Bereavement in Book of the Duchess Essay

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From the beginning Chaucer's narrator is effeminized by his sympathetic identification with Alcyone:

Such sorwe this lady to her took

That trewely I, which made this book,

Had swich pite and swich rowthe

To rede hir sorwe, that, by my trowthe,

I ferde the worse al the morwe

After, to thenken on her sorwe (95-100).

On line 13 "Always in point to falle a-doun" the narrator's delirium obviously mirrored Alcyone's swoon following her prayers "And fil a-swown as cold as stone" (123). Both the narrator and Alcyone bargained with pagan deities for rest, and within the dream both failed to recognize what the reader already knew: that a missing spouse was dead. The knight was also
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For he had broke his terme-day

To come to hir. Another rage

Had Dydo, quene eek of Cartage,

That slow hir-self for Eneas

Was fals; a whiche a fool she was!

And Ecquo dyed for Narcisus (725-35).

One converse situation the narrator chose to include was Sampson "And for Delila died Sampson" (738). That was particularly interesting because it returned to a familiar theme, that is, women threatend so many notions of 14th century masculinity. They put the immortal soul in danger and threatened the patriarchal hierarchy of society. Chaucer expressly warned of the feminizing consequences of the knight and his love's merged identities "Y-liche they were bothe gladde and wrothe; Al was us oon, withoute were" (1294-95). The knight certainly understood the implications and Chaucer was obviously intent on making sure John of Gaunt understood. Three times in the Book of the Duchess Chaucer used the refrain "Thou wost ful litel what thou menest; I have lost more

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