Parlement of Foules by Geoffrey Chaucer

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Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

The dreamer

The dreamer, the narrator of the poem. After musing on love, he falls asleep and dreams that he is escorted to the Garden of Love, where the birds’ parliament has convened. The dreamer enters a park filled with trees and teeming with a plethora of chirping birds. The trees are in foliage and the flowers in bloom, as it is spring. Various gods and goddesses recline in a temple of brass.


Nature, a goddess who sits on a hill of flowers, presiding over the parliament. An elegant, well-spoken lady, she stands for natural law, including mating and procreation, in distinction from Venus, who represents passion for its own sake.

Three tercel eagles

Three tercel eagles, suitors vying to take a tercelet as mate. The royal eagle claims that he will make the best mate for the tercelet, as his love for her is greater than that of his rivals. The second tercel, however, argues that the “lady” should be his, because he has loved her longer. The third tercel promises to love the tercelet until the time of his own death; therefore, he maintains, the prize belongs to him. The royal eagle is said to represent King Richard II of England, whereas the other two represent Frederick Meissen and Prince Charles of France, rival contenders for the hand of Anne of Bohemia.

An eagle tercelet

An eagle tercelet, the object of the tercels’ contest. Although she is a dainty creature perching on Nature’s shoulder, the tercelet is intelligent and foresighted. Because she cannot decide immediately among the tercels, she wisely asks Nature to grant her a year in which to weigh her suitors’ claims, rather than hastily leaping into an alliance she may regret.


Falcon, the spokesperson for the “noble” birds, who voices the conventional views of the aristocracy concerning one’s choice of a mate.


Turtledove, a spokesperson for the country gentry, a wealthy but nonaristocratic class. A symbol of peace, charity, and undying love, she says that a man should love his lady for the...

(The entire section is 527 words.)