The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography (Vols. 1-30)Return to the Subject List
Delany, Sheila. "Womanliness in the Man of Law's Tale." 9 (1974): 63-72.
More than a victim, Constance is an "Everywoman" figure who demonstrates the passivity in the face of suffering which Christianity demands (64). In the sexual aspect of her marriage, Constance shows her virtue by accepting fate and authority. Chaucer contrasts her with the Sultaness and Donegild, who seek power and do not submit to authority, thus redramatizing the dichotomy between Mary and Eve. .
Joseph, Gerhard. "The Franklin's Tale: Chaucer's Theodicy." 1 (1966): 20-32.
Chaucer does not demonstrate the ideal marriage in the Franklin's Tale, but instead shows a view of God and how God works in human situations. Dorigen's and Arveragus's agreement of equality in marriage prevents Dorigen from experiencing capriciousness on Arveragus's part. As a result, she does not learn to trust a superior; thus she cannot trust God. The agreement between Dorigen and Aurelius takes place in a paradisical garden identified as a second Eden in which Eve (Dorigen) falls to temptation and disobeys God's commands by not accepting God's natural law and so falling into pagan despair leading to suicide. Finally, God demonstrates his gracious design by having Dorigen and Aurelius finally meet in the city and not in the garden. Generous acts stem from this meeting which in turn cleanse "a squire and a clerk of their lust and greed" (31).
Olsson, Kurt. "Love, Intimacy, and Gower." 30 (1995): 71-100.
In Gower's Confessio amantis readers see a search for the secret, intimate places of the self. Amans, the lover, searches for understanding of his inmost heart in the confessional. The priest seeks to know that heart, while Amans pursues intimacy with his beloved. Both searches, result in Amans's psychological health indicated by his return home. Amans's intense desires for intimacy with the beloved include the longing for stolen, secret sexual embrace. His dedication to the beloved authorizes this desire. He does, unfortunately, give his love monetary value. In doing so he bypasses the possibility for genuine intimacy. Penelope, Alcyone, Alceste, and Lucrece, who appear at the end of the dream in the Confessio amantis, raise questions about gender stereotypes, but are paradoxically defined by gender roles. Amans ends his search for himself at home, but the safety of home must not be taken for granted as the stories of the four women indicate. Gower presents marriage as a remedy to Amans's secret desire for intimacy. Gower also addresses marriage in the Mirour de l'Omme, but the conflicting portraits of Adultery and Matrimony suggest that marriage is usually loveless. Both marriage partners partake of the consequences of Eve's sin, but women are considered companions, not subordinates, in the marriage relationship.
Rowland, Beryl B. "The Play of the Miller's Tale: A Game Within a Game." 5 (1970): 140-46.
Chaucer uses the terms "game" in the sense in which it commonly refers to the medieval mystery play. To heighten this allusion, he uses a mystery play structure for his tale. Each character parodies one of the characters common in mystery plays. Alisoun parodies Mary and Eve; Nicholas, Herod and Satan; and John, Joseph and Noah.
Weissman, Hope Phyllis. "Why Chaucer's Wife Is from Bath." 15 (1980): 11-36.
A society's view of bathing implies its view of the body and sex. Both Ovid and Jerome mention bathing. Ovid points to the baths as a place for young men and women to meet; Jerome depicts baths as places of sin, particularly lust. Jean de Meun borrows from Ovid, Juvenal, and Jerome to create La Vieille who clearly states that baths increase moral decay. The place of the bath in medieval culture can be inferred from marginal illustrations in medieval manuscripts. These illustrations depict baths as places of blatant sexuality where old men prey on young women. Controlled by civil authorities, the waters of Bath became "the sacred precincts of a patriarchal world" (25). Alisoun is not accepted by patriarchal society. She is excluded from Bath and considered a carnal Eve. But she has invaded that society by succeeding at cloth-making and marriage. In such a contradiction, the Wife of Bath represents the tensions of medieval society. Society has forced the Wife to trade her virginity and her youth for gold in marriage, but her gains can only be calculated within the patriarchal system.