Canterbury Tales Critical Analysis Of The Wife

Of Bath Essay, Research Paper

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Near the bend of the 14th century the art of composing romantic poesy entertained the dwellers of northwesterly England. Many extremely educated work forces participated in this art and signifier of amusement. Most created narratives, termed heroic poems, were besides really of import to the history of the single writer & # 8217 ; s state or race. One of the three great heroic poets of this period, Geoffrey Chaucer, fashioned a aggregation of narratives that was both alone and everlasting. This aggregation of short narratives, entitled the Canterbury Tales, was unlike any other heroic poem verse form of the clip period. Alternatively of following the traditional format for composing an heroic poem verse form, which included composing about several characters of high societal standing, Chaucer gave his readers a gustatory sensation of societal assortment by affecting assorted characters from a spectrum of societal categories. In the Canterbury Tales, this diverse group of characters was separately responsible for narrating two narratives while on a pilgrim’s journey that journeyed from Southwark to Canterbury, and two narratives while on the return trip from Canterbury to Southwark. Chaucer merely finished 22 of these narrations before his decease in 1400. Still, through the 22 narratives he did compose, he managed to capture the civilization and head set of England & # 8217 ; s residents during this transitional period between the medieval and Renaissance epoch. This pronounced alteration in times in which mediaeval adult male insisted upon being a member of the religious community and thought that the person had no right to prove the & # 8220 ; truths & # 8221 ; of clip ; conflicted with the Renaissance adult male who disputed the Catholic norm and thought it right to organize his ain separate societal groups.

Geoffrey Chaucer best illustrates this drastic alteration in times in one of his 22 narratives included in the Canterbury Tales titled the Wife of Bath & # 8217 ; s Prologue and Tale. In this first-class piece of literary work a adult female, the Wife of Bath, tests the scriptural and moral criterions of the clip. The Wife of Bath, in her prologue, explains her life and defends all of her old actions of love and lecherousness. In the Wife of Bath & # 8217 ; s Prologue, the Wife of Bath explains to the remainder of the pilgrims on the journey how she has antecedently been married five times. During this age, and even today, the thought of holding multiple partners is considered a wickedness and looked down upon by those in the Catholic church. To counter this belief, she argues many valid points that one can happen it difficult to differ with her actions. For all three of her statements she refers to scriptural text. The first mention to the sanctum Bible she makes is of the many married womans of Solomon. She explains that in the Bible, Solomon, while the male monarch of Egypt, had close to seven 100 married womans and three hundred courtesans ( Chaucer 118, ln. 35-37 ) . In her 2nd allusion to the Bible she quotes St. Paul, & # 8220 ; It is better to get married, than to fire ( Chaucer 118, ln. 55-58 ) . & # 8221 ; Her concluding deduction to the Bible high spots Lamech and Jacob, and how each sanctum adult male had two married womans ( Chaucer 118, ln. 60-64 ) . All of the statements, straight from the text of the Bible, present valid justification in her head to why the Catholic church should excuse more than one matrimony.

In Chaucer & # 8217 ; s clip, adult females who participated in ageless virginity were frequently commended. This thought is recognized in the Wife of Bath & # 8217 ; s Prologue as she continues to protest the rules of this age. The Wife of Bath does non utilize any mentions to the Bible when beliing this thought. Alternatively she speaks from experience, which she prefers greatly over authorization and scholarly stuff ( Chaucer 117 ln. 1 ) . She openly agrees that in the Bible

it is suggested if an person wants to populate a perfect life, so he or she must go the route of celibacy. On the contrary she admits that neither she nor many others are perfect in all ways ( Chaucer 119 ln. 111-120 ) . This is when she brings up her first logical idea: if all adult females participated in celibacy, who would be left to bear more kids “virgins” and go on the race of world? Her 2nd rational thought that no 1 should challenge is the intent for possessing sexual variety meats. She argues that the sexual variety meats all worlds exhibit were made for pleasance, every bit good as making life ( Chaucer 120 ln. 132-134 ) . Both of these statements that the married woman of Bath proposes are logical in idea and, if carefully examined, really true.

After the married woman of Bath finishes her prologue she proceeds to state her narrative. In The Wife of Bath & # 8217 ; s Tale a knight returning to King Arthur & # 8217 ; s Court saw a immature demoiselle and raped her. The knight & # 8217 ; s full land was disgusted by his action and demanded that justness be served upon the knight. As the knight was brought before King Arthur the queen begged to judge the knight & # 8217 ; s actions. King Arthur grant & # 8217 ; s the queen & # 8217 ; s petition. She so explain & # 8217 ; s to the knight that his sentence would depend on how accurately he could reply the inquiry: & # 8220 ; What is the thing that adult female most want? & # 8221 ; The knight was given one twelvemonth to return a right reply to the queen. After oppugning all of the adult female in the full countryside he could non make up one’s mind on one individual correct reply, until he met an old lady with charming powers. She told the knight that adult females most desire sovereignty over their spouses. The knight relayed this reply to the queen and was set free after none of the adult female of King Arthur & # 8217 ; s Court could differ. The narrative ends with the knight get marrieding the old lady because he promised her anything for supplying a right reply for the queen ( Chaucer 135-144 ) . This thought, of adult female achieving sovereignty over their partners, that the married woman of Bath portrays in her narrative was unheard of during this age. Men frequently dominated their partners during the mediaeval period. Womans had really small, if any, rights in most societal categories. Woman were obligated to make whatever their partner requested, and were to make so without any statement. With this in head, one should recognize that the married woman of Bath continues to voice thoughts that go & # 8220 ; against the grain & # 8221 ; of her clip period in her narrative. The married woman of Bath touches on this thought of sovereignty in her prologue, but does non stress the affair as she does in her narrative. Because of the accent on sovereignty in her narrative, The Wife of Bath & # 8217 ; s Tale should be considered a sophisticated request for reform of traditional imposts, instead than an entertaining lay.

During this alteration from the medieval to Renaissance epoch most authorship expressed the frail function that adult female played in society. Unlike the common literature of his clip, Chaucer does non try to assail or back up the function of adult females during his age. Alternatively he merely asks the reader to detect the function that adult females play in mediaeval society, and perchance accept the adult female & # 8217 ; s point of position. Chaucer does non clearly place if he sympathizes with the chief character in the Wife of Bath & # 8217 ; s Prologue and Tale, but it is evident that he does non hold with prevalent thoughts about celibacy, matrimony, and moral duties of adult females during the in-between ages. Alternatively of uncovering his ain ideas, he leaves these moral arguments in graduated table, leting the reader to do their ain single opinions. It is in this manner that Chaucer illustrates all of these controversial subjects that allows him to be considered on of the greatest poets of all clip.