Gower Bibliography

Dreams in Gower’s Confessio Amantis.

Davenport, W. A. "Dreams in Gower’s Confessio Amantis." English Studies 91 (2010), pp. 374-97. ISSN 0013-838X


[*Ed. note: We reproduce here the author’s own abstract, since as a summary of his argument it is difficult to improve, though it gives an inadequate sense of the range of observation, the subtlety, or the depth of engagement with the Confessio Amantis that are manifested in this fine essay.] “Gower’s name is not prominent in accounts of fourteenth-century English dream poetry and yet Confessio Amantis, though not composed as a dream poem, is full of dreams and Gower makes imaginative use of dream as part of the psychology of his central figure, Amans. This essay explores the variety of Gower’s dreams. The dream of Nebuchadnezzar is used in the Prologue to establish the theme of division in history and in individual human life and this would seem to exemplify the conventional idea of the dream as cryptic revelation with an authoritative interpreter. The tales which Genius tells to teach Amans also include many examples of the oracular dream. And yet once one examines some of these dreams Gower’s sense of their force appears surprisingly complex: the tale of ‘Ceix and Alceone’ shows dream as a staged illusion and the elaborate guile of Nectanabus confirms the link between dream and deception. False dreams and night-time deceits form a recurrent motif. In parallel to Gower’s fictional dreams runs the dream experience of Amans himself who daydreams about the beloved and both enjoys the pleasure of wish-fulfillment and suffers the agony of frustration in his night-time dream life. The included dream poem of Youth and Age which brings Confessio Amantis to a close confirms Gower’s reliance on dream both as a theme and as a structural device whereby he returns from illusion to the clarity of his own waking reason.

Item Type:Article
Subjects:Confessio Amantis

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