Chaucer’s Parody of Literature’s Conventions of Courtly Love
Mentor:Joan Griffin, Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, California Lutheran University, California Lutheran University
Protected by the powerful Duke of Lancaster, John of Gaunt, Geoffrey Chaucer used his literary freedom to satirize the social conventions of medieval England and the fourteenth century. A close examination of just one of his Canterbury Tales, specifically the “Knight’s Tale”, turns this focus to courtly love. In his work, Chaucer, known to be familiar with the conventions of courtly love as explored in his work Troilus and Criseyde, parodies the common literary conventions of courtly love by removing the centerpiece, the courtly lady, and shifting the central focus to the “courtly relationship” between the two champions, Arcite and Palomon. In order to create this paradigm, he inserts characters and concepts like Greek gods and "logic", neither common to Chaucer’s genre. In doing so, Chaucer unhinged the literature of courtly love and created a flawless parody of this literary convention, thereby creating a type of social commentary that could be disguised as entertainment.