Chaucer’s Women: Nuns, Wives and Amazons by Priscilla Martin

By Priscilla Martin

In this difficult examine Priscilla Martin investigates the themes of girls, intercourse and gender in Chaucer's poetry. She argues convincingly that those are Chaucer's significant topics and that he offers them as a space of human event fraught with difficulties. girls, rather than generating texts and meanings themselves, are trapped within the books and meanings of others, and so the Madonna and the courtly heroine, the nun and the spouse, are commonly used yet questionable photographs of built femininity. ' clever, delicate, clean and shut examining which focuses upon Chaucer's girls ... unconventional and sophisticated' - John J.McGavin, instances larger schooling Supplement

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Extra resources for Chaucer’s Women: Nuns, Wives and Amazons

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She is 'unwemmed' (91), the ' Iadi bright' (16, 62, 181), the 'temple devout' (145), the dwelling place of Cod (145). He is 'confounded in errour' (5), prosecuted by ' my sione and my confusioun' (18) . Mary is th e release from confusio, the other side of Chaunticleer's d efinition of woman . The joy and bliss of romantic love is an element in the poem's adoration of the Madonna. It expresses a kind of chaste amorousness towards her. In the first stanza the language of love poetry adds to he r celebration: she is 'of aile floures flour' (4), and, like the lady in the Book of tile Duchess, she is ' debonayre' (6).

Advocat noon that wale and dar so prcye / For us, and that fo r litel hire as yee, / That helpen Two Idea ls: Til e 'D ame' and the 'Du chess ' 17 for an Ave-Marie or tweye' (100-5) - and, a traditional advantage of fe male labour, she gives her services for little or no payment . Finally, she is asked to adjourn hi s case to her own court , a court of mercy , ' unto that court .. that depid is thi bench .. Ther as that merci cvere shal sojourne' (1 58--60). Some of the lang uage used to heighten th e co ntras t between God's justi ce and Mary 's compassion suggests its source in child hood terrors and d ependencies: Help th at my Fader be not wroth with me .

We see women in only two roles; the nun and the married woman . Each is defined in term s of sexuality or its renunciation, each defined, in a sense, in relation to men. Any modern feminist wou ld be likely to notice this contrast and to find it unjust. But how far are modern and feminist id eas about justice, equality, cultural conditioning, personal growth and selfrealisation appropriate in discussing medieval literature? Are not our ideas of character and self-exp ression anachronistic and irrelevant, the products of Romanti c individualism and Victorian liberali sm?

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