The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography (Vols. 1-30)Return to the Subject List
Ferris, Sumner. "Chaucer at Lincoln (1387): The Prioress's Tale as a Political Poem." 15 (1981): 295-21.
The length and opening of the Prioress's Tale make it a perfect piece to complement a gathering. Chaucer wrote the tale for Richard II to use in convincing John Buckingham, bishop of Lincoln, to support his cause. The Prioress's Tale refers to four saints and to the Virgin Mary, all related to Lincoln in some way. Mary, Nicholas, John the Evangelist, and John the Baptist are not specifically connected to Lincoln, but Saint Hugh is, and Buckingham tried unsuccessfully to promote St. Hugh. By changing a few lines to refer to the Prioress, Chaucer disguises the original occasion of the Prioress's Tale.
Pigg, Daniel F. "Refiguring Martyrdom: Chaucer's Prioress and Her Tale." 29 (1994): 65-73.
The Prioress must be read outside the context of her portrait in the General Prologue since the General Prologue was written after the Prioress's Tale. Also, in her tale the Prioress uses a different definition of martyrdom. The early Church thought of martyrdom in two ways, the physical death and the preservation of virginity which was often associated with taking monastic vows. Invoking the Virgin, the Prioress authorizes the tale she tells by denying that it is her own. In the tale, the Prioress refigures martyrdom several ways. She refers to the Feast of the Holy Innocents, emphasizes the virginity of the little boy, and reminds the pilgrims of Hugh of Lincoln's martyrdom.
Zitter, Emmy Stark. "Anti-Semitism in Chaucer's Prioress's Tale." 25 (1991): 277-84.
Evidence suggests that Chaucer's audience was probably anti-Semitic, and that fact indicates that the Prioress's Talecannot be a satire of anti-Semitic attitudes. The Prioress refers to Hugh of Lincoln at the end of her tale, and this mention draws contemporaries into her tale. Though Chaucer may not criticize anti-Semitism, he ends the tale in such a way that it can still be read as a satire on the Prioress, her spiritual state, and her values. Her prayer to Hugh of Lincoln at the end reveals her unawareness that she denies others the same grace she herself hopes for in accordance with the Jewish law.