In order to understand the ending of Chaucer's poem "Troilus and Criseyde," one must read him with charity. The person who is indifferent to or suspicious of him will not, to use literary theorist Mikhail Bakhtin's words, “be able to generate sufficient attention to slow down and linger intently over [the poem], to hold and sculpt every detail and particular in it, however minute.” The charitable reader, that is, the reader who practices caritas—"love for our neighbor," to use Thomas Aquinas's definition—will be able to appreciate how the Boethian logic and the Thomistic distinctions of the poem allow for the possibility that one can love both God and other people. The one who reads with charity is best able to receive a gift from Chaucer—satisfaction through closure. This closure comes, paradoxically, through paradox, and is underwritten by one of the deepest mysteries of the Christian faith, namely, the doctrine of the Trinity.
Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde, hermeneutics, Aquinas
English Language and Literature
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Downen, Lee H., "Reading Chaucer with Charity: A Hermeneutical Proposal" (2016). The Larrie and Bobbi Weil Undergraduate Research Award. 7.