The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography (Vols. 1-30)Return to the Subject List
Anderson, J. J. "The Narrators in the Book of the Duchess and the Parliament of Fowls." 26 (1992): 219-35.
Though the narrators of Chaucer's dream visions seem to share the same naiveté, they are all variations upon the narrators of the French dream visions, and this fact suggests that Chaucer was experimenting with different narrative personas. Comparing the personas in Book of the Duchess and Parliament of Fowls makes this conclusion particularly clear. The two speakers open their poems differently, expressing different views of love, reading, and writing. Their experiences of the dream world are similar in that the dream world provides a welcome respite from the waking world, but in the end, neither narrator seems to profit much from the dream, though their responses to their dreams are quite different.
Carr, John W. "A Borrowing from Tibullus in Chaucer's House of Fame." 8 (1974): 191-97.
The first line of the House of Fame is probably borrowed from Tibullus, since none of the other authorities transmits that line. Furthermore, Chaucer maintains the purpose and diction of the original. What we know of Chaucer's diplomatic trips to Italy suggests that he may have visited Salutati's library, renowned for its collection of dream literature, and there discovered Tibullus.
Cherniss, Michael D. "Chaucer's Anelida and Arcite: Some Conjectures." 5 (1970): 9-21.
Based on the introductory material in Anelida and Arcite, readers expect more than a "framed complaint," and it seems difficult to believe that Chaucer would put so much effort into the early portions of Anelida merely to create a frame. A number of similarities between Anelida and Chaucer's dream poems suggest that Chaucer may have planned to finish the work as a dream vision. These likenesses include the style of the opening, the "complaint," the description of the temple, and the immutability of the lovers. In addition, Anelida's situation seems too complex for her, thus demanding a vision which will help her resolve her state. The difficulty of Anelida is intensified by its cloudy relationship to the Knight's Tale and Boccaccio's Teseida. Chaucer may have planned to include the tale of Palamon and Arcite, but his intentions remain unknown.
Cherniss, Michael D. "Chaucer's Last Dream Vision: The Prologue to the Legend of Good Women." 20 (1986): 183-99.
The Prologue to Legend of Good Women is itself a dream vision. The narrator meets Cupid and Alceste, who epitomize the faithful woman as opposed to the faithless women of Troilus and Criseyde and Roman de la Rose. The recognition of Alceste returns to the narrator's earlier worship of the daisy. When the narrator awakes, he is able to write about "good" women and faithless men in accordance with Cupid's command to him, and he moves forward to write a different kind of poetry.
Crampton, Georgia Ronan. "'Blow, Northerne Wynd' and the Heart's Health." 15 (1981): 183-203.
Careful examination of the text reveals tensions and ambiguities which give "Blow, Northerne Wynd" a cohesive structure. The allegory of "Blow, Northerne Wynd" may be read as dream, making the poem a dream vision.
Dean, James. "Artistic Conclusiveness in Chaucer's Parliament of Fowls." 21 (1986): 16-25.
The uncertainty that frustrates Chaucer scholars in the Parliament of Fowls is a deliberate attempt to show that art has the capacity "to force a conclusion where there can be no true closure" (16). The narrator's confusion and wavering, the pun on "parlement," the incongruity of human-like birds, and the structure of the poem itself create the sense of inconclusion. The roundel at the end does not necessarily follow the "conclusion" of the parliament. The lyric does, however, demonstrate certainty in both content and form, and it evokes a sense of harmony. The dreamer's awakening, however, undercuts the sense of conclusion that the roundel provided and hints that such questions might not be resolved.
Ebin, Lois A. "The Theme of Poetry in Dunbar's 'Goldyn Targe.'" 7 (1972): 147-59.
Focused on skillfully creating poetry, Dunbar examines poets and poetry in terms of the natural world and the artistic world. In the 'Goldyn Targe,' Dunbar probes the extremes possible in a dream vision. Section I shows how the sun affects the countryside. In the dream portion, the poet makes this effect analogous to the poet's effect on his subject. References to Homer and Cicero shift the readers' focus to the allegory. In Section III, light becomes good writing: the poet should elucidate his matter in the same way which the dream section has examined poets and poetry. Dunbar's view of the relationship between the two appears in his other works as well.
Finlayson, John. "The Roman de la Rose and Chaucer's Narrators." 24 (1990): 187-210.
Comparing Chaucer's dream vision narrators to the narrator in the Roman de la Rose illuminates the functions of Chaucer's narrators. In the Roman de la Rose the narrator has a number of different stances highlighting a variety of personality traits. Guillaume de Lorris's narrator psychologically coresponds to the author. In the Book of the Duchess, however, the narrator is not established with a particular autobiographical connection to the author. The places in which the narrator becomes autobiographical are merely narrative devices because texts like the Book of the Duchess and the Parliament of Fowls do not present a "consistent, 'comic persona'" (200). The narrator in House of Fame is not consistently the same, but he is constantly in attendance as the unifying device for the poem. In the Book of the Duchess and the Parliament of Fowls the narrator is not often present, nor is he consistent, and his statements show greater neutrality than previous scholars have thought.
Hieatt, Constance B. "Un Autre Fourme: Guillaume de Machaut and the Dream Vision Form." 14 (1979): 97-115.
Machaut never wrote a dream vision in the sense that the frame occurs while the protagonist is awake but the primary action takes place during sleep. He did, however, write works clearly related to the dream vision tradition. Dream visions are characterized by a frame that points out details important to interpretation, a dreamer who observes but does not participate in the action, scenes that grow out of each other, and personified characters who participate in the action. In a dream vision, the protagonist must withdraw from society and encounter an instructor who will help the dreamer. The epilogue to the dream vision states the dreamer's new-found knowledge or lack of it. The Roman de la Rose is both a dream vision and a romance, so it cannot be used as a standard by which to determine the characterstics of dream vision. Though some of Machaut's works do not employ a dream, they read like dream visions because they follow the basic structure of dream visions as discussed above, for example Dit dou Vergier, Dit de la Fonteinne Amoureuse, Dit dou Lyon, Jugement de Roy dou Behaingne, Jugement de Roy dou Navarre, Remede de Fortune, and Dit de l'Alerion. Many scholars consider the Dit de l'Alerion Machaut's least successful work, but careful examination reveals that Chaucer borrowed from it for the Parliament of Fowls.
Holley, Linda Tarte. "Medieval Optics and the Framed Narrative in Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde." 21 (1986): 26-44.
Especially in framed narratives, Chaucer used structures based on medieval theories of seeing found in Robert Grosseteste, Albertus Magnus, Roger Bacon, and John Pecham. Framing devices derive from the medieval dramatic tradition which often used the church arch as a frame for dramatic action. This physical frame evolved into the use of Christian history as an invisible frame. Painters working from newly rediscovered knowledge about optics were able to create three-dimensional paintings and used framing devices. Critics then encouraged the reading of paintings, a belief that carried over into manuscript production. Troilus and Criseyde is constructed in four different frames, 1) characters who through a frame, 2) the dream-vision frame, the poem, 3) the physical, verbal, historical, and philosophical frames within the poem, and 4) a metaphorical frame. In the Nun's Priest's Tale, Chaucer parodically reverses the frame of Troilus and Criseyde.
Kelley, Michael R. "Antithesis as the Principle of Design in the Parliament of Fowls." 14 (1979): 61-73.
The contrasts which seem to undermine the Parliament of Fowls unify the work in a series of formal oppositions. Chaucer employs antithetical pairs of works throughout Parliament as part of a structural design. The bird groups form another contrasting pair: the higher, more courtly birds contrast with the lower, more bourgeois birds. Chaucer also presents description and characterization in opposing pairs. The last section of the poem directly contrasts dream vision with beast fable. In the course of the poem, the narrator's tone shifts from the extreme of love poet to poet of "hevynesse" (89). The Parliament, then, can be analyzed as a work based on design faithfully applied to all its elements. It is one of many medieval works that employ design to unite disparate elements.
Kruger, Steven F. "Imagination and the Complex Movement of Chaucer's House of Fame." 28 (1993): 117-34.
Though the movement patterns in the House of Fame are complex, they unite the poem. The House of Fame is primarily a self-reflexive poem, drawing readers' attention to fundamental issues of art. Poetry is essentially concerned with fame and communication. As in other dream visions, however, there is no guarantee of discovery, and when moments of epiphany come upon the dreamer, they are inherently ambiguous. Both the House of Fame and of the House Tidings have equivocal relationships to Truth. Truth may be heeded or ignored.
Lampe, David E. "The Poetic Strategy of the Parlement of the Thre Ages." 7 (1973): 173-83.
The length of the opening section of the Parliament of the Three Ages prepares the reader for the dream vision. The flowers both represent the temporality of human life and offer correction to those too involved in the temporal world. The birds show different dispositions towards love, foreshadowing the dream figures. The narrator's behavior also sets up the dream. In the dream discussion, both Youthe and Medil Elde demonstrate their failures. Elde, recalling figures of the past, emphasizes how mortality has affected the Nine Worthies. Thus, the poet suggests that the first two figures are vices, the third virtue.
Leicester, H. Marshall, Jr. "The Harmony of Chaucer's Parlement: A Dissonant Voice." 9 (1974): 15-34.
The richness of tradition and the depth of Chaucer's own perceptions prevents the unification of the Parliament of Fowls. Chaucer treats his dream as a series of voices, not of places, and disjoins the voices from each other though they are associated with traditional topoi. The material, however, is too abstract to remain so separated from ordinary experience. Chaucer uses his material to display learning for learning's sake, but this choice separates the erudite material from the more narrative material. The contest between radical ordering and subjective use of traditional material prevents the poem from being unified until the end of Part I. Ultimately, Chaucer cannot separate his material from himself. The final section of the poem is more unified in part because the poet relinquishes his attempt to deal with big questions about love. This progression as well as the action in the last section of the poem itself point to Chaucer's focus on individuals as disruptive forces. Chaucer also examines how types and styles can or cannot communicate; as he represents it, attempting to remain fixed in a type or style will only result in social collapse. Nature seems to be the force channeling individuals into socially accepted behaviors, but there is an underlying suggestion that Nature is chaotic. The final roundel reestablishes natural order and absorbs the individual problems. Finally, the "solution" suggests that society and culture are maintained at the expense of individuals (32).
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.
Miller, Jacqueline T. "The Writing on the Wall: Authority and Authorship in Chaucer's House of Fame." 17 (1982): 95-115.
Inherent in the genre of dream vision is the problem of authority: there is no one who can corroborate the narrator's dream. The narrator of the House of Fame carefully establishes his separation from the dream vision tradition by placing the dream in December and appealing to himself as an authority figure. When telling the story of Dido and Aneas off the walls of the Temple of Venus, the narrator refers to himself as a kind of author, determining the parts of the story he will include based on his purpose. When he leaves the temple, however, the world outside is too much for his voice, and the voice is silenced. Silence gives authority to the true creator.
Peck, Russell A. "Love, Politics, and Plot in the Parlement of Foules." 24 (1990): 290-305.
The Parliament of Fowls can be interpreted three different ways in light of political situations during Chaucer's lifetime. Identifying specific people with specific characters in the poem is the least fruitful method of approaching the poem. Readers may also interpret the poem In light of political philosophy, connecting the dream-vision material to neo-Aristotelian and Ciceronian materials on the ideal political body. Scrutiny of Chaucer's source, the Roman de la Rose, reveals another possible way to read the Parliament of Fowls . The kind of love presented in the Roman de la Rose is political in that it creates change, but is also changed itself. Chaucer maintains this kind of love in the Parliament of Fowls, and the conflict between love and politics drives the plot. The Parliament of Fowls is also about knowledge, reading, and movement from "narcissism to politics" (298). In the desire for enclosure and in the parliament itself, readers recognize the assertion of willful desire and see how desire can become political catastrophe.
Pelen, Marc M. "Machaut's Court of Love Narratives and Chaucer's Book of the Duchess." 11 (1976): 128-55.
Examining poems by Machaut and Froissart may help to illuminate Chaucer's early voice. Most of these poems are dream visions, and they follow a three-part structure in which the dreamer calls up a perfect garden, is met by a guide, and discovers a dispute which will work towards the resolution of his love-trials. Readers can also find this structure in poems like Phyllis and Flora, which is not technically a dream vision. In these French poems, classical references inform the images and the structure, as does a "larger memory of a common marriage theme" (130). Close examination also reveals borrowings from the Roman de la Rose. In the Book of the Duchess, Chaucer includes lines from Jugement dou Roy de Behaingne and Jugement dou Roy de Navarre. The structure of both poems falls into the traditional clerk-chevalier debate. Remede de Fortune integrates Boethian philosophy as a response to Ovidian infatuations. The lover's complaints against Fortune appear in the Book of the Duchess as the complaints of the man in black. Dit de la Fonteinne Amoureuse employs the traditions of complaint and consolation, and Chaucer borrows elements of this poem in the Book of the Duchess. In light of the borrowings from Machaut, readers must hear the Book of the Duchess as a French "love-debate at a Court of Love without a specific plea, contest, or decision" (147).
Quinn, William. "Memory and the Matrix of Unity in The King's Quair." 15 (1981): 332-55.
The King's Quair explores the theory that all memories have equal impact. The opening of the poem refers to Boethius's Consolation of Philosophy and gives the impression that the young man presently writes the poem. The tension between present and past becomes a theme as the poem progresses. Eventually, the loosely connected materials of the opening resolve into a sustained memory--the first sight of the protagonist's beloved. Throughout The King's Quair, the protagonist uses conventions in unorthodox ways. The relation of the dream vision section to the rest of the poem shows the poet's ability to unify seemingly disparate elements. Unlike Boethius, the protagonist rises to the level of the spheres, but returns to the sublunary world. The meeting between the protagonist and Fortune epitomizes the paradoxical difference between the heavenly and sublunary worlds. Memory allows the poet to join the real to the ideal and thus creates the unity of the poem.
Whitman, F. H. "Exegesis and Chaucer's Dream Visions." 3 (1969): 229-38.
The Book of the Duchess, the House of Fame, and the Parliament of Fowls have structural similarities which imitate French love poetry. Each poem has a moral, though each includes substantial sections from classical works. The works of Ovid, Macrobius (on Scipio), and Virgil generate the themes of which the dream visions are contemplations. All three poems examine love as it relates to real and unreal happiness. The dream vision is the best way to examine and apply moral principles of love.