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Chaucer, Ethics, and Gender$
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Alcuin Blamires

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199248674

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199248674.001.0001

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Fellowship and Detraction in the Architecture of the Canterbury Tales: from ‘The General Prologue’ and ‘The Knight's Tale’ to ‘The Parson's Prologue’

Fellowship and Detraction in the Architecture of the Canterbury Tales: from ‘The General Prologue’ and ‘The Knight's Tale’ to ‘The Parson's Prologue’

Chapter:
(p.20) 1 Fellowship and Detraction in the Architecture of the Canterbury Tales: from ‘The General Prologue’ and ‘The Knight's Tale’ to ‘The Parson's Prologue’
Source:
Chaucer, Ethics, and Gender
Author(s):

Alcuin Blamires (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199248674.003.0002

The chapter links the primary role of friendship and fellowship in inherited ethics with the prominence of fellowship as a fragile ideal in the General Prologue, where it is announced only to be subjected to systematic strain in the subsequent evolution of the Canterbury Tales. Fellowship is immediately threatened within the Knight’s Tale and in the pilgrim frame by masculine animosities that make ethical suppositions about ideal friendship look sentimental. Anger and defamation are key drivers in the Tales. Eruptions of both, right through to the penultimate tale, often require conciliatory intervention. Chaucer acknowledges a tradition of female conciliation, but also draws inspiration from Seneca’s essay on anger management. Eventually, when competitive instincts have all but ‘un-sewn’ the seams of friendship, it is the Parson’s ambition to ‘knit up’ the pilgrims’ unravelling project.

Keywords:   friendship, fellowship, General Prologue, pilgrims, social conflict, anger, defamation, Seneca

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