Despite studies arguing for an ironic or sincere depiction of loving women in the Legend of Good Women, scholars have not yet sufficiently examined the cognitive, affective, and performative processes that constitute love in either the poem itself or its late medieval cultural context. Adopting formalist methodologies, this article identifies Chaucer's Legend as an important document in the recovery of late medieval formulations of marital affection, particularly as they relate to women. Chaucer's Legend suggests that marital affection was a contentious emotion in the later Middle Ages subject to multiple, competing formulations. Because marital love was an emotion in progress, the Legend presents love as both an ethical injunction and an epistemological quandary in which the stakes for women are especially high.

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