The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography (Vols. 1-30)Return to the Subject List
Ridley, Florence H. "The Treatment of Animals in the Poetry of Henryson and Dunbar." 24 (1990): 356-66.
"The Thrissill and the Rois," like many of Dunbar's other poems, uses animal imagery. In "On the Resurrection of Christ" the animals represent the various figures in the resurrection story. Dunbar's animal images are similar to those used in painting. In "Ane Ballat of the Fen3eit Freir of Tungland" Dunbar's habit of making humans into animals and using animal images drawn from art is clearly visible. In "Tua Mariit Wemen and the Wedo" readers see Dunbar's frequent use of horses as images for people. He also uses such images in "The Petition of the Gray Horse, Auld Dunbar." Dunbar also wrote beast fables such as "The Wowing of the King quhen he wes in Dunfermeling," though Dunbar does not seem especially concerned to present a moral. Henryson's work is more concerned with teaching, thus more concerned with offering a moral for his stories as in moral fables. Henryson also uses animal imagery but draws more from bestiaries and heraldry than from art. Dunbar satirizes particular people in poems like "Of James Dog," "Ane Blak Moir," "The Turnament," and "Epetaphe for Donald Oure." Henryson reverses the pattern of picturing people as animals by depicting animals as humans in protest against oppression and to show compassion as in "The Sheep and the Dog," "The Wolf and the Lamb," and "The Preaching of the Swallow." Though Henryson never explicitly questions Providence, his implicit questioning comes through in his work.