Prudence and the power of persuasion: Language and maistrie in The tale of Melibee
Conversely, the Tale of Melibee
, with its exemplary reification of the virtues of the mulier fortis of Proverbs 31 and the amicitia maxima that Augustine and Aquinas especially found among the goods of accountable marriage, suggests worthy marriage as a means of living wisdom.
32) After his return from Genoa, his "Liber consolationis et consilii," best known in English to Chaucer scholars in the version known as the "Tale of Melibee
," focuses on the problem of securing peace in the commune and, most particularly, on the vendetta as a source of conflict.
The male hero enters only in the burlesque form of Sir Thopas, to be unceremoniously bundled out of the way in favour of the tale that celebrates the idealized wisdom of a woman, Chaucer's tale of Melibee
In Chaucer's own tales, the author's "absence takes identifiable forms" (254): in Sir Thopas, we see the author in the joke of authorial incompetence, while in Melibee
, with its allegorizable characters, our attention is drawn to the idea of agency itself.
While he briefly explains that he has summarized three tales (Chaucer's "Tale of Melibee
," "The Monk's Tale," and "The Parson's Tale") because they were "moralizing," Lumiansky offers a fuller exposition of the rationale behind his decision to omit the tale of the little clergeon:
In the tale he will tell of Melibee
, "Goddes sweete pyne," Christ's Passion, will be the fundamental model for how to respond to an act of violence.
He notes that Chaucer's second Canterbury Tales authorial signature is articulated, in the Man of Law's Introduction, so as to associate vernacular authorship with the texts and procedures of law, an association Wallace develops in conjunction with the Melibee
and the Griselda stories of Boccaccio and Chaucer.
In this context, the pronoun use in Prudence's address of her husband in the Tale of Melibee
is remarkable, and it is indeed interesting to see how freely she switches back and forth, sometimes within one sentence (1175, 1212, 1220; cf.
If the wife's presentation of herself in the Shipman's Tale as attractive martyr and object of man's violence prefigures the Prioress's indirect identification with, and presentation of, seductive violence, it perhaps is as true that the Prioress's Tale anticipates the transition to the tales about Sir Thopas and Melibee
, the one a knight who violently "prikes" (VII.
The Tale of Melibee
expresses wifely eloquence, `the most powerful and distinctive aspect -- or tool, or weapon -- of Chaucerian polity' (p.
Staley interestingly views Julian amid civic and national troubles of the 1370s and 1380s, and examines Chaucer's tales of Cecilia, Griselda, and Melibee
, for covert evidence of his responses to the conflicting relationships of authority and power.