Gower Bibliography

The Position and Purpose of the Physician's Tale.

Lee, Brian S.. "The Position and Purpose of the Physician's Tale." Chaucer Review 22 (1987), pp. 141-160. ISSN 0009-2002


Lee makes a multi-pronged attempt to redeem Chaucer's Physician's Tale from the unfavorable judgment of earlier criticism, and uses the comparison to Gower's tale of Virginia to bolster his case (pp. 144-46). Gower reveals by contrast some of the most outstanding qualities of Chaucer's version. Gower maintains the "overtly political purpose" of the tale, while Chaucer transforms "a pagan political anecdote into a Christian moral exemplum." Chaucer emphasizes the pathos of the situation; Gower eschews pathos and any attention to character, "and so does not rise above the anecdotal level." The comparison also reveals some of the strengths of Chaucer's retelling: he provides a more credible motivation to the villainous judge and demonstrates his contempt for justice more vividly; he portrays Virginia's virtue singlemindedly, and strengthens the narrative by omitting reference to her betrothal; and he effectively invokes pity in the conclusion, a quality explicitly excluded by Gower, who attributes Virginius' action to his irrational despair. Lee's essay also contains an interesting discussion of the "moral logic" of Chaucer's version and ts relation to FrankT and PardT, which precede and follow. [PN. Copyright The John Gower Society. JGN 9.1]

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

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