The Book of the Duchess, the Parliament of Fowls, and the House of Fame

The Book of the Duchess, the Parliament of Fowls, and the House of Fame

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The Book of the Duchess, the Parliament of Fowls, and the House of Fame


The Parliament of Fowls and the House of Fame are closely related to each other and to the Book of the Duchess, as all three of the poetry share several similar themes. Written between 1368 and 1380 they are some of Chaucer’s earliest works in which aspects of some of the great writers of his time are evident. There are three major themes intertwined within the three works, which Chaucer has added to the Dream Vision genre.

The first work, possibly written from 1368-1372, the Book of the Duchess begins with the love-sick narrator finally falling asleep as he reads the sad love story of Seys and Alcyone (originally written by Ovid). He dreams that he is in bed early in the morning, then out hunting in the forest. He follows a dog down a path and finds a knight dressed in black who laments the loss of his lady. The narrator forces the knight to tell him about her, eventually learning that she is dead. The other hunters reappear, a bell strikes, and the narrator awakes.

Written in the late 1370’s, the House of Fame consists of three books, and unfortunately is incomplete. A short prologue on dreams and an invocation to sleep precedes book one, which tells of the narrator’s visit to the Temple of Glass where he finds images, suggested by book four and other parts of Virgil’s Aeneid. Seized by a chatty golden eagle at the start of book two, he is carried up into the House of Fame, which is located in the heavens. There he sees, during book three, images of famous writers; in particular he sees how arbitrary Fame is. Beside the House of Fame he sees the Labyrinth, representing all the complexity of human existence. “A man of gret auctorite” (H...


... middle of paper ...


...ay. Through the use of several references to famous texts, Chaucer helped explain his poetry to his audience at the time and to us now.



Sources Cited

Anthony. “http://www.sogang.ac.kr/~anthony/books/Med4.htm”http://www.sogang.ac.kr/~anthony/books/Med4.htm (3 May, 2003)

Boitani, Piero. The Cambridge Chaucer Companion. ed. Boitani, Piero &

Mann, Jill. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

Psonak, Kevin. “The Geoffrey Chaucer Website Homepage” Mar 5, 2003. http://www.courses.fas.harvard.edu/~chaucer/ (3 May, 2003)

Robinson, F.N., ed. The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1961.

Stanbury, Sarah. “Prior” http://www.holycross.edu/departments/english/sstanbur/Prior.htm (3 May, 2003)

Thundy, Zacharias P.. “THE BOOK OF THE DUCHESS: AN ELEGY OR ATEDEUM?” http://www.nd.edu/~zthundy/BD.html (3 May, 2003)

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