Gower Bibliography

The Role of the Shared Bed in John Gower's Tales of Incest [sic]

Shaw, Judith Davis. "The Role of the Shared Bed in John Gower's Tales of Incest [sic]." ELN 26 (1989), pp. 4-7.


Gower's tale of "Canace and Machaire" includes a passage describing their sharing a bedchamber (CA 3.148-53) that was added by the poet. Commentators on the tale have implied that the proximity of the children somehow excused them from their sin. But Gower has added a similar passage to his tale of "Apollonius of Tyre" (8.291) which hardly constitutes a justification for Antiochus' rape of his daughter. Tales in several other exemplum collections illustrate the potentially harmful results of family members having a common bed. Most are concerned with parents and their children, but John Mirk contains a specific warning against children above the age of seven lying together. Shaw concludes that the shared bed in "Canace and Machaire" is an "admonitory device," offering a warning for parents, rather than "a means of eliciting sympathy" for the children. [PN. Copyright The John Gower Society. JGN 8.2]

Item Type:Article
Subjects:Confessio Amantis

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