English, Department of


Date of this Version



Studies in the Age of Chaucer 2 (1980): 53-69.


Copyright 1980 The New Chaucer Society, University of Oklahoma, Norman.


RECENT studies in The Parlement of Foules have made it fairly clear that the two fabulous places in the poem, Venus' hothouse and Nature's hill, are representations of contrasting systems of value or ways of loving. The primary emphasis of the criticism has been on the work as a "question d'amour" poem in which the debate concerns how human beings should conduct the amorous life or how love may be redirected toward the God of Nature and his glorious creation. Without wishing to denigrate such interpretations, I want to urge an alternative view--one which sees the discussion of love between men and women primarily as vehicle for a discussion of the nature of the social and social love in general. Within this perspective, I would suggest that the inclusion of a "Parlement" is not fictional decoration, but a representation of that vehicle through which late medieval man found it most possible to develop his sense of sociability and conviviality.