The Canterbury Tales Essay Research Paper One

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The Canterbury Tales Essay, Research Paper One important aspect of society that Geoffrey Chaucer includes in a series of his short tales, The Canterbury Tales , is the role of women in the 14th century. Two of the stories, which include this aspect, are The Knight s Tale and The Wife of Bath s Tale. Chaucer shows two views of women that existed at that time period in England. One view is portrayed through Emily and the other view is portrayed through the Wife of Bath s Tale and the old woman in her tale. The view portrayed by Emily shows her as a pretty maiden who minds her own business while two cousin s fight over their love for her. Although the story is based on her in a way of speaking, she is not the main heroine in the story. On the other hand, the Wife of Bath shows a

view of women who are feminists and believe in male submission. She manipulates the story and her characters as she pleases. Both stories are prime examples of the downfall of men due to the influences of women. In The Knight s Tale, the downfall is death and regret. In The Wife Of Bath s Tale, the downfall is submission and the loss of male sovereignty. Palamon and Arcite are two cousins who are both knights and are both captured by King Theseus. They were both put to prison in a tower in Athens for a period of over a decade. These two family members have been locked up in a dark room at the top of a tower with no one to see or talk to and more importantly they have had no contact with the opposite sex since their capture. As Emily walks through the garden which the prison cell

overlooks, Palamon sees her for the first time and falls madly in love with her. I was hurt just now through my eyes and to my heart My guess is that she is in truth Venus (Page 53) Arcite then gets in on the treat and he, as is cousin did, fell in love with her also. The lively beauty of her who wanders in that place yonder works sudden death.. I am but dead, there is no more to say. (Page 55) These two men have never met Emily nor have they any information about her. One look and that is what it took to ruin a family bond between two jealous relatives. The knights’ emotions for a woman of whom they know absolutely nothing of, other than the fact that she is beautiful, reduces her to an object to be won and an occasion for adventure and courtship. What these two men do not

realize is that neither of them will ever have this woman, yet they decide to fight over her and sacrifice each other s lives for a maiden that has not even seen them. Arcite is set free but is doomed to never again see Emily; his broken heart causes him sickness as he s weakened by love. The root of evil that Chaucer uses to portray the role of Emily in this story, is that he makes her out to be an innocent maiden who is minding her own business. At the same time she is ruining a relationship that should be stronger than any lust or love no matter what the circumstances are. The victory is yours in this adventure; Most happily you may stay in prison I ought indeed to perish in hopelessness and distress. (Page 59) On the one hand Emily s stroll in the garden has caused Arcite to

feel sick and his physical status proves it. On the other hand, Palamon is stuck in a cell crying all the time and contemplating killing himself so he will not have to go through these feelings of pain everyday that appears to have no end. Alas, I see a serpent or a thief, who has done mischief to many a true man I must stay in prison by the will of Saturn (Page 63) All these crisises because of one woman, and an accumulated feeling of lust and distress. The king gives no thought as to whether Emily wants to marry either of the two men, and makes the decision for her. He is the person who controls her fate. This is an example of how women were treated during Chaucer’s time. They were given little or no respect at all and were treated as objects. Arcite ends up losing his life