The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography (Vols. 1-30)Return to the Subject List
Benson, C. David. "Their Telling Difference: Chaucer the Pilgrim and His Two Contrasting Tales." 18 (1983): 61-76.
Chaucer does not give enough information about the pilgrim identified with himself in the Canterbury Tales for critics to claim that the pilgrim is a well-developed character. The tales this pilgrim tells, however, present a dramatic contrast between clever and poor art. The Tale of Sir Thopas is not satiric, but a highly imaginative, carefree tale of nothing. The Tale of Melibee is the stylistic opposite of Thopas. Melibee is highly moral and has little imaginative content either in words or ideas. Chaucer does not merely contrast good with bad art, but different ways to use language. Thus Thopas and Melibee work best when read as a unit.
Burrow, John. "'Worly under wede' in Sir Thopas." 3 (1969): 170-73.
The rare form "worly" for "worthily" in Group VII, line 917 is a more accurate transcription of the word Chaucer chose, given its status as a native English word. Its use in that position would probably encourage the Host to stop the tale.
Daileader, Celia R. "The Thopas-Melibee Sequence and the Defeat of Antifeminism." 29 (1994): 26-39.
The Wife of Bath problematizes the abuse of women, both physically and verbally, in her rebellion and misconstruction of authority. Chaucer responds to the Wife in the Tale of Melibee, reasserting his authority through Prudence. The rapes at the beginning of the Wife of Bath's Tale and the Tale of Melibee parallel each other in several significant ways. These violations also raise the question of how women may speak about the violation of texts and their bodies. In the Tale of Melibee, Prudence must convince Melibee to listen to her, and she does so by direct quotation from a number of texts. The Wife asserts herself by misquoting a few texts. In Prudence Chaucer responds to the Wife of Bath's feminist rhetoric which misconstrues authoritative texts by systematically addressing and dismantling those authorities.
Gaylord, Alan T. "The Moment of Sir Thopas: Towards a New Look at Chaucer's Language." 16 (1982): 311-29.
Both Dante and Deschamps wrote treatises expressing a particular view of language. In the Tale of Sir Thopas Chaucer presents his view of literary language carefully concealed behind parody. Chaucer adjusts the tail-rhyme of Guy of Warwick to create laughter and to establish literary English. A standard of language adapted for poetry did not exist in the fourteenth century: Chaucer had to create a poetic language that sounded believably like speech.
Hamel, Mary. "And Now for Something Completely Different: The Relationship Between the Prioress's Tale and the Rime of Sir Thopas." 14 (1980): 251-59.
In Group VII (Fragment B2), the tales are connected quickly and contrast each other. Chaucer emphasizes the contrast between the Tale of Sir Thopas and the Prioress's Tale, but Thopas gains effectiveness from its similarity to the Prioress's Tale. Thopas's name associates him with the Prioress's chaste protagonist. The lily Thopas wears in his helmet parodies the Prioress's Tale by equating the Virgin Mary with the Elf-queen. In Thopas, Chaucer also parodies the Prioress's anti-Semitism, suggesting that the Jews, like the three-headed monster in Thopas, are feared because they are unknown.
Haskell, Ann S. "Sir Thopas: The Puppet's Puppet." 9 (1975): 253-61.
Sir Thopas is a joke figure, the puppet of Chaucer the pilgrim, controlled by Chaucer the writer. Details in the description of Sir Thopas indicate that he may have physically been a puppet. Ultimately, the character of Thopas, however artificial he may be, is real.
Mandel, Jerome. "Courtly Love in the Canterbury Tales." 19 (1985): 277-89.
In the Canterbury Tales, Chaucer occasionally uses the trappings of courtly love as seen in the Clerk's, Merchant's, Shipman's, Squire's, Franklin's, Cook's, Reeve's, Miller's, and Knight's Tales, and the Tale of Sir Thopas. In the Canterbury Tales as a whole, however, Chaucer does not hold up courtly love as positive or important.
Olson, Glending. "A Reading of the Thopas-Melibee Link." 10 (1975): 147-53.
Chaucer expands his moral tale but does not substantially change its content from Renaude de Louens's Livre de Mellibee et Prudence. The word "treyts" refers to the ways in which the different versions Melibee have been circulating. Chaucer uses more proverbs in Melibee than appear in his sources, but the meaning is the same as the other versions of the tale.
Peterson, Joyce E. "The Finished Fragment: A Reassessment of the Squire's Tale." 5 (1970): 62-74.
Chaucer intentionally made the Squire's Tale a fragment. Examining it in terms of the larger structure of the Canterbury Tales, the narrator's point of view, and the action of tale demonstrate its completeness. Sir Thopas and the Monk's Tale show that intentional fragments result when the listeners or readers become frustrated. The Franklin halts the Squire by pretending his tale is done, showing the Franklin's sensitivity to social rank. The Squire's Tale thus becomes a "thematic link" to the Franklin's Tale. Instead of demonstrating how he is not like Damyan (Merchant's Tale), he shows the weakness of his own morality as it is based on the difference between "vulgarity and elegance, not cupiditas and caritas" (70). The Squire's Tale depicts the carnality of courtly tradition (gentillesse) and the unnaturalness of a caste system. Since the Squire has demonstrated all of this before the Franklin interrupts him, the Franklin can be said to have stopped him at the point where the action ends.
Ruggiers, Paul G. "Platonic Forms in Chaucer." 17 (1983): 366-82.
Chaucer builds his poetry around four different topics, "1) eating and drinking; 2) sexuality and love; 3) play and seriousness; and 4) the making of art" (367). Drinking has religious overtones of suffering, and the drinking image appears in the Reeve's, Pardoner's, Man of Law's, and Franklin's Tales as well as in Troilus and Criseyde and the House of Fame. Chaucer treats love in four different ways as seen in Troilus and Criseyde, and in the Miller's , Reeve's, and Second Nun's Tales. Furthermore the Canterbury Tales as a whole experiments with the theme of play, examining play from a number of different points of view. Chaucer also investigates what it is to create a literary work, a theme particularly present in the Tale of Sir Thopas and the Tale of Melibee.
Tschann, Judith. "The Layout of Sir Thopas in the Ellesmere, Hengwrt, Cambridge Dd.4.24, and Cambridge Gg.4.27 Manuscripts." 20 (1985): 1-13.
The presentation of the Tale of Sir Thopas in the Ellesmere, Hengwrt, and Cambridge manuscripts gives readers different ways of reading it, and suggests the ability of the scribes who presented the poem to read and understand the story they were copying as if it were a piece of architecture.
Waterhouse, Ruth, and Gwen Griffiths. "'Sweete wordes' of Non-Sense: The Deconstruction of the Moral Melibee (Part I)." 23 (1989): 338-61.
Chaucer's alterations of Louhans's Livre de Mellibee et Prudence make clear to the reader that determining the "sentence" of the tale is impossible, but that it is not a "lapse" (339). Melibee shares a number of elements with the other tales, and it must be read in that context. The juxtaposition of Melibee with Thopas suggests that the two oppose each other. In Thopas the discourse is subordinate to the story line, which makes Thopas a parody; in Melibee the story is obscured by the discourse, underlined by the distance readers recognize between allegory and story line. In both tales signifiers refer to competing sets of signifieds, creating a sense that appearances cannot be trusted.