Gower Bibliography

Chamberlain Danger: The Social Meaning of Love Allegory in the Confessio Amantis

Kendall, Elliott. "Chamberlain Danger: The Social Meaning of Love Allegory in the Confessio Amantis." Medium Ævum 76 (2007), pp. 49-69.


Amans refers to his struggles with Danger three times in CA, in 3.1537-68, in 5.6607-52, and in his final supplication, 8.2264-65, 2285-86. Though Amans does not actually label him as such, Kendall argues that his description of Danger's functions invoke the role of the chamberer or chamberlain, who as the servant closest to the lord or to the king could serve as advisor, clerk, treasurer, guard, or keeper of his seal (cf. CA 3.1556), as well as, very importantly, the controller of access; and that Amans' complaints echo the common charges of concentration of power, abuse of position, and denial of access, especially to the king's justice, that led to the execution of both Simon Burley and William Scrope. But Amans' complaints lack the authority of parliamentary attacks on the king's chamberlains since they are grounded in his personal interest rather than in "common profit," and they do more to reveal Amans' own narrowness of view and pursuit of personal desire than they do Danger's. In these very passages, in fact, Amans confesses his own self-interest and his duplicity, and the wildness and violence associated with Dangier in the Roman de la Rose is transferred to Amans himself (CA 3. 1518-23). Danger, by contrast, is presented as a more civilized as well as more powerful figure than Dangier, and in his unceasing vigilance, in his loyalty to his lady, and in his utter lack of self-interest, he is a model for an ideal servant. In that regard, he draws upon a different and more potent ideal of aristocratic behavior than Amans' courtoisie; his "impervious[ness] to bribery or eloquence" (p. 62) invokes memories of the Golden Age; and his immutability (8. 2269-65) offers a response to the mutability and division that Gower cites as the sources of both immorality and social disorder in the Prologue. In borrowing the figure of Danger from RR, Gower, has inverted it, and he has placed it on "the winning side" (p. 64). "Amans' adversary demeans his desire and symbolizes a force of social renewal latent in the great household" (p. 64). [PN. Copyright The John Gower Society. JGN 27.2]

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

Gower Bibliography Editors Only: edit metadata