Department of English
Master of Arts
There has been much written on Boethius and his impact on Chaucer's greater known works, such as The Canterbury Tales and Troilus and Criseyde, yet there has not been much light shone on his other works, namely The Book of the Duchess, The Parliament of Fowls, and The House of Fame, which are a rich mix of medieval conventions and Boethian elements and themes. Such ideas have been explored through the lenses of his five, shorter "Boethian lyrics" - "The Former Age," "Fortune," "Truth," "Gentilesse," and "Lak of Stedfastnesse" - particularly because it is within these five poems that the metafictional narrative approach or framing of Chaucer's Boethiusinfluenced work, through narration and possible consolations, are fleshed out and brought into focus. However, the "Boethian lyrics" are not necessary in the study of the three earlier poems The Book of the Duchess, The Parliament of Fowls, and The House of Fame. Using the convention of the frame tale with the dream vision in these three poems allows for the narrator to be brought to an understanding in each of these texts, strongly suggesting that this approach is something that Chaucer came across in Boethius's The Consolation of Philosophy. To merely go through and catalogue all Boethian elements as lifted directly from Consolation would accomplish nothing but a catalog of similarities. In that same vein, to analyze the "Boethian poems" would also be treading over familiar scholarly ground. In examining an intermediary group of texts as a bridge between Boethius's classical philosophy and Chaucer's courtly poetry, particularly The Book of the Duchess, The Parliament of Fowls and The House of Fame, this more concretely shows the extent of Boethius's coloring injected into Chaucer's writings from early in his writing career. Through close readings and secondary outside research, I am confident that another chapter of Chaucerian scholarship, one that has rarely been explored, much less written, can be added.
English Language and Literature
Lamson, Morgen, "Boethian Colorings in Geoffrey Chaucer's Earlier Poetry: The Book of the Duchess, The Parliament of Fowls and The House of Fame" (2007). Masters Theses & Specialist Projects. Paper 431.