The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography (Vols. 1-30)Return to the Subject List
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.
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.
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.