The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography (Vols. 1-30)Return to the Subject List
Guerin, Dorothy. "Chaucer's Pathos: Three Variations." 20 (1985): 90-112.
Chaucer writes three versions of pathetic stories as seen in examination of the Legend of Good Women and some of the Canterbury Tales. "Lucrece"and the Prioress's Tale are modeled on saints' legends, though Chaucer's works are not as "tough-minded" (92) and are more tightly arranged. The Man of Law's Tale and "Philomela" follow the lady-in-distress pattern of romances and share particular similarities, like shipwrecks and separated lovers, with Greek romances. The heroines of the Physician's Tale and "Hypermnestra" are victimized by earthly injustice. Chaucer alters these stories in a number of ways to make his point. The first two kinds of pathetic tales, "Lucrece," "Philomela," the Prioress's Tale, and the Man of Law's Tale, examine suffering and present several possible responses. The third kind of pathetic story, "Hypermnestra" and the Physician's Tale, raise questions about earthly morality.