Abstract

This article argues that Chaucer's tragic works explore the nightmare of the cyclical, and that an analysis of the Legend of Ariadne as a defining text at the center of Chaucer's writing career reveals his careful repetition of emotionally and philosophically charged images. The Legend of Ariadne provides a key to understanding Chaucer's conception of the Legend of Good Women as a series of echoing narratives, bound together by a series of curated repeating motifs. His condensed and crystallized deployment of classic Chaucerian themes such as the circle, the maze, and the echo gives us a sharp sense of Chaucer's tragic reading of history. To Chaucer, this doomed world is paradoxically always the same in its repetition, and constantly changing: generations die only to be replaced by others who will make the same mistakes.

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