Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

M.A. in English



First Advisor

Gregory Heyworth

Second Advisor

Ivo Kamps

Third Advisor

Lindy Brady

Relational Format



This thesis is interested in forms of “imperfection” in Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. I define “imperfection” as an authorial gesture performed to narrate an idealized virwhile depriving it from its idealism. The imperfection of a virtue, however, does not happen absolutely. It is the character’s incomplete, distorted, or decadent command of a given virtue, rather than the viritself, that makes it imperfect. Consisting of three chapters, the thesis examines Chaucer’s imperfection of things idealized within two medieval spaces: a) the ecclesiastical institution of Church and b) the secular institution of Knighthood. This is why the thesis settled on the Prioress’s Tale and the Knight’s Tale as its only foci of discussion, though I seek to connect what the tales have to narrate to a few medieval primary sources as well as few other literary works.



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