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