The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography (Vols. 1-30)Return to the Subject List
Scott, Anne. "'Considerynge the beste on every syde': Ethics, Empathy, and Epistemology in the Franklin's Tale." 29 (1995): 390-415.
In the Franklin's Tale Chaucer questions the rigid maintenance of particular epistemologies. He suggests that any codified epistemology or set of ethical standards must be flexible for individuals to maintain happiness, and that all ethical systems must contain elements of compassion. The characters in the Franklin's Tale operate in a rigid framework which understands two opposing courses of action. Thus, Dorigen constructs her response to Aurelius in binary terms, and Arveragus's response to the situation seems a logical conclusion to his way of seeing the world, though it excludes both his and Dorigen's feelings. Arveragus's response does, however, preserve the hierarchy in which he lives. Dorigen represents a different epistemology based on information received from the senses and emotions. Her behavior, then, is subject to misguided intuition or insight. Aurelius does not represent an unflawed middle ground, since he can also be overwhelmed by emotion. In the process of the tale, each character faces the weaknesses inherent in his or her respective epistemology in order that they come to a "more effective process of moral reasoning" (407). The interraction of the characters' ways of knowing allows Chaucer to suggest the best possible epistemology to his audience.
Stanbury, Sarah. "Space and Visual Hermeneutics in the Gawain-Poet." 21 (1987): 476-89.
In Pearl, Patience, Purity, and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the poet uses circumscribed space. The characters move through these spaces, discovering hints to spiritual sight and recognizing how the spiritual encloses the physical. The poet employs the frequently used image of the edifice as spiritual work, and thresholds as transition points. Saints come to represent thresholds or points of change and mediate between man and God. Physical enclosures denote the limits of knowledge.