Gower Bibliography

Gower's Lucrece: A New Old Source for The Rape of Lucrece

Hillman, Richard. "Gower's Lucrece: A New Old Source for The Rape of Lucrece." Chaucer Review 24 (1990), pp. 263-70.


Ovid, Livy, and Chaucer are the most frequently mentioned sources for Shakespeare's "Rape of Lucrece," and only two details in his poem have been traced to Gower's version in CA. Hillman finds a number of other detailed recollections of Gower's text, but finds even more compelling similarities in the general handling of two key scenes, the rape itself and Lucrece's suicide, and in the treatment of the two main characters. Both Shakespeare and Gower develop the contrast between Lucrece's innocence and the villain's guile on the evening of the rape, a scene neglected in the other sources, and give more than usual attention to the villain's motivation and state of mind. Both also treat Lucrece with greater sympathy and dignity than the other authors, and raise her to a genuinely tragic stature. Gower's version is "more engagingly human, more complex, and more powerful" than the other versions Shakespeare knew, and contributes more to our understanding of both the moral and the dramatic emphases of Shakespeare's poem. [PN. Copyright The John Gower Society. JGN 10.1]

Item Type:Article
Subjects:Confessio Amantis
Influence and Later Allusion

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