By Robert S. Sturges (auth.)
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Additional resources for Chaucer’s Pardoner and Gender Theory: Bodies of Discourse
The discourses of gender, however, are rarely self-consistent or monophonic. Whatever orthodoxy Chaucer's relations with his patron required may, like all such orthodoxies, have also tended to deconstruct itself when it was cast into the form of poetic language. The concatenation of patronage, poetry, and gender politics can be further illuminated by a brief examination of one of Chaucer's best-known shorter poems, the "Complaint to His Purse," which demonstrates that the relations between patron and poet are always already gendered, and gendered in ways that escape the poet's and the patron's control.
We might therefore expect him also to refer to this influential work on grammatical and human gender (and erotic) deviance when describing his own ambiguously deviant character, but no direct references to Alan are to be found in the description of the Pardoner. The reason may have to do with the problem of translating Alan's grammatical metaphors from Latin into a language whose grammar is significantly different. Alan issues his condemnation of sodomy in figurative language, drawing on and elaborating a popular medieval metaphor in which Latin grammar represents erotic behavior.
We may find here the economic motive underlying the text's need to silence the Pardoner. If this figure appears initially as a means of exploring gender ambiguities, the very fact that such ambiguities call into question what are at bottom political hierarchies ensures that the Duke of Lancaster's patronage will require their ultimate suppression. But why should this suppression take place in terms of gender at all? One reason may have to do with the contemporary circulation of rumors of sodomy at Richard II's court.
Chaucer’s Pardoner and Gender Theory: Bodies of Discourse by Robert S. Sturges (auth.)