A Precarious Line Walked
Chaucer comes to know himself through his desire to advance his station in the royal court by using The Book of the Duchess, simultaneously he shows an ability to take care of himself by protecting his reputation and affirming his skill as a poet, by masking his intentions in flowery language and metaphors of praise in the story he tells. Chaucer wrote this poem in order to advance his courtly career. To achieve this goal he had to be able to know himself, this is him recognizing his desire to obtain influence in the court by suggesting to John of Gaunt, here after refereed to as John, to stop openly mourning the death of Blanch of Lancaster. If John heeded Chaucer’s advice this would have catalyze an increase in his influence in the royal court. In addition he also knows how to take care of himself by cloaking his suggestions in a poem and thus affording himself an easy out if accused of speaking in an unacceptable way to the lords of the court. For Chaucer to have achieved this goal he would have to make two things happen; get John to no longer openly mourn Blanch’s death, and in so doing have his influence recognized, and to disguise this message in metaphors and allusions so as not to be seen as over stepping his bounds allotted by his station. This is the hallmark of a wise politician. If he succeeded he would be able to improve his station. If he did not show enough guise and grace in his efforts a terrible fate could have befallen him. Chaucer achieves his goal of knowing himself by indirectly commanding John to stop mourning his dead wife.
Chaucer used a recognizable pattern in this poem to make his point. The pattern begins with the character of Chaucer stating a problem. This Character and problem were meant to reflect both John and his grief. The character of Chaucer, who represents John, then falls asleep and in the subsequent dream, is told to forgo his mourning by other characters in the story who represent Chaucer....
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