HE313--Chaucer and His Age
Fall Semester, AY2006
Primary Texts
Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales: 15 Tales and the GP, ed. Kolve
Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde, trans. Nevill Coghill
P   O   S   T   I   N   G   S
1.  Link to the Electronic Chaucer (click)
2.  Link to The Essential Chaucer, bibliography (click)
3.  Harvard Chaucer Page (click)
4.  Assignment for Paper #1 (click)
5.  Duncan's General Prologue Page (click)
6.  Luminarium Page, containing images of pilgrims from the Ellesmere MS (click)
7.  Knight's Tale Quiz with some sample answers (click)
8.  Depiction of the Ptolemaic Universe (click); the great chain of being (click)
9.  Gudielines for Required Out-of-Class Essays (click)
10.  Reeve's Tale Quiz with some sample answers (click)
11.  Wife of Bath's Prologue Quiz (click)
12.  Friar's Tale Quiz with sample answers (click)
13.  Sample Successful Papers--Assignment #1 (click)
14.  Illustrations of the difference between "topic" and "thesis" in literary analysis (click)
15.  Clerk's Tale Quiz (click)
16.  Merchant's Tale Quiz with sample answers (click)
17.  Images of the two medieval gardens (click)
18.  Franklin's Tale Quiz/Group Activity (click)
19.  Review/Study Guide (click)
20.  Sample Successful Papers--Assignment #2 (click)
21. Troilus, BK 1 Quiz (click)
22. Rules of Courtly Love (click)
23. Troilus, BK 3 Quiz (click)
24. Grades Table (click)
25. Troilus, BK 4 Quiz (click)
26. Sample Successful Papers--Assignment #3 (click)
WK1 Aug 22  Introduction to Course Procedures and goals
  Aug 24  CT: General Prologue, 2-3
"Chaucer's Language," xv-xix
On Pilgrimage, 327-332
Exposition of themes.  Images
Pronunciation of ME
  Aug 26 CT: General Prologue, 3-16
Link to Duncan's GP Page (click)
Persona and characterization Quiz
WK 2 Aug 29 CT: General Prologue, 16-23
Boccaccio's "frame narrative," 311-325
Medieval Estates, 333-40
Estates Satire; necessity vs. virtue 
  Aug 31 CT: Knight's Tale, parts 1&2 Philosophical romance?  Narrative style 
  Sep  2 CT: Knight's Tale, parts 3&4 Boethian themes; main character?  Quiz
WK 3 Sep  6 A Monday Tuesday--Review Close reading of selected passages
  Sep  7 CT: Miller's Prologue & Tale, 71-88 Dramatic elements; fabliau/comedy 
  Sep  9 Source/analogue, 341-43
A curious Biblical allusion (click)
Chaucer's art and plotting; themes?
"Goddes privetee"???  Images:
Click Click Click  Click  Click ClickClick
WK 4 Sep 12 CT: Reeve's Prologue & Tale, 88-99
Source/analogue, 344-47
"Quiting"; tone?; pilgrimage now? Quiz
  Sep 14 CT: Wife of Bath's Prologue, 102-21 Marriage; 4th estate; self-exposing narrative Quiz
  Sep 16 Background, 348-86 (read around in)
Images of medieval baths (click)
Biblical woman at the well--John 4:6-15
WK 5 Sep 19 CT: Wife of Bath's Tale, 
Source/analogue, 386-96 (optional)
Romance; wish-fulfilllment x 2; water!
  Sep 21 Open Review; discuss paper #1
  Sep 23 CT: Friar's Prologue & Tale, 131-40
Analogue, 397-98; Satan and Friars 
(click) (click) (click)
Exemplum; dramatic elements Quiz
WK 6 Sep 26 CT: Summoner's Prologue & Tale, 141-54 Satire; question; who's in charge?
Paper Due Sep 28 Open In-Class Editing (click) of Papers   Click here for assignment
  Sep 30 CT: Clerk's Prologue & Tale, 154-85
Rhyme Royal (click) Images (click)
Allegory?  Verbal patterns Quiz
WK 7 Oct  3 Sources/analogues, 399-21 Groping for meaning
  Oct  5 CT: Merchant's Prologue & Tale, 185-211 Fabliau; digressions; medieval garden (click) Quiz
  Oct  7 Open Review
  Oct 12 CT: Franklin's Prologue & Tale, 212-33 Breton lai; marriage; Franklin's values Quiz
  Oct 14 Source/analogue, 424-28 How narrator matters
WK 9 Oct 17 E-Text: Physician's Tale (click); for Interlinear 
translation go to (click) and then to the tale.
Murderous control 
  Oct 19 CT: Pardoner's Prologue, 233-36
Source/analogue, 431-36
Pardoner's "conscious self-exposure"
  Oct 21 CT: Pardoner's Tale, 236-48
Source/analogue, 436-38
Old man, garden, communion, setting
WK10 Oct 24 E-Text: Shipman's Tale (click)
Tally Sticks (click, click)
More fabliau, marriage, punning  Quiz
  Oct 26 CT: Prioress's Prologue & Tale, 248-54
Analogue, 439-50
Virgin worship, anti-Semiticism, horror Quiz
Oct 28 Open Review
Paper Due
Oct 31 Open In-class editing  Click here for assignment
  Nov  2 CT: Nun's Priest's Prologue & Tale, 269-85 Beast fable, marriage, dangerous words Quiz
  Nov  4 CT: Manciple's Prologue & Tale, 285-94 More dangerous words; authorship's hazards
WK12 Nov  7 CT: Chaucer's Retraction, 306-7 Review; what to believe?
  Nov  9 Troilus and Criseyde, BK 1, 3-41 Exposition of themes; setting; narrator as character Quiz
WK13 Nov 14 Open Reading Day for Troilus and Criseyde
  Nov 16 Troilus and Criseyde, BK 2, 45-107 The art of love; Pandarus as friend Quiz
  Nov 18 Open Evaluation of characters
WK14 Nov 21 Troilus and Criseyde, BK 3, 45-107 Bliss at last; male bonding;Trojan society Quiz
  Nov 23 Open Narrator's tone; love in the medieval world
WK15 Nov 28 Troilus and Criseyde, BK 4, 179-239 Double sorrow; trading in women Quiz
  Nov 30 Open Troilus's inaction
  Dec 2 Troilus and Criseyde, BK 5, 243-309 Sudden Diomedes; Criseyde now? 
WK16 Dec 5 Open Problem ending?  Tragedy
Paper Due Dec 7 Closing Matters Review for Final Exam; complete evaluations
Clickhere for assignment
WK17 Dec 15
Final Exam  See Study Guide (click) Excel on Exam


Notes on Assignments, Routines, and Goals

1.  Goals, Grading Standards, Statement on Plagiarism.  We'll use the description of the A through F papers in the Guidelines to HE111 & 112 as our guidelines for assigning paper grades.

2.  Assignments and Grading.

Activity % of Final Grade
Three out-of-class papers   about   50%
In-class writings, quizzes   about   30%
Final Exam  about   20%

3.  Course Policies.

a) You must do all papers and announced in-class work in order to pass the course.

b) Do not assume that I will be reasonable about late papers; in fact, expect arbitrary behavior from me if you chose to hand in an essay late.

c) You can rewrite--not superficially revise--one of the first two essays. The grade for the rewritten essay will replace that of the original, provided that it is a better grade. The rewrite is due before the due date of the next assigned paper. However, I encourage you to re-write before you hand in your essays.  To that end, I'm always happy to help you along with your drafts before you turn in a final version.  Stop by my office or get in touch with me via e-mail.

4.  Class Meetings.  Discussion of assigned readings and other projects, punctuated occasionally by short, informal lectures.  A good deal of in-class writing.

5.  Office Hours.  Sampson 252. MWF 9- 10:30 and T, 9-11 & 2:30-3:30.  I read my e-mail frequently and I'll give you my home number, so you won't have any trouble getting hold of me.  My office phone is 36232.



General Prologue Quiz (15 pts)

Part 1(10 pts).  Identify the pilgrims described in ten passages below.  Chose from the list.

Miller, Wife of Bath, Prioress, Clerk, Parson, Knight, Shipman, Squire, Franklin,  Monk, Friar, Cook, Physician, Plowmans

He knew the tavernes wel in every toun,
And everich hostiler and tappestere
Bet than a lazar or a beggestere, 
For unto swich a worthy man as he
Acorded nat, as by his facultee,
To have with seke lazars aqueyntaunce:
It is nat honest, it may nat avaunce . . .

But greet harm was it, as it thoughte me,
That on his shine a mormal hadde he.
For blankmanger, that made he with the beste.

Wel coude he sitte on hors, and faire ryde.
He coude songes make and wel endyte,
Juste and eek daunce, and wel purtreye and wryte. 
So hote he lovede that by nightertale
He sleep namore than dooth a nightingale.
Curteys he was, lowly, and servisable,
And carf biforn his fader at the table.

Souninge in moral vertu was his speche,
And gladly wolde he lerne, and gladly teche.

He was a janglere and a goliardesys,
And that was most of sinee and harlotryes.
Wel coude he stelen corn, and tollen thryes
And yet he hadde a thombe of gold, pardee.

Ful many a draughte of wyn had he y-drawe
From Burdeux-ward, whyle that the chapman sleep.
Of nyce conscience took he no keep:
If that he faught, and hadde the hyer hond,
By water he sente hem hoom to every lond.

But dwelte at hoom, and kepte wel his folde,
So that the wolf ne made it nat miscarie;
He was a shepherde and noght a mercenarie.

Ful redy hadde he his apothecaries
To sende him drogges and his letuaries,
For ech of hem made other for to winne;
Hir frendschipe nas nat newe to beginne.

And peyned hire to countrefete chere
Of court, and to been estatlich of manere,
And to ben holden digne of reverence.

Of fustian he wered a gipoun
Al bismotered with his habergeoun
For he was late y-come from his viage,
And wente for to doon his pilgrmage.

He wolde thresshe, and therto dyke and delve,
For Cristes sake, for every povre wight,
Withouten hyre, if it lay in his might.

Part 2 (5 pts).  Write a paragraph about one of the techniques Chaucer uses to form our impressions of the pilgrim whom he describes.


"Knight's Tale" Quiz (10 pts)

Part 1 (5 pts).  Match the characters with the gods most closely associated with them in the tale.

Theseus (Jupiter) Diana
Emily   (Diana) Jupiter
Ageus   (Saturn) Saturn
Palamon (Venus) Venus
Arcite   (Mars) Mars

Part 2 (5 pts).  Short answer.

a.  What does it mean, in terms of the themes of this tale, "to maken vertu of necessitee" (l. 3041)?
To respond in some meaningful way, some way the gives us a sense of control, to events that occur outside our control,
to necessity/destiny, in other words.

b.  What negative event happens to Palamon in the tournament?
Gets captured, seemingly losing his chance to "have" Emily for himself.

c.  What      "             "           "          "       Arcite   "      "        "         ?
Gets thrown from his horse because of an earthquake sent by Saturn and dies just as he thinks he has gained what he
has longed to possess, Emily.

d.  What is the site of the stadium that Theseus builds?
The grove where Theseus catches Arcite and Palamon fighting, which is also the site of the funeral pire for Arcite.

e.  Identify an image, motif, metaphor, word, or meaningful event from the GP that has been repeated and transformed in the "Knight's Tale."  Briefly explain.
1) the motif of pilgrimage; 2) some aspect of the combination of love and war represented in the pair of the Knight and Squire in the GP; 3) the terms "worthy" and "cousin"; 4) the notion of bringing order out of an experience through a kind of game or contest, as in the tale-telling game set up by the Host and the tournament, by Theseus; 5) spring creating urges to action and to love, such as with Emily's getting out into the garden in May, Theseus's need to go on the hunt because of seasonal pressures, and of course "inspiring" of nature in the spring at the beginning of the GP; 6) self-consciousness about narration, about adequacy of description, along with the act of telling what one professes or seems to profess NOT to tell.

Part 3  Extra Credit (3 pts).

Which character does not get what he/she primarily asks for--Emily, Palamon, or Arcite?

Emily--does not get to remain a virgin--must enter the "game" of life, unfortunately.


Guidelines for Required Out-of-Class Essays
Length:    about 4 pages, 1000 words

Audience: your classmates and instructor

Format:    12 pt. font, double-spaced, 1" margins

Documentation (if applicable):  MLA parenthetical (no footnotes please)

Due Dates:  Paper 1 on 28 Sep // Paper 2 on 31 Oct // Paper 3 on 7 Dec

Required Focus:  Papers 1 & 2 on the CT; paper 3 on The Troilus

Suggested approaches and some sample topics:

Canterbury Tales

Approach A.  Analyze a pilgrim's tale as an expression of the dramatic and thematic interplay within the pilgrimage to Canterbury.   For example:

KT as expression of Squire-Knight relationship
MT as a "quytyng of the KT
WBT as a rebellion against the friars

Approach B.  Examine the relation of an important "part" to the "whole."  Examples:

A prologue to a tale
A single, vital passage in a tale to the overall meaning of that tale
An imagery pattern or essential word as driving a tale's meaning
A minor, but surprisingly revealing pattern (word, image, structural
     detail)  running throughout the CT

Approach C.  A GP portrait as it relates to the pilgrim's tale.

Approach D.  Argument on some point made in class or on one of the recommended websites.

Approach E.  Thematic.  For example: 

Some element in the marriage theme
Speaking as dangerous
Difficulties in recognizing an objective truth
An element of love
Bodies, body language, and meaning

Approach F.  Stylistic.  For example:

Occupatio in KT 
Couplets as meaning

Approach G.  Problem Solution.  Locate a problem in one of the tales, or in the CT as a work and discuss why we need to pay attention to that problem if we are to interpret the work carefully and fully.  For example:

Theseus' repeated contradictions
Women as apparently resistent to punishment in the fabliau but still objects
The Wife of Bath's "feminism"
The vulgarity of the Miller's Tale, but its incredible artfulness

Troilus and Criseyde

I provide below a list of suggested topics.  Also, keep in mind the Approaches B, D, E, F and G above: you certainly can use one of those methods to attack The Troilus.  The same guidelines about length, audience, and due dates are in play with this third paper.  Let me emphasize again how important it is for you to narrow your topic into a controlling idea with a clear purpose.  Be sure to consult once again the "expectations" section following this list of suggested topics.  Finally, feel free to use the Middle English texts available on line (I also have extra copies) to support your argument, say, when a particular word or phrasing could make a lot of difference.

1.  Take a vivid event/encounter/episode and analyze how it fits into the work’s development of a major theme(s) and/or character.  Examples: either Criseyde’s or Troilus’ dream; one of Troilus’ “ridebys”; one of Criseyde’s encounters with Pandarus; the narrator’s announcing that Criseyde has not returned to Troy immediately after portraying her thoroughly considered resolution to do so; either one of the three “bedroom scenes” involving Troilus and Criseyde; or one of the encounters between Troilus and Pandarus.

2.  Deal with the issue of stability of character--the opposite, say, of Criseyde’s “slydynge of corage” (BK 5).  Criseyde is the main subject here, but is she alone?  Is there really an essential element to each character in the work or is that a mirage, something the narrator tries to enforce, for instance, by the static characterizations of Diomedes, Criseyde, and Troilus late in BK 5? 

3.  Is there a convincing defense for Criseyde’s “disloyalty” to Troilus?  If so develop it persuasively?

4.  We often hear of the “double standard” for the sexes--what is good for the goose is not necessarily good for the gander.  Do you see that working in this poem?

5.  Analyze the narrator.  Maybe focus on his relationship with Criseyde.  What’s at stake there?

6.  Why is Diomedes in the narrative?  What is his function?  What sorts of themes does he highlight?  How is he important in developing the other characters and our judgment of them?

7.  Do you notice any line of imagery (of animals, of fire, of architecture/building, of blindness, of jewelry, of writing, inscribing and engraving, of eyes, of seafaring, for instance) that adds richness to the implications of the narrative?  If so develop a discussion of one of them.

8.  Develop an analysis of the thematic suggestiveness in the repeated allusions to Thebes and its story.  Why is that stuff in a story about Troy and Troilus? 

9.  Consider the curious association of violence with love in the poem?  How does it emerge and what does it suggest about love?

10.  Why is Pandarus in the poem?  What are his functions?  What does he add to the love theme? 

11.  What do you make of the curious triple portrait section on pp. 270-72.  Why does Chaucer put this set piece here?

12.  Examine Chaucer's handling of Criseyde's giving herself over to Diomede, especially the chronology of that as it relates to the chronology of Troilus' reaction back in Troy.  It seems that the narrator jumps way ahead with the Diomedes-Criseyde events and then circles back to describe Troilus during the first ten days of Crisyede's absence.  Why?


1)  Clear, concise, grammatically correct prose;
2)  Rich ness of examples and evidence to prove the main idea;
3)  A strong controlling idea that gives purpose to the paper;
4)  An organization determined by the paper's idea, not by the unfolding of plot; in other words, no unnecessary 
     plot summary (your audience has read the work!);
5)  Unified, coherent paragraphs, place in logically clear relation to each other;
6)  Preference for active verbs; use passive voice, noun constructions ("this is illustrative of"), hammock 
     constructions ("it is true that . . .," "there are . . .") sparingly;
7)  Signs of lively expression, intellectual excitement, awareness of audience's need to learn something interesting.

Aids and Resources:

1)  A sample paper  I've written on the KT, as the topic emerged from our in-class discussions (click).  The aim here is to give you a sense of the kind of focus and organization, and the kind of commitment to textual evidence that I'm looking for in your papers.  I also try to show some various ways to use quotes in a paper.

2)  Sample student essays from on the Electronic Chaucer Webpage (click). Be careful here: a lot of these papers have problems with organization, sharpness of focus, and amount of evidence.

3)  Concordance, if you're interested in tracing a particular word in a tale (click)

4)  Middle English Dictionary (click)


Lost Inside with No Place to Go:  Patterns of Circumscription in "The Knight's Tale"

     Until tale's end the characters in the Knight's story can't win for losing, as the saying goes.  They seem controlled by a kind of expansion-constriction action that determines all the events.  The urge for freedom leads to restriction, to a circumscribed activity.  The desire to remain secluded and hidden, on the other hand, as Palamon in the grove and Emily in her wish to remain in the virginal obscurity of Diana's metaphorical forest both discover, oddly almost injects one into the wider world.  And even that is another enclosure, after all.  Emily must "hook up" with one of the knights and even becomes a device of dynastic expansion and security in her marriage to Palamon.  Also, poor Palamon, just escaped from Theseus's prison and hiding in the grove, brings the whole fictional world down upon himself--first Arcite and then, on the next morning as the two battle, Theseus and all his retinue. In a sense "The Knight's Tale" vainly seeks an action that leads to an "outside," to some place that is finally uncircumscribed.  I think if we look at some peculiarities in the tale's telling, at its repeated motif of back and forth movement, and even at its curiously ubiquitous setting of the grove outside Athens--we can get at its central meaning, which only sputteringly suggests an outside, a stable place beyond the incessant, endless, and finally merely relativistic "adjustments" within the story.

     First, let me explain what I mean by "circumscribed events."  I mean events and actions that represent limitation at the same time as they suggest a desire for expansion beyond them.  The most obvious example I can think of is the Knight's narration, particularly the rhetorical "color" of occupatio.  Through this device the Knight gives us all kinds of detaills--details about Theseus's homecoming and his conquering of the Amazons (875-85), about the grief of the Theban women (994-1000), about the banquet for the knights (2197-2208), and about all the fuel piled upon Arcite's pyre (2919-66).  And he does so while professing that he will not describe such things.  His use of occupatio palpably displays a narration bursting at the seams and also a narrator feeling circumscribed precisely because he wants to say so much more than can fit into the Canterbury pilgrimage's timed, limited game of story sharing.  Even his description of Emelye as she washes her body in Diana's temple (2281-94) expresses a desire for a kind of voyeuristic, unlimited, salacious elaboration and, at the same time, a need for restraint:  "But how she dide hir ryte I dar nat tellen / But it be any thing in general" (2284-85).  More important than single instances of occupatio, though, is its frequent repetition throughout the tale, as if the Knight "can't get out of his own way," can't find a place outside a persistent, repetitive pattern.

     The tale expresses this movement toward freedom within unavoidable confinement in another way:  images of a kind of back and forth movement.  Simple descriptions of characters walking "to and fro" or "up and down" occur repeatedly during the narrative:  Emily in the garden below the knights' prison (1052, 1069, 1099, 1113), Palamon in prison (1071), and all of us throughout life, according to Egeus (2840 and 2848).  Along with these occur descriptions that support such enclosed, repetitive action.  Egeus has seen all the "worldes transmutacioun," all its changes, "both up and down" (2839-40).  He of course is the one who, in l. 2848 referred to above, describes us all as "pilgrimes, passinge to and fro," for whom death is the only advance, the only escape.  Even the narrating Knight, usually quite sober and distant in his story-telling, makes fun of the fruitless activities of lovers as amounting to constant change going nowhere:  "Now in the croppe, now doun in the breres, / Now up, now doun, as boket in a welle" (1532-33).  During his lament over his separation from Emily once he has escaped prison, Arcite too dwells on life as a vexed journey, as he rarely departs from images suggesting movement from one enclosure into another:

And som man wolde out of his prison fayn,
That in his hous is of his meynee slayn.
Infinite harmes been in this matere;
We witen nat what thing we preyen here.
We faren as he that dronke is as a mous:
A dronke man wot wel he hath an hous,
But he noot which the righte wey is thider;
And to a dronke man the wey is slider.
And certes, in this world so faren we;
We seken faste after felicitee,
But we goon wrong ful often, trewely.
Thus may we seyen alle, and namely I,
That wende and hadde a greet opinioun
That if I mighte escapen from prisoun,
Than hadde I been in joye and perfit hele,
Ther now I am exyled from my wele. (1257-74)

I quote all of this passage because of the way it represents life as a blind journey driven by desire and occurring within strict, but often unrecognized limitations, whether they are the murderous walls of one's household after having escaped from the ostensibly more threatening prison or the narrow passageways of a mouse, and a drunken mouse at that!  Even something as apparently unrelated to this pattern of details as Arcite's death expresses, in fact, the tension between enclosure and an urge for release.  In terms of medieval medicine, he dies because of his body's inability to expell the disease locked within it:  "Nay may the venim voyden ne expelle"(2751).  Other related details include the emphasis throughout the tale on walls--those of the prison, of the garden in which Emily roams, of Thebes (a city known primarily for its walls), and of the theater that Theseus builds.  In fact, even an apparently minor difference between Chaucer's version of the temples to which Palamon, Arcite and Emily go before the tournament and Boccaccio's in the Teieida emphasizes this sense of confinment:  Chaucer locates the temples inside the stadium, Boccaccio puts them on the outside.  Behind almost all of these details of confinement and fruitless activity and change is the haunting image of Fortune's wheel, a mere machine upon which we all ride, a machine that without alteration turns everything that might seem progressive and linear into an enclosed, repetitive, never-ending cycle.

     I could cite many more instances of these kinds of details within the tale, but I think that this representative sampling suggests how pervasive this sense of circumscribed action is. The tale's broad setting--its expansive sense of time and place--belies its essential claustrophobia.  In this way, it expresses the range within the paired portrait in the General Prologue of the Knight himself and his Squire, the Knight expressing worldly range and almost limitless experience and the squire, limitation, experience consisting "of so litle space" (87).  "The Knight's Tale" is full of expansive desire--for fame, for conquering, for love, for release even from promises and confining oaths--and yet all that desire leads directly to circumscription; and that's why the setting of the grove is so important in the tale.

     The grove is plainly an unrealistic detail:  it seems as though the narrator, or else Chaucer, was asleep at the wheel and forgot that Theseus could not realistically build a funeral pyre in the grove and use its woods as fuel when he would have had to clear much of the space for the expansive stadium he buillt for the tournament.  The grove is also, remember, the place where Arcite and Palamon, the two lovers, coincidentally discover each other and also where Theseus, even more coincidentally, discovers them fighting while he chases--the pun is all too obvious given the love theme!--a hart/heart.  And this hart itself just so happens to dart for that very grove.  As V.A. Kolve has pointed out, Chaucer's emphasis on the building of the stadium in this grove, the site of all the other events, constitutes a major departure from his source, Boccaccio's Teseida (105-14).  As unrealistic as all these details make the grove as a setting, they do--precisely because of that unrealism--point us to its symbolic value as a place where seemingly all departures and returns end up, a magnate pulling in all expression of boundless desire, even Theseus's urge to hunt the hart.  It is the ultimate place of enclosure, the symbolic situation of human existence, from which urges spring ("So priketh hem Nature in hir corages"--11) only to turn back upon themselves.

     The only sense of release from this dominant view of human existence as an enclosure comes with Theseus's rhetorical moves at the end of the tale. These moves depend on authority, his mere assertion, more than experience; and they assume a universe structured as a combination of an inside that is subject to movement and an unmoving force on the outside that causes all the movement within.  It's the Ptolemaic universe that he imagines, with the Primum Mobile on the outside as God:  that's how the Middle Ages transformed it into Christian theology.  Just looking at an illustration of this system (click), you can recognize the sense of enclosure that it represents, with the earth, subject to all sorts of change and corruption, buried at its very center.  But at least with this system, unlike that imagined in most of the "The Knight's Tale," there is an outside, an unchangeable state, the "Firste Moevere" (2987) who "stable is and eterne" (3004) and is "parfit and stable" (3009).  All desire, however wrongly directed, according to this world view, is seeking that unmoved mover.  Trouble is, Theseus, however enlightened a pagan and however much an expressor of a Christian cosmology, cannot offer any way to this outside, to this unmoved mover. He describes our existence as a "foule prisoun" (3061); and as a remedy to that perception, he offers the marriage of Palamon and Emily:  "O parfyt joye, lastinge everemo" he will make out of "sorwes two" (3071-72), a mere containment of the urges that have already complicated the story.  By now we know the futility of Theseus's efforts--the attempts to reestablish civilizing ceremonies, the readiness to adjust absolute decrees, the powerless responses to the chaotic, Saturnine forces all around him.  Even at the end Theseus continues his ride on Fortune's wheel, once again futillely pursuing a perfect, unchanging end, when ultimately that end can come only through the perception that wakes us all out of this pagan tale into the Christian pilgrimage, as the Knight emerges to say, "And God save al this faire companye!  Amen" (3108).  From roaming "up and doun" we emerge into the pilgrimage that journeys from the Tavern to the temple--and only perhaps back again. 

Works Cited

Chaucer, Geoffrey.  The Canterbury Tales:  Fifteen Tales and the General Prologue.  Ed. V.A. Kolve and Glending Olson.  New York:  W.W. Norton, 2005.

Kolve, V.A.  Chaucer and the Imagery of Narrative:  The First Five Canterbury Tales.  Stanford:  Standfor UP, 1984.


Exodus 36

21 et iterum ecce inquit est locus apud me stabis super petram 22 cumque transibit gloria mea ponam te in foramine petrae et protegam dextera mea donec transeam 23 tollamque manum meam et videbis posteriora mea faciem autem meam videre non poteris 

And after that he said, "Look," there is a place near me; stand on the rock.  And then as my glory passes by I will put you in a crack in the rock and cover you with my right hand while I pass; and I'll raise my hand and you will see my posterior; however, you will not be able to see my face.

Here is St. Augustine's interpretation of this episode's meaning (Expositions on the Book of Psalms:

And from these words there ariseth another enigma, that is an obscure figure of the truth.  When I have passed by, saith God, thou shalt see My back parts; as though He hath on one side His face, on another His back.  Far be it from us to have any such thoughts of that Majesty! . . . But forasmuch as the Lord was about to take flesh in due time, so as to appear even to fleshly eyes, that healthfully He might cure the sould within, since thus it was needful that He should appear, foretelling this . . . By His Face He meant His Former estate, and in a manner by His back parts, His passing from this world by His Passion . . .

 Click  here ( then click on Biblical Scenes at the bottom of the page; and after that click on Creation of the Planets, etc.) for Michelangelo's rendering of God's posterior(s) in the Sistine Chapel


"The Reeve's Tale"--Quiz (15 pts)

1.  (1 pt) How does the Miller distract John and Allen from watching the milling of their college's grain?

He lets their horse loose, forcing them to abandon their watch over the Miller, whom they already know is a crook.

2.  (5 pts) Here are four sets of beds.  In each set, indicate the occupants of the beds at each of the four different stages during the night at the Miller's house.  Those three stages are a) bedtime, b) after the first adjustment, c) after the second movement, and d) just as the cock crows and they all wake up.  Draw in the location of the cradle at each stage.


Miller & Wife cradle John & Allan Malyne


Miller & Wife cradle John Malyne & Allan


Miller                     cradle John & M's Wife Malyne & Allan


Miller & Allan                     cradle John & M's Wife Malyne

3.  (2 pts)"The Miller's Tale" represents various themes:  critique of courtly love, control within marriage, curiosity and God's "privitee" and all that suggests, the tendency of game to become a pretext for reprisal, the academic vs. common sense view of life, etc.  Identify two themes upon which the "The Reeve's Tale" turns.

revenge and reprisal ridicule of social climbing
academic view vs. common sense sex as commodity (form of payment)
business ethics (or lack thereof) kinship
jealousy and control within marriage loss of control coming with attempt to gain it
hospitality danger of telling/being heard by wrong person
story-telling as weapon age vs. youth, as introduced in R's Prologue
body (bawdy) love life as adjustment to circumstances

4.  (2 pts) Identify some difference of tone and/or style between the Miller's and Reeve's Tales.  Explain briefly.

"The Reeve's Tale" is told in a more sarcastic or cynical way, which contributes to the fact that the Reeve is trying to "defend himself by force" and use the Milller's own weapon (the bawdy fabliau) against him.

"The Miller's Tale" contains more aspects of courtly love and seduction.  "The Reeve's Tale" amounts to rape.

5. (5 pts)  Identify a difference that you found important between the "The Reeve's Tale" and its analogue .  Defend your claim that it is important.

One major difference was in the motivation for lying with the Miller's wife and daughter.  In the analogue, the guests do not find out the miller has stolen their grain and horse until the wife tells them, whereas in "The Reeve's Tale" both Allan and John know they have been swindled by the Miller and are looking for vengeance as well as pleasure.  Their whole escapade during the night is as much for reprisal as it is for fun, making it even more satisfying.  (By the way, this picks up one of the themes of the story-telling contest as designed by Hairy Bailley--the best stories combine--according to Horace's dictate--utility and pleasure.)

In "The Reeve's Tale," the two visitors are scholars and have the intention of keeping the miller honest.  The analogue displays the two characters as being taken advantage of by the miller.  This is important because "The Reeve's Tale" is more about revenge than an unfortunate situation, as is the case in the analogue.

Extra Credit (3 pts).  What is the Miller's name and how is that name related to a primary theme in the tale?

E.C. Symond Simpkin--very simple in thought so he doesn't see what's coming when the clerks board in his house.

Simkin--"kin" is a very important concept in the tale, as the purity of "kin" is compromised.


Quiz--The Wife of Bath's Prologue
Open Book
(10 points)

Write a well-developed, sharply focused paragraph in which you point out and analyze some distinctive feature--some pattern or telling trait--in the Wife of Bath's Prologue.  Be sure to give examples, argue your point, and push the paragraph toward an explanation of why the feature you point out is important.



1.  Medieval "stew"  (click)
2.  A couple in a bath (click) (click)
3.  Eating in the bath (click)
4.  A bath and entertainment (click) (click)
5.  Another bath, one per tub (click
6.  Women and water (click) (click)
7.  The baths at Bath (click)
8.  Sulis-Minerva (click) (click)


"The Friar's Tale Quiz (10 pts)

1. (2 pts) Identify one way in which "The Friar's Tale" picks up on a theme, motif, or verbal pattern from the Wife of Bath's performance, which includes both her prologue and tale.  Explain briefly.

Debts paid with sex.  Sex is a woman's currency of power:  depending on how she uses/misuses it, it can either pay off or cost.  (James Everett)

In both tales, the protagonists are "given hell" by old women.  In the W of B's tale, the woman forces the knight into an unthinkably disgraceful marriage, and in the Friar's Tale, the woman literally condemns the "somnour"to hell. (Tim Shaffer)

In the Wife of Bath's Tale, as in the Friar's Tale, a woman has control of the final situation, while requiring the authority of a male character.  This is seen in the W of B as the queen asks for the king's permission to determine the punishment, among other examples.  In the FT, the woman his control over the Summoner's fate, but the devil is the ultimate authority. (Michael DeCarolis)

As is the case with the apparent hag who transforms into a beautiful woman in the Wife of Bath's Tale, a misleading appearance is at the center of The Friar's Tale (the devil posing as a bailiff).  This even brings to mind the "know who you are going to be with" theme of The Reeve's Tale. (Will Thomas)

One theme or motif picked up from The Wife of Bath's Tale would be someone verbally handing over power to another.  In the Wife of Bath's Tale women want to have power over their husbands.  The old lady does this when the knight says she has power over him.  In The Friar's Tale the devil takes the summoner away when the lady says she wishes him to the devil. (Mariellen Carnes)

2.  (2 pts) Enumerate the ways in which the Friar's contribution adds to the pilgrimage's dramatic texture.  Create a short list.

-Picks a fight with Summoner
-Compliments the Wife of Bath on her tale
-Tells a story that revolves around God and the devil, bringing back into the mix the religious figures
-Tells pigrims how much he could expound on the summoner's crimes that would make them shudder
-Warns party to watch out for satan because he could be anywhere
(Glenn Moffat)

Other dramatic elements developed in Friar's performance ("dramatic" here referring to the more technical element of the interplay among characters on the pilgrimage, as in a drama/play, as opposed to tensions that can occur even in narrative, which of course is different because of the "telling" than the imitation of an action, which is Aristotle's definition of drama:

-Testing Host's control of pilgrimage
-Tweaking the Wife of Bath through certain details--focus on experience vs. authority and the old hag
-Perhaps even jabbing at the yeoman, by having the demon in his tale appearing as a yeoman

3.  (6 pts)  Identify a detail--image, word, a couple of lines--that you think captures the tale's essential meaning/method.  Explain in a well organized paragraph.

"The carl spak oo thing, But he thoghte another " (1568)
     This line conveys two things about The Friar's Tale.  One, it deals with the issue of "getting what you ask for" and paying attention to what you say and do.  The Summoner fell victim to this once the devil saw that he was neither compassionate nor truthful, which brings up the next point.  The Friar structured his tale to equate the summoner to the devil.  However in this particular line, you see that the devil is of a purer, more compassionate heart than the summoner.  Therefore, the friar is capping off his attack on the summoners by implying that they are even more evil than satan himself. (Jeff Rosser)

"Pardee, ye may well knowe by the name
That of somnour no good may be said."
     "The Friar's Tale" is a bludgeon, thinly disguised as a story:  this is shown in the prologue before the Friar even begins the story.  He badmouths and insults the Summoner, essentially telling us that his tale will be a moralistic tale on the evil of summoners and their accustomed ways of making a living.  Since the Friar is clergy, he does his slander with a tale about the devil and hell, admonishing and disciplining tools with which he is familiar.  From his attitude at the beginning of The Wife of Bath's Tale to the end of his own tale, it seems apparent that he is using the knowledge of moralistic storytelling to "quyte" the Summoner; just as the Reeve and the Miller used their knowledge of every-day life--taking in guests and lodging--to "quyte" each other. (Samuel Capps)

     When the devil tells the summoner that he cannot take the farmer's belongings because the farmer's proclamation is not heartfelt, there lies the story's essential struggle.  The summoner sells indulgences which do not constitute any repentance, any heart felt contrition on the part of the purchaser.  This plays with the notion of how if a devil cannot honor an oral proclamation because it lacks sincerity from the heart, then how could God forgive sin via sales of parchment?  Inherently this tale questions the validity of church actions and statements that circumvent genuine conviction. (Dylan Ors)

"The leoun sit in his await alway / To seg the innocent."
     This image of the lion sitting and waiting in ambush represents almost every character on the pilgrimage.  In the tale, the summoner sits to ambush people for their sins.  However, at the same time the Friar waits in ambush to attack the Summoner.  "As most able is our preys for to take" is a repeated image of the preditor/prey relation that I feel is the essence of this story.  Again, how the demons wait to attack the friars or summoners and devour them. (Matt Comer)

Extra Credit (2 pts)  Identify a physical detail in the projected illuminations that gets repeated in "The Friar's Tale."  Be specific:  "hell," for instance, is far too broad an answer.



Images of Griselda

1.  Marriage ceremony and reclothing of G (click)
2.  Marquis putting G's obedience to the test (click)
3.  Griselda sweeping the Marquis' house for his wedding (click)


To be or not to be--An Exercise on Identifying Weak Verbs

Steps to take with any paper, late in the drafting process:

1.  Circle all occurrences of to be verbs, except those in quotes.

to be


's, 're (in contractions)

2.  Count all the to be verbs you have circled.

3.  Count your sentences, excluding quotations.

4.  Divide the number of to be verbs by the number of sentences.

40% and below suggests that you have probably taken the time actually to think about and choose the verbs in your sentences.  You have avoided the following structures:

                          the passive voice
                          the "it is . . . . that" 
                          the "There is" 
                          noun formations--"he is supportive of me" (as opposed 
                          to "he supports me")

Clickhere for some examples of how to turn to be sentences into active ones.  Read about the passive voice and active verbs in your Handbook, as well.


Illustrations of the difference between topic/subject and thesis/controlling idea.  Student papers on literature often flounder because they address a topic or a subject before having actually turned that subject area or topic into a thesis.  Look at the difference  within the three examples displayed in the table below.

General Topic or Subject

"The Miller's Tale" picks up on the topic of courtly love that the Knight treated in his tale.


Thesis or Controlling Idea

In "The Miller's Tale" Chaucer uses palpable imagery and a contrast between characters to critique the problem of "distance" in the courtly love depicted in "The Knight's Tale."


General Topic or Subject

The Canterbury Tales is a work that is about "quyting," about one character getting back at another.


Thesis or Controlling Idea

"Quyting" in The Canterbury Tales is not just about one character getting back at another; it involves almost an element of artistic mimicry, whereby a storyteller will pick up on a few speech patterns and pet ideas of the previous teller and build upon them.  This selective parroting of words and motifs emerges clearly in the Miller's building upon the Knight's use of the term "queynte."  The Miller's echoing of this achieves several important aims:  it exposes the material concerns beneath the Knight's display of courtly love; it builds upon a class stereotype of the merchant estate, and emphasizes the theme of women not only as object but also as ultimate mystery, even taboo.


General Topic or Subject

The Wife of Bath contradicts herself throughout her prologue and tale.


Thesis or Controlling Idea

Chaucer exposes the double bind of females in his treatment of the Wife of Bath.  He does this mainly by having her, unconsciously it seems, layer one contradiction upon another.  On the one hand these contradictions suggest her hypocrisy.  More importantly, though, they produce a startling impression of how even her sense of autonomy and control is an illusion, even a self-delusion, because of her inability to get outside the male system of language.  What's worse, these contradictions almost amount to a male conspiracy against the Wife, representing her finally as at some level even wanting to be the compliant female she has always been told to be.  The two basic contradictions depicting this ultimate bondage are those between experience and authority and between sermonizing and story-telling, and they come to a head in the episode of violence between her and Jankyn.


"The Clerk's Tale" Quiz (10 pts)

Part 1 (6 pts).  Short answer.

1.  Identify the poet from whom the Clerk claims to have learned his tale.

2.  Explain the details of the "contract" between Walter and his people concerning his marriage.

3.  Name three of the four tests that Walter gives Griselda as his wife.

4.  The Clerk offers a version of women in his Envoy--the "song" with which he concludes his performance.  What is that version of women?

5.  In a phrase or two, name the tale's central theme (make sure the name you give it is broad enough to include 

Part 2 (4 pts).  Paragraph.  In a well-developed and organized paragraph, flesh out a reaction that you have to some element of "The Clerk's Tale."  That reaction can by highly personal or rationale; at any rate, be sure to explain it for your classmates and me.

Part 3 (2 pts) Extra Credit. Which contract/agreement that we've already seen in the CT most resembles in its details the one between Walter and his people concerning his marriage?


"The Merchant's Tale" Quiz (10 pts)

Part 1 (5 points).  Short answer.

1.  Just before marrying May, January expresses a qualm about getting married that he mentions to his advisers.  What is that worry?

He worries that if he experiences the supernatural bliss he expects marriage will privide while in life he will be unable to experience joy in heaven. (Will Thomas)

Because marriage is such a bliss on earth and because those who receive bliss on earth cannot receive it also in the life hereafter, he wonders if he'll be so happy as a married man that he might not go to heaven. (Samuel Capps)

2.  What is the significance of January's blindness?  Explain your answer in two or three sentences.

January's blindness is the culmination of the blindness he already imposes upon himself. He refuses to believe that as a married man he will ever be subject to unfaithfulness, yet as soon as he is blind he becomes insanely jealous, and then when he gets his sight back, he is willing to believe his wife and believe he didn't see her with Damian in the tree.  Thus his blindness shows how unaware he really is and how he is willing to go along with things that aren't true ebven though he has seen them with his own eyes. (Hannah Ceen)

January is blind because it is a physical analogue to the psychological phenomenon being treated in the tale:  the voluntary "blinding" of our conscience to certain unpalatable truths. (Kurt Albaugh)

3.  Identify Justinus.

Advisor who tells J. to rethink his notion that marriage will be blissful.

4.  Identify Placebo.

Supports January's thoughts about marriage.

5.  The main "action" of the story takes place in a very particular setting.  What is that setting and does it have any suggestive value?

A variety of answers digested into the following:

The enclosed garden alludes to Eden and the loss of bliss that took place there; it more specifically represents January's infantile dream of a paradise in marriage and his obsession, moreover, with the sexual site of joy he has always in mind.  That it is enclosed emphasizes, moreover, Janaury's tyranical control over May and her body.  Ultimately the setting is ironic:  marriage is hardily a paradisal garden!

Part 2 (5 points).  Write a coherent, unified paragraph in which you explain how one of the passages below develops/engages in imagery, motifs, themes of the tale as a whole.  How does it contribute to the tale's meaning and method?

a.  In trewe wedlok coupled be we tweye,
And blessed be the yok that we been inne,
For in our actes we mowe do no sinne.
A man may do no sinne with his wyf,
Ne hurte himselven with his owene knyf,
For we han leve to pleye us by the lawe.

     Paragraph A introduces marriage as atype of "safe haven" of mutual understanding.  Interestingly, January does manage to "hurte himselven" with the blade of marriage.  The references to "lawe" and "sinne" in this passage suggest that this conception of marriage is nothing more than a fictional utopia within the boundaries of wedlock.  In January's reality, law and sin do not stop May from being disloyal.  In the end, marriage is an arrangment between two people.  The success and sactity of this arrangment is only determined by the choices of people; it is not regulated by law or idealized "yok." (Tim Shaffer)

     In the first passage January is justifying what he is about to do to his new wife. His use of phallic imagery is highly suggestive.  They will not sin in what they do because they are married, just like a man cannot hurt himself with his own knife, knife being here the obvious phallic symbol.  Everything seems to be aimed toward sex, and fulfilling his lust; in fact, by law she has to give herself to him because they are "yoked together in marriage.  Though the "knife" may not hurt anyone overtly, it is still a weapon that he will use on her to the extent that sex is his weapon.  But she uses it against him later in the tale.  It seems incredibly violent--not what is expected, at least now, in marriage. (Katie Halle)

b.  On Damian a signe made she
That he sholde go biforen with his cliket.
This Damian thanne hath opened the wiket
And in he stirte, and that in swich manere
That no wight mighte it see neither y-here,
And stille he sit under a bush anoon.

     They're preparing to make a cuckold out of January; but in a sense he already is a cuckold.  DAmian, afterall, has the key to his wife's garden (so he has already essentially gained access to her).  In a sense, Damian already secretly possesser her.  Not only that, this passage describes him entering the garden itself.  This act of possessing access (the key) and then entering (the garden) is reminiscent of marriage: one takes the vows (the key, as it were, to the garden) and then, one may enter.  This passage shows the depth of Damian's possession of May, and the extent of January's lack of control over the situation. (Samuel Capps)

Extra Credit  (3 points)

In a strange sort of fictional disorientation one of the characters in "The Merchant's Tale" actually refers to a character on the Canterbury pilgrimage as an authority.  Identify both the pilgrim referred to and the character who makes the reference. 

Justinus refers to the Wife of Bath


The Two Version of the Medieval Garden

Hortus conclusus (click)

Hortus deliciarum (click)
This highly detailed miniature depicts the Lover being shown the entrance to the walled garden by Lady Idleness, who is described as having yellow hair, grey eyes, a seemly neck and perfumed breath. Inside the garden, a lute player entertains elegantly dressed ladies sitting by a fountain.

The walled garden played an important symbolic role in medieval art and literature, both religious and secular. Christians saw the enclosed garden - in Latin, the ‘hortus conclusus’ – as a symbol of the perpetual virginity of Christ’s mother, Mary. The metaphor derived from a verse in the biblical ‘Song of Solomon’: “A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed.”

The secular equivalent was the ‘hortus deliciarium’, the garden of pleasure. It too was an enclosed space protected from the rigours of everyday life, a place where the wealthy, particularly women, could enjoy cultural amusement and intellectual inspiration.

Both gardens usually had flower-strewn lawns, sometimes called ‘strews’, rather than beds of flowers. The grass was often raised to form turf seating. Trellises with grape vines and climbing roses were popular, and many gardens had decorative fountains or fish pools at their centre.

Tree branches were trained to form shady arbours where ladies could enjoy the air without fear of compromising their fashionably pale complexions by exposure to the sun. Tanned skin was the sign of the labouring classes: wealthy women aspired to having skin as pale as alabaster.

All these features appear in the idealised garden of the ‘Roman de la Rose’, which is planted with date palms and spice trees, as well as peaches, quinces, cherries and nuts. It’s carpeted with flowers of every colour and season, and inhabited by gentle creatures of the forest: the hart, rabbit and squirrel – each having symbolic associations with femininity or fertility. 
(from Roman de la Rose: Lutenists and singers in a garden; the lover being shown the entrance to the garden by Lady Idleness.
British Library Harley MS 4425, f.14v
Copyright © The British Library Board)


Franklin's Tale Quiz--Group Activity
Franklin's Tale Group Activity (10 pts)
Directions:  each group meets for 20 minutes to construct an interesting, thoughtful, helpful report on the topics below designed for an audience that has already carefully read the tale.

Group A
Capps, O'Brien, Scarborough
Topic:  What's at stake for the Franklin in his narration?

Group B
Albaugh, Halle, Carnes
Topic:  "Trouth"

Group C
Spiese, Summers, Thomas
Topic:  Chaucer's version compared with Boccaccio's

Group D
DeCarolis, Moffat, Ross
Topic:  Rocks and transformation

Group E
Comer, Jones, Everett
Topic:  Dorigen

Group F
Rosser, Shaffer, Ceen
Topic:  Arveragus

Group G
Kruse, Lee, Mossholder
Topic:  Aurelius


"The Shipman's Tale" Quiz/Paragraph
(10 points)

Write a paragraph in which you explore the different suggestions developed by "taillying" at the end of "The Shipman's Tale."  Also explain how those senses relate to the values/themes developed in the tale as a whole.


HE313 Review/Study Guide

1.  Genre knowledge.  Be able to link the genre below with the tale(s)/work that best illustrate its "laws":

breton lai
philosphical romance
miracle of the virgin
animal fable

* A sophisticated treatment of genre would address, for example, the question that has hovered over almost all of our discussions:  Chaucer's exploration of the limits of allegory.  Another way of addressing this concern would be to ask:  which tale is the least allegorical? Or, in which tale does Chaucer most consciously explore the limits of allegory?  Of each of these genres, you might ask, "How does Chaucer handle it in his works and what does he try to get out of it in terms of meaning?"

2.  Know some important Chaucerian word (and phrases).  That means be able to write essays in which you explain how a tale or a theme that runs through the CT or The Troilus hinges upon that word.

privetee game/pley

3.  Know medieval themes/motifs and be able to discuss them in terms of the CT and/or The Troilus.

host/guest mystery
desire and journey
individual/experience vs. community/authority
courtly love and prescribed roles of genders
free will vs. destiny
direct experience vs. ecclesiastically mediated experience of the Bible
authorship and authority
exploration of role of story-things in human experience
methods of opening up the interior of human narrator/character

4.  Be able to analyze several of the portraits in the GP in terms of how they illustrate Chaucerian irony and more generally Chaucerian artistry.

5.  Be able to analyze the relation between GP portrait and tale-telling performance in two ways:  a) in one case illustrate in detail a clear correspondence and in another case b) be able to present a problem, an apparent incongruency between the two, and to offer a solution that's not so apparent.

6.  Be able to discuss major themes/motifs:

a)  problems with closure
b)  transformation
c)  marriage
d)  female power--oxymoron or fact?
e)  landscapes and settings, most obviously the garden
f)   symbolic device--tailly stick, baby's crib, Griselda's clothes, Jankyn's book, kernal 
     of the boy's tongue, etc.
g)  love--its varieties
h)  fiction vs. history, or story vs. real events

7.  Interpretive problems, which would invite a "problem-solution paper":

a)  Control of ceremony vs. actual problem solving in the "KT."
b)  Indeterminancy of meaning
c)  Inept tales--Chaucer's fault or method of developing pilgrims' characters?
d)  The Wife of Bath as "independent."
e)  Determining Chaucer's views; i.e. "the persona."
f)   Do stories really matter afterall--the Retraction?
g)  Criseyde's character
h)  Pandarus' relationship with Criseyde
i)   Apparent "disconnects" in Troilus' character--noble yet willing to lie and to trade in women???

7.  Be able to identify selected passages we have discussed and also to be able to do two things with them:  explain how they function to develop theme and/or method in their context (tale and even larger work) and also how they express Chaucerian mode(s) of development and theme(s). 

But he that hath misseyd, I dar wel sayn,
He may by no wey clepe his word agayn.
Thing that is seyd is seyde, and forth it gooth,
Though him repente, or be him leef or looth.
He is his thral to whom that he hath sayd
A tale of which he is now yvel apayd.
My sone, be war, and be non auctour newe
Of tydinges, whether they ben false or trewe.
Wherso thou come, amonges hye or lowe,
Kepe wel thy tonge, and thenk upon the crowe.

And I seyde his opinioun was good:
What sholde he studie, and make himselven wood,
Upon a book in cloistre alwey to poure,
Or swinken with his handes and laboure 
As Austin bit?  How shal the world be served?
Lat Austin have his swink to him reserved!

Why grucchen we, why have we hevinesse,
That goode Arcite, of chivalrye flour,
Departed is with duetee and honour
Out of this foule prison of this lyf?
Why grucchen heer his cosin and his wyf
Of his welfare, that loveth hem so weel?
Can he hem thank?  Nay, God wot, never a deel,
That bothe his soule and eek hemself offende,
And yet they mowe hir lustes nat amende.
  What may I conclude of this longe serie,
But after wo I rede us to be merie,
And thanken Jupiter of al his grace;
And er that we departen from this place,
I rede that we make of sorwes two
O parfit joye, lastinge everemo;
And loketh now, wher most sorwe is herinne,
Ther wol we first amenden and biginne.

Ye goon to Caunterbury--God yow your mede.
And wel I woot, as yet goon by the weye,
Ye shapen yow to talen and to pleye;
For trewely, confort ne mirthe is noon
To ryden by the weye doumb as a stoon;
And therfore wol I maken yow disport.
As I seyde erst, and doon yow som confort.

Of elles, if free choys be graunted me
To do that same thing or do it noght,
Though God forwoot it er that I was wroght;
Or if his witing streyneth never a del
But by necessitee condicionel.
I wot not han to do of swich matere;
My tale is of a cok, as ye may here,
That took his counseil of his wyf, with sorwe,
To walken in the yerd upon that morwe
That he had met the dreem that I yow tolde.
Wommannes counseil broghte us first to wo,
And made Adam fro Paradys to go,
Ther as he was ful mery and wel at ese.
But for I noot to whom it mighte displese,
If I counseil of wommen wolde blame,
Passe over, for I seyde it in my game.
Rede auctours, wher they trete of swich matere,
And what thay seyn of wommen ye may here.
Thise been the cokkes wordes, and nat myne;
I can noon harm of no womman divyne.

His hote love was cold and al y-queynt;
For fro that tyme that he had kiste hir ers,
Of paramours he sette nat a kers,
For he was heeled of his maladye. 
Ful ofte paramours he gan deffye,
And weep as dooth a child that is y-bete.

This tresor moste y-caried be by nighte,
As wisly and as slyly as it mighte.
Wherfore I rede that cut among us alle
Be drawe, and lat se wher the cut wol falle;
And he that hath the cut with herte blythe
Shal renee to the toune, and that ful swythe,
And bringe us breed and wyn ful prively.
And two of us shul kepen subtilly
This tresor wel; and if he wol nat tarie,
Whan it is night we wol this tresor carie,
By oon assent, where as us thinketh best.

"Ye, wyf," quod he, "lat slepen that is stille.
It may be wel, paraventure, yet today.
Ye shul youre trouthe holden, by my fay!
For God so wisly have mercy on me,
I hadde wel levere y-stiked for to be,
For verray love which that I yow have,
But if ye sholde youre trouthe kepe and save.
Trouthe is the hyeste thing that man may kepe."
But with that word he brast anon to wepe,
And seye, "I yow forbede, up peyne of deeth,
That nevere, whyle thee lasteth lyf ne breeth,
To no wight tel thou of this aventure--
As I may best, I wol my wo endure--
Ne make no contenance of hevinesse,
That folk of yow may demen harm or gesse."

Who peyntede the leoun, tel me, who?

And for that nothing of hir olde gere
She sholde bringe into his hous, he bad
That wommen sholde dispoilen hire right there;
Of which thise ladyes were nat right glad
To handle hir clothes wherinne she was clad.
But natheles, this mayde bright of hewe
Fro foot to heed they clothed han al newe.

Hir heres han they kembd, that lay untressed
Ful rudely, and with hir fingres smale
A corone on hire heed they han y-dressed,
And sette hire ful of nowches grete and smal.
Of hire array what sholde I make a tale?
Unnethe the peple hir knew for hire fairnessed,
Whan she translated was in swich richnesse.

"But on thing warne I thee, I wol nat jape:
Thou wolt algates wite how we ben shape.
Thou shalt herafterward, my brother dere,
Com ther thee nedeth nat of me to lere.
Fou thou shalt by thyn owene experience
Conne in a chayer rede of this sentence
Bet than Virgyle, whyle he was on lyve, 
Or Dant also.  Now lat us ryde blyve,
For I wol holde companye with thee
Til it be so that thou forsake me."

In trew wedlok coupled be we tweye,
And blessed be the yok that we been inne,
For in our actes we mowe do no sinne.
A man may do no sinne with his wyf,
Ne hurte himselven with his owne knyf,
For we han leve to pleye us by the lawe."



The Troilus Quiz, BK 1 (10 pts)

Part 1 (5 points) Identification and/or short answer.

a)  Calkas

b)  Pandarus

c)  C's marital status/history

d)  Setting of the poem

e)  A metaphoric pattern 

Part 2 (5 points)  Well-developed paragraph.  Prompt:  entering into the beginning of a piece of literature, at least from my experience, resembles opening the door to a house or some other architecural structure and walking into that world.  What sort of structure or world do you feel as though you are entering as you move from the opening pages of The Troilus on through to the end of the first book?  Does it feel different from the CT, the language aside?  What sort of "place" is it?



Rules of Love from Andreas Capellanus" The Art of Courtly Love (click)

Exerpts from The Art of Courtly Love (click)


"Quiz" on The Troilus, BK 3--Group Work
Directions:  each group takes 15 minutes to examine the passage or fictional element and then reports back to the class, first situating the passage or the element for classmates and then offering some brisk analysis of its importance to theme and/or artistic scheme of the poem.

                Area of Focus                                           Group

BK 3, stanzas 37-60 1) Kurt, Mariellen, James, Tom, Lindsay
BK 3, stanzas 169-73 2) Jeff, Marcus, Samuel
BK3, stanzas 223-26 3) Pat, Hannah, Tim M., Colin
The setting(s) 4) Michael, Will, Austin, Katie
The narrator 5) Dylan, Matt, Chris


The Troilus, BK 4—Quiz
(15 pts)

Part 1 (9 pts).  Using the following “characters,” identify the speaker of each of the passages listed below.  (Note:  you might find that you’ll have to use a character(s) more than once; and perhaps another not at all.)

Narrator    Hector     Pandarus     Calkas    Criseyde    Troilus    Diomedes   Lady Fortune

a.  Troy will be burnt and beaten to the ground.  (p. 185)       Calkas

b.  It’s not our practice to sell women here.  (p. 181)         Hector

c.  What are you good for now in my distress?  (p. 190)       Troilus
For nothing but to weep away your sight,
Since she is quenched that was your only light!

d.  What about me?  I’ve never had my due  (p. 193)         Pandarus
For my love service, never a friendly eye
Or glance!  It is for me to wail and die.

e.  She purposed to be true, as she professed,  (p. 229)       Narrator
Or so they write who knew her conduct best.

f.  On the tenth day; if death should not prevail  (p. 235)       Criseyde
Against me, I’ll be with you, without fail.

g.  But O, no more!  We’ve had enough of this;   (p. 223)     Criseyde
Let us rise up at once and go to bed
And talk about the woes that lie ahead;
For, by that night-light which I see there burning,
I know that daylight will be soon returning.”

h.  Can you play racquets with it, to and fro,   (p. 195)       Troilus
Nettle in, dock out, shift from here to there?
Bad luck to her that takes you in her care!

i.  Let us at once steal secretly away,      (p. 236)              Troilus
Ever together, as now, and be at rest;
My heart keeps saying that will be the best.

Part 2 (6 pts).  Avoiding plot summary and mere description, write an interesting and valid literary analysis on one of the passages above.  Use a single well-developed paragraph.



Here's a breakout of your grades.  The quiz totals differ because of excused absences and the variation in the low quiz grade that I eliminated in late September.

(Numerical equivalents for Letter Grades on Papers:  A+=17/ A=16.2/A-=15.6/B+=15/B=14.5/B-=14/C+=13/C=12.7/C-=12.2/D+=11.6/D=11/D-=10.5/F=8)

Alpha # ICWritings/Quizzes
         30 pts
Paper #1
17 pts
Paper 2 
17 pts
Total at WK15 (64 pts) Paper #3
50 pts
End of Term  80 pts Final Exam
20 pts
Final Grade
100 pts
0126 145/160 (90.6%)  27.2 16.2 16.2 59.6 (93%) A+  17 49.4 76.6 (95.8)  A  19.8 A 96.4  A
2538 136/155 (87.7%)  26.3 14 13 53.3 (83.3%) A-  15.6 42.6 68.9 (86.1 )  B  17   B 86.9  B
4542 100.5/130 (77.3%) 23.2 15.6 14.5 53.3 (83.3%) B-  14 44.1 67.4 (84.3)  B  15.5 C 82.9  B
4686 88/155 (56.8%)   17 14 13 (l) 31    (48.4%) C+  13 40 57 (71.3 )    C-  17.5 B  74.5  C
5838 121.5/150 (81%)  24.3 12.2 14 50.5 (78.9%) B   14.5 40.7 64 (80)       B-  15.3 C 79.3  B
5856 145/150 (96.7%) 29 14 15.6 58.6 (91.6%) B+  15 44.6 73.6 (92 ) A-  16   B 89.6  A
6030 111/150 (74%)  22.2 12.2 13  47.4 (74.1%) F (L) 8.5 33.7 55.9 (69.9) D+  15.5 C  71.4  C
1014 128/145 (88.3%) 26.5 15 14.5 56    (87.5%) A-  15.6 45.1 71.6 (89.5) A-  17.9 A 89.5  A
1332 118/160 (73.8%) 22.1 15 14.5 51.6 (80.6%) B+  15 44.5 66.6 (83.3 ) B  17.5 B 84.1  B
1626 149/155 (96.1%) 28.8 16.2 16.2 61.2 (95.6%) A-  15.6 48 76.8 (96 ) A  18.5 A 95.3  A
1962 114/145 (78.6) 23.6 13 13 49.6 (77.5%) B+  15 41 64.6 (80.8) B-  18   A 82.6  B
3144 64/90 (71.1%) 21.3 11 13 45.3 (70.8%) D    11 35 56.3 (70.4 )  C-  15  C 71.3  C
3720 130.5/155 (84.2%) 25.6 14.5 14.5(15.6 ) 55.7 (87%) C+  13 43.1 68.7 (85.9) B  18  A 86.7  B 
4974 104.5/145 (72.1%) 21.6 14 13 48.6 (75.9%) B+  15 42 63.6 (79.5) B  15.8 C 79.4  B 
6066 158/150 (100%)  30 17 16.2 63.2 (98.8%) A+  17 50.2 80.2 (100)   A  20  A 100.2 A
6390 105/135 (77.8%) 23.3 12.2 11 46.4 (72.5%) D    11 34.2 57.4 (71.8 ) C-  14  C 71.4  C
6534 116/155 (74.8%) 22.5 16.2 15 53.7 (83.9%) B   14.5 45.7 68.2 (85.3)  B  17  B 85.2 B
6726 141.5/155 (91.3%) 27.4 12.7 13 53.1 (83%) A-  15.6 41.3 68.7 (85.9) B  20  A 88.7 A 
1074 130/135 (96.3%) 28.9 15.6 16.2 60.7 (94.8%) A-  15.6 47.4 76.3 (95.4) A  17.4 B 93.7 A
1152 159/155 (100%) 30 15.6 16.2 61.8 (96.6%) B+  15 46.8 76.8 (96)    A  19    A 95.8 A
3600 92/125 (73.6%) 22.1 12.7 14.5 49.3 (77% ) C   12.7 39.9 62 (77.5)     C+  16.6  B 78.6  C