Gower Bibliography

The Hag Transformed: 'The Tale of Florent,' Ethical Choice and Female Desire in Late Medieval England

Dean, James M. "The Hag Transformed: 'The Tale of Florent,' Ethical Choice and Female Desire in Late Medieval England." In Approaches to Teaching the Poetry of John Gower. Ed. Yeager, R. F., and Gastle, Brian W. New York: Modern Language Association of America, 2011, pp. 143-58. ISBN 9781603290999


Dean compares the Tale of Florent with Chaucer's Wife of Bath's Tale and the anonymous fifteenth-century "Wedding of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnell." Gower's tale, he writes, "addresses issues of self-governance when one must adhere to one's word--maintain one's trouthe--under trying circumstances. To varying degrees, these issues arise in the three versions of the story . . . and a fruitful entrée into discussion version is to have students . . . detail the differences in the versions of the tale they are reading" (143). A table compiled by one of his students, here presented in an appendix, provides an example of the basis for such ethical distinctions and refinements as Dean makes over the course of his essay. Noting that the ethical issues emerging in the Wife's Tale are 1) justice, and 2) "power, manipulation, and dominance in human relationships" (145), Dean asks how Gower shifts the focus to other issues in his version; in his view, "Florent comes very close to falling to 'murmur' and 'compleignte'--engaging in pride and grumbling because he expects his reputation to be damaged" (146). In this contrast, "what students can come to understand is that if Gower . . . emphasizes honor and gentilesse and turning 'inobedience' into 'obedience,' Chaucer's "storyteller stresses inward transformation and repentance" (149). As distinct from these two writers, the author of the "Wedding" maintains a certain distance from these matters and instead has Ragnelle "expose the fragility of courtly virtues" (155). [Kurt Olsson. Copyright. The John Gower Society. JGN 31.1]

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

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