Analysis of Chaucer's Legend of Good Women Essay Example

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  5
Wordcount:  1237 Words
Date:  2022-11-06

Geoffrey Chaucer is considered to be one of the best English poets before Shakespeare. Chaucer contributed immensely in the second half of the 14th century to the country in different positions. He managed to work as a courtier, civil servant, and diplomat. However, he is more remembered as a poet for his great contribution in the world of literature. Chaucer is the poet behind, The Legend of Good Women. The purpose of the poem is to recount the stories of women from history. Additionally, the poem focuses on the myth about the martyrs of love and it is written in the medieval love poetry language.

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The main characters in the poem include Chaucer, Cupid, Alceste, Cleopatra, Anthony, Thisbe, Pyramus, and Dido. Every character has a unique and essential role in the poem. Chaucer is considered to be a dreamer. Through a vision, Chaucer is denounced by Cupid for heresy against the rules of love. Chaucer's main crime was writing and translating demeaning remarks about the womankind. Furthermore, it seems Chaucer never enjoys single-minded and always considers multiple perspectives (McDonald 24). Therefore, it is chaotic for him to make decisions on his own. Therefore, this enables him to question the myths that are repeated in the society by the listeners and the translators. Cleopatra is a key figure in the Legend of Good Women. She is the queen of Egypt and deeply in love with Anthony. On the day of Anthony's death, she makes herself vulnerable and be bitten by a poisonous snake to prove her love for him. She encounters numerous challenges in the poem because of her gender and considering she joins politics. According to the poem, Thisbe is the daughter of one of the Babylon lords. Pyramus has feelings for her. The affection developed between the two prompts Thisbe to commit suicide when she recovers the body of Pyramus. Pyramus is also the son of a lord of Babylon (Delahoyde 1). Finally, Dido is the queen of Carthage and places a significant role in the development of the poem.

The Legend of Good Women, enables Chaucer to construct a framework that is considered to be restrictive and able to prevent him from being able to infuse the process with the richness and subtle shading associated with human existence. The poem has a prologue in which the narrator is able to express his elation at the arrival of the spring. The process will greatly impact his happiness in roaming through the meadows, listening to the chirping of the birds, and admiring the flowers. Furthermore, Chaucer is more attracted to the daisy and he can spend hours looking at them without getting bored (Frank 10). During this spring season after his routine walks in the field, Chaucer is able to fall asleep and has a vision. In the vision, he is able to see to have an encounter with the god of love and Alceste. Chaucer is attracted to Alceste in the vision because she is dressed in the original colors of the daisy. During the vision, Cupid is able to denounce him for commiting an offense called heresy that is against the laws of love. According to the writings of Criseyde's infidelity and the translation of the Romaunt of the Rose, Chaucer's behavior is considered to be an offense. Therefore, Cupid denounces Chaucer because of the disparaging remarks about the womankind. However, Cupid's companion (Alceste) defends Chaucer in the whole scenario. The defense is that the poet should not be blamed for the views of other poets (McDonald 26). Alceste goes further to acknowledge that Chaucer might have acted out of ignorance in the process because he blindly got his plots from the stories of other writers. Therefore, Alceste provides both a condition and a suggestion to Chaucer to enable him gain Cupid's forgiveness (Frank 47). Alceste informs Chaucer that he might be forgiven by Cupid if he writes a legendary of wives and maidens and portray them as people who have been faithfully in love for their lifetime.

The prologue is one of the most essential parts of the poem because it is full of literary devices that were popular in the fourteenth century. The main themes from the prologue include the religion of love. This religion was construed the way the normal religion is based. This was like the end times when people are judged. The religion had activities and words that were considered to be demonic and sanctity. Additionally, vision brought out the images of Cupid and Alceste as similar to that of God and the Virgin Mary respectively (Delahoyde 1). The daisy that covers Alceste symbolizes love in the story. Furthermore, during the poem, Chaucer is able to question of the superiority of the leaf and the flower. Although there is a debate about this issue that poet remains impartial and does not commit to any side. Furthermore, the prologue brings out numerous revelations about the topics and creates a universal appeal to the audience. During the prologue, Chaucer notes that the actions are as delightful as the pleasure in nature and this part of the poem is able to showcase humor, cheerfulness and ironic detachment that are a preserve from the usual mediocrity.

The main theme of The Legend of Good Women is based on the fidelity of women who are in love. The female caharacters in the poem are subjected to suffering and death due to their love. Moreover, they are all treated as saints and admired despite the illicit nature of some of their relationships presented in the literally work. Moreover, the main focus of the poem is the women who are remembered as virtuous human beings who are true to their spouses and embrace their personal identity (Chaucer 24). Additionally, Chaucer is known for depicting women in a negative way but through The Legend of Good Women, the author of the poem criticizes and ironizes men and uplights the image of a woman in the society. According to most scholars, they believe that the poem was incomplete (Frank 56). The main reason for this allegations is because initially the poem was supposed to have nineteen women but the writer only mentions ten of them.


The Legend of Good Women recounts the stories of some of the most courageous women in history. Furthermore, it highlights the conditions that they were subjected to and even led to their deaths. The poem is also based on what the challenges women are subjected to because of their love. The prologue is one of the most significant parts of the poem because it highlights all the issues and develops most of the themes of the poem. The vision presents a judgment like scenario where God denounces men for the suffering they have exposed women through love, Ironically, Alceste is the one who defends Chaucer and thinks that he commited the offence out of ignorance and not malice. According to Alceste, Chaucer should write another poem praising women to gain Cupid's forgiveness. The poem is able to criticize men and uplight the image of women in the society.

Works Cited

Chaucer, Geoffrey. The legend of good women. Clarendon Press, 1889.

Delahoyde, Michael. "Chaucer: Legend Of Good Women". Public.Wsu.Edu, 2018, Accessed 16 Dec 2018.

Frank, Robert Worth. Chaucer and the Legend of Good Women. Harvard Univ Pr, 1972.

McDonald, Nicola F. "Chaucer's" Legend of Good Women", Ladies at Court and the Female Reader." The Chaucer Review 35.1 (2000): 22-42.

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Analysis of Chaucer's Legend of Good Women Essay Example. (2022, Nov 06). Retrieved from

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