The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography (Vols. 1-30)Return to the Subject List
Bachman, W. Bryant, Jr. "'To maken illusioun': The Philosophy of Magic and the Magic of Philosophy in the Franklin's Tale." 12 (1977): 55-67.
The two questions underlying Dorigen's complaint about the black rocks show Boethius's influence on Chaucer. In the Consolation of Philosophy, Boethius asserts that evil does not exist. Since experience contradicts this premise, however, Boethius must find an explanation for evil. Boethius then offers patience as a solution; patience is also a solution to Dorigen's problem of the black rocks. Dorigen's complaint can evoke two responses: readers either sympathize with her fears, or they condemn her for her lack of patience. Both the Consolation and the Franklin's Tale posit the role of human perception in terms of the problem of evil. Dorigen also attributes her problem to Boethian Fortune. Arveragus presents the only possible response to this kind of universe--a choice to keep his word, the only thing humans can control.
Barney, Stephen A. "Suddenness and Process in Chaucer." 16 (1981): 18-37.
Chaucer uses sudden action to emphasize both good and bad events. Troilus and Criseyde has the most occurrences of sudden appearances and events of all of Chaucer's works, though the Wife of Bath's, Knight's, Miller's, and Squire's Tales also use this technique. Chaucer uses suddenness of emotions when depicting courtly manners and quick judgments for moral questions (26). By tracing suddenness through Troilus and Criseyde, readers realize that Chaucer makes "humorous, ridiculous, or contemptible" what is sudden (30). Chaucer also focuses significantly on process, the process of time as opposed to Fortune, the process of time as a consolation, and the process of penitence. Though Troilus falls in love suddenly, he continues to love Criseyde by process, thereby expressing patience.
Benson, C. David. "Troilus and Cresseid in Henryson's Testament." 13 (1979): 263-71.
Troilus represents the pagan chivalric hero whose knightly prowess and virtue are brought into question by readers' awareness of the Fall of Troy, by Criseyde's rejection of chivalric virtues, and by a Christian awareness of the restrictions of pagan virtue. Because Fortune allows Criseyde to suffer longer, she gains insight into her world and herself. Troilus never attains this kind of knowledge. When, in Henryson's Testament of Cresseid, Troilus gives Criseyde money, readers recognize that Troilus is faithful to a memory only; he does not recognize the beggar--Criseyde. The parallel deaths of Troilus and Criseyde indicate that Criseyde has learned to look beyond herself but that Troilus has not.
Berryman, Charles. "The Ironic Design of Fortune in Troilus and Criseyde." 2 (1967): 1-7.
At the beginning of Troilus and Criseyde, the characters believe that Fortune is fickle, but they behave as if they can defeat Fortune by "trouthe." Finally, however, they experience Fortune's capriciousness and realize that the world is mutable and that no one is free from Fortune's wheel.
Camargo, Martin. "The Consolation of Pandarus." 25 (1991): 214-28.
Chaucer alters the character of Pandarus in Troilus and Criseyde to reflect the character of Philosophy in Boethius's Consolation of Philosophy. Chaucer also borrows Petrarch's sonnet "S'amor non è" for Troilus to sing instead of the song Boccaccio uses in Filostrato. This sonnet has clear Boethian overtones. Chaucer also changes Troilus's character to reflect Boethius's character in the Consolation more closely. This change is particularly visible in Troilus's response to Fortune. Chaucer's modification of Pandarus allows him to create irony by undercutting the readers' expectations.
Chance, Jane. "Chaucerian Irony in the Boethian Short Poems: The Dramatic Tension between Classical and Christian." 20 (1986): 235-45.
Chaucer uses Boethian imagery in the "Former Age," "Fortune," "Balades de Visage Sanz Peinture," "Lak of Stedfastnesse," "Gentillesse," and "Truth." In each of these poems, Boethian imagery illustrates the place of humankind in this world. Chaucer also uses this imagery to create irony in "Lak of Stedfastnesse," "Gentillesse," and "Truth."
Clasby, Eugene. "Chaucer's Constance: Womanly Virtue and the Heroic Life." 13 (1979): 221-33.
Instead of making the upper classes comfortable, the Man of Law's Tale reminds them that they are also subject to Fortune. Constance does not suffer for no reason; her suffering pictures human suffering as it relates to God and to virtue. In the Consolation of Philosophy, Boethius addresses a similar fall from power which questions God's power and Boethius's virtue. In the course of their sufferings, Boethius and Constance discover that Providence, not Fortune, rules their lives. Chaucer's treatment of Constance, however, raises additional issues. Constance's responses to her sufferings throughout the tale show her spiritual growth. While Constance submits to physical authority, she never accepts that authority over her spiritual well-being. Constance's identity as a woman symbolizes the life-giving abilities of all humans, and is not a sign of weakness. Chaucer presents Constance from a temporal and an eternal perspective, allowing him to raise questions about evil rulers and Providence.
Dwyer, Richard A. "The Appreciation of Handmade Literature." 8 (1974): 221-40.
In creating physical texts, medieval scribes believed themselves capable of filling in textual gaps. Scholars must, therefore, be aware of the scribes' participation as manuscripts were remade. Medieval writers were not concerned with the "final" version of a text, since revisions were made later by scribes. In Piers Plowman, the different versions show scribes who, enthusiastic about older forms, attempted to align Langland's text with those forms and so "fix" the manuscript. Scribal "fine-tuning" to make significant changes in the manuscript is also a problem for those studying the Canterbury Tales and Troilus and Criseyde. The changes made to "Luf es Lyf" by Rolle show how selecting verses from different poems and putting them together can allow the scribe to create his own work. The resulting inconsistencies seem even more the product of a person who is madly in love. Examination of Boethius's Consolation of Philosophy demonstrates how scribes popularized it by lifting sections from model versions and attaching them to newer transcriptions. For example, Jean de Meun's proheme appears in several manuscripts as does William of Conches commentary. Mixed prose versions eventually led to verse translations. Renaud de Louhans questionings of Boethius's rigorous stand eventually led Renaud to replace Fortune with Death, thus making the tale more accessible to those not of aristocratic background.
Fifield, Merle. "The Knight's Tale: Incident, Idea, Incorporation." 3 (1968): 95-106.
In his sermon, Theseus does not reach a Boethian philosophy of order. Instead, he suggests that one must accept disorder in the universe as something God has made. Each incident in the tale exemplifies a section of Theseus's sermon. The first section in which Theseus captures Palamon and Arcite and the two companions fall in love with Emily illustrates Fortune's control over human events. The duel, the construction of the lists, and the tournament itself show the inefficacy of personal deeds, earthly order, and corporate acts. Fortune arbitrarily decides who will win and who will lose. Even the gods fail to order the course of events. Finally, Arcite's death and the marriage of Palamon and Emily show that the disorderly decrees of Fortune must simply be accepted.
Frakes, Jerold C. "'Ther nis namoore to seye': Closure in the Knight's Tale." 22 (1987): 1-7.
The events which end the story in the Knight's Tale are subject to Fortune, as are all the events in the tale. Thus, the tale is merely stopped at the end of one of Fortune's cycles, not fully closed.
Gallagher, Joseph E. "Theology and Intention in Chaucer's Troilus." 7 (1972): 44-66.
Because of his profession of Christianity, Chaucer must denounce the power of love as sinful. In medieval thought, sin was a conscious choice to act against the information provided by reason; thus, Chaucer sins by composing Troilus and Criseyde, since it indicates a desire for things of the world. In the Retraction, Chaucer finally chooses the highest good, rejecting Troilus for its choice of worldly as opposed to divine love. The Second Nun's Tale demonstrates Chaucer's perception that sin willfully seeks temporal things. In the tale, Cecilia can convert an audience who chooses the unchangeable God because that audience follows Reason. Almachius treats Cecilia poorly because he chooses evil. It is not a sin for a writer to demonstrate that something is temporal, even if the writer does not make moral criticism. Since the introductory summary of Troilus and Criseyde indicates that kind of moral orientation, Chaucer probably did not intend to end by stating that writing Troilus and Criseyde was sinful. Clearly, Troilus and Criseyde do not have a virtuous love. In the Prohemium to Book III, Chaucer first shows signs that he wishes to blur the distinction between Christian love and his sympathetic presentation of the love between Troilus and Criseyde. The frequency with which this blurring occurs indicates that Chaucer intended it. Chaucer gives Troilus vaguely Christian words in his hymn, thus deepening the disguise for Chaucer's sympathy with temporal love. Though in the hymn Troilus seems to recognize love as a unifying force, nothing in the language suggests that this perception of love is any better than Troilus's former idea of love. As Troilus and Criseyde continues, more references to Fortune occur, but never with a mention of sin. Through loving Criseyde, Troilus gains greater philosophical, but not moral, understanding. This understanding allows him to continue loving Criseyde, thus demonstrating Chaucer's ability to elude the strictness of medieval Christianity.
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.
Haines, R. Michael. "Fortune, Nature, and Grace in Fragment C." 10 (1976): 220-35.
When responding to the Pardoner's Tale, the Host does not mention the gifts of Grace, because Grace brings life, but Fortune and Nature bring death. His comments do, however, suggest a unifying theme for the Canterbury Tales. In the Physician's Tale, Virginia exemplifies the gifts of both Grace and Nature. Fortune uses Apius; Grace (mis)uses Virginius who allows Virginia to remain a virgin without forcing her to commit suicide, thus helping her to avoid a mortal sin. The Physician's Tale makes the point "that one must be prepared to die by living in Grace, free from sin" (226). The Pardoner's Tale shows the subversion of Fortune's, Nature's, and Grace's gifts. The Pardoner's three sins, gluttony, gambling, and swearing, are ultimately profanations of Nature, Fortune, and Grace respectively. The three revelers also pervert these gifts. Chaucer treats these gifts in the Man of Law's Tale, the Second Nun's Tale, the Prioress's Tale, and the Monk's Tale as well.
Hamel, Mary. "The Dream of a King: The Alliterative Morte Arthure and Dante." 14 (1980): 298-312.
Arthur's terrifying dream at the start of the Alliterative Morte Arthure accurately predicts his fall. Sage philosophers correctly interpret his dream, suggesting that it is time for Arthur to admit his misdeeds and to ask God for mercy, but Arthur shows no interest in doing so. The terrifying atmosphere of the dream may well derive from the first Canto of Dante's Inferno--a poem that the author of the Alliterative Morte Arthure probably knew. A comparison of the two suggests that Arthur had, indeed, become a man of worldly values--a man of violence, anger, avarice, and pride. His fall at the hands of Fortune, then, can be seen as a punishment for his sin or a correction of his flawed character. By the end of the poem, Arthur comes to a full realization of his flaws and achieves an understanding of the role of Fortune. He dies repentant and reconciled to his fate, having learned that what appears to be bad fortune is really good.
Hirsh, John C. "Reopening the Prioress's Tale." 10 (1975): 30-45.
Texts like Frederick II of Hohenstaufen's Privilegium e sententia in favorem iudaeorum protecting Jews from charges of ritual murder must cause re-evaluation of the belief that medieval Christians held only one attitude towards Jews. The Prioress's Tale is derived from the liturgy and suggests that the tale intends salvation. Examination of the references to Rachel and to the Lamb leads readers to connect Rachel and the Lamb to the church and the salvation that the church promises. Medieval associations of particular properties with stones, like the Prioress's beads and others mentioned, suggest Providence at work, not Fortune. The boy's death replicates Christ's, and the Jewish characters represent fallen men who, like Adam, listened to Satan. Chaucer thus suggests that all people work into a larger plan of salvation.
Johnson, Lynn Staley. "'To make in som comedye': Chauntecleer, Son of Troy." 19 (1985): 225-44.
Chaucer creates irony in the Nun's Priest's Tale by referring to the account of the fall of Troy at strategic points. These references align Chanticleer with Troilus and comment on Chanticleer's foolishness. Troilus may also be examined in light of Chanticleer, and the comparison heightens readers' sense of Chanticleer as a comic figure, and of Troilus as a tragic one. Troilus and Criseyde carefully follows the pattern of Fortune, but in the Nun's Priest's Tale, Chanticleer observes his situation and acts to change what will happen. Thus, comedy results from action and, unlike tragedy, is not bound to Fortune's wheel.
Lepley, Douglas L. "The Monk's Boethian Tale." 12 (1978): 162-70.
The Monk's Tale illustrates Boethius's idea that happiness comes from spiritual existence. When the Monk discusses Fortune, he pictures her in the same way as Philosophy does in the Consolation of Philosophy. According to Philosophy, Fortune controls only the material world, so she does not control spiritual virtues and cannot take away spiritual gains. The Monk's discussion of Fortune, happiness, and spiritual gain complements the Knight's Tale.
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.
Luxon, Thomas H. "'Sentence' and 'Solaas': Proverbs and Consolation in the Knight's Tale." 22 (1987): 94-111.
In the Knight's Tale "sentence" and "solaas" frequently oppose each other. At the end of the tale Theseus propounds the belief that Fortune controls life, but the tale contains many seemingly irrational events. By forcusing on pain, Chaucer disrupts his audience's sense of an ordered world. Occasionally the narrator asks readers to share pain, but sometimes, the speaker seems to attempt to separate readers from the pain. Distancing techniques include clinical, descriptive language, occupatio, proverbs, and conventional wisdom. Finally, the Knight shows that "sentence" follows a struggle for "solaas."
Manning, Stephen. "Troilus, Book V: Invention and the Poem as Process." 18 (1984): 288-302.
Troilus and Criseyde, particularly Book V, reveals a concern with the mutability of poetry and the Narrator's metamorphosis from narrator to poet. Medieval writers thought of poetry in two ways. Like Geoffrey of Vinsauf, some writers thought that creating poetry was like building a house; other writers believed, like Boethius, that Fortune had a significant part in writing. Chaucer follows the Boethian view in Troilus and Criseyde. Inventio includes mimesis and imagination, and Chaucer's narrator employs both. In the Epilogue, the narrator realizes the theme of his story and so gives himself a unified identity as narrator and poet.
Myers, D. E. "Focus and 'Moralite' in the Nun's Priest's Tale." 7 (1973): 210-20.
Three hierarchies overlap in the Nun's Priest's Tale. These create three different versions of the tale, "the fable version, the Nun's Priest's version, and Harry Bailly's version" (211). The fable version contains two morals which focus attention only on Chanticleer, thus suggesting that they are marginal to the tale as a whole. Such narrow focus points to the second version of the tale. Rhetoric is central to the Nun's Priest's version of the tale, since it focuses attention on Chanticleer as ruler. Because Chanticleer's story is that of a secular ruler, readers recognize that the Nun's Priest has directed his tale at the Knight. Examination of all of the Canterbury Tales shows that the Host's version addresses the workings of Providence and Fortune. Thus, readers can see the workings of Fortune on each of the three estates. The Nun's Priest, however, does not understand Fortune or Providence. He blames Destiny and Pertelote equally, a logical impossibility. The Host adds another level to the tale by allegorically associating Chanticleer with the Nun's Priest. Thus, the tale becomes a comment on prelates in general and the Nun's Priest in particular. The Nun's Priest's Tale, therefore, turns on its teller.
Neuse, Richard. "Marriage and the Question of Allegory in the Merchant's Tale." 24 (1989): 115-31.
Chaucer raises the problem of allegory in the Clerk's and Merchant's Tales by making it the center of the tales, particularly in light of the source text. The Clerk's Tale does not close off the allegorical question at the end of the tale raised by Chaucer's use of Petrarchan material. The Merchant picks up on the question, dramatizing every aspect of marriage. The expansion of January's definition of marriage makes clear that the Merchant shares his view. January holds two opposing opinions of marriage: he speaks of marriage only in Biblical terms, but thinks of it merely as a practical way to fill his needs. The narrator describes the garden as one of "death or of pagan enchantments," and of "natural vitality and joy" (123). The Merchant treats the Bible as if it is not applicable to everyday life and refers to Sir Orfeo and to the Wife of Bath's Tale. The world of fairy as presented in these two texts is a a world where Biblical authority is not so powerful and where women are not viewed as objects. The Merchant touches on the themes of Fortune, with a passing reference to Purgatorio, blindness and the cure of blindness, and uses the redeemer motif, incorporating "the three realms of Dante's Commedia" (128). Like Dante, Chaucer attempts to use Biblical imagery for an everyday purpose, but through January, Chaucer presents an idea of paradise much different from that of Dante.
Oerlemans, Onno. "The Seriousness of the Nun's Priest's Tale." 26 (1992): 317-28.
The irony of the Nun's Priest's Tale works against both readers who attempt to find morality and the narrator who attempts to give the tale meaning. The success of the tale is determined more by the fact that the Nun's Priest must "quite" the Monk and demonstrate that Fortune does not control everything than by anything he says in particular. He chooses the beast fable because it traditionally has the capacity to delight and to instruct. In the course of the tale, the Priest satirizes those who believe that knowledge of the fallen world will lead closer to truth. The references to Adam and to Christ do not exemplify metanarrative, but point to the narrator's "uncertainty as to where his tale has taken him, and an attempt to combine both the simple intentions and rewards of the beast fable with a more sophisticated moral" (325). The tale functions as a means to examine higher truths in a fallen world.
Olson, Glending. "Chaucer's Monk: The Rochester Connection." 21 (1986): 246-56.
The Host chooses the Monk to speak when the pilgrimage reaches Rochester because the Rochester cathedral housed a monastic order, and Thomas Brinton, the bishop of Rochester, inveighed against monastic corruption. During Chaucer's time, one wall of the cathedral was painted with a picture of Fortune and her wheel, a picture that connects the Monk more closely with Rochester. The association of the Monk with the Rochester cathedral demonstrates a greater connection between geography and the pilgrimage than previous criticism has suggested, and it also indicates that Chaucer carefully incorporates historical details.
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.
Ruggiers, Paul G. "Towards a Theory of Tragedy in Chaucer." 8 (1973): 89-99.
Chaucer relies on the same view of Fortune as Boethius and Dante: Fortune is God's providential agent. In the Monk's Tale, Fortune is a pagan goddess who alternately raises and lowers humans without favoritism, but she is ultimately God's mysterious agent. In this tale, Chaucer uses a "high-mimetic" style, but he can also work with "low-mimetic" tragedy involving pathos. The idea that love may be treated tragically derives from Latin writers such as Ovid as well as Boccaccio (Teseida, Filostrato), Dante, and Gower, but the tone of pathos is tempered by the Christian sense of hope. Following Boethius, Chaucer models tragic figures on Adam and Christ, one suffering deservedly, the other undeservedly. Chaucer does, however, seek to lighten tragedy with romantic effects or irony or at least attempts to make the sufferers deserve their troubles. Thus, Chaucer balances God's role in human affairs with the choices humans make that affect their destinies.
Salemi, Joseph S. "Playful Fortune and Chaucer's Criseyde." 15 (1981): 209-23.
Chaucer crafts the opening of Troilus and Criseyde so that the characters display the mutability of this life. This opening presents the opportunity to get Boethius's point of view. Following instances of the phrase "to pleye" throughout the work reveals that however the characters "play," the game has consequences. Chaucer associates Criseyde with freedom and Troilus with the human reaction to Fortune. Because Criseyde makes choices to which others like Troilus and Pandarus respond, Criseyde behaves like Fortune in the poem.
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.
Schuman, Samuel. "The Circle of Nature: Patterns of Imagery in Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde." 10 (1975): 99-112.
The ring is an important symbol of Troilus and Criseyde's relationship, in part for the sexual puns it allows. Like Troy, Criseyde is besieged, and she refers to herself as encircled by walls just as Troy is surrounded. Ultimately the image of imprisonment is reversed, and Troilus ends up encircled by the walls of Troy. Though Chaucer uses a three-year time span, within that expanse of time he emphasizes the cyclical seasons and the cycle of day and night. The natural cycles highlight the natural facet of Troilus and Criseyde's love. The Wheel of Fortune is another circular element of the poem which emphasizes the other natural cycles that she controls. Chaucer also uses astrological cycles. When Troilus dies and ascends to the eighth sphere, Chaucer points out that the things of earth are not important. Readers come to realize, however, that Troilus and Criseyde is a spiral rising to God, not a circle remaining on the earth.
Stevens, Martin. "The Winds of Fortune in the Troilus." 13 (1979): 285-307.
In Troilus and Criseyde Chaucer uses the image of the boat in the sea of life driven by a force such as Fortune uncontrolled by man . Troilus uses this image to describe his state. Ultimately, he ceases to believe that Fortune steers his boat and focuses on Criseyde instead. The attention to an earthly guide leads to his destruction. All of the characters recognize the power of supernatural forces, but they fail to recognize what those forces are doing in their world. The narrator is most subject to Fortune, recognizing his powerlessness; he presents authority, but not experience. Pandarus stands in direct opposition to the narrator because he acts on his own, disregarding the will of the gods. Pandarus is a poet-figure because he "makes" the love between Troilus and Criseyde with his words (247), but while Pandarus freely uses his imagination, the narrator merely reports. The conflict between the two points of view reflects Chaucer's struggle to define the role of the artist. In the sea-imagery, Troilus's direction, first inward towards consummating his love and then outward to death, becomes important. Chaucer uses the image of the boat driven across the sea of life to depict Boethius's idea that recognizing God's Providence requires insight.
Strange, William C. "The Monk's Tale: A Generous View." 1 (1967): 167-80.
The Monk's Tale is not to be discarded as simply dull. The changes Chaucer made in his sources with regard to Fortune show a pattern for what seems to be a disordered tale. The Monk seems to be struggling between two views of Fortune: the Christian view of Fortune and the "powerful sense of that terrible presence, Fortuna" (170). He never resolves this conflict in his exempla. The Knight interrupts him because the stories the Monk tells suggest that order and justice are not so established in the world as the Knight's Tale would indicate. The Nun's Priest's Tale adds a different dimension to the dialogue about Fortune, examining the problem the Monk has posed, but in a more practical way.
Van, Thomas A. "Second Meanings in Chaucer's Knight's Tale." 3 (1968): 69-76.
Though ambiguities in the Knight's Tale seem to pose a problem for the reader, as a whole, they contribute to the tone of the tale. Chaucer plays on the double meaning of "array" (dress and predicament) when dealing with Arcite, who in the course of the tale changes his noble clothing for that of a servant in order to regain the sight of Emily. "Hert" is also a pun, meaning deer or heart. Additional word plays emphasize the role of Fortune in life. The resolution of the conflict between Palamon and Arcite and the deities to which they pray depends on ambiguous responses to their prayers. Examination of these ambiguities contributes to readers' appreciation of Chaucer's artistry.
Yates, Donald. "Chanticleer's Latin Ancestors." 18 (1983): 116-26.
Several analogues of the Nun's Priest's Tale are extant, and most include a bird and a fox or wolf. Gallus et Vulpes should be more carefully examined because in addition to similar elements, it also treats the material humorously, laying a foundation for Chaucer's entertaining use of the subject matter in the Nun's Priest's Tale. Isengrimus is a Latin epic analogue, but it differs from the Nun's Priest's Tale in developing a pilgrimage theme. Isengrimus also treats the theme of Fortune.