“Walkynge in the mede” : Chaucerian gardens and the recasting of the Edenic fall
Jacob Sebastian Babb
Master of Arts, Graduate School of Western Carolina University, Department of English July (2005)
This thesis examines the way in which Geoffrey Chaucer uses biblical traditions associated with gardens, primarily the Garden of Eden and the hortus conclusus of the Song of Songs, in his own literary gardens. I argue that Chaucer manipulates these traditions to recreate his own versions of the Fall from paradise. His reasons for doing so vary from work to work, although one of the most common reasons is for the sake of irony. Two of the tales I examine are fabliaux, and it is normal in this genre for authors to invert expectations. The third tale is a Breton lay, a short romance that features a magical feat. All three tales are unique in one way or another to their tellers, who influence the meaning of Edenic recasting. The gardens within the tales all resemble the original garden in some way, whether figuratively or allegorically. By altering the story of the Fall in these tales, Chaucer challenges several basic precepts of medieval thought and tradition.