This introductory chapter situates the book partly as a consolidation of gender studies in Chaucer, proposing that gender questions in Chaucer are frequently also moral questions and that his poetry displays profound interest in dramas of personal morality. It is argued that there is scope for renewed investigation of his poetry in the context of compendia of ethical teachings — often in the vernacular — endemic in the Middle Ages. His interest in ideals inherited from Seneca proves to be particularly creative. He does not aspire, like Dante, to reconcile Christian morality with antique ethics. Rather, he relishes the gaps and grey areas which enable him to generate far-reaching questions about the behaviour of women and men in stressful situations.
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