The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography (Vols. 1-30)Return to the Subject List
Ellis, Deborah S. "Chaucer's Devilish Reeve. " 27 (1992): 150-61.
Chaucer carefully orchestrates the Reeve's portrait so that he appears most diabolical. The Reeve's physical appearance makes him suspect, as do his profession and his delight in stealing and lying. His language also is confused, and he thinks of sermons as games.
Foley, Michael M. "Gawain's Two Confessions Reconsidered." 9 (1974): 73-79.
Gawain's confession to the priest is not invalid because there is no suggestion of superstition about the girdle from either Gawain or Bercilak. The poet carefully denies the material value of the girdle, and Gawain has not broken his oath because the exchange-of-winnings agreement is not an oath but a game. Gawain is more guilty of having been false to knighthood. The two confessions are necessary because they deal with the crimes against parallel codes of conduct, the Christian code, and the knightly code.
Joseph, Gerhard. "Chaucerian 'Game'-'Earnest' and the 'Argument of herbergage' in the Canterbury Tales." 5 (1970): 83-96.
Chaucer perceives human space in two opposing ways, best seen in the difference between tales of "game" and those of "earnest" of which the tales in Fragment A are a good example. In the Knight's Tale, the amplification of time suggests a movement to order which underlines the suggestion that space can reduce passion. In the Knight's Tale, Chaucer also follows Boethius in suggesting that human space is prison; thus the enclosures become objective-correlatives for the prison of this life. In the fabliaux, however, restricted areas become places of joining between man and woman. Perspective determines how people see human space: from a serious point of view, life is prison; from a light-hearted outlook, life is endless space. The contest between the movement to the shrine (serious) and return to the tavern (light-hearted) suggests that these two views are so closely mixed that to attempt a separation is foolish.
Levine, Robert. "Aspects of Grotesque Realism in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight." 17 (1982): 65-75.
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight uses elements of grotesque realism to create irony. The poet associates "food, sex, and money" and employs "images of slaughter and dismemberment, crowning and uncrowning" as part of a game (74).
McClintock, Michael W. "Games and the Players of Games: Old French Fabliaux and the Shipman's Tale." 5 (1970): 112-36.
Fabliaux focus primarily on laughter and are filled with stock characters. Humor is always directed at one of the characters. The element shared among most fabliaux is that of game-playing. Readers can see the Shipman's Tale as the story of a game. Since the relationships between the characters are characterized by more than gaming, however, the Shipman's Tale cannot be considered a fabliau. The tale is about two relationships: the monk's relationship to the merchant, and the wife's relationship to her husband, the merchant. The adultery which occurs between the monk and the wife connects the two relationships by betraying both the friendship and the marriage. At the beginning of tale, the relationship between the merchant and his wife is not overtly sexual. Detailed examination of the merchant and his attitude toward money clarifies the wife's incentive for adultery. She does not play the same money games as her husband. His concern with money makes him unconcerned about sex, while the wife connects money and sex. When the wife suggests to her husband that she will pay her monetary debt to him in bed, she makes adultery-prostitution the model for her marriage. Friendship between the merchant and the monk becomes the standard against which to measure the marital relationship, thus making friendship most important to the tale.
Olmert, Michael. "Game-Playing, Moral Purpose, and the Structure of Pearl." 21 (1987): 383-403.
In order to demonstrate that humans always seek happiness but never fully attain it, the Pearl-Poet shapes Pearl as a race-game, a type of board game. (Medieval board games often had underlying scriptural messages.) The 101 stanzas are divided into two groups of 50 mirroring each other; stanza 51 connects the two halves. Within each half, there are ten sub-groups connected by word repetition. The poet sets up a pearl, God's grace, as the stake of the game. The Pearl-maiden teaches childlike innocence to each reader/ player.
Reed, Thomas L., Jr. "'Bo[th]e blysse and blunder': Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and the Debate Tradition." 23 (1988): 140-61.
The Pearl-Poet built Sir Gawain and the Green Knight on a dialogic structure that suggests the poem's affinities with the debate tradition. That the poet does not reach any real conclusions does not disqualify the poem as a debate, since many debate poems do not reach resolution. The poet presents events from many angles. Gawain's use of various magical defensive devices suggests a dialogue between chivalry and Christianity. Given sources and analogues like the Owl and the Nightingale, Winner and Waster, the "Flyting of Dunbar and Kennedie," the Parliament of the Three Ages, and Ressoning betuix Age and Yowth, readers may see the poem as a series of arguments between youth and age, spring and winter, life and death. Gawain's experience with Lady Bercilak brings to mind the débat amoreux. Gawain is also tried in verbal argument. Other poems grouped with Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, and Patience, show similar debate structures. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is most likely a kind of recreation, as demonstrated by the Christmas games of Arthur's court.
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.
Ruggiers, Paul G. "Platonic Forms in Chaucer." 17 (1983): 366-82.
Chaucer builds his poetry around four different topics, "1) eating and drinking; 2) sexuality and love; 3) play and seriousness; and 4) the making of art" (367). Drinking has religious overtones of suffering, and the drinking image appears in the Reeve's, Pardoner's, Man of Law's, and Franklin's Tales as well as in Troilus and Criseyde and the House of Fame. Chaucer treats love in four different ways as seen in Troilus and Criseyde, and in the Miller's , Reeve's, and Second Nun's Tales. Furthermore the Canterbury Tales as a whole experiments with the theme of play, examining play from a number of different points of view. Chaucer also investigates what it is to create a literary work, a theme particularly present in the Tale of Sir Thopas and the Tale of Melibee.