ABSTRACT

Griselda’s face appears three times as often in the Clerk’s Tale as it does in Chaucer’s sources. With this change, Chaucer represents the scrutiny that Griselda’s comportment receives from her diegetic community and encourages similar scrutiny from readers. Yet, in examining this increased attention to Griselda’s outward appearance, the scholarship on the tale has neglected Chaucer’s corresponding attention to Griselda’s interiority, which contextualizes and explains her patience, a virtue whose opacity has vexed both contemporary and medieval commentators. From laboring for her father to collecting herself after being reunited with her children, Chaucer’s Griselda presents a tranquil exterior that depends upon hidden, intentional management. Her patience takes on a political function in the broader social system of Saluzzo, managing the Saluzzians’ dreads and desires, as Griselda navigates the narratives the Saluzzians generate to explain Walter’s bewildering and violent behavior. The Clerk’s Tale ultimately counters the traditional hermeneutic challenges of patience by uncovering the stories that Griselda tells herself.

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