Chaucer, Ethics, and Gender

Paperback | June 3, 2008

byAlcuin Blamires

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This book makes a vigorous reassessment of the moral dimension in Chaucer's writings. For the Middle Ages, the study of human behaviour generally signified the study of the morality of attitudes, choices, and actions. Moreover, moral analysis was not gender neutral: it presupposed that certainvirtues and certain failings were largely gender-specific. Alcuin Blamires - mainly concentrating on The Canterbury Tales - discloses how Chaucer adapts the composite inherited traditions of moral literature to shape the significance and the gender implications of his narratives. Chaucer, Ethics,and Gender is therefore not a theorization of ethical reading but a discussion of Chaucer's engagement with the literature of practical ethical advice. Working with the commonplace primary sources of the period, Blamires demonstrates that Stoic ideals, somewhat uncomfortably absorbed within medievalChristian moral codes as Chaucer realized, penetrate the poet's constructions of how women and men behave in matters (for instance) of friendship and anger, sexuality and chastity, protest and sufferance, generosity and greed, credulity and foresight. The book will be absorbing for all serious readers or teachers of Chaucer because it is packed with commanding new insights. It offers illuminating explanations concerning topics that have often eluded critics in the past: the flood-forecast in The Miller's Tale, for example; or the status ofemotion and equanimity in The Franklin's Tale; the 'unethical' sexual trading in The Shipman's Tale; the contemporary moral force of a widow's curse in The Friar's Tale; and the quizzical moral link between The Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale. There is even a new hypothesis about the conceptualdesign of The Canterbury Tales as a whole. Deeply informed and historically alert, this is a book that engages its reader in the vital role played by ethical assumptions (with their attendant gender assumptions) in Chaucer's major poetry.

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This book makes a vigorous reassessment of the moral dimension in Chaucer's writings. For the Middle Ages, the study of human behaviour generally signified the study of the morality of attitudes, choices, and actions. Moreover, moral analysis was not gender neutral: it presupposed that certainvirtues and certain failings were largely g...

Alcuin Blamires is Professor of English and Head of the Department of English and Comparative Literature at Goldsmiths College, University of London.

other books by Alcuin Blamires

The Case for Women in Medieval Culture
The Case for Women in Medieval Culture

Kobo ebook|Aug 27 1998

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:288 pages, 8.5 × 5.43 × 0.61 inPublished:June 3, 2008Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199534624

ISBN - 13:9780199534623

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Table of Contents

Introduction1. Fellowship and Detraction in the Architecture of the iCanterbury Tales/i: from the iGeneral Prologue/i and the iKnight's Tale/i to the iParson's Prologue/i2. Credulity and Vision: the iMiller's Tale/i, the iMerchant's Tale/i, the iWife of Bath's Tale/i3. Sex and Lust: iThe Merchant's Tale/i, iThe Reeve's Tale/i, and other Tales4. The Ethics of Sufficiency: the iMan of Law's Introduction/i and iTale/i, the iShipman's Tale/i5. Liberality: the iWife of Bath's Prologue/i and iTale/i and the iFranklin's Tale/i6. Problems of Patience: the iFranklin's Tale/i, the iClerk's Tale/i, the iNun's Priest's Tale/i7. Men, Women and Moral Jurisdiction: the iFriar's Tale/i, the iPhysician's Tale/i, and the Pardoner8. Proprieties of Work and Speech: the iSecond Nun's Prologue/i and iTale/i, the iCanon's Yeoman's Prologue/i and iTale/i, the iManciple's Prologue/i and iTale/i, and the iParson's Prologue/iConclusion