Some of the most powerful tropes are figures of speech that both mirror and influence the way a culture understands the world. Some of the most formative gender tropes are contained in the Old Testament, particularly in the form of a variety of spatial metaphors. Thousands of years after the compilation of the Old Testament, in one of Chaucer's seminal works, Troilus and Criseyde, we can see similar spatial metaphors at work. Chaucer's work includes spatial metaphors that illustrate one of the most interesting dichotomies, the oppositions of inside and outside, and how they are related to the constructions of female and male. Foucault has mentioned the powerful and long lasting nature of tropes in many of his texts. He reminds us that it is often the tropes that we don't notice that have the most impact; we don't recognize them because they are so prevalent that they have become, as Foucault states, "transparent". These "unnoticed" tropes, nevertheless, often lead us to unknowingly conceive of things in certain patterns and not others. Thus, tropes allow speakers to structure their thoughts. But although these patterns enable the reader to make sense of the world, they also push the reader to conceive of things in particular arrangements and not others. It is often writers who shine a light on these unnoticed tropes, who pull them up to the surface, and, so, allow all of us to become aware of their influence. Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde provides a strong example of the persistence of Old Testament spatial metaphors that relate to gender.
A Thesis Submitted to the Faculty of
The English and Communication Department In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts. June 2005.