The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography (Vols. 1-30)Return to the Subject List
Hamlin, B. F. "Astrology and the Wife of Bath: A Reinterpretation." 9 (1974): 153-65.
The Wife's references to the astrological configuration at the time of her birth tell of Mars and Venus, and the positions of these two planets explain the Wife's warring, marrying nature. The Wife, however, also refers to Mercury. Venus and Mercury will never both be "exalted" or "depressed" at the same time, though one may be ascendant and the other descendant (155). Thus, both Venus and Mercury were in Pisces at the Wife's birth, and this constellation foreshadows her falling in love with Jankyn's feet. The rarity of this configuration points to a specific birthdate for the Wife, a ten-day period in 1342.
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.
Martin, Carol A. N. "Mercurial Translation in the Book of the Duchess." 28 (1993): 95-116.
Chaucer employs figures of Mercury to camouflage gaps in the text. As a result, careful readers become even more painstaking when such a figure appears. Chaucer uses Mercury in Book of the Duchess as Juno's messenger. In order to give Mercury a role, Chaucer changes the story of Seys and Alcyone that he found in Ovid, Statius, and Machaut, though Mercury is not named. Chaucer alters the use of the word "goddess" so that he can install "language itself as the ultimate shape-shifter" (102). Chaucer even invests the dog with symbolic significance, creating a line of dog imagery throughout the poem until the dog materializes. The dog and other Mercury figures guide the reader beyond gaps in the text, "unite thematic and structural elements of the poem" (110), bring messages and guide souls.