First Advisor

Hildegard Weiss

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in English






William Dunbar 1460?-1520? -- Criticism and interpretation, William Dunbar 1460?-1520? -- Literary style, Literary style -- Criticism, Literary style -- Interpretation



Physical Description

1 online resource. Digitized photocopy of typescript.


This thesis examines the work of William Dunbar, a sixteenth century Scottish poet, in order to demonstrate that he is not, as he is often styled, a Scottish Chaucerian. It makes an analysis of the chronological occurrence of forms and themes in his poetry which indicates that his work can be divided into three periods: (1) an initial period in which his work deals with traditional matter and forms; (2) a second period in which he develops a distinctly personal poetic voice; and (3) a final period in which he perfects this personal voice and then relinquishes it for a public, religious one. In turn these three periods indicate Dunbar's poetic growth away from the Chaucerian influence and a concomitant development of his own personal lyric voice.

It concludes by examining areas in which Dunbar and Chaucer deal with similar material, revealing that even in areas of similarity, Dunbar's voice is uniquely his own. His distinct poetic voice is then emphasized through an explication of "The Petition of the Gray Horse, Auld Dunbar" which not only prefigures Renaissance poetry but as well exhibits those qualities in his poetry which make his an outstanding Scottish "makar."


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