Fire images

Fire is difficult to contain and once out of control, unpredictable and dangerous. It is a common image of the force of passion and desire and Chaucer uses it in this way, although interestingly he also uses it as an image of constancy and light.

In The Prologue:

  • The Wife warns of the danger of bringing together fire and flax l. 89, an image of how easily the fire of desire is kindled when a man touches a woman
  • l. 373ff - the force of the wild fire (an image of the hellish woman's love). 

In The Tale:

  • Fire is used as an image of the heart ready to burst with a secret (Midas' wife) l.971
  • Fire as an image of constancy and light. It is used by the Old Woman to suggest true virtue which is constant even if it cannot be seen (l.1139-1144).
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