Chaucer 's The Man Of Law 's Tale

1269 Words Nov 4th, 2015 6 Pages
Chaucer is one of the first authors to use rape in English literature (Schaus). Representations of rape occur with some consistency in several of Chaucer’s works, for example an attempted rape in “The Man of Law’s Tale” and the rape of a both a mother and daughter in “The Reeve’s Tale” (Schaus). His usage of rape was possibly inspired by his own speculated distribute with rape. On May 4, 1380, Cecily Chaumpaigne brought a deed of release into the Chancery of Richard II and had it recopied by a clerk on the back of the sheets of parchment used to record the "closed" or sealed letters sent by the king. In this deed, Chaumpaigne wrote "omnimodas acciones tam de raptu meo tam de aliqua alia re vel causa". The modern English translation roughly reads that Chaumpaigne released the poet Geoffrey Chaucer from all manner of actions such as they relate to my raptus or any other thing or cause (Cannon).
However, the cited evidence cited does not prove conclusively that Chaucer was guilty of rape. In discussions of the word raptus, one controversial issue has been what the word directly translates to. On the one hand, several scholars are certain that rape or forced coitus is the only acceptable translation of raptus in this period, on the other many linguistic scholars argues the language of rape- raptus, ravysement, and rape, was so ambiguous in the fourteenth century that it could mean either forced coitus or abduction, often for the purpose of marriage (Cannon). The latter’s theory…
Open Document