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Among its many elements, Chaucer’s “Squire’s Tale” includes an emotionally-charged dialogue between two aristocratic female figures: the human daughter of a king, Canacee, and the wounded falcon she meets in the wood. Scholars have debated the nature of this relationship in interspecial, gendered, and specifically feminist and ecofeminist terms. This essay provides a brief retrospective on some of the most recent scholarship examining their relationship—van Dyke (2005); Kordecki (2011); Crane (2012); and Schotland (2012 and 2015)—leading into a reassessment in two parts: first, that the affinity- and experience-driven bond these female figures develop supports a reading of this scene that is grounded in the largely unexplored theme of female friendship in medieval literature, and second, that the final scenes invite a fanciful reading of Canacee as a bird. This reading demands a new view both of the female characters, and of the Squire as narrator, in this tale.
Geoffrey chaucer, Squire's Tale, Feminist criticism, gender studies, animal studies, ecocriticism
Copyright © 2018 Melissa Ridley Elmes
Ridley Elmes, Melissa. "“Compassion and Benignytee”: A Reassessment of the Relationship Between Canacee and the Falcon in Chaucer’s “Squire’s Tale”." Medieval Feminist Forum: A Journal of Gender and Sexuality
54, no. 1 (2018)
Available at: https://doi.org/10.17077/1536-8742.2114