Gower Bibliography

Rape in John Gower's Confessio Amantis and Other Related Works

Mast, Isabelle. "Rape in John Gower's Confessio Amantis and Other Related Works." In Young Medieval Women. Ed. Lewis, Katherine J. and Menuge, Noël James and Phillips, Kim M.. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1999, pp. 103-32.


Mast’s long essay falls into three unequal parts: a consideration of the instances of rape in three other collections of tales nearly contemporary with Gower’s, an examination of the language Gower uses for rape in each of his three major poems, and an analysis of some of the major instances of rape in CA. The three other tale collections – the Gesta Romanorum, the Alphabet of Tales, and Christine de Pisan’s Cité des Dames – treat rape very differently from one another, but none explores the consequences of rape for the woman, the principal way in which Mast finds Gower’s treatment differs from that of his predecessors. Gower’s vocabulary for rape is shaped in part by the framework of the confession. In Book 5, where many of the instances of rape in the poem are found, the vocabulary of theft, with its implication that women or their sexuality are mere commodities, is drawn from the metaphor of Avarice that governs the book as a whole, but it also embodies the woman’s lack of consent, it suggests that rape is less an act of desire than of aggression and power, and it does not prevent Gower from considering the consequences for the victim. Other expressions, such as “hadde his wille,

Item Type:Book Section
Subjects:Confessio Amantis

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