The Transformation of Chaucer’s Narrator in the Book of the Duchess

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A dream vision is a widely utilised literary device that provides an author with an avenue to explore the intricacies of the subconscious mind that effectively allows for its narrator to overcome some obstacle that seemed to be insurmountable prior to entering into the dream. In other words, the dream vision acts as an allegoric representation of the subject’s waking life and, in moving through the dream, is able to overcome the hurdle that lay before him previously. As a result, although being faced with a philosophical or moral dilemma, the narrator of a dream vision gains the ability to move on and conquer their ailments. This connotes the idea that there may not only be character development, but also a complete overhaul on their entire outlook on life. The purpose of this paper is to examine Chaucer’s narrator in the Book of the Duchess as an embodiment of this growth and transformation from a “dull” and “stupefied” insomniac introvert, into the mature, sensitive and understanding narrator who helps the Black Knight to overcome his own grief. Chaucer purposefully moves his narrator away from the naivety and emotional stagnation that kept him sleepless and ill for eight years towards developing a sensitive awareness of the cathartic benefits of talking out one’s sorrows in order to allow him to conquer his own ailments in his waking life. It will be argued that Chaucer’s narrator’s transformation is shown to present the benefits of dealing with grief and turmoil with reasonability instead of allowing yourself to be completely overtaken by your own emotions. In other words, this paper will argue that Chaucer moves his narrator from dwelling in his own sorrows and idle thoughts to understanding the cathartic benefits of “talking... ... middle of paper ... ...llor for a man who seems to be very similar to how he was in his waking life. In doing so, Chaucer’s narrator’s transformation connotes the fact that allowing yourself to come to terms with and find peace with your grievances through the catharsis of talking about and opening up to others is far more beneficial than enveloping yourself in a gloomy, emotionally-charged haze. As a result, although the discussion of the narrator has been divided amongst literary scholars, Chaucer may have purposefully allowed his narrator to appear as both “dull” and “stupefied” as well as mature and sensitive in order to show the rationale of using reason to deal with grief. Therefore, the transformation that his narrator undergoes conveys an allegoric representation of the problems he was faced with in his own life and, as a result, presents the proper method to mourn and move on.
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