By Judson Boyce Allen
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Additional info for A Distinction of Stories: The Medieval Unity of Chaucer's Fair Chain of Narratives for Canterbury
In these classifications terminology is not absolutely consistent, but the illus Axioms of Unity and Their Consequences I 21 trations and definitions which go with the terms make it clear that all three authors are fundamentally talking about the same thing. For Bernardus, "descensus autem ad inferos quadrifarius est: est autem unus naturae, alius virtutis, tertius vitii, quartus artificii" ("the descent into hell is fourfold, for there is one of nature, another of virtue, a third of vice, and a fourth of artifice").
Order exists, but it is an order which has not yet been tested by all the various changes which the world may bring against it. The second part of the Knight's Tale begins with what can only be called a magical metamorphosis, in which a person changes his ap pearance but remains really the same, this time under the influence of love. The action is dictated by a reversal of the natural order of the human sexual hierarchy; while Theseus has achieved domestic order and civil peace in conquering Hippolyta, Palamon and Arcite remain 28 / A Distinction of Stories in the disorderly chaos of allowing themselves to be ruled by Emelye.
188-215. This essay has spawned numerous progeny, of which one of the latest and most medieval is R. E. Kaske, "Chaucer's Marriage Group," in Chaucer the Love Poet, ed. , 1973), pp. 45-65, who reads the four tales as a chiastic analysis of the relation between authority and sexuality, with marriage as the context. 19. The medieval understanding of marriage as a background for Chaucer's tales has been discussed by Robertson, A Preface to Chaucer; Henry Ansgar Kelly, Love and Marriage in the Age of Chaucer (Ithaca, 1975); and Patricia M.
A Distinction of Stories: The Medieval Unity of Chaucer's Fair Chain of Narratives for Canterbury by Judson Boyce Allen