Gower Bibliography

Gower's Helen of Troy and the Contemplative Way of Life.

Gittes, Katherine S.. "Gower's Helen of Troy and the Contemplative Way of Life." ELH 27 (1989), pp. 19-24. ISSN 0013-8304


In retelling the story of Paris' judgment, Gower may have adopted the common medieval allegorization in which Juno represents the Active Life, Venus the Passionate Life, and Minerva the Contemplative Life. In siezing Helen in the temple, Paris is both an unwise political leader, victimizing the innocent, and also an erring human who has chosen the passionate way over the contemplative. Gower redefines Helen's role in their relationship in order to shift all blame to Paris. Though she falls in love with Paris at their first encounter, her part in their dialogue together is reduced, and she has evidently overcome her passion and has turned from Paris to God before she is abducted. Thus unlike the "symbol of destructive sexuality" in Homer, Gower's Helen is "a model of morality and of proper Christian behavior," and as she prays in the temple she may be intended as an image of the contemplative way of life that Paris rejects.] [PN. Copyright The John Gower Society. JGN 9.1]

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

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