+ 1-888-787-5890  
   + 1-302-351-4405  
 
 
 
 

Essay/Term paper: An analysis of chaucer's 'the wife of bath's tale'

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Geoffrey Chaucer

Free essays available online are good but they will not follow the guidelines of your particular writing assignment. If you need a custom term paper on Geoffrey Chaucer: An Analysis Of Chaucer's 'The Wife Of Bath's Tale', you can hire a professional writer here to write you a high quality authentic essay. While free essays can be traced by Turnitin (plagiarism detection program), our custom written essays will pass any plagiarism test. Our writing service will save you time and grade.


An Analysis of Chaucer's The Wife of Bath's Tale
In reading Geoffrey Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales," I found
that of the Wife of Bath, including her prologue, to be the most
thought-provoking. The pilgrim who narrates this tale, Alison, is
a gap-toothed, partially deaf seamstress and widow who has been
married five times. She claims to have great experience in the
ways of the heart, having a remedy for whatever might ail it.
Throughout her story, I was shocked, yet pleased to encounter
details which were rather uncharacteristic of the women of
Chaucer's time. It is these peculiarities of Alison's tale which
I will examine, looking not only at the chivalric and religious
influences of this medieval period, but also at how she would
have been viewed in the context of this society and by Chaucer
himself.
During the period in which Chaucer wrote, there was a dual
concept of chivalry, one facet being based in reality and the
other existing mainly in the imagination only. On the one hand,
there was the medieval notion we are most familiar with today in
which the knight was the consummate righteous man, willing to
sacrifice self for the worthy cause of the afflicted and weak; on
the other, we have the sad truth that the human knight rarely
lived up to this ideal(Patterson 170). In a work by Muriel
Bowden, Associate Professor of English at Hunter College, she
explains that the knights of the Middle Ages were "merely mounted
soldiers, . . . notorious" for their utter cruelty(18). The tale
Bath's Wife weaves exposes that Chaucer was aware of both forms
of the medieval soldier. Where as his knowledge that knights
were often far from perfect is evidenced in the beginning of
Alison's tale where the "lusty" soldier rapes a young maiden;
King Arthur, whom the ladies of the country beseech to spare the
life of the guilty horse soldier, offers us the typical
conception of knighthood.
In addition to acknowledging this dichotomy of ideas about
chivalry, Chaucer also brings into question the religious views
of his time through this tale. The loquacious Alison spends a
good deal of the prologue espousing her views regarding marriage
and virginity, using her knowledge of the scriptures to add
strength to her arguments. For instance, she argues that there
is nothing wrong with her having had five husbands, pointing out
that Solomon had hundreds of wives. In another debate, she argues
that despite the teaching of the Church that virginity is "a
greater good than the most virtuous of marriages," there is no
biblical comment opposing marriage(Bowden 77). Even though these
ideas may not seem so radical to today's reader, they would have
been considered blasphemy to people of Chaucer's time (Howard
143).
The tale itself raises another religious discussion of the
time: Who should have the upper hand within a marriage? King
Arthur gives the task of sentencing the nefarious knight to his
wife, who proposes that his life will be spared if he can find
the answer to the question: "What thing is it that wommen most
desiren?" Following a fruitless search for the answer, the
knight happens upon a loathsome hag who forces the knight to
marry her after she supplies the answer. After explaining that
women covet power over their husbands most of all, the termagant
begins her goal of obtaining just that. Here it is important to
note that many of the people of England during this time would
have abhorred the woman who attempted to gain sovereignty over
her husband; for the Bible "definitely states that woman is to be
subject to her husband"(Howard 143). Witnessing the young man in
sorrow at his fate, the newlywed woman asks the knight if he
would rather have her be old and faithful or young and possibly
not. When he leaves the decision up to her, thus giving her
authority over him, the hag is magically metamorphosed into a
beautiful, young woman.
Having analyzed the period of Chaucer and how it relates to
the Wife of Bath's tale, an obvious question arises: How did
Chaucer personally feel about this character which he created?
Does he have the same contempt for this carnal dowager as the
pious masses of the Middle Ages surely would have? Despite my
twentieth century urge to laud Alison of Bath in her being
unrepresentative of the stifling societal norms of fourteenth
century England, I must admit that Chaucer was probably not very
fond of the now revolutionary woman. Although I would like to
think that Chaucer was a remarkably visionary man in setting
forth this particular tale, there are signs which contradict
this. For example, another of Chaucer's characters, the moral
Clerk, offers a thorough rebuttal of the Wife's opinions. The
fact that Chaucer would have used such a virtuous man to rebuke
ideas which he himself championed is highly unlikely. Another
detail which supports this opinion is that here we have a woman
who relies heavily on scripture to support her radical stance,
yet Chaucer allows her to err in her application. The mistake
lies in her analogy of the loaves of bread in which she claims
that it was Mark who said Jesus refreshed many men with barley
bread; it was actually John who said this(Justman 125).
While it may be true that my fellow students and I cheer the
rather raunchy weaver, the prevailing standards of idealistic
chivalry and religious misogyny of the Middle Ages kept the Wife
of Bath from being heralded by most people of that same period --
including her creator. Looking past my personal views which lead
me to judge her by current standards, it can be said that despite
her personal flaws, Alison's tale is the most original of all the
pilgrims' accounts (Howard 141). Within the context of the
Middle Ages, it was surely a journey beyond the realms of
normalcy, possibly planting the seeds of feminism in the minds of
some medieval mistresses.


Works Cited
Bowden, Muriel. A Reader's Guide to Geoffrey Chaucer. New York:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1964.
Howard, Edwin J. Geoffrey Chaucer. New York: Twayne Publishers,
In., 1964.
Justman, Stewart. "Literal and Symbolic in The Canterbury Tales."
Modern Critical Views on Geoffrey Chaucer. Ed. Harold
Bloom. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1985.
Patterson, Lee. Chaucer and the Subject of History. Wisconsin:
The University of Wisconsin Press, 1991
 

Other sample model essays:

Joseph Conrad, in his long-short story, ³Heart of Darkness,² tells the tale of two mens¹ realization of the hidden, dark, evil side of themselves. Marlow, the ³second² narrator of the fr...
Erika Moreno-Dalton Ms. Hart ENC1101 Monday, March 03, 1997 Orwell Essay In "Shooting an Elephant," George Orwell finds himself in a difficult situation involving an elephant. The fate...
Literary Analysis Papers / An Analysis Of The MAyor Of Casterbridge
The plot of The Mayor of Casterbridge, by Thomas Hardy, can often be confusing and difficult to follow. The pages of this novel are filled with sex, scandal, and alcohol, but it provides for...
In many of Nathaniel Hawthorne"s short stories, he creates characters with either a malicious or evil feature to relay to the reader a more allegorical meaning. Many would say he targets woman wit...
"An analysis of why Jimmy Doyle will never succeed in life due to his father" In "After The Race", by James Joyce in the book "Dubliners", the main character, Jimmy Doyle will be an unproducti...
Literary Analysis Papers / An Analysis
An analysis of the quotation "The mills of the gods grind slowly, but they grind exceedingly small." The quotation "The mills of the gods grind slowly, but they grind exceedingly small," could be...
Literary Analysis Papers / An AnalysisDeath In British Literature
British Literature Essay Death is inevitable and what happens after death will always be a mystery to the living. For this reason, the afterlife has always been a topic which artists have cho...
An argument to support the view that "everything about the play [King Lear] hangs on the first two scenes not just the plot but the values as well." "King Lear, as I see it, confronts the...
British Literature / An Epic Hero For Modern Times
An Epic Hero for Modern Times In about 1470, Thomas Malory finished Morte d' Arthur, the first of the many legends written about King Arthur. Even in modern times, King Arthur and the Knight...
Definition Essays / An Epic Search
An Epic Search In the novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston shows how the lives of American women changed in the early 20th century. Zora Neale Hurston creates a character...
Experience with Dream Essay - Reliable and great customer service. Quality of work - High quality of work.
Browns Mills, New Jersey, United States
Dream Essay - Very reliable and great customer service. Encourage other to try their service. Writer 91463 - Provided a well written Annotated Bibliography with great deal of detail per the rubric.
Browns Mills, New Jersey, United States
it is always perfect
Frederick, Maryland, United States
The experience with Dream Essay is stress free. Service is excellent and forms various forms of communication all help with customer service. Dream Essay is customer oriented. Writer 17663 is absolutely excellent. This writer provides the highest quality of work possible.
Browns Mills, New Jersey, United States
Only competent & proven writers
Original writing — no plagiarism
Our papers are never resold or reused, period
Satisfaction guarantee — free unlimited revisions
Client-friendly money back guarantee
Total confidentiality & privacy
Guaranteed deadlines
Live Chat & 24/7 customer support
All academic and professional subjects
All difficulty levels
12pt Times New Roman font, double spaced, 1 inch margins
The fastest turnaround in the industry
Fully documented research — free bibliography guaranteed
Fax (additional info): 866-332-0244
Fax (additional info): 866-308-7123
Live Chat Support
Need order related assistance?—Click here to submit a inquiry
© Dreamessays.com. All Rights Reserved.
Dreamessays.com is the property of MEDIATECH LTD