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Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)



First Advisor

Robert Cox

First Committee Member

Diana M. Borden

Second Committee Member

John Smith


The author commences with an analysis of the nature of completeness in a variety of situations and media, including visual arts, music, video arts and literature. "Completeness" is determined to be both difficult to define and subject to any individual's personal interpretation. A distinction is made between the 'finished-ness' of works and their completeness as a factor in aesthetic enjoyment. It is noted that some works, though unfinished, are nevertheless complete aesthetically.

Various aspects of completeness are defined, discussed, and considered, including absolute, thematic, plot, authorial, segmental, inclusive, emotional, anticipatory, source/material, functional, and formal completeness. It is proposed that the more of these aspects of completeness present in a work, the more complete the work will seem. Examples illustrating each of the different aspects of completeness are given.

The Canterbury Tales, by Geoffrey Chaucer, is examined with reference to the proposed aspects of completeness. The various ways in which the work can be and has been considered incomplete are discussed. The four fragmentary Tales in The Canterbury Tales--The Cook's Tale, The Squire's Tale, The Tale of Sir Thopas, and The Monk's Tale--are examined. First, the ways in which they can be considered incomplete are considered; next, the ways in which they can be considered complete despite being fragmentary are discussed.

The Canterbury Tales as a whole (if fragmentary) work is discussed. Its fragmentary nature is considered and possible explanations for difficulties are given. A case is made for considering The Canterbury Tales to be aesthetically complete and satisfying piece of literature as it stands.



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