Analysis Of The Poem ' The Duchess '

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Chaucer’s Book of the Duchess has been widely debated as to when it was written as this influences the interpretation of which historical figures were fashioned after characters in the poem. The poem was written as a memorial for the death of Duchess Blanche of Lancaster, whose husband John of Gaunt was a patron of Chaucer’s. Knowing the date that Chaucer wrote this poem affects the way in which readers and audience at the time interpreted the poem. The initial response is to read the Black Knight figure as John of Gaunt, because the character is lamenting the loss of his love that is named Lady White in the poem. The French translation of White is Blanche, which makes it evident that the poem is a type of tribute for her death. Therefore the poem can be interpreted as the love between John of Gaunt and Duchess Blanche, as well as his grief for her now that she has passed. The narrator is interpreted to be Chaucer, as his status in the poem appears to be lower than the Black Knight, and the narrator himself is dealing with a grief of his own though it does not explicitly say whom he mourns. Chaucer has carefully woven historical context through The Book of the Duchess by subtly inferring real medieval figures with characters in the poem, as well as the many classical and medieval figures from prominent Greek and Roman Myths, as well as Greek philosophers and academics. Chaucer uses the death of Duchess Blanche as a reason to write The Book of the Duchess as a means to appeal
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