Anger with God and Man: The Social Contexts of Melibee’s Anger

Anger with God and Man: The Social Contexts of Melibee’s Anger

Griffith, John L.

Medieval Forum Vol.3 (2003)


Among modern critics, the tale of Melibee has more detractors than admirers. However, when we approach the tale as a tale of anger, we avoid measuring the success of the tale, as do many modern readings of the Melibee, strictly in terms of its generic inventiveness or logical coherence. Whether or not the tale ultimately provides explicit, practicable advice about either individual or political anger, Prudence is “successful” in that the anger which grips Melibee at the beginning of their dialogue has been modified by its end. The discourse of contradiction and multiple perspectives contributes directly to the management of Melibee’s anger: manipulating, modifying, redirecting. This essay examines the ways in which, through Prudence’s transformative dialogue, Chaucer explores the possibilities, as well as the limitations, of regulating anger by means of art and the manipulation of perspective.

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