The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography (Vols. 1-30)Return to the Subject List
Cox, Lee Sheridan. "A Question of Order in the Canterbury Tales." 1 (1967): 228-52.
The critical debate regarding the identity of the interrupter in the Man of Law's endlink has been endless. The candidates have been the Wife of Bath, the Shipman, the Squire, and the Summoner. The argument for the Shipman rests on the assumption that his tale was first assigned to the Wife, but later transferred to the Shipman when she was given another tale. Differences in manuscripts complicate the problem, but one can show that the Man of Law-Shipman theory rests on the best and generally most authoritative manuscripts.
Delasanta, Rodney. "And of Great Reverence: Chaucer's Man of Law." 5 (1971): 288-310.
Chaucer creates a pattern of mistakes for the Man of Law which undermine his claim to authority. The Man of Law refers to characters mentioned in prologues to works as if they were the characters on which the work concentrated, thus suggesting that he has only read the prologues to these works, not the works themselves. Even his references to Old Testament characters reflect second-hand knowledge. In addition, Chaucer gives the Man of Law the same kind of rhetorical language he gives to characters like the Pardoner and the Merchant whom he deliberately undermines. Furthermore, in the Man of Law's Tale, Chaucer reveals the Man of Law to be a pharisee by having him paint Christians as completely good and the "enemy" as entirely evil. Chaucer thus undercuts both the Man of Law's pretended cultural refinements and his self-proclaimed righteousness.
Furrow, Melissa M. "The Man of Law's St. Custance: Sex and the Saeculum." 24 (1990): 223-35.
Though often presented as disunified, the Man of Law's introduction, prologue, and tale all consider the problem of holy living in a fallen world. Because women represent fleshly desires, writers of saints lives focus more on a female saint's virginity. In the view of such writers, feminine sexuality threatens the spiritual. Female saints cannot have relationships beyond the relationship with Christ. Constance's tests in the Man of Law's Tale are her marriage to the Sultan and the consummation of her marriage to Alla. Ultimately the Man of Law suggests that women can be holy without martyrdom or sainthood.
Spencer, William. "Are Chaucer's Pilgrims Keyed to the Zodiac?" 4 (1970): 147-70.
The sequence of the pilgrims in the General Prologue suggests that they are keyed to the zodiac. Readers can view each pilgrim in terms of the influence of the planets and the stars. Among the pilgrims whom a knowledge of the medieval science of the zodiac helps to illuminate are the Knight, the Squire, the Yeoman, the Prioress, the Monk, the Friar, the Merchant, the Clerk, the Man of Law, the Franklin, the Cook, the Shipman, the Physician, the Wife of Bath, the Parson, the Miller, the Manciple, the Reeve, the Summoner, and the Pardoner.
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.