The Book of the Duchess (also known as Chaucer's Dream)


This is a section about The Book of the Duchess, by Geoffrey Chaucer, also called Chaucer's Dream.


Chaucer’s Dream is a name once given to "The Book of the Duchess,” in which the poet relates an allegorical dream about love and death. It is believed that the poem was written by Chaucer to commemorate the death of John of Gaunt's wife.

In the poem, Chaucer is lying sleepless in bed reading from a collection of old stories. Eventually he falls asleep and is transported to an enchanted mansion where a black knight is grieving over losing a game of chess. The Knight explains that he has played against Fortuna (the Roman Goddess of Fortune and Luck) and lost his Queen and been checkmated. Failing to understand teh metaphorical imagery, Chaucer entreats the Knight to chear up and not to become so upset over a game of chess. The Knight explains that all of his life he has served Love, but that for many years his heart had not settled on any one woman, until he met the embodiment of perfection herself. Finally declaring his love, the Knight's beloved reciprocated his feelings and they were together for many years.

In the dream Chaucer has difficulty understanding what the Knight is getting at and finally asks where the white chess player is, to which the Knight replies that he is dead. Chaucer then awakens and decides to write down his dream.



Canterbury Tale Summaries

Geoffrey Chaucer
Geoffrey Chaucer
Canterbury Tales - The Wife of Bath's Tale
The Wife of Bath's Tale
Canterbury Tales - The Miller's Tale
The Miller's Tale
Canterbury Tales - The Shipman's Tale
The Shipman's Tale
Canterbury Tales - The Knight's Tale
The Knight's Tale
Canterbury Tales - The Summoner's tale
The Summoner's Tale
Canterbury Tales - The Pardoner's Tale
The Pardoner's Tale
Canterbury Tales - The Prioress's Tale
The Prioress's Tale
Canterbury Tales - The Cook's Tale
The Cook's Tale
Canterbury Tales - The Monk's Tale
The Monk's Tale
Canterbury Tales - The Merchant's Tale
The Merchant's Tale
Canterbury Tales - The Nun's Priest's Tale
The Nun's Priest's Tale
Canterbury Tales - The Franklin's Tale
The Franklin's Tale
Canterbury Tales - The Clerk's Tale
The Clerk's Tale
Canterbury Tales - The Man of Law's Tale
The Man of Law's Tale
Canterbury Tales - The Second Nun's Tale
The Second Nun's Tale
Canterbury Tales - The Doctor of Physic's Tale
The Doctor of Physic's Tale
Canterbury Tales - The Manciple
The Manciple
Canterbury Tales - The Squire's Tale
The Squire's Tale


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Canterbury Tales