Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Hostname: page-component-6b989bf9dc-vmcqm Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-04-14T20:29:24.854Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

9 - Griselda and the Problem of the Human in The Clerk’s Tale

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 August 2020

Frank Grady
Affiliation:
University of Missouri, St Louis
Get access

Summary

Griselda has always challenged the status of the human, even though critics have long sought to elucidate prized human characteristics through her behavior as wife, mother, and political subject. Despite these efforts, our moral investments in Griselda - quite literally, the ways we have sought to associate her with a host of social and moral prescriptions concerning subjectivity, femininity, maternity, and sovereignty - are confounded by her unyielding submission. Griselda is unfeeling, but she gains a horrible autonomy that critiques patriarchal tyranny. Griselda affirms women’s material investment in the household, but to do so she sacrifices all ethical bonds outside those mandated by her pre-marital pact with Walter. Griselda is transcendent, but she is alienated from a common humanity, much less Christianity. This chapter argues that Griselda is not an inhuman monster; rather, through The Clerk’s Tale, Chaucer imagines a different view of humanity, one engendered according to modes of virtue typically associated with women, including patience, pity, humility, steadfastness, and submission.

Type
Chapter
Information
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats
×