The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography (Vols. 1-30)Return to the Subject List
Holley, Linda Tarte. "Medieval Optics and the Framed Narrative in Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde." 21 (1986): 26-44.
Especially in framed narratives, Chaucer used structures based on medieval theories of seeing found in Robert Grosseteste, Albertus Magnus, Roger Bacon, and John Pecham. Framing devices derive from the medieval dramatic tradition which often used the church arch as a frame for dramatic action. This physical frame evolved into the use of Christian history as an invisible frame. Painters working from newly rediscovered knowledge about optics were able to create three-dimensional paintings and used framing devices. Critics then encouraged the reading of paintings, a belief that carried over into manuscript production. Troilus and Criseyde is constructed in four different frames, 1) characters who through a frame, 2) the dream-vision frame, the poem, 3) the physical, verbal, historical, and philosophical frames within the poem, and 4) a metaphorical frame. In the Nun's Priest's Tale, Chaucer parodically reverses the frame of Troilus and Criseyde.