The Wife (Canterbury Tales) Essay

1863 words - 7 pages

The clerk tells his tale as a rebuttal to the "Wife of Bath's" story, each tale has an opposing view about which sex is more dominant than another. The woman of Bath is a woman that speaks her mind without being afraid of her image, which was very uncommon during this time. She is very knowledgeable about history and real life experiences. She uses the tale of "Metellius, that filthy lout"(270), and religious aspects to support her views. Her belief about the fair treatment of women was a new perspective to most people. Her tale is more on the feminist side, whereas the clerk tells a story in response about dominance in relationships. This is taunting the woman of Bath and her beliefs by telling this story. She believes that marriage and sex aren't of great significance, she uses these as props to increase her money or power. From the beginning they are different; her prologue is very long and in depth, whereas the clerk delves right into his story. In fact he is told by his colleagues to "put things plainly"(321) and not to "tell a tale to send us all asleep"(321). He withholds his true emotions about sexism and mastery until he has completed the tale. Whereas the woman first began by sharing her feelings, then told her story to back her thoughts.One of the main characters from each tale is put to a test of their patience and subordination to the opposite sex. In the "Wife of Bath" the knight is allowed to choose the appearance of his wife; either she become beautiful and unfaithful or remain old, and noble. The knight has been taught that it is the women's decision to choose her appearance. He makes the right decision by letting her be in control, he told her "you make the choice, yourself…whatever pleases you suffices me"(291). In turn the knight is rewarded, for his realization of what his wife and women truly desire, by his wife.In the "Clerk's Tale" Griselda suffers through a great deal of emotional pain in her husband's test of loyalty and patience. The marquis knew his wife was loyal but "longed to expose her constancy to test"(333). He went to such an extent to take away her kids and discard her as a wife, all to discover if she would remain obedient. She remained "as humble and as quick to serve, and in her love as she was wont to be"(338), despite his attempts to prove her unfaithful. The clerk didn't understand "the need of heaping trial on her more and more?"(333). He felt the testing went too far and that Griselda endured more suffering than any individual should, woman or man. The clerk thought it was good to test a woman's patience but only to a certain extent. In his tale the woman didn't benefit or learn anything from the test of loyalty. However in the "Wife of Bath" the knight learned to respect women, and that they had more control in the relationship.The woman of Bath feels that marriage is used primarily to obtain material possessions, and that it is a "misery and a woe"(258). She believes that the only benefit from...

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