This article examines the role of exempla as the root cause of hope and healing in John Gower's Confessio Amantis. I argue that these exempla provide remedial action in the text. The exempla are sources of metaphorical healing in the text, functioning as what I have termed “textual healing,” that is the medicinal aspects of the text that helps remedy Amans (and the reader, to a certain extent) back to full health. This article also draws upon reading the Confessio Amantis as a consolatio poem, linking it to Boethius' Consolation of Philosophy in particular. I also discuss the role of textual healing within the context of Shakespeare's Pericles, in which Gower plays the Chorus, and his "restoratives" also metaphorically heal the audience. For both Amans and the reader, this healing process makes us more aware and enlightened readers and lovers.


I would like to thank the John Gower Project and its members for their invaluable feedback, kindness, and support, particularly Georgiana Donavin, Eve Salisbury, Bob Yeager, Will Rogers, Natalie S. Grinnell, Gabrielle Bychowski, Siân Echard, and Kara McShane.