Gower Bibliography

Chaucer's Wife of Bath and Her Distorted Arthurian Motifs

Wurtele, Douglas J.. "Chaucer's Wife of Bath and Her Distorted Arthurian Motifs." Arthurian Interpretations 2 (1987), pp. 47-61.


Wurtele summarizes Gower's tale of Florent along with "The Marriage of Sir Gawaine" and "The Weddynge of Sir Gawen and Dame Ragnell" in his discussion of the background to WB's alterations of the traditional tale. While Gower has evidently deliberately removed the tale from its Arthurian setting, and his version is more restrained, more skillful, and of greater psychological insight than its "cruder" predecessors, he preserves the notion of "charity as an antidote to an act of malice" by "sharpen[ing] the importance of love and fair-dealing" in the conclusion to the tale (p.53). WB, on the other hand, willfully distorts both the motifs and the emphasis of the earlier tales, and in the final scene, corrupts the "relatively benign dilemma" of the traditional versions "into something little short of vicious" (pp. 56-57). In one way, the result is to heighten the irrationality of the tale, but in another, to create a different sort of realism. [PN. Copyright The John Gower Society. JGN 9.2]

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

Gower Bibliography Editors Only: edit metadata