Although scholars have historically minimized the relationship between medieval grammatical and rhetorical traditions and Chaucer's poetics, Proserpina's angry speech in the Merchant's Tale represents the intersection of medieval classroom grammar exercises, Geoffrey of Vinsauf's theory of delivery, and poetics. Proserpina's angry speech reveals that her rhetoric is calculated to subvert the masculine power structures that surround her. Such a focus on Chaucer's depiction of women's persuasive tactics helps to highlight Chaucer's deep engagement with rhetoric beginning in the 1380's. Moreover, this investigation asks for increased attention to the overlap between classroom grammatical traditions, rhetorical theory, and medieval poetics.
Original Publication Information
Turner, Joseph. "Rhetoric and Performing Anger: Proserpina's Gift and Chaucer's Merchant's Tale." 2016. Rhetorica: A Journal of the History of Rhetoric, 34(4): 427-454.
Turner, Joseph, "Rhetoric and performing anger : Proserpina's gift and Chaucer's Merchant's tale." (2016). Faculty Scholarship. 310.