The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography (Vols. 1-30)Return to the Subject List
Benson, C. David. "The Knight's Tale as History." 3 (1968): 107-23.
Though many scholars classify the Knight's Tale as a romance, it actually bears great similarity to fourteenth-century chronicles, as Chaucer's attention to realistic historical detail suggests. Chaucer adds to and deletes from Boccaccio's Teseida as well as Statius's Thebiad to create a classical world which would be believable to a medieval audience, though the poem does not accurately represent the world of Greece and Thebes. By including a large amount of historical detail, Chaucer also examines chivalry in a pre-Christian state. Chaucer shows the best of secular knighthood and suggests that it foreshadows Christian chivalry.
Bergan, Brooke. "Surface and Secret in the Knight's Tale." 26 (1991): 1-16.
Language constantly fluctuates between transparency and opacity, and standard forms are always shifting. The Knight's Tale can be read with greater understanding when readers recognize the "transitional moment" in which "the shock of the new makes us conscious of language as surface" (3). Comparison to Boccaccio's Book of Theseus shows Chaucer's rhetorical changes and choices. Ironic subtext lies under every intense emotional moment. The narrator maintains the suddeness that ceremony should ritualize out of existence. The Knight's fascination with order leads him to partition off sections of his tale, as he does in the three temples, the three prayers, and the three signs. The Knight is, however, intent on subverting the romance genre, so the order he creates is always undercut. The "interpenetration" of romance and epic that the Knight creates mirrors Chaucer's interpenetration of oral and written tradition in the Canterbury Tales (14).
Cherniss, Michael D. "Chaucer's Anelida and Arcite: Some Conjectures." 5 (1970): 9-21.
Based on the introductory material in Anelida and Arcite, readers expect more than a "framed complaint," and it seems difficult to believe that Chaucer would put so much effort into the early portions of Anelida merely to create a frame. A number of similarities between Anelida and Chaucer's dream poems suggest that Chaucer may have planned to finish the work as a dream vision. These likenesses include the style of the opening, the "complaint," the description of the temple, and the immutability of the lovers. In addition, Anelida's situation seems too complex for her, thus demanding a vision which will help her resolve her state. The difficulty of Anelida is intensified by its cloudy relationship to the Knight's Tale and Boccaccio's Teseida. Chaucer may have planned to include the tale of Palamon and Arcite, but his intentions remain unknown.
Hewitt, Kathleen. "'Ther it was first': Dream Poetics in the Parliament of Fowls." 24 (1989): 20-28.
The Parliament of Fowls rearranges the material of Cicero's Somnium Scipionis, but still follows the pattern of descent from unity to disunity also found in the Somnium. In the process of presenting the dream, Chaucer borrows from Dante and from Boccaccio's Teseida. The parliament itself derives from Alanus de Insulis's De planctu naturae. In it, the rip in Nature's gown signifies humankind's separation from Nature. The labor of the birds that Chaucer highlights, however, suggests a movement towards redemption.
Nicholson, R. H. "Theseus's 'Ordinaunce': Justice and Ceremony in the Knight's Tale." 22 (1988): 192-213.
When examined in light of the ceremonies, excluding marriage, found in the Knight's Tale, Theseus becomes the central character. Chaucer depicts him differently from his counterparts in the Thebiad and the Teseida. In Chaucer, Theseus carries out justice, and in order to do that, he goes to war against Creon. He then behaves with justice and pity to those whom he has conquered. When he sets Palamon and Arcite up to fight a tournament for Emily, Theseus behaves with chivalry and wisdom, two other characteristics of a good king. Though ultimately the audience does not remember Theseus's actions as much as they do the plot of the love story, Theseus "invests the romance with its distinguished unity" (207).
Ruggiers, Paul G. "Towards a Theory of Tragedy in Chaucer." 8 (1973): 89-99.
Chaucer relies on the same view of Fortune as Boethius and Dante: Fortune is God's providential agent. In the Monk's Tale, Fortune is a pagan goddess who alternately raises and lowers humans without favoritism, but she is ultimately God's mysterious agent. In this tale, Chaucer uses a "high-mimetic" style, but he can also work with "low-mimetic" tragedy involving pathos. The idea that love may be treated tragically derives from Latin writers such as Ovid as well as Boccaccio (Teseida, Filostrato), Dante, and Gower, but the tone of pathos is tempered by the Christian sense of hope. Following Boethius, Chaucer models tragic figures on Adam and Christ, one suffering deservedly, the other undeservedly. Chaucer does, however, seek to lighten tragedy with romantic effects or irony or at least attempts to make the sufferers deserve their troubles. Thus, Chaucer balances God's role in human affairs with the choices humans make that affect their destinies.
Tkacz, Catherine Brown. "Samson and Arcite in the Knight's Tale." 25 (1990): 127-37.
In the Knight's Tale Arcite promises Mars to cut his hair, and Arcite's vow recalls that of Samson. Chaucer borrows from that tradition and alters the material in the Teseida to create this parallel. Roman de la Rose, a homily in MS Harl.45, fol. 101b, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Kyng Alisaunder, the Fall of Princes, the Letter of Cupid, Valerius ad Ruffinum, Vox clamantis, Confessio amantis, and Somme le Roi all speak of Samson and Solomon as fools for love. Chaucer also borrows from a variant on this tradition that perceives Samson as a suicidal lover. Arcite's vow is the direct opposite of Samson's and draws attention to Arcite's self-betrayal.
Wimsatt, James I. "'Anelida and Arcite': A Narrative of Complaint and Comfort." 5 (1970): 1-8.
Anelida and Arcite is related to both Boccaccio's Teseida and to Statius's Thebiad. The emotion which fills each stanza unifies the poem. The set complaint and the rhyme scheme indicate the strong influence of French sources, which also suggest the kind of ending Chaucer would have written: a "comfort" in which the lovers are reunited.