The Book of The Duchess

Wow, so this reading took me awhile. Though I didn’t hate it, I can’t say it was my favorite. However, I feel like there was a decent amount of things that went over my head so I’m hoping tomorrow’s discussion will help me better appreciate the text. The main thing I felt I missed out on was all of the references. Even though there were footnotes to explain each one, I still felt like I didn’t know enough about the background/story of them to really understand the significance. A group of references that I did enjoy were in stanzas 1085-87; “She was as good, and nothing lyke, / Though hir stories be autentyke; / Algate she was as true as she.” The footnote explains that the knight compares his lady to great, renowned women, but then goes beyond that and claims she is greater than even them. Another line I found to be quite humorous was “And never to false yow but I mete,” which essentially means “I will never be false to you, unless I’m dreaming” (1234). I’m not sure how I would react if someone that I cared about said the same of me.

Another place I experienced a bit of confusion was after the knight confesses his love for his lady. It seems as if he says she rejected him and he went into a state of deep sorrow, but then he claims she accepts his love and they live happily ever after (until her tragic death). Yet again, something I’m looking forward to clearing up during class tomorrow.

All in all, I did enjoy the piece. Because of it’s length and the constant going back and forth between translations and footnotes, it got a bit monotonous for me, especially when the knight is telling the speaker for what seems like the 5th time that “thou nost what thou menest; / I have lost more than thou wenest” (1137-38).

3 thoughts on “The Book of The Duchess

  1. About five minutes after posting, I realized that in following the directions to read the poem before the introduction, I forgot to read the introduction entirely! It definitely made me feel like I was standing on firmer ground and it also pointed out several things that I had not noticed, like Chaucer’s use of “inception” and the fact that the afterlife is not mentioned once throughout the whole piece. I do think it was more effective to read the poem before the introduction.

  2. Caroline’s realization that the afterlife was not mentioned is something that I did not notice as important at first. Now that I look back upon the story I realize that as I was reading it I kept equating sleep with death, and the deep dreams as an afterlife. I do not doubt that the author intended on this parallel, but I also think that it was intentional to keep the two separate.

    To continue on Caroline’s comments on “the use of inception” – I also found an obvious parallel between the knight and the narrator. Throughout both of the stories I found myself feeling just as sad and depressed as the speaker, and I feel that this was intentional on the author’s part. I would like to point out the author’s deliberate connection between mental state and sorrow; I think that the author is trying to tell his audience that sorrow is not simply a feeling, but a complete state of being. This state of being is pervasive throughout the entire story.

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