Chaucer's Canterbury Tales Essay

Chaucer's Canterbury Tales Essay

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Historically, pilgrimages have been taken as a religious experience, where people pay homage to God. As the pilgrims in The Canterbury Tales go to Canterbury to view the shrine of St. Thomas Becket, the pilgrims are asked to tell moral stories as a means of passing time. As the individuals tell these tales, they reveal their duplicitous nature that are embedded within these tales. The Pardoner reveals his paradoxical nature: someone who wants to appear as a religious, virtuous man, when, in actuality, he deceives the community into thinking that he has good intentions of helping others. The Wife of Bath, unashamed of her power and sexuality, is greedy and scorns the Knight, a character in The Wife of Bath’s Tale for discretions she is guilty of. The Pardoner and the Wife of Bath are deceitful to the people in their community, simultaneously and wholeheartedly exposing their own deceptive ways as they accompany pilgrims on the pilgrimage. Because the Pardoner and the Wife of Bath unabashedly portray themselves as amoral, while they boast about their indiscretions, they do not have to take accountability for their actions.
While not living by his principles and preaching to others a spiritual and moral life, the Pardoner shows his hypocrisy. He tells a story of three young, gluttonous men, who reveal greed, while finding treasures behind a tree. Overcome by drunkenness, they act in a senseless and impulsive manner: “... up they started drunken in this rage” (2317) to avenge the death of their friend. They find gold in their pursuit of looking for “Death,” who has killed their friend. Regardless of the men pledging “[t]o live and die each of them for the other, / As if he were his very own blood brother” (2315-6...


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...n are born with attributes to be used in anyway to control men. She seeks power over men and uses God as her excuse for providing her with the necessary tools to manipulate men. Bragging that she has outsmarted her husbands, the Wife of Bath admits, “I got the best of each one, finally, / By trick, or force, or by some kind of thing” (10). Through taking advantage of her husbands’ gullibility, the Wife of Bath acquires dominance. Because she views men at a different level than her, the Wife of Bath has no qualms about manipulating them. Though she obtains everything she wants, she continues to have mastery over her husbands. There is an imbalance of power between the Wife of Bath and her husbands, which allows her to feel justification for her actions. The Wife of Bath uses God as a vindication for her actions and, therefore, does not need to bear any responsibility.

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