Date of Award

Spring 1987

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


In Book I of The House of Fame and in "The Legend of Dido" in The Legend of Good Women, Geoffrey Chaucer offers his versions of the classical love story of Dido and Aeneas. Each story is told through the voice of a well-developed narrator who regularly interrupts his narration to speak to an audience addressed in the poem. This study investigates the relationships between the narrator and his addressed audience and the narrator and his text. It further suggests ways in which Chaucer sought to explore the potential of the English poet through the creation of a poet/narrator who interjects a high degree of personal expression into his work.

Narrator "Geffrey" is first considered as a dramatic character within the poem: a speaker with his own personality who is not autobiographically associated with Geoffrey Chaucer. As "Geffrey" is a dreamer, attention next centers on the question of how the dream vision frame itself might have prepared a listener for the idea of personal authorship in a poetic work. Textual analysis of "Geffrey's" versions of the Dido and Aeneas legend follows, focusing on the ways he presents his ideas about love and literature. Discussion is supported by comparison of the Chaucerian stories to their French and Latin sources: in particular, The Aeneid, "Epistola Dido Aeneae," and The Roman d'Eneas.

This analysis reveals that the genius of Chaucer's created narrator lies in the degree to which "Geffrey" comes alive in the text as both a self-conscious poet and an active participant in the poem. It is this dual role within and without the text that differentiates Chaucer's Dido and Aeneas narrator from other fourteenth-century narrators. The study concludes that Chaucer appears to be moving away from older notions of the poet as giver of received knowledge towards a more modern view of the poet as one who makes personal experience and opinions part of the fabric of literature.