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Title: Chaucer's moral vocabulary : meaning and ironic form in the Canterbury Tales
Author: Samson, A. R.
Awarding Body: University College of Swansea
Current Institution: Swansea University
Date of Award: 1983
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In this thesis I argue that in the Canterbury Tales Chaucer explores the way in which different notions of truth conflict with one another just as the various groups within the society he portrays have different and often warring values and concerns. In my Introduction and Chapters I and II I consider the problems posed by a work which is distant in time, ironic and unfinished. In my Introduction I discuss the value of the notion of intention; in Chapter I the problem of linguistic meaning; its relation to literary meaning and to its wider social context; in Chapter II, the problem of the text of the Canterbury Tales, concluding that El expresses Chaucer's purposes most clearly. In Chapter III I argue that the form of the Canterbury Tales, developing from that of earlier works is subversive in its dethronement of its author of any authoritative truth. In Ch IV I seek to show that such a stance is tied to the conditions of fourteenth century life, and in Chapter V establish that a concern with truth expresses itself linguistically in a semantic shift from soth to trouthe with an attendant alteration in the conception of truth. In Chapter VI I consider Piers Plowman and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight in relation to this semantic change, and in Chapter VII show how, throughout the Canterbury Tales, Chaucer causes different notions of truth to play off against one another. In Part II I show how, logically tied to the idea of truth as a function of the knower, individual tellers of tales give prominence to different moral terms or, where they use the same terms, do so to express different values. In Chapters VIII and IX, I consider some terms in the Knight's and Parson's Tales; in Chapter X I compare the two tales. In Chapter XI I discuss the Clerk's Tale. I conclude that the authoritarian values of the Knight's and Parson's Tale are not supported within the work, but that finally the demand made upon the reader is that he, too, should recognize his necessary partiality in his reading.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available