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Biblical And Mythological References In The Wife Of Bath’s Prologue

1951 words - 8 pages

SHREYA CHHETRI120505ENGLISH HONS- 2ND YEARBIBLICAL AND MYTHOLOGICAL REFERENCES IN THE WIFE OF BATH'S PROLOGUE Comment by DUndergroundMaN: 6/10Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Taleswas written at the end of the 14th century. It is set up as many stories within a story, the main frame being a group of pilgrims telling stories to each other. At the time he was writing, Chaucer's England was dominated by the Catholic Church. Therefore, many of the metaphors are based on the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. Among the group of pilgrims, the Wife of Bath or Alisoun is the most interesting character. She uses the Biblical references so that she can question the validity, intent, or interpretation of the Bible.Alisoun thinks of herself as a pious person and attends church regularly in her parish. She gives to charity and is dutiful; however, she has her opinions on how things should be in her church. There are several instances that shed light on the wife's interpretation of the Bible. She comes across a lady preacher, and excellent orator who can even twist the real message of Bible to suit her own purpose.The first incident comes in line 11 where she talks about the wedding in Cane of Galilee. In John 2:1, Jesus attends a wedding in Cana and turns six pots of water into wine. This was his first public miracle. She uses this reference to take a dig at people who look down upon her because of her five marriages. She implies that many people have criticized her for her numerous marriages, most of them on the basis that Christ attended only one wedding in his life, at Cana. Though the Church Fathers frowned on second marriages, they were frequent in practice. She raises the ambiguity about the times of marriage, by bringing in the reference of Samaritan woman(16). The Samaritan woman at the well is an episode in the life of Jesusin John 4:4-26. Jesus meets a woman of Samaria by a well. He asks her to bring her husband, but she says she has none, to which Jesus replies "You have had five husbands, but the man you are living with now is not your husband."Alisoun cannot get as to why the fifth husband is not considered her husband. She further adds that men can only guess and interpret what Jesus meant when he told a Samaritan woman that her fifth husband was not her husband. With or without this bit ofscripture, no man has ever been able to give her an exact reply about the quantity of marriage a woman is allowed to have. She also cannot find the answer for the same in the Bible. By using this reference, she is setting a base for polygamy in women.The Wife of Bath has her own views of Scripture and God's plan. She uses the authority of the scriptures, quoting Jesus Christ in those passages from the Bible which suit her purpose. She ignores or distorts the orthodox spiritual message and is deaf to the real message of the Bible. She takes too literally the command to "wexe and multiplie" (27) as a license of enjoyment of unlimited sex.It means to be...

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