The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography (Vols. 1-30)Return to the Subject List
Fleming, John V. "Daun Piers and Dom Pier: Waterless Fish and Unholy Hunters." 15 (1981): 287-94.
Saint Peter Damian's essay De divina omnipotentia refers both to fish out of water and to hunting. He posits that a monk who is also a business administrator will become the prey of the world in the sense of both a caught fish and a hunted deer. Chaucer also names the Monk "Peter," thus referring to St. Peter Damian.
Hodges, Laura F. "A Reconsideration of the Monk's Costume." 26 (1991): 133-46.
Careful examination of the Monk's portrait in light of medieval customs and rules about the attire of monks indicates that the Monk's costume falls within the boundaries of acceptable clothing, and is not excessively rich. Because his clothing is permissible, the Monk's portrait cannot be considered a satire.
Oerlemans, Onno. "The Seriousness of the Nun's Priest's Tale." 26 (1992): 317-28.
The irony of the Nun's Priest's Tale works against both readers who attempt to find morality and the narrator who attempts to give the tale meaning. The success of the tale is determined more by the fact that the Nun's Priest must "quite" the Monk and demonstrate that Fortune does not control everything than by anything he says in particular. He chooses the beast fable because it traditionally has the capacity to delight and to instruct. In the course of the tale, the Priest satirizes those who believe that knowledge of the fallen world will lead closer to truth. The references to Adam and to Christ do not exemplify metanarrative, but point to the narrator's "uncertainty as to where his tale has taken him, and an attempt to combine both the simple intentions and rewards of the beast fable with a more sophisticated moral" (325). The tale functions as a means to examine higher truths in a fallen world.
Olson, Glending. "Chaucer's Monk: The Rochester Connection." 21 (1986): 246-56.
The Host chooses the Monk to speak when the pilgrimage reaches Rochester because the Rochester cathedral housed a monastic order, and Thomas Brinton, the bishop of Rochester, inveighed against monastic corruption. During Chaucer's time, one wall of the cathedral was painted with a picture of Fortune and her wheel, a picture that connects the Monk more closely with Rochester. The association of the Monk with the Rochester cathedral demonstrates a greater connection between geography and the pilgrimage than previous criticism has suggested, and it also indicates that Chaucer carefully incorporates historical details.
Orme, Nicholas. "Chaucer and Education." 16 (1981): 38-59.
Concern with education is a part of Chaucer's work, though it does not figure as a central concern in most of it. In Chaucer's source, the home was a place of instruction, particularly in religious prayers and rituals both for aristocratic and common homes alike. Virginia is the best example of an educated aristocratic lady who was taught on a curriculum nearly equivalent to the masculine one. Though beatings were common, Chaucer suggests that masters exercise patience. Chaucer treats his clerks and university scholars gently, not holding them to the same behavioral standards as prioresses or monks, and he shows a society in which both the upper and the middle classes are literate. The Wife of Bath's Tale is most blatantly about education, particularly in human relations.
Ramazani, Jahan. "Chaucer's Monk: The Poetics of Abbreviation, Aggression, and Tragedy." 27 (1993): 260-76.
The Monk tells his tales in such a way to circumscribe himself and his tales, which are constructed in circles. He also uses the same phonemic and rhetorical devices throughout each story. The way in which Chaucer presents the Monk leads readers to question the relationship between text and context. Chaucer also connects the Monk's Tale to anal retentive psychological behavior in that the Monk has a violent temper, a subtext of his tragedies. The connection between narrative and violence is reinforced by the Monk's connection to the monk in the Shipman's Tale. Chaucer does not criticize de casibus tragedy, but he does criticize the formulaic view the Monk presents of it.
Reiss, Edmund. "The Symbolic Surface of the Canterbury Tales: The Monk's Portrait: Part I." 2 (1968): 254-72.
Chaucer presents his pilgrims with reference to Christian values which they, as pilgrims, should uphold. Examining the characters in light of these values provides additional insights. The anticlerical sentiment becomes much clearer when the reader realizes that the Monk, for example, is surrounded by symbols of his worldly pursuits as opposed to heavenly ones. The bells on his bridle, his disregard for the "old things" of the spirit as opposed to the new things of the world, the animals with which he is associated, and his clothing, all point to fleshly desires which monks should be working to subdue. Understanding the symbolism of details further illuminates the tales and the tale-tellers.
Reiss, Edmund. "The Symbolic Surface of the Canterbury Tales: The Monk's Portrait: Part II." 3 (1968): 12-28.
The Monk's portrait clearly shows his lack of spiritual stature. When he tells the Host that he does not want to "play," he demonstrates a lack of spiritual joy. The Monk's eyes are described in such a way as to suggest that he lacks spiritual insight, that he deceives others, that he is a glutton and a drunkard, and that he has an evil eye. The Monk is also connected to death, particularly by his association with swans. Even the Monk's horse contributes to his evil characterization since Chaucer describes it as dark, like a blackberry, a comparison which is used elsewhere to suggest hell. Finally, the Monk's well-oiled boots suggest that he himself is oily, which adds the final touch to his description, making him repugnant.
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.
Strange, William C. "The Monk's Tale: A Generous View." 1 (1967): 167-80.
The Monk's Tale is not to be discarded as simply dull. The changes Chaucer made in his sources with regard to Fortune show a pattern for what seems to be a disordered tale. The Monk seems to be struggling between two views of Fortune: the Christian view of Fortune and the "powerful sense of that terrible presence, Fortuna" (170). He never resolves this conflict in his exempla. The Knight interrupts him because the stories the Monk tells suggest that order and justice are not so established in the world as the Knight's Tale would indicate. The Nun's Priest's Tale adds a different dimension to the dialogue about Fortune, examining the problem the Monk has posed, but in a more practical way.
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.
Zatta, Jane Dick. "Chaucer's Monk: A Mighty Hunter before the Lord." 29 (1994): 111-33.
The Monk's Tale addresses political issues current in Chaucer's time, particularly tyrannical abuses. For his material, the Monk draws on Augustinian political views revealed in De civitate dei. The Monk's material follows the same pattern of examples as used by other writers such as Thomas Aquinas, John of Salisbury, Boccaccio, Dante, Boethius, Lydgate, Jean de Meun and Guillaume de Lorris. Surprisingly, however, all of the Monk's heros are tyrants. The political subtext becomes most plain in the vignettes, but the Monk lacks the ability to interpret these stories for the benefit of his audience. The tale of Nimrod, characterized as "a mighty hunter before the Lord" (Genesis 10:9) is particularly appropriate to Richard's court. Chaucer presents similar political views in the Parson's Tale.