Gower Bibliography

Chaucer's Transformation of 'The Legend of Philomela' in The Legend of Good Women

Oka, Saburo. "Chaucer's Transformation of 'The Legend of Philomela' in The Legend of Good Women." Thought Currents in English Literature (Aoyama Gakuin University) 63 (1990), pp. 79-109.


A detailed comparison of Chaucer's ("Legend of Good Women"), Gower's ("Confessio Amantis"), and Ovid's ("Metamorphoses") versions of the story of Philomela, including lengthy excerpts from all three texts. Each differs in arrangement and emphasis. In the scope of the plot, Gower follows Ovid more closely than Chaucer does, though like Chaucer, his central theme is the falseness of men, and where Ovid focuses on the three characters equally, Gower focuses on the two female characters, and Chaucer focuses on Philomela alone. Gower imagines the place and situation of Procne's request to Tereus more fully than the other two, but says less about the site where the rape was committed. Like Chaucer, he introduces direct discourse in the report of Philomela's cries. He gives more attention than the other versions to Tereus' homecoming and to the false story of Philomela's death, and adds the long passage of her prayer. He also gives the longest account of Procne's receipt and reading of Philomela's weaving. He preserves more of the women's revenge than Chaucer does, and all of the metamorphoses which Chaucer omits. [PN. Copyright The John Gower Society. JGN 11.2]

Item Type:Article
Subjects:Sources, Analogues, and Literary Relations
Confessio Amantis

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