The article explores how Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales discusses human sexuality as a major thematic concern in both its normative and its performative dimension, and sex, an (in)tractable issue throughout the Middle Ages, as a core motif that helps the author to explore the extant tension between the human and the ideal. On the other hand, parody and audience/reader response are important instruments in the medieval poet’s strategy of approaching delicate matters in his pilgrims’ tales, which become readily apparent in the ‘order of play’ in which the tales come. The Miller disrupts the story-telling order because this disruption serves Chaucer’s purpose of questioning the validity of the courtly love concept through a parody of courtly romance, much like the poet’s purported distancing from the heretical views upon human sexuality expressed by the Miller can be decoded as an attempt to restore the balance of power between doctrinal inflexibility and humans’ timeless desire for the natural.
Dan Nicolae Popescu
Dan Nicolae Popescu is a Lecturer at the Ștefan cel Mare University of Suceava, Romania, and holds a Ph.D. in Anglo-American literature. His academic interests include literary, cultural, and translation studies, with a particular emphasis on Medieval English literature and the literature of the American South.