Date of Award
Often considered the father of English poetry, Geoffrey Chaucer (ca. 1340s-1400 CE) produced a number of famous poems during his lifetime, the most famous arguably being The Canterbury Tales. But another of his works, Troilus and Criseyde, is often considered the best example of both his poetic ability and his creative use of sources.1 In this thesis, I will be considering whether Chaucer supports or subverts a patriarchal social structure, specifically by looking at his representation of women in Troilus and Criseyde in comparison to his source Giovanni Boccaccio’s Il Filostrato. Instead of resorting to the assumptive rhetoric of women as either meek or villainous, Chaucer’s unique narrative and subtle stylistic deviations from his source material reframe the choices of female protagonist Criseyde as the necessary product of the social role that she has been forced into by her family, her lover, and her society. In doing so, Chaucer implies the hypocrisy of medieval society’s construction of the female role by revealing the society’s direct involvement in the choices she is criticized for. Ultimately, Chaucer seems to be critiquing the society around women rather than the women themselves.
Balis, Vanessa, "Friend or Foe: Chaucer’s Depiction of Women in Troilus and Criseyde" (2020). Honor Scholar Theses. 133, Scholarly and Creative Work from DePauw University.