The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography (Vols. 1-30)Return to the Subject List
Friedman, John Block. "The Dreamer, the Whelp, and Consolation in the Book of the Duchess." 3 (1969): 145-62.
In the Book of the Duchess, the dog serves to draw the Dreamer and the man in black together, functioning as an instrument of healing. Before meeting the whelp, the Dreamer must join the hunt, a movement which suggests that he is ready to face a world which is awake. The dog appears to the Dreamer, coaxing him into a animal-filled forest where the Dreamer comes upon the man in black. The conversation resulting from the meeting of the two men will heal them in both a physical and psychological way. In associating the dog with physical healing, Chaucer follows a precedent established in the legend of Aesclepius, the Book of Tobit, the legend of Saint Roche, and the Tristan romance. Dogs were also associated with the search for truth in such authorities as Plato, though Chaucer probably drew his knowledge of dogs from the bestiary. By drawing the man in black and the Dreamer together, the dog leads them to healing through the recognition of the root of their sorrow and thus helps to release them from psychosomatic illness.