Gower Bibliography

The Naturalness of Amans' Love in Confessio Amantis

White, Hugh. "The Naturalness of Amans' Love in Confessio Amantis." Medium AEvum 56 (1987), pp. 316-22.


White takes issue with a long list of earlier critics who have maintained that Amans' love is "unnatural," either because of his age or because of his implicit impotence. The questions White raises are important for the understanding of Gower's view of Nature as well as for our judgment of Amans. White points to Solomon's presence in the Court of Love (8.2691-96) as evidence that elderly love may be in accord with Nature, even when potency is in doubt. Several other passages indicate that Nature is not to be equated with physical powers, as many have implied, but is instead the susceptibility to love, the urge to sexual activity that operates at all ages and may be irresistible even in those whose powers have declined. Rather than a beneficent and orderly force to which man should properly submit, therefore, Nature may prevent man from conforming to the "natural" requirements of his age, and in other contexts can even be conducive to evil. Amans' love is all too "natural," White concludes, but Amans himself is perhaps not to be blamed. For "Gower does not seem to see the universe as a place considerately arranged so that the man of goodwill shall move reasonably smoothly towards salvation; rather he sees it as a battleground on which man in his weakness must face adversaries immensely superior to him and by no means wholeheartedly committed to his spiritual good" (p. 321). [PN. Copyright The John Gower Society. JGN 7.2]

Item Type:Article
Subjects:Confessio Amantis

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