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The Wife of Bath Essay example

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The Canterbury Tales, written by Geoffrey Chaucer at the end of the fourteenth century, have been read with admiration in most periods between the fifteenth century and the present. In this poetic satire, Chaucer uses "a fictitious pilgrimage as a framing device for a number of stories" (Norton, 79). Chaucer himself becomes a character, and at the same time, the narrator in this masterpiece, and along with twenty-nine other people, he sets out on the quest to Canterbury. In "The General Prologue," Chaucer presents short descriptions of each of the pilgrims. Throughout the poem, Chaucer the narrator depicts the pilgrims one by one, without criticizing or telling the reader his own opinion about the characters: he leaves that up to the readers to perceive on their own.



Pilgrimages were very common in fourteenth-century England, and they were well depicted in the Middle English literature. On the literal level, the pilgrimage was a journey to the shrine of a saint to pray and receive remission for the sins, and while on the pilgrimage, one would meet different people and listen to their interesting stories. On the allegorical level, the pilgrimage represents people's journey through life. In The Canterbury Tales, after setting themselves to leave from the courtyard of the Tabard Inn, the pilgrims agree to tell the stories: two on the way to Canterbury and two on the way back. Such a development of the plot gives Chaucer a chance to portray each of the pilgrims through his or her own lips.



Chaucer's pilgrims represent all the social levels of the hierarchical order of medieval society. Most of the pilgrims are men. There are only a few women, and one of them is t...


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...Tale" reflect to certain degree the started topic. It becomes obvious that the Wife of Bath's aim was not so much the truth, as it was her self-justification. Created by Chaucer in the end of the fourteenth century, the "lusty and domineering" character of the Wife of Bath seems to be more alive today as a prototype of a liberated woman than she was during the Chaucer's time. By creatign this character, Chaucer attacked the existing patriarchal hierarchical social order and raised the question of women's equality to man by placing the woman on the position historically given by society to men.

Works Cited

The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Sixth Edition Volume 1. Ed. M.H.Abrams. New York: W.W.Norton and Company, Inc., 1993.

Parker David. "Can We Trust the Wife of Bath?" Geoffrey Chaucer Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1985.


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