The Legend of Good Women by Geoffrey Chaucer

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INTRODUCTION

Published in 1386, The Legend of Good Women is the third longest poem of the
Chaucer’s works, after The Canterbury Tales and Troilus and Criseyde. This medieval work is not only an average poem in the form of Chaucer’s dream vision, but above all is possibly the first significant work in English to use the iambic pentameter or decasyllabic couplets, which became an important part of English literature. In the recent years, the poem has been the subject of several studies on gender issues among many critics of literature, which have been trying to properly analyze and interpret the content of the work. Many of literary scholars such as Elaine Tuttle Hansen, Carolyn Dinshaw, Pricilla Martin and quite a few others unanimously argue that rather than a work about women, the Legend is actually more about false men and how they are “feminized.” Furthermore, they also touch upon a very important issue relating to the presentation of men in an unfavourable light, as ‘false’ characters.
This long Chaucer’s poem is divided into nine sections, which contain ten stories of innocent women, namely Cleopatra, Thisbe, Dido, Hypsipyle, Medea, Lucrece, Ariadne, Philomela, Phyllis and Hypermnestra. In the Prologue, the author falls asleep and is reprimanded by Cupid, the God of Love, and his queen Alceste for his previous work, Troilus and Criseyde – portraying women in a poor light. Both the God of Love and his queen are dissatisfied with Chaucer, on account of writing about
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