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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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The Ethics of Sufficiency: ‘The Man of Law's Introduction’ and ‘Tale’; ‘The Shipman's Tale’

The Ethics of Sufficiency: ‘The Man of Law's Introduction’ and ‘Tale’; ‘The Shipman's Tale’

Chapter:
(p.107) 4 The Ethics of Sufficiency: ‘The Man of Law's Introduction’ and ‘Tale’; ‘The Shipman's Tale’
Source:
Chaucer, Ethics, and Gender
Author(s):

Alcuin Blamires (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199248674.003.0005

This chapter addresses ideas about what God ‘sends’ to an individual in terms of fortune and livelihood. While the Man of Law’s Prologue and Tale offer competing assessments of what is ‘enough’, the Shipman’s Tale fashions a tour de force on the same topic, accommodating with wit and a touch of seriousness both the mischievous ethics of sexual trading and the ethical/moral risk of merchant preoccupations. Its somewhat insensitive merchant figure is partly to be judged against standards set out in Seneca’s On Favours, though the tale foxes the reader’s powers of judgment by making misrepresentation itself (the merchant’s ally) a thematic focus.

Keywords:   fortune, livelihood, sexual trading, merchant, Seneca, misrepresentation

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