Gower Bibliography

'Sche made many a wonder soun': Performative Utterances and the Figure of Medea in Ovid's Metamorphoses and John Gower's Confessio Amantis

Wade, James. "'Sche made many a wonder soun': Performative Utterances and the Figure of Medea in Ovid's Metamorphoses and John Gower's Confessio Amantis." Postgraduate English 9 (2004), n.p.

Review

"By exploring two premodern versions of the tale of Medea through the lens of J. L. Austin's speech act theory," Wade seeks "to tease out the 'unpremeditated articulations' [quoting Paul Strohm, Theory and the Premodern Text, xiii] latent within those texts." For Ovid, Medea is a means to explore "the social and moral ambiguities that involve a woman who chooses to speak and act independently, and as Medea depicts speech as a catalyst of power, her relationship with languages becomes integral to her utilization of the power she is given within Ovid's tale." Gower however "portrays Medea as an ideal figure to be perjured--an innocent, disempowered, and modest lover." The "discrepancy" between "what Genius 'intends' and what he actually does" allows Medea to emerge "from the facade of the disempowered ingenue to become a figure of power." This sequence reveals Gower's intent: he has Genius "take away the narrative space for her to speak in an attempt to control our reception of her through a subverted space of direct discourse." In the end, however, Medea's power is irrepressible, and leads to a violent conclusion elusive of Genius's narrative grasp: "his [i.e., Genius's] subversion of Medea's power through the confinement of her narrative space and illocutionary presence only demonstrates the unsettling nature of Medea as she remains a powerful figure despite her lack of speech." [RFY. Copyright. The John Gower Society. JGN 28.2]

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:http://www.dur.ac.uk/postgraduate.english/journal1.htm
Subjects:Confessio Amantis

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