Chaucer's dream visions : courtliness and individual identity
thesisposted on 15.12.2014, 10:37 by Michael Costas. Hagiioannu
This thesis presents a reading of Chaucer's dream visions in their philosophical, religious and secular contexts. It traces the poet's discussion of individual subjectivity, vis-a-vis the conventions of courtliness, in the Book of the Duchess, the House of Fame, the Parliament of Fowls, and the Legend of Good Women.;Unlike the 'playful', and elliptical poet of many recent studies, this thesis presents a Chaucer who was fully engaged with the important moral and philosophical issues of his age. By drawing upon Aristotelian psychology, derived from his reading of Boethius, Dante and the poets of the French court, Chaucer was able to articulate precisely which aspects of the courtly identity are determined by language and empirical experience, and which parts are transcendent of this determinism. Engagement with the dream visions thus enabled the reader to recognise those aspects of courtliness which assist his or her ethically informed autonomy, and those which compromise it. A detailed engagement with the literature, language, and behaviour of the court then takes place in the dream visions, which are a genuine exploration of individual subjectivity yet still remain socially aware. The motivation for this exploration is shown to be a product of both the author's Christian beliefs and his identity as a courtly poet. Religious sensibility and the demands of courtly society are shown not to be mutually exclusive but rather the source of urgent and productive dialogue.