Date of Completion

Spring 5-1-2015

Thesis Advisor(s)

Fiona Somerset

Honors Major



European Languages and Societies | Literature in English, British Isles | Medieval History | Medieval Studies | Reading and Language


The scholarship surrounding the life and work of Thomas Hoccleve is relatively young and lean compared to the tomes of knowledge that have been circulated about the slightly older and vastly more popular Geoffrey Chaucer. Up until the second half of the 20th century, Hoccleve came through history with the unfortunate moniker of the "lesser Chaucer." What this insult neglects, however, is that Hoccleve was more than just a lowly clerk who spent his days admiring and emulating the so-called Father of English Literature. Thomas Hoccleve deserves recognition for conceiving and creating works that are impressive both in their form and in their content.

Hoccleve's particular interest and skill in examining his internal experience comes through in one of his most widely-read poems: My Compleinte, the first piece in the Series. Hoccleve was preoccupied not only by his own difficulty in understanding himself as a creature of his mind and of his environment, but also by his desire to understand others. In his Conpleynte Paramont, Hoccleve takes on the voice of the Virgin Mary to examine how the battle between a private and public self could have taken place within one of history's most famous women.

This essay will examine the ways in which Hoccleve uses the genre of complaint poetry to explore the relationship that governs the public presentation of one's innermost thoughts.