The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography (Vols. 1-30)Return to the Subject List
Berryman, Charles. "The Ironic Design of Fortune in Troilus and Criseyde." 2 (1967): 1-7.
At the beginning of Troilus and Criseyde, the characters believe that Fortune is fickle, but they behave as if they can defeat Fortune by "trouthe." Finally, however, they experience Fortune's capriciousness and realize that the world is mutable and that no one is free from Fortune's wheel.
David, Alfred. "The Truth about 'Vache.'" 11 (1977): 334-37.
"Vache" or "vacca" in Chaucer's Truth most likely refers to a sacrificial animal, but it may also function in the sense of the "wanton heifer" (335) of Hosea. Any interpretation must, however, account for the fact that "vache" only appears in one of twenty-nine manuscripts of the poem.
Delany, Sheila. "'Phantom' and the House of Fame." 2 (1967): 67-74.
The narrator's plea to be protected from fantome points to his vulnerability to several kinds of error, particularly because of the phantom's separation from reality. Poets are especially susceptible to phantoms and singularly responsible not to impose them on an audience. Finally, the reader realizes that there is no perfect standard by which to distinguish truth from fiction.
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.
Grenberg, Bruce L. "The Canon's Yeoman's Tale: Boethian Wisdom and the Alchemists." 1 (1966): 37-54.
Chaucer uses the Canon's Yeoman's Tale to make concrete Boethius's concern with the search for the earthly world as opposed to the search for God. To this end, Chaucer writes two kinds of alchemists into Canon's Yeoman's Tale. The first type of alchemist is a true philosopher to whom God has given heavenly wisdom through grace; the second is a false imitator who, without God's grace, attempts to discover the secrets of the universe. The satire of the false alchemists begins with their link to religion and continues as they use clerical language and display clerical attitudes in alchemy. In the course of the tale, the spiritual poverty of the canon becomes increasingly apparent. The Yeoman's complaints that his work has produced nothing of consequence finally lead him to look for truth; as in Boethius, earthly downfall brings wisdom. When the Yeoman finishes his tale, the reader recognizes the Yeoman's "conversion" from a search for falsehood to a search for truth--that is for God.
Harrington, David V. "Narrative Speed in the Pardoner's Tale." 3 (1968): 50-59.
The lack of transitions in the narrative of the Pardoner's Tale causes readers to miss the audacity of the Pardoner's telling about his own fraudulent activities. Readers both applaud the moral statements of the Pardoner's sermon and feel a growing disgust for him, but because of the speed at which the tale unfolds, have no time to stop and consider what they are reading. The poet uses rhetorical devices--asyndeton, hyperbaton--to denote hurried movement. The seeming disjointedness of the elements in the Pardoner's sermon contributes to this sense of a quickly unfolding narrative. Readers then, should not consider the Pardoner's Tale with an eye to the strength of the contradictions, but instead, focus on the degree to which this tale reflects a truth of the human condition--that all people experience similar contradictions between their beliefs and their behavior.
Middleton, Anne. "The Modern Art of Fortifying: Palamon and Arcite as Epicurean Epic." 3 (1968): 124-43.
Dryden's attempt to change the Knight's Tale into an epic is unsuccessful. He removes the very things, particularly the narrator's occasional lapses of tone, which Chaucer included to prevent the reader from seeing this tale as an epic. Dryden emphasizes love and arms and focuses on the visual arts, attempting to present a "speaking picture" (126). Instead of leaving the changes Chaucer made to his sources by making Palamon and Arcite similar, Dryden recasts them to make Arcite the warrior and Palamon the lover so that he could have a conflict between love and war. Also, Dryden alters the characterization of the gods so that they become human, no longer detached powers. The changes Dryden makes to Chaucer's tale hide its heroic theme. In addition, the alterations in the deathbed scene modify the tale to such an extent that the reader cannot see the events from a "Chaucerian distance" (140). In the end, he sacrifices "heroic trappings to the truth of the story" (143).
Peck, Russell A. "Sovereignty and the Two Worlds of the Franklin's Tale." 1 (1967): 253-71.
Chaucer does not present his ideal view of marriage through the Franklin's Tale. Instead, he examines the discernment of truth in a world concerned with illusions. The Franklin, himself, has attempted to impose his desires on the world outside himself, and thus he also exemplifies the problem of recognizing truth. He desperately wants the other pilgrims to see him as a gentleman, but constantly reveals himself as of the middle class. In his tale, Dorigen and Arveragus also attempt to present a false front to a society that does not follow the natural order. Because that order has been subverted, confusion occurs. When Dorigen goes to meet Aurelius as Arveragus orders, she releases the characters from illusions, thus restoring order.
Toole, William B. "Chaucer's Christian Irony: The Relationship of Character and Action in the Pardoner's Tale." 3 (1968): 37-43.
The three revelers' obsession with the physical blinds them to spiritual truth. Ironically, they do not realize that the warnings they receive from the child and the tavernkeeper are spiritual, not physical. In their confused, intoxicated state, they truly believe that Death is a powerful physical being whom the three of them can overcome. Their physicality causes them to invert the Crucifixion by seeking to preserve their physical bodies by physical means. The three revelers become an unholy trinity, demonstrating the facets of cupidity, a sin which causes their destruction.
Wilson, William S. "Scholastic Logic in Chaucer's House of Fame." 1 (1967): 181-84.
The three episodes that make up the House of Fame are not digressions from the journey, but are arranged so as to demonstrate the Trivium--grammar, persuasive rhetoric, and logic. In Book III, Chaucer uses logic "to analyze the popular idea of fame, refining it into a philosophic idea" (182). Finally, Chaucer suggests that logic leads only to what one already knows by common sense or intuition, and that truth cannot be discovered by logical means.