16. What type of physical structure prevented Pyramus and Thisbe from being able to touch each other, and yet still enabled them to communicate?
From Quiz Thisbe - One of Chaucer's "Good" Women
Answer: A wall
The wall which divides the two lovers is highly significant:
This wal, which that bitwixe hem bothe stod,
Was clove a-two, ryght from the cop adoun,
Of olde tyme of his fundacioun;
Chaucer uses the stone wall as a symbol of division, which causes the lovers to curse it for refusing to "cleve or fallen al a-two". For the "wikkede wal" itself is flawed in its structure. As a result, its "clyfte", although "narw and lyte", enables passion to penetrate obstructions. Although the wall is a cause of separation, it is also simultaneously a source for union. Thus the "colde wal they wolden kysse of ston,/ And take here leve and forth they wolden gon". To add to this, it also provides a channel for speech, enabling the "swote soun of other to receyve". This is how the relationship is sustained, for over a "longe tyme they wroughte in this manere". The wall is highly significant. It unites them through separation, for as an obstruction the wall only serves to increase their passion, which is also allowed to transfer itself onto the other side of the stone.