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Chaucer, Ethics, and Gender$
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Alcuin Blamires

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199248674

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199248674.001.0001

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Liberality: ‘The Wife of Bath's Prologue’ and ‘Tale’ and ‘The Franklin's Tale’

Liberality: ‘The Wife of Bath's Prologue’ and ‘Tale’ and ‘The Franklin's Tale’

(p.130) 5 Liberality: ‘The Wife of Bath's Prologue’ and ‘Tale’ and ‘The Franklin's Tale’
Chaucer, Ethics, and Gender

Alcuin Blamires (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

To be content with ‘enough’ was one kind of virtue; to be liberal with surplus was another. Chaucer found liberality applauded in Boccaccio’s writings. But the classical concept of cautious liberality transmitted through Cicero had undergone a strained assimilation into Christian ‘largenesse’ and charity, and as Chaucer shows through figures such as Dido and Dorigen, its gendering was also complicated. It is argued that the Wife of Bath’s Prologue offers a beguiling model of generosity through female sexuality, and that her Tale, in which women cannot hold back the answers to the knight’s predicament, further explores generosity as a gendered virtue of unlocked speech.

Keywords:   liberality, Boccaccio, Cicero, charity, Dido, Dorigen, sexuality, generosity of speech

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