Man of Law's Introduction, Prologue, Tale, and Epilogue 1. The Man of Law?s Introduction is full of markers of a new beginning, e.g., reiterations of an astronomical opening (compare GP 1-18) and a reiteration of the rules of the game and the fiction of rehearsal. Why the repetitions? Why do we need a new beginning? Why the elaborate astronomical time-telling? Why the Host's sense of time awasting (see also the Reeve's Prologue) in a game he proposed in the General Prologue as a way to pass or even waste time? What might this suggest about the relations of seriousness and play? 2. How does the Man of Law characterize Chaucer and his works in the Introduction? How would you characterize his literary tastes and approach to fiction? Consider the Man of Law as a speculative portrait of Chaucer's historical audience: what do his comments suggest about what Chaucer's relations to his audience were, and about what Chaucer was trying to accomplish with his writings? 3. The Man of Law's Tale is the first exemplary tale of the Canterbury Tales. Exemplary literature usually represents idealized figures (that is, polarized, abstract?they can be idealized versions of good or evil, virtue or vice, or other polarized extremes) in order to hold up models to imitate or to avoid. How does the tale define the genre? How does it embody virtue in character and in narrative action? Vice? Which virtues does Constance embody/enact, and what forms of badness oppose her? Are we meant to imitate her? If so, how? 4. Constance does a lot of patient suffering and enduring. What are the implications of correlating such a definition of virtue with the female sex? How would you describe the gender system in this tale? How would you compare it to those of the preceding tales? 5. What is Constance?s attitude toward sexuality? Marriage? What attitudes toward sexuality and marriage, for men and for women, does the Man of Law evince? Are his attitudes coherent? 6. Think about the depiction of Christianity and paganism here; how does it compare to the depiction of a pagan world in the KT? 7. The Sultaness is an interesting character: a pagan, a murderer, and a passionate, rhetorically brilliant defender of her faith. Why does the tale give such a powerful expression of faith to a character otherwise depicted as treacherous, evil, etc.? How, more generally, does the tale sort out religion, sex, and power?
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