What Aspects Of Marriage Are Portrayed In

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What Aspects Of Marriage Are Portrayed In The Wife Of Bath?s Prologue Essay, Research Paper The Canterbury Tales, begun in 1387 by Geoffrey Chaucer, are written in heroic couplets iambic pentameters, and consist of a series of twenty-four linked tales told by a group of superbly characterised pilgrims ranging from Knight to Plowman. The characters meet at an Inn, in London, before journeying to the shrine of St Thomas a Becket at Canterbury. The Wife of Bath is one of these characters. She bases her both her tale and her prologue on marriage and brings humour and intrigue to the tales, as she is lively and very often crudely spoken. Her role as a dominant female contrasts greatly with the others in the tales, like the prim and proper Prioress represents the argument for

virginity, whereas the Wife upholds the state of marriage. Women were very much perceived as second class citizens in the Fourteenth Century, they were rarely educated and had little status in society. In contrast, the two female characters in the book are from areas of society where it was possible for women to have influence probably as these characters would hold more interest for his readership. The prioress was undoubtedly the most powerful person in the nunnery and the Wife?s position as a weaver would gain her respect and power although it is implied that she achieves this through other means. Through the Wife Chaucer shows how women achieved authority through marriage, using humour typical of modern mother-in-law comedy. His tongue in cheek approach shows how the Wife

controls her husbands, by terrorising them so that each were ?ful glad? when she ?spake to hem faire?. The reason for the Wife?s cruel treatment after marriage was that she no longer needed ?to winne hir love, or doon hem reverence? proving her motives for marriage to be purely material and showing Chaucer?s opinion that some men get misled and tricked into marriage. The wife is also able to dominate her husbands by other methods, which she often recommends to other ?wys wyfs?. Here Chaucer is obviously appealing to his audience as there are no other wives on the pilgrimage but also the Wife may be suggesting that is not only her who acts in this manner therefore condoning it. She firstly accuses them of indecent behaviour thus covering her own faults and then reverts back to

nagging. Her ability to nag and argue is complemented by her knowledge of many parables, fables and even astrology and she uses this to get the upper hand on her husbands but is defeated by Jankin as a scholar at Oxford which demonstrates the repression of women through lack of education. Wealth and property feature heavily in the wife?s portrayal of marriage and along with the issue of her independence is responsible for many of her marital conflicts. The first three husbands ?riche and olde? were married each for ?hir land and hir tresoor? then discarded as the Wife looks for other prospects. When one of these husbands tries to restrict the Wife?s spending she refuses to let him be both ?maister of my body and of my good? so refuses sexual favours in return for her freedom as

she will not become a mere possession. She generalises that women ?love no man that taketh or keepth charge? suggesting an element of independence and individualism in 14th century marriage.? The wife resents being controlled, she drinks ?sweete wyn? and wears ?clothing with precious array? despite objections from her husbands which is why the character of the Wife of Bath is sometimes thought to be the first feminist in recorded literature. She likes to have men in her ?thrall?. One of the main features in the Wife?s prologue is the theme of sex, appearing frequently in euphemisms such as ?chambre of Venus? and as a general theme. Her appetite for ?meat? is seemingly insatiable and creates the impression that she is predatory. Her brash character is also complemented by her use