Study questions for Book of the Duchess

1-29 The narrator's insomnia has created what kind of mental state? Find several different terms describing how he feels.

30-43 Does he know why he can't sleep? Does he guess or hint why?

44-61 What kind of book does he choose? Why?

62-75 He reads a story that opens with plenty of action--what happens?

76-94 How does Queen Alcyone feel?

95-100 How does the narrator feel about Queen Alcyone?

101-21 The queen prays to Juno for what?

122-30 What effect does this prayer have on Queen Alcyone?

131-52 What does Juno order her messenger to do?

153-65 Describe the landscape where the gods of sleep dwell.

166-77 Describe the gods of sleep.

178-83 How does the messenger wake up one of them?

184-91 Why doesn't the messenger here repeat Juno's entire message?

192-201 What does this god of sleep do?

202-11 The spectre of King Seys asks his wife to do what?

212-14 What does she promptly do instead?

215-20 Why don't we learn more details about Alcyone and Seys at this point?

221-30 What does the narrator say would have happened to him, had he not read this tale?

231-37 He wonders about the truth of what specific aspect of the tale? Why? (l. 237)

238-39 What emotional conflict does the narrator feel as he begins his prayer?

240-45 To whom does he pray for sleep?

246-69 What gifts does the narrator promise in his prayer?

270-75 What results from his prayer? How? (l. 272)

276-89 What two famous interpreters of dreams would have been unable to interpret what the narrator now dreams?

290-320 In his dream he is awakened at what time and place, in what condition, by what sort of sounds?

321-25 What is the physical condition of the windows where he wakes?

326-34 What two stories are portrayed on the glass?

335-43 What is the weather like outside? How can he tell?

344-47 What sound of the hunt does he first hear?

348-53 What else does he hear next? (Notice that hors has two different meanings, in l. 347 and l. 349.)

354-59 How does the dreamer feel about hunting? Where does he apparently stable his horse?

360-69 What kinds of people and dogs does he catch up with? What does he ask one of them (one of the people!), and what reply does he get?

370-86 What happens the first time a deer is spotted?

387-94 On foot now, the dreamer is approached by a puppy. How does he know it's friendly?

395-96 Why does the dreamer start walking into the woods?

397-404 He enters a clearing full of what?

405-13 The beauty of this clearing makes him think that earth is trying to outdo heaven in what way, in order that earth might forget what?

414-15 What makes the woods green?

416-26 How are the trees in this clearing arranged and proportioned?

427-33 What animals live in this clearing?

434-42 What point does the narrator make by mentioning the Arabic mathematician?

443-49 Finally, the dreamer notices the Man in Black. What is his first thought about that knight's state of mind?

450-57 What is the knight's physical appearance?

458-61 Why doesn't the knight see the dreamer? (two reasons)

462-74 Why doesn't the knight hear the dreamer approach?

475-86 Why is the knight mourning for his lady?

487-499 What medical explanation does the dreamer/narrator here give for the knight's sudden paleness?

500-513 Why does the knight not notice the dreamer's first direct greeting?

514-518 How does the dreamer greet him then?

519-521 For what does the knight apologize?

522-525 For what does the dreamer apologize?

526-527 What is the knight's polite response?

528-535 What is the dreamer's first impression of the knight's personality?

536-541 What does the dreamer say to lead the knight into conversation? Why does he want to converse?

542-543 How does the knight feel about hunting?

544-557 The dreamer now tries a blunt approach. Why, does he say, should the knight tell of his sorrow? (2 reasons)

558-597 Who all would be unable to heal the knight's sorrow? How else does he describe it? Why doesn't he die?

598-617 What kind of changes has the knight gone through?

618-649 What are some of Fortune's unpleasant characteristics? How does she resemble a scorpion?

650-669 What did Fortune do to him? (Be sure to note the meaning of fers.)

670-684 On what grounds does the knight forgive Fortune?

685-709 What more has he to say about his sorrow?

710-741 What point does the dreamer make by telling of those who dies for love? (ll. 740-41)

742-744 The knight's response indicates that the dreamer is failing to understand what?

745-758 In this dialogue, how might you characterize the knight? the dreamer?

759-774 How has the knight shown his devotion to Love?

775-784 In what way did he once resemble a white wall or tablet?

785-804 How has he by now become so well schooled in love?

805-816 In retrospect, why does he feel so ambivalent about Fortune?

817-834 In describing his first glimpse of his lady, to what all does he compare her?

835-845 How did he then feel about serving anyone but her?

846-854 What all did she do well?

855-877 What did her hair and eyes look like?

878-882 What sort of temperament did she have?

883-894 What sort of love had men felt for her? What sort had she felt for them?

895-918 What did her face look like? Why doesn't the knight describe it more precisely?

939-947 What did her neck look like?

948-951 Why was her name well suited to her?

952-960 What did the rest of her body look like? Was he sure?

961-984 How did she stand out in a crowd?

985-988 What about her morals?

989-998 What about her mind?

999-1014 What about her fidelity?

1015-33 What did she refrain from doing to men who wooed (read: propositioned) her?

1034-41 What all was she to the knight?

1042-53 The dreamer expresses admiration for the lady--but not enthusiastically enough to suit the knight, who chastises the dreamer for what? (Note the shifting emphasis in trowe and leve.)

1054-74 What point is the knight making by listing these heros?

1075-79 Why does he correct his own comment that he needed her?

1080-87 What point is he making by naming Penelope and Lucrece?

1088-101 When he and White first met, why was he not sure he was loving her the right way?

1102-7 The sight of her could raise his spirits for approximately how many hours?

1108-14 The dreamer now suggests that the knight could be absolved without repenting, for what?

1115-25 What point is the knight making by naming famous traitors?

1126-43 What two things does the dreamer ask to learn about?

1144-54 Why did the knight at first not tell White about his love?

1155-72 What did he do instead? Was he any good at it?

1173-82 What is he quoting in ll. 1175-80?

1182-93 Between what two fears was he pulled?

1194-1202 Why did he finally decide to tell White of his love?

1203-20 What kind of an emotional state was he in as he began to speak to her? What exactly did he say first?

1221-35 What did he say on his second try?

1236-49 What was her first reply? Did she elaborate? How did he feel?

1250-61 For about how long did he apparently wake up moping every morning?

1262-67 Why did White change her mind?

1268-74 What did she give him? Why do you think he hastily adds l. 1272?

1275-80 How happy was he?

1281-97 What was their life together like?

1298-1313 What information does the dreamer finally manage to understand?

1314-20 Where does the knight ride to?

1321-25 What awakens the narrator?

1326-34 What does he decide to do?