Gower Bibliography

The Peasants' Revolt: Cock-Crow in Gower and Chaucer.

Astell, Ann W. "The Peasants' Revolt: Cock-Crow in Gower and Chaucer." Essays in Medieval Studies: Proceedings of the Illinois Medieval Association 10 (1993), pp. 53-64.

Review

Despite their obvious similarities, the vision of the Peasants' Revolt in Book 1 of VC and Chaucer's NPT "have never been compared systematically," Astell claims (p. 53), and she sets out to remedy the deficiency: Gower's dream of domestic animals acting like wild beasts becomes Chaucer's tale of a domestic animal who has a dream of a wild beast; Gower's introductory remarks on the truth of dreams is elaborated, with borrowings from homiletic sources, in Chaunticleer's long speech to Pertelote; both poets refer (directly or obliquely) to Jack Straw, to the fall of Troy, to a widow, to Fortune, and to Friday; and Gower's assertion that all misfortune is due to sin becomes in NPT the doctrine that Fortune favors those who help themselves. Astell's most interesting suggestion concerns the role of the cock in the two poems: a voice of warning in the visio, the cock anticipates the role of preacher and teacher that Gower assumes himself in the remainder of VC. Chaunticleer also recalls his creator, but as poet rather than as preacher. His role is singer rather than priest. He rejects his own prophetic vision and fails to discern the fox; later the fox is able to seize him by flattering his singing. Chaunticleer is able to turn to tables on the fox, however, as Chaucer is on the implications concerning his shortcomings as moral teacher: his tale finally offers a "moralite" on the need for moral alertness and social responsibility that in the end is not all that different from Gower's. [PN. Copyright The John Gower Society. JGN 17.1]

Item Type:Article
Subjects:Sources, Analogues, and Literary Relations
Vox Clamantis

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