Chaucer's Denial of Response for Rape Victims
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Chaucer’s female characters have consistently been a particular point of interest. This thesis argues that Chaucer’s portrayal of female characters was informed by his personal relationships with women. First, this thesis gives an account of the rape laws which were in place during Chaucer’s lifetime in an effort to show that these laws affected how Chaucer wrote his rape victims and how the medieval justice system helped or hindered rape victims. This thesis employs the scholarship surrounding Chaucer’s portrayals and relationships, particularly his relationship with Cecily Chaumpaigne who leveled rape allegations against Chaucer but then released Chaucer of those accusations. In addition to medieval rape laws and Chaumpaigne’s release, this paper analyzes Chaucer’s portrayal of rape victims in The Wife of Bath’s Tale, The Reeve’s Tale, The Legend of Lucrece, and The Legend of Philomela.