Chaucerian Birds

Jill Mann

in From Aesop to Reynard

Published in print November 2009 | ISBN: 9780199217687
Published online February 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191712371 | DOI:
Chaucerian Birds

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Chaucer's Parliament of Fowls is another bird‐debate which is concerned with naturally determined attitudes to sexuality in animals and humans; the goddess Nature presides over the debate in person. The irresistible power of Nature, and its manifestations in amatory affairs, are also matters of concern in Chaucer's Squire's tale and Manciple's Tale. These tales show birds and men as magically able to speak to each other, but whereas in the Squire's Tale speech brings together Canacee and the female falcon through Canacee's natural compassion for the betrayed bird, the Manciple's Tale moves toward a bleakly irreversible separation between Phebus and his crow, who is finally deprived of beauty and the power of speech. The ending of the tale inculcates a mistrust of language which exceeds even beast fable in its cynical attitude to human speech.

Keywords: Chaucer; Parliament of Fowls; debate; Nature; Squire's Tale; Manciple's Tale; animal speech

Chapter.  15266 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (Early and Medieval)

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