Parallel Between Poet’s Insomnia and Knight
According to the medieval dream theory and its classification system, the dream experience by the poet in The Book of Duchess seemingly belongs to that variety wherein the impression and concerns of the previous day are recycled during sleep (Macrobius 88-90). The poet’s own feelings of lethargy, in combination with particular motifs from the story of Ceyx and Alyzone, manifest itself into the externalized form of the grief-stricken knight. Therefore, the knight’s state of mind is foreshadowed in the sorrow of Alcyone and in the strange insomnia experienced by the poet. Moreover, this particular ability of the characters to emerge from their emotional paralyses establishes a pattern of consolation throughout the poem. In this regard, unlike the Boethian mode, this Chaucerian consolation works towards a transformation of worldly enthusiasm and seeks to reverse the effects of sorrow rather than to transcend the causes.
The prologue, in Book of Duchess, not only serves as a introduction to the vision that is to follow, but also gives the reader the atmosphere and the mood of the poem, which is love, sorrow and lament. The prologue illustrates that the Dreamer has complete psychic sympathy with the subject; as what could be more natural than the Dreamer should dream of longing while his mind is full of the piteous tale of Alyzone, and the background of his thought was his own suffering founded in hopeless love.
In Book of the Duchess, Chaucer chooses to draw close parallels between the poet’s insomnia and the knight’s grief. In showcasing the knight’s complete lack of interest in the hunt coupled by his general lethargy, Chaucer effectively alludes to the apathy experienced by the poet hi...
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