The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography (Vols. 1-30)Return to the Subject List
Kelley, Michael R. "Antithesis as the Principle of Design in the Parliament of Fowls." 14 (1979): 61-73.
The contrasts which seem to undermine the Parliament of Fowls unify the work in a series of formal oppositions. Chaucer employs antithetical pairs of works throughout Parliament as part of a structural design. The bird groups form another contrasting pair: the higher, more courtly birds contrast with the lower, more bourgeois birds. Chaucer also presents description and characterization in opposing pairs. The last section of the poem directly contrasts dream vision with beast fable. In the course of the poem, the narrator's tone shifts from the extreme of love poet to poet of "hevynesse" (89). The Parliament, then, can be analyzed as a work based on design faithfully applied to all its elements. It is one of many medieval works that employ design to unite disparate elements.
Mann, Jill. "The Speculum Stultorum and the Nun's Priest's Tale." 9 (1975): 262-81.
Careful examination of the Nun's Priest's Tale indicates the influence of Nigel de Longchamps. In the Speculum stultorum, Nigel satirizes Burnellus in order to criticize those like him. Burnellus maintains the behavior traits usually associated with asses. When Burnellus finally makes a wise choice, readers remember the folly which is divine wisdom. Since all of society is satirized, however, readers cannot read the moralizing straight. Giving the animals human points of view changes the definition of "good" and "bad" (270). The Nun's Priest's Tale raises serious questions which, when readers try to answer them based on the material in the tale, result in laughter. Chaucer and Nigel use the beast fable in order to discuss the way in which human nature refuses to fit into narrow intellectual or moral molds.
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.
Ridley, Florence H. "The Treatment of Animals in the Poetry of Henryson and Dunbar." 24 (1990): 356-66.
"The Thrissill and the Rois," like many of Dunbar's other poems, uses animal imagery. In "On the Resurrection of Christ" the animals represent the various figures in the resurrection story. Dunbar's animal images are similar to those used in painting. In "Ane Ballat of the Fen3eit Freir of Tungland" Dunbar's habit of making humans into animals and using animal images drawn from art is clearly visible. In "Tua Mariit Wemen and the Wedo" readers see Dunbar's frequent use of horses as images for people. He also uses such images in "The Petition of the Gray Horse, Auld Dunbar." Dunbar also wrote beast fables such as "The Wowing of the King quhen he wes in Dunfermeling," though Dunbar does not seem especially concerned to present a moral. Henryson's work is more concerned with teaching, thus more concerned with offering a moral for his stories as in moral fables. Henryson also uses animal imagery but draws more from bestiaries and heraldry than from art. Dunbar satirizes particular people in poems like "Of James Dog," "Ane Blak Moir," "The Turnament," and "Epetaphe for Donald Oure." Henryson reverses the pattern of picturing people as animals by depicting animals as humans in protest against oppression and to show compassion as in "The Sheep and the Dog," "The Wolf and the Lamb," and "The Preaching of the Swallow." Though Henryson never explicitly questions Providence, his implicit questioning comes through in his work.
Yates, Donald. "Chanticleer's Latin Ancestors." 18 (1983): 116-26.
Several analogues of the Nun's Priest's Tale are extant, and most include a bird and a fox or wolf. Gallus et Vulpes should be more carefully examined because in addition to similar elements, it also treats the material humorously, laying a foundation for Chaucer's entertaining use of the subject matter in the Nun's Priest's Tale. Isengrimus is a Latin epic analogue, but it differs from the Nun's Priest's Tale in developing a pilgrimage theme. Isengrimus also treats the theme of Fortune.