The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography (Vols. 1-30)Return to the Subject List
Braswell, Mary Flowers. "Chaucer's 'Queinte termes of lawe': A Legal View of the Shipman's Tale." 22 (1988): 295-304.
Chaucer's biography indicates that he would have had knowledge of the law. The Shipman's Tale, when closely examined, reveals that Chaucer used laws controlling trade and commerce as an informing principle for imagery, diction, and "characters, plot, and theme" (296). The wife and the monk negotiate for 100 francs, reaching a contractural agreement confirmed by repeated oaths sworn in legal language. In the plot, Chaucer also uses the medieval law that makes the husband responsible for the wife's debt. The prologue to the Shipman's Tale mentions "queinte termes of lawe" (1189), suggesting to readers the importance of the legal aspects of the tale which follows.
Jacobs, Kathryn. "The Marriage Contract of the Franklin's Tale: The Remaking of Society." 20 (1985): 132-43.
The marriage of Dorigen and Arveragus is a model marriage based on the submission of both parties. The focus on the interests of the other eventually reaches the Clerk of Orleans and Aurelius who deny themselves profit or pleasure for the benefit of someone else. Arveragus's strong emotional response to Dorigen's predicament makes him sympathetic to readers and does not reestablish him as the master in his marriage. Aurelius's manipulation of Dorigen and the contractual language he uses to release her from her promise shows his lack of gentillesse, but also becomes an attempt to live up to the standard Arveragus represents. Finally, the tale tries to persuade the audience to seek greater virtue and so to become an ideal society.
Nolan, Charles J., Jr. "Structural Sophistication in 'The Complaint unto Pity.'" 13 (1979): 363-72.
Though Chaucer clearly employs the complaint form in "Complaint unto Pity," he also uses the language of legal bills as examination of several suits shows. Pity becomes the powerful figure to whom the formal statement of grievance is addressed. Although the "Complaint" does not exactly follow the legal model, recognition of the legal basis for the work gives it greater sophistication.
Witt, Michael A. "The Owl and The Nightingale and English Law Court Procedure of the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries." 16 (1982): 282-92.
Scholars must reconsider the idea that the Owl and the Nightingale is based on legal procedure in light of the inconsistent use of legal language.