Chaucer's Poetry

"The Book of the Duchess": The Dreamer's Story

Geoffrey Chaucer's poem “The Book of the Duchess” was written between the years 1369-1372. The poem is a product of Chaucer’s French period. This work was written for Chaucer's principal patron, John of Gaunt, after the death of his first wife, Blanche. Initially the poem was known as “The Deth of Blaunche the Duchess” and was the first elegy of an English lady. The framework of the poem is a dream motif structured in octosyllabic couplets. Chaucer's use of the dream motif contributes to the poem’s theme of the brevity of love, the obtuseness of the dreamer, and springtime.

It is not by mistake or accident that Chaucer implemented the dream motif in “The Book of the Duchess.” The dream represents a disconnection from reality; otherwise, Chaucer would have offended John of Gaunt in writing a misrepresentation of the death of his wife. The dream motif also gives Chaucer the freedom to pen a creative and enticing piece. Dreams have no boundaries because they are solely the creation of the dreamer. The action that takes place in a dream cannot be challenged by anyone else because it is what the dreamer created. Therefore, the use of the dream motif opens a door to many possibilities for the writer and the characters of...

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