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