Gower Bibliography

Aspects of love in John Gower's 'Confessio Amantis.'

Bakalian, Ellen Shaw. "Aspects of love in John Gower's 'Confessio Amantis.'." PhD thesis, New York University, 1998.


Modifying nature, keeping one's natural instincts under reason's control, and learning to love properly is a duty which Genius tries to teach Amans in John Gower's CA. The conflict between man's kinde, a word Gower uses to denote passionate love, and his reason, is a common theme in medieval literature. To Gower, marriage offers man the perfect reconciliation between the dueling forces of kinde and reason, and throughout the tales in the CA he proposes 'honeste love,' a reciprocal live which 'dar schewen the visage / In alle places openly,' as the remedy to what ails man and society (IV.1478-79). This dissertation explores how Gower uses the aspects of love in the CA--the notions of kinde and reason in the sphere of love; 'honeste love' in the Marriages Tales of the Four Wives; passionate and excessive live in the Forsaken Women's tales; and Amans' lovesickness--to emphasize and to illustrate his beliefs that reason must rule man in all things, including his natural instincts to love. Gower firmly believes each man or woman is responsible for his or her behavior and accountable for his or her love decisions, whether reasonable or foolish. That he maintains this perspective for woman as well as man is notable and admirable, especially since he employs anti-feminist rhetoric in the MO and VC. In the CA he is partial neither to man nor woman, and although it appears his sympathies lie with women, it is rather that he views woman as man's equal; if he is responsible for his love actions, then so is she. Gower's unique pro-woman voice in the CA proves this point: man cannot blame woman, and woman cannot blame man. In Gower there are no excuses for unrestrained and foolish behavior, although he recognizes that it is often difficult to restrain passion. Gower's Genius is a perfect Gowerian storyteller for in his moral tales lies the predicament facing all men--whether to follow his passionate nature, kinde, or his reasoning capabilities, his wise voice within." Directed by Robert R. Raymo. [JGN 17.2]

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information:Dissertation Abstracts International 58 (1998): 4643A.
Subjects:Confessio Amantis

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