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