Reading the Legend of Good Women within the context of Chaucer’s other poetry, this article addresses the difficulties modern readers encounter with the tone and style of the Legend by a close reading of Chaucer’s multiple registers of speech, his mixing of French and English vocabulary and his poetic choices of phrasing, narrative pace, and rhythm. It argues that the Legend is not an outlier in the canon of Chaucer’s poetry, but closely related to Anelida and Arcite as well as Troilus and Criseyde. It reads the supposed awkwardness of the language and the compressed, seemingly rushed portions in several narratives as reflections of Chaucer’s larger project to transform exemplary narratives purportedly about women’s fidelity in love into stories examining a wider variety of social interactions that contribute to or undermine the creation of social harmony, stories in which women’s desires and choices are often central.


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pp. 12-28
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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