The Manciple’s Tale

In the Open Access Companion, Seaman analyzes the presence of, or lack thereof, a voice for the wife in the Manciple’s Tale. While she is a central figure in the story, she never speaks a line, thus “correctly represent[ing] medieval women’s experience as it comes to us: almost exclusively through men’s voices.” Seaman acknowledges the parallel language used for her and the crow, both being under her husband’s ruling. In the tale, even though the crow is clearly depicted as male with the use of ‘he’, is severely punished for speaking out, further emasculating the creature and equating it with femininity, as women’s voices are not heard. However, the end of the tale exhibits women’s wisdom through experience with words from the Manciple’s mother. This wise woman character is featured in other tales of Chaucer’s, such as the wife in the Wife of Bath’s Tale. It is interesting that this figure appears again in a tale where femininity seems to be a doomed position, leading to violence. Further, since the crow is paralleled against women, does he too encapsulate this wisdom?

Midterm Question

Both the Book of the Duchess and the Knight’s Tale are stories of the nobility, as opposed to the Miller’s Tale. And in both, the female characters, Blanche and Emily have far less agency than Alisoun. How do Blanche and Emily compare to each other and how does there agency — or lack thereof — play into the stories at large?

Jan 25: Introduction to The Canterbury Tales

The Introduction notes that there has been a signal of a shift in “the reception of Chaucer’s poetry; earlier he had elevated”our” language to new heights of golden rhetoric, but now he is distanced, likened to classic poets of another time and language” (22). Why is the distinction between Chaucer as “father” and as “master” so important to scholars? Why is it important for us in studying Chaucer now?

Jan 18: Book of the Duchess Part 2

At the end of the poem, the speaker wakes up and claims that the dream he has had is so ‘curious’ that he must put it in writing. What elements of the dream vision does Chaucer exhibit and how does that impact the overall message of the story? Basically, how would this story differ if there wasn’t the presence of a dream narrative?

Jan 16: Book of the Duchess Part 1

The forward of this section asks “Does he merely pretend to ignorance as a strategy for drawing out the ailing knight?…or, are we meant to take the dreamer’s obtuseness straight?” (5). What examples are there in the text for either argument? Further, the forward speculates Chaucer’s voice for the female characters of the story (or lack thereof). What do you make of this, given the things in Chaucer’s own life we talked about last class along with evidence in the poem?