Attitudes toward marriage in chaucer's the canterbury tales Essay, term paper, research paper: Geoffrey Chaucer See all college papers and term papers on Geoffrey Chaucer Free essays available online are good but they will not follow the guidelines of your particular writing assignment.
Synopsis[ edit ] There was a knight in King Arthur 's time who raped a fair young maiden. King Arthur issues a decree that the knight must be brought to justice.
When the knight is captured, he is condemned to death, but Queen Guinevere intercedes on his behalf and asks the King to allow her to pass judgment upon him. The Queen tells the knight that he will be spared his life if he can discover for her what it is that women most desire, and allots him a year and a day in which to roam wherever he pleases and return with an answer.
Everywhere the knight goes he explains his predicament to the women he meets and asks their opinion, but "No two of those he questioned answered the same. When at last the time comes for him to return to the Court, he still lacks the answer he so desperately needs.
Outside a castle in the woods, he sees twenty-four maidens dancing and singing, but when he approaches they disappear as if by magic, and all that is left is an old woman. The Knight explains the problem to the old woman, who is wise and may know the answer, and she forces him to promise to grant any favour she might ask of him in return.
With no other options left, the Knight agrees.
Arriving at the court, he gives the answer that women most desire sovereignty over their husbands, which is unanimously agreed to be true by the women of the court who, accordingly, free the Knight. The old woman then explains to the court the deal she has struck with the Knight, and publicly requests his hand in marriage.
Although aghast, he realises he has no other choice and eventually agrees. On their wedding night the old woman is upset that he is repulsed by her in bed. She reminds him that her looks can be an asset—she will be a virtuous wife to him because no other men would desire her.
She asks him what he would prefer—an old ugly wife who is loyal, true and humble or a beautiful young woman about whom he would always have doubts concerning her faithfulness.
The Knight responds by saying that the choice is hers, an answer which pleases her greatly. Now that she has won power over him, she asks him to kiss her, promising both beauty and fidelity.
The Knight turns to look at the old woman again, but now finds a young and lovely woman.
They live happily into old age together. In the beginning the wife expresses her views in which she believes the morals of women is not merely that they all solely desire "sovereignty", but that each individual woman should have the opportunity to make the decision.
Well I know Abraham was a holy man, and Jacob as well, as far as I know, and each of them had more than two wives. And many other holy men did as well.
When have you seen that in any time great God forbade marriage explicitly? Tell me, I Pray you. The tale confronts the double standard and the social belief in the inherent inferiority of women, and attempts to establish a defence of secular women's sovereignty that opposes the conventions available to her.
Feminist critique[ edit ] The Wife of Bath's Prologue simultaneously enumerates and critiques the long tradition of misogyny in ancient and medieval literature. As Cooper notes, the Wife of Bath's "materials are part of the vast medieval stock of antifeminism ",  giving St. Jerome 's Adversus Jovinianumwhich was "written to refute the proposition put forward by one Jovinianus that virginity and marriage were of equal worth", as one of many examples.
Further evidence of this can be found through her observation: Her decision to include God as a defence for her lustful appetites is significant, as it shows how well-read she is. By the same token, her interpretations of Scripture, such as Paul on marriage are tailored to suit her own purposes.
Her repeated acts of remarriage, for instance, are an example of how she mocks "clerical teaching concerning the remarriage of widows". While she gleefully confesses to the many ways in which she falls short of conventional ideals for women, she also points out that it is men who constructed those ideals in the first place.
Who painted the lion, tell me who? By God, if women had written stories, As clerks have within their studies, They would have written of men more wickedness Than all the male sex could set right.
Through her nonconformity to the expectations of her role as a wife, the audience is shown what proper behaviour in marriage should be like. Carruthers' essay outlines the existence of deportment books, the purpose of which was to teach women how to be model wives.
Carruthers notes how the Wife's behaviour in the first of her marriages "is almost everything the deportment-book writers say it should not be. Moreover, deportment books taught women that "the husband deserves control of the wife because he controls the estate";  it is clear that the Wife is the one who controls certain aspects of her husband's behaviour in her various marriages.
Cooper also notes that behaviour in marriage is a theme that emerges in the Wife of Bath's Prologue; neither the Wife nor her husbands conform to any conventional ideals of marriage. Cooper observes that the Wife's fifth husband, in particular, "cannot be taken as any principle of correct Christian marriage".
This can perhaps be attributed to his young age and lack of experience in relationships, as he does change at the end, as does the Wife of Bath.
Thus, through both the Wife's and her fifth and favorite husband's failure to conform to expected behaviour in marriage, the poem exposes the complexity of the institution of marriage and of relationships more broadly.Struggle For Female Equality in "The Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale" When Chaucer wrote the Canterbury Tales, the social structure of his world was changing rapidly.
Chaucer himself was a prime example of new social mobility being granted to members of the emerging middle class.
Geoffrey Chaucer's "Knight's Tale" portion of the Canterbury Tales and the Gawain poet's Sir Gawain and the Green Knight both describe standard female characters whose depictions offer a commentary on the social perception of women in the medieval times.
“The Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale explore many aspects of patriarchy – and sometimes reveal surprising attitudes within the tale and prologue.” Discuss. Geoffrey Chaucer’s the Wife of Bath is a text which is interwoven with references to Patriarchy and unanticipated attitudes towards the social backdrop in which it was created.
Wife of Bath Canterbury Tales Geoffrey Chaucer + Wife of Bath • The Wife of Bath’s Tale revolves around an argument about what women want. • The story covers topics such as: What it is like to have mastery over someone else. -What are the benefits of submitting oneself to the superior arguments of another.
and the ability to keep. This paper relates that the Wife of Bath introduces herself as the authority on marriage and marital life, commenting on the social and legal position of women in marriage and daily life and, rather than rejecting scriptural authority, she appeals to logic, rejecting too .
Chaucer’s female characters In the Canterbury Tales: Born to thralldom and penance, These very opposite types of women are represented in Geoffrey Chaucer‟s Canterbury Tales where most of the tales engage with The Wife of Bath is, without a doubt, one of the major characters.