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Character Analysis of The Wife of Bath of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales

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Character Analysis of The Wife of Bath of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales

The Canterbury Tales is Geoffrey Chaucer's greatest and most memorable work. In The Canterbury Tales, Chaucer uses "a fictitious pilgrimage [to Canterbury] as a framing device for a number of stories" (Norton 79). In "The General Prologue" of The Canterbury Tales, Chaucer describes in detail the pilgrims he meets in the inn on their way to Canterbury. Chaucer is the author, but also a character and the narrator, and acts like a reporter to provide a detailed description of the pilgrims. Through his description, the reader is able to paint a picture of each of the characters. In "The General Prologue," he describes each character by giving a detailed description of the character's appearance, clothing, social status, beliefs, and other relevant details. However, Chaucer never condemns his characters: "What uniquely distinguishes Chaucer's prologue from conventional estates of satire, however, is the suppression in all but a few instances of overt moral judgement. . . . It is up to the reader to draw up the moral indictment from the evidence presented with such artlessness even while falling in with the easygoing mood of 'felaweship' that pervades Chaucer's prologue to the pilgrimage" (Norton 80-81). Chaucer is thus able to create a tension between the ideal and the real. He builds up the reader's expectations and then shatters them. Although The Canterbury Tales was probably written in the late fourteenth century, many of the pilgrims of The Canterbury Tales seem real and true to life even today. One of the most memorable pilgrims of The Canterbury Tales, as well as one of the most memorable women in literature, is the Wife of Bath. The "lusty and domineering"...

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...urteenth century, her ideas, beliefs, and behavior are more like a woman of the twentieth century or possibly even the twenty-first century. She is truly a woman ahead of her time.

Works Cited

Abrams, M. H. et al. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Vol. 1. Sixth Edition. New York: W.W. Norton, & Co. 1993. 76-144.

Benson. Chaucer: The Canterbury Tales. February 1997. October 24, 1998. Online. Internet. Available http: icg.harvard.edu/~eng115b/

Bobr, Janet. Welcome to Camelot. 1998. October 24, 1998. Online. Internet. Available http: www.csis.pace.edu/grendel/prjs3f/arthur1.htm

Canterbury Tales. 1998. November 30, 1998. Online. Internet. Available http: userzweb.lightspeed.net/~cheezit/pilgrims/index.html

Jokinen, Anniina. Geoffrey Chaucer (ca. 1343-1400). July 1996. October 24, 1998. Online. Internet. Available http: www.luminarium.org/medlit/chaucer.htm
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