One Of The Most Distinguishable Points Of Chaucer’s Writing In

1295 words - 5 pages

One of the most distinguishable points of Chaucer's writing in The Canterbury Tales, is his ability to build a character and then portray that same character through the stories his characters tell. This is exemplified in the tales of the Wife of Bath, the Miller, and the Manciple. Their stories elucidate their personalities and beliefs, whether deliberately or inadvertently."She'd had five husbands...apart from other company in youth."(p.31) The prologue more than hints at the Wife of Bath's outlook on life and her own activity. The Wife of Bath was a cultured and tenacious woman of the times. She'd been married five times, traveled the world, and knew exactly what she wanted and almost always got it. In the prologue to her actual tale, she explains each relationship and stands up for herself. It is apparent that at some point she has been condemned for the interesting number of husbands she's taken and asserts that King Solomon had "a thousand wives or so. And would to God it were allowed to me to be refreshed, aye, half so much as he!...Blessed be God that I have wedded five!" and "Why not marry two or eight?" (p.277) Basically saying that King Solomon had over a thousand wives, and she doesn't even have half as many husbands and God should be thankful for that. She wants constant control over her husbands. "'A man must yield his wife her debt'...What means of paying her can he invent unless he use his silly instrument?" (p.280) The line "...apart from other company in youth," gives the impression that she's had other relationships that were purely physical. She fiercely defends her enjoyment of those physical relationships. "And where did he command virginity?...Tell me what conclusion or in aid of what were generative organs made?...but they were made for both, that is to say both use and pleasure in engendering, except in case of sin." (p.278-280) She doesn't have a problem with people who choose to abstain, but makes the analogy that if that means they are wheat bread, and wives are barley-bread, she'd choose the barley-bread. She doesn't care about being perfect, only about satisfying herself. Her tale models her beliefs in control of men. A knight is convicted of rape and the king who is to decide his fate, is coerced by his wife, the queen, to let her decide the fate of the knight. He must answer the question "What is the thing that women most desire?" (p.301) in a year's time or he will lose his life. In desperation, he promises an old hag anything, in return for the answer. He gives his answer: "A woman wants the self-same sovereignty over her husband as over her lover, and master him; he must not be above her." The role of control over men once again, comes into play. Not only with his answer, but the fact that he had to promise the old hag anything and she had that power over him. He ends up wishing he had never been born, because the old hag wishes to marry him. Eventually, they marry and he can't stand making love with her because...

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