The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography (Vols. 1-30)Return to the Subject List
Allen, Judson Boyce, and Patrick Gallacher. "Alisoun Through the Looking Glass: or Every Man His Own Midas." 4 (1969): 99-105.
The Wife of Bath creates a trap for the reader out of multiple views of metamorphosis. In the Middle Ages, metamorphosis had moral implications, contributing to irony which readers perceived as "real discontinuities behind apparent correspondence" (99). By holding up an ideal, an author could not only show readers God, but also cause them to evaluate their own flaws. In the Wife of Bath's Tale there are four levels of irony, and three probe the theme of judgment. In modifying the tale of Midas, the Wife tells on herself, a fact that readers recognize at the end of her Prologue. Both she and Midas are more victims than victimizers. She wants to possess what is unobtainable and to be someone she is not. Chaucer creates irony through the contrast between the Wife as she is and as she wants to be.
Archibald, Elizabeth. "Declarations of 'Entente' in Troilus and Criseyde." 25 (1991): 190-213.
Troilus and Criseyde is more than a psychological drama; it is a "drama of intentions" (190) examined from the angles of good intentions, bad intentions, and mistaken intentions. Recognition of how intentions differ from what happens or how intentions oppose what characters say allows readers to recognize ironies. Throughout the poem, "entente" is linked to truth, sexuality, and departure, among a variety of other meanings and connotations. Often these associations are created by rhyme patterns. Chaucer can thereby draw attention to the difficulty of following through one's intentions and suggest to the reader the complexities of the human psyche. Of course, Chaucer's intentions are most difficult to discern.
Bergan, Brooke. "Surface and Secret in the Knight's Tale." 26 (1991): 1-16.
Language constantly fluctuates between transparency and opacity, and standard forms are always shifting. The Knight's Tale can be read with greater understanding when readers recognize the "transitional moment" in which "the shock of the new makes us conscious of language as surface" (3). Comparison to Boccaccio's Book of Theseus shows Chaucer's rhetorical changes and choices. Ironic subtext lies under every intense emotional moment. The narrator maintains the suddeness that ceremony should ritualize out of existence. The Knight's fascination with order leads him to partition off sections of his tale, as he does in the three temples, the three prayers, and the three signs. The Knight is, however, intent on subverting the romance genre, so the order he creates is always undercut. The "interpenetration" of romance and epic that the Knight creates mirrors Chaucer's interpenetration of oral and written tradition in the Canterbury Tales (14).
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.
Bleeth, Kenneth. "Joseph's Doubting of Mary and the Conclusion of the Merchant's Tale." 21 (1986): 58-66.
The end of the Merchant's Tale in which January regains his sight parallels the end of the story of Joseph and Mary, told in the Cherry-Tree Carol and Ludus Coventriae, where Joseph is enlightened with regard to the spiritual nature of Mary's pregnancy. May's explanation of her behavior in terms of January's blindness is an ironic reversal of Joseph's response to Mary. Both January and Joseph apologize, and both finally respond to the pregnancy by stroking the womb of their wives. But in the end Joseph has been enlightened, whereas January refuses to perceive.
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."
Cherniss, Michael D. "The Clerk's Tale and Envoy, the Wife of Bath's Purgatory, and the Merchant's Tale." 6 (1972): 235-54.
The Clerk's Envoy presents a theme which continues through the Merchant's Tale. The Clerk's Tale presents both a secular and a spiritual moral to which even the Envoy does not resolve. The Envoy contains two ironies: one is the logical extreme that there are no Griseldas, and the other demands whether or not wives may trust their husbands. The double irony allows the Clerk to connect the marital (secular) sphere of his tale with a spiritual moral. An additional level of irony suggests that even shrewish wives perform a spiritual service for their husbands, helping them to develop the character of Job. The Clerk's idea of purgatory in marriage contrasts with January's idea of paradisical marriage, but aligns with the church's view of marriage. January, then, parodies Griselda's patience in the face of trials. Ironically, however, January never recognizes the purgatorial aspects of his marriage; he is too blind. The Host's response to these tales indicates that he believes marriage to be the purgatory the Wife and Merchant describe, not the paradise offered by the Clerk.
Chickering, Howell. "Form and Interpretation in the Envoy to the Clerk's Tale." 29 (1995): 352-72.
The instability of the Envoy to the Clerk's Tale solidifies the rest of the tale as ambiguous and filled with conflicting ironies. That the placement of the Envoy differs between the Ellesmere and the Hengwrt manuscripts adds further confusion to the issue. The Envoy is actually an ironic comment on the teller of the tale, Griselda, and the Wife of Bath. While the Envoy has "a highly specific poetic character" (358), it demands an entirely indeterminate interpretation. Like the French poems from which it comes, the Envoy operates on intense sound patterns, like those described by Deschamps in L'Art de dictier. The complexity of the rhyme scheme shows that Chaucer consciously fashioned this poem to "say something difficult with great ease and mastery" (361), a result Chaucer also achieves through poetic pacing. The combination of these elements makes the poem aesthetically pleasing, though ultimately ambiguous.
Cotton, Michael E. "The Artistic Integrity of Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde." 7 (1972): 37-43.
Chaucer associates Criseyde with the moon, thus indicating Criseyde's changeableness. The other planets also function as foreshadowing elements, moving human actions to a different, sometimes ironic, place where Chaucer can connect these events to universal patterns. This link allows Chaucer to make divine and hellish allusions. The imagery of planets and pagan gods develops the theme of Fortuna and instability.
Covella, Sister Frances Dolores. "Audience as Determinant of Meaning in the Troilus." 2 (1968): 235-45.
An author's tone and attitude significantly affect what the author says; in Troilus and Criseyde, Chaucer's tone and attitude toward his audience create a number of verbal ironies. Chaucer's narrator makes every effort to defend Criseyde's actions, and when they become indefensible, he begins to distance himself from her behavior, constantly referring to his sources. In the epilogue, the change in tone can be attributed to Chaucer's perceived change in audience from a listening group of ladies and gentlemen conversant with the code of courtly love to a reading audience which might not have such familiarity with that code. The irony in Troilus and Criseyde seems to grow out of the relationship between Chaucer and his audience, creating more humor than corrective satire.
Dawson, Robert B. "Custance in Context: Rethinking the Protagonist of the Man of Law's Tale." 26 (1992): 293-308.
Most critics write Custance off as a silent woman. Scrutiny of Custance and her position, however, indicates that she has a strong voice and that "her relation to her narrator is much more complex than has been generally realized" (295). Her first speech draws attention to the cruelty of her parents, but her criticism is carefully hidden along with her egocentricity and unconcern for the eternal destination of others. In keeping with her lack of concern, Constance offers no prayers for her murdered companions. She also attempts to manipulate God by prayer and chastises her father for his failure to seek for her though she could hardly not know that he had spent time and money on just such a search. To read Custance as a victim ignores the gap between what she says and what she does and the irony this distance creates.
Farnham, Anthony E. "Chaucerian Irony and the Ending of Troilus." 1 (1967): 207-16.
The ending of Troilus and Criseyde is ironic. The question at the end of the poem seems from one viewpoint to be a rhetorical question with a clear answer, and from another viewpoint to be a rebellion against such an answer. The debate seems to be between "celestial love" and "feyned love." Troilus and Criseyde participate in a false love because their love must be conducted by deceiving others. Eventually, this falsehood destroys the love it was designed to protect, and readers realize that such love falls far short of the ideal. Ironically, however, all human love falls short of divine ("celestial") love and so is false ("feyned").
Fein, Susanna Greer. "Why Did Absolon Put a 'Trewelove' under His Tongue? Herb Paris as a Healing 'Grace' in Middle English Literature." 25 (1991): 302-17.
Absolon puts a truelove plant in his mouth when, in the Miller's Tale, he goes to woo Alison. Folklore assoicates this plant with luck in love, and preachers connect it to divine love. In the fourteenth century truelove plants symbolized faithful love. The Fasciculus morum, the Charter of Christ, Qui amore langueo, Loue that God Loueth, the Foure Leues of the Trewlufe link the truelove plant, by virtue of its shape, to Christ, His Passion, and grace. Mary was often added to representations of the Trinity to complete the allegory of the four leaves. She stands for the perfection of human love, as Spring under a Thorn, a late fourteenth-century lyric, depicts. Absolon's use of the truelove connects him to Mary, especially in his search for the verbal dexterity of the courtly lover. He wants grace for his speech. Ironically, all male characters are connected to the Trinity, and Alison parodies Mary.
Fish, Varda. "The Origin and Original Object of Troilus and Criseyde." 18 (1984): 304-15.
Because Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde is not a personal experience for the narrator in the way that Boccaccio's Filostrato is, Chaucer's story is more about writing poetry than Boccaccio's story which is more about love. The use of Boethian imagery emphasizes the ironical nature of the narrator's position. Chaucer suggests that poetry has all the seductive power of Boccaccio's lady. In the end, Chaucer's narrator turns away from the philosophy of love and of poetry expressed by Boccaccio.
Foster, Edward E. "Humor in the Knight's Tale." 3 (1968): 88-94.
Throughout his tale, the Knight seems unaware of the humorous statements he makes. Though the Knight deliberately skirts delicate subjects throughout the tale, his choice of language leads to unconscious puns on such words as "queynt" and "harneys." In addition to the description of the Knight's rust-spotted armor, the word play emphasizes the way the Knight maintains courtly ideals in the face of reality. The Knight's inept narrative technique also provides unintentional humor which makes many situations in the tale ironic. But even when he slips out of high style, he still manages to impose idealistic courtly forms on his tale, though these lapses point out the instability of those forms. The play between form and reality does not undermine the tale, but instead emphasizes the necessity of the forms and rituals.
Gallacher, Patrick J. "Chaucer and the Rhetoric of the Body." 28 (1994): 216-36.
Chaucer makes a number of different references to the body, treating the body in a number of different ways. Given different conditions, for example sickness and health, the body can be a stumbling block or a thing of beauty. Dante plays on this dichotomy in the Commedia. In medieval works, the treatment of the body is split between that of subject and object. In the Knight's Tale, Chaucer's treatment of Arcite's body results in irony and comedy. In Troilus and Criseyde the body becomes "a locus of acting and being acted upon" (221). Troilus's denial of involvement in any of Pandarus's plots makes him morally and physically inactive. Further examination of the relationship between Troilus and Criseyde reveals an imbalance of activity and passivity which ultimately contributes to a "pattern of merit and grace" (225). Griselda uses the description of her nakedness to draw attention to Walter's abuses of marriage in the Clerk's Tale. Both the Prioress's Tale and the Reeve's Tale examine the body in terms of stasis and movement. The treatment of the body as subject and object also appears in the Second Nun's Tale. Some characters and tales deride the human body, for example the Pardoner and the Manciple,. This attitude also appears in the Summoner's Tale.
Ginsberg, Warren. "'This worthy lymytour was cleped Huberd': A Note on the Friar's Name." 21 (1986): 53-57.
The Friar's name, Huberd, is an ironic reference to St. Hubert, the patron saint of hunters. The possible allusion to St. Hubert's conversion adds irony to the Friar's portrait and tale.
Green, Richard Firth. "Troilus and the Game of Love." 13 (1979): 201-20.
In the Middle Ages only a fine line separated flirtation from seduction. The language of friendship was based on the language of love, creating ambiguous discourses. Because only the upper classes participated, such dialogue indicated the difference between social classes. The idea that a lover could die for love became part of social interraction. Like love-talk, the hyperbolic emotion accompanying love was an aristocratic phenomenon. Only personal integrity kept the ambiguities of the game in check. Writers could use the blurred distinction between friendship and amorous love to create irony as Chaucer does in Troilus and Criseyde which must be considered in this context. Pandarus demonstrates love talk when he mentions his mistress and speaks to Criseyde, but he is only playing the game as an aristocrat. Diomede makes his suit most forceful through his capacity for love talk, and it is to this ability that Criseyde capitulates. Troilus is out of place because he loves purely in a way courtly love does not comprehend, and he regards the standards of courtly love behavior as banalities. His love makes him inarticulate. In the end, Troilus laughs because he has learned that love is part of a fallen world in which he no longer participates.
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.
Knight, Stephen. "Rhetoric and Poetry in the Franklin's Tale." 4 (1969): 14-30.
Chaucer must be seen as a great poet, and his poetic works should be treated as poetry. Analysis in terms of rhetorical devices can help to reveal Chaucer's greatness. In the Franklin's Tale, Chaucer uses various styles to create the different characters and to emphasize particular elements of each scene. For example, where the Franklin speaks as Franklin, he uses short, choppy sentences. Once into telling his tale, however, his style becomes smoother. When Dorigen speaks, she uses a number of rhetorical devices which characterize her as highly emotional. Aurelius's language and indirect speech give us a picture of him as well: the language he uses suggests the highly decorative world of courtly love. As a result of the rhetoric, Dorigen's lament becomes slightly ironic. When she tells Arveragus of her plight, the language and style heighten the effect. In order to appreciate fully Chaucer's artistry, we must look beyond rhetoric to the effects which Chaucer can create with it.
Knoepflmacher, U. C. "Irony through Scriptural Allusion: A Note on Chaucer's Prioresse." 4 (1970): 180-83.
The description of the Prioress in the General Prologue includes many puns, including that on "grece" and "grace." This pun alludes to Matthew 23 and functions as a faint warning to clerics, male or female, who pay great attention to outward behavior. The reference to the dogs recalls Matthew 15 and casts aspersions on the depth of the Prioress's faith. The Prioress, however, is not portrayed as negatively as the Pardoner: she, at least, can feel.
Laird, Edgar S. "Astrology and Irony in Chaucer's Complaint of Mars." 6 (1972): 229-31.
In the astrological progress of Venus, Venus and Mercury arrive in "sextile" (230) aspect in a way commonly described as "pryvy and secret loving" (229). This aspect suggests that Venus becomes Mercury's mistress, and it includes betrayal as one of the pains of love.
Lenaghan, R. T. "The Irony of the Friar's Tale." 7 (1973): 281-94.
The Friar's Tale is ironic both as a tale and as part of the pilgrimage, and the tale is both sermon and satire. The relational inequality between the characters, the legalism by which the summoner curses himself, and the imagery all contribute to the narrative and its irony. In the end the Friar's Tale turns on its teller, since the Friar's anger has no place in his prayer at the end of his tale. The ironies of the tale depend on Christian morality by which the Friar finally indicts himself, thus allowing Chaucer to satirize the clergy.
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).
Maxfield, David K. "St. Mary Rouncivale, Charing Cross: The Hospital of Chaucer's Pardoner." 28 (1993): 148-63.
Hospitals in Chaucer's time provided care primarily for the souls of the sick, though limited medical care was available. St. Mary's of Rouncivale at Charing Cross was one such hospital. Chaucer chose that hospital as the base for the Pardoner because it offered ironical prospects and it may have had a negative reputation by Chaucer's time. Though Chaucer may not have known it, most of the Pardoner's pardons were probably based on false bulls.
Oberembt, Kenneth J. "Chaucer's Anti-Misogynist Wife of Bath." 10 (1976): 287-302.
The Wife of Bath is not heretically anti-misogynist. She carefully criticizes accepted beliefs about sex in her presentation of married life. In eulogizing her first three husbands, she uses irony to further her criticism of accepted practices. Each of the Wife's five husbands is committed to sex--sensuality--a feminine principle, thus confirming the Wife's opinion that men are not entirely reasonable creatures. When the old woman and the young knight in the Wife of Bath's Tale agree to mutual mastery, the Wife suggests that a happy marriage is the product of non-mastery on the parts of both the wife and the husband. The Wife's humor diffuses the notion that her views of sex in marriage are abnormal. The contrast between the sensual person of the Wife of Bath's Prologue and the rational hag of the Tale highlights the Wife of Bath's criticism of misogynists. Finally, the Wife presents gentillesse as a non-sexist code to govern behavior.
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.
Passon, Richard H. "'Entente' in Chaucer's Friar's Tale." 2 (1968): 166-71.
Chaucer uses "entente" to suggest a moral dimension beneath the fabliau elements of the Friar's Tale. In telling his tale, the Friar steps into the role of preacher, suggesting that evil may appear good, but that evil can always be discerned by examining "entente." Examining "entente" adds to the irony of the story, since the Friar's malicious intent becomes clear at the end of his tale.
Quinn, Esther C. "Chaucer's Arthurian Romance." 18 (1984): 211-20.
In the Wife of Bath's Tale, Chaucer borrows from Marie de France's Lanval and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. By reversing the roles of the male and female, allowing Guinevere to decide the young knight's fate and the old woman to rescue him, Chaucer increases the sense of irony in the tale that supports and questions possibility of a harmonious conclusion.
Reiss, Edmund. "Dusting off the Cobwebs: A Look at Chaucer's Lyrics." 1 (1966): 55-65.
Although many critics see poems such as "A B C" and "To Rosemounde" as less interesting, further study shows them to be worth considering. Viewing "A B C" as 23 separate poems gives the reader a glimpse of the dramatic relationship between the narrator and the Virgin Mary based primarily on Mary's calmness and the narrator's frantic activity. The sounds of the lines further emphasize this contrast. "To Rosemounde" depicts yet another Chaucer. The lover (narrator) appears in two different states as the poem progresses. First, the narrator weeps; then he celebrates. The exaggerated figurative language, however, indicates an irony. The narrator, finally, is happily away from his lady. Thus, the shorter lyrics are worth examining because they are enjoyable reading, and they provide a different view of Chaucer and his work than we usually get from examining only the Canterbury Tales or Troilus and Criseyde.
Rowland, Beryl. "The Three Ages of The Parlement of the Three Ages." 9 (1975): 342-52.
The three ages were generally considered 30, 60, and 100, though 60 was considered very old. Using these traditional ages allows the poet to include the moral and spiritual significance of those ages in the irony which runs throughout the text.
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.
Schleusener, Jay. "The Conduct of the Merchant's Tale." 14 (1980): 237-50.
The Merchant's Tale seems tactless, but Chaucer carefully draws readers in so that they are willing for the Merchant to attack January. The Merchant uses sarcasm and innuendo to trip up readers in their own imaginations. He manipulates May so that readers eventually respond cynically to her. Pluto and Proserpine restore the readers' sense of taste by applying common sense to the situation in the garden. The bitterness of the Merchant's Tale is a bitterness shared by Chaucer, the Merchant, and generations of readers who allow themselves to enjoy the tale.
Smith, Macklin. "Sith and Syn in Chaucer's Troilus." 26 (1992): 266-82.
Though the forms for "since" do not generally alter readings of lines in which they occur, awareness of "syn," used less frequently than "sith" or "sithen" shifts readers' perceptions of the lines in which "syn" appears because "syn" implies some kind of moral judgment. Chaucer uses "syn" in Troilus and Criseyde more often than most writers, and comparison of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight to works like Cursor mundi and Piers Plowman and to writers like Robert Manning of Brunne and Hoccleve shows that scribes were indifferent to the form they used. Chaucer is then responsible for the increased use of "syn" in Troilus and Criseyde, suggesting that he intended to use the pun and to create ambiguity and double meanings. Chaucer uses the same pun in the "Legend of Phyllis," the Miller's and Man of Law's Tales, and the Wife of Bath's Prologue and tale. In Troilus and Criseyde, however, this pun is more frequent, and Chaucer employs it to create double reality and Christian irony.
Stephens, John. "The Uses of Personae and the Art of Obliqueness in Some Chaucer Lyrics: Part II." 21 (1987): 459-68.
The speaker of the Envoy to Scogan approaches himself and his hearer humorously; the speaker of "L'Envoy de Chaucer a Bukton" uses aphorisms and relies on readers to notice the speaker's role. The difference between the two speakers appears when readers compare the use of vocatives, rhyme and stress patterns, and postponement techniques. Both poems examine the speaker's thoughts. Each poem develops a different theme. The personas also develop differently, resulting in different relationships to readers.
Stephens, John. "The Uses of Personae and the Art of Obliqueness in Some Chaucer Lyrics: Part III." 22 (1987): 41-52.
In "To Rosemounde" comedy derives from Chaucer's alterations of a conventional situation. The speaker does not display passion or intense desire. In Part IV of "Complaint to His Lady," the speaking persona carefully manipulates complaint conventions and rhetorical devices in order to advance his suit. Readers notice that, when they compare the two poems, "To Rosemounde" parodies "Complaint to a Lady." The comic irony used to create the speaker is sharp, but comedy is not necessary to highlight the speakers' differences. "Complaint to His Purse" is Chaucer's most overt parody of the complaint convention. Examination of the lyrics in this series of articles illustrates that none of Chaucer's personas are exactly alike.
Taavitsainen, Irma. "Narrative Patterns of Affect in Four Genres of the Canterbury Tales." 30 (1995): 191-210.
The number of exclamations and interjections varies from text to text, from genre to genre. Such verbal elements serve, however, to indicate how much emotion is invested in the text. The Canterbury Tales is a mix of genres, engaging the audience in a number of different ways. Interjections can be transferred from one genre to another while still containing some of their previous connotations. Examination of each of the Canterbury Tales reveals that interjections can also be used to create irony and narrative suspense.
Thro, A. Booker. "Chaucer's Creative Comedy: A Study of the Miller's Tale and the Shipman's Tale." 5 (1970): 97-111.
The characters in Chaucer's tales often create solutions to difficult situations which are more intricate than the circumstance demands. Nicholas's plot to sleep with Alisoun shows great creativity which Chaucer uses to emphasize victorious wit. The farcical and ironic elements in the tale emphasize creativity instead of destruction or deflation which point to Chaucer's elevation of the power to create. In the Shipman's Tale, Chaucer shows the process of creating by placing the monk and the wife in positions from which they must persuade each other to participate in a scheme. The wife, the monk, and the merchant each pursue activities which result in a product, but, particularly in the monk's case, there is little reason for the plotting. The scenes in the tales can be viewed as moments in which Chaucer "define[s] his idea of creativity" (111).
Toole, William B. "Chaucer's Christian Irony: The Relationship of Character and Action in the Pardoner's Tale." 3 (1968): 37-43.
The three revelers' obsession with the physical blinds them to spiritual truth. Ironically, they do not realize that the warnings they receive from the child and the tavernkeeper are spiritual, not physical. In their confused, intoxicated state, they truly believe that Death is a powerful physical being whom the three of them can overcome. Their physicality causes them to invert the Crucifixion by seeking to preserve their physical bodies by physical means. The three revelers become an unholy trinity, demonstrating the facets of cupidity, a sin which causes their destruction.
Wilson, Grace G. "'Amonges othere wordes wyse': The Medieval Seneca and the Canterbury Tales." 28 (1993): 135-45.
Seneca acquired two reputations in the Middle Ages. First, he was a moral philosopher and, second, a "hackneyed aphorist" (136). Chaucer refers to Seneca more than any other philosopher in the Canterbury Tales. In the Parson's Tale and the Tale of Melibee, Chaucer uses Seneca straight, and those tales generally have less audience appeal. Tales where Seneca's morals are used more ironically seem to generate greater audience appreciation. A number of characters refer to Seneca and his ideas, for example: the Wife of Bath uses Seneca in her tale as part of the curtain lecture. The Pardoner, Summoner, Friar, Man of Law, Monk, Merchant, and Manciple all refer to Seneca, but use his teachings ironically. Seneca's teachings do not seem to be the object of Chaucer's ridicule. Instead, they help to characterize those who refer to him.
Winstead, Karen A. "The Beryn-Writer as a Reader of Chaucer." 22 (1988): 225-33.
The Tale of Beryn attempts to continue the Canterbury Tales. The writer is able to imitate Chaucer's humor, style, irony, and narrative techniques, though he has a different idea of the function of the frame. The writer treats readers similarly to Chaucer, creating anticipations of a romance and a heroic past, but then taking apart those expectations. The Tale of Beryn is connected to the prologue and framing device in the same way that the Chaucer's tales are connected to the General Prologue and to one another, and both works require similar activities on the part of the audience. Examination of the Tale of Beryn suggests that fifteenth-century writers appreciated these aspects of Chaucer's artistry.
Wurtele, Douglas. "Some Uses of Physiognomical Lore in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales." 17 (1982): 130-41.
Physiognomy was a popular science in the Middle Ages, especially as a mode of popular wisdom. The details about the Miller's appearance indicate a complex personality when read in light of physiognomical lore. The Pardoner may also be read in such a light. For both the use of physiognomy creates complex irony.