I found the varying settings and, for lack of a better word, levels of this story very striking. They were varied and interesting, causing me to pay way more attention to setting and plot details. First, our narrator is lamenting his recent lack of sleep. Then he tells us of a story he read one night. Afterward, we transition to his call upon the gods and the subsequent dream sequence. Within the dream itself, we have the hunt, the exploration of the forest, and the discovery of a knight in mourning. The knight then begins to tell his own tale and only when it is finished does our narrator wake up from his dream. Even though it was a challenging read with the subplots making it even more confusing at times, I did enjoy it, although perhaps I missed the purpose of so many stories within a story. I’m not really seeing a deeper meaning for the use of this technique. I’m sure we’ll talk about this in class, but am I missing the obvious here?
I also felt that Chaucer sort of left us hanging with the subplots, and half-way through the knight’s adoration of the Duchess, I was wondering what happened to the amnesiac narrator at the being of the poem. The introduction to The Book of the Duchess helped to clear some of this up, but also left more questions. Chaucer relies on the form of the dream vision narrative “popularized by some of the greatest European poets of the Middle Ages” — I had never heard of this, which made the reading complicated and confusing for me as well (4). The Knight’s tale must relate to the narrator’s ambivalence and fear of death expressed in the beginning of the work, which perhaps makes the knight’s tale of mourning more powerful, though it is difficult to see in his reaction at the end–as the introduction states, the narrator returns us to the poem’s opening but without having resolved any of the key questions raised there…” (5).
I also thought Chaucer’s treatment of death and mourning was interesting in light of our reading and discussion of the elegies from last week. While it deals with the nasty death of a beloved young women, Chaucer seems to deal with the topic in a much more lighthearted (though still powerful at times) way. I am also ready for some class discussion on this interesting work.
I agree that the structure of this reading was captivating as the narrator took us on a journey through his thoughts. As I think about the reasoning of the plot shift I think the purpose is to reflect the stream of consciousness or the thought process of a sleep deprived fellow, how it jumps from place to place each thought connected by one aspect of another. In this reading Chaucer did an excellent job of illustrating this thought process and I think that’s what makes the reading so interesting and captivating.
Yes this definitely was slightly difficult with the subplots. I think the situation was a very familiar situation to most readers. Beginning with the narrator lamenting and feeling tired, confused and just trying to fall asleep and therefore looking for a way to do that. Yet again another relatable emotion example to the Medieval period. Although the whole reading seemed rather odd and confusing, it did feel somewhat real and powerful through these stories. But I agree it left me a little bewildered at the end.