Chaucer Research, 1984, Report No. 45." 20 (1985): 70-78.
Bowers presents an annotated bibliography of Chaucer research.
"Chaucer Research, 1985, Report No. 46." 21 (1986): 67-83.
"Chaucer Research, 1986, Report No. 47." 22 (1987): 62-79.
"Chaucer Research, 1987, Report No. 48." 23 (1988): 162-79.
"Chaucer Research, 1988, Report No. 49." 24 (1989): 77-94.
"Chaucer Research, 1989, Report No. 50." 25 (1990): 152-69.
"Chaucer Research, 1990, Report No. 51." 26 (1991): 184-204.
"Chaucer Research, 1991, Report No. 52." 27 (1992): 200-18.
"Chaucer Research, 1992, Report No. 53." 28 (1992): 187-203.
"Chaucer Research, 1993, Report No. 54." 29 (1994): 207-225.
Bowman, Mary R. "'Half as she were mad': Dorigen in the Male World of the Franklin's Tale." 27 (1993): 239-51.
As a male poet, Chaucer experiences the difficulty of presenting women's voices, as the controversy over the Wife of Bath indicates. His female heroines must use masculine discourse to express themselves. Though Dorigen seems to achieve equal mastery in marriage, the Franklin reduces her to an object at the end of his tale. The Franklin espouses gentillesse, franchise, and freedom, but he assumes that men and women have the same relation to these virtues. The response of the different male and female characters in the tale indicates that this assumption is faulty at best. The final actions of the male characters appear much different from Dorigen's point of view. Dorigen expresses her grief, but in a different manner from the men in the tale, highlighting the difficulty of women faced with male discourse.
Bradbury, Nancy Mason. "Gentrification and the Troilus." 28 (1994): 305-29.
In Troilus and Criseyde readers see the movement of popular, folkloric material from the lower classes to the upper classes. Scrutiny of stanzas throughout the work reveals the influence of English on the courtly idiom of French, and tension between high and low elements is constant throughout the poem. To accomplish the shift in register between learned language of the upper class and popular language, Chaucer often uses proverbs which were readily accessible to any class. Chaucer also alludes to several popular stories.
Braswell, Mary Flowers. "Chaucer's Palimpsest: Judas Iscariot and the Pardoner's Tale." 29 (1995): 303-10.
The story of Judas Iscariot's betrayal of Christ appears beneath the surface of the text of the Pardoner's Tale, adding an additional layer to the black Communion of the three rioters. Chaucer uses a number of details, like the association of Judas with greed, the oak tree, and the conflation of the story of Judas with that of the Wandering Jew, to add a darker level to his tale.
Braswell, Mary Flowers. "Chaucer's 'Queinte termes of lawe': A Legal View of the Shipman's Tale." 22 (1988): 295-304.
Chaucer's biography indicates that he would have had knowledge of the law. The Shipman's Tale, when closely examined, reveals that Chaucer used laws controlling trade and commerce as an informing principle for imagery, diction, and "characters, plot, and theme" (296). The wife and the monk negotiate for 100 francs, reaching a contractural agreement confirmed by repeated oaths sworn in legal language. In the plot, Chaucer also uses the medieval law that makes the husband responsible for the wife's debt. The prologue to the Shipman's Tale mentions "queinte termes of lawe" (1189), suggesting to readers the importance of the legal aspects of the tale which follows.
Braswell-Means, Laurel. "A New Look at an Old Patient: Chaucer's Summoner and Medieval Physiognomia." 25 (1991): 266-75.
Using medieval medical theory based on Aristotle, Galen, and Hippocrates, and medieval physiognomy, Chaucer constructs the Summoner's portrait so as to describe the Summoner's medical conditions. The Summoner is clearly unnaturally hot as both his description and his cures indicate. The combination of these two suggests that the Summoner is choleric, according to Galen and Avicenna. Chaucer sees the Summoner and the Pardoner as variations of the same humor character. The Summoner's disease is also associated with sexuality, and astrological details associate him with Mars. This combination suggests that the Summoner would experience his most difficult time of year in the spring. The Summoner's disease is incurable, except by the spiritual healing he would experience at the shrine of Thomas a Becket.
Breeze, A. C. "Chaucer's Miller's Tale, 3700: Viritoot." 29 (1994): 204-06.
The term "viritoot" most likely means "fairy toot" or "fairy hill," given the exchange of f- for v- sounds and the other recorded meanings of "toot" in English. The word "viritoot" probably derives from words meaning "old witch" and referred to a woman like the old woman in the Wife of Bath's Tale or Morgan la Fay in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.
Brewer, Derek S. "The Reeve's Tale and the King's Hall, Cambridge." 5 (1971): 311-17.
Though no accounts indicate that King's Hall was ever called Soler Hall, records do indicate that King's Hall during Chaucer's time was occasionally called Scoler Hall. Thus, "Soler" may be an error for "Scoler," and the Reeve may indeed refer specifically to King's Hall, Cambridge, when he tells us that Aleyn and John are students in Solar Hall.
Brody, Saul Nathaniel. "Chaucer's Rhyme Royal Tales and the Secularization of the Saint." 20 (1985): 113-31.
Chaucer's tales written in rhyme royal have a common focus on saints' lives and martyrs. In the Second Nun's, Clerk's, Prioress's, and Man of Law's Tales, divine justice controls the outcome of the tale. Even the Clerk's Tale teaches us that we should obey God in adversity. These tales all follow the traditional pattern of saints' lives and evoke a heightened emotional response from the audience. The rhyme royal tales complement each other, showing how secular values influence written accounts of saints' lives. Ultimately, however, such influence robs the stories of some vitality.
Brody, Saul Nathaniel. "Truth and Fiction in the Nun's Priest's Tale." 14 (1979): 33-47.
The Nun's Priest constructs his tale around the tension between literature and life. He employs digression to remind his audience that his tale is fiction but that it still has implications for "real" life. By consistently equating Chanticleer and Pertelote with a man and a woman respectively, the Nun's Priest underscores the connection between reality and fiction. When the Nun's Priest refers to Dante's portrait of Paolo and Francesca, he further explicates the relationship between truth and fiction. The fact that Paolo and Francesca begin their affair while reading about Lancelot and Guinevere implies that reading or hearing about human action can alter human behavior. The digressions in the Nun's Priest's Tale remind the audience that, though a fable, the tale contains some truth. The truth in the Nun's Priest's Tale is difficult to determine, however, because there are so many ambiguities in the tale. The Nun's Priest asserts that all stories, no matter how unreal, contain moral truths.
Brosnahan, Leger. "The Authenticity of And Preestes Thre." 16 (1982): 293-310.
The half-line "and preestes thre" (24) in the General Prologue has caused a number of scholars to advance various explanations which will reduce the 31 pilgrims to the stated 29. Careful examination of the pattern of portraits in the General Prologue suggests that the Second Nun's portrait was interrupted and the rest of the line filled with the phrase "and preestes thre." Removing this half-line on the basis that it is a scribal filler simplifies the Prioress's entourage, reduces the number of pilgrims, and better conforms to the pattern of the other portraits in the General Prologue.
Brosnahan, Leger. "'And don thyn hood' and Other Hoods in Chaucer." 21 (1986): 45-52.
Given the use of hoods in Chaucer's other works, readers can assume that the hood Pandarus refers to in Troilus and Criseyde, II, 954, is a piece of clothing, probably cloth, not a piece of armor. In light of this definition, critics may infer that Pandarus is telling Troilus to stop begging.
Brosnahan, Leger. "The Pendant in the Chaucer Portraits." 26 (1992): 424-31.
The pendant in Chaucer's portrait is not an ampullae but a penner, as comparison to other ampullae shows. The portrait in the manuscript was probably drawn from a free-standing bust and had to be made disproportionate in size in order to fit in the space available. The penner was removed from the belt and turned into a pendant so that it would more easily be recognized as a sign of Chaucer's profession.
Brown, Carole Keopke. "'It is true art to conceal art': The Episodic Structure of Chaucer's Franklin's Tale." 27 (1992): 162-85.
The Franklin's Tale is a series of episodes carefully connected so as to be a seamless whole. Chaucer arranges the narrative in a repeating series of three, but each episode alters the material of the previous one so that no one is like any other. The structure contributes to the meaning of the tale in that the "trouthes" and the complaints decline, but the compassion shown to the victim increases.
Brown, Emerson, Jr. "Chaucer, the Merchant, and Their Tale: Getting Beyond Old Controversies: Part I." 13 (1978): 141-56.
The Merchant's Tale is misogynistic at heart, and the Merchant cannot be separated from it. The bondage imagery, the narrative voice, and the personal affront suggested by Damyan's description connect the prologue and the tale. The Merchant's Tale cannot be reduced to a happy or sarcastic fabliau because the Merchant's voice is too complex.
Brown, Emerson, Jr. "Chaucer, the Merchant, and Their Tale: Getting Beyond Old Controversies: Part II." 13 (1979): 247-62.
The "L'Envoy de Chaucer a Bukton" contains statements about women similar to those made by the Merchant, suggesting that Chaucer cannot be so easily separated from the narrator of the Merchant's Tale as some previous scholars have thought.
Brown, Emerson, Jr. "Hortus Inconclusus: The Significance of Priapus and Pyramus and Thisbe in the Merchant's Tale." 4 (1969): 31-40.
The reference to Priapus in the Merchant's Tale should make readers think of Ovid's Priapus. The allusion to Priapus in the garden points to its sensual overtones, and his link to Damyan suggests that the sexual encounter with May does not end satisfactorily. January thus becomes Silenus; he cannot participate but becomes a defeated spectator. The Merchant thus ridicules courtly love and explores the idea that love of any kind lacks fulfillment. Also, the allusion to Pyramus and Thisbe highlights the coarseness of the affair between May and Damyan.
Brown, Emerson, Jr. "The Knight's Tale, 2639: Guilt by Punctuation." 21 (1986): 133-41.
The usual way of punctuating this line gives the meaning that Emetreus stabs Palamon while Palamon and Arcite are fighting. Details in the story, however, make such a meaning unlikely. Removing the comma adds a different meaning--that Palamon stabs Arcite. Though present-day readers cannot determine which meaning Chaucer intended, scholars can preserve the possibility of two meanings by using manuscripts and not accepting the editorial decisions that come with punctuation.
Brown, Emerson, Jr. "The Merchant's Tale: Why is May Called 'Mayus'?" 2 (1968): 273-77.
The masculine name "Mayus" for the female protagonist suggests a theme of healing in the pear-tree episode. Damyan is named for St. Damian, known for healing various illnesses, including blindness. In the tale, Damyan is the agent for January's healing, thus suggesting that there might be other references to healing as well. May was the month associated with healing.
Brown, Emerson, Jr. "The Poet's Last Words: Text and Meaning at the End of the Parson's Prologue." 10 (1976): 236-42.
John M. Manly's rearrangement of the Parson's Prologue is unnecessary. The Prologue works better if left as it stands in the manuscript.
Brown, Eric D. "Symbols of Transformation: A Specific Archetypal Examination of the Wife of Bath's Tale." 12 (1978): 202-17.
A carefully detailed Jungian analysis of the Wife of Bath's Tale reveals that she tells a tale of a young knight's transformation while he searches for his mother or anima figure.
Brown, Eric D. "Transformation and the Wife of Bath's Tale: A Jungian Discussion." 10 (1976): 303-15.
The Wife of Bath's Tale follows a standard form in which a beloved ugly person becomes beautiful (or handsome). The transformation carries overtones of fertility myths. The figures of ugliness suggest the unconscious, while beautiful figures suggest the conscious.
Brown, Peter. "The Containment of Symkyn: The Function of Space in the Reeve's Tale." 14 (1980): 225-36.
Chaucer's source for the Reeve's Tale, the French fabliau Le Meunier et les II Clercs, treats space far more generally than Chaucer, who presents a three-dimensional locale to his readers. Establishing distance and placement of the beds in the tale creates a stage for the later farcical actions. As the speed of the action increases in the course of the tale, Chaucer shifts senses so that the characters do not see the room, but feel it, further delineating the space. Symkyn's discourse after his trickery also employs terms of space. By getting all of their grain from the Miller, John and Alan reduce the space he controls at the end of the tale, and the spatial elements of the tale underscore this action.
Brown, Peter. "The Prison of Theseus and the Castle of Jalousie." 26 (1991): 147-52.
Chaucer symbolically redefines the tower in which Arcite and Palamon are imprisoned in the Knight's Tale. Chaucer creates the prison in terms which recall Froissart's Prison amoreuse and refer to the tradition of love-as-prison. The jealousy that consumes Palamon and Arcite once Arcite has been released is the opposite of Jalousie in Roman de la Rose. Chaucer uses these allusions to make the tower a symbol of the prison of jealousy.
Burger, Douglas A. "Deluding Words in the Merchant's Tale." 12 (1977): 103-10.
The Merchant builds his tale on the separation between words and reality. The most blatant examples of this distance are the scenes in which January's friends tell him about marriage and the pear-tree episode.
Burlin, Robert B. "Middle English Romance: The Structure of Genre." 30 (1995): 1-14.
Middle English romances did not exist solely for entertainment. Included with the delightful elements of the romance were social, spiritual, and class concerns. The paradigmatic axis of the romance is the chivalric and courtly codes, apparent in works like Havelok the Dane, the Alliterative Morte Arthure, Marie de France's Lanval, and Malory's Morte d'Arthur. Chaucer also makes use of this code in the Knight's Tale and in Troilus and Criseyde. On the syntagmatic axis are the quest and the test. The Knight's Tale, Malory's Morte, and Sir Orpheo use the chivalric and courtly codes together to create narrative tension. In Sir Orpheo, Troilus and Criseyde, and the Roman de la Rose, however, any attempt to put the narrative on the syntagmatic axis fails because such tales only work in the context of idleness. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight shows a different interpenetration of the two axes in that Gawain is both a courtly lover and a questing knight, but he can handle only one code at a time.
Burrow, John. "'Worly under wede' in Sir Thopas." 3 (1969): 170-73.
The rare form "worly" for "worthily" in Group VII, line 917 is a more accurate transcription of the word Chaucer chose, given its status as a native English word. Its use in that position would probably encourage the Host to stop the tale.
Burton, T. L. "The Wife of Bath's Fourth and Fifth Husbands and Her Ideal Sixth." 13 (1978): 34-50.
The Wife of Bath's singing, dancing, and drinking are responses to her fourth husband's infidelity, not the cause of it. The passages in which the Wife claims to have committed adultery are nothing more than boasts designed to attract a sixth husband. Her marriage to Jankyn shows that she wants to be both free to do as she pleases and treated like a woman where sex is concerned.
Caie, Graham D. "An Iconographic Detail in the Roman de la Rose and the Middle English Romaunt." 8 (1974): 320-23.
Medieval authorities depicted those who served sinful love as wearing tight clothing and tight sleeves, so when Amant bastes his sleeves at the beginning of the Roman de la Rose, he suggests that he will seek amour that day.
Caie, Graham D. "The Significance of the Early Chaucer Manuscript Glosses (with Special Reference to the Wife of Bath's Prologue)." 10 (1976): 350-60.
The glosses in the manuscripts of the Canterbury Tales are carefully written, and are of similar size as the text of the tales themselves. Quotes from Jerome constitute most of the glosses on the Wife of Bath's Prologue, suggesting that the scribe did not want the reader to be convinced by the Wife's logic. The glosses also highlight the Wife's misinterpretation of Old and New Testament passages.
Calabrese, Michael A. "Meretricious Mixtures: Gold, Dung, and the Canon's Yeoman's Prologue and Tale." 27 (1993): 277-92.
Examination of the Canon's Yeoman's Tale in light of the Antiovidianus reveals an "exploration of the tension between art and morality that engaged [Chaucer] throughout his poetic career" (278). The primary point of attack for the writer of Antiovidianus is Ovid's ability to turn "dung" into golden poetry, a direct contradiction of the traditional way of reading pagan poetry. Thus Chaucer's portrayal of the Canon's work parallels the Antiovidianus writer's view of Ovid's works. The Yeoman also connects sexuality to the acquisition of such an art.
Camargo, Martin. "The Consolation of Pandarus." 25 (1991): 214-28.
Chaucer alters the character of Pandarus in Troilus and Criseyde to reflect the character of Philosophy in Boethius's Consolation of Philosophy. Chaucer also borrows Petrarch's sonnet "S'amor non è" for Troilus to sing instead of the song Boccaccio uses in Filostrato. This sonnet has clear Boethian overtones. Chaucer also changes Troilus's character to reflect Boethius's character in the Consolation more closely. This change is particularly visible in Troilus's response to Fortune. Chaucer's modification of Pandarus allows him to create irony by undercutting the readers' expectations.
Campbell, Jackson J. "The Canon's Yeoman as Imperfect Paradigm." 17 (1982): 171-81.
The Canon's Yeoman leaves the Canon because the Canon fails in his alchemical pursuits. The Yeoman cannot let go of alchemy no matter how much he hates it. Pilgrimage is fundamentally about change, and the change the Canon's Yeoman makes prefigures the penitential focus of the Parson's Tale.
Campbell, Jackson J. "Polonius among the Pilgrims." 7 (1972): 140-46.
The Manciple's Tale shows Chaucer's ability to use narrative as a characterization tool. The digressions tell readers a great deal about the Manciple. Instead of developing profound ideas, he focuses on the trivial. When Phebus tells the crow to beware of jealousy, he turns to address all people, just as the Manciple does. Even after the Manciple finishes his story, he continues expounding on the moral of his tale, referring to his mother as his authority. The Manciple's narrative characterizes him as eager to please, although he is verbose and focused on trivial matters.
Campbell, Jennifer. "Figuring Criseyde's 'Entente': Authority, Narrative, and Chaucer's Use of History." 27 (1993): 342-58.
Book IV of Troilus and Criseyde changes the audience's perception of Criseyde by introducing history into the narrative. Though the narrator does his best to present Criseyde's point of view, he occasionally reminds his audience that their knowledge of her is not complete. Any attempt to complete this portrait risks intruding on the tension between identification with and separation from a character, and thus, the authority of the narrator is closely connected to his presentation of Criseyde. The narrator often interrupts his narrative and includes disclaimers in an attempt to control his discourse. Book IV breaks into the narrative by forcing the audience to recognize the dangers an enigmatic woman poses to her historical framework. The destiny of Criseyde and Troilus's relationship is determined by history in part because Criseyde mistakenly believes that she can act to alter what will happen. Finally, readers realize that the only way for the narrator to control the narrative is to sever the relationship between a woman and language.
Campbell, Josie P. "Farce as Function in the Wakefield Shepherds' Plays." 14 (1980): 336-43.
The Wakefield Shepherd's plays use farce to emphasize both spiritual and secular elements. The cycle postpones the announcement of the Christ Child until the moment when the shepherds share their meat and bread. The overtones of communion in conjunction with the announcement of the Christ Child's birth eliminates class distinctions for the moment. In the Second Shepherd's Play, Mak's trickery accentuates the sacred aspect of the play, drawing attention to the timelessness of God's gift.
Campbell, Josie P. "The Idea of Order in the Wakefield Noah." 10 (1975): 76-86.
The Wakefield Noah is about love and mastery within the family unit. In discovering divine love, however, Noah also gains an understanding of obedience. Love produces friendship, and friendship, obedience. Noah must realize that love connects man to God in obedience and that the obedience this love produces will save the world. The commitment to care for his family and for the animals is an essential part of man's relationship to God. God's love sustains earthly life. Evidence in the play does not suggest that Noah ever gains mastery over Uxor, his wife. Uxor's idea of mastery is based on fear and contrasts with the ideas about love which Noah is learning. Finally, when Uxor and Noah fight to a draw, their sons suggest a new way of behaving in which Noah and Uxor will be equals. Ultimately, Noah asserts that love maintains order, not fear.
Campbell, Thomas P. "Machaut and Chaucer: Ars Nova and the Art of Narrative." 24 (1990): 275-89.
Chaucer's narratives borrow both from Machaut's poetry and his music. The dissonance of conflicting solutions to an enigma, the simultaneity of events, and the nested perspectives found in poems like the Parliament of Fowls and the Knight's, Nun's Priest's, Merchant's, and Reeve's Tales can all be traced to medieval music. Examination of Machaut's ballad "Je Puis Trop Bien" demonstrates corresponding qualities of medieval music, especially the ballad form. Cursory examination of this ballad shows that contrast between music and the poetry joined to it was the mode. Scrutiny of the Miller's Tale shows that it uses all the musical techniques found in Machaut's ballad to maintain its unity.
Carr, John W. "A Borrowing from Tibullus in Chaucer's House of Fame." 8 (1974): 191-97.
The first line of the House of Fame is probably borrowed from Tibullus, since none of the other authorities transmits that line. Furthermore, Chaucer maintains the purpose and diction of the original. What we know of Chaucer's diplomatic trips to Italy suggests that he may have visited Salutati's library, renowned for its collection of dream literature, and there discovered Tibullus.
Carruthers, Mary J. "The Lady, the Swineherd, and Chaucer's Clerk." 17 (1983): 221-34.
Chaucer alters his sources in the Clerk's Tale to emphasize gentillesse. Though lowly born, Griselda possesses aristocratic virtue which makes her appear as a Christ figure. The tale does more than simply contrast past with present. Chaucer includes judgments of Walter and descriptions of Griselda that make the story more realistic. At the end of his tale, the Clerk also makes fun of the clerkly stereotype, suggesting the reality of the tale he has just finished. Finally, Chaucer implies that integrity is an important part of gentillesse.
Carson, M. Angela. "Easing of the 'Hert' in the Book of the Duchess." 1 (1967): 157-60.
The story of Seys and Alcyone contrasts with the easing of heart which occurs in the dream section. The images of the hunt also anticipate the Knight's experience. The narrator provides the Knight a respite from his grief by having him tell of happier times.
Chamberlain, David S. "The Music of the Spheres and the Parlement of Foules." 5 (1970): 32-56.
In the Parliament of Fowls, Chaucer uses the four species of medieval music to draw attention to the eagles and suggests that the spheres create most of the music, including the "form . . . meter, stanza, and length," of the poem (33). The discussion of the spheres and Nature's way of joining disparate elements suggests musica mundana. Musica humana is less noticeable because Chaucer did not believe in open display. In discussing human music, Chaucer changes his source to emphasize that harmony in world music results from love. He also discusses the three aspects of human music though in different terms from Boethius. Chaucer also uses the three kinds of instrumental music in the roundel which the birds sing, the women's dancing in Venus's temple, and his poetry itself. Chaucer then refers to divina musica in his image of the wood. The spheres are the cause of both "sonorous" and "non-sonorous" music. In the poem, the form and rhyme of the stanzas, which reproduce the sonorous music of the spheres, suggest that the poem is missing a final line that would complete the complex stanzaic form and rhyme scheme. The wind in the wood demonstrates the sonorous music of the spheres as the seasons show non-sonorous music. Finally, readers can explicate the poem in terms of a pattern of three and seven which reinforces the musical patterning of the Parliament of Fowls.
Chance, Jane. "Chaucerian Irony in the Boethian Short Poems: The Dramatic Tension between Classical and Christian." 20 (1986): 235-45.
Chaucer uses Boethian imagery in the "Former Age," "Fortune," "Balades de Visage Sanz Peinture," "Lak of Stedfastnesse," "Gentillesse," and "Truth." In each of these poems, Boethian imagery illustrates the place of humankind in this world. Chaucer also uses this imagery to create irony in "Lak of Stedfastnesse," "Gentillesse," and "Truth."
Charnes, Linda. "'This werk unresonable': Narrative Frustration and Generic Redistribution in Chaucer's Franklin's Tale." 23 (1989): 300-15.
In the Franklin's Tale Chaucer twists narrative development, alters the speed of the story, and shifts from genre to genre in order to weaken "the viability of heroic and courtly romance themes" (300). Chaucer creates lacunae in both space and time, allowing violence to occur. The Franklin's treatment of Dorigen taxes her patience beyond all measure while valorizing patience. Dorigen's focus on the rocks is a manifestation of her desire to make Arveragus suffer the way she suffers. She then substitutes Aurelius for the rocks which have been filling Arveragus's place. Aurelius introduces a new genre and a new space in which Dorigen plays, though her play leads to his despair. Dorigen's revenge is to replace Aurelius's "quest" for her with Arveragus's quest for knightly fame. Finally, however, all characters participate in a quest that eventually results in truth. The Franklin's Tale forces readers to recognize the "distance between literary convention and psychological veracity" (314).
Cherchi, Paolo. "The First German Essay on Chaucer." 13 (1978): 80-85.
Between 1784 and 1787, Karl Friedrich Flögel wrote the Geschichte der komischen Literatur in which he includes a chapter evaluating Chaucer's work. The chapter and a translation are included.
Cherniss, Michael D. "Chaucer's Anelida and Arcite: Some Conjectures." 5 (1970): 9-21.
Based on the introductory material in Anelida and Arcite, readers expect more than a "framed complaint," and it seems difficult to believe that Chaucer would put so much effort into the early portions of Anelida merely to create a frame. A number of similarities between Anelida and Chaucer's dream poems suggest that Chaucer may have planned to finish the work as a dream vision. These likenesses include the style of the opening, the "complaint," the description of the temple, and the immutability of the lovers. In addition, Anelida's situation seems too complex for her, thus demanding a vision which will help her resolve her state. The difficulty of Anelida is intensified by its cloudy relationship to the Knight's Tale and Boccaccio's Teseida. Chaucer may have planned to include the tale of Palamon and Arcite, but his intentions remain unknown.
Cherniss, Michael D. "Chaucer's Last Dream Vision: The Prologue to the Legend of Good Women." 20 (1986): 183-99.
The Prologue to Legend of Good Women is itself a dream vision. The narrator meets Cupid and Alceste, who epitomize the faithful woman as opposed to the faithless women of Troilus and Criseyde and Roman de la Rose. The recognition of Alceste returns to the narrator's earlier worship of the daisy. When the narrator awakes, he is able to write about "good" women and faithless men in accordance with Cupid's command to him, and he moves forward to write a different kind of poetry.
Cherniss, Michael D. "The Clerk's Tale and Envoy, the Wife of Bath's Purgatory, and the Merchant's Tale." 6 (1972): 235-54.
The Clerk's Envoy presents a theme which continues through the Merchant's Tale. The Clerk's Tale presents both a secular and a spiritual moral to which even the Envoy does not resolve. The Envoy contains two ironies: one is the logical extreme that there are no Griseldas, and the other demands whether or not wives may trust their husbands. The double irony allows the Clerk to connect the marital (secular) sphere of his tale with a spiritual moral. An additional level of irony suggests that even shrewish wives perform a spiritual service for their husbands, helping them to develop the character of Job. The Clerk's idea of purgatory in marriage contrasts with January's idea of paradisical marriage, but aligns with the church's view of marriage. January, then, parodies Griselda's patience in the face of trials. Ironically, however, January never recognizes the purgatorial aspects of his marriage; he is too blind. The Host's response to these tales indicates that he believes marriage to be the purgatory the Wife and Merchant describe, not the paradise offered by the Clerk.
Chickering, Howell. "Form and Interpretation in the Envoy to the Clerk's Tale." 29 (1995): 352-72.
The instability of the Envoy to the Clerk's Tale solidifies the rest of the tale as ambiguous and filled with conflicting ironies. That the placement of the Envoy differs between the Ellesmere and the Hengwrt manuscripts adds further confusion to the issue. The Envoy is actually an ironic comment on the teller of the tale, Griselda, and the Wife of Bath. While the Envoy has "a highly specific poetic character" (358), it demands an entirely indeterminate interpretation. Like the French poems from which it comes, the Envoy operates on intense sound patterns, like those described by Deschamps in L'Art de dictier. The complexity of the rhyme scheme shows that Chaucer consciously fashioned this poem to "say something difficult with great ease and mastery" (361), a result Chaucer also achieves through poetic pacing. The combination of these elements makes the poem aesthetically pleasing, though ultimately ambiguous.
Chickering, Howell. "Unpunctuating Chaucer." 25 (1990): 96-109.
Chaucer's manuscripts were punctuated lightly, leaving room for grammatical ambiguity. Punctuating the manuscript forces readers to accept the editor's readings, which often creates difficulties even larger than the original ambiguities. Unpunctuated versions force students to construct their own text and to see the different levels of meaning in it.
Christianson, Paul. "Chaucer's Literacy." 11 (1976): 112-27.
As a reader himself, Chaucer requires that his readers notice the effort involved in reading and writing. References to reading in Chaucer's works demonstrate Chaucer's belief that words conceal in order to reveal. The use of occupatio reminds readers of the time they must expend in order to read or to write. Chaucer does, however, show a skeptical attitude towards the idea that language must not replicate the world, but tell the truth about it. For him, experience is not an appropriate test for language. Ultimately, Chaucer forces his reader to see the problem of thinking and knowing.
Christmas, Peter. "Troilus and Criseyde: The Problems of Love and Necessity." 9 (1975): 285-96.
In Troilus and Criseyde, Chaucer examines a number of problems resulting from a conflict between love and the characters' perceptions of it and the reality of living in a changing world. In a realistic depiction of his characters, Chaucer shows that treachery and sincerity can be closely connected. Chaucer treats Pandarus traditionally as a hypocrite and voyeur, but allows Pandarus to behave virtuously in some instances. In addition, in the relationship between Troilus and Criseyde, Chaucer creates complex characters in whom vice and virtue coexist. Through Troilus, Chaucer tests courtly love, attempting to link it to religion instead of presenting it as an adversary to religious beliefs. Troilus's silliness as a lover balances his serious appearance in the palinode. Criseyde is attracted to Troilus because her world lacks a male authority figure, but when she betrays him, she behaves in a cowardly manner. Troilus and Criseyde exist in a relativistic world and demonstrate that love is as much a part of the world as religion and morality. As a lover, Troilus pines for Criseyde both before he has her and after she is gone. In so doing, he demonstrates the reality of being human--life in the flux. Furthermore, like the first part of the poem, the palinode examines the question of free will and determinism.
Cioffi, Caron. "The First Italian Essay on Chaucer." 22 (1987): 53-61.
Critics in France and Germany recognized Chaucer's magnitude by the sixteenth century. In Italy, however, Chaucer was ignored until the nineteenth century. But in 1647, Gerolamo Ghilini, in Teatro d'huomini letterati presented an account of Chaucer's life and works. Because no Italians could read Middle English at that time, Ghilini borrowed heavily from John Pits's Relationem historicarum de rebus Anglicis. The passage is fully presented in Italian with an English translation.
Clark, John W. "Does the Franklin Interrupt the Squire?" 7 (1972): 160-61.
Internal evidence suggests that Chaucer probably did intend to finish the Squire's Tale.
Clark, John W. "'This litel tretys' Again." 6 (1971): 152-56.
The differences to which the narrator refers in Melibee are those between the previous versions of the tale and not the differences between this tale and the ones that precede it in the order of the Canterbury Tales. The phrase "this litel tretys" does not refer to the Canterbury Tales as a whole.
Clark, Roy Peter. "Doubting Thomas in Chaucer's Summoner's Tale." 11 (1976): 164-78.
In the Summoner's Tale, Thomas and Friar John together imitate St. Thomas. The elderly, sick Thomas is a kind of "doubting Thomas." John is a perverted type of Thomas, the builder of churches. In the fart scene, the two Thomas-types merge in a parody of St. Thomas probing Christ's wounds. Chaucer underscores the parallel by using language similar to that used in accounts describing Thomas groping Christ's wounds. That Friar John receives a fart indicates the corrupt nature of his search for material, not spiritual, wealth.
Clark, S. L., and Julian N. Wasserman. "The Heart in Troilus and Criseyde: The Eye of the Breast, the Mirror of the Mind, the Jewel in Its Setting." 18 (1984): 316-28.
Chaucer's treatment of a character's heart gives him room to comment on that character. In Troilus and Criseyde, Pandarus seems to have no heart at all. Diomede seems to equate the heart with the mind or, when wooing Criseyde, with tokens and not true love. Troilus treats his heart differently from the way Criseyde treats hers, and this difference reveals two separate views of love.
Clasby, Eugene. "Chaucer's Constance: Womanly Virtue and the Heroic Life." 13 (1979): 221-33.
Instead of making the upper classes comfortable, the Man of Law's Tale reminds them that they are also subject to Fortune. Constance does not suffer for no reason; her suffering pictures human suffering as it relates to God and to virtue. In the Consolation of Philosophy, Boethius addresses a similar fall from power which questions God's power and Boethius's virtue. In the course of their sufferings, Boethius and Constance discover that Providence, not Fortune, rules their lives. Chaucer's treatment of Constance, however, raises additional issues. Constance's responses to her sufferings throughout the tale show her spiritual growth. While Constance submits to physical authority, she never accepts that authority over her spiritual well-being. Constance's identity as a woman symbolizes the life-giving abilities of all humans, and is not a sign of weakness. Chaucer presents Constance from a temporal and an eternal perspective, allowing him to raise questions about evil rulers and Providence.
Clopper, Lawrence M. "Langland's Franciscanism." 25 (1990): 54-75.
Though Piers Plowman is admitedly anticlerical, it also participates in the Franciscan debate about the definition of poverty and the propriety of learning for Franciscans. The differences between the two treatments of the clergy revolve around begging. Mendicants begged for a living because they were poor. Unfortunately, because of Langland's portrayal of friars, readers tend to look at all of the Dreamer's meetings with friars as negative, though the friars whom the Wanderer meets on his way to Dowel tell him the truth, and the friars at the beginning of the Vita try to convince Wanderer to lead a moral life. The confrontation between the Wanderer and the friars is designed to show the contrast between his condition and the poverty he applauds as Rechelessness attempts to do. In the end, Will must answer whether he took charity for his needs or merely to become richer. Though Nede's second appearance creates a problem, the moment can be viewed as an allegory of the relationship between the Franciscan order and the church. Ultimately, Langland presents a challenge to the Franciscans to abide by their rule and so to "usher the Church into its last age" (70).
Clopper, Lawrence M. "The Principle of Selection of the Chester Old Testament Plays." 13 (1979): 272-83.
Chester plays were chosen on principles of covenant, that a redeemer will come, and of sacrifice, that humans may achieve salvation. Tensions between old and new law form a part of the conflict. Post-Christ Jews are the focus of anti-Semitism, but pre-Christ Israelites foreshadow Christians.
Cohen, Edward S. "The Sequence of the Canterbury Tales." 9 (1974): 190-94.
Manuscript ordering may be clarified by examining place references in the fragments. Since the pilgrims must reach Sittingbourne on the penultimate day of travel, Fragment C cannot follow Fragment F. To accommodate references to specific places, Fragment C must follow Fragment B1. This ordering suggests solutions to other difficulties related to time and indicates that Chaucer must have been working around a group of untold tales.
Coletti, Theresa. "The Mulier Fortis and Chaucer's Shipman's Tale." 15 (1981): 236-49.
In the Shipman's Tale Chaucer parodies a passage in Proverbs, a favorite passage of medieval commentators, describing the ideal wife. From the beginning, the tale shifts to cruder emphasis than the Proverbs passage. The echoes of the proverbial good wife suggest that this tale was originally intended for the Wife of Bath.
Collette, Carolyn P. "A Closer Look at Seinte Cecile's Special Vision." 10 (1976): 337-49.
Chaucer constructs the Second Nun's Tale on the polarity of sight and blindness, merely seeing as opposed to understanding. This dichotomy involves "wisdom and the relation of the body to the spirit" (338). Timaeus, De doctrina christiana, and Psychomachia also examine this theme, and study of these three works elucidates the Second Nun's Tale. The Prologue establishes the limits of the flesh but also indicates its victories. The action of the tale shows how men should subdue their fleshly desires, seek spiritual vision, and ultimately gain wisdom.
Collette, Carolyn P. "Heeding the Counsel of Prudence: A Context for the Melibee." 29 (1995): 416-33.
Prudence is most often associated with males, particularly rulers, as a study of texts by John of Salisbury and Christine de Pisan shows. In Christine's works, however, Prudence begins to acquire feminine characteristics. She is associated with avoiding violence, both on the political level, and between husband and wife. Chaucer's Prudence in the Tale of Melibee is a noble wife, conducting herself in accordance with the behavior patterns outlined in the French models. Even the Host associates Prudence with the traditional advice given to wives about patience. Thus the Tale of Melibee engages traditional materials directed towards women.
Collette, Carolyn. "Seeing and Believing in the Franklin's Tale." 26 (1992): 395-410.
Readers can examine the Franklin's Tale in terms of medieval theories of sight, vision, and will. Chaucer's focus on sight and the illusions of appearance is an original addtion to the source material in the Filostrato, and Historia regnum Britanniae. Dorigen's complaint revolves around her perception of the rocks. Her agreement with Aurelius uses the different perceptions among people and also engages the appearance and reality debate, as does the episode with the Clerk of Orleans. For those living in the Middle Ages, "sight was the chief of the physical senses" (401). By Chaucer's time, people valued mystical insight in a neo-Platonic way. The neo-Platonic tradition conflicted with Aristotelian views in which sight corresponded to reality, and created new opinions regarding how sight and experience became knowledge. In the fourteenth century people became fascinated by optical science and how the ability to see physically interacts with mental acuity of perception. The ability to see was also related to the will and a person's ability to perceive truth, as Augustine shows in De trinitate. Dorigen's obsession with the sight of the rocks creates a situation in which the marriage vow is questioned, thereby engaging this debate. Chaucer also examines sight and perception in the Second Nun's Tale and the Canon's Yeoman's Tale.
Collette, Carolyn P. "Sense and Sensibility in the Prioress's Tale." 15 (1980): 138-50.
The fourteenth century focused on God's love as a vital force in the universe which was expressed in some ways by a tender description of The Virgin Mary. The Prioress depicts the fourteenth century idea of God's particular love by kindness to mice and dogs. That the little boy learns Alma Redemptoris Mater by memory without understanding it symbolizes innocent faith. The Prioress's Tale reflects the fourteenth-century focus on the particular and the emotion that it arouses.
Collette, Carolyn P. "'Ubi peccaverant, ibi punirentur': The Oak Tree and the Pardoner's Tale." 19 (1984): 39-45.
Throughout the Old Testament, the oak tree is associated with death and with choice. When the three rioters find the gold, they must choose between God and money, life and death.
Collette, Carolyn P. "Umberto Eco, Semiotics, and the Merchant's Tale." 24 (1989): 132-38.
Medieval semiotics asserted that meaning came from God and from latent knowledge. Modern semioticians believe that signs are attached to specific things and ideas. Reading tales like the Merchant's Tale semiotically adds to our appreciation of the tale.
Condren, Edward I. "Of Deaths and Duchesses and Scholars Coughing in Ink." 10 (1975): 87-95.
The opening lines of the Book of the Duchess express the poet's search for his text as well as his desire for the lady. The poem will fulfill both longings, resulting in sleep, dreams, and poetry. Readers should be cautious as only puns and a title connote Blanche. In fact, the Queen's death may have occasioned most of the poem. The man in black is probably a love poet, suggesting that he represents Chaucer. The king, then, becomes the Earl of Richmond. Gaunt cannot be an inconstant lover because he did not love Constance of Castille, though he kept Katherine Swynford as a mistress. Thus Gaunt could not claim insult because he appears in the poem only briefly.
Condren, Edward I. "The Historical Context of the Book of the Duchess: A New Hypothesis." 5 (1971): 195-212.
Readers will never know with certainty the context of this poem, though we recognize that Blanche of Lancaster is the subject of this elegy. External evidence suggests that Chaucer wrote it between 1369 and 1387, but internal evidence points to a more specific date. The narrator's "phisicien" and the man in black's lady are one and the same. Also, the knight and the narrator provide two different reactions to Blanche's death. Further, the man riding toward Richmond cannot be the man in black because he is on foot and not associated with the hunt, and the riding man is not given a social rank. The knight has dedicated his service to Love, not to Blanche, so he cannot be her husband. The knight might be identified as Chaucer, particularly since the knight is a budding poet, and poets in Chaucer's other works often turn out to be Chaucer himself. In their two responses to death, the knight and the narrator seem to be two different figurations of the same person. The way in which the work progresses, then, depends on the process of Chaucer's patronage after the death of Blanche under Edward III, John of Gaunt, and Henry IV.
Condren, Edward I. "The Prioress: A Legend of Spirit, A Life of Flesh." 23 (1989): 192-218.
Criticism of the Prioress remains divided between those who believe she is austere and those who belive she is compassionate. Primarily critics question whether the Prioress understands her behaviors and her tale. Her portrait, prologue, and tale reveal conflicting impulses: she is a woman and a nun. Her prologue asserts three things, that the ability to honor God and the Virgin Mary comes from spiritual energy, that she needs that energy to complete her tale, and that faith will accomplish salvation. The prologue and tale parallel each other. The Prioress never understands her story or its repugnant qualities. Her prologue and tale are not about the Prioress's duality, but picture the metaphysical union of flesh and spirit. The grain on the boy's tongue represents the carnal fleshly nature, the product of male "seed," so when it is removed, the boy is purely spirit and is released from earth to go to paradise.
Conlee, John W. "The Meaning of Troilus' Ascension to the Eighth Sphere." 7 (1972): 27-36.
The stanzas which describe Troilus in the spheres are connected to the classical and medieval motif of a celestial journey. Chaucer integrates Greek, Roman, and Christian ideas of immortality into Troilus and Criseyde by varied use of the number eight and its numerological connotations in medieval thought. Troilus ascends to the eighth sphere, and the number eight indicates "completion of a cycle . . . purification; and immortality, eternity, and eternal salvation" (34). Thus Chaucer can, by introducing numerology, prepare the way for the section on Christian love that ends the poem.
Connolly, Margaret. "Chaucer and Chess." 29 (1994): 40-44.
Chaucer's use of the chess metaphor in the Book of the Duchess is confused, even from a medieval perspective on the game. Chaucer's misunderstanding can be attributed to the fact that no English translation of Liber de ludo scaccorum existed at the time Chaucer wrote, though two French translations can be dated in the mid-fourteenth century. Chaucer's knowledge of chess came via the Roman de la Rose.
Cook, Daniel. "The Revision of Chaucer's Troilus: The Beta Text." 9 (1974): 51-62.
Of the three available texts of Troilus and Criseyde, scholars have always accepted the gamma text as the most accurate version. This decision, however, is open to debate. The readings given by the beta text differ significantly from both the alpha and gamma versions, and since most changes improve the quality of the text by adding detail, they cannot be considered merely scribal. Thus, the beta text must be accepted as the most authoritative.
Cook, James W. "'That she was out of all charitee': Point-Counterpoint in the Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale." 13 (1978): 51-65.
St. Augustine and St. Ambrose teach that marriage is a sacrement which confers a particular kind of grace on its participants unless the adult does not intend to do what the church does or has mortally sinned. The Wife's arguments for serial remarriage are theologically sound, but her accounts of her marriages also indicate an unwillingness to submit to divine will, resulting in "sin, gracelessness, and loss of charity" (54). She also refuses to unite her will with any one of her spouses, focusing instead on benefitting herself. Such self-focus signifies a sinner, and her persistence in this sin makes her progressively less likey to receive grace in the sacrament of marriage. In the Wife of Bath's Tale, the moment when the young knight agrees to let the old hag choose her form herself is the moment when the sacrament of their marriage gives grace to the knight. When the hag then chooses to submit to the knight, she makes the marriage mutual, thereby achieving charity. The Wife, however, will never achieve such charity or the accompanying correction of her ways because she will never submit to a husband in accordance with the sacrament.
Cook, Robert. "The Canon's Yeoman and His Tale." 22 (1987): 28-40.
In the Canon's Yeoman's Tale the teller is most important. Like the Wife of Bath and the Pardoner, the Canon's Yeoman is self-revealing. Unlike the Pardoner and the Wife, the Canon's Yeoman is slowly changing his life, repudiating alchemy. He shows a desire to avoid becoming a false alchemist and to warn others of the evils of alchemy. These concerns affect the way he tells his tale.
Cooper, Helen. "Chaucer and Joyce." 21 (1986): 142-54.
Chaucer's Canterbury Tales and James Joyce's Ulysses share a focus on naturalism, a recognition on the author's part that language is highly metaphorical, and the use of revered past works. Both works are structured in naturalistic terms and attempt to show the spectrum of their societies. Joyce and Chaucer use a wide variety of styles, demonstrating authorial virtuosity. Each author also includes a section in which he parodies accepted forms. Chaucer does not expect his readers to know his narrative sources, as Joyce expects readers to know Ulysses. Both authors do expect their readers to recognize their allusions.
Correale, Robert M. "Chaucer's Manuscript of Nicholas Trevet's Les Cronicles." 25 (1991): 238-65.
Scrutiny of the two families of texts of Trevet's Cronicles can indicate which text Chaucer used for the Man of Law's Tale and can show what changes he made to his source. The passages borrowed directly from the source reveal that Chaucer used a text belonging to Family A. Other elements seem to have come from the B texts. But, once all the references and changes are collected, the text Chaucer used seems to be most similar to the Paris text, produced for a noble family.
Correale, Robert M. "Chaucer's Parody of Compline in the Reeve's Tale." 1 (1967): 161-66.
The clerks distort the prayers of the Compline service in their curse of the miller and his family, and also in their "swyving" of the miller's wife and daughter. Chaucer then parodies the secular aube (morning song). The action of the tale parodies one of the most solemn Compline prayers.
Cotton, Michael E. "The Artistic Integrity of Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde." 7 (1972): 37-43.
Chaucer associates Criseyde with the moon, thus indicating Criseyde's changeableness. The other planets also function as foreshadowing elements, moving human actions to a different, sometimes ironic, place where Chaucer can connect these events to universal patterns. This link allows Chaucer to make divine and hellish allusions. The imagery of planets and pagan gods develops the theme of Fortuna and instability.
Covella, Sister Frances Dolores. "Audience as Determinant of Meaning in the Troilus." 2 (1968): 235-45.
An author's tone and attitude significantly affect what the author says; in Troilus and Criseyde, Chaucer's tone and attitude toward his audience create a number of verbal ironies. Chaucer's narrator makes every effort to defend Criseyde's actions, and when they become indefensible, he begins to distance himself from her behavior, constantly referring to his sources. In the epilogue, the change in tone can be attributed to Chaucer's perceived change in audience from a listening group of ladies and gentlemen conversant with the code of courtly love to a reading audience which might not have such familiarity with that code. The irony in Troilus and Criseyde seems to grow out of the relationship between Chaucer and his audience, creating more humor than corrective satire.
Covella, Sister Frances Dolores. "The Speaker of the Wife of Bath Stanza and Envoy." 4 (1970): 267-83.
Given the Clerk's characterization in the General Prologue and in his tale, readers must find it difficult to believe that he is the speaker of the whole Envoy which appears at the end of his tale, particularly since it includes the "Wife of Bath" stanza which disputes the moral of his tale. Manuscript evidence does not clearly indicate whether the Clerk mockingly imitates the Wife or whether he indeed speaks the entirety of the Envoy or if the Pardoner, the Host, or the Wife may have interrupted the Clerk at this point. Of the four possible speakers, the Wife of Bath seems most probable, but there is not conclusive evidence to support this assertion.
Cox, Lee Sheridan. "A Question of Order in the Canterbury Tales." 1 (1967): 228-52.
The critical debate regarding the identity of the interrupter in the Man of Law's endlink has been endless. The candidates have been the Wife of Bath, the Shipman, the Squire, and the Summoner. The argument for the Shipman rests on the assumption that his tale was first assigned to the Wife, but later transferred to the Shipman when she was given another tale. Differences in manuscripts complicate the problem, but one can show that the Man of Law-Shipman theory rests on the best and generally most authoritative manuscripts.
Crampton, Georgia Ronan. "'Blow, Northerne Wynd' and the Heart's Health." 15 (1981): 183-203.
Careful examination of the text reveals tensions and ambiguities which give "Blow, Northerne Wynd" a cohesive structure. The allegory of "Blow, Northerne Wynd" may be read as dream, making the poem a dream vision.
Crane, Susan. "The Franklin as Dorigen." 24 (1990): 236-52.
The Franklin's insecurity about his rank draws the attention of readers to concerns about class. As a woman, Dorigen holds a marginal position similar to the Franklin's social position. Chaucer thus associates class and gender in order to examine "the ways in which romance imagines the possibilities and the constraints of self-defintion" (237). The Franklin and Dorigen also have similar relationships to clerical writings: both refuse the authority of clerkly writings. Dorigen resists suicide in the same way the Franklin resists romance conventions.
Crawford, William R. "The House of Chaucer's Fame." 3 (1969): 191-203.
Crawford presents a critical review of Chaucer studies appearing in 1967.
Dahlberg, Charles. "The Narrator's Frame for Troilus." 15 (1980): 85-100.
Reading with an eye for dissimilarity may illuminate the first sentence of Troilus and Criseyde. Chaucer alters the classical form of the opening sentence to reflect more clearly the minstrel tradition. The invocation to the Muse shows the principle of contrast as does the end, which carefully alternates between Chaucer's and Boccaccio's ideas. The style follows an equally contrasting pattern, alternating between high and low styles.
Daileader, Celia R. "The Thopas-Melibee Sequence and the Defeat of Antifeminism." 29 (1994): 26-39.
The Wife of Bath problematizes the abuse of women, both physically and verbally, in her rebellion and misconstruction of authority. Chaucer responds to the Wife in the Tale of Melibee, reasserting his authority through Prudence. The rapes at the beginning of the Wife of Bath's Tale and the Tale of Melibee parallel each other in several significant ways. These violations also raise the question of how women may speak about the violation of texts and their bodies. In the Tale of Melibee, Prudence must convince Melibee to listen to her, and she does so by direct quotation from a number of texts. The Wife asserts herself by misquoting a few texts. In Prudence Chaucer responds to the Wife of Bath's feminist rhetoric which misconstrues authoritative texts by systematically addressing and dismantling those authorities.
Daley, A. Stuart. "Chaucer's 'Droughte of March' in Medieval Farm Lore." 4 (1970): 171-79.
Though many critics do not believe that England experienced drought in March, people in many regions of England tell of a drought in March. Examination of history and tradition provides different views of such weather. Because March was dry, medieval farmers planned spring planting, especially of oats, around it. March represents a specific period of the agricultural year, and Chaucer's reference to it underscores the sense of a "dry spell." For Chaucer's society, spring suggested God's divine order and covenant with humans. Thus the reference to March drought in the opening lines of the General Prologue places the Canterbury Tales at a specific point in the agricultural year.
Dane, Joseph A. "The Mechanics of Comedy in Chaucer's Miller's Tale." 14 (1980): 215-24.
In the Miller's Tale Chaucer carefully establishes two sets of characters driven by similar tensions in triangular relationships. Each plot has a victim, and the victimization of the person is the center of these plots. At the moment when John crashes down to the floor, all the character sets and different plots meet, creating a "sense of logical inevitability and utter surprise" (223).
Dane, Joseph A. "The Prioress and Her Romanzen." 24 (1990): 219-22.
The Prioress does not consider herself a romance heroine as careful examination of the text shows. This view is based on the use of her name, "Aiglentine" and "Aelix" in Guillaume de Dole.
Daniels, Richard J. "Uxor Noah: A Raven or a Dove?" 14 (1979): 23-32.
Of the Chester, York, and Towneley Noah plays depicting Uxor as a shrewish wife, the Towneley play shows superior handling of the shrewish wife material. The Towneley Noah speaks more than the Noah characters of the Chester and York cycles, and the Towneley Noah presents solid reasons for God to destroy humankind. In both the York and Chester plays, Uxor refuses, when requested, to enter the ark, but seems agreeable prior to this incident. The Towneley Uxor, however, fights with Noah before the issue of entering the ark arises. In order to convince Uxor to enter the ark the Towneley Noah must beat her into agreeing and receives blows himself in the process. The humanity of this struggle has greater dramatic effect than the smoother relationships depicted in the Chester and York Noah plays. Noah and Uxor reach agreement in the ark, and demonstrate their new accord when they release the raven and the dove. At the end of the play, the Towneley Uxor shows that she is more dove-like (faithful and true) than raven-like (faithless and disobedient).
David, Alfred. "Chaucer's Good Counsel to Scogan." 3 (1969): 265-74.
The Envoy to Scogan is much more than a begging poem; like some of Edward Deschamp's poetry, Scogan is a light poem offering advice. The poem suggests that it is occasioned by a blasphemous oath regarding a lady, and Scogan becomes more intelligible if read as if written to a young poet to tell him that in this life, all is transitory. Humor rises from the similarities between Scogan and Chaucer, and the similarities drive home the point. In Scogan, Chaucer offers advice based on experience in love, but he also suggests that poetry itself is not eternal.
David, Alfred. "In Memoriam: E. Talbot Donaldson, 1910-1987." 22 (1988): 251-52.
E. Talbot Donaldson was an excellent scholar whose tireless work on Chaucer gained him highest honors. He used his prestige to help other scholars.
David, Alfred. "The Truth about 'Vache.'" 11 (1977): 334-37.
"Vache" or "vacca" in Chaucer's Truth most likely refers to a sacrificial animal, but it may also function in the sense of the "wanton heifer" (335) of Hosea. Any interpretation must, however, account for the fact that "vache" only appears in one of twenty-nine manuscripts of the poem.
Davis, Adam Brooke. "The Ends of Fiction: Narrative Boundaries and Chaucer's Attitude toward Courtly Love." 28 (1993): 54-66.
Troilus and Criseyde is about the limits of convention and the way the cult of courtly love engages the problems of lovers. Furthermore, the love conventions restrict the role of women. Criseyde bargains her way out of these restrictions, finding Troilus a safe lover when he is separate from Pandarus.
Davis, R. Evan. "The Pendant in the Chaucer Portrait. "17 (1982): 193-95.
The pendant Chaucer wears in all of his portraits may be an ampulla filled with the diluted blood of St. Thomas a Becket and a sign of a pilgrimage to his shrine.
Davlin, Sister Mary Clemente, O. P. "Petrus, id est, Christus: Piers the Plowman as 'The Whole Christ.'" 6 (1972): 280-92.
Piers Plowman represents the idea that "Church-Christian-man-God" are one in Christ (282). Passus XVI and XVIII depict man becoming God and God becoming man. In Passus XVI, Piers uses the second of three props for the tree of charity to preserve the fruit and force the devil out of the garden, representing man's heart. This second prop is called Filius, the Son. Piers's use of the stake shows how man becomes incorporate to Christ. In Passis XVIII, Jesus wears Piers's armor, thus demonstrating the idea that God has become man and allowing readers to perceive the relationships between these different parts. A number of different instances indicate that Jesus and Piers are separate. If Piers is Christ entire while remaining human, then God and human nature are inseparably joined by the incarnation. In Passus XIX, however, Piers becomes St. Peter and later popes. As Piers demonstrates, grace gives each man a "semi-divine quality" (291), which makes each Christian Christ. By shifting Piers's identity, Langland drives the reader to seek Christ as the constant behind Piers's different personifications.
Dawson, Robert B. "Custance in Context: Rethinking the Protagonist of the Man of Law's Tale." 26 (1992): 293-308.
Most critics write Custance off as a silent woman. Scrutiny of Custance and her position, however, indicates that she has a strong voice and that "her relation to her narrator is much more complex than has been generally realized" (295). Her first speech draws attention to the cruelty of her parents, but her criticism is carefully hidden along with her egocentricity and unconcern for the eternal destination of others. In keeping with her lack of concern, Constance offers no prayers for her murdered companions. She also attempts to manipulate God by prayer and chastises her father for his failure to seek for her though she could hardly not know that he had spent time and money on just such a search. To read Custance as a victim ignores the gap between what she says and what she does and the irony this distance creates.
Dean, Christopher. "Chaucer's Play on the Word Beere in Troilus and Criseyde." 15 (1981): 224-26.
The meanings "bier" and "pillow" work well in Pandarus's line when he brings Troilus his "beere."
Dean, Christopher. "Salvation, Damnation and the Role of the Old Man in the Pardoner's Tale." 3 (1968): 44-49.
By regarding the story of the three revelers as an exemplum, one separates the character of the old man from the Pardoner. The old man, who gives the sternest of the three warnings the revelers receive, can then be shown to represent two sides of God--mercy and justice.
Dean, James. "Artistic Conclusiveness in Chaucer's Parliament of Fowls." 21 (1986): 16-25.
The uncertainty that frustrates Chaucer scholars in the Parliament of Fowls is a deliberate attempt to show that art has the capacity "to force a conclusion where there can be no true closure" (16). The narrator's confusion and wavering, the pun on "parlement," the incongruity of human-like birds, and the structure of the poem itself create the sense of inconclusion. The roundel at the end does not necessarily follow the "conclusion" of the parliament. The lyric does, however, demonstrate certainty in both content and form, and it evokes a sense of harmony. The dreamer's awakening, however, undercuts the sense of conclusion that the roundel provided and hints that such questions might not be resolved.
Dean, James. "Chaucer's Repentance: A Likely Story." 24 (1989): 64-76.
Though present-day readers are skeptical that Chaucer cried in repentance on his deathbed, the placement of the Parson's Tale and the "Retraction" at the end of the Canterbury Tales suggests that Chaucer followed Langland, Mandeville, Deguilleville, and Gower in retraction, but Chaucer changes the tradition. In works by each of the other four, a journey or pilgrimage is followed by episodic experience or storytelling, followed by age and perhaps penitence. Given the prevalence of this pattern, Thomas Gascoigne's account of Chaucer's deathbed repentence is likely to be true.
Dean, James. "Spiritual Allegory and Chaucer's Narrative Style: Three Test Cases." 18 (1984): 273-87.
Although Chaucer rarely develops allegory to the fullest extent, he creates shadings of allegory that deepen his works. Such shadings can be found in the Friar's, Pardoner's, and Canon's Yeoman's Tales.
Delany, Paul. "Constantinus Africanus' De Coitu: A Translation." 4 (1969): 55-65.
Delany provides a modern English translation of De coitu in part because it may be one of Chaucer's sources, but also because it demonstrates the medieval view of sex.
Delany, Sheila. "Doer of the Word: The Epistle of St. James as a Source for Chaucer's Manciple's Tale." 17 (1983): 250-54.
Chaucer used the epistle of St. James as a source for the Manciple's Tale. Both the epistle and the tale consider the tongue and present the power of the tongue ambivalently. Both works also stress the importance of controlling the tongue.
Delany, Sheila. "Geoffrey of Monmouth and Chaucer's Legend of Good Women." 22 (1987): 170-74.
In the Legend of Good Women, Chaucer borrows the line Thisbe uses to describe Pyramus, "betynge with his heles on the grounde" (863), from Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia regnum Britanniae.
Delany, Sheila. "'Phantom' and the House of Fame." 2 (1967): 67-74.
The narrator's plea to be protected from fantome points to his vulnerability to several kinds of error, particularly because of the phantom's separation from reality. Poets are especially susceptible to phantoms and singularly responsible not to impose them on an audience. Finally, the reader realizes that there is no perfect standard by which to distinguish truth from fiction.
Delany, Sheila. "Womanliness in the Man of Law's Tale." 9 (1974): 63-72.
More than a victim, Constance is an "Everywoman" figure who demonstrates the passivity in the face of suffering which Christianity demands (64). In the sexual aspect of her marriage, Constance shows her virtue by accepting fate and authority. Chaucer contrasts her with the Sultaness and Donegild, who seek power and do not submit to authority, thus redramatizing the dichotomy between Mary and Eve. .
Delasanta, Rodney. "Alisoun and the Saved Harlots: A Cozening of Our Expectations." 12 (1978): 218-35.
Chaucer's numerous references to Mary Magdalene indicate his knowledge of her story. When the Wife of Bath falls in love with Jankyn's feet, she parodies Mary Magdalene's repentant behavior of wiping Jesus's feet with her tears. When the Wife weeps over her fourth husband, she also parodies Mary Magdalene's uncontrollable weeping at Jesus's tomb. The Wife is upset that she is unable to continue sinning whereas Mary Magdalene cries because of her sin.
Delasanta, Rodney. "And of Great Reverence: Chaucer's Man of Law." 5 (1971): 288-310.
Chaucer creates a pattern of mistakes for the Man of Law which undermine his claim to authority. The Man of Law refers to characters mentioned in prologues to works as if they were the characters on which the work concentrated, thus suggesting that he has only read the prologues to these works, not the works themselves. Even his references to Old Testament characters reflect second-hand knowledge. In addition, Chaucer gives the Man of Law the same kind of rhetorical language he gives to characters like the Pardoner and the Merchant whom he deliberately undermines. Furthermore, in the Man of Law's Tale, Chaucer reveals the Man of Law to be a pharisee by having him paint Christians as completely good and the "enemy" as entirely evil. Chaucer thus undercuts both the Man of Law's pretended cultural refinements and his self-proclaimed righteousness.
Delasanta, Rodney. "Chaucer and Strode." 26 (1991): 205-18.
The Ralph Strode to whom Chaucer refers in the closing dedication of Troilus and Criseyde was probably the same as the philsopher Strode from Oxford, as evidence of a lawyer Strode in London after 1373 indicates.
Delasanta, Rodney. "The Horsemen of the Canterbury Tales." 3 (1968): 29-36.
The pilgrims and their horses are described in such detail as to suggest meaning beyond the traditional assertion that the horse is the libidinous body and the rider, holding the bridle, is the reasonable faculty. The quality of the horse and the appearance of its rider relate to the example of Jesus entering Jerusalem on a donkey's colt: each rider's spiritual understanding is mirrored in his/her dress and horse.
Delasanta, Rodney K., and Constance M. Rousseau. "Chaucer's Orygenes upon the Maudeleyne: A Translation." 30 (1996): 319-42.
In the Prologue to the Legend of Good Women, Orygenes upon the Maudeleyne is listed as one of the works Chaucer has translated. The reference supports Alceste's argument that Chaucer has praised women in his previous works. Study of the 130 Latin manuscripts of the homily has led to the selection of a few texts Chaucer might have used. The reference to the homily also suggests Chaucer's piety. Both an English and a Latin text are included.
DeNeef, A. Leigh. "Robertson and the Critics." 2 (1968): 205-34.
DeNeef responds to critics of Robertson's work by pointing out two primary weaknesses of the arguments against Robertson: mistakes with regard to certain details and an inadequate distinction between critical practice and theory. A bibliography of Robertson's work is included.
De Roo, Harvey. "Undressing Lady Bertilak: Guilt and Denial in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight." 27 (1993): 305-24.
Gawain's admission of guilt occurs at a surprising place in the narrative, and though he confesses cowardice, he also admits guilt for a sexual fault, even in the face of the Green Knight's pointed comments. Gawain's behavior in the bedroom with Lady Bercilak "violates the logic of the pentangle, thus contributing directly to his downfall" (311). The world of Arthur's court is a kind of artificial courtesy; Bercilak's world is the real world in which Gawain must make hard choices. In setting Gawain up for his encounters with Lady Bercilak, the poet contrasts two conceptions of Gawain, one as a Christian knight faithful to Pentangle virtues and the other as a ladies man. Gawain's invective against women is a result of a pattern of denial consistent in Gawain's behavior throughout the poem.
Dias-Ferreira, Julia. "Another Portuguese Analogue of Chaucer's Pardoner's Tale." 11 (1977): 258-60.
The oral circulation of stories like the Pardoner's Tale can be confirmed by this additional Portuguese example, provided in full. Its date and its relationship to Chaucer's tale are uncertain.
Di Cesare, Mario A. "Cristoforo Landino on the Name and the Nature of Poetry: The Critic as Hero." 21 (1986): 155-81.
Disputationes Camaldulenses is Cristoforo Landino's primary work. The work is divided into four books. Each book discusses a different topic: 1) the active and contemplative lives, 2) the ultimate good, 3) the Aeneid books I-IV, and 4) the Aeneid books IV-VI. Contrary to scholarly opinion, Disputationes Camaldulenses is not primarily a philosophical work, but a careful consideration of poetry that puts forth the view of the poet as hero. Landino chooses Alberti for his primary figure because Alberti modeled a balance between activity and contemplation and because "he . . . unites all the artists in himself" (163). Alberti thus becomes the poet-hero. In his work, Landino achieves harmony between Christian, Platonic, and Humanistic thought. For Landino, critic and poet are closely connected; both are active and contemplative figures. The poet is, however, of a higher order than the critic. In Disputationes Camaldulenses, poetry not only contains and supersedes all arts, it becomes "the way of knowing" (176).
DiMarco, Vincent. "Nero's Nets and Seneca's Veins: A New Source for the Monk's Tale." 28 (1994): 384-92.
The second stanza of the Monk's treatment of Nero has no source either in the Roman de la Rose or in the Consolation of Philosophy. However, examination of Vincent of Beauvais's Speculum historiale and Jacobus de Voraigne's Legenda aurea reveals that Chaucer borrowed details and motivations for Nero from these works.
DiMarco, Vincent. "Richard Hole and the Merchant's and Squire's Tales: An Unrecognized Eighteenth-Century (1797) Contribution to Source and Analogue Study." 16 (1981): 171-80.
In writing Remarks on the Arabian Nights' Entertainments, Richard Hole alludes to a seventeenth-century analogue for the Merchant's Tale by Inayat Allah Kaubu in Bahar-i Danish. The 1799 translation is reprinted here with comments. The Elder Pliny's Historia naturalis may be the source for the Squire's magic sword.
Donaldson, E. Talbot. "Venus and the Mother of Romulus: The Parliament of Fowls and the Pervigilium Veneris." 14 (1980): 313-18.
Chaucer took the reference to Rhea Silvia in the Parliament of Fowls from Pervigilium, not from Ovid, as has been previously suggested.
Donner, Morton. "Agent Nouns in Piers Plowman." 21 (1987): 374-82.
In Piers Plowman Langland's use of a proportionally large number of suffixed agent nouns demonstrates a recognition of the importance of the relationship between linguistic forms and content. These nouns assert Langland's conception of the world as working people performing varied tasks, andagent nouns express the evils of society and church corruption particularly well. The nouns also show how each different task has a different place within the church. In addition, agent nouns give life to allegorical figures.
Donner, Morton. "Derived Words in Chaucer's Boece: The Translator as Wordsmith." 18 (1984): 187-203.
Careful examination of Chaucer's translation of Boece reveals how Chaucer thought about language and translation. He borrows words for which he can find no English equivalent or which denote exactly the right meaning. A number of Chaucer's innovative words are gerunds, and most of them have English, not French or Latin roots. Others are present participles and formations using "un-" as a prefix. The formation of gerunds and present participles is not as frequent in Chaucer's original work, suggesting that he used more linguistic innovation when translating. Chaucer also makes nouns from verbs by using the "-er" suffix. The care Chaucer uses to translate Boece shows his respect for meaning and language.
Donner, Morton. "Derived Words in Chaucer's Language." 13 (1978): 1-15.
Chaucer uses original word derivations for a number of reasons such as rhyme, meter, parallelism, and translation. Primarily, Chaucer seeks to make his language work hard by creating or choosing exactly the right word. Chaucer also used prefixes like "un-" and suffixes like "-less" and "-ish" to create new words and sharpen his poetry. Gerunds, nouns formed from adjectives, and conversion nouns and verbs all contribute to the strength and impact of Chaucer's poetry.
Donner, Morton. "The Gawain-Poet's Adverbs." 26 (1991): 65-82.
The alliterative tradition uses more flat adverbs than adjectives and requires them to carry more weight. Adverbs are particularly useful in alliterative verse because they can modify intransitive verbs and non-alliterative subjects or objects. Adverbs also work to "keep the sound of [the] words in harmony with their syntax" (68). The Pearl-Poet also uses dual-form adverbs, inflected adverbs, and adverb pairs in a variety of patterns throughout Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Patience, and Purity.
Donner, Morton. "A Grammatical Perspective on Word Play in Pearl." 22 (1988): 322-31.
The Pearl-Poet uses adverbs, particularly flat adverbs, identical in form to adjectives in order to create multiple levels of word play in Pearl. The energy created by this construction is frequently linked to the gulf between the dreamer and the maiden.
Donner, Morton. "Word Play and Word Form in Pearl." 24 (1989): 166-82.
The Pearl-Poet uses word play to create the experience of dualism for the reader in such a way that the form of the poem expresses its content. The poet accomplishes this dualism through lexical repetition and word clustering. He uses different lexical forms to provide an image of completeness. Link-words allow for the poet to create the experience of dualism within the language of the text. The writer uses the suffixes "-less" and "-ful" to indicate their opposites. Most "-less" words express positive qualities and most "-ful" words show improper excess. All in all, the Pearl-Poet shows great lexical artistry.
Doob, Penelope B. R. "Chaucer's 'Corones tweyne' and the Lapidaries. 7 (1972): 85-96.
"Corones" is a different spelling of "ceraunius," a semi-precious stone also named thunderstone. "Tweyne" refers to the two common colors, red and blue, good colors for a lady's eyes and lips. The reference to "corones tweyne" in Troilus and Criseyde suggests that the stones' power will kill Troilus and that Criseyde is to use the stones' power for healing. Though by scorning Troilus Criseyde shows pride, generally punished by a thunderbolt, Criseyde can use her beauty to save Troilus and not draw her punishment. In addition, the colors of the ceraunius fit with references to other gems in the poem.
Dubs, Kathleen E., and Stoddard Malarkey. "The Frame of Chaucer's Parlement." 13 (1978): 16-24.
The opening stanza of the Parliament of Fowls expresses a poet's concern with shaping his raw materials into poetry. The writer-narrator of the Parliament is more detached than the narrator of the Book of the Duchess; the narrator of the Parliament achieves detachment through the frame of book, then dream. The dismissal of Somnium Scipionis in the opening stanzas of the Parliament can be read as part of Chaucer's concern with writing, and understanding the Parliament as a poem about writing illuminates the poem's circular structure.
Duncan, Charles F. "'Straw for youre gentilesse': The Gentle Franklin's Interruption of the Squire." 5 (1970): 161-64.
The Franklin's interruption of the Squire releases the Knight and the Host from an embarassing situation. The Host cannot stop the Squire without presuming a social position he does not possess, and the Knight cannot halt the Squire without embarassing them both. The Franklin's age and social position allow him to suspend the Squire's story without offending his social betters.
Durham, Lonnie J. "Love and Death in Troilus and Criseyde." 3 (1968): 1-11.
Troilus and Criseyde clearly praises love, but makes some suggestions about how love works. From the beginning, Chaucer associates Criseyde with the seasons, with nature. Troilus, however, he associates with death. Pandarus's comments to Troilus as Pandarus arranges for Troilus and Criseyde to meet establish a bed-equals-death metaphor. When the unconscious Troilus is thrown into Criseyde's bed and then comes to in "heaven," the metaphor becomes one of "death" and "resurrection." As Criseyde leaves Troy, she becomes an image of earthly love, associated with April showers and seasonal changes. Troilus is more idealistic; he cannot act in the more practical realm. Death becomes the gateway to love, both earthly (when he faints) and heavenly (when he physically dies).
Dwyer, Richard A. "The Appreciation of Handmade Literature." 8 (1974): 221-40.
In creating physical texts, medieval scribes believed themselves capable of filling in textual gaps. Scholars must, therefore, be aware of the scribes' participation as manuscripts were remade. Medieval writers were not concerned with the "final" version of a text, since revisions were made later by scribes. In Piers Plowman, the different versions show scribes who, enthusiastic about older forms, attempted to align Langland's text with those forms and so "fix" the manuscript. Scribal "fine-tuning" to make significant changes in the manuscript is also a problem for those studying the Canterbury Tales and Troilus and Criseyde. The changes made to "Luf es Lyf" by Rolle show how selecting verses from different poems and putting them together can allow the scribe to create his own work. The resulting inconsistencies seem even more the product of a person who is madly in love. Examination of Boethius's Consolation of Philosophy demonstrates how scribes popularized it by lifting sections from model versions and attaching them to newer transcriptions. For example, Jean de Meun's proheme appears in several manuscripts as does William of Conches commentary. Mixed prose versions eventually led to verse translations. Renaud de Louhans questionings of Boethius's rigorous stand eventually led Renaud to replace Fortune with Death, thus making the tale more accessible to those not of aristocratic background.
Dyck, E. F. "Ethos, Pathos, and Logos in Troilus and Criseyde." 20 (1986): 169-82.
The Middle Ages saw poetry as persuasive and writers looked toward earlier models to support their ideas. Geoffrey de Vinsauf's Poetria nova instructed writers on style. Augustine's De doctrina christiana suggested that poetry should persuade its audience to a greater awareness of Christian truths. Both these writers derive their ideas from the Aristotelian tradition in which a writer uses three modes to persuade, ethos (character), pathos (emotion), and logos (reason). The narrator of Troilus and Criseyde opens by appealing to ethos in order to impress readers that he is a poet. Once he undermines his status as a poet by consistently referring to Lollius instead of Boccaccio, he becomes more human, but loses ethos in his writing. At the end of the poem, he returns to ethos. Chaucer adds the appeal to pathos to what he found in Boccaccio, and although that pathos does not come directly from the narrator, it affects the audience nonetheless. The narrator's appeal to logos seems to fail, but if readers examine the poem in terms of Chaucer's appeal to logos, it is more successful.
East, W. G. "'By preeve which that is demonstratif.'" 12 (1977): 78-82.
The Wife of Bath's Tale, the Summoner's Tale, and the Friar's Tale discuss the weight of authority versus experience in resolving scholarly debate.
Eberle, Patricia J. "Commercial Language and the Commercial Outlook in the General Prologue." 18 (1983): 161-74.
The references to money in the Canterbury Tales show Chaucer's assumptions of a financially sophisticated audience aware of venal satire. In the courtly love tradition, money was spoken of only as a reward or gift, and commercial activities were ignored. The fabliau maintains this distinction, since characters focus on spending and earning. The General Prologue, however, assumes characteristics of both romance and fabliau, thus implying that Chaucer wrote for an audience that would appreciate both traditions. The Host points out that time is money and that poetry is idleness. The pilgrims treat each other in such a way as to suggest that professions, and therefore money, are closely linked to who people are.
Ebin, Lois. "Chaucer, Lydgate, and the 'Myrie tale.'" 13 (1979): 316-35.
Chaucer and the Host generate different definitions of the qualities of a good tale, and their definitions differ from Lydgate's perception. The Host operates under the definition that good stories compel the audience's attention and entertain. Chaucer seems, however, to operate under a different definition, one that examines the skill of the story-teller. This concern appears most clearly in the Reeve's Tale and the Man of Law's Tale. Chaucer further develops his concern with writing by connecting rhetorical skill to the intent of the story-teller as in the Merchant's, Squire's, Franklin's, and Pardoner's Tales. The Host's response to Melibee raises the question of multiple possible meanings. The Parson's Tale suggests an additional element of a good tale--audience benefit or edification. In Siege of Thebes, Lydgate suggests that a good tale both entertains and edifies. Lydgate moves away from his sources in order to emphasize virtues that the ruling class would imitate and to propound the power of words over the power of the sword.
Ebin, Lois. "Dunbar's Bawdy." 14 (1980): 278-86.
Dunbar uses bawdy puns in "Of the Ladyis Solistaris at Court," "In Secreit Place This Hyndir Nycht," and "The Tretis of the Tua Mariit Wemen and the Wedo" to reexamine traditional forms and courtly tradition.
Ebin, Lois. "Dunbar's 'Fresch anamalit termes celicall' and the Art of the Occasional Poet." 17 (1983): 292-99.
Dunbar uses the enameled style to make a passing event permanent in literature. In "Ane Ballat of Our Lady" for example, Dunbar uses rhyme, alliteration, and repeated sounds to create a polished surface for his text. Dunbar employs similar techniques for an equally lasting result in "The Ballade of Lord Bernard Stewart, Lord of Aubigny," "The Flyting of Dunbar and Kennedie," and "Schir, Ye Have Mony Servitouris," though these poems are considerably different from each other.
Ebin, Lois. "The Role of the Narrator in the Prologues to Gavin Douglas's Eneados." 14 (1980): 353-65.
The prologues to Eneados picture a narrator whose faltering belief in the value of poetry changes to a renewed sense of value and creativity paralleling Aneas's journey. In the process, the narrator also presents a defense of poetry. In Eneados, the narrator's experience of poetry centers on the prologue to Book VII, the numerical center of the work. At this point, the narrator emerges from a winter of decreasing poetic powers. The following prologues show the narrator directing his poetic powers in an explicitly Christian direction as he attempts "to reconcile his artistic and moral impulses" (362).
Ebin, Lois A. "The Theme of Poetry in Dunbar's 'Goldyn Targe.'" 7 (1972): 147-59.
Focused on skillfully creating poetry, Dunbar examines poets and poetry in terms of the natural world and the artistic world. In the 'Goldyn Targe,' Dunbar probes the extremes possible in a dream vision. Section I shows how the sun affects the countryside. In the dream portion, the poet makes this effect analogous to the poet's effect on his subject. References to Homer and Cicero shift the readers' focus to the allegory. In Section III, light becomes good writing: the poet should elucidate his matter in the same way which the dream section has examined poets and poetry. Dunbar's view of the relationship between the two appears in his other works as well.
Eckhardt, Caroline D. "Arthurian Comedy: The Simpleton-Hero in Sir Perceval of Galles." 8 (1974): 205-20.
In the English version of Sir Perceval of Galles, the author maintains Perceval's countrified qualities so that even after he has been a knight, these qualities remain. In addition, the writer places less emphasis on the darker aspects of Perceval's personality. The result is a loss of the darker undertones and a strengthening of the comedic aspects of the story. The story also seems controlled by a common sense and rationality that reduce tolerance for the inexplicable. Perceval maintains his rough character throughout the tale, making many foolish mistakes, but since these errors are not of great import, they heighten the comic effect. Thus, Perceval is excited to fight, but not terribly concerned that he fight for good reasons. When he fights the Red Knight, he appears as the anti-knight, merely sorry that the game is finished, and the comedy results from the incongruity between Perceval's words and his deeds. The writer carefully focuses on Perceval: in the symetrical plot, there are no extra details or people, and motifs and natural details are sustained.
Economou, George. "The Character Genius in Alan de Lille, Jean de Meun, and John Gower." 4 (1970): 203-10.
To appreciate fully the Genius character in medieval literature, readers must understand the tradition behind it. In the work of Alanus de Insulis, Genius serves Nature, excommunicating those who have disobeyed her laws. Nature says that Genius is a mirror image of herself, but the only common features are those relating to Nature's role as procreatrix. Thus when Genius condemns, he functions as part of Nature. Jean de Meun makes Genius a confessor in addition to his role as priest and spokesman. In Jean, the Christian view of love is assigned to Raison instead of Genius and Nature who represent the generative instinct without regard for the convention of marriage. Jean thus separates rationality and sexuality, causing Nature to battle Death at a more organic level. In Roman de la Rose, Venus and her son stand for lust, and thus they oppose Nature and Genius. Gower casts the relationship betwen Nature and Venus in the same way as de Lille did. So, in Confessio amantis, Gower introduces Genius as Venus's clerk, not as Nature's because that is the way Jean treated them.
Edden, Valerie. "Sacred and Secular in the Clerk's Tale." 26 (1992): 369-76.
The Clerk's Tale has been called an exemplum of patience. In this view Griselda's patience toward Walter, who is not a deity, but a cruel, vicious man, shows how much patience Christians should display toward God. The Clerk's Tale presents a more secular version of Griselda's story than that found in Petrarch. In the Clerk's Tale, Griselda's primary concerns are earthly, not eternal. Moreover, she only calls on God twice, and the focus in the tale is on human vows, which prepares the reader for the Clerk's reference to the Wife of Bath. Comparison to Custance's response to God in her sufferings reveals the earthly concerns of the Clerk's Tale.
Edwards, A. S. G. "Friar's Tale, D 1489: 'At oure prayere.'" 28 (1993): 146-47.
The use of the word "prayere" (1489) in the Friar's Tale is probably a corruption resulting from transmission of "pray" or "prey." By this reading, the devils are at their "prey."
Edwards, A. S. G. "House of Fame 2018: An Unnecessary Emendation." 25 (1990): 78-79.
The reading "laugh" for "languisshe" in line 2018 of House of Fame Book III makes the most sense of the passage. Laugh could easily have degenerated into languish through scribal transmission.
Edwards, A. S. G. "Man of Law's Tale 517: A Conjectural Emendation." 25 (1990): 76-77.
Changing "out" to "not" in line 517 of the Man of Law's Tale resolves the problem of Constance's request for death.
Edwards, A. S. G., and Linne R. Mooney. "Is the Equatorie of the Planets a Chaucer Holograph?" 26 (1991): 31-42.
The fact that the Equatorie of the Planetis was prepared on vellum with carefuly drawn and colored illustrations and that the insertions seem to correct scribal errors suggest that this text is not a holograph of any author. Scientific texts were often written at universities by those using less-formal script. Given the uncertainty of the holographic nature of the text, it is difficult to assert that Chaucer was the writer.
Eggebroten, Anne. "Laughter in the Second Nun's Tale: A Redefinition of the Genre." 19 (1984): 55-61.
Though readers often feel that laughter is an inappropriate response to the Second Nun's Tale, Chaucer carefully alters his sources (Jacobus de Voraigne's Legenda aurea and the anonymous Passio S. Caeciliae) in order to increase further the hilarity of the story. The creation of such laughter is common in medieval saints' lives.
Eisner, Sigmund. "Canterbury Day: A Fresh Aspect." 27 (1992): 31-44.
References in the text clearly indicate that the pilgrimage to Canterbury took place on a single day. Given the information in the text, and in the Equatorie of the Planetis, the Treatise on the Astrolabe, and Nicholas Lynn's Kalendarium, the date and year of the pilgrimage can be fixed as April 18, 1394.
Eisner, Sigmund. "Chaucer as Technical Writer." 19 (1985): 179-201.
Chaucer's Treatise on the Astrolabe shows his ability to communicate technical information to readers at all levels of knowledge, especially when compared to his contemporaries who wrote for those already possessing a basic knowledge of the subject. When translating, Chaucer adds specific details to the original work as he did when he translated the Livre de Melibee et de Prudence. Such details allow Chaucer to teach by example and to help his readers to remember the information.
Eisner, Sigmund. "The Ram Revisited: A Canterbury Conundrum." 28 (1994): 330-43.
Readers must realize that the sign of the Ram and the constellation of the Ram are completely different. The date given by the placement of the Ram at the beginning of the Canterbury Tales is April 17, but the references to the stars function on two different levels. On one level Chaucer tells about the mid-point of Aries. On the other Chaucer creates a pilgrimage between Aries and Libra, telling of the lifespan of humankind.
Elbow, Peter H. "How Chaucer Transcends Oppositions in the Knight's Tale." 7 (1972): 97-112.
Though there are a number of opposing elements in the tale, the opposition between Palamon and Arcite is based on a number of subtle differences. Palamon is "open, impulsive, and naive" (98), while Arcite is "toughminded" (99). Thus, Arcite can distance himself from the events which occur, but Palamon cannot. The two lovers are, however, remarkably similar, and this similarity allows Chaucer to examine the question of comparative worth. Chaucer uses Theseus, Saturn, and the First-Mover speech to broaden his examination of the central problem: which lover is more worthy to be loved? The First-Mover speech indicates that neither lover deserves Emily more than the other and also draws other opposing elements of the tale into accord.
Ellis, Deborah S. "Chaucer's Devilish Reeve. " 27 (1992): 150-61.
Chaucer carefully orchestrates the Reeve's portrait so that he appears most diabolical. The Reeve's physical appearance makes him suspect, as do his profession and his delight in stealing and lying. His language also is confused, and he thinks of sermons as games.
Ellis, Steve. "Chaucer, Dante, and Damnation." 22 (1988): 282-94.
The relationship between eagle and pilgrim in Book II of the House of Fame satirizes the relationship between Dante and Virgil as it appears in the Inferno. Chaucer's view of Virgil, Aneas, and fame derives from the Convivio. In the House of Fame, the Legend of Good Women, and Troilus and Criseyde, Chaucer seems to question the end result of fame derived from literature: does it result in spiritual damnation or glorification?
Ellis, Steve. "The Death of the Book of the Duchess." 29 (1995): 249-58.
The title of the Book of the Duchess should be the Death of Blanche the Duchess. Though on the surface this distinction would seem trifling, each title makes a difference to the interpretation of the poem. The Book of the Duchess has been historically plagued by title problems, having been called the Dream of Chaucer, the Book of the Duchess, and the Death of Blanche. The critical emphasis on the Book of the Duchess as consolation hides the portrait of human beings caught between opposing forces. The two titles draw attention to the opposing interpretations of the poem as consolation or as cycle of pain.
Farnham, Anthony E. "Chaucerian Irony and the Ending of Troilus." 1 (1967): 207-16.
The ending of Troilus and Criseyde is ironic. The question at the end of the poem seems from one viewpoint to be a rhetorical question with a clear answer, and from another viewpoint to be a rebellion against such an answer. The debate seems to be between "celestial love" and "feyned love." Troilus and Criseyde participate in a false love because their love must be conducted by deceiving others. Eventually, this falsehood destroys the love it was designed to protect, and readers realize that such love falls far short of the ideal. Ironically, however, all human love falls short of divine ("celestial") love and so is false ("feyned").
Farrell, Thomas J. "Chaucer's Little Treatise, the Melibee." 20 (1985): 61-67.
In light of lexical and rhetorical practices, scrutiny of the context and use of "tretys" (2147 and 2153) in Melibee indicates that "tretys" refers to Melibee itself, not to a work in general. Although these explanations do not account for some syntactic difficulties, those problems are minor and do not significantly undermine this interpretation.
Farrell, Thomas J. "The 'Envoy de Chaucer' and the Clerk's Tale." 24 (1990): 329-36.
Scribes never regarded "Lenvoy de Chaucer" at the end of the Clerk's Tale as an integral part of the tale. In some manuscripts the Envoy is even left off entirely. The shift in verse form indicates that the Envoy is separate from the tale. Because the Clerk is so careful to identify Petrarch as his source, the attribution of the Envoy to Chaucer clarifies the originality of the Envoy in keeping with the sensitivity to authority. The Envoy clearly shows that the Clerk's Tale must be considered a response to the Wife of Bath, but the Envoy must be thought of as a separate entity from the tale while indicating that the parts of the Canterbury Tales can be read as intersecting intertextually.
Favier, Dale A. "Anelida and Arcite: Anti-Feminist Allegory, Pro-Feminist Complaint." 26 (1991): 83-94.
Anelida and Arcite provides the first evidence of a major conflict in Chaucer's poetry, "a genuinely pro-feminist impulse" (83) pitted against the ingrained anti-feminist tradition represented in allegory. Women's betrayal by men is reflected in the betrayal of meaning by poetic language. The invocation draws attention to two conflicts in the poem, that between Mars's roles as sustainer and destroyer and that between the author and his literary fathers. Furthermore, the invocation also posits that poets are not faithful lovers. Mars is the false lover, and Arcite is associated with him. The complaint makes Anelida a real person, and "demonstrates how much of the spell of poetry depends upon holding things in place, or at least appearing to" (91).
Fehrenbacher, Richard W. "'A yeerd enclosed al aboute': Literature and History in the Nun's Priest's Tale." 29 (1994): 134-48.
The reference to Jack Straw suggests the tenuousness of the separation between literature and history. A conversation between the literary and the historical can be traced throughout the poem, in that from the General Prologue to the Man of Law's Tale Chaucer engages issues of social conflict. From the Wife of Bath's Prologue to the Pardoner's Tale he considers the historical position of the pilgrims and the social position and power each thereby embodies. In the last section he presents Christianity as the shaping force of society. Analysis of the Nun's Priest's Tale reveals a movement away from history and then shows how writing cannot be separated from history, ultimately denying the ahistoricity of literature.
Fein, Susanna Greer. "Why Did Absolon Put a 'Trewelove' under His Tongue? Herb Paris as a Healing 'Grace' in Middle English Literature." 25 (1991): 302-17.
Absolon puts a truelove plant in his mouth when, in the Miller's Tale, he goes to woo Alison. Folklore assoicates this plant with luck in love, and preachers connect it to divine love. In the fourteenth century truelove plants symbolized faithful love. The Fasciculus morum, the Charter of Christ, Qui amore langueo, Loue that God Loueth, the Foure Leues of the Trewlufe link the truelove plant, by virtue of its shape, to Christ, His Passion, and grace. Mary was often added to representations of the Trinity to complete the allegory of the four leaves. She stands for the perfection of human love, as Spring under a Thorn, a late fourteenth-century lyric, depicts. Absolon's use of the truelove connects him to Mary, especially in his search for the verbal dexterity of the courtly lover. He wants grace for his speech. Ironically, all male characters are connected to the Trinity, and Alison parodies Mary.
Feinstein, Sandy. "The Reeve's Tale: About that Horse." 26 (1991): 99-106.
Though many scholars have posited that the horse in the Reeve's Tale is a stallion, agricultural records show that it is probably a gelding, thus suggesting an allegory of spiritual powerlessness resulting from a loss of self-control. The work of Lucius Junius Moderatus Columella and the Palladius on Husbandrie present the medieval view of stallions. Even if the animal is gelded, it may still experience sexual desire, and the Reeve himself exemplifies this fact. As a gelding, the horse stands for both the miller, the clerks, and the Reeve himself.
Ferris, Sumner. "Chaucer at Lincoln (1387): The Prioress's Tale as a Political Poem." 15 (1981): 295-21.
The length and opening of the Prioress's Tale make it a perfect piece to complement a gathering. Chaucer wrote the tale for Richard II to use in convincing John Buckingham, bishop of Lincoln, to support his cause. The Prioress's Tale refers to four saints and to the Virgin Mary, all related to Lincoln in some way. Mary, Nicholas, John the Evangelist, and John the Baptist are not specifically connected to Lincoln, but Saint Hugh is, and Buckingham tried unsuccessfully to promote St. Hugh. By changing a few lines to refer to the Prioress, Chaucer disguises the original occasion of the Prioress's Tale.
Ferris, Sumner. "John Stow and the Tomb of Blanche the Duchess." 18 (1983): 92-93.
John Stow's Survay of London records the date on Blanche of Lancaster's tomb as 1368, thus corroborating the likely date for the Book of the Duchess as 1368.
Ferris, Sumner. "Venus and the Virgin: The Proem to Book III of Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde as a Model for the Prologue to the Prioress's Tale." 27 (1993): 252-59.
In the Prioress's Prologue Chaucer refers to the Proem to Book III in Troilus and Criseyde. Though the similarities are not great, both passages use the same five topics in a corresponding manner.
Field, Rosalind. "'Superfluous Ribaldry': Spurious Lines in the Merchant's Tale." 28 (1994): 353-67.
Lines 2350-78 in the Caxton edition of the Merchant's Tale were added by a fifteenth-century scribe, taking up the challenge "I cannot glose" (2351). Clearly the person who contributed these lines had read Chaucer carefully. Though the Shipman's Tale also contains unnecessary bawdy, the lines in that tale do not remake the ending as they do in the Caxton version of Merchant's Tale.
Fifield, Merle. "The Knight's Tale: Incident, Idea, Incorporation." 3 (1968): 95-106.
In his sermon, Theseus does not reach a Boethian philosophy of order. Instead, he suggests that one must accept disorder in the universe as something God has made. Each incident in the tale exemplifies a section of Theseus's sermon. The first section in which Theseus captures Palamon and Arcite and the two companions fall in love with Emily illustrates Fortune's control over human events. The duel, the construction of the lists, and the tournament itself show the inefficacy of personal deeds, earthly order, and corporate acts. Fortune arbitrarily decides who will win and who will lose. Even the gods fail to order the course of events. Finally, Arcite's death and the marriage of Palamon and Emily show that the disorderly decrees of Fortune must simply be accepted.
Finlayson, John. "Definitions of Middle English Romance." 15 (1980): 44-62.
The term "romance" is highly confusing for medieval scholars. A useful distinction can be made between French romance and chansons de gestes on which English writers based their works. Romance and chanson de geste can be differentiated on the basis of the treatment of the hero, direct speech, and description of behavior. The chanson hero fights publicly; the romance hero fights for something personal. Romances have educational value: they demonstrate courtly behavior. Adventures and supernatural elements are also important to romances. Love, however, is not essential.
Finlayson, John. "Definitions of Middle English Romance: Part II." 15 (1980): 168-81.
Within romance, there are several types: those which focus on adventure and those which include love in the adventure (courtly romances). Careful examination of William of Palerne, Sir Perceval of Galles, and others reveals these different categories of romance.
Finlayson, John. "The Form of the Middle English Lay." 19 (1985): 352-68.
Few Middle English texts can claim to be lays, works modelled on the Breton lays of Marie de France. Generally, lays are "set in Brittany, concern love, and have a functional magical element" (361), though lays vary substantially between themselves. The similarities between Sir Degare, Le Freine, and Sir Orfeo, particularly in word choice may result from a joint author-translator. Examination of the works claiming to be lays--the Franklin's Tale, Erl of Tolous, Sir Launfal, Emaré, and Sir Gowther--shows that they can be divided into two types, but that the later works modify the form of the lay considerably.
Finlayson, John. "The Knight's Tale: The Dialogue of Romance, Epic, and Philosophy." 27 (1992): 126-49.
The Knight's Taleis a unique romance in English, and does not follow the typical romance form. Chaucer takes Boccaccio's characters and treats them much differently, though Chaucer does follow the traditional romance opening as seen by comparison to Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Ywain and Gawain, and the Alliterative Morte Arthure. Chaucer invokes the tradition of courtly love when Palamon and Arcite see Emily, though he adds the debate as to who has prior claim. Chaucer also takes great pains to elaborate the few differences he selects from Boccaccio, and then reverses the differences left in his sources so that Palamon becomes more like Boccaccio's Arcite. Chaucer also adds philosophical material to each character. Theseus's final speech, while Boethian in tenor, also cues the reader that the Knight's Tale is about "love and order and dignity and continuance" (147).
Finlayson, John. "The Roman de la Rose and Chaucer's Narrators." 24 (1990): 187-210.
Comparing Chaucer's dream vision narrators to the narrator in the Roman de la Rose illuminates the functions of Chaucer's narrators. In the Roman de la Rose the narrator has a number of different stances highlighting a variety of personality traits. Guillaume de Lorris's narrator psychologically coresponds to the author. In the Book of the Duchess, however, the narrator is not established with a particular autobiographical connection to the author. The places in which the narrator becomes autobiographical are merely narrative devices because texts like the Book of the Duchess and the Parliament of Fowls do not present a "consistent, 'comic persona'" (200). The narrator in House of Fame is not consistently the same, but he is constantly in attendance as the unifying device for the poem. In the Book of the Duchess and the Parliament of Fowls the narrator is not often present, nor is he consistent, and his statements show greater neutrality than previous scholars have thought.
Finlayson, John. "The Satiric Mode and the Parson's Tale." 6 (1971): 94-116.
The Parson's Tale must be read in light of the Canterbury Tales as a whole. In writing effective satire, Chaucer provides a norm for his pilgrims in the Knight, the Plowman, and the Parson, but readers must also recognize the corresponding vice. For the Canterbury Tales, however, readers should see that the satire is only partially based on moral judgment. The Knight, as the first portrait, presents an ideal that the following portraits wear away. Refusing to position the pilgrims in a particular order of vice or virtue suggests, however, that people are neither wholly good nor wholly bad, but mixtures of both. By placing the Parson's Tale at the end, Chaucer reminds his readers of the norm, but also indicates that the pilgrims are not allegories for vices or virtues, but portraits of human beings. Further examination of the tale reveals that it does not give readers a key to the work and that the norm it asserts is "in process" (111). The Parson, then, is a person as well, not merely the norm dressed up to look like a person.
Finnel, Andrew J. "The Poet as Sunday Man: 'The Complaint of Chaucer to His Purse.'" 8 (1973): 147-58.
Chaucer probably took lodging in Westminister Abbey in order to gain sanctuary from his creditors. Thus, when Chaucer asks to be let out of this "toune," he may be asking for money to pay his debts in order to leave the Abbey without being arrested. This reading allows for more accurate dating of the "Complaint"--after December 24, 1399.
Finnie, W. Bruce. "On Chaucer's Stressed Vowel Phonemes." 9 (1975): 337-41.
Chaucer did not provide as much assonance in his poetry as some recent scholars have suggested.
Fish, Varda. "The Origin and Original Object of Troilus and Criseyde." 18 (1984): 304-15.
Because Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde is not a personal experience for the narrator in the way that Boccaccio's Filostrato is, Chaucer's story is more about writing poetry than Boccaccio's story which is more about love. The use of Boethian imagery emphasizes the ironical nature of the narrator's position. Chaucer suggests that poetry has all the seductive power of Boccaccio's lady. In the end, Chaucer's narrator turns away from the philosophy of love and of poetry expressed by Boccaccio.
Fisher, John H. "The Three Styles of Fragment I of the Canterbury Tales." 8 (1973): 119-27.
John of Garland sets out three distinctions of style determined by class: courtiers, citizens, and rural folk. Though scholars are not sure that Chaucer knew Garland, the Knight's, Miller's, and Reeve's Tales can be shown to represent his distinctions. Close reading of the Knight's and Miller's Tales shows how the Miller's Tale parodies the Knight's Tale point for point. The Reeve's Tale is of the lowest class, depicting only animal passion. Examining the Summoner's Tale in light of class influences on language and behavior tells readers why it focuses on scatalogical rather than sexual humor. Garland's distinctions provide an additional way to examine the Canterbury Tales.
Fleissner, Robert F. "The Wife of Bath's Five." 8 (1973): 128-32.
Many medieval writers stressed numbers, especially five. Fittingly, the Wife of Bath has five husbands because this number has an equivocal position in Christian numerology and is also the number of the flesh.
Fleming, John V. "Daun Piers and Dom Pier: Waterless Fish and Unholy Hunters." 15 (1981): 287-94.
Saint Peter Damian's essay De divina omnipotentia refers both to fish out of water and to hunting. He posits that a monk who is also a business administrator will become the prey of the world in the sense of both a caught fish and a hunted deer. Chaucer also names the Monk "Peter," thus referring to St. Peter Damian.
Fleming, John V. "Deiphoebus Betrayed: Virgilian Decorum, Chaucerian Feminism." 21 (1986): 182-99.
To experience fully the effect of Troilus and Criseyde, readers must recognize within it the translations of many different works. Chaucer's alterations of the sexual consummation scene from the Filostrato draw particular attention. In describing Criseyde, the narrator does not express feminist views, but is against anti-feminism. The incident in Deiphoebus's house has striking similarities to the Biblical story of Amnon and Tamar, thus giving overtones of incest to this incident. Chaucer uses Deiphoebus to portray treacherous women, but his anti-anti-feminism forces him to undercut that image. Pandarus deceives Deiphoebus in the name of brotherly love in order to trick Criseyde. Chaucer uses a number of details to connect Pandarus's betrayal of Deiphoebus to Criseyde's betrayal by Troilus.
Fleming, John V. "The Summoner's Prologue: An Iconographic Adjustment." 2 (1967): 95-107.
The Summoner's Prologue is best understood in the context of its strong mendicant overtones and the way in which the Maria Misericordis legend has been inverted as well as its specific relation to lay confraternities. Together with the Friar's Tale, the Summoner's Prologue and Tale illustrate the crisis in Christianity in Chaucer's time.
Fletcher, Alan J. "The Topical Hypocrisy of Chaucer's Pardoner." 25 (1990): 110-26.
The Pardoner's hypocrisy was an intensely interesting topic for Chaucer's audience. The reference to the Pardoner's veiled venom suggests an anti-Lollard poem from the first half of the fifteenth century. The language Chaucer uses for the Pardoner refers to the orthodox-Lollard debate in which the orthodox accused the Lollards of hypocrisy. Chaucer probably chose the Pardoner as a character in order to examine this issue, because pardoners were traditionally hypocrites, but the Lollardry gives an added twist to conventional material.
Foley, Michael. "The Alliterative Morte Arthure: An Annotated Bibliography, 1950-1975." 14 (1979): 166-87.
This bibliography attempts to fill the need of medievalists for a comprehensive bibliography of the Alliterative Morte Arthure.
Foley, Michael M. "A Bibliography of Purity (Cleanness), 1864-1972." 8 (1974): 324-34.
Though the other works in MS. Cotton Nero A.x. have received their due critical attention, Purity or Cleanness has not. This bibliography, partially annotated, seeks to remedy that lack.
Foley, Michael. "The Gawain-Poet: An Annotated Bibliography, 1978-1985." 23 (1989): 251-82.
This bibliography attempts to continue where earlier bibliographies left off, filling the need of medievalists for an updated bibliography of scholarship related to the Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and manuscripts bound with it.
Foley, Michael M. "Gawain's Two Confessions Reconsidered." 9 (1974): 73-79.
Gawain's confession to the priest is not invalid because there is no suggestion of superstition about the girdle from either Gawain or Bercilak. The poet carefully denies the material value of the girdle, and Gawain has not broken his oath because the exchange-of-winnings agreement is not an oath but a game. Gawain is more guilty of having been false to knighthood. The two confessions are necessary because they deal with the crimes against parallel codes of conduct, the Christian code, and the knightly code.
Foster, Edward E. "Humor in the Knight's Tale." 3 (1968): 88-94.
Throughout his tale, the Knight seems unaware of the humorous statements he makes. Though the Knight deliberately skirts delicate subjects throughout the tale, his choice of language leads to unconscious puns on such words as "queynt" and "harneys." In addition to the description of the Knight's rust-spotted armor, the word play emphasizes the way the Knight maintains courtly ideals in the face of reality. The Knight's inept narrative technique also provides unintentional humor which makes many situations in the tale ironic. But even when he slips out of high style, he still manages to impose idealistic courtly forms on his tale, though these lapses point out the instability of those forms. The play between form and reality does not undermine the tale, but instead emphasizes the necessity of the forms and rituals.
Frakes, Jerold C. "'Ther nis namoore to seye': Closure in the Knight's Tale." 22 (1987): 1-7.
The events which end the story in the Knight's Tale are subject to Fortune, as are all the events in the tale. Thus, the tale is merely stopped at the end of one of Fortune's cycles, not fully closed.
Frank, Hardy Long. "Chaucer's Prioress and the Blessed Virgin." 13 (1979): 346-62.
To be fully understood, the Prioress must be viewed as the earthly representative of the Virgin Mary. The influence of Mariolatry can be seen in the courtly love tradition of describing the earthly lady in heavenly terms. The name "Eglentyne" is associated with the wild rose, a symbol of the Virgin. The Prioress's dress and attention to cleanliness reflect her position as a representative of Mary. Though the Prioress's anti-Semitism seems difficult to comprehend now, it too was part of the veneration of the Virgin Mary. The Prioress's Tale should be noted for its maternal aspects which are closely related to Mary's position as Christ's mother, not for its anti-Semitism.
Frank, Hardy Long. "Seeing the Prioress Whole." 25 (1991): 229-37.
The portrait of the Prioress that Chaucer presents to his audience shows off all the strengths that would have made the Prioress a perfect candidate for her job. She would have had to oversee the activity of the convent, entertain travellers from all classes, and know how to travel for business and pleasure. The tale she tells also reflects a high level of professionalism. Her tale associates her with the cult of Notre Dame du Puy, an association that connects all the different elements of her character. It is also an appropriate tale for the family Chaucer served.
Frank, Robert W., Jr. "The Legend of The Legend of Good Women." 1 (1966): 110-33.
The idea that the good women bored Chaucer has halted criticism of the Legend, though writers immediately following Chaucer's death seemed unaware that Chaucer thought the project unpleasant, and the Legend of Good Women remained a part of literary fare into the fifteenth century. Nineteenth-century critics derived the idea that the Legend bored Chaucer from the project's unfinished state and other assumptions about Chaucer's literary development not drawn from the work itself. Others point to passages of "mocking, humorous tone" (116). References to various women in the Book of the Duchess, the House of Fame, and the Parliament of Fowls, however, suggest that the material for the Legend had interested Chaucer for some time. He also rewrote the Prologue and mentioned the Legend in the Man of Law's Tale, surely not acts of boredom. Other passages which have been used to demonstrate Chaucer's boredom with his subject are in fact occupatio. The humorous tone does not present a problem because Chaucer characteristically lightens serious moments and because the topic itself (good women) evokes satire.
Frank, Robert W., Jr., and Edmund Reiss. "Bringing Confort and Mirthe." 1 (1966): 1-3.
"The vital and continuing interest in the study of medieval English literature" (1) is a rationale for the new journal, The Chaucer Review.
Frank, Robert W., Jr., Bruce A. Rosenberg, and R. Michael Haines. "In Memoriam: Francis Lee Utley, 1908-1974." 8.4 (1974): v.
Francis L. Utley was a great scholar and teacher, never content with what he knew, but always searching to learn more.
Frantzen, Allen J. "The Body in Soul and Body I." 17 (1982): 76-88.
Ideas about penance are the basis for Soul and Body I. Clearly, the body's behavior dictates the soul's future. The soul, however, is superior to the body, though the body may defeat the soul. Penance is the responsibility of the body to ensure the soul's well-being. The decay of the evil body after death represents the torments of the evil soul in hell, while the good soul/ body remains untouched by such destruction.
Fredell, Joel. "Late Gothic Portraiture: The Prioress and Philippa." 23 (1989): 181-91.
Chaucer adds individualizing details to the traditional portrait materials in presenting portraits of each pilgrim in the Canterbury Tales. In presenting this mixture, Chaucer borrows from the medieval tradition of portrait sculpture which likewise included individualizing details. Characterization in the Nun's Priest's Tale shows that the old rhetorical criteria do not apply to what Chaucer wants to do. Furthermore, examining the funeral sculputure of Phillipa of Hainault reminds readers of Chaucer's verbal portrait of the Prioress. The Prioress seems to be trying to make herself a courtly lady as does Philllipa of Hainault.
Freiwald, Leah Rieber. "Swych Love of Frendes: Pandarus and Troilus." 6 (1971): 120-29.
The progress of the friendship between Pandarus and Troilus parallels and comments on the progress of the relationship between Troilus and Criseyde. The classical ideal of friendship asserts that true friendship exists between self-sufficient, virtuous equals. Imperfect friendship, however, is predicated on a sense that one or both the individuals will profit from the relationship. Pandarus and Troilus have an imperfect friendship because each believes association with the other will be of benefit to himself. As Pandarus becomes less useful to the love affair, Troilus's sense of gain disappears as does his relationship to Pandarus does in corresponding fashion. In the end, Troilus has neither friend nor lover.
Frese, Dolores Warwick. "Chaucer's Clerk's Tale: The Monsters and the Critics Reconsidered." 8 (1973): 133-46.
The Clerk's Envoy releases readers from the tension created in his tale, a tension which finally is unresolved. Chaucer creates this tension by having the Clerk be so filled with his work that even common people use parts of Latin formulae for prayers. The Clerk also draws extensively from religious rule books, and he uses the image of Christ as a husband who tests his wife. This testing results in pathetic events, but is also filled with traditional religious implications. Griselda's response to Walter's tests is clearly religious. But the Clerk has difficulty maintaining his distance from his tale and as the tale progresses, he makes more and more emotional outbursts into the narrative. The Clerk's training also appears in the technical aspects of his tale. The stanzaic pattern of rhyme royale is also the pattern for the narrative. Thus Chaucer suits his tale uniquely to its teller.
Frese, Dolores Warwick. "The Nun's Priest's Tale: Chaucer's Identified Master Piece?" 16 (1982): 330-43.
The names Colle, Talbot, and Gerland, traditionally read as dogs' names, actually refer to literal, historical people, thus adding a level of satire to the Nun's Priest's Tale. Chaucer also includes his own name in this tale: the letters in "Chaunticleer" can be used to spell "Chaucer," and the letters in "Pertelote" can be arranged to suggest the name of Chaucer's wife, Phillipa Roet.
Friedman, Albert B. "The Mysterious 'Greyn' in the Prioress's Tale." 11 (1977): 328-35.
What the "greyn" is (the boy's soul, a pearl, an actual grain, leftovers of a bird legend) is in the Prioress's Tale is not nearly as important as what it does. The "greyn" provides a way to stop the boy's singing without forcing the Virgin Mary to reappear, and so allows him to be buried.
Friedman, Albert B. "The Prioress's Tale and Chaucer's Anti-Semitism." 9 (1974): 118-29.
Chaucer must be read as anti-Semitic in part because anti-Semitism was part of medieval Christianity, and Chaucer was a medieval Christian. Thus, the role the Prioress gives to Jews does not make her automatically bigoted, hypocritical, and uncharitable. The Prioress's language derives from her prayers, echoing the language of religious offices. The similarity of language suggests a parallel to the Alma redemptoris mater sung by the little boy in her tale, and hints that the tale is an expression of faith. The punishments the Jews receive would have been considered extremely cruel had the murderers not been Jewish, and Chaucer merely follows his sources in those punishments.
Friedman, John Block. "The Dreamer, the Whelp, and Consolation in the Book of the Duchess." 3 (1969): 145-62.
In the Book of the Duchess, the dog serves to draw the Dreamer and the man in black together, functioning as an instrument of healing. Before meeting the whelp, the Dreamer must join the hunt, a movement which suggests that he is ready to face a world which is awake. The dog appears to the Dreamer, coaxing him into a animal-filled forest where the Dreamer comes upon the man in black. The conversation resulting from the meeting of the two men will heal them in both a physical and psychological way. In associating the dog with physical healing, Chaucer follows a precedent established in the legend of Aesclepius, the Book of Tobit, the legend of Saint Roche, and the Tristan romance. Dogs were also associated with the search for truth in such authorities as Plato, though Chaucer probably drew his knowledge of dogs from the bestiary. By drawing the man in black and the Dreamer together, the dog leads them to healing through the recognition of the root of their sorrow and thus helps to release them from psychosomatic illness.
Friedman, John Block. "The Nun's Priest's Tale: The Preacher and the Mermaid's Song." 7 (1973): 250-66.
The Nun's Priest's training and interests contribute to his tale, since the priest could use this tale as an exemplum. The widow is a stock figure of temperance, and Chanticleer and Pertelote are depicted both as chickens and as people in order to set up the humor of the tale. The contrast between the animal and human spheres allows the Nun's Priest to mock human conventions, such as the notion of love at first sight. The text of his exemplum appears in Chanticleer's statement "Mulier est hominis confusio," which also indicates the Nun's Priest's negative attitude toward women. When Pertelote and her sisters bathe before Chanticleer, they function as mermaids who blind men to the danger of the sins of lust which they represent. Thus, the Nun's Priest's Tale can be read as a sermon containing instruction for the members of the pilgrimage.
Friedman, John Block. "A Reading of Chaucer's Reeve's Tale." 2 (1967): 8-19.
The Reeve's use of animal imagery in his tale far exceeds the number of animals usually found in fabliaux. Some of the animals Chaucer added are associated with various sins, thus suggesting a moral reading in addition to the humorous one.
Fritz, Donald W. "The Prioress's Avowal of Ineptitude." 9 (1974): 166-81.
The Prioress's claim of ineptitude indicates that she discusses the topos of the inexpressible. Instead of expressing a time-bound concept, the Prioress's words express concepts of faith. For medieval Christians, God was beyond language and the completion of life. God is, therefore, inexpressible. Augustine, Dante, the Pearl-Poet, Richard Rolle, and Malory also use this topos, as do Ambrose, St. Bonaventure, and Lydgate. The difference between the Latin of the song and the vernacular of the "real" world indicates that the reality of the song differs from the reality in which the young boy lives. This contrast also highlights the difference between the eternal and temporal worlds. Structurally, the stories of Demeter and Persephone and of the "litel clergeoun" are the same.
Fritz, Donald W. "Reflections in a Golden Florin: Chaucer's Narcissistic Pardoner." 21 (1987): 338-59.
Scrutiny of the Pardoner demonstrates that he has never achieved entry into the adult world. Instead he remains in the puer stage, as shown by his self-focus and fascination with his own desires, his fear of commitment, age, and death, and his desire for wealth. His self-centeredness diametrically opposes his presentation of himself as a great spiritual force who can absolve sins. He attracts audiences by his boldness in revealing his loathing for them. His tale also reflects his puerility. The Host's response to the Pardoner indicates that he has pierced the Pardoner's façade and will not reinforce any of the Pardoner's ego-gratification.
Fry, Donald K. "Finnsburh: A New Interpretation." 9 (1974): 1-14.
The poet recites Finnsburh to remind his audience of famous Danish victories in the face of Beowulf's recent victory over Grendel. Finnsburh links Wealtheow, Hildeburgh, and Freawaru, showing that they live where violence destroys life. Careful examination of the song also clarifies the meaning of eotena: they are giants, serving in Finn's army. A new reading of Hengest is in order since other works indicate that Anglo-Saxons could travel by sea in the winter. Hengest stays with Finn voluntarily, waiting for an opportunity to avenge Hnæf. This Danish feat parallels Beowulf's victory over Grendel and suggests a new interpretation of Hrothgar. Like Hengest, he lives with Grendel awaiting the vengeful moment.
Fry, Donald K. "Wulf and Eadwacer: A Wen Charm." 5 (1971): 247-63.
Detailed anaylsis of other Anglo-Saxon charms produces some interesting similarities to this difficult poem. However, when read in light of scribal confusion, mistakes, and variations in spelling, Wulf and Eadwacer becomes more intelligible to readers as a wen charm.
Furrow, Melissa M. "The Man of Law's St. Custance: Sex and the Saeculum." 24 (1990): 223-35.
Though often presented as disunified, the Man of Law's introduction, prologue, and tale all consider the problem of holy living in a fallen world. Because women represent fleshly desires, writers of saints lives focus more on a female saint's virginity. In the view of such writers, feminine sexuality threatens the spiritual. Female saints cannot have relationships beyond the relationship with Christ. Constance's tests in the Man of Law's Tale are her marriage to the Sultan and the consummation of her marriage to Alla. Ultimately the Man of Law suggests that women can be holy without martyrdom or sainthood.
Fyler, John M. "Love and Degree in the Franklin's Tale." 21 (1987): 321-37.
When the Franklin describes Arveragus and Dorigen's marriage, he says, "the name of soveraynetee,/ That wolde he [Arveragus] have for shame of his degree" (751-52). Properly understood, this statement suggests that Arveragus wants the "name" of sovereignty in order to offset his low social position. The name of sovereignty is a common romance motif in which the knight unknown can barely present his suit because of the difference in social station between himself and his lady. Paradoxically, once the lovers are married the male gains sovereignty. Chaucer treats the paradox of courtly love in other works including Troilus and Criseyde, the Parliament of Fowls, the Legend of Ariadne from the Legend of Good Women, and the Knight's Tale. Though the Franklin would like to believe that members of all classes can attain gentillesse, his tale suggests that ultimately gentillesse is the province of the upper classes. For its focus on these issues, the Franklin's Tale seems to respond to the Clerk's Tale most immediately.
Gallacher, Patrick J. "Chaucer and the Rhetoric of the Body." 28 (1994): 216-36.
Chaucer makes a number of different references to the body, treating the body in a number of different ways. Given different conditions, for example sickness and health, the body can be a stumbling block or a thing of beauty. Dante plays on this dichotomy in the Commedia. In medieval works, the treatment of the body is split between that of subject and object. In the Knight's Tale, Chaucer's treatment of Arcite's body results in irony and comedy. In Troilus and Criseyde the body becomes "a locus of acting and being acted upon" (221). Troilus's denial of involvement in any of Pandarus's plots makes him morally and physically inactive. Further examination of the relationship between Troilus and Criseyde reveals an imbalance of activity and passivity which ultimately contributes to a "pattern of merit and grace" (225). Griselda uses the description of her nakedness to draw attention to Walter's abuses of marriage in the Clerk's Tale. Both the Prioress's Tale and the Reeve's Tale examine the body in terms of stasis and movement. The treatment of the body as subject and object also appears in the Second Nun's Tale. Some characters and tales deride the human body, for example the Pardoner and the Manciple,. This attitude also appears in the Summoner's Tale.
Gallacher, Patrick J. "Perception and Reality in the Miller's Tale." 18 (1983): 38-48.
Perception is an interplay of the actual and the possible. In the Miller's Tale, Chaucer presents three responses to reality, represented by Alisoun. Nicholas wants to grasp Alisoun-reality. As a dandy, Absolon courts Alisoun-reality. John wants to cage Alisoun-reality. When John looks into Nicholas's room through the key hole, he dramatizes the limits of the ability to perceive. Absolon represents perception restricted by narcissism, and Nicholas, who believes he sees the situation from every perspective, discovers that he, too, is human. All three men fail to see fully the real world.
Gallacher, Patrick. "The Summoner's Tale and Medieval Attitudes towards Sickness." 21 (1986): 200-12.
In the Summoner's Tale, Chaucer alludes to the non-natural elements Galen posits as influential in recovering from sickness. In contradicting the medical tradition, the friar follows St. Ambrose who criticized physicians for instructing patients to avoid sorrow and contemplation while ill. The Summoner's Tale and the Friar's Tale, engage the dialectic between self and other, but this dialectic is affected by debate between the body and the soul in both tales. The Friar focuses on aesthetics and objective knowledge as a technique to distance oneself from the other. The Summoner focuses on the body. Integrating the concern for the body and soul results in self-knowledge which neither the Summoner nor the Friar attain.
Gallagher, Joseph E. "Theology and Intention in Chaucer's Troilus." 7 (1972): 44-66.
Because of his profession of Christianity, Chaucer must denounce the power of love as sinful. In medieval thought, sin was a conscious choice to act against the information provided by reason; thus, Chaucer sins by composing Troilus and Criseyde, since it indicates a desire for things of the world. In the Retraction, Chaucer finally chooses the highest good, rejecting Troilus for its choice of worldly as opposed to divine love. The Second Nun's Tale demonstrates Chaucer's perception that sin willfully seeks temporal things. In the tale, Cecilia can convert an audience who chooses the unchangeable God because that audience follows Reason. Almachius treats Cecilia poorly because he chooses evil. It is not a sin for a writer to demonstrate that something is temporal, even if the writer does not make moral criticism. Since the introductory summary of Troilus and Criseyde indicates that kind of moral orientation, Chaucer probably did not intend to end by stating that writing Troilus and Criseyde was sinful. Clearly, Troilus and Criseyde do not have a virtuous love. In the Prohemium to Book III, Chaucer first shows signs that he wishes to blur the distinction between Christian love and his sympathetic presentation of the love between Troilus and Criseyde. The frequency with which this blurring occurs indicates that Chaucer intended it. Chaucer gives Troilus vaguely Christian words in his hymn, thus deepening the disguise for Chaucer's sympathy with temporal love. Though in the hymn Troilus seems to recognize love as a unifying force, nothing in the language suggests that this perception of love is any better than Troilus's former idea of love. As Troilus and Criseyde continues, more references to Fortune occur, but never with a mention of sin. Through loving Criseyde, Troilus gains greater philosophical, but not moral, understanding. This understanding allows him to continue loving Criseyde, thus demonstrating Chaucer's ability to elude the strictness of medieval Christianity.
Gallick, Susan. "Styles of Usage in the Nun's Priest's Tale." 11 (1977): 232-47.
By having animals speak in high, middle, and low styles, Chaucer displays his attitude toward the rhetorical doctrine of styles. In the Nun's Priest's Tale, Chaucer uses four types of style (intimate, conversational, didactic, and poetic) to create certain effects. By sharply defining the shifts from one style to another, Chaucer forces his audience to recognize the different styles. In addition, when Chanticleer presents his murder exemplum, his language mimics that of the Prioress, allowing Chaucer to criticize her overly artificial literary style. The fox's exemplum suggests that style and tone, not content, result in a persuasive speech. Chaucer makes fun of his own art in the Nun's Priest's poor use of style. The Nun's Priest's Tale reflects Chaucer's interest in such different facets and uses of language as didacticism and persuasion.
Ganim, John M. "Carnival Voices and the Envoy to the Clerk's Tale." 22 (1987): 112-27.
The Envoy to the Clerk's Tale does not function as either a "dramatic device or a mere aside" (113), but as a parodic remark about literary criticism. Several elements in the Envoy indicate that Chaucer wrote it after he had written the tale, and in the Envoy Chaucer quotes from and parodies himself. Close reading reveals a number of carnival qualities in the Envoy, including a sense of play, puns, animal imagery, and a reversal of the seriousness of the preceding tale.
Ganim, John M. "Double Entry in Chaucer's Shipman's Tale." Chaucer and Bookkeeping before Pacioli." 30 (1996): 294-305.
The Shipman's Tale exploits the invention of double-entry bookkeeping as a structural principle. The language of accounting informs the tale as is clear in the money-sex transactions in both the relationship between the wife and the monk and the relationship between the wife and the merchant. Like accounts on a page in double-entry bookkeeping, recommended by Pacioli as a way to keep order in accounts, the two relationships seem separate, connecting only at the point of payment.
Garbáty, Thomas J. "Pamphilus, de Amore: An Introduction and Translation." 2 (1967): 108-34.
Pamphilus greatly affected the primary writers of the Middle Ages including Boccaccio, Chaucer, and Gower. The reader can see its influence in Troilus and Criseyde and the Roman de la Rose. The translation shows the importance to Chaucer studies of this neglected work.
Garbáty, Thomas J. "Satire and Regionalism: The Reeve and His Tale." 9 (1973): 1-8.
By indicating that the Reeve comes from Baldeswelle, Chaucer creates regional satire since inhabitants of that area had been emigrating to London in droves. As Chaucer describes him, the Reeve would probably have been an agent for Norfolk landowners, and as such, the other pilgrims would have viewed the Reeve with suspicion. Because of the increasing influence of the Central Midlands dialect, the pilgrims would have thought the Reeve's speech barbarous and barely understandable. Thus the Reeve's imitation of John's and Alan's northern dialect appears as a funny attempt to defend his own dialect.
Garbáty, Thomas J. "Troilus V, 1786-92 and V, 1807-27: An Example of Poetic Process." 11 (1977): 299-305.
When Chaucer asks that his book "subgit be to alle poesye" (300), he looks for poetic inspiration from Virgil, Ovid, Homer, Lucan, and Statius, not Boccaccio. Chaucer creates a comedic end for Troilus and Criseyde by having Troilus ascend to the eighth sphere and laugh in heavenly joy.
Gaylord, Alan T. "Dido at Hunt, Chaucer at Work." 17 (1983): 300-15.
Examination of three treatments of the Dido story illuminates the linguistic differences between the three. The Latin version is dexterously poetic. In the Old French version, there is no easily recognizable speaking voice. Chaucer's decision to write ten-syllable lines departs from French norms to follow a less restricted Italian pattern, and he regains some of the vigor of the Latin version that the French lost.
Gaylord, Alan T. "Friendship in Chaucer's Troilus." 3 (1969): 239-64.
Troilus and Criseyde deals as much with courtly friendship as with courtly love, and when Chaucer exposes the flimsy nature of love, he also exposes the shallowness of the friendship on which courtly society is based. Chaucer expands the role of the friend from that in the Roman de la Rose and in Boccaccio. Chaucer's friends defend and advise, though not necessarily wisely, as Pandarus does for both Troilus and Criseyde. In Roman de la Rose, the Ami (friend) serves as the one who advises listening to Love instead of Reason. Christian writers capitalized on Ciceronian echoes and connected Reason to Charity. The advice of Ami, then, shuts out Reason and Christian Charity. Chaucer complicates his Troilus and Criseyde by putting friendship under the command of Venus so that friendship then describes the relationship between "nations, continents, and spheres" (251). Thus, when Pandarus comes to set Criseyde up for Troilus's advances, he can couch his suggestions in the language of friendship. When Pandarus returns to Troilus, he can imply that Troilus must press his advantage so that the "friendship" can be expanded into passionate courtly love. Unfortunately, Troilus becomes so much a lover that when he needs to champion Criseyde, preventing her from being shipped off to Troy, he does nothing. By the end of the narrative, "ironies, complications, and contradictions" become apparent to the audience through the idea of friendship (261). The reader realizes that Pandarus is no friend at all. Diomede's courtship of Criseyde progresses quickly through friendship to love, causing the reader to recognize Fortune's power over love. Chaucer's use of friendship makes Troilus and Criseyde both romance and antiromance, and questions noble courtly values.
Gaylord, Alan T. "The Moment of Sir Thopas: Towards a New Look at Chaucer's Language." 16 (1982): 311-29.
Both Dante and Deschamps wrote treatises expressing a particular view of language. In the Tale of Sir Thopas Chaucer presents his view of literary language carefully concealed behind parody. Chaucer adjusts the tail-rhyme of Guy of Warwick to create laughter and to establish literary English. A standard of language adapted for poetry did not exist in the fourteenth century: Chaucer had to create a poetic language that sounded believably like speech.
Gaylord, Alan T. "The Role of Saturn in the Knight's Tale." 8 (1974): 171-90.
The Knight's Tale is more about people than about supernatural powers, and it demonstrates Chaucer's continuing interest in destiny and free will. Saturn plays a minor role as symbol of different kinds of order and as a function of Boethian providence. As the god who works the outcome, he is an extension of Venus and Mars in a rebellion against Theseus, a Jupiter figure who wants to create order and build an Athenian kingdom.
Gaylord, Alan T. "Scanning the Prosodists: An Essay in Metacriticism." 11 (1976): 22-82.
Prosodic theory is based on a number of assertions which have never been thoroughly examined. All prosodic studies rest on assumptions about the authority of the text, proper pronunciation, metrical patterns, versification, and desired poetic effects. Examination of most scholarship reveals many assumptions in the aforementioned areas. When studying prosody, readers must examine the original manuscripts because editors interpret the virgule (/) and alter the spelling. Future Chaucer scholars will have to seek contributions from other disciplines that will provide additional information and help to answer some of the questions about Chaucer's prosody.
Gibson, Margaret. "Through the Looking Glass: A Gothic Ivory Mirror Case in the Liverpool Museum." 21 (1986): 213-16.
Numerous mirror caskets depict ladies who, after resisting for a little while, allow their knightly attackers into the castle or descend from the castle to their attackers. Though this motif appears on other works of art, no literary source has been found which would explain the persistence of this particular motif. This particular mirror case, however, depicts a four-part sequence different from other pieces. This difference suggests a possible literary source.
Gilmartin, Kristine. "Array in the Clerk's Tale." 13 (1979): 234-46.
In the Clerk's Tale, Chaucer uses Griselda's clothing to make the tale more realistic and to discuss the themes of knowledge, mutability, and degree. The first mention of Griselda's clothing draws attention to the difference between her social class and that of Walter. Until Walter dresses Griselda in fine clothes, the people do not recognize her virtues. This lack of perception suggests the issue of knowledge. Walter's tests are also related to knowledge: he wants to know if Griselda has the virtues he believes she has and wants proof that becoming his wife has not diminished her virtues. The attempts to know Griselda lead, however, to false knowledge because they are based on lies. Chaucer's emphasis on the difference between Griselda's poor clothes, her rich ones, and the corresponding change in status, suggests that Chaucer examines other themes in addition to marriage. [For an explanation of the dual publishing of this article, see "Communication," 14 (1979): 96.]
Ginsberg, Warren. "'This worthy lymytour was cleped Huberd': A Note on the Friar's Name." 21 (1986): 53-57.
The Friar's name, Huberd, is an ironic reference to St. Hubert, the patron saint of hunters. The possible allusion to St. Hubert's conversion adds irony to the Friar's portrait and tale.
Glenn, Jonathan A. "Dislocation of Kynde in the Middle English Cleanness." 18 (1983): 77-91.
In Purity (Cleanness), uncleanness results from a perversion of kind by fallen, naturally disobedient creatures. Such degeneration ends up in a collapse of the relationship to God and to other creatures. Cleanness is the product of obedience to God. Both Lucifer and Adam sin against their natures as creatures. Noah, on the other hand, maintains his obedient position as creature and so does not sin. By not following their natures as creations, unclean creatures are blind. Clean creatures, however, can see.
Golden, Samuel A. "Chaucer in Minsheu's Guide into the Tongues." 4 (1969): 49-54.
The entries under "C" and "D" in the Guide indicate that Chaucer was better known in the seventeenth century than previously thought. Also, the disproportionately large number of entries under "C" and "D" suggest that Brian Twyne supported the volume and worked on it.
Goodall, Peter. "Being Alone in Chaucer." 27 (1992): 1-15.
In medieval writing, solitude often results from a lover's desire to be alone in order to complain. Chaucer creates such situations in the Romaunt of the Rose, Troilus and Criseyde, the Knight's Tale, and the Man of Law's Tale. Those moments of aloneness that do not result from love often have melancholy overtones, perhaps because many people in the Middle Ages viewed the desire to be alone as abnormal and associated with secrecy, most likely for the purpose of doing something one should not, often sexually. Culturally, a bedroom did not belong to one person, but to an entire family. Nicholas in the Miller's Tale goes against a number of conventions related to private rooms and university life, though scholars sought private studies before private bedrooms. Nicholas's desire for privacy leads to a number of puns in the Miller's Tale. In Troilus and Criseyde Chaucer gives Criseyde private space to think and to write letters, thereby associating the solitude of the lover and the scholar in a unique way.
Gottfried, Barbara. "Conflict and Relationship, Sovereignty and Survival: Parables of Power in the Wife of Bath's Prologue." 19 (1985): 202-24.
The Wife of Bath's Prologue is built on the conflict between the centrality of the speaking female voice and the marginality of the female experience. The Wife encourages judging women in terms of marriage status. She also displays an ambivalent attitude towards experience and theory. The construction of her prologue and tale makes readers focus on her and her relationship to Jankyn, not on the various ways she gains power. Though she does succeed at tearing apart the Book of Wicked Wives, she remains powerless in the relationship.
Green, Richard Firth. "Chaucer's Shipman's Tale, Lines 138-41." 26 (1991): 95-98.
The crux in lines 138-41 of the Shipman's Tale can be resolved if line 138 is considered part of the wife's oath and the other lines are considered authorial commentary.
Green, Richard Firth. "Troilus and the Game of Love." 13 (1979): 201-20.
In the Middle Ages only a fine line separated flirtation from seduction. The language of friendship was based on the language of love, creating ambiguous discourses. Because only the upper classes participated, such dialogue indicated the difference between social classes. The idea that a lover could die for love became part of social interraction. Like love-talk, the hyperbolic emotion accompanying love was an aristocratic phenomenon. Only personal integrity kept the ambiguities of the game in check. Writers could use the blurred distinction between friendship and amorous love to create irony as Chaucer does in Troilus and Criseyde which must be considered in this context. Pandarus demonstrates love talk when he mentions his mistress and speaks to Criseyde, but he is only playing the game as an aristocrat. Diomede makes his suit most forceful through his capacity for love talk, and it is to this ability that Criseyde capitulates. Troilus is out of place because he loves purely in a way courtly love does not comprehend, and he regards the standards of courtly love behavior as banalities. His love makes him inarticulate. In the end, Troilus laughs because he has learned that love is part of a fallen world in which he no longer participates.
Green, Richard Firth. "Women in Chaucer's Audience." 18 (1983): 146-54.
Historical records indicate that at court, men and women did not spend much time together. Most likely, the audience that heard Chaucer read his poetry aloud was entirely male, in part because the population of women at court was quite small. The increasing presence of women at court towards the end of the fourteenth century may account for the decline of the fabliau.
Grenberg, Bruce L. "The Canon's Yeoman's Tale: Boethian Wisdom and the Alchemists." 1 (1966): 37-54.
Chaucer uses the Canon's Yeoman's Tale to make concrete Boethius's concern with the search for the earthly world as opposed to the search for God. To this end, Chaucer writes two kinds of alchemists into Canon's Yeoman's Tale. The first type of alchemist is a true philosopher to whom God has given heavenly wisdom through grace; the second is a false imitator who, without God's grace, attempts to discover the secrets of the universe. The satire of the false alchemists begins with their link to religion and continues as they use clerical language and display clerical attitudes in alchemy. In the course of the tale, the spiritual poverty of the canon becomes increasingly apparent. The Yeoman's complaints that his work has produced nothing of consequence finally lead him to look for truth; as in Boethius, earthly downfall brings wisdom. When the Yeoman finishes his tale, the reader recognizes the Yeoman's "conversion" from a search for falsehood to a search for truth--that is for God.
Grennan, Eamon. "Dual Characterization: A Note on Chaucer's Use of 'But' in the Portrait of the Parson." 16 (1981): 195-200.
By using the word "but," Chaucer emphasizes the individuality of the Parson as distinct from his socio-political-economic status. Chaucer also uses "but" to distinguish the Parson from other clerics. The narrator's description of the Parson reveals the narrator's cognizance of larger Christian issues and practical reality.
Grennen, Joseph E. "Science and Sensibility in Chaucer's Clerk." 6 (1971): 81-93.
In Griselda, careful readers can find a portrait of "clerkliness," and by doing so characterize the Clerk. Chaucer makes the Clerk reveal himself in his tale by using technical diction. In the Clerk's Tale, readers also see the tension between the academic and pastoral parts of a clerk's life. The Clerk easily shifts Walter from human to principle when excusing Walter's tests of Griselda. The "tests" become an examination of "a scholastic problem of motion" (88) as demonstrated by the artificiality of the action. Walter becomes the first cause, while Griselda becomes the concept of the object receiving action.
Grudin, Michaela Paasche. "Chaucer's Manciple's Tale and the Poetics of Guile." 25 (1991): 329-42.
The Manciple's Tale "explains and reinforces" the poetic principles present in the Canterbury Tales (330). The tale is built on fallen language; if it is about silence, there is a multitude of words within it. The action focuses the attention of the audience on truth and the act of speaking the truth. Though Chaucer suggests that society is not entirely comfortable with truth, he accentuates the creative, mimetic voice. Chaucer constructs the tale to remind his audience of his position as a court poet, and the tale shows Chaucer's awareness of corruption and the danger of instructing kings. The amplifications that seem to disrupt the tale remind readers of the need for slyness and care in political arenas. Phoebus is completely disconnected from such impulses. Without the discernment to pierce deception, Phoebus ultimately has no perception. Chaucer thus demonstrates how poets can "survive," but never resolves the question of truth-telling (339).
Guerin, Dorothy. "Chaucer's Pathos: Three Variations." 20 (1985): 90-112.
Chaucer writes three versions of pathetic stories as seen in examination of the Legend of Good Women and some of the Canterbury Tales. "Lucrece"and the Prioress's Tale are modeled on saints' legends, though Chaucer's works are not as "tough-minded" (92) and are more tightly arranged. The Man of Law's Tale and "Philomela" follow the lady-in-distress pattern of romances and share particular similarities, like shipwrecks and separated lovers, with Greek romances. The heroines of the Physician's Tale and "Hypermnestra" are victimized by earthly injustice. Chaucer alters these stories in a number of ways to make his point. The first two kinds of pathetic tales, "Lucrece," "Philomela," the Prioress's Tale, and the Man of Law's Tale, examine suffering and present several possible responses. The third kind of pathetic story, "Hypermnestra" and the Physician's Tale, raise questions about earthly morality.
Guthrie, Steven R. "Prosody and the Study of Chaucer: A Generative Reply to Halle-Keyser." 23 (1988): 30-49.
Chaucer wrote Troilus and Criseyde and other poems in a Romance iambic pentameter with strong French overtones, as opposed to Shakespeare who wrote in a Renaissance iambic pentameter. Chaucer's rhythms depend on his ability to put weak stresses where strong stresses should be and vice versa. Careful comparision of Chaucer to Shakespeare reveals that the two writers use significantly different variations of iambic pentameter. Examination of Machaut's lines reveals, however, a number of similarities to Chaucer.
Haines, R. Michael. "Fortune, Nature, and Grace in Fragment C." 10 (1976): 220-35.
When responding to the Pardoner's Tale, the Host does not mention the gifts of Grace, because Grace brings life, but Fortune and Nature bring death. His comments do, however, suggest a unifying theme for the Canterbury Tales. In the Physician's Tale, Virginia exemplifies the gifts of both Grace and Nature. Fortune uses Apius; Grace (mis)uses Virginius who allows Virginia to remain a virgin without forcing her to commit suicide, thus helping her to avoid a mortal sin. The Physician's Tale makes the point "that one must be prepared to die by living in Grace, free from sin" (226). The Pardoner's Tale shows the subversion of Fortune's, Nature's, and Grace's gifts. The Pardoner's three sins, gluttony, gambling, and swearing, are ultimately profanations of Nature, Fortune, and Grace respectively. The three revelers also pervert these gifts. Chaucer treats these gifts in the Man of Law's Tale, the Second Nun's Tale, the Prioress's Tale, and the Monk's Tale as well.
Haller, Robert S. "The Knight's Tale and the Epic Tradition." 1 (1966): 67-84.
Though modeled on Boccaccio's Teseida, the Knight's Tale shows Chaucer at his most epic, but the tale focuses on love, not politics. Love becomes the reason for Palamon and Arcite to repeat the political blunders that have made them the two surviving members of their family. The blindness of Palamon and Arcite to their own actions allows them to repeat history and to use that history as support for their complaints against the gods while denying any personal responsibility for what occurs. By treating love as the proper subject for an epic, both Chaucer and Boccaccio suggest that the hero cannot separate public from private life. The marriage of Palamon and Emily at the end of the tale is also a political event: the Theban ruler has restored order, inaugurating a love and a government that can allow for "felaweship," not rivalry. Finally, Theseus's actions demonstrate his position as the ideal ruler, but Theseus-ruler is not separate from Theseus-lover. Thus, he responds to Palamon and Arcite in justice and mercy, not from fear of rivalry. The epic, then, provides Chaucer with an opportunity to examine specific political theories.
Halverson, John. "Chaucer's Pardoner and the Progress of Criticism." 4 (1970): 184-202.
The Pardoner's motivation for his tale has been hotly debated; the question of his drunkenness and of the strained relationship between him and the other pilgrims is closely related to his motivation. Critics argue that the Pardoner merely attempts to con the pilgrims or that he is demonstrating his pride in his ability to defraud. His overblown self-descriptions, however, become dubious, but the "benediction" presents a difficulty for this view. Early critics understood the Pardoner's impotence as a representation of his spiritual state. Now, critics more carefully examine indications that the Pardoner and the Summoner are homosexual. Other scholars have attempted to demonstrate that the Pardoner has some orthodox tendencies, but he remains a disgusting character. If readers take his self-descriptions at face value, they perceive that he has committed the unforgivable sin--rejecting God--so he experiences "living death and present hell" (192). From the beginning, the Pardoner seems to focus on death, and his tale demonstrates a search for death. The ambiguity of the old man, however, has posed a problem for this interpretation. Various critics have suggested that he represents only an old man, Death himself, the Wandering Jew, and the vetus homo (old man of sin), or all of them at once. Readers must remember, however, that they know about the Pardoner only from what he himself says, and readers can assume that he is aware that he has a relationship to those around him. His "song" suggests a resemblance to Faux Semblant in Roman de la Rose and may show an attempt to manipulate his audience in order to play a trick on them. The Pardoner seems to wear a mask which serves both to protect him and to release malice while satisfying his ego. The Pardoner's playfulness escapes the Host who responds in anger, thus thwarting the Pardoner's desire to make the pilgrims look foolish and demonstrating that the Pardoner has overestimated the sophistication of his audience. At its root, however, the tale is a meditation on death which strongly affects the Pardoner and darkly colors his tale.
Halverson, John. "Havelok the Dane and Society." 6 (1971): 142-51.
The language of the English version of Havelok the Dane reveals that it is more bourgeois than the French lay which seems to have been written for the upper class. Comparing the two clarifies the distinction between middle and upper classes. The French version seems more bound to literary tradition than the English tale. In addition, social consensus is drawn from the military level of society in the French lay while the English poem draws from all levels of society and maintains a more bourgeois tone. The English poem also expresses a more positive attitude toward the middle class than the French lay. When Havelok fights for his throne, the English version of the story has him using a peasant's club while the French give him a more prestigious battle ax. Finally, the English poem seems to express a kind of Robin-Hood fantasy of the lower middle class.
Hamel, Mary. "And Now for Something Completely Different: The Relationship Between the Prioress's Tale and the Rime of Sir Thopas." 14 (1980): 251-59.
In Group VII (Fragment B2), the tales are connected quickly and contrast each other. Chaucer emphasizes the contrast between the Tale of Sir Thopas and the Prioress's Tale, but Thopas gains effectiveness from its similarity to the Prioress's Tale. Thopas's name associates him with the Prioress's chaste protagonist. The lily Thopas wears in his helmet parodies the Prioress's Tale by equating the Virgin Mary with the Elf-queen. In Thopas, Chaucer also parodies the Prioress's anti-Semitism, suggesting that the Jews, like the three-headed monster in Thopas, are feared because they are unknown.
Hamel, Mary. "The Dream of a King: The Alliterative Morte Arthure and Dante." 14 (1980): 298-312.
Arthur's terrifying dream at the start of the Alliterative Morte Arthure accurately predicts his fall. Sage philosophers correctly interpret his dream, suggesting that it is time for Arthur to admit his misdeeds and to ask God for mercy, but Arthur shows no interest in doing so. The terrifying atmosphere of the dream may well derive from the first Canto of Dante's Inferno--a poem that the author of the Alliterative Morte Arthure probably knew. A comparison of the two suggests that Arthur had, indeed, become a man of worldly values--a man of violence, anger, avarice, and pride. His fall at the hands of Fortune, then, can be seen as a punishment for his sin or a correction of his flawed character. By the end of the poem, Arthur comes to a full realization of his flaws and achieves an understanding of the role of Fortune. He dies repentant and reconciled to his fate, having learned that what appears to be bad fortune is really good.
Hamel, Mary. "The Franklin's Tale and Chrétien de Troyes." 17 (1983): 316-31.
Previously, critics believed that Chaucer was unfamiliar with the work of Chrétien de Troyes, but careful reading of Chrétien's Cligès and the Franklin's Tale shows some parallels. In both works, a knight goes to Britain to gain honor and fame. Both works treat marriage as a continuation of the lover-lady/mistress relationship and suggest that the husband remains his wife's servant though he is also her ruler. Chrétien's work, however, undercuts its own apparent justification of adultery by blasphemous parody. Like Fénice in Cligès, Dorigen is bound by her rash promise to a man she does not love, and both women see these unwilling relationships as an inevitable source of shame. Whereas Chrétien's characters never realize the romantic illusion in which they live, Chaucer's Dorigen refuses to act like a conventional romance heroine, and by her example Aurelius also transcends the conventions of courtly love in responding with charity.
Hamel, Mary. "The Wife of Bath and a Contemporary Murderer." 14 (1979): 132-39.
The account in the Wife of Bath's Prologue, ll. 765-68, of a wife's murder of her husband in his bed and adultery with her lover in the same bed is based not on a written source but on an actual murder recounted in the Westminister Chronicle for 1388. This contemporary crime and others like it correct recent speculations that the Wife of Bath murdered her fourth husband, with or without the aid of her fifth. Jankyn's final diatribe, of which these lines are a part, emphasizes not murder but female sexuality.
Hamel, Mary, and Charles Merrill. "The Analogues of the Pardoner's Tale and a New African Version." 26 (1991): 175-83.
This essay offers a new classification of the analogues to the Pardoner's Tale, as well as a newly discovered West African analogue that is a sophisticated retelling of the old folktale.
Hamlin, B. F. "Astrology and the Wife of Bath: A Reinterpretation." 9 (1974): 153-65.
The Wife's references to the astrological configuration at the time of her birth tell of Mars and Venus, and the positions of these two planets explain the Wife's warring, marrying nature. The Wife, however, also refers to Mercury. Venus and Mercury will never both be "exalted" or "depressed" at the same time, though one may be ascendant and the other descendant (155). Thus, both Venus and Mercury were in Pisces at the Wife's birth, and this constellation foreshadows her falling in love with Jankyn's feet. The rarity of this configuration points to a specific birthdate for the Wife, a ten-day period in 1342.
Hanks, D. Thomas, Jr. "Emaré: An Influence on the Man of Law's Tale." 18 (1983): 182-86.
Though scholars have viewed Emaré as only an analogue to the Man of Law's Tale because of the date of the earliest extant manuscript, careful reading of the romance reveals significant plot and verbal parallels. Readers can assume, therefore, that Chaucer must have read a previous version of the story, no longer extant.
Hanrahan, Michael. "Seduction and Betrayal: Treason in the Prologue to the Legend of Good Women." 30 (1996): 229-40.
In the prologue to the Legend of Good Women Chaucer addresses the issue of treason or betrayal in love. His treatment, however, differs from the standard treatment of this topic since it is informed by the charges of the Lords Appelant that Richard was being mislead by his treasonous council. Chaucer demonstrates a similar concern in the Nun's Priest's Tale. In the Legend of Good Women Alceste accuses the narrator of treason not by heretical deeds, but by writings. The definition of treason Alceste ultimately presents "opposes any sectarian determination of the crime" (239).
Hanson, Thomas B. "The Center of Troilus and Criseyde." 9 (1975): 297-302.
By removing the poems between the books, readers realize that the changes made to Book III of Troilus and Criseyde shift the numerical center of the poem so that it falls exactly at the consummation of Troilus and Criseyde's love. This shift of centers is also related to Chaucer's treatment of the Wheel of Fortune and the flight of stairs.
Hanson, Thomas B. "Chaucer's Physician as Storyteller and Moralizer." 7 (1972): 132-39.
The Physician's Tale demonstrates that Chaucer's description of him in the General Prologue is accurate: the Physician knows little about the Bible. In the tale, plot and moralization compete for readers' attention. The Physician opens his tale by showing Virginia to be a paragon of virtue. The Physician continues, adding a great deal of Christian material to his source. The epilogue, however, passes over Virginia, making her more a victim of extremes than a martyr. By suggesting that the spirit of the law is more to be followed than the letter, the Physician's Tale joins the Franklin's Tale and the Pardoner's Tale.
Hardman, Phillipa. "The Book of the Duchess as a Memorial Monument." 28 (1994): 205-15.
Chaucer constructed the Book of the Duchess on the model of the elaborate tombs popular among the aristocracy in the Middle Ages. In poetry Chaucer could create an idealized image of Blanche of Lancaster, much the way a sculptor would make such an image for a tomb. The images of Seys and Alcyone that Chaucer creates also represent the "sorrow of death" (213).
Hardman, Phillipa. "Chaucer's Articulation of the Narrative in Troilus: The Manuscript Evidence." 30 (1995): 111-33.
The discovery of an autograph copy of the Filostrato indicates that the narrative glosses, previously though to be scribal, are actually authorial. The presence of such glosses in Troilus and Criseyde suggests that perhaps some of the glosses previously considered scribal might be authorial. Comparison of Chaucer manuscripts with those of Boccaccio reveals a number of differences and some surprising similarities. Examination of all the Chaucer manuscripts of Troilus and Criseyde shows that while there is some evidence of scribal error and variation, a number of the narrative divisions, illuminated capitals, and textual glosses appear in the same place in many manuscripts. Such similarity between so many manuscripts suggests that Chaucer may have followed Boccaccio's practice of inserting glosses and narrative breaks in the manuscript.
Hargreaves, Henry. "Lydgate's 'A Ram's Horn.'" 10 (1976): 255-59.
The Ellesmere version of "A Ram's Horn" contains seven stanzas discussing class. The version in the Bannatyne manuscript, however, has been altered by a Scots scribe. The alterations in the Ashmole manuscript make its version an anti-feminist work, suggesting that the more courtly audience liked the original "Ram's Horn" which was then altered for the pleasure of the populace.
Harley, Marta Powell. "Geoffrey Chaucer, Cecilia Chaumpaigne, and Alice Perrers: A Closer Look." 28 (1993): 78-82.
Reexamination of historical evidence indicates that Cecilia Chaumpaigne was probably not the stepdaughter of Alice Perrers, mistress of Edward III. Such a conclusion can be supported only through circumstantial evidence.
Harrington, David V. "Indeterminacy in Winner and Waster and the Parliament of the Three Ages." 20 (1986): 246-57.
When examined in light of Wolfgang Iser's theories of reading, Winner and Waster and Parliament of the Three Ages reveal gaps that readers must fill in and examine. These gaps undermine traditionally accepted views and demand active participation in the text from the reader.
Harrington, David V. "Narrative Speed in the Pardoner's Tale." 3 (1968): 50-59.
The lack of transitions in the narrative of the Pardoner's Tale causes readers to miss the audacity of the Pardoner's telling about his own fraudulent activities. Readers both applaud the moral statements of the Pardoner's sermon and feel a growing disgust for him, but because of the speed at which the tale unfolds, have no time to stop and consider what they are reading. The poet uses rhetorical devices--asyndeton, hyperbaton--to denote hurried movement. The seeming disjointedness of the elements in the Pardoner's sermon contributes to this sense of a quickly unfolding narrative. Readers then, should not consider the Pardoner's Tale with an eye to the strength of the contradictions, but instead, focus on the degree to which this tale reflects a truth of the human condition--that all people experience similar contradictions between their beliefs and their behavior.
Harrington, Norman T. "Experience, Art, and the Framing of the Canterbury Tales." 10 (1975): 187-200.
To determine the meaning of the Canterbury Tales, readers must examine the framing device. Chaucer believed that art and experience complement each other in the search for truth. Thus, he uses the links between the tales to contrast the art of the tales with the experience of the pilgrimage. Chaucer also contrasts tale styles to comment on class and social behaviors.
Hart, Thomas Elwood. "Medieval Structuralism: 'Dulcarnoun' and the Five-Book Design of Chaucer's Troilus." 16 (1981): 129-70.
Chaucer carefully laid out the structure of Troilus and Criseyde, and examination of the division of Troilus and Criseyde into five books shows that the divisions themselves add to the work. Readers can assume that Chaucer intended to construct his poem carefully since he borrows from Vinsauf's Poetria nova, which advocates constructing poems architecturally. Chaucer alludes to the highest principle of medieval mathematics when he has Pandarus use "dulcarnoun" (3782), Pythagoras's theorem. The five-book structure may be viewed geometrically as representing two right triangles. The reference to "dulcarnoun" falls in the middle of the shared hypotenuse of the triangles. The number of lines is also proportioned in such a way that they form a regular pentagon. The text may also be examined in terms of "circular proportionality" (145). Chaucer's mention of "nombres proporcionables" in his translation of Boethius's Consolation of Philosophy (III, Met.ix) suggests that he was interested in numerical proportion.
Hartung, Albert E. "'Pars Secunda' and the Development of the Canon Yeoman's Tale." 12 (1977): 111-28.
Comparison of the manuscripts shows that the Canon Yeoman's Tale probably was not originally part of the Canterbury Tales. Chaucer's characterization of the Canon's Yeoman, however, allows for the introduction of the Canon Yeoman's Tale to the Canterbury Tales, explains the presence of what seem to be two canons, not one, and sheds light on the Tale of Melibee.
Harwood, Britton J. "Chaucer on 'Speche': House of Fame, the Friar's Tale, and the Summoner's Tale." 26 (1992): 343-49.
The House of Fame, the Friar's Tale, and the Summoner's Tale share the image of a wheel and a focus on sound. Together these three function like the three parts of a sentence. In the House of Fame, Chaucer opposes the castle of Fame and the house of Rumor. The Friar's Tale works because the same group of words can have two meanings. The Summoner's Tale operates on exactly the opposite principle: many groups of words all mean the same thing.
Harwood, Britton J. "Language and the Real: Chaucer's Manciple." 6 (1972): 268-79.
The Manciple's Tale discusses the connection between words and things, mocking those who find the false reality of language a distraction from the "real world." The Manciple demonstrates that descriptions determine attitude when Phebus substitutes his own description of the wife for the one that the crow has given. As the tale progresses, readers note that Phebus has taught the crow to speak, but that same speech betrays him when the crow, who could sing more beautifully than the nightingale, forgets song in order to inform Phebus of his wife's adultery. By his contemptuous treatment of words which become real, the Manciple anticipates Christ, the Word become flesh. [For a correction of a typographical error, see "Editor's Note," 7 (1972): 84.]
Hasenfratz, Robert. "The Science of Flatulence: Possible Sources for the Summoner's Tale." 30 (1996): 241-61.
The source for the solution to the problem posed in the Summoner's Tale reveals Chaucer's interest in astronomy and weather. Discussions of wind were often associated with discussions of thunder and the associated sound. Certainly the solution to the problem posed at the end of Summoner's Tale refers to the fourth book of Vincent of Beauvais's Speculum naturale in which these relationships and the wheel of the twelve winds are presented and discussed.
Haskell, Ann S. "The St. Giles Oath in the Canon's Yeoman's Tale." 7 (1973): 221-26.
The oath which the Canon's Yeoman swears by St. Giles supports the idea that alchemists are social outcasts. By its placement in the description of an alchemical process, it also draws attention to the sinful nature of the coupling of elements with which the Canon intends to trick the priest. The oath emphasizes the spiritual side of alchemy, since the alchemist's purity had direct effects on the metal he wished to purify. St. Giles was the patron saint of lepers and lechers and was associated with fennel, an aphrodisiac and cure for eye disease. St. Giles was also reported to have achieved pardon for a sin so terrible it could not be confessed. The St. Giles oath points to charity and chastity.
Haskell, Ann S. "The St. Joce Oath in the Wife of Bath's Prologue." 1 (1966): 85-87.
To appreciate the Wife of Bath's recollections of her fourth husband, readers must fully understand the rhyme of "St. Joce" with "croce." The rhyme leads readers to understand "croce" as a pun meaning cross, burden, and phallus. Further recognition of St. Joce as patron saint of pilgrims and protector against fire also contributes to an understanding of her pilgrimage to Jerusalem during her fourth marriage and of her comment with regards to her fourth husband frying in his own grease.
Haskell, Ann S. "St. Simon in the Summoner's Tale." 5 (1971): 218-24.
Simon Magus (Simon the Magician), to whom Thomas's oath refers, had a varied history. Allusions to gold, books, ire, and fire, all associated with Simon Magus, indicate that Chaucer intended to link him closely to the friar. The closest link, however, is the fall, preceded by pride and followed by a thunderclap.
Haskell, Ann S. "Sir Thopas: The Puppet's Puppet." 9 (1975): 253-61.
Sir Thopas is a joke figure, the puppet of Chaucer the pilgrim, controlled by Chaucer the writer. Details in the description of Sir Thopas indicate that he may have physically been a puppet. Ultimately, the character of Thopas, however artificial he may be, is real.
Hatcher, Elizabeth R. "Life Without Death: The Old Man in Chaucer's Pardoner's Tale." 9 (1975): 246-52.
The three revelers' search is a portrayal of the "rash wish" theme (247). The Old Man presents the fulfillment of that wish: he illustrates life after the revelers defeat death. That the revelers pay so little attention to the Old Man indicates that they have not considered the results of their desire. Finally, the Old Man instructs readers in contemptus mundi.
Hatton, Thomas J. "Chaucer's Crusading Knight, a Slanted Ideal." 3 (1968): 77-87.
The Knight's portrait emphasizes two virtues--worthiness and wisdom as defined in the 1380s and 1390s. As a worthy man, the Knight has bravery, skill, and battle experience. He is also wise in choosing his actions to conform to chivalric ideals. Though the Knight will fight for his lord, the specific battles in which the Knight has fought demonstrate both his worthiness and his wisdom: in his primary battle experience has not fought other Christians, but has been a crusader, fighting the heathens. These characteristics suggest that the Knight represents a chivalric ideal proposed by Philip de Mézières and his Order of the Passion of Jesus Christ.
Havely, N. R. "Chaucer's Friar and Merchant." 13 (1979): 337-45.
The Friar is an appropriate figure to link the genteel class with the bourgeois class because while he can participate in the church funtions, he is also characterized in terms of money and merchandise. The connection between the Friar and money makes him an ideal link to the Merchant's following portrait.
Heffernan, Carol Falvo. "A Reconsideration of the Cask Figure in the Reeve's Prologue." 15 (1980): 37-43.
The Reeve's image of a cask of wine and his careful association of it with a stream of life contains sexual and religious allusions. As in the Reeve's image, Death is associated with baptism (stream of life), an idea borrowed from St. Paul's writings. The shape of the tap has phallic connotations.
Heffernan, Carol Falvo. "Tyranny and Commune Profit in the Clerk's Tale." 17 (1983): 332-40.
In the Clerk's Tale Chaucer discusses political ideas. He uses Walter to examine tyranny and Griselda to look at "commune profit" (332). Like a tyrant, Walter puts his personal wants first and demands obedience, first from his people, then from Griselda. Griselda's response changes Walter, resulting in common good. The way Walter's people respond to him, reminding him to marry and protesting his pretended divorce of Griselda, suggests that the people, while not authorities, have a responsiblity to draw their rulers' attention to necessary changes.
Heffernan, Thomas J. "A Middle English Poem on Lovedays." 10 (1975): 172-85.
Cambridge University Library MS Dd.1.1 is a folio text containing a poem on lovedays, days on which disputes were settled. This practice was discouraged because of the tendency towards judicial corruption. A transcription of the 218-line poem is included.
Heidtmann, Peter. "A Bibliography of Henryson, Dunbar, and Douglas, 1912-1968." 5 (1970): 75-82.
This bibliography provides a general list of the critical materials available on the medieval Scottish poets Henryson, Dunbar, and Douglas and suggests that criticism of Douglas might be the most productive pursuit for scholars interested in this literature.
Heidtmann, Peter. "Sex and Salvation in Troilus and Creseyde." 2 (1968): 246-53.
Readers' views of Troilus and Criseyde turn on how they understand love and the ambiguity inherent in that term. At the end of the poem, Troilus's soul rises to the eighth sphere, thus seeming to reach salvation of some sort, although he is pagan. Troilus's salvation results from love. This ascension is possible if readers regard all the different kinds of love as part of Love and accept that courtly love is part of Love because Love is irresistible and ennobling. Troilus experiences both these facets of love and, as a result of the ennobling force of love, he can reach a kind of heaven.
Hench, Atcheson L. "'Game' in Havelok 966." 7 (1973): 297-98.
"Game" can mean wooded or brushy land as the word is used in the sixteenth century. Using this meaning clarifies line 966 and restores the original meaning.
Hennedy, Hugh L. "The Friar's Summoner's Dilemma." 5 (1971): 213-17.
The summoner in the Friar's Tale is caught between two curses. In the beginning, he curses himself. At the end, the old woman curses him. Though her curse is conditional, the Summoner's curse of himself has left him with no escape. Because his curse was made in earnest, the Summoner cannot escape his damnation.
Henry, Avril. "Chaucer's ABC: Line 39 and the Irregular Stanza Again." 18 (1983): 95-99.
Line 39 of "ABC" has been emended several times. The reading "corecte vice" instead of "corecte me," "wel chastyse," "my folise," or "synne lyse" seems to complete best the sense of the line.
Herman, Peter C. "Treason in the Manciple's Tale." 25 (1991): 318-28.
Given Phoebus's aristocratic social position, his wife's adultery is a crime of high treason as much as it is a violation of her marriage vows. In sources for the Manciple's Tale (the Metamorphoses, Ovide Moralisé, and Le Livre du Voir Dit) Phoebus's lover is his mistress. Making her Phoebus's wife creates in her "an implicit threat to male hegemony" (319), since adultery undermines male authority. Though the penalties for adultery were harsh, adultery was reasonably common, and adulterers were often unpunished. Exceptions were that adulterers had to deal with angry husbands, and that sleeping with the wife of one's lord was considered treasonous, as Ramon Lull presents it in Libre del ordre de Cavayleria. Thus the crow must choose either to notify Phoebus of treason against him, or to keep silent, thus assenting to that treason. Ultimately, the crow's act is objectionable for the method by which it subverts the codes of loyalty to his lord. Social disorder results from the wife's assertion of freedom, the crow's transgression of the letter of one law and the spirit of a second, and Phoebus's tyrannical response.
Hermann, John P. "Dismemberment, Dissemination, Discourse: Sign and Symbol in the Shipman's Tale." 19 (1985): 302-37.
In the Shipman's Tale the monk's use of hunting language in his first conversation with the merchant's wife points to the cruelty of his position as an adulterer. This language also indicates the dismemberment of the merchant/husband as a result of his wife's adultery. When the wife swears to keep her conversation with Don John secret, she curses herself with dismemberment. The monk also stands in danger of dismemberment for his treachery to the merchant whom he claims as his kin and to God whom he has vowed to serve chastely. The adultery separates the two parts of the unified sign, and instead of reconstructing it, indulges in and privileges the "free play of signifiers" (314). The metaphor of plowing, both sexually and monetarily also figures into this play. The monk, merchant, and wife all exchange roles, vows, and money in this tale. The demands of the body in contrast to the demands of God, dominate the tale. The French setting of the tale gives rise to a number of charged, parodic references, including the association of the wife with Mary Magdalene, and references to Peter, John, St. Martin, and St. Denis. The references to animals remind readers of the animal nature of the characters in the tale.
Herzog, Michael B. "The Book of the Duchess: The Vision of the Artist as a Young Dreamer." 22 (1988): 269-81.
The Book of the Duchess is constructed on the tension between tradition and creativity that appears in the most basic aspects of the poem, including "the complex frame structure," "the ambivalent dreamer/ narrator," "the relationship between storytelling and dreams, and between experiential and book learning," and "the implications of these relationships for living and dying" (280). Chaucer uses the dream as a metaphor for poetry. As in Chaucer's other works, the narrator is the center of artistic questions. He has experienced suffering, and he finds the story to be a sleep aid. But the story discusses ways to deal with grief, and the narrator does not have to understand that to make the story effective for the reader. The active characters in Book of the Duchess use stories to untangle difficulties, since the poetry brings the relationship back to a realistic level.
Hewitt, Kathleen. "'Ther it was first': Dream Poetics in the Parliament of Fowls." 24 (1989): 20-28.
The Parliament of Fowls rearranges the material of Cicero's Somnium Scipionis, but still follows the pattern of descent from unity to disunity also found in the Somnium. In the process of presenting the dream, Chaucer borrows from Dante and from Boccaccio's Teseida. The parliament itself derives from Alanus de Insulis's De planctu naturae. In it, the rip in Nature's gown signifies humankind's separation from Nature. The labor of the birds that Chaucer highlights, however, suggests a movement towards redemption.
Hieatt, Constance B. "Un Autre Fourme: Guillaume de Machaut and the Dream Vision Form." 14 (1979): 97-115.
Machaut never wrote a dream vision in the sense that the frame occurs while the protagonist is awake but the primary action takes place during sleep. He did, however, write works clearly related to the dream vision tradition. Dream visions are characterized by a frame that points out details important to interpretation, a dreamer who observes but does not participate in the action, scenes that grow out of each other, and personified characters who participate in the action. In a dream vision, the protagonist must withdraw from society and encounter an instructor who will help the dreamer. The epilogue to the dream vision states the dreamer's new-found knowledge or lack of it. The Roman de la Rose is both a dream vision and a romance, so it cannot be used as a standard by which to determine the characterstics of dream vision. Though some of Machaut's works do not employ a dream, they read like dream visions because they follow the basic structure of dream visions as discussed above, for example Dit dou Vergier, Dit de la Fonteinne Amoureuse, Dit dou Lyon, Jugement de Roy dou Behaingne, Jugement de Roy dou Navarre, Remede de Fortune, and Dit de l'Alerion. Many scholars consider the Dit de l'Alerion Machaut's least successful work, but careful examination reveals that Chaucer borrowed from it for the Parliament of Fowls.
Higuchi, Masayuki. "On the Integration of the Pardoner's Tale." 22 (1987): 161-69.
Every text has an "integrator," a word, phrase, or morpheme on which it turns. In the Pardoner's Tale, "deeth" is the integrator, connecting the description of the Pardoner, the prologue to his tale, and his tale.
Hilberry, Jane. "'And in oure madnesse everemoore we rave': Technical Language in the Canon's Yeoman's Tale." 21 (1987): 435-43.
In the Canon's Yeoman's Tale Chaucer shows "the appealing, poetic quality of alchemical language" (435). Like the Franklin, Pertelote, and the narrator of House of Fame, the Canon's Yeoman is clearly attracted to the sound of technical language, though he recognizes alchemy as dangerous.
Hill, John M. "The Book of the Duchess, Melancholy, and that Eight-Year Sickness." 9 (1974): 35-50.
In addition to Chaucer, poets like Guillaume de Machaut and Deschamps use what is traditionally love poem material to portray other states. For example, general melancholy and love melancholy share many symptoms. In the Book of the Duchess, the narrator's melancholy cannot be love because the narrator is not fixated on his beloved. Instead, the narrator suffers from a non-fatal head melancholy. The narrator's insomnia suggests his highly unnatural state, indicating that sleep is the only remedy. The insomnia results in a semi-hysterical attitude toward sleep for the narrator, who would like to sleep, but without dying as Alcyone did. Finally, Seys and Alcyone's story allows the narrator to sleep. In an appendix, Hill suggests a date for the Book of the Duchess, 1374.
Hillman, Richard. "Gower's Lucrece: A New Old Source for The Rape of Lucrece." 24 (1990): 263-70.
That the rapist tells Lucrece stories about her husband while she entertains him in both Gower and Shakespeare suggests that Shakespeare probably read Gower's treatment of the story in Confessio amantis; several details found in both Confessio amantis and the Rape of Lucrece support a similar conclusion. Both writers also treat the tale similarly, especially developing balance between characters, character motivation, and Lucrece's response to being violated.
Hirsh, John C. "Chaucer's Man of Law's Tale 847: A Conjectural Emendation." 20 (1985): 68-69.
Constance's prayer as she leaves Northumberland in the Man of Law's Tale can be better understood by altering line 847 to read "woman" in place of "wo man." The possibly scribal shift to "wo man" may indicate a gender bias on the part of scribes.
Hirsh, John C. "Chaucer's Man of Law's Tale 847: A Rejoinder." 22 (1988): 332-34.
The reading "woman" for "wo man" in line 847 of the Man of Law's Tale is indeed difficult to prove. The emendation, however, suggests that the breakdown of the original text may have been influenced by traditional attitudes toward gender.
Hirsh, John C. "Classical Tradition and The Owl and the Nightingale." 9 (1974): 145-52.
Writers such as Gregory of Nyssa, Pythagoras, Plato, and Ambrose connect jackdaws to owls when presenting metempsychosis. As the owl only flies at night and was supposedly ashamed of this fact, the owl offers some comic possibilities.
Hirsh, John C. "The Experience of God: A New Classification of Certain Late Medieval Affective Texts." 11 (1976): 11-21.
Readers may classify texts like Richard Rolle's The Mending of Life as "Texts of Encounter" (14), showing direct religious meetings with the divine as an experience separate from devotions. Texts such as A Talking of the Love of God, Hilton's Love of God, and Rolle's Form of Living are "Texts of Adoration" (15). These works discuss meditations on Christ's person. "Texts of Devotion" emphasize a new kind of penitentialism: all these texts involve a soul seeking salvation. Handbooks tend toward adoration; thus they do not fit into the last category.
Hirsh, John C. "General Prologue 526: 'A Spiced Conscience." 28 (1994): 414-17.
Chaucer uses the phrase "spiced conscience" (526) to describe the Parson in the General Prologue. The Wife of Bath turns the phrase upside down in her Prologue when she uses the same phrase to describe her husbands (435). The phrase indicates a soul easily excited to a fever pitch.
Hirsh, John C. "Modern Times: The Discourse of the Physician's Tale." 27 (1993): 387-95.
The structure of the Physician's Tale undermines "any necessity unconnected to social standing" (388). The Physician uses Christian discourse at the beginning of his tale in such a way that he will eventually be able to undermine it. In some subtle ways, the Physician's Tale reconstructs the Second Nun's Tale, and like the Manciple's Tale, it reconstructs the moral pattern with which it had been working. The Physician's Tale forces a reexamination of the relationship between real and ideal.
Hirsh, John C. "The Politics of Spirituality: The Second Nun and the Manciple." 12 (1977): 129-46.
Political references in Chaucer's "Legend of St. Cecile" indicate his concern over the Great Schism. When Cecilia urges Valerian and Tiberce to steadfast deaths, she becomes the center of attention, suggesting that she is a figure of the unified church. Like the Second Nun's Tale, the Manciple's Tale deals with the relationship between life and religion and defends the Manciple from the Host's suggestion that the Manciple is a thief.
Hirsh, John C. "Reopening the Prioress's Tale." 10 (1975): 30-45.
Texts like Frederick II of Hohenstaufen's Privilegium e sententia in favorem iudaeorum protecting Jews from charges of ritual murder must cause re-evaluation of the belief that medieval Christians held only one attitude towards Jews. The Prioress's Tale is derived from the liturgy and suggests that the tale intends salvation. Examination of the references to Rachel and to the Lamb leads readers to connect Rachel and the Lamb to the church and the salvation that the church promises. Medieval associations of particular properties with stones, like the Prioress's beads and others mentioned, suggest Providence at work, not Fortune. The boy's death replicates Christ's, and the Jewish characters represent fallen men who, like Adam, listened to Satan. Chaucer thus suggests that all people work into a larger plan of salvation.
Hodges, Laura F. "Costume Rhetoric in the Knight's Portrait: Chaucer's Every-Knight and His Bismotered Gypon." 29 (1995): 274-302.
Medieval writers generally skipped over practical problems of errant knights such as battered armor and the necessities of laundry and bathing, a point Chaucer draws attention to in Troilus and Criseyde. Dirty knights were subject to ridicule throughout chivalric literature that most directly connected nobility and cleanliness. Medieval literature sets the traditional figure of the knight in shining armor in opposition to Everyman, the soiled pilgrim. Chaucer's Knight, however, represents the reality of medieval knighthood. He is neither the shiny knight of the chivalric romance nor the tattered pilgrim. Through the spotted gypon, Chaucer presents readers with a realistic picture of knighthood.
Hodges, Laura F. "A Reconsideration of the Monk's Costume." 26 (1991): 133-46.
Careful examination of the Monk's portrait in light of medieval customs and rules about the attire of monks indicates that the Monk's costume falls within the boundaries of acceptable clothing, and is not excessively rich. Because his clothing is permissible, the Monk's portrait cannot be considered a satire.
Hodges, Laura F. "The Wife of Bath's Costumes: Reading the Subtexts." 27 (1993): 359-76.
Chaucer gives a number of details about the dress of the Wife of Bath, including some items assiociated with estates satire such as a headress and new shoes. Handlyng Synne includes a story about pride in which the headress figures prominently as an indication of the most deadly sin. During the Middle Ages, extravagant headgear was also associated with quarrelsome women. The Wife's coverchiefs seem to indicate her submissive station as a wife, but they also proclaim her wealth as a cloth-maker. The Wife's travelling attire is the same as her Sunday clothes in practicality and display of wealth. The Wife's costuming also refers to the fair exterior and foul interior pictured by Guillaume de Deguilleville as associated with pride.
Hoffman, Richard L. "Jephthah's Daughter and Chaucer's Virginia." 2 (1967): 20-31.
By paying attention to the small amount of biblical study the Physician has performed as well as the brief reference to Jephthah in his tale, one can say that the Physician's Tale was intended to be part of the Canterbury Tales, that it should follow the Franklin's Tale, that Chaucer made changes to make it more "artistic," and that the line describing the Physician's Bible study is not out of place. The reference to Jephthah's daughter not only demonstrates that the Physician is primarily concerned about the body as opposed to the soul, but it also relates Virginia to Dorigen by giving her an example of conduct which seems as poorly related to her situation as Dorigen's exempla are to hers.
Hogan, Moreland H., Jr. "A New Analogue of the Shipman's Tale." 5 (1971): 245-46.
In a dialect study, students discovered a brief modern version of the Shipman's Tale, recounted here.
Holley, Linda Tarte. "Medieval Optics and the Framed Narrative in Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde." 21 (1986): 26-44.
Especially in framed narratives, Chaucer used structures based on medieval theories of seeing found in Robert Grosseteste, Albertus Magnus, Roger Bacon, and John Pecham. Framing devices derive from the medieval dramatic tradition which often used the church arch as a frame for dramatic action. This physical frame evolved into the use of Christian history as an invisible frame. Painters working from newly rediscovered knowledge about optics were able to create three-dimensional paintings and used framing devices. Critics then encouraged the reading of paintings, a belief that carried over into manuscript production. Troilus and Criseyde is constructed in four different frames, 1) characters who through a frame, 2) the dream-vision frame, the poem, 3) the physical, verbal, historical, and philosophical frames within the poem, and 4) a metaphorical frame. In the Nun's Priest's Tale, Chaucer parodically reverses the frame of Troilus and Criseyde.
Hollis, Stephanie J. "The Pentangle Knight: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight." 15 (1981): 267-81.
Gawain's response at the end of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight directly derives from his desire to restrict his view of himself and his behavior. Gawain defends himself first by assigning his failure to cowardice, then to women, then to human weakness, and finally to the disease of cowardice (again). The writer carefully presents Gawain as knight. The Pentangle, symbol of Gawain's virtue, is a device to be removed or put on as Gawain desires. The Green Knight presents Gawain's fault as Gawain's own, but Gawain never fully realizes his failings.
Hornsby, Joseph A. "Was Chaucer Educated at the Inns of Court?" 22 (1988): 255-68.
Though some scholars believe otherwise, Chaucer was probably not educated at the Inns of Court. The records begin in 1422, not early enough to indicate Chaucer's involvement, nor does the record show that he paid a fine there. Most likely, the Inns of Court supplied lodging for lawyers who needed to be in town during legal sessions, a function they served well into the fifteenth century.
Hornstein, Lillian Herlands. "The Wyf of Bathe and the Merchant: From Sex to 'Secte.'" 3 (1968): 65-67.
Under Anglo-Saxon law, a person who filed a suit was required to have a secta, a group of oath-helpers, accompany him. When the Clerk says "and all hire secte mayntene" (E 1171), he wishes that God would keep the Wife and her compatriots (oath-helpers) in positions of power; he does not make some kind of counterargument. In this situation, the Merchant functions as the Wife's secta, by agreeing with her point of view from his experience.
Houle, Peter. "Stage and Metaphor in the French Morality: L'Homme Juste et L'Homme Mondain." 14 (1979): 1-22.
The French morality play L'Homme Juste et L'Homme Mondain contains a complete treatment of vices and virtues. In the play, Simon Bougouin uses religious verse narrative techniques and techniques adapted from allegorical theater. In the course of their lives, Mondain falls to vice while Juste follows virtue. Bougouin operates on two assumptions: "that morality in both its personal and its historical contexts is best explained by . . . dualism; that the goal of the human is to be assumed into the divine" (2). The stage directions accompanying L'Homme Juste et L'Homme Mondain seem general enough to accommodate any production. The brothers, Mondain and Juste, follow two different paths, one leading towards hell, the other leading towards heaven. Hell is well-developed opposite Paradise by two tier staging. The importance of the ranks of good and evil forces suggests that a multi-level stage would be necessary for effective staging. Apart from staging requirements, only a few other props are needed. The stage placement of Lucifer and God allows the interpretation of the playing area as the moral cosmos. Bougouin dramatizes moral, not temporal, progress through life. Through Mondain, Bougouin demonstrates the debilitating results of sin, both to the sinner and to society, while Juste shows the benefits of virtuous behavior. Spectacle is an important aspect of this morality play since it explicitly pictures the progression from virtue to virtue and from vice to vice.
Hoy, James F. "A Twentieth-Century Analogue to Chaucer's Merchant's Tale." 14 (1979): 155-57.
A number of analogues to the Merchant's Tale have been found, but none in the twentieth century. The recent joke recounted here parallels the tale at several important points.
Ingham, Muriel, and Lawrence Barkley. "Further Animal Parallels in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight." 13 (1979): 384-86.
Gawain's refusal to flee his battle with the Green Knight and his steadfastness in the face of the Green Knight's attack parallel the boar's response when Bercilak hunts it.
Ireland, Richard W. "Chaucer's Toxicology." 29 (1994): 74-92.
Both the Pardoner's Tale and the Parson's Tale refer to poisoning. Medieval Christians associated poison with sin as do the Book of Vices and Virtues and the Ancrene Riwle. In the Leges Henrici Primi poisoning is associated with witchcraft. In the Pardoner's Tale Chaucer connects poisoning to the devil, although the young man obtains the poison by merely visiting an apothecary. The swelling identified with poisoning is often presented as beyond the bounds of medical knowledge and is, therefore, attributable to the devil. The Parson also discusses poisoning as an abortive method. John Myrc's Instructions for Parish Priests and the Ancrene Riwle both refer to such activity as sin, again linking poisoning to the devil. Abortive activity was also considered a matter for civil court, though the general absence of such cases indicates the difficulty lawyers had with them. Chaucer uses poisoning in the Pardoner's Tale to connect true Christianity to false religion and the dangers inherent in such falsehood.
Jabbour, Alan. "Memorial Transmission in Old English Poetry." 3 (1969): 174-90.
Two primary theories have been proposed for the creation of Old English poetry, a strictly oral theory and a transitional theory. Comparing British works of the Anglo-Saxon period with Southslavic works in the oral tradition produces a third possibility. In the oral tradition, poets memorize the plan of the story, orally improvising the words and phrases in rendition. Following the memorized plan allows for two separate possibilities: the poet can rely primarily on memory for most things or the poet can rely on improvisation for most of the details. Scholars cannot posit a "transitional" stage between oral and written works in which the written text has the formulas of the oral tradition because such a text in written form does not have the necessary element of improvisation. However, the memorial tradition shares with written text the attempt to maintain a given work in both story line and detail. Thus a memorial tradition, like that of British poetry, can easily relate to a written tradition. There may be a transitional text between written and memorial transmission in that the memorial transmission may appropriate a written text, but the text may not yet have experienced all the changes which come with full incorporation into the memorial tradition. Extended examination of Old English texts, for example Soul and Body, demonstrates the memorial transmission of texts and suggests a profitable relationship between written and oral texts.
Jack, R. D. S. "Caxton's Mirrour of the World and Henryson's 'Taill of the Cok and the Jasp.'" 13 (1978): 157-65.
Though a number of works have been suggested as sources for Henryson's "Tale of the Cok and the Jasp," none of them seems particularly close. Examination of Caxton's translation of the Image du Monde (Mirrour of the World) reveals several parallels to Henryson's work. The cock's rhetorical ability and focus on food, while not in other sources, can be found in Chapter 5 of Caxton's Mirrour. The conclusions to the two works are also parallel, suggesting that Henryson borrowed heavily from Caxton's Mirrour in his Morall Fabillis.
Jacobs, Edward Craney. "Further Biblical Allusions for Chaucer's Prioress." 15 (1980): 151-54.
The motto of the Prioress's brooch, Amor vincit omnia, and her costly clothing are part of Chaucer's reference to Biblical passages promoting caritas over amor and forbidding costly clothing for women. The Prioress manages, however, to evade these dictums.
Jacobs, Kathryn. "The Marriage Contract of the Franklin's Tale: The Remaking of Society." 20 (1985): 132-43.
The marriage of Dorigen and Arveragus is a model marriage based on the submission of both parties. The focus on the interests of the other eventually reaches the Clerk of Orleans and Aurelius who deny themselves profit or pleasure for the benefit of someone else. Arveragus's strong emotional response to Dorigen's predicament makes him sympathetic to readers and does not reestablish him as the master in his marriage. Aurelius's manipulation of Dorigen and the contractual language he uses to release her from her promise shows his lack of gentillesse, but also becomes an attempt to live up to the standard Arveragus represents. Finally, the tale tries to persuade the audience to seek greater virtue and so to become an ideal society.
Jacobs, Kathryn. "Rewriting the Marital Contract: Adultery in the Canterbury Tales." 29 (1995): 337-47.
In the Middle Ages marriages represented contracts in both the ecclesiastical and business spheres. Noticing the way adultery affects marriages in the Canterbury Tales illustrates the difference. The Shipman's Tale shows the logical consequences of treating marriage as a kind of sexual business contract. The wife's adultery in the tale allows for the restoration of a marriage, particularly in light of the economic language used by the merchant and his wife to finalize the deal. The Franklin's Tale also explores the issue of a wife's adultery in light of her husband's prolonged absence. Though Arveragus does not like the idea that Dorigen may commit adultery, he recognizes her right in a business contract to seek from another source what he has not supplied in his two-year absence.
Jankowski, Eileen S. "Reception of Chaucer's Second Nun's Tale: Osbern Bokenham's Lyf of S. Cycyle." 30 (1996): 306-18.
Osbern Bokenham translated a number of saints' lives for a group of wealthy women in East Anglia approximately 43 years after Chaucer's death. Though he uses many of Chaucer's sources, references to Chaucer in his text indicate that he was familiar with Chaucer's Second Nun's Tale. Though he does not exactly follow the progression of the Second Nun's Tale, comparison of the two texts suggests he does use similar wording and details. The fact that Bokenham refers to Chaucer's works indicates that fifteenth-century writers appreciated Chaucer.
Jensen, Emily. "Male Competition as a Unifying Motif in Fragment A of the Canterbury Tales." 24 (1990): 320-28.
The tales in Group I descend in genre and character from courtly romance to fabliau, from knights to peasants. In Group I, this descent occurs in terms of male competion, both in the tales and between the pilgrims. The competition centers on a woman who becomes increasingly more active and more objectified as the tales progress. Examination of the Knight's, Miller's, Reeve's, and Cook's Tales clearly demonstrates this downward movement. The links between these tales are focused on "quiting," also a form of competition. The pun on "queynte" and the rhymes formed with "wyf" as the tales continue emphasize the progressive objectification of women.
Jensen, Emily. "Narrative Voice in the Old English Wulf." 13 (1979) 373-83.
The primary conflict in Wulf lies between the narrator and her people, but conflict also exists between the lovers. This dual conflict makes the female narrator different from other lovers of whom she has heard. The narrator's naming of Wulf as "eadwacer" suggests the depth of the emotional distress created by the situation. If read according to this framework, the lack of context or external structure suits the action of the poem.
Johnson, James D. "Identifying Chaucer Allusions, 1953-1980: An Annotated Bibliography." 19 (1984): 62-86.
In this annotated bibliography of works alluding to Chaucer, analogues have been excluded.
Johnson, James D. "Identifying Chaucer Allusions, 1981-1990: An Annotated Bibliography." 29 (1994): 194-203.
This annotated bibliography is intended to supplement the annotated bibliography that appeared in The Chaucer Review 19 (1984): 62-86. As in the first bibliography of works alluding to Chaucer, analogues have been excluded, and a distinction has been made between allusion and influence.
Johnson, Lynn Staley. "The Prince and His People: A Study of the Two Covenants in the Clerk's Tale." 10 (1975): 17-29.
Griselda's response to misfortune contrasts with the populace's response to trouble. Walter's people are weak and superficial, and they obey grudgingly. The people's response to Walter increases discord, while Griselda's promotes harmony. To have a healthy state, the people must obey and maintain the spiritual bond between themselves and the prince. As head of the metaphorical body-state, Walter symbolizes law and justice, not God. Walter's tests allow the demonstration of spiritual weakness or strength. The Envoy falsely praises the obedience occasioned by the old law, contrasting it to the love produced by the new law.
Johnson, Lynn Staley. "'To make in som comedye': Chauntecleer, Son of Troy." 19 (1985): 225-44.
Chaucer creates irony in the Nun's Priest's Tale by referring to the account of the fall of Troy at strategic points. These references align Chanticleer with Troilus and comment on Chanticleer's foolishness. Troilus may also be examined in light of Chanticleer, and the comparison heightens readers' sense of Chanticleer as a comic figure, and of Troilus as a tragic one. Troilus and Criseyde carefully follows the pattern of Fortune, but in the Nun's Priest's Tale, Chanticleer observes his situation and acts to change what will happen. Thus, comedy results from action and, unlike tragedy, is not bound to Fortune's wheel.
Johnson, William C., Jr. "The Man of Law's Tale: Aesthetics and Christianity in Chaucer." 16 (1982): 201-21.
Chaucer carefully constructs the Man of Law's Tale so that it is psychologically ambivalent towards Christianity, thereby undermining didactic allegories and revealing uncertainties and pathos. Constance's story tells of a saint caught in a mutable world. Because Constance's world is controlled by supernatural forces, her misfortune questions religious concepts. Chaucer employs apostrophe to break the flow of the story and to make places in the text for readers to create a number of different meanings. In the course of the Man of Law's Tale, Chaucer softens the line between human and divine. Chaucer makes Constance a cross between saint and woman, thereby emphasizing the humanness of Constance and providing greater freedom for characters.
Jordan, Carmel. "Soviet Archeology and the Setting of the Squire's Tale." 22 (1987): 128-40.
Archaelogical research reveals that the city of Sarai, the setting for the Squire's Tale, was a center of international trade. Chaucer could have gained knowledge of Sarai from Genoese merchants who had strong trade ties to Sarai. Records indicate the exotic beauty of the city in art, sculpture, and architecture, and ruins also show that the Khans who lived in Sarai had a great interest in magic. In the Squire's Tale Chaucer skillfully combines setting with details in the tale.
Jordan, Robert M. "The Compositional Structure of the Book of the Duchess." 9 (1974): 99-117.
Geoffrey of Vinsauf's principles of "macro-rhetoric" shape the narrative structure of the Book of the Duchess (101). Examination of the structure of the Book of the Duchess indicates division into eulogy and consolation. Within this larger structure, smaller clear sections follow Vinsauf's "poetic-house" structure (103) and display amplificatio. The man in black, a portrait of John of Gaunt, instructs readers and the narrator in courtly virtue. The narrator's response, however, is personal, though in other places the narrator functions as a transitional device. We cannot read the narrator as a unified consciousness because he moves between these two roles. Once the dreamer shows his personal concern, the man in black expands his complaint d'amour. The dreamer's response seems inappropriate because readers share gentility with the man in black which the narrator does not. The irregularities of the text result from the fact that Chaucer did not write the Book of the Duchess organically, and this inorganic approach accommodates Seys and Alcyone's story.
Jordan, Robert M. "Lost in the Funhouse of Fame: Chaucer and Postmodernism." 18 (1983): 100-15.
Like Joyce, Beckett, Borges, Barth, and others after him, Chaucer is preoccupied with writing and subjectivity in House of Fame. In this work, Chaucer demonstrates an awareness of the limits of writing and of fiction, an awareness that problematize poetry and poetic language. He also foregrounds his position as author by using various techniques.
Joseph, Gerhard. "Chaucerian 'Game'-'Earnest' and the 'Argument of herbergage' in the Canterbury Tales." 5 (1970): 83-96.
Chaucer perceives human space in two opposing ways, best seen in the difference between tales of "game" and those of "earnest" of which the tales in Fragment A are a good example. In the Knight's Tale, the amplification of time suggests a movement to order which underlines the suggestion that space can reduce passion. In the Knight's Tale, Chaucer also follows Boethius in suggesting that human space is prison; thus the enclosures become objective-correlatives for the prison of this life. In the fabliaux, however, restricted areas become places of joining between man and woman. Perspective determines how people see human space: from a serious point of view, life is prison; from a light-hearted outlook, life is endless space. The contest between the movement to the shrine (serious) and return to the tavern (light-hearted) suggests that these two views are so closely mixed that to attempt a separation is foolish.
Joseph, Gerhard. "Chaucer's Coinage: Foreign Exchange and the Puns of the Shipman's Tale." 17 (1983): 341-57.
The image of a sea voyage makes the Shipman the right teller for his tale because he must navigate a foreign form (fabliau) and language into English. In the Shipman's Tale, money and language create wealth. The pun on "taille" (1606) perfectly expresses the monetary and linguistic movements within the tale.
Joseph, Gerhard. "The Gifts of Nature, Fortune, and Grace in the Physician's, Pardoner's, and Parson's Tales." 9 (1975): 237-45.
The Host's reference to the "gifts of Fortune and Nature" links what seem to be the two sections of Group VI (237). The medieval mind believed that though Nature gave physical and mental abilities, Fortune determined circumstances. Virginia's tragedy, therefore, results from her natural gifts. Virginia's response to the announcement that she must die demonstrates the gift of grace. Comparison between the Pardoner's Tale and the Physician's Tale indicates the importance of grace.
Joseph, Gerhard. "The Franklin's Tale: Chaucer's Theodicy." 1 (1966): 20-32.
Chaucer does not demonstrate the ideal marriage in the Franklin's Tale, but instead shows a view of God and how God works in human situations. Dorigen's and Arveragus's agreement of equality in marriage prevents Dorigen from experiencing capriciousness on Arveragus's part. As a result, she does not learn to trust a superior; thus she cannot trust God. The agreement between Dorigen and Aurelius takes place in a paradisical garden identified as a second Eden in which Eve (Dorigen) falls to temptation and disobeys God's commands by not accepting God's natural law and so falling into pagan despair leading to suicide. Finally, God demonstrates his gracious design by having Dorigen and Aurelius finally meet in the city and not in the garden. Generous acts stem from this meeting which in turn cleanse "a squire and a clerk of their lust and greed" (31).
Justman, Stewart. "Literal and Symbolic in the Canterbury Tales." 14 (1980): 199-214.
Medievalists accepted analogies as reality. The Wife of Bath and characters in the Shipman's Tale twist this traditional relationship, thereby undermining traditional ways of understanding. Turning a work such as the Song of Songs that is outside of social boundaries into symbol returns it to the social order. But re-literalizing such a text threatens authority. Chaucer employs the theme of counterfeiting or literalizing symbols in the Merchant's Tale. The Miller's, Pardoner's, and Nun's Priest's Tales also work to subvert authority. The "quitings" between characters are part of a pattern of sublimation. The action between the pilgrims is both physical and symbolic, however, so it does not completely destroy social order. Puns are part of Chaucer's questioning of authority in language.
Justman, Stewart. "Medieval Monism and Abuse of Authority in Chaucer." 11 (1976): 95-111.
Different Chaucerian characters use the same authorities for opposing ends, suggesting that for Chaucer, authority may be illogical and subject to dispute. The inconsistencies in authorities like Jerome allow writers to cite any authority for any reason. Finally, Paul, Jerome, and Boethius demonstrate that human experience cannot be reduced to one single rule.
Justman, Stewart. "Trade as Pudendum: Chaucer's Wife of Bath." 28 (1994): 344-52.
For the most part, Chaucer protects his pilgrims from criticism, though the types he presents certainly have their weaknesses. But, the Wife of Bath attracts criticism for her prosperity earned from trading, and Chaucer presents her desire for economic and social merchandise as "folly" and the "the ancestral license of Woman" (345). The Wife is a natural woman in whom the most deplored traits of the merchant class openly exist. Her self-interest and her treatment of marriage as a second-best state refers to trade, a second-best occupation of self-interest.
Kahrl, Stanley J. "Chaucer's Squire's Tale and the Decline of Chivalry." 7 (1973): 194-209.
The magical elements in the Squire's Tale have no sources because the Squire wants to create an effect, not a congruous story which suggests a movement towards the exotic and disorderly in late medieval courts. The Squire chooses an unusual setting in order to surpass Arthurian romances. Like the Knight, the Squire uses occupatio, but his comes off as a proud demonstration of his rhetorical knowledge. The Franklin deliberately interrupts the Squire to save him from embarrassing himself and to avoid any futher misconstructions of eloquence and gentillesse. The Squire's inability to tell his tale and to present an accurate representation of chivalric virtues demonstrates the decline of chivalry from an ideal code of behavior to a game.
Kamowski, William. "A Suggestion for Emending the Epilogue of Troilus and Criseyde." 21 (1987): 405-18.
Rearranging the 17 stanzas of the Epilogue to Troilus and Criseyde so that they more closely follow the outline of the preceding story restores the Epilogue to Chaucer's intended order and improves its coherence. No manuscript evidence exists to suggest this new arrangement, but the facts that Chaucer probably inserted the three stanzas depicting Troilus in the Eighth Sphere and that Chaucer never completely revised Troilus and Criseyde lend credence to the rearrangement.
Kane, George. "An Accident of History: Lord Berners's Translation of Froissart's Chronicles." 21 (1986): 217-25.
Though translation of Froissart's Chroniques came at a later date than scholars would expect, particularly in light of the growth of English prose at the end of the fifteenth century, Lord Berners's translation between 1523 and 1525 occurred at the right time. The quality of Berners's translation derives from the similarity of his historical context to that of Froissart when Froissart was writing. Thus, this translation is the first of such high quality to appear in English.
Karlen, Arno. "The Homosexual Heresy." 6 (1971): 44-63.
Increasing numbers of urban dwellers, not Eastern influences, made homosexuality a problem for the Middle Ages as writings from different parts of Europe demonstrate. Since the Romans, people have believed that city-dwellers were over-sexed and contaminated the rural populace. Views regarding sex became increasingly polarized, reaching even the clergy. Priests (the middle rank of the clerical estate) had reputations for an inability to control heterosexual desires. As concern about sexuality increased, charges of deviant sexuality accompanied charges of heresy and often resulted in witch hunts. These charges were particularly linked to the Albigensians, whose beliefs contributed to the rise of the courtly love tradition. For political gain, the Inquisition linked aberrant sexuality and heretical religious beliefs which resulted in the destruction of the Templars.
Kaske, R. E. "Pandarus's 'Vertu of corones tweyne.'" 21 (1986): 226-33.
The "virtue" in Troilus and Criseyde II, 1735 is pity or mercy, often referred to in biblical exegesis as a crown, sometimes as a double crown. This reading places the love of Troilus and Criseyde between earth and heaven.
Kauffman, Corinne E. "Dame Pertelote's Parlous Parle." 4 (1969): 41-48.
Pertelote's prescription for Chanticleer actually demonstrates her lack of knowledge of herbal medicine and could possibly kill Chanticleer instead of curing him.
Kaylor, Noel Harold, Jr. "Boethian Resonances in Chaucer's 'Canticus Troili.'" 27 (1993): 219-27.
Because Chaucer did not have the best command of Italian when he translated Petrarch's Sonnet No. 132 from the Canzoniere, he may have perceived Boethian elements in the sonnet that are not actually present. His later alterations of the sonnet and its inclusion in the "Canticus Troili" suggest that Chaucer was attracted to the sonnet's content more than its form.
Kearney, Milo, and Mimosa Schraer. "The Flaw in Troilus." 22 (1988): 185-91.
In Troilus and Criseyde Chaucer presents Troilus as continually cowardly and unable to speak. Troilus, because of this flaw, is unable to save Criseyde from being sent from Troy as a kind of peace-offering.
Keiser, George R. "In Defense of the Bradshaw Shift." 12 (1978): 191-201.
In accepting the Ellesmere order, critics must deal with the absence of the Man of Law's Endlink, references to Rochester and Sittingbourne, and feminine pronouns. Merely adding the Endlink and altering the order takes a critic beyond manuscript authority. Connecting the Man of Law's Endlink to the Shipman's Tale removes the problem of place references and creates a more unified grouping.
Keiser, George R. "Language and Meaning in Chaucer's Shipman's Tale." 12 (1978): 147-61.
The swearing in the Shipman's Tale points to the failure of the merchant, wife, and monk to use language precisely. Instead of accepting this life as shadowy, these characters seek to change their circumstances, but in order to do so, they often choose to use language to cloud their motives. Oaths are combined with overstatement in such a way that the oath emphasizes the meaning behind the overstatement. The merchant's friendship with the monk is superficial as the merchant's failure to recognize the monk's nature indicates. Because of the merchant's over-concern with money, the simplicity which results makes him less sympathetic. The vague language and neutral moral atmosphere are appropriate to the teller of the Man of Law's Endlink. That the Man of Law's Endlink is a suitable transition to the Shipman's Tale suggests that the two pieces ought to be read as a unit.
Keiser, George R. "Narrative Structure in the Alliterative Morte Arthure, 26-720." 9 (1974): 130-44.
In the Alliterative Morte Arthure, the poet creates a particularly fourteenth century portrait of Arthur. The poet reshapes Wace's Brut in order to accomplish this portrait, as sustained comparison demonstrates. The poet stresses the insult that the Roman messengers give Arthur when they tell him that he must pay tribute or be attacked. Arthur treats them in the same way the fourteenth century treated criminals. In various places the poem shows similarities to Froissart's Chroniques.
Kelley, Michael R. "Antithesis as the Principle of Design in the Parliament of Fowls." 14 (1979): 61-73.
The contrasts which seem to undermine the Parliament of Fowls unify the work in a series of formal oppositions. Chaucer employs antithetical pairs of works throughout Parliament as part of a structural design. The bird groups form another contrasting pair: the higher, more courtly birds contrast with the lower, more bourgeois birds. Chaucer also presents description and characterization in opposing pairs. The last section of the poem directly contrasts dream vision with beast fable. In the course of the poem, the narrator's tone shifts from the extreme of love poet to poet of "hevynesse" (89). The Parliament, then, can be analyzed as a work based on design faithfully applied to all its elements. It is one of many medieval works that employ design to unite disparate elements.
Kelly, H. Ansgar. "Sacraments, Sacramentals, and Lay Piety in Chaucer's England." 28 (1993): 5-22.
All members of the laity were required to attend Matins, Lauds, and Mass on Sundays and to abstain from working on such holydays. Women were required to attend additional holydays. Absolon was the holy water clerk for his parish; Jankyn was the parish clerk. Both offices required that the clerk be unmarried or only married once and that the clerk continue to wear his surplice and tonsure. Parish clerks were also responsible for the education of the laity, though most often they educated the boys. Parishioners were required to take Communion once a year, but the devout, like Margery Kempe, might take Communion up to once a week. Holy water was considered only a sacramental, not capable of removing venial sins. Relics were rarely owned by the laity. Most often they were kept in churches so that the laity could venerate them.
Kempton, Daniel. "The Physician's Tale: The Doctor of Physic's Diplomatic 'Cure.'" 19 (1984): 24-38.
The Physician's treatment of Virginia in his tale derives from his medical training. Medieval treatments concerning humors and astrological phenomenon did not cure patients in reality. Likewise, Virginia lives a wonderful, theoretical life until Apius invades it, bringing in the practical world. Once participating in the practical world, Virginia is subject to the caprice of Apius's natural desires and the bonds of law and family which, like disease in a sick patient, result in death. The Physician also draws attention to Virginius's role of guardian and his inability, and the inability of most guardians, fully to protect his charge.
Kendrick, Laura. "The Troilus Frontispiece and the Dramatization of Chaucer's Troilus." 22 (1987): 81-93.
The frontispiece of Troilus and Criseyde represents a reader, possibly Chaucer, delivering Troilus and Criseyde orally while two actors perform the text in front of a puy, a group of men created to help others, whether members of the group or not. Often these societies were dedicated to serving Christ or the Virgin Mary. Other works written for puys are highly allegorical, as are many elements of the frontispiece.
Kennedy, Beverly. "Cambridge MS. Dd.4.24: A Misogynous Scribal Revision of the Wife of Bath's Prologue?" 30 (1996): 343-58.
Cambridge Dd.4.24 is a unique manuscript in Chaucer studies because dating indicates that a scribe copied it within 25 years of Chaucer's death and because it includes five sizable, additional sections and renumbers the Wife's husbands. The additions villify women and make the Wife of Bath more misogynistic. Examination of the these passages suggests that the scribe who copied the Prologue to the Wife of Bath's Tale added the material, since much of it contradicts what Chaucer has already said about the Wife. The renumbering of her husbands increases the coherence of the final section of her Prologue. Together, the interpolations and the renumbering of the husbands make the Wife merely the typical subject of estates satire. Since these changes lessen the ambiguity for which Chaucer is noted, scholars must assume that the five passages are scribal, rather than Chaucerian, revisions.
Khinoy, Stephan A. "Inside Chaucer's Pardoner?" 6 (1972): 255-67.
Readers may explore the Pardoner as a problem of language use and its power. By accepting Harry Bailly's proposal to tell tales as a way to pass the time while travelling, the clergy accepted a proposal which, by its nature, required them to participate in lies. Thus, when the Nun's Priest tells his tale, he requests that the pilgrims find the nut and leave the chaff as a justification for telling a tale at all. The Pardoner, however, does not fit in with the clerical tale-tellers. Instead, he presents "art for art's sake" (258). He reverses the relationship between prologue and tale in that his immoral prologue imposes on his moral sermon in order to make the pilgrims the inversion itself. The way the Pardoner tells his tale causes his audience to pay more attention to the outside (chaff) of the tale than the inside (nut). Thus, the Pardoner takes a position opposite that of Reason with regard to language. Reason asserts that divine will names things. The Pardoner suggests that names are merely human convention. Though the external appearance of the old man is uninviting, Chaucer uses him to suggest that meaning and value are not imposed, but intrinsic.
Kiernan, Kevin S. "The Art of the Descending Catalogue, and a Fresh Look at Alisoun." 10 (1975): 1-16.
As demonstrated in the works of Geoffrey of Vinsauf, appropriate description of a beautiful woman began with her head and worked downward to her feet. Writers could achieve different effects by altering the order of the catalogue or by using clothing to draw attention to various body parts. Chaucer's description of Alisoun in the Miller's Tale demonstrates this tradition as do his descriptions of Criseyde, the Wife of Bath, and the Prioress. Though Chaucer's presentation of Emily in the Knight's Tale is not a catalogue, it functions like one in that the reader examines Emily's body. Writers also use catalogues to create humor, particularly by describing someone other than a beloved lady as in Chaucer's description of Sir Thopas. The use of the catalogue to describe ugliness in The Weddynge of Sir Gawen and Dame Ragnell demonstrates the standard of beauty by opposition. When Chaucer uses the catalogue to describe Alisoun, he involves the reader in the Miller's leering.
Kiessling, Nicholas K. "The Wife of Bath's Tale: D 878-881." 7 (1972): 113-16.
The reference to friars as those who have driven incubi out of the countryside does not insult the Friar's virility. Women who met with incubi did not always become pregnant, though the outcome was always uncomfortable. Since the Wife of Bath shows a woman's dishonor merely as a mistake, the reference to the incubi suggests that she is more disturbed by their violence toward women.
Kinneavy, Gerald. "Gower's Confessio Amantis and the Penitentials." 19 (1984): 144-61.
The Confessio amantis contains a significant amount of material drawn from confession handbooks, those both for the laity and for the priesthood, as comparison with Robert of Brunne's Handlyng Synne and John Myrc's Instructions for Parish Priests shows. Amans makes a heartfelt confession to Genius in secret, and Genius responds with the mild manner counseled for confessors. Both Amans, the penitent, and Genius, the confessor, manifest an awareness of the necessity for the penitent to reveal everything about his sin in order for the confessor to respond properly. The instructions for the laity also inform the Confessio amantis. The penitent seeks to be shriven while alive and takes care to show the sincerity of his confession. In the end, reason reasserts control over courtly love.
Kinneavy, Gerald B. "The Poet in The Palice of Honour." 3 (1969): 280-303.
Gavin Douglas's The Palice of Honour shows a poet seeking honor through his poetry, though he recognizes that wisdom, chastity, and virtue could also gain him honor. The conventional opening actually serves to direct attention to the poet's powers of creation. The change from May garden to wasteland, representations of the avenues of wisdom and charity which the poet sees, and the complaint against the inconstancy of Venus all underscore the poet's desire for honor while depicting the ways in which he is incapable of achieving it. The poet recognizes his need to be saved from Venus (whom he has insulted) and from the wasteland in which he finds himself. Calliope, the muse of poetry, comes to rescue him, but to be released from Venus' court, the poet must write, thereby focusing attention primarily on the creative poetic faculty. A nymph takes the poet on a journey, showing him the materials (beautiful sights) out of which he can make poetry. The only resting place is the fountain of poetry. From here, the poet can begin seeking the Palice, but his poetry demonstrates that he still has much to learn. At the end, the poem asserts that the poet ought to live a virtuous life, and the poet demonstrates an understanding of his art and its purpose, thus eventually gaining the Palice of Honor.
Kirby, Thomas A. "Chaucer Research, 1966." 1 (1967): 186-99.
Kirby presents an annotated bibliography of Chaucer research.
"Chaucer Research, 1967." 2 (1968): 191-204.
"Chaucer Research, 1968." 3 (1969): 204-21.
"Chaucer Research, 1969." 4 (1970): 211-27.
"Chaucer Research, 1970." 6 (1971): 64-79.
"Chaucer Research, 1971." 7 (1972): 67-83.
"Chaucer Research, 1972." 8 (1973): 75-85.
"Chaucer Research, 1973." 9 (1974): 80-95.
"Chaucer Research, 1974." 9 (1975): 353-71.
"Chaucer Research, 1975." 10 (1976): 260-78.
"Chaucer Research, 1976." 11 (1977): 261-79.
"Chaucer Research, 1977." 12 (1978): 259-78.
"Chaucer Research, 1978." 14 (1979): 74-95.
"Chaucer Research, 1979." 15 (1980): 63-84.
"Chaucer Research, 1980." 15 (1981): 356-79.
"Chaucer Research, 1981." 16 (1982): 356-77.
"Chaucer Research, 1982." 17 (1983): 255-77.
"Chaucer Research, 1983." 18 (1984): 250-72.
Knapp, Peggy A. "Alisoun of Bathe and the Reappropriation of Tradition." 24 (1989): 45-52.
The Wife of Bath tries to gain control of male-dominated discourse by appropriating the antifeminist tradition and the courtly romance. The Prologue, based on antifeminist tradition, alters the material of Jerome's Epistola adversus Jovinianum, but significantly, this material is represented in the frame of the Canterbury Tales and by a woman. The Wife's Prologue makes the antifeminist texts into a theater in which Alisoun can present her own views. Her tale adds to the tradition of tale-telling, but is still governed by her desires and by the space in which she must exist as a medieval woman. The final kisses in both prologue and tale make the reader feel as though experience and authority have resolved their differences.
Knapp, Peggy A. "The Nature of Nature: Criseyde's 'Slydyng corage.'" 13 (1978): 133-40.
Chaucer goes to great lengths to associate Criseyde with Nature. Pandarus, then, becomes Nature's priest. Troilus refers to Nature/Criseyde as paradise and worships her. Diomede exploits her for his personal gain. Each lover demonstrates a different response to Nature.
Knight, Alan E. "Drama and Society in Late Medieval Flanders and Picardy." 14 (1980): 379-89.
Historical records indicate that cities in Flanders became increasingly autonomous, but dramatic records show a cooperative spirit and friendly competition balancing negative influences. Interurban dramatic contests were often organized for special occasions including noble births, liturgical festivals, and local celebrations. The host city would often subsidize troupes from other cities and was expected to send troupes those cities in return. The dramatic troupes maintained goodwill among cities.
Knight, Stephen. "Rhetoric and Poetry in the Franklin's Tale." 4 (1969): 14-30.
Chaucer must be seen as a great poet, and his poetic works should be treated as poetry. Analysis in terms of rhetorical devices can help to reveal Chaucer's greatness. In the Franklin's Tale, Chaucer uses various styles to create the different characters and to emphasize particular elements of each scene. For example, where the Franklin speaks as Franklin, he uses short, choppy sentences. Once into telling his tale, however, his style becomes smoother. When Dorigen speaks, she uses a number of rhetorical devices which characterize her as highly emotional. Aurelius's language and indirect speech give us a picture of him as well: the language he uses suggests the highly decorative world of courtly love. As a result of the rhetoric, Dorigen's lament becomes slightly ironic. When she tells Arveragus of her plight, the language and style heighten the effect. In order to appreciate fully Chaucer's artistry, we must look beyond rhetoric to the effects which Chaucer can create with it.
Knoepflmacher, U. C. "Irony through Scriptural Allusion: A Note on Chaucer's Prioresse." 4 (1970): 180-83.
The description of the Prioress in the General Prologue includes many puns, including that on "grece" and "grace." This pun alludes to Matthew 23 and functions as a faint warning to clerics, male or female, who pay great attention to outward behavior. The reference to the dogs recalls Matthew 15 and casts aspersions on the depth of the Prioress's faith. The Prioress, however, is not portrayed as negatively as the Pardoner: she, at least, can feel.
Koban, Charles. "Hearing Chaucer Out: The Art of Persuasion in the Wife of Bath's Tale." 5 (1971): 225-39.
In oral delivery, Chaucer found a way to contemplate human difficulties and to educate his audience. In addition to plot, exemplary materials not integrally related to the plot indicate that Chaucer intended his audience to think about larger issues. In addition, precise statements of thought indicate "controlling ideas or problems" (227). Readers may see the Canterbury Tales in blocks that develop larger themes. By examining the Pardoner's Tale, we discover the oral method that Chaucer probably used. The Wife of Bath's Tale demonstrates how Chaucer combines plot, thought, and examples to persuade his audience. Chaucer organizes these materials in a way that indicates an oral delivery as opposed to a written one. He also focuses on the relations between men and women (human problem) instead of the comic elements. Such a focus also makes readers ignore the question of whether or not the teller fits the tale. When examined structurally, the materials which present models to the audience slow the progress of the plot, thus allowing readers/ hearers to think about the greater human problems presented. The young knight's quest, then, becomes the individual's search for purpose, dignity, and self-determination.
Koff, Leonard Michael. "Wordsworth and the Manciple's Tale." 19 (1985): 338-51.
In the Manciple's Tale, Wordsworth perceives the statement that no matter what, the truth that the heart knows cannot be silenced. Wordsworth eliminates more overtly sexual passages in the tale to focus attention on the historical but timeless knowledge Chaucer displays.
Kohanski, Tamarah. "In Search of Maleyne." 27 (1993): 228-68.
In the Reeve's Tale Maleyne is often considred a non-entity, and most critics read her as a fabliau female, a willing participant in the sexual games the clerks play. In fact, Chaucer presents her as a mix of high- and low-born characteristics, and leaves her level of sexual activity open to question. She does not have time to cry out against Alan when he comes to her bed, and Chaucer presents no evidence that she is complicit in such activity.
Koretsky, Allen C. "Chaucer's Use of the Apostrophe in Troilus and Criseyde." 4 (1970): 242-66.
Most of the apostrophes in Troilus and Criseyde do not appear in the source. The use of the apostrophe gives Chaucer the opportunity to explore the feeling of love at a philosophical level, while amplifying the poem. The apostrophes of each character not only give clear pictures of that character's feelings, but also demonstrate the significance of events in the story. Careful analysis of each character's apostrophes supports these assertions.
Krochalis, Jeanne E. "The Books and Reading of Henry V and His Circle." 23 (1988): 50-77.
Because the English court did not systematically catalogue their libraries, scholars know little about the reading habits of the English courtiers. The exceptions are Thomas of Woodstock whose books were catalogued when his property was confiscated, and a French scribe who catalogued the royal library in 1535. Records showing book purchases and commissionings, wills, and other historical and legal documents provide the rest of the knowledge we have. Henry V's library reveals that he was not as interested in collecting the books as he was in reading them.
Krochalis, Jeanne E. "Hoccleve's Chaucer Portrait." 21 (1986): 234-45.
Portraits of authors existed in classical times, and medieval manuscripts also included portraits of authors, but these portraits often did not reflect the physiognomy of the author. Indeed, scribes and authors have the same features. Hoccleve memorializes Chaucer in his Regement of Princes and, in so doing, equates him with the rich and holy who could afford to be memorialized in effigy or in verse.
Krochalis, Jeanne E. "In Memoriam: Morton W. Bloomfield, 1914-1987." 22 (1988): 253-54.
Morton Bloomfield was one of the few scholars who always had time to talk and to discuss new ideas. His varied interests made him a valuable scholar.
Krochalis, Jeanne E. "Postcript: The Equatorie of the Planetis as a Translator's Manuscript." 26 (1991): 43-47.
Insertions, corrections, and glosses in Latin suggest that the scribe was translating the Equatorie of the Planetis, checking his work as he progressed.
Kruger, Steven F. "Imagination and the Complex Movement of Chaucer's House of Fame." 28 (1993): 117-34.
Though the movement patterns in the House of Fame are complex, they unite the poem. The House of Fame is primarily a self-reflexive poem, drawing readers' attention to fundamental issues of art. Poetry is essentially concerned with fame and communication. As in other dream visions, however, there is no guarantee of discovery, and when moments of epiphany come upon the dreamer, they are inherently ambiguous. Both the House of Fame and of the House Tidings have equivocal relationships to Truth. Truth may be heeded or ignored.
Kruger, Steven F. "Passion and Order in Chaucer's Legend of Good Women." 23 (1989): 219-35.
The Legend of Good Women shows that literature cannot be completely controlled. Chaucer also examines the mutilation that emotions can work on prescribed social codes. The Legend of Good Women does not always depict faithful women and faithless men. Often the stories Chaucer chooses show emotion overpowering social structure, undermining stability, breaking apart marriages and families, and leading to death. Like the wall in the "Legend of Pyramus and Thisbe," however, structures that oppose passions do not always succeed.
Laird, Edgar S. "Astrology and Irony in Chaucer's Complaint of Mars." 6 (1972): 229-31.
In the astrological progress of Venus, Venus and Mercury arrive in "sextile" (230) aspect in a way commonly described as "pryvy and secret loving" (229). This aspect suggests that Venus becomes Mercury's mistress, and it includes betrayal as one of the pains of love.
Laird, Judith. "Good Women and Bonnes Dames: Virtuous Females in Chaucer and Christine de Pizan." 30 (1995): 58-70.
In the Legend of Good Women Chaucer defines women only in relation to men and portrays them in such a way that even if they are constant, they are rejected as duplicitous. Christine de Pisan, in Le Livre de la Cité des Dames, treats a similar subject, but her women appear much more virtuous and less foolish. In the Prologue to the Legend of Good Women Chaucer establishes women as lovers, thereby forcing men to examine them in terms of their physicality and nothing more. Christine's opening establishes a non-gendered definition of goodness that goes beyond sexual purity and specifically addresses the tales of wicked women. Though both authors examine the same women, their portraits are very different. Ultimately, Christine's portraits reveal that women are good regardless of how they relate to men, whereas Chaucer's women are good only in their relationships to men.
Lampe, David E. "The Poetic Strategy of the Parlement of the Thre Ages." 7 (1973): 173-83.
The length of the opening section of the Parliament of the Three Ages prepares the reader for the dream vision. The flowers both represent the temporality of human life and offer correction to those too involved in the temporal world. The birds show different dispositions towards love, foreshadowing the dream figures. The narrator's behavior also sets up the dream. In the dream discussion, both Youthe and Medil Elde demonstrate their failures. Elde, recalling figures of the past, emphasizes how mortality has affected the Nine Worthies. Thus, the poet suggests that the first two figures are vices, the third virtue.
Lancashire, Anne. "Chaucer and the Sacrifice of Isaac." 9 (1975): 320-26.
Details in the Physician's Tale correspond to the story of Abraham and Isaac as does the Man of Law's Tale. Examination of the play Appius and Virginia (1575) also shows that this plot borrowed traditional elements from the Abraham and Isaac story.
Lancashire, Ian. "Sexual Innuendo in the Reeve's Tale." 6 (1972): 159-70.
Innuendo in the Reeve's Tale is not limited to a few puns, but underlies the whole tale. The language of milling is filled with sexual puns. Readers recognize that John and Alan repay Symkyn in kind, but in a punning way. Chaucer added the innuendo to emphasize the poetically just ending.
Lee, Anne Thompson. "'A woman true and fair': Chaucer's Portrayal of Dorigen in the Franklin's Tale." 19 (1984): 169-78.
In the Franklin's Tale Chaucer examines a real marriage, not a theory of marriage. Dorigen's decision to consent to Aurelius is based on her real fears about Arveragus and her position in a society that forces women to accept passively their circumstances instead of taking action to change them. Dorigen's complaint is merely the Franklin's way of gaining all possible sympathy for her. Though Arveragus makes the only decision possible when he discovers her promise to Aurelius, Dorigen must ultimately pay the price. The act of going to keep her promise brings her closest to complete despair. The Franklin, however, manages to leave his audience with a picture of all the qualities he admires in the upper class.
Lee, Brian S. "The Position and Purpose of the Physician's Tale." 22 (1987): 141-60.
Chaucer alters his source material for the Physician's Tale so that what was a pagan tale becomes a Christian exemplum. Comparing the tale to Gower's Tale of Virginia and Chaucer's Legend of Lucrece shows that Gower's tale has a political agenda more than a moral one and that Chaucer has altered both the source materials so that Virginia is more active and points more toward Christian truth. Chaucer presents the Physician's Tale and the Pardoner's Tale as two contrasting exempla, one depicting good, the other evil. The Physician's Tale should be read immediately after the Franklin's Tale because the Physician's Tale presents one possible outcome of Aurelius's proposition to Dorigen. Chaucer constructs the Physician's Tale so that Virginia is passive, in part because she is so virtuous, compared to Alisoun in the Miller's Tale. In the tale Virginia is contrasted to Apius, who is presented as purely evil, but he envies Virginia's goodness. Love cures envy, and in the tale, Virginius represents that love.
Leicester, H. Marshall, Jr. "The Harmony of Chaucer's Parlement: A Dissonant Voice." 9 (1974): 15-34.
The richness of tradition and the depth of Chaucer's own perceptions prevents the unification of the Parliament of Fowls. Chaucer treats his dream as a series of voices, not of places, and disjoins the voices from each other though they are associated with traditional topoi. The material, however, is too abstract to remain so separated from ordinary experience. Chaucer uses his material to display learning for learning's sake, but this choice separates the erudite material from the more narrative material. The contest between radical ordering and subjective use of traditional material prevents the poem from being unified until the end of Part I. Ultimately, Chaucer cannot separate his material from himself. The final section of the poem is more unified in part because the poet relinquishes his attempt to deal with big questions about love. This progression as well as the action in the last section of the poem itself point to Chaucer's focus on individuals as disruptive forces. Chaucer also examines how types and styles can or cannot communicate; as he represents it, attempting to remain fixed in a type or style will only result in social collapse. Nature seems to be the force channeling individuals into socially accepted behaviors, but there is an underlying suggestion that Nature is chaotic. The final roundel reestablishes natural order and absorbs the individual problems. Finally, the "solution" suggests that society and culture are maintained at the expense of individuals (32).
Leicester, H. Marshall, Jr. "'No vileyns word': Social Context and Performance in Chaucer's Friar's Tale." 17 (1982): 21-39.
The Summoner's attack on the Friar provides a context in which the Friar may tell his tale. In telling the tale, the Friar establishes his social superiority to summoners. The desire to proclaim learning and social superiority leads the Friar to make the summoner in his tale psychologically inconsistent: the summoner has little reaction to the announcement that his companion is a demon. After the digression on summoners, the Friar draws on the exemplum tradition to camouflage his attack on the Summoner. At the end of the tale, the Friar's anger has not been entirely released, but for his exemplum to be effective, he must maintain a separation between the pilgrim Summoner and the summoner of the tale. The Friar's Tale collapses at the end because he tries to include within it the contradictory impulses of love and hate.
Leitch, L. M. "Sentence and Solaas: The Function of the Host in the Canterbury Tales." 17 (1982): 5-20.
In nearly all of the tales, the pilgrims demonstrate audience awareness. Time is the most restrictive element in tale-telling, forcing the pilgrims to shorten or speed up the tales they tell in order to please the other pilgrims, their audience. The Host's idea of a good tale is a tale of joy and mirth, and other pilgrims subscribe to his point of view. The tale-tellers must take their desire into account. In the end the desire for mirth is replaced by a desire for teaching and instruction, and the Parson replaces the Host as leader. Ultimately, the best tale is the story of the pilgrimage itself.
Lenaghan, R. T. "Chaucer's Circle of Gentlemen and Clerks." 18 (1983): 155-60.
Most court poets held other offices at court such as clerk or customs officer. These official duties were more important than writing poetry. Because of the political atmosphere in which a number of powerful noblemen were jockeying for rulership of the king's household, administrative skills were highly valued. Each group of officials also became a social structure. The poems Chaucer wrote to Scogan and Bukton reveal a sense of social equality. Even in writing to the king, Chaucer develops a sense of equality, as is seen in "Lak of Stedfastness" and the "Complaint of Chaucer to His Purse."
Lenaghan, R. T. "Chaucer's Envoy to Scogan: The Social Uses of Literary Conventions." 10 (1975): 46-61.
The logical connection between the two parts of the Envoy to Scogan is not clear, but it does suggest a particular historical time in which to examine Chaucer's talent. Given the date of Scogan's service in the royal household, the poem can be dated in the 1390's. Like other poems of this period, the Envoy to Scogan contains a personal statement of a love which produced obligation. Like Deschamps, Chaucer indicates a sense of friendship for his companions, and like Machaut, he is self-deprecatory. The Envoy to Scogan uses a common theme to evoke activity from Scogan, in part by reminding him that he and Chaucer are equals. The suggestion of friendship, however, prevents such an idea from disrupting the social order.
Lenaghan, R. T. "The Irony of the Friar's Tale." 7 (1973): 281-94.
The Friar's Tale is ironic both as a tale and as part of the pilgrimage, and the tale is both sermon and satire. The relational inequality between the characters, the legalism by which the summoner curses himself, and the imagery all contribute to the narrative and its irony. In the end the Friar's Tale turns on its teller, since the Friar's anger has no place in his prayer at the end of his tale. The ironies of the tale depend on Christian morality by which the Friar finally indicts himself, thus allowing Chaucer to satirize the clergy.
Lepley, Douglas L. "The Monk's Boethian Tale." 12 (1978): 162-70.
The Monk's Tale illustrates Boethius's idea that happiness comes from spiritual existence. When the Monk discusses Fortune, he pictures her in the same way as Philosophy does in the Consolation of Philosophy. According to Philosophy, Fortune controls only the material world, so she does not control spiritual virtues and cannot take away spiritual gains. The Monk's discussion of Fortune, happiness, and spiritual gain complements the Knight's Tale.
Levine, Robert. "Aspects of Grotesque Realism in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight." 17 (1982): 65-75.
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight uses elements of grotesque realism to create irony. The poet associates "food, sex, and money" and employs "images of slaughter and dismemberment, crowning and uncrowning" as part of a game (74).
Levy, Bernard S. "Gentilesse in Chaucer's Clerk's and Merchant's Tales." 11 (1977): 306-18.
In Chaucer, gentillesse can mean noble birth and virtue as well as acts of sexual pleasure. The gentillesse represented by Griselda in the Clerk's Tale contradicts the view of gentillesse presented by the Wife of Bath. Griselda's gentillesse in the face of Walter's cruel tests reinforces the theory that gentillesse does not necessarily result from noble birth, but the Clerk does not represent gentillesse as sexual pleasure as does the Wife. Finally, Griselda's submission to Walter brings him to behave with true gentillesse. To quite the Wife of Bath and the Clerk, the Merchant uses his tale to show January and May pretending to gentillesse. January chooses May because he believes she has gentillesse, though he knows she is lowly born. January also describes Damyan in terms that make Damyan the male complement to May's gentillesse. Because Damyan is so ill and January urges May to be good to Damyan, May's love-making to Damyan in the pear tree takes on characteristics of a noble deed. By abruptly presenting the climax of May and Damyan's love and having January recover his sight at that moment, the Merchant points out that gentility can cover vile behaviors. The Merchant presents marriage purely as physical satisfaction, not mutual gentillesse.
Levy, Bernard S. "The Wife of Bath's Queynte Fantasye." 4 (1969): 106-22.
The Wife of Bath's life supports her claim that husbands must yield to their wives to achieve happiness in marriage. In her tale she depicts a conflict between the "old law" of an eye for an eye, and the "new law" of Love. Under this new law, the transformation of the old woman is a natural occurrence. When the young knight behaves "gentilly," he changes his vision and gains the ability to recognize virtue. His reward is couched in images of baptism as suggested by the "dayes thre" in the old woman's speech about gentillesse. The imagery in the Wife's description of her relationship with Jankyn further demonstrates this point. Male submission to women, however, lowers the man to the status of wife and significantly reduces his virility. The Wife seeks to control Jankyn because he will not sleep with her, thus not allowing her to control the marriage bed, so she cannot master him. In the Wife of Bath's Tale, the old woman wants the young knight to pay his "marriage debt," and her curtain lecture conceives of love-making in marriage as a "gentil dede." Given the medieval view of marriage, however, readers recognize that the young knight and the old woman have twisted marriage into a way to satisfy lust. The "baptism" the young knight receives inducts him into knowledge of courtly love. Thus, the Wife demonstrates that only when women have control, particularly over the bed, do lovers experience perfect bliss.
Lewis, Robert Enzer. "In Memoriam: Robert A. Pratt, 1907-1987." 23 (1988): 93-94.
Robert Pratt was an excellent scholar who helped to bring the Chaucer Library efforts into existence as a series. He encouraged collegues, students, and other scholars to create solid, well-written criticism.
Lewis, Robert Enzer. "Report of the Chaucer Library Committee, 1978." 13 (1979): 284.
Lewis lists present projects of Chaucerians and publications of the Chaucer Group of the MLA.
"Report of the Chaucer Library Committee, 1979-80." 15 (1981): 282-83.
"Report of the Chaucer Library Committee, 1981-82." 17 (1983): 281-82.
"Report of the Chaucer Library Committee, 1983-85." 20 (1986): 341-42.
"Report of the Chaucer Library Committee, 1986-89." 24 (1990): 367-68.
Lewis, Robert Enzer. "What did Chaucer Mean by Of the Wreched Engendrynge of Mankynde?" 2 (1968): 139-58.
One can illuminate the mystery of Chaucer's reference to Of the Wreched Engendrynge of Mankynde by closely reading the line in which it appears at the beginning of the Legend of Good Women. Although no contemporary translation of Pope Innocent's De miseria humane conditionis is extant, Chaucer does seem to indicate that he made a translation of Innocent's work.
Lionarons, Joyce Tally. "Magic, Machines, and Deception: Technology in the Canterbury Tales." 27 (1993): 377-86.
Because magic and machinery were associated with secrecy, in the Canterbury Tales they help aid in trickery, as in the Squire's Tale. The horse of brass seems to be a technological marvel simply because knowledge of how it works is unavailable to common people. Often such knowledge was used for practical jokes, but occasionally such knowledge could create trouble, as in the Franklin's Tale when the Clerk of Orleans removes the rocks. Like the horse in the Squire's Tale, the disappearance of the rocks was beyond the reach of medieval technology. In the Canon's Yeoman's Tale readers experience the full development of a technological distrust.
Lockhart, Adrienne R. "Semantic, Moral and Aesthetic Degeneration in Troilus and Criseyde." 8 (1973): 100-18.
Troilus and Criseyde is an examination of the ideal virtues--honour, worthinesse, and manhod--and how those virtues function in real life. Honor contains integrity and a good reputation. The "Book of Troilus" connects honor to generosity and respect seen in Hector and Deiphebus. The ensuing comparison of Troilus to Hector allows Chaucer to examine worthyness as a quality of the courtly lover. Whereas worthyness once implied merit earned by brave deeds, in Troilus's case it indicates self-centeredness. Only after Criseyde is gone does Troilus assert his manhood and take action, and then he only seeks death. Troilus fails in that he is unable to keep perspective on his love. Troilus and Criseyde also examines "trouthe." As Troilus painfully discovers, the line between a truthful character and an accurate presentation of reality is quite thin. Finally, readers realize that Chaucer examines an artistic problem, that of making an ideal concrete, but no matter what Chaucer does, Time and Fortune are still able to alter his work.
Loney, Douglas. "Chaucer's Prioress and Agur's 'Adulterous Woman.'" 27 (1992): 107-08.
In the passages detailing the Prioress's table manners, Chaucer borrows from the Roman de la Rose and Proverbs. Though Chaucer does not explicitly suggest that the Prioress is an adulteress, he ironically refers to the seductive power of the world in which she participates.
Long, Walter C. "The Wife as Moral Revolutionary. " 20 (1986): 273-84.
The Wife of Bath propounds the theory that men and women are equal, that nurture is stronger than nature. By pretending to her audience the truth of this idea, she declares herself to be in revolt against a political and moral system that declares women are the cause of sin and the focus for resentment of the human condition.
Longsworth, Robert M. "Privileged Knowledge: St. Cecilia and the Alchemist in the Canterbury Tales." 27 (1992): 87-96.
The Canon's Yeoman's Tale and the Second Nun's Tale both treat transformation. In the Canon's Yeoman's Tale alchemy is presented as fraud with only monetary consequences for the dupe. The Canon's Yeoman is careful to show the abuse of fundamental principles. In the Second Nun's Tale transformation has mortal consequences for believers, and as a result deals with a double epistemology. Believers can see what non-believers cannot. The narrator is responsible for the presentation of these two kinds of knowledge. The narrator of the Second Nun's Tale merely claims that he is reporting from a source, probably Jacobus de Voragine, whereas the narrator of the Canon's Yeoman's Tale is making a confession.
Loschiavo, Linda Ann. "The Birth of 'Blanche the Duchesse': 1340 Versus 1347." 13 (1978): 128-32.
Given that laws considered "full age" to be 14 and that Blanche is considered of age to claim her father's inheritance, scholars can argue that Blanche was married at 12, a traditional age of marriage, and that she was born in 1347.
Luengo, A. "Audience and Exempla in the Pardoner's Prologue and Tale." 11 (1976): 1-10.
The Pardoner presents two different kinds of stories to the pilgrims, alternating between exempla directed towards members of the lower class and moral anecdotes directed towards the pilgrims. He indicates shifts between one type of story and another by his form of address, and carefully chooses his words and content to appeal to the more "gentil" pilgrims (5). By carefully choosing a work from John of Salisbury's Policraticus, the Pardoner shows that he believes his audience to be somewhat educated. To make his tale more palatable to his audience, the Pardoner also eliminates exclamatio and most scatological imagery.
Luxon, Thomas H. "'Sentence' and 'Solaas': Proverbs and Consolation in the Knight's Tale." 22 (1987): 94-111.
In the Knight's Tale "sentence" and "solaas" frequently oppose each other. At the end of the tale Theseus propounds the belief that Fortune controls life, but the tale contains many seemingly irrational events. By forcusing on pain, Chaucer disrupts his audience's sense of an ordered world. Occasionally the narrator asks readers to share pain, but sometimes, the speaker seems to attempt to separate readers from the pain. Distancing techniques include clinical, descriptive language, occupatio, proverbs, and conventional wisdom. Finally, the Knight shows that "sentence" follows a struggle for "solaas."
Lynch, Kathryn L. "The Parliament of Fowls and Late Medieval Voluntarism (Part I)." 25 (1990): 1-16.
The Parliament of Fowls distinctly deals with love and courtship. The poem is a dream vision, closely associated with the debate or demande d'amour. Chaucer alters the debate so that the choice is between different degrees, not kinds, thereby problematizing the activity of choosing by feeling and will, not by reason. Chaucer draws attention to the conflict between Nature's power and the will of creatures, showing that individuals do not always guide their behavior by reason. The debate between free will and determinism is the crux of the poem. Such examination reveals Chaucer's consideration of the classical and medieval philsopical discussions of choice and will. The use of Cicero signals to the reader that Chaucer is attempting to deal with love at a more elevated level. Medieval philsophy moved more to voluntarism, giving the will greater freedom. Chaucer also presents intellectualism as "a form of determinism" (9). In this description of determinism, Chaucer also engages Dante, Aquinas, Duns Scotus, and Buridan.
Lynch, Kathryn L. "The Parliament of Fowls and Late Medieval Voluntarism (Part II)." 25 (1990): 85-95.
Chaucer examines free will from three different angles in the Parliament of Fowls. The emphasis of the traditional demande d'amour is not the choice of the formel, but who she chooses. By showing a narrator who hesitates before the gates of love, Chaucer personifies the debate between free will and determinism. Chaucer also refers to Cicero, a philosopher interested in comprehending the relationship between free will and divine foreknowledge. In the fourteenth century the proponents of voluntarism were Duns Scotus and Ockham. Archbishop Thomas Bradwardine opposed them by diminishing man's free will in order to emphasize God's power and knowledge. Duns Scotus separates the intellect and the will since the intellect focuses on an object that determines its own motion. The will is, however, free to determine itself. In the garden of the Parliament of Fowls, readers see the failure of will. The parliament shows, in contrast, the activity of the will. Chaucer also presents the weakness of Nature and Reason in that both are without will. Ultimately, the formel eagle shows how self-motivated beings behave.
Lynn, Karen. "Chaucer's Decasyllabic Line: The Myth of the Hundred-Year Hibernation." 13 (1978): 116-27.
For 100 years after Chaucer, the iambic pentameter line seems to have disappeared. Careful examination, however, reveals that it was merely camouflaged by meter and style. Later writers like Lydgate, Skelton, and Dunbar employed an expanded license and added possibilities to the language and meter they used. When subjected to computer analysis, Chaucer's lines seem less metrically complex, whereas those of later authors consistently use more intricate stress patterns.
MacDonald, Alasdair A. "Chaucer's Man of Law's Tale 847: A Reconsideration." 22 (1988): 246-49.
The idea that line 847 of the Man of Law's Tale should read "Thy wo, and any woman may sustene" must be rejected on the basis of orthograpical and textual evidence.
Machan, Tim William. "Scribal Role, Authorial Intention, and Chaucer's Boece." 24 (1989): 150-62.
The traditional view of scribal role and authorial intent in creating manuscripts does not adequately describe how scribes thought about their work. Looking at Boece, for example, reveals that scribes may have altered Chaucer's word choice to make it more modern and consulted sources to "improve" what Chaucer had done. Scribal alterations show that the scribes did not think of the text or the author as untouchable. They were primarily concerned with communication.
Maguire, John B. "The Clandestine Marriage of Troilus and Criseyde." 8 (1974): 262-78.
The medieval Church taught that the mutual consent of the couple made a valid marriage, a church ceremony was not necessary; because of abuse, however, clandestine marriages were considered undesirable and, in some communities, unlawful. While Boccaccio clearly depicts an extramarital affair between Troilus and Criseyde, Chaucer shows the lovers in a different light. Chaucer's Criseyde is a modest widow, unwilling to compromise her virtue. Troilus sings a hymn to Hymen, god of marriage, and, as in a medieval wedding ceremony, Troilus and Criseyde exchange rings and pledge their "trouthe" to one another. Furthermore, when Chaucer speaks of the tales of feminine fidelity he would rather tell, he choses tales of married women. The fact that Troilus and Criseyde are married explains why Troilus will not forget Criseyde even at Pandarus's urging and why he does not have the option of taking Criseyde away and then returning her if necessary. Finally, Chaucer never suggests that Troilus is guilty of sin.
Maltman, Sister Nicholas, O. P. "The Divine Granary or the End of the Prioress's 'Greyn.'" 17 (1982): 163-70.
In her tale the Prioress refers to the Sarum breviary and the Mass of the Holy Innocents. In the response to the Sarum liturgy, the grain represents St. Thomas a Becket's martyrdom, and specifically the soul "winnowed" (165) from the body. Chaucer chose the grain for its connection with the Holy Innocents and St. Thomas, both of whom are associated with martyrdom. The grain on the boy's tongue physically represents his soul.
Mandel, Jerome. "Contrast in Old English Poetry." 6 (1971): 1-13.
The various uses that Anglo-Saxon poets make of contrast in their poetry suggest that contrast is more than a rhetorical device: contrast is a structural principle. By contrasting words, lines, and groups of lines, the poet can suggest the thematic tensions of a work, such as the tension between peace and war. Examination of Beowulf, the Wanderer, the Dream of the Rood, and Deor demonstrates that contrast is a structural principle of Anglo-Saxon poetry that poets use to suggest the transitory nature of life.
Mandel, Jerome. "Courtly Love in the Canterbury Tales." 19 (1985): 277-89.
In the Canterbury Tales, Chaucer occasionally uses the trappings of courtly love as seen in the Clerk's, Merchant's, Shipman's, Squire's, Franklin's, Cook's, Reeve's, Miller's, and Knight's Tales, and the Tale of Sir Thopas. In the Canterbury Tales as a whole, however, Chaucer does not hold up courtly love as positive or important.
Mandel, Jerome H. "Governance in the Physician's Tale." 10 (1976): 316-25.
The Physician's Tale examines the question of the proper response to government corruption, and the relationships in the tale are those of rulership. The digression regarding governesses demonstrates Chaucer's concern with the honesty of those who govern. As the moral figure of the tale, Virginia is Appius's opposite. Virginius, however, decides Virginia's fate in nearly the same rash manner as Appius, and Chaucer's repeated mention of Virginius's friends who eventually come to his defense suggests that Virginia died needlessly. Virginius's prayer for Claudius at the end of the tale declares the love of God to be the model for living.
Mann, Jill. "The Speculum Stultorum and the Nun's Priest's Tale." 9 (1975): 262-81.
Careful examination of the Nun's Priest's Tale indicates the influence of Nigel de Longchamps. In the Speculum stultorum, Nigel satirizes Burnellus in order to criticize those like him. Burnellus maintains the behavior traits usually associated with asses. When Burnellus finally makes a wise choice, readers remember the folly which is divine wisdom. Since all of society is satirized, however, readers cannot read the moralizing straight. Giving the animals human points of view changes the definition of "good" and "bad" (270). The Nun's Priest's Tale raises serious questions which, when readers try to answer them based on the material in the tale, result in laughter. Chaucer and Nigel use the beast fable in order to discuss the way in which human nature refuses to fit into narrow intellectual or moral molds.
Mann, Jill. "Troilus' Swoon." 14 (1980): 319-35.
Chaucer presents the relationship between Troilus and Criseyde in terms of power. In the beginning, Troilus has power over Criseyde as her social superior and as a man in a patriarchal society. In love, however, the woman becomes the superior, but once the lovers are in these positions, there is no way for either to initiate consummation because such an action will imply hypocrisy. The emphasis on the growth of love indicates a different structure within that of the love relationship. That structure will permit consummation without making the lovers into hypocrites. When Troilus comes to Criseyde's room believing that they are about to consummate their love, he instead meets Criseyde who is angry at him for mistrusting her. He swoons at this point in recognition of his contradictory impulses in the situation. Criseyde's request for Troilus's forgiveness shifts the power in the relationship to him, reestablishing traditional sex roles. Yet, Troilus does not force Criseyde to elope with him, thereby indicating that he accepts her love as a gift.
Manning, Stephen. "Troilus, Book V: Invention and the Poem as Process." 18 (1984): 288-302.
Troilus and Criseyde, particularly Book V, reveals a concern with the mutability of poetry and the Narrator's metamorphosis from narrator to poet. Medieval writers thought of poetry in two ways. Like Geoffrey of Vinsauf, some writers thought that creating poetry was like building a house; other writers believed, like Boethius, that Fortune had a significant part in writing. Chaucer follows the Boethian view in Troilus and Criseyde. Inventio includes mimesis and imagination, and Chaucer's narrator employs both. In the Epilogue, the narrator realizes the theme of his story and so gives himself a unified identity as narrator and poet.
Marchalonis, Shirley. "Medieval Symbols and the Gesta Romanorum." 8 (1974): 311-19.
Used for entertainment and instruction, the Gesta romanorum provides an example of the use of symbols. This use, however, is not consistent. A ruler figure appears in 118 tales, but he may represent God, the soul, any Christian prelate, proud or vain persons, or the devil. The need for instructional materials created a small group who used popular stories to instruct. Since symbols were not used consistently, the application of the tale cannot be understood without the explanation that follows. The inconsistency creates a sense that the tales were skewed in order to fit the attached morals. Because no listener or reader could discover the application without the explanation, scholars must reject the Augustinian principle of interpretation based on hints within the text. Rejection of such a principle has implications for study of all medieval texts.
Marchalonis, Shirley. "Sir Gowther: The Process of a Romance." 6 (1971): 14-29.
The variation of narrative elements which comprise Sir Gowther allows readers to see in it the stages in which traditional material may develop into a romance. The tale of Robert le Devuil is quite similar to Sir Gowther, and comparison of specific scenes demonstrates the increasing influence of chivalry as the romance gains more symbolism and presents allusions that a more educated, aristocratic audience would appreciate. When examined in light of Vladimir Propp's morphological patterns, however, Robert le Devuil seems closest to folklore roots. Finally, Sir Gowther is a complex system of tests and rewards which initiate a young man into society.
Martin, Carol A. N. "Mercurial Translation in the Book of the Duchess." 28 (1993): 95-116.
Chaucer employs figures of Mercury to camouflage gaps in the text. As a result, careful readers become even more painstaking when such a figure appears. Chaucer uses Mercury in Book of the Duchess as Juno's messenger. In order to give Mercury a role, Chaucer changes the story of Seys and Alcyone that he found in Ovid, Statius, and Machaut, though Mercury is not named. Chaucer alters the use of the word "goddess" so that he can install "language itself as the ultimate shape-shifter" (102). Chaucer even invests the dog with symbolic significance, creating a line of dog imagery throughout the poem until the dog materializes. The dog and other Mercury figures guide the reader beyond gaps in the text, "unite thematic and structural elements of the poem" (110), bring messages and guide souls.
Martin, Daniel, and Margaret Wright. "A Further Note on 'Hostes man,' CT D 1755." 24 (1990): 271-73.
In the Summoner's Tale the phrase "hir hostes man" (1775) refers to the servant of the inn where the friars stay, not to a servant from their monastery who follows them on their travels.
Martin, Ellen E. "The Interpretation of Chaucer's Alcyone." 18 (1983): 18-22.
Chaucer uses the story of Seys and Alcyone in the Book of the Duchess in consoling the man in black because it is a tale of the desire for "true love and self-knowledge," not one of purposeless grief (21).
Martindale, Wight, Jr. "Chaucer's Merchants: A Trade-Based Speculation on Their Activities." 26 (1992): 309-16.
Most scholars read Chaucer's merchants negatively. The merchants do not, however, participate in any activities outside the realm of business dealings traditional for medieval merchants. In the Shipman's Tale the merchant of St. Denis most likely traded in cloth, and though complicated, his business transactions are not illegal. He would probably have been a client of a merchant like the one portrayed in the General Prologue who probably traded in foreign currency or operated a lending bank.
Matheson, Lister M. "Chaucer's Ancestry: Historical and Philological Re-Assessments." 25 (1991): 171-89.
Careful examination of the evidence regarding Chaucer's family suggests the need for a re-evaluation of traditionally-held beliefs regarding the profession of Chaucer's ancestors and the origin of the name "Chaucer."
Matthews, Lloyd J. "The Date of Chaucer's Melibee and the Stages of the Tale's Incorporation in the Canterbury Tales." 20 (1986): 221-34.
Given Chaucer's omission of a passage from his source, de Louhans's Livre de Mellibee et Prudence, referring to the rule of children, scholars can date the Tale of Melibee at approximately 1373. This early date clarifies the resemblance of many of the Canterbury Tales to Melibee.
Maxfield, David K. "St. Mary Rouncivale, Charing Cross: The Hospital of Chaucer's Pardoner." 28 (1993): 148-63.
Hospitals in Chaucer's time provided care primarily for the souls of the sick, though limited medical care was available. St. Mary's of Rouncivale at Charing Cross was one such hospital. Chaucer chose that hospital as the base for the Pardoner because it offered ironical prospects and it may have had a negative reputation by Chaucer's time. Though Chaucer may not have known it, most of the Pardoner's pardons were probably based on false bulls.
McCall, John P. "The Harmony of Chaucer's Parliament." 5 (1970): 22-31.
To best understand the Parliament of Fowls, readers must resist reducing it to a monophonic work and see in it the harmony of many different voices. Nature's final decision with regard to the marital state of the formel eagle takes the best of the opinions of the different bird groups and maintains a perfect balance between Nature and Reason. Chaucer presents readers with a harmonious picture of the garden though the trees each have different, and sometimes contradictory, purposes. Both the garden and the parliament tell readers about the "duality of life and . . . all earthly creation" (27).
McCall, John P. "The Squire in Wonderland." 1 (1966): 103-09.
The biggest problem of the Squire's Tale is that it leaves the audience in suspense. In the tale, the courtiers disagree about the nature of four magical objects, but strangely enough, the Squire-narrator distances himself entirely from the debate between Fancy and Reality. In fact, all the action of the story is built around non-meaning. The actions of Canacee seem strangely causeless. Furthermore, the falcon's tale seems to lead nowhere. The Squire, then, is exactly as Chaucer described him in the General Prologue: he has mental knowledge of many things, but he is at a loss when he must display his knowledge practically. Finally, however, the reader realizes that this tale is a Chaucerian masterpiece. Chaucer knows his craft so well that he can twist it to any purpose. The final result is "delicate humor" (109).
McClintock, Michael W. "Games and the Players of Games: Old French Fabliaux and the Shipman's Tale." 5 (1970): 112-36.
Fabliaux focus primarily on laughter and are filled with stock characters. Humor is always directed at one of the characters. The element shared among most fabliaux is that of game-playing. Readers can see the Shipman's Tale as the story of a game. Since the relationships between the characters are characterized by more than gaming, however, the Shipman's Tale cannot be considered a fabliau. The tale is about two relationships: the monk's relationship to the merchant, and the wife's relationship to her husband, the merchant. The adultery which occurs between the monk and the wife connects the two relationships by betraying both the friendship and the marriage. At the beginning of tale, the relationship between the merchant and his wife is not overtly sexual. Detailed examination of the merchant and his attitude toward money clarifies the wife's incentive for adultery. She does not play the same money games as her husband. His concern with money makes him unconcerned about sex, while the wife connects money and sex. When the wife suggests to her husband that she will pay her monetary debt to him in bed, she makes adultery-prostitution the model for her marriage. Friendship between the merchant and the monk becomes the standard against which to measure the marital relationship, thus making friendship most important to the tale.
McCobb, Lilian M. "The English Partonope of Blois, Its French Source, and Chaucer's Knight's Tale." 11 (1977): 369-72.
Though scholars have suggested that Chaucer borrowed from the Partonope of Blois, careful examination of the manuscript reveals that in the places where the English Partonope sounds like Chaucer, it differs widely from the French Partonope de Blois. The similarity of the variations to Chaucer's work may suggest that the translator worked in a bookshop and therefore probably had access to Chaucer's Knight's Tale.
McColly, William. "The Book of Cupid as an Imitation of Chaucer: A Stylo-Statistical View." 18 (1984): 239-49.
Though statistical analysis reveals that the Book of Cupid contains similar words and word patterns (word repetition), Chaucer's characteristic inventive imagery is missing from the work. Therefore, the Book of Cupid must be considered an imitation, not part of Chaucer's canon.
McColly, William B. "Chaucer's Yeoman and the Rank of His Knight." 20 (1985): 14-27.
The fact that a yeoman rides with the Knight suggests that the Knight is a member of the peerage, and so represents an ideal of the elite upper class.
McColly, William. "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight as a Romance a Clef." 23 (1988): 78-92.
Internal evidence marks Sir Gawain and the Green Knight as having been written in the last 25 years of the fourteenth century, probably in Cheshire or Staffordshire. Historical figures can be suggested to correspond with different figures in the poem on the basis of striking similarities between those figures and characters in the poem. Numerous resemblances connect Sir Robert de Vere to Sir Gawain and Sir Hugh Calveley to Bercilak, the Green Knight.
McGavin, John J. "How Nasty is Phoebus's Crow?" 21 (1987): 44-58.
Chaucer alters his sources for the Manciple's Tale by eliminating material giving the crow a motive for revealing what he knows, and Chaucer removes the passage warning the crow about such an indiscretion. Chaucer also leaves out as much of the material that creates the plot of the story, thereby highlighting the narrator's digressions. The crow's speech to Phoebus is rhetorically structured, but does not suggest any particular emotion, especially since the tale has been carefully manipulated so as to eliminate the crow's motive. Chaucer also collapses the distance between the Manciple and the crow so that the two sound much alike. The crow's use of colloquial language matches his position with relation to Phoebus and the matter of which the crow speaks. In this tale, Chaucer makes the point that hearers often reject truth because they need to believe something else.
McGrady, Donald. "Chaucer and the Decameron Reconsidered." 12 (1977): 1-26.
Careful readers must reconsider the assumption that the Decameron is only marginally related to the Canterbury Tales. Likewise, the argument that Chaucer would not have known the Decameron because Boccaccio regretted writing it and wanted to prevent it from circulating must be rejected. Given the contacts Chaucer had with Florentine businessmen, he very likely read the Decameron before his first trip to Italy. Close reading of the Clerk's, Franklin's, Miller's, Merchant's, and Shipman's Tales reveals Chaucer's debt to Boccaccio's Decameron for elements which do not appear in any of Chaucer's other sources. The Miller's Tale, particularly borrows from three books of the Decameron. Chaucer seems, however, to have limited himself to borrowing details from the Decameron, perhaps in an effort to maintain a reputation for being an original poet.
McGregor, James H. "The Iconography of Chaucer in Hoccleve's De Regimine Principum and in the Troilus Frontispiece." 11 (1977): 338-50.
The picture of Chaucer in Hoccleve was created after his death and displays specific ideas of Chaucer's purpose for writing. The frontispiece for Troilus and Criseyde may have been painted during Chaucer's life, but there is no way to decide conclusively. Hoccleve presents Chaucer as a poet who has arrived at the end of poetry: he is also a philosopher. Chaucer is also a good counselor, so Hoccleve presents an abridged Melibee, but he distorts the sense so that Chaucer becomes a counselor to princes. The portrait of Chaucer Hoccleve presents, then, is designed to inspire the prince. Chaucer is also presented as the instructor to the prince in the frontispiece to Troilus and Criseyde. Both portraits present Chaucer in a nationalistic sense, suggesting that his most important role is that of presenting philosophy to the ruler, thereby encouraging peace.
McKinley, Kathryn L. "The Silenced Knight: Questions of Power and Reciprocity in the Wife of Bath's Tale." 30 (1996): 359-78.
The hag's pillow lecture in the Wife of Bath's Tale is not male-dominated discourse, but by using the ovidian technique of contrast, it juxtaposes the Wife's lecherousness with gentillesse. The knight's final choice to allow the hag to choose her own state is not a passive act. Analysis of his response in terms of speech-act theory supports the interpretation that she has silenced him. His choice also shows that he has reached a higher level of maturity. As comparison with Sir Launfal shows, the relationship between the hag and the knight follows a pattern similar to that of other romances, and like those romances, it underscores the power of the feminine. Furthermore, the marriage between the hag and the knight is based on mutual self-sacrifice: he submits in marriage to an ugly old woman, and she consents to marry a rapist. Thus, the pillow lecture does not silence women, but instead causes the knight to be silent and transforms him.
McNamara, John. "Chaucer's Use of the Epistle of St. James in the Clerk's Tale." 7 (1973): 184-93.
The Clerk's Tale enacts St. James's teachings. Griselda is not constant, a static state, but patient in a way described by St. James, an active choice to join with divine will. Griselda's marriage gives her the opportunity to demonstrate her faith by her works. In this context, Chaucer's use of the word "tempte" must be understood in two ways. Though proud, Walter serves as a part of God's plan by providing Griselda the opportunity to test her faith.
Merix, Robert P. "Sermon Structure in the Pardoner's Tale." 17 (1983): 235-49.
The specific sermon form previously thought to apply to all late medieval sermons only applies to the sermon a candidate for a Master's of Theology would give. Public sermons were much less fixed in form. Careful examination of the Pardoner's Tale reveals that it follows the sermon form, uses similar rhetorical techniques, and has the same relationship of theme to form as most medieval sermons.
Metcalf, Allan A. "Sir Gawain and You." 5 (1971): 165-78.
The use of the pronoun "you" in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight demonstrates the poet's knowledge of the formal "you," the familiar "thou," and the situations which require use of one or both forms of the pronoun. [For typographical corrections, see "Editor's Note," 6 (1971): 157.]
Metcalf, Allan A. "Supplement to a Bibliography of Purity (Cleanness), 1864-1972." 10 (1976): 367-72.
A briefly annotated bibliography supplements the bibliography of Purity in volume 8 of the Chaucer Review. See Foley, Michael M. "A Bibliography of Purity."
Meyer, Robert J. "Chaucer's Tandem Romances: A Generic Approach to the Wife of Bath's Tale as Palinode." 18 (1984): 221-38.
The Wife of Bath correctly identifies the young knight as the protagonist of her tale. If readers follow the tale closely, they realize that the tale is also the story of the Wife's quest to understand love. Careful reading suggests that the hag adheres to an ideal of love opposed to that of Guinevere and courtly love. The Wife identifies with the young knight. In the course of the tale, the young knight moves from immature ideals of love to more mature perceptions, and the tale splits into two parts around this difference. In the end, the Wife of Bath presents an ideal vision of love but recognizes that she can never reach it.
Middleton, Anne. "The Modern Art of Fortifying: Palamon and Arcite as Epicurean Epic." 3 (1968): 124-43.
Dryden's attempt to change the Knight's Tale into an epic is unsuccessful. He removes the very things, particularly the narrator's occasional lapses of tone, which Chaucer included to prevent the reader from seeing this tale as an epic. Dryden emphasizes love and arms and focuses on the visual arts, attempting to present a "speaking picture" (126). Instead of leaving the changes Chaucer made to his sources by making Palamon and Arcite similar, Dryden recasts them to make Arcite the warrior and Palamon the lover so that he could have a conflict between love and war. Also, Dryden alters the characterization of the gods so that they become human, no longer detached powers. The changes Dryden makes to Chaucer's tale hide its heroic theme. In addition, the alterations in the deathbed scene modify the tale to such an extent that the reader cannot see the events from a "Chaucerian distance" (140). In the end, he sacrifices "heroic trappings to the truth of the story" (143).
Middleton, Anne. "The Physician's Tale and Love's Martyrs: 'Ensamples mo than ten' in the Canterbury Tales." 8 (1973): 9-32.
The Physician's Tale seems to fall between the saints' legends and the tales of love's martyrs. Chaucer changes his sources to shift emphasis from Appius and Virginius to Virginia, thus making her a secular saint. To the Host, Virginia's death demonstrates injustice and questions the relationship between earthly rewards and good behavior. The changes in the tale's construction demand that readers consider Appius' fate and Virginius' behavior, in light of the injustice done to Virginia. The Host's comments draw attention to the contrast between classical and Christian virtues, making the inconsistency between Virginia's virtuous acts and her passive sacrifice the focus of the tale. The digressions on child-rearing are out of place, contrasting passive children with Virginia's activity. Virginius behaves as a judge or deity, not a father, drawing more attention to Virginia as passive victim and dramatizing the contest between natural affection and obedience to authority. The Physician's portrayal of the Jepthah story, however, demonstrates his ignorance of the exegetical treatment of this story. The Man of Law's Tale demonstrates that Chaucer often roughens the surface of an exemplum to suggest that readers explore it more deeply. Virginia, then, becomes a type of Job. Like the Legend of Good Women, the Physician's Tale shows Chaucer's command of narrative techniques, particularly the ability to deal with "shocking" subjects, but as the prologue to Legend suggests, Chaucer's contemporaries venerated him for the more limited skills of "an Ovidian court poet" (30). Readers are not meant to take conclusions from the tale to the "outside" world, but to play with the assumptions governing the world within the fictional construct of the tale.
Mieszkowski, Gretchen. "Chaucer's Much Loved Criseyde." 26 (1991): 109-32.
In Troilus and Criseyde, the portrait of women Chaucer presents is based on ideas of the woman as Other. Criseyde is not the strong female heroine of other medieval writings. She does not take control of her life, but submits to the will of the male authority figures around her. Critics often praise her, and Chaucer makes her very alluring, but her attractiveness "diminishe[s] her selfhood" (110). Throughout Troilus and Criseyde Chaucer alters Boccaccio's characterization of Criseyde to make her more passive. She does not speak for herself, and her attractiveness is directly correlated to her submissiveness. Even when she maks plans, they are only to submit to the will of the strongest party. She does not, however, have a sexual relationship with Pandarus; though many critics believe that their relationship is incestuous, the text does not support such an assertion.
Mieszkowski, Gretchen. "Chaucer's Pandarus and Jean Brasdefer's Houdée." 20 (1985): 40-60.
In Pamphile et Galatée, Jean Brasdefer's translation and expansion of Pamphilus, de Amore, the character Houdée fills the role of Pandarus in Troilus and Criseyde. In fact, Houdée uses a speech pattern similar to that of Pandarus, though Pamphile is the earlier work. Both Pandarus and Houdée lecture, over-use proverbs, refer frequently to authorities, make learned jokes, and speak to hear themselves talk, but they both use "vital, direct, earthy, colloquial" speech (49) founded in everyday activities. Houdée is, however, incongruous, so readers perceive her as a joke. Pandarus achieves the status of highly evolved character, in part because the conflicts and contrasts in his character are not so extreme. Scholars cannot positively state that Pamphile et Galatée is Chaucer's source for Pandarus, but the similarities are suggestive.
Mieszkowski, Gretchen. "'Pandras' in Deschamps' Ballade for Chaucer." 9 (1975): 327-36.
If we read "pandras" as Pandarus, then we must admit to a likeness "between translators and go-betweens, readers of poems and lovers" (328). This reference is not, however, evidence that Deschamps read Chaucer. Because Deschamps seems to have regarded Troilus and Criseyde as Chaucer's translation of a French work, Le Livre de Troilus, he could refer to Chaucer's Pandarus without being able to read English. Because of Deschamps's patriotism, readers must reject the theory that Deschamps refers to French as "la langue pandras" (333). Scholars must also reject the 1386 date for the ballad since the evidence cannot support so specific a date.
Mieszkowski, Gretchen. "R. K. Gordon and the Troilus and Criseyde Story." 15 (1980): 127-37.
R. K. Gordon's collection of translations and criticism regarding Troilus and Criseyde leaves out significant parts of the Roman de Troie reprinted and discussed here.
Miller, Clarence H. "The Devil's Bows and Arrows: Another Clue to the Identity of the Yeoman in Chaucer's Friar's Tale." 30 (1995): 211-14.
The arrows that the yeoman carries in the Friar's Tale are designed to remind Chaucer's audience of the fiery darts of temptation the devil shoots at Christians. The yeoman, thus, is really a devil.
Miller, Clarence H., and Roberta Bux Bosse. "Chaucer's Pardoner and the Mass." 6 (1972): 171-84.
Chaucer characterizes the Pardoner in such a way as to make him a deformed image of the Mass. Readers can examine the Pardoner's Tale as an Amalarian allegory. The Pardoner's tavern vices are all related to the Eucharist, and the abuses of the mass in which the three revelers participate results in a medieval Black Mass. Throughout his tale, however, the Pardoner does not recognize how the Passion connects these vices. The end the rioters suffer is a perverted reflection of Christ's Passion.
Miller, Jacqueline T. "The Writing on the Wall: Authority and Authorship in Chaucer's House of Fame." 17 (1982): 95-115.
Inherent in the genre of dream vision is the problem of authority: there is no one who can corroborate the narrator's dream. The narrator of the House of Fame carefully establishes his separation from the dream vision tradition by placing the dream in December and appealing to himself as an authority figure. When telling the story of Dido and Aneas off the walls of the Temple of Venus, the narrator refers to himself as a kind of author, determining the parts of the story he will include based on his purpose. When he leaves the temple, however, the world outside is too much for his voice, and the voice is silenced. Silence gives authority to the true creator.
Miller, Miriam Youngerman. "Illustrations of the Canterbury Tales for Children: A Mirror of Chaucer's World." 27 (1993): 293-304.
Though most scholars appreciate the depiction of medieval life found in works such as the Wilton diptych and in the portraits of the pilgrims in the Ellesmere manuscript, most nineteenth- and twentieth-century illustrators have prefered contemporary styles, using art nouveau and historicism. Modern illustrators often stray far from the descriptions of the pilgrims in the General Prologue and ignore descriptive details from the tales themselves. The illustrators discussed range from Mrs. Harveis (1882) to Reg Cartwright.
Miller, Robert P. "The Miller's Tale as Complaint." 5 (1970): 147-60.
The Miller uses his tale to examine the three estates of his society and the estate of women from an anti-authoritarian viewpoint which demonstrates Chaucer's animosity towards his own authorities. The Miller finds the manners of the gentry distasteful, as he demonstrates by telling a bawdy tale which contains deliberate reflections of the Knight's Tale. By putting Absolon in a position to be farted upon, the Miller makes fun of the courtly love tradition. In Nicholas, the Miller holds the clergy up for scorn: Nicholas is incapable of handling "Goddes pryvetee" for anything but his own advantage. The Miller, however, avoids mocking his own estate; instead, he sets up John as a personal failure. Lastly, Alisoun lowers herself to the Miller's expectations and demonstrates his view of the estate of women.
Mogan, Joseph. "Chaucer and the Bona Matrimonii." 4 (1969): 123-41.
Chaucer's tales about marriage demonstrate a considerable theological interest in the subject. He refers to the belief that marital intercourse for pleasure or to ward off adultery was sinful. In the Miller's Tale we might interpret Nicholas's words regarding John and Alisoun's relationship to say that John could sin with his wife if all that he desires in his union with her is pleasure. The same extreme view applies to January in the Merchant's Tale, where his language suggests that he marries more for pleasure in bed than for an heir. January demonstrates a mistaken view of marriage at both human and divine levels. In the Wife of Bath's Prologue, Alison shows the clerks up by taking their view of the equality of the marriage debt and then using it to gain sovereignty over her husbands. Chaucer does not depict her as having transgressed, however; instead, her point of view causes the clerks to look ridiculous.
Mooney, Linne R. "More Manuscripts Written by a Chaucer Scribe." 30 (1996): 401-07.
New research suggests that the Trinity College, Cambridge MS. 0.3.11 was written by the Hammond scribe. The manuscript looks like the second volume of a set of two made up of MS. R.14.52 and MS. 0.3.11. The contents of the two volumes compliment each other, one about medicine, the other about civil law. The decorations are in similar style.
Moore, Bruce. "'Allone, withouten any compaignye'--The Mayings in Chaucer's Knight's Tale." 25 (1991): 285-301.
The narrator of the Knight's Tale does not present the marriage of Palamon and Emily as either an ideologically or a politically neutral occasion. The marriage is, like Arcite's funeral, a way to impose order on chaotic human experience. Emily and Arcite also go maying, a traditional popular, as opposed to literary, ritual. Such rituals maintained a sense of community and reminded participants of the community's moral standards. As evident in the Legend of Good Women, a cult of leaf and flower became the courtly version of the maying tradition. The Legend of Good Women, the Gest Hystoriale of the Destruction of Troy, Troilus and Criseyde, the Orologium sapientiae, the Court of Love, and Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry also show the sense of community created by May celebrations. In the Knight's Tale, however, maying occurs without community. Arcite and Palamon give way to animal behaviors as a result of Arcite's maying. Emily is a victim of the courtly love tradition, and her moments alone in the garden emphasize her desires, contrasting them with her position as prisoner.
Moorman, Charles. "The English Alliterative Revival and the Literature of Defeat." 16 (1981): 85-100.
Poems within the alliterative revival may be grouped by the geographical location of their writers. Writers from different areas of origin use different techniques. For example, the Parliament of the Three Ages and Winner and Waster use natural description and a non-doctrinal tone, elements found in Southern poetry. Western and North Midland poetry of this period (1350-1400) employs concrete physical detail and avoids Christian and political emphasis. Eastern poems focus on immediate socio-political goals, and they resemble Chaucer's and Gower's works. The poets of the alliterative revival rely on "an inherited oral and poetic tradition" (89), the revival of which grew out of opposition to the royal court. The more Norman-Western poets deal "with the conflicting passions and basic instincts of men" (90). The Western poems show the elements of Anglo-Saxon poetry beneath the Christianized exterior.
Moorman, Charles. "One Hundred Years of Editing the Canterbury Tales." 24 (1989): 99-114.
Editors of Chaucer's works have always made alterations to the texts, some more than others. Often these changes are based solely on editorial preferences, not statistical findings. Those readers who plan to study Chaucer seriously must use the texts they have, maintaining Chaucer's exact wording whether or not it fits the understanding or interpretation editors most cherish.
Moorman, Charles. "The Pearl-Poet Concordance." 3 (1969): 304-08.
A critical assessment of A Concordance to Five Middle English Poems (1966) reveals some specific errors which may inhibit study of the Pearl-Poet.
Moorman, Charles. "The Prioress as Pearly Queen." 13 (1978): 25-33.
In the General Prologue, Chaucer contrasts appearance with reality in the portrait of the Prioress. The Prioress seeks to impress the other pilgrims with upper-class manners, but her middle class, Cockney origins cannot be completely hidden. Chaucer tells his audience that the Prioress is from a particular part of London, so she spoke a London dialect influenced by Kentish and Southeastern dialects. She may have spoken French with a Flemish accent, following Lady Elizabeth, a nun in the Stratford convent. Finally by telling a miracle of the Virgin, the Prioress emphasizes her bourgeois background, since that segment of society favored such tales.
Morey, James H. "The 'Cultour' in the Miller's Tale: Alison as Iseult." 29 (1995): 373-81.
Absolon's use of a coulter to requite Alisoun in the Miller's Tale alludes to the medieval custom of trial by ordeal particularly in cases of suspected adultery. That Alisoun escapes unharmed reminds readers of the story of Tristan and Iseult, particularly the moment when Iseult is tested for adultery by carrying hot iron. That Nicholas is burned suggests that he is guilty of betraying John. Chaucer probably knew the story from Sir Tristrem, extant in a late thirteenth-century manuscript. Alison's avoiding of the hot coulter shows us just how clever she is.
Morgan, Gerald. "Boccaccio's Filocolo and the Moral Argument of the Franklin's Tale." 20 (1986): 285-306.
The idea of generosity presented in the Franklin's Tale is present in the sources for the tale. Chaucer's mastery of rhetoric does come through clearly in the tale, and he definitely adopts the generosity present in his sources. The tale distinguishes between vows, oaths, and promises. When Arveragus agrees that Dorigen must keep her word to Aurelius, he reveals that he esteems Dorigen's promises as much as his own. Dorigen faces a moral dilemma between suicide, a non-option for medieval Christians, and infidelity, also a non-option for a faithful woman. Arveragus loves Dorigen not jealously but with friendship, and so is willing to sacrifice his honor to prevent her from breaking her word. The Franklin's Tale thus reveals Chaucer's interest in morally problematic situations.
Morse, Ruth. "Understanding the Man in Black." 15 (1981): 204-08.
In the Book of the Duchess, the ambiguity of the dreamer's knowledge and the word "fers" remind readers of the separation between the world of the poem and the knowledge readers bring to it.
Munson, William. "Knowing and Doing in Everyman." 19 (1985): 252-71.
Everyman is structured on a pattern of knowing and doing which creates a sense of rhythm in the play. This pattern may also be seen in terms of "act and learning leading into new act" (255). The explicit naming of Knowledge and Good Deeds lends greater visibility to the patterned relationship of the two elements. In the end, only Knowledge and Good Deeds remain, and Good deeds becomes superior to Knowledge since Everyman can die "with knowledge but not with certainty" (267).
Murphy, Michael. "On Making an Edition of the Canterbury Tales in Modern Spelling." 26 (1991): 48-64.
Reading Chaucer in any transcription, whether one that reproduces Chaucer's original spelling and punctuation exactly, adding nothing, or one that modernizes spelling, rhythm, and rhyme to make his verse more accessible to the twentieth-century reader, presents difficulty in determining what was Chaucer's original text. In order fully to appreciate Chaucer's work, readers must be willing to abandon their ideas of order, form, rhyme, and rhythm and to alter their readings.
Myers, D. E. "Focus and 'Moralite' in the Nun's Priest's Tale." 7 (1973): 210-20.
Three hierarchies overlap in the Nun's Priest's Tale. These create three different versions of the tale, "the fable version, the Nun's Priest's version, and Harry Bailly's version" (211). The fable version contains two morals which focus attention only on Chanticleer, thus suggesting that they are marginal to the tale as a whole. Such narrow focus points to the second version of the tale. Rhetoric is central to the Nun's Priest's version of the tale, since it focuses attention on Chanticleer as ruler. Because Chanticleer's story is that of a secular ruler, readers recognize that the Nun's Priest has directed his tale at the Knight. Examination of all of the Canterbury Tales shows that the Host's version addresses the workings of Providence and Fortune. Thus, readers can see the workings of Fortune on each of the three estates. The Nun's Priest, however, does not understand Fortune or Providence. He blames Destiny and Pertelote equally, a logical impossibility. The Host adds another level to the tale by allegorically associating Chanticleer with the Nun's Priest. Thus, the tale becomes a comment on prelates in general and the Nun's Priest in particular. The Nun's Priest's Tale, therefore, turns on its teller.
Neuse, Richard. "Marriage and the Question of Allegory in the Merchant's Tale." 24 (1989): 115-31.
Chaucer raises the problem of allegory in the Clerk's and Merchant's Tales by making it the center of the tales, particularly in light of the source text. The Clerk's Tale does not close off the allegorical question at the end of the tale raised by Chaucer's use of Petrarchan material. The Merchant picks up on the question, dramatizing every aspect of marriage. The expansion of January's definition of marriage makes clear that the Merchant shares his view. January holds two opposing opinions of marriage: he speaks of marriage only in Biblical terms, but thinks of it merely as a practical way to fill his needs. The narrator describes the garden as one of "death or of pagan enchantments," and of "natural vitality and joy" (123). The Merchant treats the Bible as if it is not applicable to everyday life and refers to Sir Orfeo and to the Wife of Bath's Tale. The world of fairy as presented in these two texts is a a world where Biblical authority is not so powerful and where women are not viewed as objects. The Merchant touches on the themes of Fortune, with a passing reference to Purgatorio, blindness and the cure of blindness, and uses the redeemer motif, incorporating "the three realms of Dante's Commedia" (128). Like Dante, Chaucer attempts to use Biblical imagery for an everyday purpose, but through January, Chaucer presents an idea of paradise much different from that of Dante.
Newman, Barbara. "The Cattes Tale: A Chaucer Apocryphon." 26 (1992): 411-23.
To the manuscript of the Canterbury Tales found at Barking, someone added the Cattes Tale. The treatment of cats in the Middle Ages varied. Cats were the only pets allowed in nunneries, and the animals also appear for allegorical purposes in Piers Plowman and other medieval works.
Nicholson, Peter. "Gower's Revisions in the Confessio Amantis." 19 (1984): 123-43.
Painstaking examination of the extant manuscripts of Gower's Confessio amantis suggests that most likely he had no direct control over the scribes who copied his work and that scholars cannot state with certainty which manuscripts represents Gower's own revised version of his work.
Nicholson, Peter. "The Man of Law's Tale: What Chaucer Really Owed to Gower." 26 (1991): 153-74.
Chaucer's debt to Gower for the material in the Man of Law's Tale has never been adequately assessed. Chaucer and Gower eliminate the same details and follow the same plot line. Chaucer also borrows a number of words and phrases from Gower. Chaucer chooses to borrow from Gower's treatments of several key scenes instead of taking directly from Trevet. Gower was probably more Chaucer's source for the Man of Law's Tale than Trevet's Cronicles.
Nicholson, R. H. "Theseus's 'Ordinaunce': Justice and Ceremony in the Knight's Tale." 22 (1988): 192-213.
When examined in light of the ceremonies, excluding marriage, found in the Knight's Tale, Theseus becomes the central character. Chaucer depicts him differently from his counterparts in the Thebiad and the Teseida. In Chaucer, Theseus carries out justice, and in order to do that, he goes to war against Creon. He then behaves with justice and pity to those whom he has conquered. When he sets Palamon and Arcite up to fight a tournament for Emily, Theseus behaves with chivalry and wisdom, two other characteristics of a good king. Though ultimately the audience does not remember Theseus's actions as much as they do the plot of the love story, Theseus "invests the romance with its distinguished unity" (207).
Nitecki, Alicia K. "The Convention of the Old Man's Lament in the Pardoner's Tale." 16 (1981): 76-84.
The three rioters treat the old man in accordance with the traditional methods of treating the elderly. Traditionally the old either wait eagerly for death or dread it passionately. Chaucer changes the position of the old man: he cannot die because a corrupt world rejects him. The old man, then, should act as a warning figure, a demonstration of the horror of life without death.
Nolan, Charles J., Jr. "Structural Sophistication in 'The Complaint unto Pity.'" 13 (1979): 363-72.
Though Chaucer clearly employs the complaint form in "Complaint unto Pity," he also uses the language of legal bills as examination of several suits shows. Pity becomes the powerful figure to whom the formal statement of grievance is addressed. Although the "Complaint" does not exactly follow the legal model, recognition of the legal basis for the work gives it greater sophistication.
Noll, Dolores L. "The Serpent and the Sting in the Pardoner's Prologue and Tale." 17 (1982): 159-62.
The Pardoner identifies himself with Satan through serpent imagery, and though his own relics cannot cure sheep, the Eucharist, which the Pardoner seems to reject, is the antidote for Death, the ultimate sting of Satan.
Oberembt, Kenneth J. "Chaucer's Anti-Misogynist Wife of Bath." 10 (1976): 287-302.
The Wife of Bath is not heretically anti-misogynist. She carefully criticizes accepted beliefs about sex in her presentation of married life. In eulogizing her first three husbands, she uses irony to further her criticism of accepted practices. Each of the Wife's five husbands is committed to sex--sensuality--a feminine principle, thus confirming the Wife's opinion that men are not entirely reasonable creatures. When the old woman and the young knight in the Wife of Bath's Tale agree to mutual mastery, the Wife suggests that a happy marriage is the product of non-mastery on the parts of both the wife and the husband. The Wife's humor diffuses the notion that her views of sex in marriage are abnormal. The contrast between the sensual person of the Wife of Bath's Prologue and the rational hag of the Tale highlights the Wife of Bath's criticism of misogynists. Finally, the Wife presents gentillesse as a non-sexist code to govern behavior.
Oerlemans, Onno. "The Seriousness of the Nun's Priest's Tale." 26 (1992): 317-28.
The irony of the Nun's Priest's Tale works against both readers who attempt to find morality and the narrator who attempts to give the tale meaning. The success of the tale is determined more by the fact that the Nun's Priest must "quite" the Monk and demonstrate that Fortune does not control everything than by anything he says in particular. He chooses the beast fable because it traditionally has the capacity to delight and to instruct. In the course of the tale, the Priest satirizes those who believe that knowledge of the fallen world will lead closer to truth. The references to Adam and to Christ do not exemplify metanarrative, but point to the narrator's "uncertainty as to where his tale has taken him, and an attempt to combine both the simple intentions and rewards of the beast fable with a more sophisticated moral" (325). The tale functions as a means to examine higher truths in a fallen world.
Olmert, Michael. "Game-Playing, Moral Purpose, and the Structure of Pearl." 21 (1987): 383-403.
In order to demonstrate that humans always seek happiness but never fully attain it, the Pearl-Poet shapes Pearl as a race-game, a type of board game. (Medieval board games often had underlying scriptural messages.) The 101 stanzas are divided into two groups of 50 mirroring each other; stanza 51 connects the two halves. Within each half, there are ten sub-groups connected by word repetition. The poet sets up a pearl, God's grace, as the stake of the game. The Pearl-maiden teaches childlike innocence to each reader/ player.
Olmert, Michael. "The Parson's Ludic Formula for Winning on the Road [To Canterbury]." 20 (1985): 158-68.
The Parson's Tale can be considered in terms of the game of the Christian life. In telling his tale, the Parson gives the rules for winning. The standards the Parson espouses seem completely to oppose the way most people think about life. Unlike the Host, who promises the earthly reward of a free meal at the end of the pilgrimage, the Parson promises a heavenly banquet to those who listen to and do what he says.
Olson, Donald W., and Edgar S. Laird. "A Note on Planetary Tables and a Planetary Conjunction in Troilus and Criseyde." 24 (1990): 309-11.
The conjuction Criseyde describes in Book III of Troilus and Criseyde matches exactly an actual conjunction that occured between May and June, 1385, as study of the Alfonsine Tables shows.
Olson, Glending. "Chaucer, Dante, and the Structure of Fragment VIII (G) of the Canterbury Tales." 16 (1982): 222-36.
The Canon's Yeoman's and the Second Nun's Tales are closely linked by imagery and theme. Cecilia's effort to convert the people around her from pagans to Christians, a work of eternal value, is the reverse parallel to the alchemical process of turning base metals to gold, a labor of earthly value. Examination of the Canon's Yeoman's Tale reveals significant borrowings from Dante's Inferno, though Chaucer never indicates to his readers that the Canon's Yeoman goes to Purgatory. Finally, the Canon's Yeoman finally realizes his human limitations.
Olson, Glending. "Chaucer's Monk: The Rochester Connection." 21 (1986): 246-56.
The Host chooses the Monk to speak when the pilgrimage reaches Rochester because the Rochester cathedral housed a monastic order, and Thomas Brinton, the bishop of Rochester, inveighed against monastic corruption. During Chaucer's time, one wall of the cathedral was painted with a picture of Fortune and her wheel, a picture that connects the Monk more closely with Rochester. The association of the Monk with the Rochester cathedral demonstrates a greater connection between geography and the pilgrimage than previous criticism has suggested, and it also indicates that Chaucer carefully incorporates historical details.
Olson, Glending. "A Reading of the Thopas-Melibee Link." 10 (1975): 147-53.
Chaucer expands his moral tale but does not substantially change its content from Renaude de Louens's Livre de Mellibee et Prudence. The word "treyts" refers to the ways in which the different versions Melibee have been circulating. Chaucer uses more proverbs in Melibee than appear in his sources, but the meaning is the same as the other versions of the tale.
Olsson, Kurt. "Character and Truth in The Owl and the Nightingale." 11 (1977): 351-68.
By the twelfth century birds represent both the human mind and pride. The poem follows the traditional debate form in which both speakers seek winning, not necessarily truth. Although the owl presents herself as a Christ figure, her words and behavior toward the nightingale undermine this pose. The nightingale pictures herself as the singer of salvific song, but the fact that she refuses to go into the wastelands casts doubt on her saving purpose. Though the debate between the two quickly declines into the sensual, the two birds present language with its abilities to affect people and to create hope or sorrow. The end of the poem ironically overturns the traditional model in which an unresolvable debate is concluded by an appeal to authorities. Because there are no authorities to whom the birds can turn, the debate is settled by a show of force; the small birds join the nightingale. Both birds are, however, guilty of pride in their interpretation of truth.
Olsson, Kurt. "Love, Intimacy, and Gower." 30 (1995): 71-100.
In Gower's Confessio amantis readers see a search for the secret, intimate places of the self. Amans, the lover, searches for understanding of his inmost heart in the confessional. The priest seeks to know that heart, while Amans pursues intimacy with his beloved. Both searches, result in Amans's psychological health indicated by his return home. Amans's intense desires for intimacy with the beloved include the longing for stolen, secret sexual embrace. His dedication to the beloved authorizes this desire. He does, unfortunately, give his love monetary value. In doing so he bypasses the possibility for genuine intimacy. Penelope, Alcyone, Alceste, and Lucrece, who appear at the end of the dream in the Confessio amantis, raise questions about gender stereotypes, but are paradoxically defined by gender roles. Amans ends his search for himself at home, but the safety of home must not be taken for granted as the stories of the four women indicate. Gower presents marriage as a remedy to Amans's secret desire for intimacy. Gower also addresses marriage in the Mirour de l'Omme, but the conflicting portraits of Adultery and Matrimony suggest that marriage is usually loveless. Both marriage partners partake of the consequences of Eve's sin, but women are considered companions, not subordinates, in the marriage relationship.
O'Mara, Philip F. "Robert Holcot's 'Ecumenism' and the Green Knight." 26 (1992): 329-42.
Holcot's works and theology deeply affect the works of the Pearl-Poet. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight contains both piety and revels and is built around paradoxical characters and events. Though Bercilak is a pagan, the poet seems to suggest that he is "in the way of salvation" (333). Holcot and other fourteenth-century theologians argued about how good deeds related to the salvation of the unsaved. Holcot believed that God could grant salvation to someone who was not baptized as did mystics like Walter Hilton and Julian of Norwich who held similar and sometimes stronger views of God's love. Both Patience and Pearl deal with salvation of the unsaved or the untaught, as does St. Erkenwald, another poem of the alliterative revival.
O'Mara, Philip F. "Holcot 'Ecumenism' and the Pearl-Poet." 27 (1992): 97-106. (The title in the table of contents for that issue is "Robert Holcot's 'Ecumenism' and the Green Knight, Part II.")
The Pearl-Poet presents the Green Knight in such a way that he evokes a number of principles from Holcot's Moralitates. The preponderance of such occurrences and evidence surrounding the poem suggest that the Pearl-Poet knew Holcot personally. Certainly the Pearl-Poet's views make him likely to accept without question the story presented in St. Erkenwald.
Orme, Nicholas. "Chaucer and Education." 16 (1981): 38-59.
Concern with education is a part of Chaucer's work, though it does not figure as a central concern in most of it. In Chaucer's source, the home was a place of instruction, particularly in religious prayers and rituals both for aristocratic and common homes alike. Virginia is the best example of an educated aristocratic lady who was taught on a curriculum nearly equivalent to the masculine one. Though beatings were common, Chaucer suggests that masters exercise patience. Chaucer treats his clerks and university scholars gently, not holding them to the same behavioral standards as prioresses or monks, and he shows a society in which both the upper and the middle classes are literate. The Wife of Bath's Tale is most blatantly about education, particularly in human relations.
Ortego, Philip D. "Chaucer's 'Phislyas': A Problem in Paleography and Linguistics." 9 (1974): 182-89.
The Shipman's use of the word "phislyas" has created confusion among scholars. The Shipman must refer to medicine or physic since the word "phislyas" appears in a trio with philosophy and law.
Oruch, Jack B. "Nature's Limitations and the Demande d'Amour of Chaucer's Parlement." 18 (1983): 23-37.
The Parliament of Fowls is an innovative treatment of the demande d'amour as shown by comparison with traditional elements of that genre. The choice presented to the formel eagle, the position of the judge and the birds who argue for each eagle, and the inconclusive end to which Nature assents all differ substantially from the traditional form. The role of Nature in Parliament of Fowls can be profitably compared to more traditional treatments in Alanus de Insulis's Anticlaudianus, Dante's Tesoretto, Jean de Meun's Roman de la Rose, and Guillaume de Deguilleville's Pèlerinage de la Vie Humaine. Chaucer designed Parliament of Fowls to cause the reader to examine larger questions, for example the narrator's interpretation of Somnium Scipionis.
Otten, Charlotte F. "Proserpine: Liberatrix Suae Gentis." 5 (1971): 277-87.
On the surface, the four biblical heroines mentioned in the Merchant's Tale do not seem to fit with the entrance of Proserpine. These five women, however, are linked by their roles as deliverers. The biblical women deliver Israel; Prosperine announces herself as the deliverer of all adulterous women. May assumes the role of January's deliverer in order to escape being caught in adultery, and becomes a comic figure in comparison to Rebecca, Judith, Abigail, and Esther.
Overbeck, Pat Trefzger. "Chaucer's Good Woman." 2 (1967): 75-94.
Chaucer treats his sources for the Legend of Good Women in such a way that the women do not consistently acknowledge divine authority, nor do they respond to human authority. Instead, Chaucer's women act impetuously from lust or love. They are, however, capable of bargaining in such a way as to procure both marriage and money. Finally, the women end their own lives. The noble lady, however, eventually becomes Chaucer's Wife of Bath, focused on the pleasures of sex and the financial benefits to be gained in marriage.
Owen, Charles A., Jr. "A Certein Nombre of Conclusions: The Nature and Nurture of Children in Chaucer." 16 (1981): 60-75.
Chaucer depicts parents as vitally important in raising their children, as seen in the Manciple's, Wife of Bath's, Knight's, Squire's, and Franklin's Tales. The Manciple's explicit reference to his mother, however, suggests that teaching has only a limited effect on a person. A number of pilgrims and characters behave childishly, among them the Friar and Summoner, Absolon, and January. Chaucer also focuses on children in the Prioress's and Monk's Tales.
Owen, Charles A., Jr. "Notes on Gower's Prosody." 28 (1994): 405-413.
Analysis of the Mirour de l'Omme and the Confessio amantis shows that Gower borrowed regular, octosyllabic standard meter and intricate rhyme patterns from French writers like Machaut. He also uses run-on lines. To create humor, Gower emphasizes his rhymes.
Owen, Charles A., Jr. "Pre-1450 Manuscripts of the Canterbury Tales: Relationships and Significance (Part I)." 23 (1988): 1-29.
Recent examination of the manuscripts of the Canterbury Tales suggests that readers reconsider of the accepted order. The evidence shows that the Hengwrt scribe and the Ellesmere scribe are not the same and that the primacy of Hengwrt is not incontrovertible.
Owen, Charles A., Jr. "Pre-1450 Manuscripts of the Canterbury Tales: Relationships and Significance (Part II)." 23 (1988): 95-116.
No evidence suggests that any of the d manuscripts are the product of a group of scribes in a shop. The b manuscript group seems to have been produced after 1450. Three methods of manuscript production can be discerned after careful study. First, exemplars were gathered for specific occasions, resulting in manuscripts like Hengwrt, Harley 7334, Cambridge Dd, Ellesmere, and Cambridge Gg. Second, copies were made of pre-existing manuscripts. Third, a manuscript might be the product of amassing "exemplars made for a previous manuscript" (114).
Owen, Charles A., Jr. "The Tale of Melibee." 7 (1973): 267-80.
Chaucer may have translated Melibee between 1386 and 1390 when John of Gaunt was preparing to establish his wife's claim to the Castilian throne; thus Melibee would have been interesting for its significant parallels to Chaucer's situation, and for the figure of Dame Prudence. Melibee also discusses forgiveness, a theme which runs through the Canterbury Tales as a whole. The tale also centers on the moment of decision: Melibee can choose war or the reconciliation which Prudence urges. For all of its allegorical significance, however, the tale never loses the level of literal narrative. Melibee can also be read at the anagogical level as applicable to rulers and nations.
Pace, George B. "Giraldi on Chaucer." 7 (1973): 295-96.
Though the sixteenth-century Italian Giglio Gregoris Giraldi probably never knew Chaucer's work first hand, he does make reference to him as a vernacular poet.
Page, Barbara. "Concerning the Host." 4 (1969): 1-13.
The Host, though he appears sporadically throughout the tales, is fully characterized. He adds a tale to the "marriage group" and gives a speech on Boethian destiny, helping to carry these subjects through the tales. Harry Bailey's jollity points to his characterization as a medieval proud man. Chaucer also depicts the Host as a man whose wife dominates him, and when he contributes a tale, he tells of marriage in a highly autobiographical way. Like the Wife of Bath's Prologue, Harry Bailey's response to Custance undercuts his front of gaiety and further links him to the "marriage group." He is also characterized by his relationship to time. He measures time for the pilgrims and cuts off the Parson as soon as the Parson's Tale becomes too boring. The Host's "philosophy" shows that he spends little time in "high seriousness" or "consistent thought" (10). Chaucer also uses Harry Bailey as a way to depict the free, merchant class. All of these elements mix together, the Host appears as a complex character who is variously a comic figure, a representative of a class, and a framing device.
Palmer, John N. "The Historical Context of the Book of the Duchess: A Revision." 8 (1974): 253-61.
The letter from Luis de Mâle to Queen Phillipa, fully reprinted here with translation, poses a problem for the accepted date of Blanche of Lancaster's death. Careful examination of historical evidence suggests that Blanche must have died in 1368. Despite arguments to the contrary, Chaucer is not the man in black, and the Book of the Duchess was not written because Chaucer needed a new patron. The man in black speaks of Blanche in terms of married love, and he must be, therefore, John of Gaunt. Given the references to Lancaster and Richmond, Chaucer's audience would probably have interpreted this poem as a satire against Gaunt. Thus, scholars can date the poem between 1368 and 1372.
Palmer, R. Barton. "The Narrator in The Owl and the Nightingale: A Reader in the Text." 22 (1988): 305-21.
The Owl and the Nightingale examines how texts and readers labor together to create meanings, though in this case the meanings may be functions of a refusal on the poet's part finally to resolve the disparate elements in the plot. The "discursive structures" of the Owl and the Nightingale "aim at an interrogation rather than a declaration of 'meaning'" (307). Other medieval poems play on this dichotomy, including Isopet. The narrator of the Owl and the Nightingale functions as one who experiences a fabulous experience and reports it, all the while reminding his listeners that the encounter he reports is impossible. One of the narrator's roles is to propel readers from the realm of animal imagery to the realm of application.
Palomo, Dolores. "The Fate of the Wife of Bath's 'Bad Husbands.'" 9 (1975): 303-19.
More than a diatribe against men, the Wife of Bath's Tale tells of Alisoun's personal experience. The rape in the tale follows the same pattern as her life in that it connotes her own abrupt change from virgin to wife. Ultimately, she suggests that the loss of virginity is a woman's first step towards becoming a Loathly Lady. When she explains the necessity of maintaining superiority in marriage, the Wife shows that she survives psychically by fighting back. The brief mention of her fourth husband and his death emphasizes her position as innocent, injured wife. Her dream can be interpreted, however, to point to the murder of her fourth husband and the gold which Jankyn and she will achieve thereby. Jankyn and Alisoun murdered Alisoun's fourth husband, and Alisoun feels guilty. Jankyn's examples of wicked wives all murder their husbands. The story of Midas is Alisoun's own story: she has confessed the crime to her friend. Alisoun travels to Canterbury as an expression of repentance, and the arguments for the legality of serial marriages are the result of questions which were previously raised about her marriage to Jankyn. Ultimately, Alisoun needs love, and she is a victim of that need.
Parker, David. "Can We Trust the Wife of Bath?" 4 (1969): 90-98.
Fourteenth-century readers had an interest in biography because they had an interest in the moral consequences of behavior, for these readers, interest in morality could not be separated from people they experienced in life or in art. Though figures like the Parson, Plowman and Knight also represent an ideal, all of the pilgrims in the Canterbury Tales must be taken as individuals to some degree. Among the pilgrims, the Wife stands out as an individual, and she contradicts herself in her Prologue when she talks about her fifth marriage. First, the Wife says that Jankyn beat her, then that he gave her "maistrie" in the marriage. These passages contradict each other, clearly demonstrating that the Wife cannot be trusted. In her contradictions, however, the Wife is a superb character.
Parkinson, David J. "Henryson's Scottish Tragedy." 25 (1991): 355-62.
In the Testament of Cresseid readers perceive the fascination of Middle Scots poets with solitary, often disfigured, wanderers, as Criseyde is here depicted to be. In the Testament, Henryson addresses a fundamental concern of Middle Scots poetry: the tension between the substantial topics of loss, winter, and old age and the lighter, passing topics of youth, beauty, and spring. Given this dichotomy, Henryson questions the moral validity of poetry.
Parr, Johnstone. "Chaucer's Semiramis." 5 (1970): 57-61.
The source for Chaucer's reference to Semiramis in the Man of Law's Tale could not have come from Dante. At the end of the Middle Ages, Semiramis became a symbol of lust and that is how Dante portrays her. Chaucer, however, depicts her more as Boccaccio does: she is a power-hungry mother who usurps her son.
Parr, Johnstone, and Nancy Ann Holtz. "The Astronomy-Astrology in Chaucer's The Complaint of Mars." 15 (1981): 255-66.
The positions of the planets during Chaucer's time can now be accurately calculated, and Chaucer's references to the planets show precisely the year in which the "Complaint of Mars" is set. Readers cannot use this knowledge to date the poem precisely, however, because Chaucer had the knowledge to predict such planetary movement.
Parry, Joseph D. "Dorigen, Narration, and Coming Home in the Franklin's Tale." 30 (1996): 262-93.
Through Dorigen, the Franklin examines the physical world in detail, and through her the tale also explores disillusionment. The tale progresses inwardly, moving from a depiction of the outside world to an examination of the psyche. At the end of the tale, Dorigen drops out of the picture so that the story valorizes male honor. The last question is an attempt of the tale to assert "a measure of control over its own meaning" (271). Chaucer examines Dorigen's character in the time she spends at home defining herself by the exempla, taken from Jerome, that she recites. Dorigen accepts the definition of woman these stories present. The Wife of Bath, on the other hand, violently attacks such texts, rejecting the narrow definitions of women they propound. In light of the texts, Dorigen attempts to convince herself to die for her honor, thereby becoming a moral heroine. By continuing to recite narratives, she discovers a way to continue living in the tale and also to conform to male prescriptions of what her appropriate behavior should be. The places of rereading on the Franklin's part create gaps through which he himself emerges into his text. Both the Franklin and Dorigen employ narrative as a means of self-advancement. Dorigen's isolation in her home as she recites the tales creates a place from which she can speak.
Passon, Richard H. "'Entente' in Chaucer's Friar's Tale." 2 (1968): 166-71.
Chaucer uses "entente" to suggest a moral dimension beneath the fabliau elements of the Friar's Tale. In telling his tale, the Friar steps into the role of preacher, suggesting that evil may appear good, but that evil can always be discerned by examining "entente." Examining "entente" adds to the irony of the story, since the Friar's malicious intent becomes clear at the end of his tale.
Paull, Michael R. "The Influence of the Saint's Legend Genre in the Man of Law's Tale." 5 (1971): 179-94.
Chaucer adds plot and structure to his source for the Man of Law's Tale to make the tale more like a vernacular saint's legend. The tale proceeds episodically though the incidents. Confrontations between good and evil, which demonstrate the goodness of God, are thematically related. Appropriately, the tale ends with a moral. Chaucer does not seem interested in creating any dramatic illusions; the tale is most profound at an allegorical level. Some illusions do occur; Chaucer, however, uses apostrophes to interrupt the tale at these moments and so reinforces his structural principle. Chaucer also establishes and maintains the meditative atmosphere of the saint's legend by using comparatio and causing the saint to pray in the midst of her trials. Thus, the elements of moral truth in the tale appear more clearly to the audience.
Payne, F. Anne. "Foreknowledge and Free Will: Three Theories in the Nun's Priest's Tale." 10 (1976): 201-19.
The Nun's Priest's Tale is primarily a satire of Boethius's Consolation of Philosophy. The Nun's Priest gives opinions of Augustine, Bradwardine, and Boethius with regard to the problem of free will and foreknowledge. These writers represent three opposing views: 1) there is no free will, 2) God's foreknowledge does not affect human free will, or 3) God's foreknowledge only affects humans in cases of conditional necessity. Readers can trace the way in which Chaucer satirizes each view in the tale, but must realize that he concentrates satire on the Boethian concept of conditional necessity.
Payne, Robert O. "Making His Own Myth: The Prologue to Chaucer's Legend of Good Women." 9 (1975): 197-211.
The Prologue to the Legend of Good Women shows a standard Chaucerian narrator, an academic who relates his dream. Like the Book of the Duchess, the Parliament of Fowls, and House of Fame, the Legend of Good Women chronicles the development of a love poet. The narrator becomes progressively more integral to the prologues of these poems, gaining an identity and participating in the activity of the dream garden. In the Legend of Good Women, the narrator becomes a representative of Chaucer; as the narrator, Chaucer refers to his earlier work. Finally, the Prologue to the Legend of Good Women portrays the quest for an ars poetica.
Pearcy, Roy J. "Chaucer's Franklin and the Literary Vavasour." 8 (1973): 33-59.
In medieval society, vavasours as a class exist between the aristocracy and the serfs. From this position, a vavasour can offer advice to the more ambitious and hospitality to knights, particularly since the vavasour, as a landholder, is stationary as compared to knights who travel a great deal. The Franklin has many of the stock qualities of the vavasour. Romances typically draw knights and vavasours into conflict in order to explore their different lifestyles and devotion to different ideals through "debate." As the feudal system declined, however, disorder occurred in class relationships. As Gautier le Leu's Le Sot Chevalier shows, however, the relationship between knight and vavasour can collapse. The lay and fabliau may use the meeting between knight and vavasour as the context for the whole work as in Le Vair Palefroi and Le Chevalier a la Robe Vermeille. The fabliau vavasour is stubbornly practical, and thus becomes the object of satire as part of an attempt to restore social order. The Squire and the Franklin seem to show the separation between knight and vavasour. The Franklin chooses to tell a lay in order to confirm his position as part of the Squire's class, but the Franklin is unable to escape his practical, rational approach to life. The final result is that the Franklin seems to look nostalgically at the passing chivalric world.
Pearlman, E. "The Psychological Basis of the Clerk's Tale." 11 (1977): 248-57.
The Clerk's Tale works out a psychological position which was prevalent in the fourteenth century, but is no longer common. Griselda does not separate herself from Walter. She puts herself entirely in his control. The marriage uses conventions of marriages between gods and humans in which the god-partner has all the power and the human-partner takes a vow of complete obedience. Griselda's and Walter's relationship also follows a pattern of colonialism wherein the powerful people are gods and the impotent people are the subjects. Such a system is based on a hierarchy of perceived physical differences between the two kinds of people.
Pearsall, Derek. "Chaucer's Pardoner: The Death of a Salesman." 17 (1983): 358-65.
The Pardoner tells his tale automatically; unlike the Wife of Bath, he has no inner life. In his tale, the rioters die because they fail to heed the old man and are already spiritually dead. The Pardoner is like his rioters in that he can tell his tale, but he does not recognize its inherent warning to himself.
Peck, Russell A. "Love, Politics, and Plot in the Parlement of Foules." 24 (1990): 290-305.
The Parliament of Fowls can be interpreted three different ways in light of political situations during Chaucer's lifetime. Identifying specific people with specific characters in the poem is the least fruitful method of approaching the poem. Readers may also interpret the poem In light of political philosophy, connecting the dream-vision material to neo-Aristotelian and Ciceronian materials on the ideal political body. Scrutiny of Chaucer's source, the Roman de la Rose, reveals another possible way to read the Parliament of Fowls . The kind of love presented in the Roman de la Rose is political in that it creates change, but is also changed itself. Chaucer maintains this kind of love in the Parliament of Fowls, and the conflict between love and politics drives the plot. The Parliament of Fowls is also about knowledge, reading, and movement from "narcissism to politics" (298). In the desire for enclosure and in the parliament itself, readers recognize the assertion of willful desire and see how desire can become political catastrophe.
Peck, Russell A. "Sovereignty and the Two Worlds of the Franklin's Tale." 1 (1967): 253-71.
Chaucer does not present his ideal view of marriage through the Franklin's Tale. Instead, he examines the discernment of truth in a world concerned with illusions. The Franklin, himself, has attempted to impose his desires on the world outside himself, and thus he also exemplifies the problem of recognizing truth. He desperately wants the other pilgrims to see him as a gentleman, but constantly reveals himself as of the middle class. In his tale, Dorigen and Arveragus also attempt to present a false front to a society that does not follow the natural order. Because that order has been subverted, confusion occurs. When Dorigen goes to meet Aurelius as Arveragus orders, she releases the characters from illusions, thus restoring order.
Pelen, Marc M. "Machaut's Court of Love Narratives and Chaucer's Book of the Duchess." 11 (1976): 128-55.
Examining poems by Machaut and Froissart may help to illuminate Chaucer's early voice. Most of these poems are dream visions, and they follow a three-part structure in which the dreamer calls up a perfect garden, is met by a guide, and discovers a dispute which will work towards the resolution of his love-trials. Readers can also find this structure in poems like Phyllis and Flora, which is not technically a dream vision. In these French poems, classical references inform the images and the structure, as does a "larger memory of a common marriage theme" (130). Close examination also reveals borrowings from the Roman de la Rose. In the Book of the Duchess, Chaucer includes lines from Jugement dou Roy de Behaingne and Jugement dou Roy de Navarre. The structure of both poems falls into the traditional clerk-chevalier debate. Remede de Fortune integrates Boethian philosophy as a response to Ovidian infatuations. The lover's complaints against Fortune appear in the Book of the Duchess as the complaints of the man in black. Dit de la Fonteinne Amoureuse employs the traditions of complaint and consolation, and Chaucer borrows elements of this poem in the Book of the Duchess. In light of the borrowings from Machaut, readers must hear the Book of the Duchess as a French "love-debate at a Court of Love without a specific plea, contest, or decision" (147).
Pelen, Marc M. "The Manciple's 'Cosyn' to the 'Dede.'" 25 (1991): 343-54.
The Manciple's Tale dramatizes Chaucer's perception of the limits of language to communicate ultimate truths. In the Metamorphoses Ovid asks questions about the viability of attempting to represent gods as humans. The Manciple's Tale suggests a settlement of the conflict: "the object of the legend of Phoebus and the crow must be identified as a sacramental and not as a human concern" (350).
Pelen, Marc M. "Murder and Immortality in Fragment VI (C) of the Canterbury Tales: Chaucer's Transformation of Theme and Image from the Roman de la Rose." 29 (1994): 1-25.
The Pardoner's Tale and the Physician's Tale oppose each other, but together they present "refraction of a more urgent poetic truth" (4). Ultimately the argument of both tales is the grace of God that is beyond the circumscription of words. In both tales, Chaucer responds to earlier legends, discussing murder and immorality. Such considerations derive from Chaucer's veneration of themes and images in the Roman de la Rose. The Physician's Tale also reacts to portions of the Roman de la Rose, and borrows a number of images from it. In the Roman de la Rose, readers recognize the contrasting voices of Genius, Reason, and Nature, just as they identify the opposing voices of the Physician and the Pardoner. In both works the full meaning of the poetry is outside of the dialogue between characters and beyond that between the writer and his audience.
Peterson, Joyce E. "The Finished Fragment: A Reassessment of the Squire's Tale." 5 (1970): 62-74.
Chaucer intentionally made the Squire's Tale a fragment. Examining it in terms of the larger structure of the Canterbury Tales, the narrator's point of view, and the action of tale demonstrate its completeness. Sir Thopas and the Monk's Tale show that intentional fragments result when the listeners or readers become frustrated. The Franklin halts the Squire by pretending his tale is done, showing the Franklin's sensitivity to social rank. The Squire's Tale thus becomes a "thematic link" to the Franklin's Tale. Instead of demonstrating how he is not like Damyan (Merchant's Tale), he shows the weakness of his own morality as it is based on the difference between "vulgarity and elegance, not cupiditas and caritas" (70). The Squire's Tale depicts the carnality of courtly tradition (gentillesse) and the unnaturalness of a caste system. Since the Squire has demonstrated all of this before the Franklin interrupts him, the Franklin can be said to have stopped him at the point where the action ends.
Peterson, Joyce E. "With Feigned Flattery: The Pardoner as Vice." 10 (1976): 326-36.
Like the Vice figure of medieval drama, the Pardoner curries his audiences' favor. That the pilgrims laugh at the Pardoner suggests a cynicism regarding sin that will eventually lead them to accept it. The Pardoner is, however, more evil than the Vice figure because he encourages the pilgrims to commit the sin he represents. The laughter, then, indicates that they have rejected the Pardoner's enticements.
Petroff, Elizabeth. "Landscape in Pearl: The Transformation of Nature." 16 (1981): 181-93.
Nature in Pearl embodies the inner emotional and mental life of people. In the first garden the poet departs from traditional nature imagery by setting Pearl in August, by filling the garden with plants useful for healing, by removing order from the garden, and by showing no direct water source. Images of lush paradise are here connected to harvest and death. The second garden has a more timeless beauty compared to the first, is primarily white in color, and has transforming powers. The narrator's vision ends as he mistakes the spiritual and the physical, and he returns to the earthly garden to work it in order eventually to gain heaven.
Petty, George R., Jr. "Power, Deceit, and Misinterpretation: Uncooperative Speech in the Canterbury Tales." 27 (1993): 413-23.
Often the responses of Chaucer's characters to certain parts of the narrative reflect deep anxieties about their position in this world in light of power structures and confining discourses. By mistinterpreting texts, they can avoid the discomfort these texts create. Dorigen uses this strategy to avoid Aurelius in the Franklin's Tale; it also appears in the Nun's Priest's Tale, and the Wife of Bath uses it quite successfully. In the end the Parson uses this strategy in the Poetria nova. Chaucer's Retraction is the final instance of this strategy in the Canterbury Tales.
Phillips, Helen. "Literary Allusion in Chaucer's Ballade, 'Hyd, Absalon, thy gilte tresses clere.'" 30 (1995): 134-49.
In the prologue to the Legend of Good Women Chaucer borrows from Thomas Paien's ballad "Ne quier veoir la biauté d'Absalon" and Froissart's "Ne quier veoir Medee ne Jason." Like these writers, Chaucer also inserts a catalogue of classical and biblical women, each associated with different virtues. To create this list Chaucer steals from a number of different writers, including Ovid, Guido delle Colonne, Machaut, Froissart, the twelfth-century Piramus et Thisbé, Dante, and Vincent de Beauvais. Such examination tells scholars much about Chaucer's reading habits and the care with which he designed the opening ballade.
Phillips, Helen. "Structure and Consolation in the Book of the Duchess." 16 (1981): 107-18.
Readers' interpretations of the consolation in the Book of the Duchess rest on how they read the other parts of the poem. To readers, the work presents four parallel structures in the man in black's tale, Alcyone's story, the narrator's own situation, and the hunt. Many medieval works, both of art and literature, employ form to add to meaning. The Second Shepherd's Play, Pearl, and Piers Plowman use such typological imagery. Three of the four instances of parallelism in the Book of the Duchess end with the loss of a beloved object, but the man in black's tale seems to extend into the consolation. The reference to "Octavian" (368) probably denotes the story of Octavian and Sibyl. Careful analysis of this story may suggest an additional parallel to other situations in the poem. Finally, the Book of the Duchess demands that humans come to terms with mortality, but that mortality does not invalidate love.
Pichaske, David R., and Laura Sweetland. "Chaucer on the Medieval Monarchy: Harry Bailly in the Canterbury Tales." 11 (1977): 179-200.
Because the Host "rules" the pilgrims (179), readers can examine his behavior and determine Chaucer's attitude towards the monarchy. As the tales progress in the Ellesmere order, readers perceive that the Host changes from tyrannical ruler to good governor. In Group I, the Host's response to the Miller shows him to be a poor ruler, and the domination of the Miller and the Reeve at the end of Group I suggests that the Host is not fit to rule. The Clerk's response to the Host's demand for a tale indicates an awareness of the limits under which a political ruler governs. The Host's response to the Pardoner shows that he has not yet recognized the authority of charity over all the pilgrims. He has, however, become more gentle. When the Host rescues the Cook, he demonstrates the care and concern of a good ruler for his subjects. At the entrance to Canterbury, the heavenly city, the Host relinquishes his rulership of the pilgrims. Readers should not be surprised by the political commentary in the Canterbury Tales, since both the Legend of Good Women and the "Lak of Stedfastnesse" include extended political comments.
Pigg, Daniel F. "Refiguring Martyrdom: Chaucer's Prioress and Her Tale." 29 (1994): 65-73.
The Prioress must be read outside the context of her portrait in the General Prologue since the General Prologue was written after the Prioress's Tale. Also, in her tale the Prioress uses a different definition of martyrdom. The early Church thought of martyrdom in two ways, the physical death and the preservation of virginity which was often associated with taking monastic vows. Invoking the Virgin, the Prioress authorizes the tale she tells by denying that it is her own. In the tale, the Prioress refigures martyrdom several ways. She refers to the Feast of the Holy Innocents, emphasizes the virginity of the little boy, and reminds the pilgrims of Hugh of Lincoln's martyrdom.
Pinti, Daniel J. "Governing the Cook's Tale in Bodley MS 686." 30 (1996): 379-88.
As the fifteenth-century Bodley MS 686 suggests, fifteenth-century scribes and readers did not recognize the inviolability of an author's text. The scribe of the Bodley MS clearly differentiates his voice from that of Chaucer, but develops the fundamental conflict between apprentice and master in the tale and also suggests an end to the story. His changes offer a different view of the themes of the tale and indicate the fifteenth-century conception of Chaucerian authority. The alternating voices throughout the telling of the tale create a story in dialogue and tell readers that they may view the story from different points of view. The scribe also plays on Perkyn's position as an apprentice to create a position for himself as a poet apprenticed to Chaucer. The text of the tale itself also becomes Chaucer's apprentice, but like Perkyn, it is recalcitrant, thus allowing the apprentice poet to demonstrate his poetic ability and to become the poetic master Chaucer. The scribe's participation in the text not only subjects it to necessary governing, but also negotiates the troubled waters of authority in the fifteenth century.
Plummer, John F. "Hooly Chirches Blood: Simony and Patrimony in Chaucer's Reeve's Tale." 18 (1983): 49-60.
In the Reeve's Tale the parson sins by giving brass vessels belonging to the church to Symkyn, thus connecting the parson to the group of evil clerics who care for their illegitimate children with church funds. In the end, Malyne suffers for the sins of her father and grandfather. Alan buys her maidenhead for half a bushel of flour, but Malyne has neither flour nor maidenhead by morning.
Polzella, Marion L. "'The craft so long to lerne': Poet and Lover in Chaucer's 'Envoy to Scogan' and Parliament of Fowls." 10 (1976): 279-86.
Chaucer carefully constructs an analogy between poet and lover. When the poet calls on Venus, he needs aid to write, not to love. The narrator's inexperience in love makes the parallels between love and poetry stronger, particularly in the Parliament of Fowls. Finally, the poet rejects neither love nor poetry, though he does express doubts regarding their longevity.
Portnoy, Phyllis. "Beyond the Gothic Cathedral: Post-Modern Reflections on the Canterbury Tales." 28 (1994): 279-92.
If readers add time to the elements of a gothic cathedral, they can easily analyze the fragmented narrative of the Canterbury Tales. The Parson's Prologue resolves the temporal dimension in the tales while pushing it into a timeless one. The pilgrims find themselves on a continuum of spiritual health and spiritual sickness. This continuum suggests a hole in the ideology. That the pilgrimage itself cannot escape the forces of disorder is evident in the progression from the Knight's Tale to the Miller's Tale. The Nun's Priest's Tale also raises the question of justice. The Retraction futher contributes to our sense of disorder because Chaucer uses it to remove the authorial mask.
Potkay, Monica Brzezinski. "Natural Law in The Owl and the Nightingale." 28 (1994): 368-83.
In the Owl and the Nightingale the legal system that the birds use is natural law, not ecclesiastical or court law. Natural law, however, is never explicitly defined in the poem. In fact the poet raises questions about natural law at the center of twelfth- and thirteenth-century debates. The greatest difficulty with natural law is succinctly expressed in the Summa of Stephen of Tournai, who posited that at times humans followed animal example while at others they rejected that example as irrational. The Owl and the Nightingale engages this discussion to respond that the same natural law does not govern all creatures, and that humans would do best to follow the dictates of reason. The debate between the owl and the nightingale concerning sexuality addresses the locus of concern over what natural law, if any, controls humans. The discussion of marriage implies that love is the common element between humans and animals since marriage is a uniquely human custom. Finally the debate between the birds is resolved by reason and a hierarchy that clearly follows a human model.
Pratt, John H. "Was Chaucer's Knight Really a Mercenary?" 22 (1987): 8-27.
The campaigns in which the Knight participated are legally crusades in that the Church or Christians are threatened. The Knight seems to have received more than religious satisfaction from his knightly activities, but such remuneration is not unusual for this period when all military men received compensation for their service. The military encounters follow the pattern of those of a knight whose lord commands him to fight in an unjust war. Though the Knight may have served in Turkey, his behavior still falls within the law. None of the Knight's campaigns are against other Christians. Thus the Knight is not a mercenary.
Pratt, Robert A. "Communication: Report of the Chaucer Library Committee to the MLA Chaucer Group, Denver, 1969." 4 (1969): 142-45.
These articles list present projects of Chaucerians and publications of the Chaucer Group of the MLA.
"Communication: 1970 Report of the Chaucer Library Committee." 5 (1971): 318-19.
"Communication: Report of the Chaucer Library Committee to the MLA Chaucer Group--Chicago 1971." 6 (1972): 232-33.
"Communication: Report of the Chaucer Library Committee to the MLA Chaucer Group--New York 1972." 8 (1973): 70.
"Communication: Report of the Chaucer Library Committee to the MLA Chaucer Group--Chicago 1973." 8 (1974): 252.
"Communication: Report of the Chaucer Library Committee to the MLA Chaucer Group--New York 1974." 9 (1975): 283.
"Communication: Report of the Chaucer Library Committee to the MLA Chaucer Division--San Francisco 1975." 10 (1975): 96.
"Communication: Report of the Chaucer Library Committee to the MLA Chaucer Division--New York 1976." 10 (1976): 373-74.
"Communication: Report of the Chaucer Library Committee--1977." 12 (1977): 84.
Pulsiano, Phillip. "The Twelve-Spoked Wheel of the Summoner's Tale." 29 (1995): 382-89.
Chaucer's connection of wheel and wind in the Summoner's Tale may allude to the practice of dividing the compass in twelve parts, each associated with a particular wind. Such division was, however, rather difficult.
Purdy, Strother B. "Beowulf and Hrothgar's Dream." 21 (1986): 257-73.
Analysis of the plot of Beowulf indicates that dreams tie the disparate elements together. Beowulf's story would not be possible if the monsters were not the product of the imagination, perhaps in dreams. Grendel is the spirit of fratricide in Hrothgar's nightmares. In order to conquer the monster, Hrothgar dreams a hero who can trounce the monster. Beowulf survives Hrothgar's phantasm and so gains an independent existence. Now he can participate in other stories. The dragon episode illustrates the danger of the inability to continue ruling in peace and prosperity. Beowulf dreams his death in the most heroic way: he dies with the deadly dragon.
Puhvel, Martin. "The Wife of Bath's 'Remedies of love.'" 20 (1986): 307-12.
The narrator's reference to the Wife of Bath's love remedies in conjunction with her strong reaction to Jankyn's book of wicked wives suggests that she may have used some kind of love potion, possibly toxic, on her four deceased husbands. Though Chaucer never makes such a statement directly, he gives his audience enough hints to raise speculations.
Quinn, Esther C. "Chaucer's Arthurian Romance." 18 (1984): 211-20.
In the Wife of Bath's Tale, Chaucer borrows from Marie de France's Lanval and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. By reversing the roles of the male and female, allowing Guinevere to decide the young knight's fate and the old woman to rescue him, Chaucer increases the sense of irony in the tale that supports and questions possibility of a harmonious conclusion.
Quinn, William. "Memory and the Matrix of Unity in The King's Quair." 15 (1981): 332-55.
The King's Quair explores the theory that all memories have equal impact. The opening of the poem refers to Boethius's Consolation of Philosophy and gives the impression that the young man presently writes the poem. The tension between present and past becomes a theme as the poem progresses. Eventually, the loosely connected materials of the opening resolve into a sustained memory--the first sight of the protagonist's beloved. Throughout The King's Quair, the protagonist uses conventions in unorthodox ways. The relation of the dream vision section to the rest of the poem shows the poet's ability to unify seemingly disparate elements. Unlike Boethius, the protagonist rises to the level of the spheres, but returns to the sublunary world. The meeting between the protagonist and Fortune epitomizes the paradoxical difference between the heavenly and sublunary worlds. Memory allows the poet to join the real to the ideal and thus creates the unity of the poem.
Ramazani, Jahan. "Chaucer's Monk: The Poetics of Abbreviation, Aggression, and Tragedy." 27 (1993): 260-76.
The Monk tells his tales in such a way to circumscribe himself and his tales, which are constructed in circles. He also uses the same phonemic and rhetorical devices throughout each story. The way in which Chaucer presents the Monk leads readers to question the relationship between text and context. Chaucer also connects the Monk's Tale to anal retentive psychological behavior in that the Monk has a violent temper, a subtext of his tragedies. The connection between narrative and violence is reinforced by the Monk's connection to the monk in the Shipman's Tale. Chaucer does not criticize de casibus tragedy, but he does criticize the formulaic view the Monk presents of it.
Ramsey, Lee C. "'The sentence of it sooth is': Chaucer's Physician's Tale." 6 (1972): 185-97.
Like a number of Chaucer's other tales, the Physician's Tale draws readers both towards the characters and towards the moral. Chaucer's changes to his sources make the tale about the injustice and uncertainty of life instead of the injustice of powerful men. Finally, Chaucer suggests that the best qualified authority figures are those with experiential knowledge of sin.
Raybin, David. "'Women, of kynde, desiren libertee': Rereading Dorigen, Rereading Marriage." 27 (1992): 65-86.
In the Franklin's Tale, Dorigen asserts her place as a woman who can make her own choices. Careful examination of Arveragus's response to her announcement that she has made a promise to Aurelius to become his lover reveals that Arveragus is rather non-committal and that Dorigen acts as a free interpeter of what Arveragus has said. Furthermore, her complaint reveals a woman who recognizes her right to determine what happens to her body, and comprehension that she must make such a choice. As a result her behavior, particularly that which occurs in the public sphere usually reserved for men, undermines that sphere. To love requires freedom of the kind Dorigen asserts she possesses in the Franklin's Tale.
Reed, Thomas L., Jr. "'Bo[th]e blysse and blunder': Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and the Debate Tradition." 23 (1988): 140-61.
The Pearl-Poet built Sir Gawain and the Green Knight on a dialogic structure that suggests the poem's affinities with the debate tradition. That the poet does not reach any real conclusions does not disqualify the poem as a debate, since many debate poems do not reach resolution. The poet presents events from many angles. Gawain's use of various magical defensive devices suggests a dialogue between chivalry and Christianity. Given sources and analogues like the Owl and the Nightingale, Winner and Waster, the "Flyting of Dunbar and Kennedie," the Parliament of the Three Ages, and Ressoning betuix Age and Yowth, readers may see the poem as a series of arguments between youth and age, spring and winter, life and death. Gawain's experience with Lady Bercilak brings to mind the débat amoreux. Gawain is also tried in verbal argument. Other poems grouped with Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, and Patience, show similar debate structures. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is most likely a kind of recreation, as demonstrated by the Christmas games of Arthur's court.
Regan, Charles Lionel. "Of Owls and Apes Again: CT, B2 4282." 17 (1983): 278-80.
The reference to apes and owls together in the Nun's Priest's Tale is part of a medieval tradition. Both apes and owls were thought to be monstrous.
Reid, David S. "Crocodilian Humor: A Discussion of Chaucer's Wife of Bath." 4 (1969): 73-89.
In order to accommodate modern points of view, recent criticism misunderstands the Wife of Bath, usually giving her a dual personality or asserting that the Wife is both comic and pathetic. The Wife is a stock figure, and her humor has its base in outmoded ways of thinking about women and the middle class. Though all the characters of the General Prologue are presented as individuals, they each represent types. This characterization allows Chaucer to satirize the middle class in an amiable manner. As a type, the Wife is both the source and the object of the jokes about women. Her prologue and tale are both burlesques, taking serious matter and explaining it in a ridiculous way. For the Wife, Chaucer borrows from the courtly love tradition, clerical satire, and popular humor. Any way of critically examining the Wife falls short of divining her paradoxical character.
Reiss, Edmund. "Chaucer and His Audience." 14 (1980): 390-402.
Historical records tell little about Chaucer's audience. Chaucer, however, is clearly aware of his audience and of what that audience knows. Because Chaucer's audience knew classical authorities, he could play against their expectations without being misunderstood. Chaucer's various discussions of gentillesse are perfect examples of this dialogue between Chaucer and his audience. Court poetry, while expressing social concerns, presented answers already familiar and accepted by the audience. By playing with what his audience knows, Chaucer draws them into his work. He can also force them to consider the discrepancy between their ideal and what is real.
Reiss, Edmund. "Dusting off the Cobwebs: A Look at Chaucer's Lyrics." 1 (1966): 55-65.
Although many critics see poems such as "A B C" and "To Rosemounde" as less interesting, further study shows them to be worth considering. Viewing "A B C" as 23 separate poems gives the reader a glimpse of the dramatic relationship between the narrator and the Virgin Mary based primarily on Mary's calmness and the narrator's frantic activity. The sounds of the lines further emphasize this contrast. "To Rosemounde" depicts yet another Chaucer. The lover (narrator) appears in two different states as the poem progresses. First, the narrator weeps; then he celebrates. The exaggerated figurative language, however, indicates an irony. The narrator, finally, is happily away from his lady. Thus, the shorter lyrics are worth examining because they are enjoyable reading, and they provide a different view of Chaucer and his work than we usually get from examining only the Canterbury Tales or Troilus and Criseyde.
Reiss, Edmund. "The Symbolic Surface of the Canterbury Tales: The Monk's Portrait: Part I." 2 (1968): 254-72.
Chaucer presents his pilgrims with reference to Christian values which they, as pilgrims, should uphold. Examining the characters in light of these values provides additional insights. The anticlerical sentiment becomes much clearer when the reader realizes that the Monk, for example, is surrounded by symbols of his worldly pursuits as opposed to heavenly ones. The bells on his bridle, his disregard for the "old things" of the spirit as opposed to the new things of the world, the animals with which he is associated, and his clothing, all point to fleshly desires which monks should be working to subdue. Understanding the symbolism of details further illuminates the tales and the tale-tellers.
Reiss, Edmund. "The Symbolic Surface of the Canterbury Tales: The Monk's Portrait: Part II." 3 (1968): 12-28.
The Monk's portrait clearly shows his lack of spiritual stature. When he tells the Host that he does not want to "play," he demonstrates a lack of spiritual joy. The Monk's eyes are described in such a way as to suggest that he lacks spiritual insight, that he deceives others, that he is a glutton and a drunkard, and that he has an evil eye. The Monk is also connected to death, particularly by his association with swans. Even the Monk's horse contributes to his evil characterization since Chaucer describes it as dark, like a blackberry, a comparison which is used elsewhere to suggest hell. Finally, the Monk's well-oiled boots suggest that he himself is oily, which adds the final touch to his description, making him repugnant.
Rendall, Thomas. "Gawain and the Game of Chess." 27 (1992): 186-99.
Chess was a popular game in medieval romances often played between the sexes as an excuse for courting. Also, the stake was often the loser's head. Other medieval works such as Les Eschez Amoureux, Garin de Montglane, Huon de Bordeaux, Book of the Duchess, and Guy of Warwick depict chess as part of the game of courtship. The use of chess terms to describe the game in which Gawain and the Green Knight participate suggests that the Pearl-Poet wants to present this game as if it were a game of chess.
Rhodes, James F. "Motivation in Chaucer's Pardoner's Tale: Winner Take Nothing." 17 (1982): 40-61.
The Pardoner is not completely a sinner, incapable of finding salvation. He seems to have a strange duality of personality that appears when he condemns the very sins he commits. Examination of the Pardoner's response to the Wife of Bath reveals parallels between them. For example both pilgrims seek a sense of belonging on the pilgrimage. The Wife's suffering does not seem to have diminished her desire for life and play. The Pardoner's assertions about fulfilling all his desires, on the other hand, ring hollow, and he fails to realize that his tale clearly reveals his façade. The Pardoner does not attempt to sell his relics to the pilgrims, but tries to fit in at the level of play. Preaching satisfies him because he derives a sense of power from it. The result of this role is that he plays the part of divine pardoner, promising his audiences that God's grace is for sale and refusing to recognize the suffering of Christ, whom Christians should imitate. Ultimately, the Pardoner cannot "play" with the other pilgrims because he cannot relinquish his professional identity. The Pardoner appears in his tale through the old man who, like the Pardoner, tests Christians to expose the weakness of their faith. His pious exterior conceals an evil heart. Like the Wandering Jew, the old man seems incapable of accepting the resurrection. The response of the pilgrims at the end of the tale draws the Pardoner from material to spiritual and re-establishes the community that his tale would destroy.
Richards, Mary P. "The Miller's Tale: 'By seinte note.'" 9 (1975): 212-15.
In the phrase "by seinte note," Gerveys alludes to St. Neot's habit of rising early to pray, highlighting Absolon's pursuit of Alisoun instead of God and the abuses of knowledge represented by Absolon and Nicholas.
Richardson, Janette. "Friar and Summoner, the Art of Balance." 9 (1975): 227-36.
In the end, neither the Friar nor the Summoner wins the contest between them. Chaucer parallels the Friar and Summoner in their appearances, musical talents or lack thereof, vices, and shallow spirituality. Their tales are also structurally paralleled. Close reading of the Friar's and Summoner's tales demonstrates that both protagonists reflect the tellers and have features of the opposing pilgrim.
Richardson, Malcolm. "The Earliest Known Owners of Canterbury Tales MSS and Chaucer's Secondary Audience." 25 (1990): 17-32.
Following the death of Chaucer's immediate contemporaries, the two earliest known owners of Chaucer manuscripts were Richard Sotheworth and John Stopyndon who, while not particularly literary or artistic, could appreciate Chaucer's work. Both men were Chancery clerks, a position allowing "advancement, security, patronage, travel, wealth, and . . . a sense of comeraderie and collegial tradition" (23). Records indicate that both men took advantage of their positions as clerks. Furthermore, though they probably considered books mere possessions, they helped to create a community dedicated to "reading, debate, and the written word" (30).
Richardson, Malcolm. "Hoccleve in His Social Context." 20 (1986): 313-22.
Thomas Hoccleve includes many biographical details in his works. Though some scholars assert that these details are merely literary conventions, scrutiny of Hoccleve's society and his place in it as Privy Seal clerk reveals that these details make an accurate portrait of Hoccleve as a bureaucrat: "a bungler, misfit, and perpetual also-ran" (321).
Richardson, Peter. "Chaucer's Final -E: Some Discourse Considerations." 28 (1993): 83-93.
The final -e appearing in Chaucer's works results from his choice of the historical present tense, as examination of the Miller's Tale indicates. Scrutiny of the manuscripts suggests that the final -e was added by scribes and thus that Chaucer's use of historical present tense was fairly systematic.
Ridley, Florence H. "Questions Without Answers --Yet or Ever? New Critical Modes and Chaucer." 16 (1981): 101-06.
Chaucer's ability to fascinate generation after generation of readers derives from the interesting, but unanswered, questions in his works, including questions produced by stopping tales such as the Monk's Tale before concluding. All of these ambiguities leave room for creative critics to propose solutions.
Ridley, Florence H. "The Treatment of Animals in the Poetry of Henryson and Dunbar." 24 (1990): 356-66.
"The Thrissill and the Rois," like many of Dunbar's other poems, uses animal imagery. In "On the Resurrection of Christ" the animals represent the various figures in the resurrection story. Dunbar's animal images are similar to those used in painting. In "Ane Ballat of the Fen3eit Freir of Tungland" Dunbar's habit of making humans into animals and using animal images drawn from art is clearly visible. In "Tua Mariit Wemen and the Wedo" readers see Dunbar's frequent use of horses as images for people. He also uses such images in "The Petition of the Gray Horse, Auld Dunbar." Dunbar also wrote beast fables such as "The Wowing of the King quhen he wes in Dunfermeling," though Dunbar does not seem especially concerned to present a moral. Henryson's work is more concerned with teaching, thus more concerned with offering a moral for his stories as in moral fables. Henryson also uses animal imagery but draws more from bestiaries and heraldry than from art. Dunbar satirizes particular people in poems like "Of James Dog," "Ane Blak Moir," "The Turnament," and "Epetaphe for Donald Oure." Henryson reverses the pattern of picturing people as animals by depicting animals as humans in protest against oppression and to show compassion as in "The Sheep and the Dog," "The Wolf and the Lamb," and "The Preaching of the Swallow." Though Henryson never explicitly questions Providence, his implicit questioning comes through in his work.
Robbins, Rossell Hope. "Geoffroi Chaucer, Poète Français, Father of English Poetry." 13 (1978): 93-115.
Chaucer's early work is lost, though scholars conjecture that because the courts of Chaucer's early life were French-speaking, his early poetry was French. French continued to be used as a court language until approximately 1417, though it continued to be the professed language of noble families for some time thereafter. Chaucer's wife also spoke French and probably Flemish. The Book of the Duchess was not written in French because a small audience for English poetry was growing at the aristocratic level. Also, Chaucer probably wrote the Book of the Duchess to read before the personal staff of the Duke of Lancaster, most of whom spoke English. Certainly, Chaucer's early works followed the French tradition in a manner similar to that of Michael de la Pole, Duke of Suffolk. Anonymous French poems, while not attributable to Chaucer, may be considered similar to courtly love lyrics Chaucer may have composed. Chaucer borrowed heavily from French works by Machaut and Froissart as well as the anonymous Songe Vert. Froissart and Machaut, not earlier French romances, were his models for the Book of the Duchess.
Robbins, Rossell Hope. "A Late-Sixteenth-Century Chaucer Allusion (Douce MS. 290)." 2 (1967): 135-37.
A new Chaucer allusion can be found in "The Tragecall Historie of Charles and Julia."
Robbins, Rossell Hope. "'Lawriol'" CT, B 4153." 3 (1968): 68.
Dame Pertelote recommends "lawriol" as a purgative; it must be understood as a laxative in the context of the Nun's Priest's Tale.
Robbins, Rossell Hope. "A Note on the Singer Survey of Medical Manuscripts in the British Isles." 4 (1969): 66-70.
Dorothy Waley Singer's survey, A Catalogue of Latin and Vernacular Manuscripts in Great Britain and Ireland Dating from before the XVI Century, is the most complete source of information about medieval medical texts. Since the survey contains four major errors, however, it should be used with caution.
Robertson, D. W., Jr. "'And for my land thus hastow mordred me?': Land Tenure, the Cloth Industry, and the Wife of Bath." 14 (1980): 403-20.
In medieval law, land could not be owned: rather, it was "held," most often by a lord. Women could inherit if there were no male heirs. Under some laws, bourgeois women could gain all of their husbands' property once they were widowed and retain it even if they remarried. In this manner, bourgeois women could gain more independence than aristocratic women. The historical situation of Margery Haynes, a writer of the mid-fifteenth century, suggests what the Wife of Bath's situation might have been like and how her property might have been legally handled for her benefit.
Robertson, D. W., Jr. "The Physician's Comic Tale." 23 (1988): 129-39.
Chaucer carefully alters his sources to create comedy, but these changes also incorporate legal abuses that tell more about the Physician. By having Virginius go home and talk to Virginia before decapitating her, the Physician draws attention to a "love more necessary than justice" (133). The criminal activity the Physician describes deals with maintenance laws and "champarty," which reveals him to be a kind of false physician, and the Host's response to him indicates the Host's confusion with regard to the Physician's nature.
Robinson, Pamela. "Geoffrey Chaucer and the Equatorie of the Planetis: The State of the Problem." 26 (1991): 17-30.
A combination of evidence suggests that Chaucer did indeed write the Equatorie of the Planetis. The notation "Radix chaucer" in light of the dated calculations, the sloppiness of the copy, the format of the text, diagrams, evidence that the work remained a loose parchment for some time, and the possessive form preceding the date 1392 all suggest that Chaucer was indeed the author. Orthography supports the view that Chaucer, the poet, was the author of this text.
Rogers, William E. "The Raven and the Writing Desk: The Theoretical Limits of Patristic Criticism." 14 (1980): 260-77.
Patristic exegesis is based on positive determination of what the signs and figures of a given work mean. To be valid, any reading must account for all parts of the text. If critics reading a work use strictly allegory, that allegory will eventually collapse. Patristic critics commit to two major principles: 1) the author's intent is most important, and 2) some event, physical or mental, causes writers to write as they do. By its nature, patristic criticism requires facts outside the text itself to prevent circular arguments. Also, patristic criticism regards each work as allegorical and asserts that either the allegory precedes the work or that the writer looked to patristic exegesis as a dictionary of images to use. Since readers cannot determine whether the allegory does precede the text, those texts that are not explicit allegories become problematic. Logical problems and "question-begging" (275) can be avoided by pointing to the comments a work makes about traditional symbols.
Root, Jerry. "'Space to speak': The Wife of Bath and the Discourse of Confession." 28 (1994): 252-74.
Examination of the Wife of Bath's Prologue in light of the theories of Michel Foucault suggests that medieval confessional practice defined a new space for private speech. In the Canterbury Tales, the Parson's Tale and Chaucer's Retraction make the confessional mode most apparent. All of the pilgrims travel in a space defined by Church practice as acceptable. Even the struggle between the Friar and the Summoner takes place within that established boundary. In fact, their rivalry is built on the confessional mode. The Wife of Bath's claim for experience merely places her in the confessional mode, requiring a telling of personal experience. Her emphasis on her body reveals a desire to assert the "scandal of the domination of the female body by traditional strategies of interpretation" (257). The Wife's claims for her body and the right to marry declare a space in which she can speak and a refusal to submit to male authorities like Jerome. Her grumbling, though merely "noise" to the male establishment, creates "a space in which she can speak rather than being spoken" (262). By retelling what her husbands have done, she controls their speech and reveals their most hidden secrets. Though apparently confessional, the Wife of Bath's Prologue is a confession of her husband's private experience, not her own.
Roper, Gregory. "Pearl, Penitence, and the Recovery of the Self." 28 (1993): 164-86.
The dreamer in Pearl begins speaking like a penitent confessing to a parish priest, and he must face the weak person he has been. The Pearl-Maiden, like the priest, presents the dreamer with representations of himself that the dreamer recognizes as accurate portraits. He then judges himself in need of change. The Pearl-Maiden then gives the dreamer a different self so that he may reconstruct himself by giving himself wholly to God. Having reconstructed himself, he will be considered one of the elect after death.
Rosenberg, Bruce A. "The Bari Widow and the Franklin's Tale." 14 (1980): 344-52.
Folklore studies indicate that two authors in different places are unlikely to create similar complex tales. Thus, Boccaccio's Filocolo and Chaucer's Franklin's Tale most likely come from a common source--the "Widow of Bari." Although the surface details differ between the "Widow of Bari" and Chaucer's Franklin's Tale, the motifs are similar and occur in the same order. Chaucer adds an emphasis on time to the analogues, thereby increasing the realism of the characters.
Rosenberg, Bruce A. "The 'Cherry-Tree Carol' and the Merchant's Tale." 5 (1971): 264-76.
Religious allusions in the Merchant's Tale suggest that the "Cherry-Tree Carol" is thematically linked with it. January's garden and May's Eve-attributes suggest that Mary is her opposite. To emphasize January's opposition to the church's position on marriage, Chaucer pulls from Jerome's Letter adversus Jovinianum in what appears to be January's parody of the Song of Songs. The garden January constructs parodies the garden in the "Cherry-Tree Carol." In addition, the garden also emphasizes the opposition between May and Mary: though both attain the fruit they seek, the difference between their methods and the final result demonstrates the difference between the two. January also becomes a perversion of Joseph. By mingling two different tales together, Chaucer demonstrates a valuable literary skill.
Rosenberg, Bruce A. "The Contrary Tales of the Second Nun and the Canon's Yeoman." 2 (1968): 278-91.
Though the Second Nun's Tale seems to reveal little complexity or artistry, when read in conjunction with the Canon's Yeoman's Tale, it demonstrates both. St. Cecile's story may be read in terms of alchemy: her body (base material) must be "mortified" so that her soul (the perfect thing) may ascend to heaven. Chaucer also develops a contrast between sight and blindness. Cecilia can see spiritually, but the Canon's Yeoman sees only physically. The link between these two tales is that they show two polarities.
Ross, Diane M. "The Play of Genres in the Book of the Duchess." 19 (1984): 1-13.
The Book of the Duchess contains three different genres, lyric, allegory, and proces, a narrative that proceeds step by step. Not only does this variety allow Chaucer to demonstrate writing by example, but it also allows him to contrast the story-telling capacity of each one. The poem becomes both a consolation for the man in black and Blanche's final resting place. The Book of the Duchess encompasses other lyrics which force the reader to examine carefully the meanings and places of these lyrics in the work to determine the allegory behind them. Chaucer asserts the primacy of narrative in this work.
Ross, Thomas W. "Troilus and Criseyde, II. 582-87: A Note." 5 (1970): 137-39.
By translating Boccaccio's word intero as hool (line 587), Chaucer creates a bawdy pun which sheds aditional light on the characters of Criseyde and Pandarus.
Rowland, Beryl. "Chaucer's Idea of the Pardoner." 14 (1979): 140-54.
Critics have suggested that the Pardoner is either a homosexual or a eunuch, but the imagery with which he is associated, his appearance, and his own words indicate that he is a hermaphrodite. Hermaphrodites have historically been the focus of attention, in both society and literature. Commonly, people believed that hermaphrodites had the gift of prophecy, but at birth a hermaphrodite was considered an unfortunate monstrosity. Chaucer plays on this dualism in his portrait of the Pardoner.
Rowland, Beryl. "Chaucer's She-Ape (The Parson's Tale, 424)." 2 (1968): 159-65.
The use of the image of the she-ape is unusual for Chaucer, and it carries psychological and moral implications particularly relevant to the sins of pride and lust. The Parson compares the ape's sexual behavior to that of a dandy who wears a short coat and tight-fitting hose, thus evoking a distasteful image of glaring color, and suggesting that the dandy's motivation is sexual pleasure.
Rowland, Beryl. "Haldeen Braddy." 14 (1980): 191-98.
Haldeen Braddy has done influential research on the biographical aspects of Chaucer's work and on Oton de Graunson as one of Chaucer's sources. A bibliography of Braddy's work is included.
Rowland, Beryl B. "The Play of the Miller's Tale: A Game Within a Game." 5 (1970): 140-46.
Chaucer uses the terms "game" in the sense in which it commonly refers to the medieval mystery play. To heighten this allusion, he uses a mystery play structure for his tale. Each character parodies one of the characters common in mystery plays. Alisoun parodies Mary and Eve; Nicholas, Herod and Satan; and John, Joseph and Noah.
Rowland, Beryl. "The Three Ages of The Parlement of the Three Ages." 9 (1975): 342-52.
The three ages were generally considered 30, 60, and 100, though 60 was considered very old. Using these traditional ages allows the poet to include the moral and spiritual significance of those ages in the irony which runs throughout the text.
Ruffolo, Lara. "Literary Authority and the Lists of Chaucer's House of Fame: Destruction and Definition through Proliferation." 27 (1993): 325-41.
Though based on Dante's Commedia, the House of Fame works in the opposite direction, using lists of secular and sacred materials, jumbled together, to undermine literary authority. Fame's presentation draws attention to the fact that fame is often not deserved. Ultimately, Chaucer suggests that a poet's fame does not depend on the greatness of his art, but on the reception that his art receives, thus making the audience, not writing predecessors, the final authority.
Ruggiers, Paul G. "Platonic Forms in Chaucer." 17 (1983): 366-82.
Chaucer builds his poetry around four different topics, "1) eating and drinking; 2) sexuality and love; 3) play and seriousness; and 4) the making of art" (367). Drinking has religious overtones of suffering, and the drinking image appears in the Reeve's, Pardoner's, Man of Law's, and Franklin's Tales as well as in Troilus and Criseyde and the House of Fame. Chaucer treats love in four different ways as seen in Troilus and Criseyde, and in the Miller's , Reeve's, and Second Nun's Tales. Furthermore the Canterbury Tales as a whole experiments with the theme of play, examining play from a number of different points of view. Chaucer also investigates what it is to create a literary work, a theme particularly present in the Tale of Sir Thopas and the Tale of Melibee.
Ruggiers, Paul G. "Towards a Theory of Tragedy in Chaucer." 8 (1973): 89-99.
Chaucer relies on the same view of Fortune as Boethius and Dante: Fortune is God's providential agent. In the Monk's Tale, Fortune is a pagan goddess who alternately raises and lowers humans without favoritism, but she is ultimately God's mysterious agent. In this tale, Chaucer uses a "high-mimetic" style, but he can also work with "low-mimetic" tragedy involving pathos. The idea that love may be treated tragically derives from Latin writers such as Ovid as well as Boccaccio (Teseida, Filostrato), Dante, and Gower, but the tone of pathos is tempered by the Christian sense of hope. Following Boethius, Chaucer models tragic figures on Adam and Christ, one suffering deservedly, the other undeservedly. Chaucer does, however, seek to lighten tragedy with romantic effects or irony or at least attempts to make the sufferers deserve their troubles. Thus, Chaucer balances God's role in human affairs with the choices humans make that affect their destinies.
Russell, J. Stephen. "Is London Burning? A Chaucerian Allusion to the Rising of 1381." 30 (1995): 107-09.
Three fairly specific references in lines 935-49 of the House of Fame suggest that Chaucer refers to the Peasant's Revolt of 1381. In light of these allusions, the date for the House of Fame must be considerably later than previously thought.
Ruud, Jay. "Chaucer's Envoy to Scogan: 'Tullius kyndenesse' and the Law of Kynde." 20 (1986): 323-30.
Understanding the references to Tullius in Chaucer's Lenvoy de Chaucer a Scogan allows critics to recognize the purpose and unity of the poem. The reference to Cicero alludes to De Amicitia, which makes two points about love applicable to Scogan. Chaucer uses these allusions to point out that Scogan has broken the law of kind in love by deciding to love a woman who cannot love him in return. Chaucer then elevates the divine love that holds the universe together. The tension between these two kinds of love unifies the poem.
Ryan, Lawrence V. "The Canon's Yeoman's Desperate Confession." 8 (1974): 297-310.
Medieval Christians viewed confession as a way to blind Satan and escape temptation. By using the Host as a confessor, the Yeoman may get away from the "feendly" tie to the Canon. The Yeoman responds to the Host's questions, however, by reciting the tenets of alchemy, not Christianity. He does not take the blame for his behavior but shifts the responsibility for his sin onto the Canon. His doing so suggests that the Yeoman is not entirely sincere in his confession. The Yeoman depicts the Canon in a demonic way, and the Yeoman's description of the Canon's tricks associates fire and blindness, thus strengthening the Canon's demonic character. The tale of the duped priest, then, seems to be the Yeoman's own story. By the time the Yeoman reaches the pilgrims, he has spent so much time in alchemy that he can scarcely give it up. He tries to save himself by warning the others, but he is too afraid fully to admit his fault, a mark of Sloth. The Yeoman's choice of the Host as his confessor further emphasizes his spiritual poverty, since he chooses a tavern-keeper, not a priest.
Rygiel, Dennis. "A Holistic Approach to the Style of Ancrene Wisse." 16 (1982): 270-81.
The writer of Ancrene Wisse (Ancrene Riwle) uses a simple and informal style and carefully manipulates point of view to engage the reader in the text.
Sadlek, Gregory M. "Love, Labor, and Sloth in Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde." 26 (1992): 350-68.
Chaucer changes Troilus from his counterpart in the Filostrato, both making Troilus a greater courtly lover and increasing his slothfulness (acedia). Chaucer so develops Troilus's acedia that Troilus becomes a complex parody of a courtly lover. Publicly, of course, Troilus is a great warrior; privately his sloth is revealed. Sloth is necessary to love, and though Troilus thinks of love as work, he does not seem to do much of it. In the beginning, Troilus boasts that he has avoided laboring. He also shows fear, forgetfulness, and sorrow. This behavior contrasts with that of Pandarus and Diomede, both of whom labor courageously. Perceiving Troilus this way makes him more responsible for the failure of his and Criseyde's love, and suggests that Chaucer wants him to share the blame for the failure of their romance.
Sadlek, Gregory M. "To Wait or to Act?: Troilus II, 954." 17 (1982): 62-64.
When Pandarus tells Troilus to "don thyn hood" (II, 954), he tells Troilus to put on armor and prepare to fight for Criseyde's love.
Salda, Michael Norman. "Pages from History: The Medieval Palace of Westminister as a Source for the Dreamer's Chamber in the Book of the Duchess." 27 (1992): 111-25.
The dream chamber in the Book of the Duchess is probably connected to Chaucer's decision to have the dreamer fall asleep while reading, and to have his position be such that when he awakens, he sees a book. Thus his dream chamber is literally the book. Chaucer may also have been referring to the interior of Westminister Abbey or of the chapel of St. Stephen, since both were decorated with scenes depicting stories and accompanied underneath by glosses running the length of the wall.
Salemi, Joseph S. "Playful Fortune and Chaucer's Criseyde." 15 (1981): 209-23.
Chaucer crafts the opening of Troilus and Criseyde so that the characters display the mutability of this life. This opening presents the opportunity to get Boethius's point of view. Following instances of the phrase "to pleye" throughout the work reveals that however the characters "play," the game has consequences. Chaucer associates Criseyde with freedom and Troilus with the human reaction to Fortune. Because Criseyde makes choices to which others like Troilus and Pandarus respond, Criseyde behaves like Fortune in the poem.
Sanderlin, George. "Chaucer's Legend of Dido--A Feminist Exemplum." 20 (1986): 331-40.
Chaucer alters Virgil's story of Dido and Aneas to show Dido as an honorable woman betrayed by a false man. Perusal of Chaucer's Legend of Dido shows Chaucer writing about women from a feminist perspective. In his version of this story, Chaucer does not develop the love of either Dido or Aneas. Dido falls in love after seeing Aneas twice; after a little time, Aneas is bored with Dido. Dido's resulting suicide becomes her attempt to "regain her self-respect after her tragic error in judgment" (337).
Sanderlin, George. "'Thagh I were burde bryghtest'--GGK, 1283-1287." 8 (1973): 60-64.
Though this line in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight has created confusion for scholars, maintaining the manuscript reading does make sense. First, Lady Bercilak must know of Gawain's appointment at the Green Chapel since she is so important to getting him there. Second, the shift in point of view is not unusual in older literature since consistency in point of view was not important. Lastly, the manuscript reading makes Lady Bercilak a three-dimensional character with feelings.
Sanderlin, George. "Two Transfigurations: Gawain and Aeneas." 12 (1978): 255-58.
When the Pearl-Poet describes Gawain's face as "ver," he alludes to Aeneas's transformation before his rendezvous with Dido.
Sanderlin, S. "Chaucer and Ricardian Politics." 22 (1987): 171-84.
In the last fifteen years of his life, Chaucer gradually withdrew from political controversies. Examination of legal and financial records indicates that Chaucer did his best to stay out of party politics, retiring from public life when silence was the best option.
Sands, Donald B. "The Non-Comic, Non-Tragic Wife: Chaucer's Dame Alys as Sociopath." 12 (1978): 171-82.
The Wife of Bath is a three-dimensional character who, though a type of medieval woman, does not always fit into the stereotype of comic or tragic figure. Rather, she is a sociopath--antisocial, addicted to alcohol, and unable to experience intimacy with another person.
Sapora, Robert. "Charles A. Owen, Jr.: A Dedication." 17 (1983): 283.
Charles Owen is a "man of courtesy and courage . . . who knows the true significance of scholarship and teaching." The bibliography includes a list of Owen's works, pp. 284-85.
Scala, Elizabeth. "Canacee and the Chaucer Canon: Incest and Other Unnarratables." 30 (1995): 15-39.
The narrative strategy of the Canterbury Tales creates individualized pilgrims and makes readers conscious of Chaucer, the author constructing the narratives. The introduction to the Man of Law's Tale points toward the texts of other authors, such as Gower's Confessio amantis, and even indicates other texts written by Chaucer, the "Legend of Medea" for example. The double indications of the text force readers to remain conscious of the pilgrim and of Chaucer, both tellers of the same tale. The Man of Law's Tale, however, does exactly what he proclaimed it could not. Such denial only highlights the Man of Law's fears about the story he might tell. The reference in the Squire's Tale to Canacee reminds the audience of the incest motif that undergirds the Canterbury Tales. Both tales may be considered in terms of absence: the Man of Law's Tale presents a story it was not going to tell, and the Squire's Tale is not at all about its stated subject. That the Squire's Tale is unfinished merely underscores its subject--gaps and absences. The Squire's use of occupatio draws attention to the weaknesses of such a tradition. In the Squire's Tale, then, reader see the importance of the unnarrated material preceding and following the tale.
Scattergood, V. J. "The Originality of the Shipman's Tale." 11 (1977): 210-31.
The Shipman's Tale clarifies Chaucer's definition of a bourgeois attitude towards money. Chaucer describes the merchant's household as prosperous, but unlike the merchants in the analogues, Chaucer's merchant is unnamed. Comparison between the monk's poor professional behavior and the merchant's excellent professional behavior emphasizes the merchant's honorability. The merchant also honors the friendship between himself and Don John, though Don John rejects the merchant once he gains the merchant's wife. The merchant's open behavior regarding his debt contrasts with the wife's and Don John's secretive deals to repay what they owe. The Shipman's Tale portrays merchants in a favorable light, though the merchant in the tale may be too concerned about earthly, as opposed to heavenly, things. The merchant also speaks plainly, while the wife and Don John speak ambiguously. Both the wife and Don John extricate themselves from potentially destructive situations by pretending that the merchant also speaks ambiguously. The literal quality makes the merchant vulnerable, but it also protects him from knowledge of the adultery his wife and Don John have committed.
Scattergood, V. J. "Perkyn Revelour and the Cook's Tale." 19 (1984): 14-23.
Although the Cook's Tale is unfinished, critics can determine Perkyn Revelour's character and ascertain that Chaucer probably intended the Cook's Tale to be a fabliau based on Perkyn's portrait. Perkyn is, like other mischievous apprentices and vice figures, associated with gambling and prostitution. Chaucer's treatment of these customs gives his account of Perkyn a naturalistic feel.
Scattergood, John. "Social and Political Issues in Chaucer: An Approach to Lak of Stedfastnesse." 21 (1987): 469-75.
Though some of Chaucer's other poems have clear political referents, "Lak of Stedfastnesse" is not easily connected to a specific political personage. Chaucer camouflages his political agenda behind "traditional genres" and "generalized statements" (474). The poem can be connected to Richard II, but the specific situation is difficult to ascertain because the number of events leading to a fear of instability is numerous.
Schäfer, Jürgen. "Chaucer in Shakespeare's Dictionaries: The Beginning." 17 (1982): 182-92.
Examination of seventeenth-century Chaucer glossaries draws attention to some intriguing inconsistencies on the part of various compilers. Additional work remains to be done to illuminate remaining questions regarding seventeenth-century interest in Chaucer.
Scheps, Walter. "Middle English Poetic Usage and Blind Harry's Wallace." 4 (1970): 291-302.
Oral poetry differs from written work in that a formulaic phrase is the smallest "meaningful unit" in oral works, but in written work it is the word (292). A formulaic phrase may be altered only as long as its meter and meaning remain constant. Some phrases can be changed while others cannot. Written works may be tested for oral origins. Often, however, poets who write use oral formulas. Instead of suggesting that these poets composed orally and then wrote down their work, readers may look for the artistic end these formulas serve. Examination of Blind Harry's use of the common "fire-flint" alliteration illustrates this point. He uses the oral formula in the internal rhyme common to ballads, but in a way an oral poet could not. Where Harry and other poets borrow oral formulas out of slackness, they demonstrate one of the greatest differences between oral and written poetry. Oral poetry depends on formulaic expressions for survival; written work depends on a rejection of stock phrases and formulas (originality) for survival. Thus, written work like Chaucer's has little influence on oral poetry. Oral poetry may also be set to music with favorable results in a way written work may not. Thus, we cannot criticize primarily oral work for repetitiveness, poor rhythm, and loose structure whereas we may criticize written work for these same qualities.
Scheps, Walter. "'Up roos oure hoost, and was oure aller cok': Harry Bailly's Tale-Telling Competition." 10 (1975): 113-28.
Though the Host's responses to some of the tales are not recorded in the Canterbury Tales and he never clearly indicates which tale he most enjoys, readers can determine which tale the Host finds to be best. The Host's opinions would be determined by his personality; Chaucer portrays the Host as manly, happy, and unafraid to speak. The criteria for good tales are "sentence and solaas" (117). Certain tales can be eliminated because they put the Host's authority at risk in some way or they are interrupted, and he rejects other tales for a number of other reasons. Ultimately, readers can assume that the Nun's Priest's Tale wins the contest.
Schless, Howard. "A Dating for the Book of the Duchess: Line 1314." 19 (1985): 273-76.
In line 1314 the shift in reference from man in black to king suggests that at least the conclusion to the Book of the Duchess was written around 1371-72, not, as most scholars think, a few months after Blanche of Lancaster died.
Schless, Howard. "Knight's Tale: 965-67, 1462-75; Theseus's Banner, Palamon's Mickey." 25 (1990): 80-84.
Legal history might explain the unfurling of Theseus's banner in the Knight's Tale as the kind of action medieval kings performed. Also, legal history records a situation analogous to Palamon's use of a drug to escape his prison.
Schless, Howard H. "Pearl's 'Princes paye' and the Law." 24 (1989): 183-85.
The legal language of the phrase "princes paye" from Pearl suggests that the poem is about the dispute "between absolutist and comparative, between New and Old, between divine and human, law" (184).
Schleusener, Jay. "The Conduct of the Merchant's Tale." 14 (1980): 237-50.
The Merchant's Tale seems tactless, but Chaucer carefully draws readers in so that they are willing for the Merchant to attack January. The Merchant uses sarcasm and innuendo to trip up readers in their own imaginations. He manipulates May so that readers eventually respond cynically to her. Pluto and Proserpine restore the readers' sense of taste by applying common sense to the situation in the garden. The bitterness of the Merchant's Tale is a bitterness shared by Chaucer, the Merchant, and generations of readers who allow themselves to enjoy the tale.
Schneider, Paul Stephen. "'Taillynge ynough': The Function of Money in the Shipman's Tale." 11 (1977): 201-09.
The satire in the Shipman's Tale focuses on the merchant. The Host's interpretation of the tale to mean that audience members must guard wives and money from monks clearly focuses the tale's meaning. Since the merchant must provide for his wife, his refusal to pay for her wants gives her both motive and means to commit adultery with Don John. Chaucer uses money to distort the courtly love between the merchant's wife and Don John. Money also functions as a corruptive force in other relationships in the tale. Finally, Chaucer connects money and Fortune: both are forces of good and of evil in the tale.
Schrader, Richard J. "Chanticleer, the Mermaid, and Daun Burnel." 4 (1970): 284-90.
As other critics have shown, the Nun's Priest's digressions successfully demonstrate a mix of philosophy and comedy. The likely comparison between Chanticleer and a mermaid points out that his own singing nearly leads to his destruction, especially since he is so proud that he ignores both nature and Pertelote. The reference to Daun Burnel is also significant in that it alludes to the rooster in Nigel de Longchamps's "Daun Burnel the Asse" who, by ignoring his wife, attained his goal. Thus, these two allusions add humor and a bit of a moral to the Nun's Priest's Tale.
Schuman, Samuel. "The Circle of Nature: Patterns of Imagery in Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde." 10 (1975): 99-112.
The ring is an important symbol of Troilus and Criseyde's relationship, in part for the sexual puns it allows. Like Troy, Criseyde is besieged, and she refers to herself as encircled by walls just as Troy is surrounded. Ultimately the image of imprisonment is reversed, and Troilus ends up encircled by the walls of Troy. Though Chaucer uses a three-year time span, within that expanse of time he emphasizes the cyclical seasons and the cycle of day and night. The natural cycles highlight the natural facet of Troilus and Criseyde's love. The Wheel of Fortune is another circular element of the poem which emphasizes the other natural cycles that she controls. Chaucer also uses astrological cycles. When Troilus dies and ascends to the eighth sphere, Chaucer points out that the things of earth are not important. Readers come to realize, however, that Troilus and Criseyde is a spiral rising to God, not a circle remaining on the earth.
Schuman, Samuel. "The Link Mechanism in the Canterbury Tales." 20 (1986): 200-06.
Chaucer structures the Canterbury Tales in such a way that the portraits are linked to one another by common themes or images. That the tales are linked in much the same way contributes to the reader's sense that the Miller's Tale is a lower class version of the Knight's Tale, and the Reeve's Tale is a ugly version of the Miller's Tale. This structure is quite similar to the Great Chain of Being.
Scott, Anne. "'Considerynge the beste on every syde': Ethics, Empathy, and Epistemology in the Franklin's Tale." 29 (1995): 390-415.
In the Franklin's Tale Chaucer questions the rigid maintenance of particular epistemologies. He suggests that any codified epistemology or set of ethical standards must be flexible for individuals to maintain happiness, and that all ethical systems must contain elements of compassion. The characters in the Franklin's Tale operate in a rigid framework which understands two opposing courses of action. Thus, Dorigen constructs her response to Aurelius in binary terms, and Arveragus's response to the situation seems a logical conclusion to his way of seeing the world, though it excludes both his and Dorigen's feelings. Arveragus's response does, however, preserve the hierarchy in which he lives. Dorigen represents a different epistemology based on information received from the senses and emotions. Her behavior, then, is subject to misguided intuition or insight. Aurelius does not represent an unflawed middle ground, since he can also be overwhelmed by emotion. In the process of the tale, each character faces the weaknesses inherent in his or her respective epistemology in order that they come to a "more effective process of moral reasoning" (407). The interraction of the characters' ways of knowing allows Chaucer to suggest the best possible epistemology to his audience.
Seymour, M. C. "Chaucer's Early Poem De casibus virorum illustrium." 24 (1989): 163-65.
The Monk's Tale seems to be an unrevised version of an earlier poem, De casibus virorum illustrium. As a probable early poem, it should be treated as a separate work.
Seymour, M. C. "Of this Cokes tale." 24 (1990): 259-62.
Chaucer probably completed the Cook's Tale, but the quire containing the rest of the tale was lost. The slight changes in handwriting between tales may suggest that several different scribes worked on the Canterbury Tales and so support the idea that Chaucer completed the tale. There is some manuscript evidence to suggest the misplacement of a full "quire of sight" containing the rest of the completed Cook's story.
Shapiro, Gloria K. "Dame Alice as Deceptive Narrator." 6 (1971): 130-41.
By examining what the Wife of Bath does not say about her fourth husband, readers can uncover painful experiences and a religiousity she wishes to hide. When describing her fourth marriage, Alice skips quickly over comments that would reveal any jealousy or suffering on her part. Her use of biblical authority suggests that she needs a sense of religious support in order to lead a satisfactory life. Without realizing it, she discloses her belief that virginity is superior to marriage. Though she states that she will discuss the woe of marriage, she never does. The curse at the end of her tale is her way of disguising her true feelings about marriage. In the end, the Wife is more deeply religious than the Prioress. Though Alice adopts the pose of rebellion, the religious ideas she seeks to destroy are too much a part of her.
Sharon-Zisser, Shirley. "The Squire's Tale and the Limits of Non-Mimetic Fiction." 26 (1992): 377-94.
The Squire's Tale is about the tension and limits of multiple ways of reading. The tale alternates between the poles of fantastic and metafictional narrative. The opening of the tale, the magical setting, and the way in which the knight creates an interruption and so disolves "the limits by which the recipients' society (and . . . the depicted society) defines and so orders its concept of 'reality'" (379) focus attention on the fantastic. The knight's language, strange to Cambyuskan's court, emphasizes his position as other. The gifts the knight brings force readers to read metafiction. Also, the narrator uses occupatio and diminutio to shift attention to the language and manner in which the tale is told. Both the metafictional and the fantastic ways of reading use the tension between "an ideal and a subversion of norms" (386), and both insist that readers use one particular method to the exclusion of the other. The Squire, in telling his tale, smudges the boundaries between literal and imaginative language. Ultimately the Squire's Tale forces readers to admit the boundaries of fiction.
Shaw, Brian A. "The Speeches in Beowulf: A Structural Study." 13 (1978): 86-92.
In the course of Beowulf, Beowulf makes fifteen speeches. In the first seven, he expresses deference to Hrothgar and voices his own position as a loyal retainer. In the last seven speeches, Beowulf expresses himself as a ruler. Beowulf shows himself to be both a loyal thane and an able ruler in the eighth speech. The speeches in each grouping parallel each other. The groupings also discuss evil thematically: the first 22 fits discuss the response of humans to evil in the world, and the last 22 fits suggest that this life is transitory and humans must continue to fight evil although it will never be entirely eradicated.
Shaw, Judith Davis. "Lust and Lore in Gower and Chaucer." 19 (1984): 110-22.
Chaucer and Gower treat lore differently. Both believe that lore is the wisdom of the past, but Chaucer doubts that lore can be used effectively in modern times. Gower shows no doubt that lore has something to say to his era. Chaucer's characters construe authority (lore) to suit their own ends; Gower's characters display an honest desire to learn. Chaucer and Gower also treat lust differently. Few of the Canterbury Tales combine meaning and delight. Gower avoids complex rhetorical figures, however, and focuses on his text, succeeding in mingling teaching and delight.
Shedd, Gordon M. "Flamenca: A Medieval Satire on Courtly Love." 2 (1967): 43-65.
Contrary to current critical opinion, the Roman de Flamenca, a Provençal romance, pokes fun at the courtly love tradition. Its plot bears close resemblance to the fabliau, which suggests a less than serious intent. When Guillems sets off to win Flamenca sight unseen, he is not merely in love with love; instead, he has every intention of filling an acceptable social role. Guillems has many talents, but when he dedicates them to the god of Love, nothing prevents him from becoming a fool. The poet also mocks a number of traditionally highly romantic moments, finally demonstrating that courtly love is no more than an elaborate self-centered game which requires replacing the love of God with love of (lust for) the lady.
Sheneman, Paul. "The Tongue as a Sword: Psalms 56 and 63 and the Pardoner." 27 (1993): 396-400.
Given Chaucer's knowledge of the Psalms, readers can assume that Chaucer probably had in mind the image of the tongue as sharp sword when he created the Pardoner.
Shoaf, R. A. "The Franklin's Tale: Chaucer and Medusa ." 21 (1986): 274-90.
The Franklin's Tale shows how Chaucer read Dante's Inferno, Cantos 9 and 10. Chaucer especially uses the image of the Medusa who turns to stone those who look at her. Dorigen's response to Aurelius's announcement that the rocks are gone indicates her "a-stone-ishment" (275). Chaucer uses the image of Medusa to examine the difficulties illusions create for those who cannot pierce the rhetoric from which they are built. As a result of these problems, Chaucer advocates an unshrinking analytic faculty to his readers.
Shoaf, R. A. "Introduction and Acknowledgments [to Special Issue in Memory of Judson Boyce Allen]." 21 (1986): 93-95.
The scholars who contributed to this special volume each had special contact with Judson Boyce Allen. In many cases, he spoke to them regarding the ideas they would present in their essays.
Sklute, Larry M. "The Inconclusive Form of the Parliament of Fowls." 16 (1981): 119-28.
Though well-organized, the Parliament of Fowls leaves readers with a sense of inconclusiveness. Chaucer creates the readers' sense of confusion by giving us a bewildered narrator who uses a broad definition of love but seeks an extremely specific solution. The other elements in the poem, such as, the non-choice of the formel eagle at the end of the parliament, work together to make the reader recognize that a lack of finality supports the poem. In contrasting the two dreams, Chaucer does more than subvert authority: he suggests that reality is pluralistic and supports his assertion with inconclusion.
Smith, Charles R. "Chaucer's Reeve and St. Paul's Old Man." 30 (1995): 101-06.
Scholars have suggested that the "four gleedes" are a borrowing from St. Fursey's vision in Bede's Historia, but actually they reveal the nature of the Reeve and his characters as defined by Paul in Ephesians 4. The Reeve and his characters demonstrate that they are not free of the old man spiritually and that they still partake of the four specific sins Paul lists as evidence of bondage.
Smith, Macklin. "Sith and Syn in Chaucer's Troilus." 26 (1992): 266-82.
Though the forms for "since" do not generally alter readings of lines in which they occur, awareness of "syn," used less frequently than "sith" or "sithen" shifts readers' perceptions of the lines in which "syn" appears because "syn" implies some kind of moral judgment. Chaucer uses "syn" in Troilus and Criseyde more often than most writers, and comparison of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight to works like Cursor mundi and Piers Plowman and to writers like Robert Manning of Brunne and Hoccleve shows that scribes were indifferent to the form they used. Chaucer is then responsible for the increased use of "syn" in Troilus and Criseyde, suggesting that he intended to use the pun and to create ambiguity and double meanings. Chaucer uses the same pun in the "Legend of Phyllis," the Miller's and Man of Law's Tales, and the Wife of Bath's Prologue and tale. In Troilus and Criseyde, however, this pun is more frequent, and Chaucer employs it to create double reality and Christian irony.
Smith, Merete. "Literary Loanwords from Old French in The Romaunt of the Rose." 17 (1982): 89-93.
Though readers would expect Chaucer's Romaunt of the Rose to transmit a large number of Old French loanwords, a remarkably small number actually came into English as a result of the translation. Some of the words that did appear in English for the first time, like "camelyne," did not remain current in the language.
Soucy, A. Francis. "Gawain's Fault: 'Angardez pryde.'" 13 (1978): 166-76.
In the course of his interaction with Bercilak, Gawain realizes and confesses pride. In the temptation scenes, Lady Bercilak plays on Gawain's concern for his reputation. When Gawain fails to give the girdle to Bercilak, he fails a test of his word, not a test of courtesy. Throughout, Gawain takes great pains to maintain a reputation as a courageous and honest knight. Gawain continues to wear the girdle as a reminder of his sin of pride and of his humanity.
Spearman, Alan. "'How he Symplicius Gallus . . .': Alison of Bath's Name-Calling, or 'The Taming of the Shrewed.'" 29 (1994): 149-62.
In the Wife of Bath's Prologue, the Wife manipulates proper names, particularly Sulpicius Gallus, in order to establish her position of authority over antagonistic men like Jankyn, and to establish "a subtle resonance between the Prologue and another apposite fragment of the Tales" (149). The corruption of Gallus's name from Sulpicius to Symplicius is most likely unconscious, but it connects the name to the concept of simplicity or ignorance. This play on Sulpicius's name allows the Wife to control him in a unique way and to mock him at the same time. Implicit in her move is the undercutting of Jankyn's male authorities who do not permit her to speak.
Specht, Henrik. "'Ethopoeia' or Impersonation: A Neglected Species of Medieval Characterization." 21 (1986): 1-15.
By understanding ethopoeia or adlocutio, scholars gain greater comprehension of character portrayal in medieval literature. Generally, ethopoeia suspends the narrative in order that protagonists might reveal their thoughts in a formal style. Classical rhetoricians, such as Horace in his Ars poetica and Hermogenes in his Progymnasmata, taught that decorum must be observed when inserting such a moment into the text. Twelfth- and thirteenth-century rhetoricians taught that this device could be used both for giving personality to a character and for personifying inanimate objects. Chaucer borrows from this tradition in the Legend of Good Women when presenting Medea and Dido. He employs this device to a greater extent in Troilus and Criseyde when Criseyde leaves Troilus for Diomede.
Spencer, William. "Are Chaucer's Pilgrims Keyed to the Zodiac?" 4 (1970): 147-70.
The sequence of the pilgrims in the General Prologue suggests that they are keyed to the zodiac. Readers can view each pilgrim in terms of the influence of the planets and the stars. Among the pilgrims whom a knowledge of the medieval science of the zodiac helps to illuminate are the Knight, the Squire, the Yeoman, the Prioress, the Monk, the Friar, the Merchant, the Clerk, the Man of Law, the Franklin, the Cook, the Shipman, the Physician, the Wife of Bath, the Parson, the Miller, the Manciple, the Reeve, the Summoner, and the Pardoner.
Spillenger, Paul. "The Metamorphosis of Musorno: A Note on Chaucer's Translation of Filostrato I, 54 in Troilus I, 526-32." 29 (1995): 348-51.
Chaucer most likely read Filostrato I, 54 and translated according to the Italian he had learned as a result of contact with merchants. Not having learned Italian in school and not having the benefit of editorial punctation, he would be likely to translate these lines in accord with popular idiom, so arriving at a different meaning than that actually present in Boccaccio.
Spisak, James W. "Chaucer's Pyramus and Thisbe." 18 (1984): 204-10.
In the Legend of Good Women, Chaucer presents satirical portraits of Pyramus and Thisbe. By eliminating the mulberry bush, present in the Metamorphoses, Chaucer further reduces Pyramus's suicide from pseudo-tragedy to comedy. Thisbe is a pure woman according to Chaucer. Her purity makes writing about her easy, though Chaucer claims the entirety of the Legend of Good Women as penance at the beginning.
Stanbury, Sarah. "Space and Visual Hermeneutics in the Gawain-Poet." 21 (1987): 476-89.
In Pearl, Patience, Purity, and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the poet uses circumscribed space. The characters move through these spaces, discovering hints to spiritual sight and recognizing how the spiritual encloses the physical. The poet employs the frequently used image of the edifice as spiritual work, and thresholds as transition points. Saints come to represent thresholds or points of change and mediate between man and God. Physical enclosures denote the limits of knowledge.
Steinberg, Diane Vanner. "'We do usen here no wommen for to selle': Embodiment of Social Practices in Troilus and Criseyde." 29 (1995): 259-73.
Troilus and Criseyde is constructed around two social spheres, one inside Troy and one outside the walls, one feminine and one masculine. Trojan practices place more value on women, while the Greek practices are "cruelly misogynist" and allow for "the commodification and exchange of women" (259). Examination of the poem reveals that the interior spaces are associated with women. The acts of courtship represent the male invasion of those spaces. Though the battlefield is the place in the poem most clearly associated with male domination, Troy is not a place of complete feminine freedom. Among Trojan aristocrats, relationships between the sexes are more courtly. In the Greek world of the battlefield, relationships between men and women depend on power and violence.
Steinmetz, David C. "Late Medieval Nominalism and the Clerk's Tale." 12 (1977): 38-54.
The Clerk's Tale is not about marriage, but is an allegory of nominalist justification. In such a scheme, Walter represents God; Griselda represents the sinner's soul. Walter is, however, like and unlike God. His primary unlikeness to God is his choice to test Griselda beyond what is necessary. Walter's behavior towards Griselda and hers towards him shows that she has the love of God (Walter) and the ability to exercise it. This quality indicates that she deserves grace. When Griselda assents to Walter's demand to take and kill her children, she shows the love of a faithful soul for God. At the end, Griselda is vindicated, an allegory of the reward of the faithful souls in heaven.
Stephens, John. "The Uses of Personae and the Art of Obliqueness in Some Chaucer Lyrics: Part I." 21 (1987): 360-73.
Even in poems where Chaucer does not write in a persona named "Geoffrey" or in a personified narrator, he distances himself from the speaker. Chaucer indicates this separation in several ways. In "Complaint unto Pity" he creates an ambiguous situation for which he makes a conventional narrator. Such conformity suggests the fictional basis of the narrator. In "Fortune" the speakers are delineated by the debate genre of the poem. Verb tense can also suggest a speaker separate from the poet.
Stephens, John. "The Uses of Personae and the Art of Obliqueness in Some Chaucer Lyrics: Part II." 21 (1987): 459-68.
The speaker of the Envoy to Scogan approaches himself and his hearer humorously; the speaker of "L'Envoy de Chaucer a Bukton" uses aphorisms and relies on readers to notice the speaker's role. The difference between the two speakers appears when readers compare the use of vocatives, rhyme and stress patterns, and postponement techniques. Both poems examine the speaker's thoughts. Each poem develops a different theme. The personas also develop differently, resulting in different relationships to readers.
Stephens, John. "The Uses of Personae and the Art of Obliqueness in Some Chaucer Lyrics: Part III." 22 (1987): 41-52.
In "To Rosemounde" comedy derives from Chaucer's alterations of a conventional situation. The speaker does not display passion or intense desire. In Part IV of "Complaint to His Lady," the speaking persona carefully manipulates complaint conventions and rhetorical devices in order to advance his suit. Readers notice that, when they compare the two poems, "To Rosemounde" parodies "Complaint to a Lady." The comic irony used to create the speaker is sharp, but comedy is not necessary to highlight the speakers' differences. "Complaint to His Purse" is Chaucer's most overt parody of the complaint convention. Examination of the lyrics in this series of articles illustrates that none of Chaucer's personas are exactly alike.
Stephenson, William. "The Acrostic 'Fictio' in Robert Henryson's The Testament of Cresseid (Lines 58-63)." 29 (1994): 163-65.
Because of the acrostic fictio formed by the first letters of lines 58-63 in the Testament of Cresseid, scholars can assume that the unnamed "other source" ("uther quair") to which Henryson refers is a pretense.
Stepsis, Robert. "Potentia Absoluta and the Clerk's Tale." 10 (1975): 129-45.
Given the reaction to Averroism and the prevalence of a belief in God's potentia absoluta (absolute freedom of will), the Clerk would be familiar with this idea, and even refer to it in his tale. Walter compares to a fourteenth-century God who possesses potentia absoluta. As that God figure, Walter chooses Griselda and tests her faith deliberately. The tale is not about a wife's response to her husband, but about a person's response to God.
Stevens, Martin. "The Theatre of the World: A Study in Medieval Dramatic Form." 7 (1973): 234-49.
For medieval drama, the theatrical space could contain the entire cosmos, show interaction between humans and supernatural figures, and depict all of salvation history. Medieval drama tended to stage a contest between cosmic powers of good and evil over human souls. Since good always won, evil characters were never protagonists. Generally, medieval plays had similar structures: the action was either a conversion or a martyrdom. Thus, all stages used similar layouts, which could serve corpus christi, saint, and morality plays. Such a staging may have been similar to Langland's landscape in Piers Plowman, with a tower for heaven, a dungeon (valley) for hell, and a field in the middle for earth. Since the play progresses as characters move from place to place, the journey becomes the focus of medieval plays. The audience is thus drawn into the play, and the off-stage area ceases to exist. Time is linear, so each play or part of the action is essential to the next, though similar patterns of action recur. These elements comprise "native tradition."
Stevens, Martin. "'And Venus laugheth': An Interpretation of the Merchant's Tale." 7 (1972): 117-31.
Chaucer characterizes the Merchant through his tale as a capable businessman with a shrewish wife. May is not, however, a portrait of the Merchant's wife. In order fully to appreciate the tale, readers must eliminate consideration of the narrator. The Merchant's Tale then appears as a fabliau mocking the senex amans.
Stevens, Martin. "The Winds of Fortune in the Troilus." 13 (1979): 285-307.
In Troilus and Criseyde Chaucer uses the image of the boat in the sea of life driven by a force such as Fortune uncontrolled by man . Troilus uses this image to describe his state. Ultimately, he ceases to believe that Fortune steers his boat and focuses on Criseyde instead. The attention to an earthly guide leads to his destruction. All of the characters recognize the power of supernatural forces, but they fail to recognize what those forces are doing in their world. The narrator is most subject to Fortune, recognizing his powerlessness; he presents authority, but not experience. Pandarus stands in direct opposition to the narrator because he acts on his own, disregarding the will of the gods. Pandarus is a poet-figure because he "makes" the love between Troilus and Criseyde with his words (247), but while Pandarus freely uses his imagination, the narrator merely reports. The conflict between the two points of view reflects Chaucer's struggle to define the role of the artist. In the sea-imagery, Troilus's direction, first inward towards consummating his love and then outward to death, becomes important. Chaucer uses the image of the boat driven across the sea of life to depict Boethius's idea that recognizing God's Providence requires insight.
Stevens, Martin, and Kathleen Falvey. "Substance, Accident, and Transformations: A Reading of the Pardoner's Tale." 17 (1982): 142-58.
In the Pardoner's Tale, Chaucer deals with Sophism. The exemplum shows the Pardoner as a sinner. Ultimately, the tale makes death out of eternal life. The tavern situation in which the Pardoner tells his tale parodies the opening of the Canterbury Tales and the pilgrimage itself. Readers can trace the imagery of transformation from life to death throughout the tale. The tale also contains elements of the Black Mass. These elements reduce Christ's sacrifice to the merely physical.
Stevens, Martin, and John Block Friedman. "Arnold Ledgerwood Williams." 7 (1973): 229-33.
Trained as a Renaissance scholar, Arnold L. Williams interests were not limited to that field. He also studied and wrote about medieval drama, publishing a translation of a medieval friar's defense of the clergy. Not solely a researcher, he has also been a great teacher.
Stevenson, Kay Gilliland. "Readers, Poets, and Poems within the Poem." 24 (1989): 1-19.
Chaucer examines the relationship between reader and poet in the Book of the Duchess. This exploration is most apparent in the narrator's reaction to Seys and Alcyone's tale, the challenge to the reader posed in the Prologue, the man in black's story and the following elaboration in the man in black's dialogue, and the three attempts to court Blanche. Chaucer borrows from Froissart's Paradys d'Amours, Machaut's Dit de la Fonteinne amoureuse and the Jugement de Roy de Behaingne, and Roman de la Rose, altering them to change the reader's response to his telling of the story.
Stokes, Myra. "The Moon in Leo in Book V of Troilus and Criseyde." 17 (1982): 116-29.
Chaucer adds descriptions of the moon and stars to suggest the slowness of the earthly progression of Troilus and Criseyde's love. He carefully connects Criseyde's breach of faith with the moon's departure from Leo, the sign of the lion previously associated with Troilus. The association of the lovers with planetary motion implies that it follows a similar, inevitable process. Criseyde's association with the planets has a dual significance: Troilus sees her as a guiding star though she is most like the moon. Chaucer follows a similar pattern in his "Complaint of Mars" which, like Troilus and Criseyde, presents loving and losing as necessary. In an appendix, Stokes discusses reasons why the eighth sphere to which Troilus ascends must be the Primum Mobile.
Stokes, Myra. "'Suffering' in Patience." 18 (1984): 354-64.
Though readers call this poem Patience, the work is more about suffering in at least three senses of the word. The poet presents the story of Jonah in such a way as to reinforce the value of obeying God, since obedience will occur whether it is voluntary or not.
Storm, Melvin. "Chaucer's Franklin and Distraint of Knighthood." 19 (1984): 162-68.
In his prologue, the Franklin states his desire for his son to be more like the Squire. In fact, the Franklin's wishes this more than "twenty pound worth lond" (682). This remark refers to the process of distraint by which a king could raise an army, knighting all those who held land producing twenty pounds of profit per year. In this light, the Franklin's comments indicate that he values gentillesse more than the monetary possessions required for him or his son to be knighted.
Stouck, Mary-Ann. "'Mournynge and myrthe' in the Alliterative St. Erkenwald." 10 (1976): 243-54.
The writer of St. Erkenwald does not follow the traditional pattern for a saint's life by relating only one of Erkenwald's experiences and portraying him as possessing faith and love as opposed to the traditional inability to feel pain. Thus, the author presents a more human picture of a saint. The contrast between joy and sorrow which appears at the ending of the tale presents the difference between heavenly and earthly perspectives.
Strange, William C. "The Monk's Tale: A Generous View." 1 (1967): 167-80.
The Monk's Tale is not to be discarded as simply dull. The changes Chaucer made in his sources with regard to Fortune show a pattern for what seems to be a disordered tale. The Monk seems to be struggling between two views of Fortune: the Christian view of Fortune and the "powerful sense of that terrible presence, Fortuna" (170). He never resolves this conflict in his exempla. The Knight interrupts him because the stories the Monk tells suggest that order and justice are not so established in the world as the Knight's Tale would indicate. The Nun's Priest's Tale adds a different dimension to the dialogue about Fortune, examining the problem the Monk has posed, but in a more practical way.
Strohm, Paul A. "The Allegory of the Tale of Melibee." 2 (1967): 32-42.
The Tale of Melibee is more than a set of proverbs; it is a moral allegory in which Sophie, Melibee's daughter, represents his soul and the five wounds she receives represent the five senses by which temptation has entered. Though many critics follow the Host in taking the tale merely as a set of proverbs, Chaucer demonstrates his interest in the allegory by naming Melibee's soul "Sophie."
Strohm, Paul A. "Chaucer's Audience(s): Fictional, Implied, Actual." 18 (1983): 137-45.
The pilgrims in the Canterbury Tales show us part of Chaucer's conception of his audience. Given evidence from his works, critics can establish an implied audience having a common body of knowledge. Chaucer's audience was able to recognize biblical allusions, for example. In light of the patronage system under which Chaucer wrote, scholars must admit the existence of an authorial intent to write for a specific audience, although most works were read by people outside of the intended group or person. Present knowledge of Chaucer's audience derives from the clues previously mentioned, but much remains to be examined.
Strohm, Paul A. "Passioun, Lyf, Miracle, Legende: Some Generic Terms in Middle English Hagiographical Narrative: Part I." 10 (1975): 62-75.
A passio concentrates on a saint's persecution and martyrdom. The saint glorifies God by responding well to torture, demonstrating how to die. A vita focuses on a confessor's exemplary life, showing how to live. The term miraculum came to describe hagiography. Some venerated the saint in terms of miracles God worked during the saint's life; others discuss miracles worked through a saint's relics. Collections of miracula are eclectic, brief, and informal (70). Often, passiones, vitae, and miracula were collected into a text. The collection was named legenda, a term indicating sections to be read as parts of the church office.
Strohm, Paul A. "Passioun, Lyf, Miracle, Legende: Some Generic Terms in Middle English Hagiographical Narrative: Part II." 10 (1975): 154-71.
Collections of legenda contain all traditional hagiographical genres, the most famous being Jacobus's Legenda. Lyf became a generic term to describe all variations on the traditional pattern of the saint's life. Chaucer uses lyf in both strict and loose senses. Medieval writers rarely used miracle as a generic term; most often it denotes narration of a specific event. Medieval dramatists, however, used the term miraculum more loosely, associating it with other adjectives to describe particular works. Fourteenth and fifteenth century readers would, therefore, have read miracle as a generic term. Legende refers to individual stories in a collection of saint's lives; it is not used generically. When Chaucer uses legend as part of the title for Legend of Good Women, he uses the term satirically. Medieval writers did not write consistently in one genre, even within the same work. Close reading is necessary to determine the genres of any one work. Terms like lyf and legend controlled readers' responses to a work, forcing them to read a legend as a legend, not as a fabliau, for example. Comparison of the Second Nun's Tale to the Man of Law's Tale emphasizes the distinction between legend and tale and shows how reading experiences of the two differ.
Stroud, T. A. "Chaucer's Friar as Narrator." 8 (1973): 65-69.
By demanding brief introductions, the Friar shows himself a literal-minded person who makes careful distinctions. Chaucer makes several important changes to the Friar's Tale. He leaves out one of the curses and carefully chooses the objects of the insincere curses so that these objects are more valuable. In another change, the Friar also makes the summoner ask practical questions of the devil. Furthermore, the widow's responses to the summoner heighten readers' suspense, which culminates at the moment when the summoner displays his guilt and damns himself. Chaucer uses the literal-minded Friar to create a comic summoner who takes things much too seriously.
Stroud, T. A. "The Palinode, the Narrator, and Pandarus's Alleged Incest." 27 (1992): 16-30.
The Palinode at the end of Troilus and Criseyde has always puzzled critics. The narrator's depiction of Troilus's end draws attention to two possible ways of interpreting the plot, either as "pathetic romance" or as an allegorical "Boethian quest" (18). Identification of the repudiation of earthly love as a palinode allows critics to examine the charge that Pandarus committed incest. Though medieval writers treated unwedded sex as sin, Gower treats incest as a sin in Confessio amantis, neither Boccaccio, Dante, Ovid, nor any of the French fabliau treat incest. Though Pandarus does act as a go-between, he merely asks Criseyde to forgive him the next morning.
Stugrin, Michael. "Ricardian Poetics and Late Medieval Cultural Pluriformity: The Significance of Pathos in the Canterbury Tales." 15 (1980): 155-67.
Examination of Chaucer's pathetic voice in the Clerk's, Physician's, Prioress's, Man of Law's, and Monk's Tales, as well as in parts of Troilus and Criseyde, the Legend of Good Women, and the Knight's Tale, shows Chaucer's place among Ricardian writers. Because the pathetic tales do not fit easily into the mold of their original morals, reading them becomes difficult. These tales are part of the Canterbury Tales as a whole, which suggests a plurality of thoughts and ideas.
Sundwall, McKay. "Criseyde's Rein." 11 (1976): 156-63.
When Diomede takes Criseyde's bridle (rein), his action shows that he has taken Troilus's place as Criseyde's protector. The action of taking the rein and thereby offering protection also occurs in Benoît's Roman de Troie, one of Chaucer's sources.
Taavitsainen, Irma. "Narrative Patterns of Affect in Four Genres of the Canterbury Tales." 30 (1995): 191-210.
The number of exclamations and interjections varies from text to text, from genre to genre. Such verbal elements serve, however, to indicate how much emotion is invested in the text. The Canterbury Tales is a mix of genres, engaging the audience in a number of different ways. Interjections can be transferred from one genre to another while still containing some of their previous connotations. Examination of each of the Canterbury Tales reveals that interjections can also be used to create irony and narrative suspense.
Taylor, Paul B. "The Alchemy of Spring in Chaucer's General Prologue." 17 (1982): 1-4.
The reference to Zephirus at the opening of the General Prologue alludes to the tradition of Zephirus as a life-giver.
Taylor, Paul Beekman. "Chaucer's Eye of the Lynx and the Limits of Vision." 28 (1993): 67-77.
Chaucer adds the image of the lynx's eye to his translation of Boethius's Consolation of Philosophy. Jean de Meun also uses the traditional qualities of Lynceus's eyes. Alanus de Insulis's Anticlaudianus and Adam de la Bassée's gloss, as well as the works of Eustache Deschamps, also use this image for sharp sight. Isidore of Seville and John Trevisa's translation of Proprietatibus associate the lynx with the ruby, giving the stone extraordinary healing qualities. Chaucer questions the insight associated with the lynx's eye in the Monk's Tale. Ultimately it becomes a symbol "of the limits of the artist's ability to see and express the perfection of form beneath the ugly matter of things" (75).
Thro, A. Booker. "Chaucer's Creative Comedy: A Study of the Miller's Tale and the Shipman's Tale." 5 (1970): 97-111.
The characters in Chaucer's tales often create solutions to difficult situations which are more intricate than the circumstance demands. Nicholas's plot to sleep with Alisoun shows great creativity which Chaucer uses to emphasize victorious wit. The farcical and ironic elements in the tale emphasize creativity instead of destruction or deflation which point to Chaucer's elevation of the power to create. In the Shipman's Tale, Chaucer shows the process of creating by placing the monk and the wife in positions from which they must persuade each other to participate in a scheme. The wife, the monk, and the merchant each pursue activities which result in a product, but, particularly in the monk's case, there is little reason for the plotting. The scenes in the tales can be viewed as moments in which Chaucer "define[s] his idea of creativity" (111).
Tkacz, Catherine Brown. "Chaucer's Beard-Making." 18 (1983): 127-36.
In the Reeve's Tale Chaucer puns on the name of St. Cuthberd, making him St. Cutberd (Deceiver). Chaucer employs the word "berd" elsewhere, giving it sexual overtones. When the Reeve uses "reve," he connects Symkyn to himself and not to the Miller whom the Reeve wanted to requite for his tale.
Tkacz, Catherine Brown. "Samson and Arcite in the Knight's Tale." 25 (1990): 127-37.
In the Knight's Tale Arcite promises Mars to cut his hair, and Arcite's vow recalls that of Samson. Chaucer borrows from that tradition and alters the material in the Teseida to create this parallel. Roman de la Rose, a homily in MS Harl.45, fol. 101b, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Kyng Alisaunder, the Fall of Princes, the Letter of Cupid, Valerius ad Ruffinum, Vox clamantis, Confessio amantis, and Somme le Roi all speak of Samson and Solomon as fools for love. Chaucer also borrows from a variant on this tradition that perceives Samson as a suicidal lover. Arcite's vow is the direct opposite of Samson's and draws attention to Arcite's self-betrayal.
Toole, William B. "Chaucer's Christian Irony: The Relationship of Character and Action in the Pardoner's Tale." 3 (1968): 37-43.
The three revelers' obsession with the physical blinds them to spiritual truth. Ironically, they do not realize that the warnings they receive from the child and the tavernkeeper are spiritual, not physical. In their confused, intoxicated state, they truly believe that Death is a powerful physical being whom the three of them can overcome. Their physicality causes them to invert the Crucifixion by seeking to preserve their physical bodies by physical means. The three revelers become an unholy trinity, demonstrating the facets of cupidity, a sin which causes their destruction.
Tripp, Raymond P., Jr. "The Darker Side to Absolon's Dawn Visit." 20 (1986): 207-12.
In both the Franklin's and Miller's Tales, Chaucer portrays male "lovers" who would kill their beloved women for principle (Arveragus) or for revenge (Absolon). In both tales, the lovers' desire to destroy the beloved springs from an impossible desire to control love.
Tschann, Judith. "The Layout of Sir Thopas in the Ellesmere, Hengwrt, Cambridge Dd.4.24, and Cambridge Gg.4.27 Manuscripts." 20 (1985): 1-13.
The presentation of the Tale of Sir Thopas in the Ellesmere, Hengwrt, and Cambridge manuscripts gives readers different ways of reading it, and suggests the ability of the scribes who presented the poem to read and understand the story they were copying as if it were a piece of architecture.
Turner, Frederick. "A Structuralist Analysis of the Knight's Tale." 8 (1974): 279-98.
The myth on which the Knight's Tale is based contains all the experiences of its culture, leaving no place for questions. Thus, the tale is structured around a number of different oppositions which can be examined in light of the disputatio tradition in medieval logic: Mars to Venus, male to female, and youth to age. The structure of the tale is also apparent in triads: one god and two goddesses, one woman and two suitors, two supplicants and one judge, and the colors associated with Venus (white), Mars (red), and Saturn (black). Each of these triangular structures invokes the hierarchy of medieval society. Finally, readers may examine the tale in light of quadratic structures. There are four primary characters associated with four colors (white, red, gold, and green), four seasons, four elements, and four humours. In addition, the two suitors are connected to two supernatural figures. Readers recognize the encompassing nature of the myth in the circular plot which coordinates a wedding and a funeral at the beginning and at the end. In addition, the circle of the list imitates the structure of the tale. As the tale is organized on kinship lines, readers may also consider the tale in terms of sibling relationships and social taboos on sexual practices. The Miller's Tale requites the Knight's Tale by structural variations. In the Miller's Tale, art overpowers myth, making the tale "mock-mythic" (293). The Reeve's Tale seems to participate in similar structural variation, although certain parts of the structure have disappeared. Such analysis suggests that the General Prologue presents the whole poem in miniature.
Urban, William. "When Was Chaucer's Knight in 'Ruce'?" 18 (1984): 347-53.
The mention of "Ruce" in the Knight's portrait in the General Prologue refers to a small part of Samogithia, possibly making the Knight a complimentary reference to Henry of Derby.
Utley, Francis Lee. "Five Genres in the Clerk's Tale." 6 (1972): 198-228.
The Clerk's Tale is a problematic dramatic scene and an exemplum showing the patient, obedient wife. The Clerk also tells a fairy tale which is closely related to the "Monster Bridegroom" and Cupid and Psyche stories. Chaucer does, however, attempt to make Griselda a novella character by having the Clerk tell about the "real world." Finally, Griselda is also an anagogic figura associated with the Virgin Mary.
Van, Thomas A. "False Texts and Disappearing Women in the Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale." 29 (1994): 179-93.
The Wife of Bath's Prologue dramatizes the forces threatening Alisoun with fragmentation and diminishment. Alisoun realizes that she has a captive audience, and when she has a chance to speak, she takes advantage of that fact, refusing to submit to an authority that would attempt to explain her away, to make her consistent. All of her disguises can be removed only to reveal another disguise. The Wife of Bath uses her gender to force Jankyn and those like him into "intellectual refuge" (184). Her tale continues to make women more unknowable and so to grant them more power and an ability to survive. The young knight's journey shifts the focus from his world to women, particularly when he meets the 24 young women dancing at the edge of the forest. The choice the old woman eventually gives him is not about sexual gratification, but about the need of women to be understood, not possessed. Ultimately, the Wife of Bath's Tale advocates a charity not connected to gender.
Van, Thomas A. "Second Meanings in Chaucer's Knight's Tale." 3 (1968): 69-76.
Though ambiguities in the Knight's Tale seem to pose a problem for the reader, as a whole, they contribute to the tone of the tale. Chaucer plays on the double meaning of "array" (dress and predicament) when dealing with Arcite, who in the course of the tale changes his noble clothing for that of a servant in order to regain the sight of Emily. "Hert" is also a pun, meaning deer or heart. Additional word plays emphasize the role of Fortune in life. The resolution of the conflict between Palamon and Arcite and the deities to which they pray depends on ambiguous responses to their prayers. Examination of these ambiguities contributes to readers' appreciation of Chaucer's artistry.
Van, Thomas A. "Walter at the Stake: A Reading of Chaucer's Clerk's Tale." 22 (1988): 214-24.
Walter's actions towards Griselda in the Clerk's Tale are symptomatic of his self-questioning. Walter cannot decide if he approves of himself. Prior to his marriage, Walter controls his life, and hunting releases his romantic energy in a forum where he completely controls the outcome. Once he is forced to choose a wife, he brings the desire for complete control into the marriage, thus suggesting that he is unsure of himself. Walter's behavior indicates that he perceives a public self completely separated from a private self. The Clerk's Tale allegorically pictures the relationship of a Christian to God, but can also be viewed as a depiction of the creation of an ideal ruler.
van Court, Elisa Narin. "The Siege of Jerusalem and Augustinian Historians: Writing about Jews in Fourteenth-Century England." 29 (1995): 227-48.
The Siege of Jerusalem draws on sources, such as Josephus, common to other anti-Semitic texts, but the openly anti-Semitic material is undercut by the poet's consistently sympathetic portrayal of Jews. Such a tradition of toleration derives from the Augustinian tradition, which was eventually displaced by strong anti-Semitic feelings.
Voigts, Linda Ehrsam. "The Latin Verse and Middle English Prose Texts on the Sphere of Life and Death in Harley 3719." 21 (1986): 291-306.
According to medieval thinking, the universe was built on a numerical system. Understanding this system gave people the power to predict various events, including whether a person would live or die as the result of a certain illness. The Sphere of Life and Death gives the mathematical formulas and a chart to predict the outcome of a patient. Comparison to other manuscripts suggests that the Sphere of Life and Death is connected to "a fifteenth-century scientific and medical compendium of English origin" (297). The verse accompanying the Sphere also seems to have a source in the Anglo-Saxon tradition. Other studies of Middle English prose neglect to mention the works which follow this tradition. The text of the Sphere of Life and Death is reprinted here.
von Kreisler, Nicolai Alexander. "An Aesopic Allusion in the Merchant's Tale." 6 (1971): 30-37.
Justinius's complaint about his wife and January's response to it may be an expansion of an event in the Life of Aesop, which Chaucer probably knew from oral tradition. The conversation between Justinius and January demonstrates the belief that common sense is more valuable than book-knowledge. When January decides to follow Placebo's advice, he ignores the truth of the parable, thus underscoring his blindness. January's response to May's excuse for copulating with Damyan further emphasizes January's ignorance and lack of common sense, making him an object of readers' derision.
von Kreisler, Nicolai Alexander. "Bird Lore and the Valentine's Day Tradition in Chaucer's Parlement of Foules." 3 (1968): 60-64.
The assembly of birds in the Parliament demonstrates Chaucer's knowledge of the actual mating habits of birds. Even the instance in which three male falcons offer to fight over one formel mirrors naturally occurring behavior, though Chaucer made some modifications to clarify his point.
Walker, Denis. "Narrative Inconclusiveness and Consolatory Dialectic in the Book of the Duchess." 18 (1983): 1-17.
The Book of the Duchess simultaneously offers and denies consolation to the sorrowful man in black in two Affektkomplexes. Blanche focuses the poem as key to the man in black's sorrow and his consolation. In the end, the man in black is not comforted, but the reader perceives a genuine offer of solace.
Waterhouse, Ruth, and Gwen Griffiths. "'Sweete wordes' of Non-Sense: The Deconstruction of the Moral Melibee (Part I)." 23 (1989): 338-61.
Chaucer's alterations of Louhans's Livre de Mellibee et Prudence make clear to the reader that determining the "sentence" of the tale is impossible, but that it is not a "lapse" (339). Melibee shares a number of elements with the other tales, and it must be read in that context. The juxtaposition of Melibee with Thopas suggests that the two oppose each other. In Thopas the discourse is subordinate to the story line, which makes Thopas a parody; in Melibee the story is obscured by the discourse, underlined by the distance readers recognize between allegory and story line. In both tales signifiers refer to competing sets of signifieds, creating a sense that appearances cannot be trusted.
Waterhouse, Ruth, and Gwen Griffiths. "'Sweete wordes' of Non-Sense: The Deconstruction of the Moral Melibee (Part II)." 24 (1989): 53-63.
Throughtout the Tale of Melibee, there is a consistent misapplication of authorities. The exempla of Rebecca, Judith, Abigail, and Esther that Prudence cites undermine the argument that Melibee should accept her advice, particularly in light of the fact that her exempla portray deceived males who come to ruin. The order of these exempla refers the reader to the Merchant's Tale in which Chaucer uses the same exempla in the same order. The way in which Prudence controls Melibee with words is similar to the way in which Chaucer controls his audience. Ultimately, the author is responsible for making the audience accept "the self-deconstruction of any tale" (62).
Watts, Ann Chalmers. "Chaucerian Selves--Especially Two Serious Ones." 4 (1970): 229-41.
The separation between Chaucer the author and Chaucer the speaker seems to vary considerably throughout Chaucer's work. The relationship between the author and the speakers is also the relationship between the speakers and the worlds of their settings. The speaker is "normal" while the world is fantasy, and the speaker accepts his illusory world, asking the wrong questions or no questions at all. Thus, the narrator in the Book of the Duchess displays notable obtuseness in his conversation with the man in black, an obtuseness that points to the real world. In the House of Fame, readers experience a similar disjunction between the real world and the fanciful world, and at the end, the narrator denounces the surroundings. As in the House of Fame, the narrator of Troilus and Criseyde presents an interesting problem, particularly at the end of the poem when the distance between the narrator and the author collapses. The joining of author and narrator presents a distinct moral discernable in the serious tone and the absence of qualifing phrases. At the end of the poem, the speaker curses his world, and the author prays for salvation.
Weisberg, David. "Telling Stories about Constance: Framing and Narrative Strategy in the Canterbury Tales." 27 (1992): 45-64.
For years, critics have unquestioningly accepted the Canterbury Tales as a group of framed narratives. In order to study any one of the tales itself, readers must determine what is outside the tale and must be excluded, and what is inside the tale and may be included. Such a distinction is not easily made, however, since the frame constantly determines readings of the tales without readers' recognition of its influence. The Man of Law's Tale, for example, creates the voice of its teller. The tale itself functions as a frame for a variety of narratives that define Custance and determine what happens to her. The false tales told about her by those like Donegild appear false because readers perceive them against a background of the "true" story. In both the frame of the General Prologue and the frame of the Man of Law's Tale, narrative acts are also narrative events. Though the frames are not exactly the same, the tales within them function the same way by delaying the progress of the frame narrative. Certainly the frame of the Canterbury Tales must be more closely examined.
Weiss, Victoria L. "Gawain's First Failure: The Beheading Scene in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight." 10 (1976): 361-66.
The Green Knight words his challenge in such a way that Gawain has the responsibility of determining the kind of blow the Green Knight will receive. Gawain need not chop off the Green Knight's head, since doing so indicates that Gawain cares little for human life when his knightly courage has been challenged. When Bercilak confronts Gawain regarding the green girdle, Gawain realizes his pride and his earlier disregard for human life.
Weiss, Victoria L. "The Medieval Knighting Ceremony in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight." 12 (1978): 183-89.
The three strokes Gawain receives from the Green Knight resemble the blows of the medieval knighting ceremony, which also includes the girdle as a dubbing gift. Gawain's experience with the Green Knight emphasizes the human limitations inherent in knighthood.
Weissman, Hope Phyllis. "Why Chaucer's Wife Is from Bath." 15 (1980): 11-36.
A society's view of bathing implies its view of the body and sex. Both Ovid and Jerome mention bathing. Ovid points to the baths as a place for young men and women to meet; Jerome depicts baths as places of sin, particularly lust. Jean de Meun borrows from Ovid, Juvenal, and Jerome to create La Vieille who clearly states that baths increase moral decay. The place of the bath in medieval culture can be inferred from marginal illustrations in medieval manuscripts. These illustrations depict baths as places of blatant sexuality where old men prey on young women. Controlled by civil authorities, the waters of Bath became "the sacred precincts of a patriarchal world" (25). Alisoun is not accepted by patriarchal society. She is excluded from Bath and considered a carnal Eve. But she has invaded that society by succeeding at cloth-making and marriage. In such a contradiction, the Wife of Bath represents the tensions of medieval society. Society has forced the Wife to trade her virginity and her youth for gold in marriage, but her gains can only be calculated within the patriarchal system.
Wentersdorf, Karl P. "Some Observations on the Concept of Clandestine Marriage in Troilus and Criseyde." 15 (1980): 101-26.
Until 1563, clandestine marriages were considered sinful because they were forbidden by canon law, not because they were sexually immoral. The phrase "to plight troth" has a number of different meanings, including marriage. Chaucer carefully modulates the relationship between Troilus and Criseyde from one of courtly love to that within Christian marriage. Criseyde's desire for security is a natural response to her social position, but the lovers clearly believe in the morality of their union. The plot of Troilus and Criseyde parallels the historico-political situation of Edward the Black Prince's secret marriage to Joan of Kent, but Chaucer probably did not intend to include historical echoes.
Wenzel, Siegfried. "Notes on the Parson's Tale." 16 (1982): 237-56.
Certain passages in the Parson's Tale are closely related to sermon texts on pride and penitence. The image of the Tree of Penance derives from the Compileison de Seinte Penance which incorporates parts of the Ancrene Riwle. For all of its borrowing from sermons, the Parson's Tale is not a sermon, but a handbook devoted to penitence.
West, Michael D. "Dramatic Time, Setting, and Motivation in Chaucer." 2 (1968): 147-87.
Because Chaucer chooses to focus on other elements of his stories, the analogues to his tales often surpass his in realistic elements. In the Merchant's Tale, the garden setting causes the tale to function in both the worlds of allegory and fabliau, giving the reader a sense of unreality while at the same time leaving the reader with the idea that marriage is "sheer hell" (176). The same elements operate in the Prioress's Tale. Chaucer significantly changes the timing of events from that in his source in order to satisfy the demands of the story. These changes, however, do not coincide with what the reader recognizes as reality. The Pardoner's Tale also demonstrates Chaucer's lack of concern for realistic action in his story. Chaucer's thieves do a number of strange things which thieves do not usually do, like getting three bottles of wine, but forgetting the bread. Unrealities also occur in Troilus and Criseyde. These actions demonstrate the overwhelming greed of his characters. The mutilation of realistic detail draws his audience into his stories, thus making the tales every bit as effective as the sources, but on their own terms.
Whiting, B. J. "Fred Norris Robinson (1871-1966)." 1 (1966): [iii].
The first issue of The Chaucer Review is dedicated to the memory of the great editor of Chaucer's works, the man who introduced formal instruction in Celtic languages and literatures into the United States.
Whitman, F. H. "Exegesis and Chaucer's Dream Visions." 3 (1969): 229-38.
The Book of the Duchess, the House of Fame, and the Parliament of Fowls have structural similarities which imitate French love poetry. Each poem has a moral, though each includes substantial sections from classical works. The works of Ovid, Macrobius (on Scipio), and Virgil generate the themes of which the dream visions are contemplations. All three poems examine love as it relates to real and unreal happiness. The dream vision is the best way to examine and apply moral principles of love.
Wilhelm, James J. "The Narrator and His Narrative in Chaucer's Parlement." 1 (1967): 201-06.
In the Parliament of Fowls, Chaucer creates a narrator who ends up as a lonely scribe with only his books for company. The result is an enigmatic poem which gives us a panoramic view of love.
Williams, David. "Radical Therapy in the Miller's Tale." 15 (1981): 227-35.
In the Miller's Tale Chaucer plays on two extreme medieval cures--enema and "fistula in ano" or cauterizing the anus. These two figurative cures fight the disease of ignorance both in January and in Nicholas and Absolon. Absolon's misplaced kiss is both punishment and cure for his corrupt desires. Absolon then "cures" Nicholas by realigning Nicholas's humours, asserting the rulership of Reason.
Williams, Michael E. "Three Metaphors of Criticism and the Wife of Bath's Tale." 20 (1985): 144-57.
Excluding deconstruction, there are three basic critical approaches readers can use on any text. First, readers can examine a text, the Wife of Bath's Tale for example, as a "machine" that does or does not function properly (144). The text either fulfills its function or it does not, and only a mechanic (critic or writer) can completely understand its inner workings. Critics working in this mode seek the author's intention. When examined this way, the Wife of Bath's Tale supports male sovereignty and discusses the tension between the flesh and the spirit. The "machine" metaphor cannot, however, account for all parts of the tale. The second metaphor is that of an organism. Viewing the text in this way gives critics greater freedom to examine a number of different systems that comprise the work from many points of view. This approach allows critics to explore the interplay between systems, such as that between courtly love and the Wife of Bath's belief in female supremacy. The "organism" approach often promises, however, more than it can deliver. Lastly, scholars can explicate texts based on a metaphor of opposing points of attraction. The Wife of Bath's Tale seems to contain three such poles, gentillesse, the more fleshly focus of the tale, and the question of female dominance.
Wilson, Grace G. "'Amonges othere wordes wyse': The Medieval Seneca and the Canterbury Tales." 28 (1993): 135-45.
Seneca acquired two reputations in the Middle Ages. First, he was a moral philosopher and, second, a "hackneyed aphorist" (136). Chaucer refers to Seneca more than any other philosopher in the Canterbury Tales. In the Parson's Tale and the Tale of Melibee, Chaucer uses Seneca straight, and those tales generally have less audience appeal. Tales where Seneca's morals are used more ironically seem to generate greater audience appreciation. A number of characters refer to Seneca and his ideas, for example: the Wife of Bath uses Seneca in her tale as part of the curtain lecture. The Pardoner, Summoner, Friar, Man of Law, Monk, Merchant, and Manciple all refer to Seneca, but use his teachings ironically. Seneca's teachings do not seem to be the object of Chaucer's ridicule. Instead, they help to characterize those who refer to him.
Wilson, Katharina M. "Chaucer and St. Jerome: The Use of 'Barley' in the Wife of Bath's Prologue." 19 (1985): 245-51.
Jerome's Letter adversus Jovinianum is not the source for the Wife of Bath's arguments regarding marriage. Instead, she draws her arguments from Jerome's letter to Pammachius.
Wilson, William S. "Scholastic Logic in Chaucer's House of Fame." 1 (1967): 181-84.
The three episodes that make up the House of Fame are not digressions from the journey, but are arranged so as to demonstrate the Trivium--grammar, persuasive rhetoric, and logic. In Book III, Chaucer uses logic "to analyze the popular idea of fame, refining it into a philosophic idea" (182). Finally, Chaucer suggests that logic leads only to what one already knows by common sense or intuition, and that truth cannot be discovered by logical means.
Wimsatt, James I. "'Anelida and Arcite': A Narrative of Complaint and Comfort." 5 (1970): 1-8.
Anelida and Arcite is related to both Boccaccio's Teseida and to Statius's Thebiad. The emotion which fills each stanza unifies the poem. The set complaint and the rhyme scheme indicate the strong influence of French sources, which also suggest the kind of ending Chaucer would have written: a "comfort" in which the lovers are reunited.
Windeatt, Barry [A.]. "'Love that oughte ben secree' in Chaucer's Troilus." 14 (1979): 116-31.
Comparison of Boccaccio's Filostrato to Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde shows that the English characters enjoy less privacy and model their behaviors after literary characters. Troilus is particularly susceptible to the social isolation created by his intense feelings which leads him to imagine himself as a literary courtly lover, not a member of his own society. The attention the English characters pay to the presence of other people and to appearances differentiates between private and public domains. Chaucer's characters become more imaginative, since they must carefully conceal their inner feelings to preserve their outward appearances. When Troilus confesses his love to Pandarus, Pandarus responds by forcing Troilus into carefully orchestrated patterns gleaned from books. Because the lovers are so careful of society, they are incapable of acting on their own to consummate their love, and Pandarus must arrange for a private moment in which they may make love. By emphasizing the social aspect of his characters' lives, Chaucer demonstrates the impracticality of courtly love conventions.
Winnick, R. H. "Luke 12 and Chaucer's Shipman's Tale." 30 (1995): 164-90.
Analysis of the Shipman's Tale in light of Luke 12 reveals significant parallels between the two texts. Readers may surmise that Chaucer deliberately referred to this passage in the tale.
Winstead, Karen A. "The Beryn-Writer as a Reader of Chaucer." 22 (1988): 225-33.
The Tale of Beryn attempts to continue the Canterbury Tales. The writer is able to imitate Chaucer's humor, style, irony, and narrative techniques, though he has a different idea of the function of the frame. The writer treats readers similarly to Chaucer, creating anticipations of a romance and a heroic past, but then taking apart those expectations. The Tale of Beryn is connected to the prologue and framing device in the same way that the Chaucer's tales are connected to the General Prologue and to one another, and both works require similar activities on the part of the audience. Examination of the Tale of Beryn suggests that fifteenth-century writers appreciated these aspects of Chaucer's artistry.
Winstead, Karen A. "John Capgrave and the Chaucer Tradition." 30 (1996): 389-400.
Although Capgrave never directly refers to Chaucer, analysis of Capgrave's Life of St. Katherine of Alexandria indicates that he had some familiarity with Troilus and Criseyde and the Canterbury Tales. Capgrave's portrait of Katherine approaches the same question of the place of women in society which Chaucer examines in Troilus and Criseyde. Though Katherine is a saint and Criseyde is not, Katherine shares a number of qualities with Criseyde, including a reading mentality. Capgrave also follows in Chaucer's footsteps where he apologizes for the places where his work lacks something, when he claims to be a translator instead of a creative writer, and when he assures his reader that his account of Katherine's life is accurate. Capgrave discusses several issues that were not considered appropriate to discuss with the laity, but by creating an extremely intrusive narrator he avoids any authorial responsibility and censure. Though the ending of the Life of St. Katherine is complex, like the ending of Troilus and Criseyde, Capgrave reminds readers of authorial troubles, not of the transition from earthly to spiritual existence. Capgrave also expresses concern with how later readers will perceive what he writes.
Witke, Charles. "Franklin's Tale, F 1139-1151." 1 (1966): 33-36.
By including a passage on magic, the Franklin reveals a personal interest in magic literature and shows himself familiar with Breton lays. The magic that occurs in his tale, however, appears only in a possible source for Boccaccio, not, as has been suggested, in a lay which is no longer extant.
Witt, Michael A. "The Owl and The Nightingale and English Law Court Procedure of the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries." 16 (1982): 282-92.
Scholars must reconsider the idea that the Owl and the Nightingale is based on legal procedure in light of the inconsistent use of legal language.
Wood, Chauncey. "In Memoriam: D. W. Robertson, Jr., 1914-1992." 28 (1993): 1-4.
Though Robertson is most often connected with patristic exegesis, most of his criticism focuses on social history. He did his work thoroughly, and its quality reflects his dedication. Those who had him as a teacher remember him as the formative influence on their careers.
Wood, Chauncey. "The Sources of Chaucer's Summoner's 'Garleek, onyons, and eke lekes.'" 5 (1971): 240-43.
Garlic, onions, and leeks are the fruits of Egypt for which the Israelites mourned after the Exodus (Num. 11:5). Medieval doctors believed that they caused leprosy and increased sexual desire. For Chaucer's audience, then, the Summoner's desire for these plants increased his evilness.
Woods, Marjorie Curry. "Chaucer the Rhetorician: Criseyde and Her Family." 20 (1985): 28-39.
Traditional rhetorical training taught writers to approach charactrers from either a positive or a negative point of view. Chaucer uses Criseyde's family to highlight the development of her character, first demonstrating how her actions differ from theirs, then revealing how her behavior is similar to theirs. In Troilus and Criseyde Chaucer also depicts other characters both positively and negatively in accordance with rhetorical tradition.
Woods, William F. "The Logic of Deprivation in the Reeve's Tale." 30 (1995): 150-63.
In the Reeve's Tale Chaucer analyzes economic practices. The fundamental ideology underlying the tale contradicts that of the Miller's Tale since the Miller's Tale is a tale of possessing while the Reeve's Tale is a tale of preying. In the concentric structure of the Reeve's Tale, Symkyn preys on the clerks who prey on his family in revenge. Ultimately Chaucer reveals that an economy of predators "creates an overwhelming need for restitution" (160).
Woods, William F. "Private and Public Space in the Miller's Tale." 29 (1994): 166-78.
In the Miller's Tale Alisoun represents the world, but she also represents private space. When John attempts to contain her so that he alone can enjoy her, he creates a situation which will eventually result in the revelation of his private matters in a public arena. Nicholas desires to control Alisoun as well, to have her sweetness entirely for himself. Absolon also desires Alisoun, but unlike John and Nicholas, never enjoys her except in his fantasies. No man can truly possess the world; it must be shared. Each man thinks he can control Alisoun, blindly trying to make her his private space. Truly recognizing the nature of the world requires seeing it as it actually is.
Woods, William F. "A Professional Thyng: The Wife as Merchant's Apprentice in the Shipman's Tale." 24 (1989): 139-49.
Chaucer alters the sources for the Shipman's Tale, strengthening the position of the wife. In so doing, he makes the wife a mirror image of her merchant husband. Because readers see the tale from her point of view, they recognize "the virtues and the compromises essential to 'driving forth the world'" (139). The tale is built around trade and trade metaphors. Through the various shifts in the tale, the wife achieves rule of herself and her household. The agricultural / financial metaphor now works in the wife's favor. She maintains her power after the monk reveals her debt to the merchant by her commitment to the rise and fall of the marketplace.
Wright, Constance S. "The Printed Editions of Chaucer's Legend of Good Women: 1532-1889." 24 (1990): 312-19.
Of the editions published between 1532 and 1889, John Urry's 1721 edition is the best, because it uses a variety of manuscripts to restore readings removed by previous editors. Other editions such as Thynne's (1532), Stowe's (1561), and Speght's (1598, 1602, 1687) repeated the previous editor's errors and therefore cannot be so highly regarded as they have been. Eighteenth-century editors follow Urry's text. Nineteenth-century editors follow either Thynne, Stowe, or Speght though editors sometimes alter the text in light of different manuscripts. Urry's edition is, however, the best edition of all of these because of the effort he expended to recover manuscript readings.
Wurtele, Douglas J. "Chaucer's Wife of Bath and the Problem of the Fifth Husband." 23 (1988): 117-28.
The Wife of Bath's fifth husband may not be dead after all. No solid proof indicates that he ever died, and evidence does suggest that he may simply have run away. After he and Alisoun murder the fourth husband, and after any arraignments and trials that may have occurred in the aftermath of that murder, Jankyn has good reason not to stay with her. Similarly, Alisoun herself may desire to escape the events surrounding the murder by going off on a pilgrimage. If, indeed, her husband is still alive somewhere, then it would be sinfully bigamous for her to marry a sixth time.
Wurtele, Douglas. "Ironical Resonances in the Merchant's Tale." 13 (1978): 66-79.
January's association of paradise with marriage to May ironically contrasts May's promiscuity with the Virgin Mary's chaste, but fruitful, womb. The references to sweet speech bring to mind Christian allegories of church doctrine and Mary's relationship to Christ. The Merchant carefully includes kissing, hands, and keys, leading careful readers to remember allegorical explanations of the Song of Songs in Canticum canticorum. As a response to the Clerk, the Merchant makes May the opposite of the Virgin Mary and of Griselda, who is closely associated with the Virgin.
Wurtele, Douglas. "Some Uses of Physiognomical Lore in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales." 17 (1982): 130-41.
Physiognomy was a popular science in the Middle Ages, especially as a mode of popular wisdom. The details about the Miller's appearance indicate a complex personality when read in light of physiognomical lore. The Pardoner may also be read in such a light. For both the use of physiognomy creates complex irony.
Yager, Susan. "'A whit thyng in hir ye': Perception and Error in the Reeve's Tale." 28 (1994): 393-404.
Several passages in the Reeve's Tale refer to sight and perception, and often those passages use university language. The passage on the "whit thyng" (4301) alters the university discussions so as to empower the miller's wife by giving her the ability to perceive. In university discussions, the white thing would usually become clearer, revealing itself as a human male, though this process allows great room for error. As Chaucer also demonstrates in Troilus and Criseyde, women's perceptions of men are determined by outside forces. The wife in the Reeve's Tale also shows the propensity of humankind to err.
Yamamoto, Dorothy. "'Noon oother incubus but he': Lines 878-81 in the Wife of Bath's Tale." 28 (1994): 275-78.
In medieval tradition meeting with an incubus resulted sometimes in pregnancy, but often in violence, as the story of a priest's daughter who meets an incubus in An Alphabet of Tales shows. The most likely meaning of the Wife's reference in lines 878-81 of her tale is that the incubi can do serious physical harm to women.
Yates, Donald. "Chanticleer's Latin Ancestors." 18 (1983): 116-26.
Several analogues of the Nun's Priest's Tale are extant, and most include a bird and a fox or wolf. Gallus et Vulpes should be more carefully examined because in addition to similar elements, it also treats the material humorously, laying a foundation for Chaucer's entertaining use of the subject matter in the Nun's Priest's Tale. Isengrimus is a Latin epic analogue, but it differs from the Nun's Priest's Tale in developing a pilgrimage theme. Isengrimus also treats the theme of Fortune.
Yeager, R. F. "'O Moral Gower': Chaucer's Dedication of Troilus and Criseyde." 19 (1984): 87-99.
Gower, best known for his works in Latin and French at the time Chaucer wrote Troilus and Criseyde, was Chaucer's poetic counterpart. Chaucer's reference to Gower, who had a reputation for focusing on morality in a broad sense, would help readers of Troilus and Criseyde to interpret the poem correctly. Gower's declamatory stance at the beginning of Vox clamantis and his opinion of worldly love parallels Troilus's stance in the eight sphere at the end of Troilus and Criseyde. Chaucer's evocation of Gower suggests ways his audience might read the combination of pagan and Christian elements in Troilus and Criseyde.
Yearwood, Stephenie. "The Rhetoric of Narrative Rendering in Chaucer's Troilus." 12 (1977): 27-37.
In Troilus and Criseyde Chaucer uses several narrative techniques which cause his readers to adopt particular value systems. Chaucer alters the frame in order to control the audience's response to the narrative. Chaucer also splits the narrator's positioning, so at one time the narrator reports events and at others, the readers are unaware of the narrator at all. The split of narrative positioning adds a number of different complexities to the plot. This type of examination also reveals that Chaucer does prepare readers for the epilogue which should not surprise readers with its value system.
Yoder, Emily K. "Chaucer and the 'Breton' Lay." 12 (1977): 74-77.
The term "Breton" lay as used by Chaucer and the writer of Sir Orpheo refers to rhymed narrative produced in Britain that is, the British island, not Brittany in what is now France, before the Germanic invasions or, after the invasions, in pockets held by the Celts and the Welsh.
Zatta, Jane Dick. "Chaucer's Monk: A Mighty Hunter before the Lord." 29 (1994): 111-33.
The Monk's Tale addresses political issues current in Chaucer's time, particularly tyrannical abuses. For his material, the Monk draws on Augustinian political views revealed in De civitate dei. The Monk's material follows the same pattern of examples as used by other writers such as Thomas Aquinas, John of Salisbury, Boccaccio, Dante, Boethius, Lydgate, Jean de Meun and Guillaume de Lorris. Surprisingly, however, all of the Monk's heros are tyrants. The political subtext becomes most plain in the vignettes, but the Monk lacks the ability to interpret these stories for the benefit of his audience. The tale of Nimrod, characterized as "a mighty hunter before the Lord" (Genesis 10:9) is particularly appropriate to Richard's court. Chaucer presents similar political views in the Parson's Tale.
Zietlow, Paul N. "In Defense of the Summoner." 1 (1966): 4-19.
The Friar does not get the best of the Summoner by exciting the Summoner's anger and exposing the Summoner's moral failings. To the contrary, the Summoner has nothing to hide; his physical being already demonstrates his immorality. The Friar, however, falls into he trap he intended for the Summoner: the Summoner accurately exposes the greedy, insensitive Friar who cannot keep silent even when doing so would prevent his own disgrace.
Zimbardo, Rose A. "The Book of the Duchess and the Dream of Folly." 18 (1984): 329-46.
In the Book of the Duchess Chaucer uses the relationship between fool and king to allow the narrator to offer folly as an antidote to the man in black's grief. Careful examination of the place of the fool in the medieval court suggests parallels between the way in which Chaucer treats the narrator and the way kings traditionally treated fools. As a fool, the narrator instructs the man in black, showing him a double view of life in which humans both order and create but are also confused.
Zimbardo, Rose A. "Creator and Created: The Generic Perspective of Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde." 11 (1977): 283-98.
Troilus and Criseyde expresses Chaucer's concern with the inability of the artist to imitate the unknowable larger cosmos in which the author participates. When humans create ordered worlds, they imitate God, but the human creations are subject to mutability and so will collapse. The poet-narrator is a Pandarus-like figure, detached from experience in order to create a different reality. The epilogue forces readers to recognize that the created will always be more limited than the creator. The tragedy is that humans can never escape from mutability. Chaucer's attempt to see things from God's point of view results in only a partial vision. Inconstant Criseyde is associated with Nature's changes. Pandarus realizes that all the things Troilus thought were immutable do change and that those changes are integral parts of being human. Chaucer uses Troilus to depict the changes occasioned throughout life. The Muses Chaucer introduces at the beginning of some books are also indicative of the movement within the books and within Troilus's romance with Criseyde.
Ziolkowski, Jan. "A Narrative Structure in the Alliterative Morte Arthure 1-1221 and 3150-4346." 22 (1988): 234-45.
The Alliterative Morte Arthure is divided into two parallel prescient dreams, both of which have overtones of pilgrimage.
Zitter, Emmy Stark. "Anti-Semitism in Chaucer's Prioress's Tale." 25 (1991): 277-84.
Evidence suggests that Chaucer's audience was probably anti-Semitic, and that fact indicates that the Prioress's Talecannot be a satire of anti-Semitic attitudes. The Prioress refers to Hugh of Lincoln at the end of her tale, and this mention draws contemporaries into her tale. Though Chaucer may not criticize anti-Semitism, he ends the tale in such a way that it can still be read as a satire on the Prioress, her spiritual state, and her values. Her prayer to Hugh of Lincoln at the end reveals her unawareness that she denies others the same grace she herself hopes for in accordance with the Jewish law.