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