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The Wife of Bath’s Tale and The Clerk’s Tale Essay

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“The life so short, the craft so long to learn” (Famous Quotes). The Canterbury Tales is enriched with humanistic merit that allows the reader to sharpen his or her own craft of life. Specifically, “The Wife of Bath’s Tale” and “The Clerk’s Tale” are embodied with multiple struggles of life that pertain to life in the present. Despite seven centuries of society constantly evolving, the two stories’ plots can still be further analyzed through similar themes about relationships that pertain to modern society and how rhetorical strategy allows the audience to relate to the narrative characters.
The two tales, told by the Wife of Bath and the Clerk in The Canterbury Tales, have parallel plots. “The Wife of Bath’s Tale” begins with a lusty knight standing before his king’s court because of unjust acts he committed with a young maiden. Before the king can execute the knight, the queen objects and offers that the knight’s life is spared if he can find the answer to what women really want. The knight embarks on his journey to discover the answer (“The Wife of Bath’s Tale” 167-68). Similarly, “The Clerk’s Tale” takes place in the kingdom of Saluzzo, Italy under the control of Walter, the marquis. The people of Saluzzo eagerly advised Walter to find a wife to ensure an heir to the throne. Walter finally finds the standard, beautiful woman in poverty named Griselda. She values hard work and humility, and Walter chooses to marry her. However, she must take a vow to Walter never to complain and to be loyal despite whatever the future may bring. Both plots revolve around the noble class and the differences among the social structure of the time because of the variety of characters portrayed in each tale. The two tales’ plots are d...


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...est of trust; however, the two tales’ themes and rhetorical strategies allow the reader to create their own opinions on the many issues depicted in the stories. The same humanistic merit of the 14th Century still affects us today and may even question some of our own morals or outlook on life.



Works Cited

Chaucer, Geoffrey. The Canterbury Tales. Trans. Peter Ackroyd. New York: Viking, 2009. Print.
“The Clerk’s Tale.” The Canterbury Tales. New York: Viking, 2009. . Web. Jan & Feb. 2012.
"The Life so Short, the Crafts... at BrainyQuote." Famous Quotes at BrainyQuote. Web. 07 Feb. 2012. .
"The Wife of Bath's Tale." The Canterbury Tales. New York: Viking, 2009. . Web. Jan. & Feb. 2012.
"The Wife of Bath's Prologue." The Canterbury Tales. New York: Viking, 2009. . Web. Jan. & Feb. 2012.


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