The Legend of Good Women Background

The Legend of Good Women Background

Geoffrey Chaucer is one of the best known English writers; his work is usually considered as being the beginning of English literature. Geoffrey Chaucer lived in the late middle ages (or early Renaissance) and his best known work remains The Canterbury Tales, a collection of individual stories knit together in a single volume.

The Legend of Good Women is Geoffrey Chaucer's third longest poem and it is similar to a tale found in the Canterbury Tales. Just like many others stories written by Chaucer, the poem begins with a prologue and then the rest of the action takes place in a dream. The poem focuses on women who remained in history as being virtuous and true to their lovers and themselves. Until The Legend of Good Women, Chaucer depicted women in a negative light; this is the first time when men are criticized and ironized and women are raised on a pedestal.

Many critics believe that the poem is unfinished and they base their theory on the fact that in the prologue, there are nineteen ladies in waiting mentioned, yet the narrator presents the story of only ten of them. Another clue is the fact that Alceste mentioned many women who were not included by the narrator in the story. It is also hinted in the poem that Chaucer became bored with writing the poem and gave up. Either way, The Legend of Good women remains to this day one of Chaucer’s well known and most read compositions.

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