The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography (Vols. 1-30)Return to the Subject List
Hill, John M. "The Book of the Duchess, Melancholy, and that Eight-Year Sickness." 9 (1974): 35-50.
In addition to Chaucer, poets like Guillaume de Machaut and Deschamps use what is traditionally love poem material to portray other states. For example, general melancholy and love melancholy share many symptoms. In the Book of the Duchess, the narrator's melancholy cannot be love because the narrator is not fixated on his beloved. Instead, the narrator suffers from a non-fatal head melancholy. The narrator's insomnia suggests his highly unnatural state, indicating that sleep is the only remedy. The insomnia results in a semi-hysterical attitude toward sleep for the narrator, who would like to sleep, but without dying as Alcyone did. Finally, Seys and Alcyone's story allows the narrator to sleep. In an appendix, Hill suggests a date for the Book of the Duchess, 1374.