Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

1-1-2016

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

M.A. in English

Department

English

First Advisor

Gregory G Heyworth

Second Advisor

Ivo Kamps

Third Advisor

Lindy M. Brady

Abstract

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 virtue while 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 virtue itself, 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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