Canterbury Tales And Tales Of The Wife Of Bath And The Clerk Essay

Canterbury Tales And Tales Of The Wife Of Bath And The Clerk Essay

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The debate of which individual should have the authority in a marriage, the man or the woman, is a topic that has remained unanswered for centuries. While he does not solve this debate, Geoffrey Chaucer attempts to unpack the different elements that factor into it. In Canterbury Tales, primarily in the prologue of the Wife of Bath and both tales of the Wife of Bath and the Clerk, Chaucer displays different types of marriages. These marriages analyze how a man or woman can gain authority over the other. These marriages vary in terms of their dynamics due to the unique individuals and their environments. Through an analysis of the marriages depicted by Chaucer in the prologue and tales of the Clerk and the Wife of Bath, one can see the different ways that men and women can gain power in their marriage and the downfalls of asserting their authority.
In Chaucer’s work, a man can use physical violence towards his wife and her loved ones in order to gain authority in the marriage. These harmful acts of violence are used to intimidate the wife so she becomes submissive in the marriage. In the Clerk’s tale, the marquis uses physical means to gain control over Griselda, his wife. He does not directly harm Griselda but instead takes away her daughter and son (Chaucer CIT 672-676). This greatly affects Griselda because she cherishes her children and does not want them to be harmed. Even though she loves her daughter and son, Griselda does not stop the marquis from seizing them as she is afraid he will hurt her. When the marquis takes away Griselda’s children, it sends her the message that he can physically hurt her too and establishes his control of authority in the marriage. The marquis holds the power to hurt Griselda and her loved ones,...


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...n easily exert physical violence towards his wife if he believes that she is an inferior being, like a hunted creature. In the Clerk’s Tale, the marquis has this notion as he acts like God from the Old Testament. A woman obtains authority in her marriage the use of speech and manipulating her husband’s free will. This way, the husband unsuspectedly gives the wife the power of authority by listening to her speech. The Wife of Bath also shows that women can use their physical attractiveness and sexuality to dominate their husbands. Even if the wife does not want to have sexual relations, she uses her sexuality to obtain authority in the marriage. These methods of gaining authority in the marriage are not flawless and exceptions rise. A man cannot obtain authority if the wife is stubborn and a woman cannot obtain authority if she is not taught how to use her sexuality.

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