Gower Bibliography

Conflict Resolution in the 'Wife of Bath's Tale' and in Gower's 'Tale of Florent'

Mandel, Jerome. "Conflict Resolution in the 'Wife of Bath's Tale' and in Gower's 'Tale of Florent'." ES: Revista de Filología Inglesa 33.1 (2012), pp. 69-79. ISSN 0210-9689


Mandel takes no interest in which came first, but in contrasting the ways in which conflicts are presented and resolved in the two poems, he says a great deal about the broader differences between the two poets. In the Wife's version, in contrast to her Prologue, in which somebody must win and might makes right, interpersonal conflicts "are resolved by appeal to authority-but that authority is constantly undermined, debated, and circumvented by negotiation" (72); and in the final scene, the knight and his new wife "have arrived at mutual common gain, at equal happiness, through a negotiation in which each gave up something--sovereignty, authority, the power to choose--to get something" (76). In "The Tale of Florent," on the other hand, the appeal to authority is absolute and there is no negotiation. All of the conflict takes place within Florent himself as he weighs his choices. At the end, "the hag's transformation to a naked eighteen-year old is completely gratuitous, the implicit reward of the true and honest man guided by principle who honors his pledges" (77). "'The Tale of Florent' reveals Gower as a poet who defines character in terms of an individual's thinking and commitment to the principles which ultimately define 'the good' and direct his behavior accordingly. Gower's is a moral tale designed to instruct. The 'Wife of Bath's Tale' reveals Chaucer as a poet who reveals character in terms of discussion, negotiation, compromise--the contingencies of business rather than the demands of absolutes. Chaucer's is a dramatic tale designed to entertain" (69-70). [Copyright. The John Gower Society. JGN 32.1]

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:This special issue of ES is also titled "Gower in Context(s): Scribal, Linguistic, Literary and Socio-historical Readings," edited by Laura Filardo-Llamas, Brian Gastle, Marta Gutiérrez Rodríguez, and Ana Saez-Hidalgo.
Subjects:Sources, Analogues, and Literary Relations
Confessio Amantis

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