The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography (Vols. 1-30)Return to the Subject List
Edden, Valerie. "Sacred and Secular in the Clerk's Tale." 26 (1992): 369-76.
The Clerk's Tale has been called an exemplum of patience. In this view Griselda's patience toward Walter, who is not a deity, but a cruel, vicious man, shows how much patience Christians should display toward God. The Clerk's Tale presents a more secular version of Griselda's story than that found in Petrarch. In the Clerk's Tale, Griselda's primary concerns are earthly, not eternal. Moreover, she only calls on God twice, and the focus in the tale is on human vows, which prepares the reader for the Clerk's reference to the Wife of Bath. Comparison to Custance's response to God in her sufferings reveals the earthly concerns of the Clerk's Tale.
Green, Richard Firth. "Chaucer's Shipman's Tale, Lines 138-41." 26 (1991): 95-98.
The crux in lines 138-41 of the Shipman's Tale can be resolved if line 138 is considered part of the wife's oath and the other lines are considered authorial commentary.
Keiser, George R. "Language and Meaning in Chaucer's Shipman's Tale." 12 (1978): 147-61.
The swearing in the Shipman's Tale points to the failure of the merchant, wife, and monk to use language precisely. Instead of accepting this life as shadowy, these characters seek to change their circumstances, but in order to do so, they often choose to use language to cloud their motives. Oaths are combined with overstatement in such a way that the oath emphasizes the meaning behind the overstatement. The merchant's friendship with the monk is superficial as the merchant's failure to recognize the monk's nature indicates. Because of the merchant's over-concern with money, the simplicity which results makes him less sympathetic. The vague language and neutral moral atmosphere are appropriate to the teller of the Man of Law's Endlink. That the Man of Law's Endlink is a suitable transition to the Shipman's Tale suggests that the two pieces ought to be read as a unit.
Morgan, Gerald. "Boccaccio's Filocolo and the Moral Argument of the Franklin's Tale." 20 (1986): 285-306.
The idea of generosity presented in the Franklin's Tale is present in the sources for the tale. Chaucer's mastery of rhetoric does come through clearly in the tale, and he definitely adopts the generosity present in his sources. The tale distinguishes between vows, oaths, and promises. When Arveragus agrees that Dorigen must keep her word to Aurelius, he reveals that he esteems Dorigen's promises as much as his own. Dorigen faces a moral dilemma between suicide, a non-option for medieval Christians, and infidelity, also a non-option for a faithful woman. Arveragus loves Dorigen not jealously but with friendship, and so is willing to sacrifice his honor to prevent her from breaking her word. The Franklin's Tale thus reveals Chaucer's interest in morally problematic situations.
Soucy, A. Francis. "Gawain's Fault: 'Angardez pryde.'" 13 (1978): 166-76.
In the course of his interaction with Bercilak, Gawain realizes and confesses pride. In the temptation scenes, Lady Bercilak plays on Gawain's concern for his reputation. When Gawain fails to give the girdle to Bercilak, he fails a test of his word, not a test of courtesy. Throughout, Gawain takes great pains to maintain a reputation as a courageous and honest knight. Gawain continues to wear the girdle as a reminder of his sin of pride and of his humanity.
Tkacz, Catherine Brown. "Samson and Arcite in the Knight's Tale." 25 (1990): 127-37.
In the Knight's Tale Arcite promises Mars to cut his hair, and Arcite's vow recalls that of Samson. Chaucer borrows from that tradition and alters the material in the Teseida to create this parallel. Roman de la Rose, a homily in MS Harl.45, fol. 101b, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Kyng Alisaunder, the Fall of Princes, the Letter of Cupid, Valerius ad Ruffinum, Vox clamantis, Confessio amantis, and Somme le Roi all speak of Samson and Solomon as fools for love. Chaucer also borrows from a variant on this tradition that perceives Samson as a suicidal lover. Arcite's vow is the direct opposite of Samson's and draws attention to Arcite's self-betrayal.