"The Canterbury Tales," is the contrast of realistic and exaggerated qualities that is entitled to each of the characters in the story. When viewed more closely, we can determine whether each of the characters is convincing or questionable based on their personalities Chaucer has narrated. This essay will analyze the characteristics and personalities of The Wife of Bath, The Miller, The Monk, The Knight, and The Parson during the English fourteenth century from the most “sinful” to noble being.
The Wife of Bath is one of the most famous characters within Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales. In her prologue, it is quickly made clear that she has had a lot of husbands and by a lot I mean five. Since she has all this experience with men, The Wife of Bath dedicates her prologue to describing how each of her marriages went. In her five marriages she has been accused of lusting too much, to being too controlling, and being abused. While some good husbands were good and some were bad, The Wife of Bath depicts a solid image of her feelings toward men. In her relationships, she must always have the upper hand. She is the type of woman who gets what she wants when she wants it. While describing one of her marriages, The Wife of Bath explains how
In The Canterbury tales, Chaucer uses The Wife of Bath as a representation of what it was like for Women in the Middle Ages to be striped of equality and bow to the otherwise male dominated society. For the representation of women Chaucer uses the Tales of “The Scholar”, “The Second Nun “The Reeve’s”, and “The Franklin” and many others in a very dry, pretentious manner to steer readers into the view of how a women of the Middle Ages should be as a so called “virtuous” wife or woman. The concept of marriage plays a major part in manifesting the idea of the issues of inferiority of women. The perception rendered as women having to be obedient and inferior figure to their husbands or male counter parts. Chaucer gives give the audience much to think about in terms of The Wife of Baths being she is the total opposite to women of her time. The wife of Baths can be seen maternal figure that possess as a threat of breaking in the societal system by empowering the status of women.
Chaucer details of society in that day in age, as well as, his detailed information of the Wife of Bath encompassed values in which women still admire today. Women still seek to have a more powerful role in society, even though still today there is a struggle to reach the top. Still today, the perfection you bring to your personal appearance gets your farther in life. Finally, when the reliance in the Bible and how still to this day church and state combine ideas, having a knowledge of the stories in the Bible shows a woman that is full of morals, values, and a good standard of living. Because of all of this, the Wife of Bath showed many sides of herself that may be hard to believe but yet still the backbone of all of it, is what most women try to do with their lives: be stable, powerful, happy, beautiful, and good morals.
Gluttony, Avarice, Wrath, Lust, Pride, Envy, and Sloth are all commonly known as the “Seven Deadly Sins”. Each of these seven sins plays a major role in development of the different characters. In Geoffrey Chaucer’s “The Canterbury Tales”, the Pardoner committed sins through gluttony and avarice; the Wife of Bath through Pride and Lust; and also the Monk through gluttony and wrath. However, omnipresent on all the characters are the different deadly sins that led to their development and morality.
The Purpose of the Characters in The Canterbury Tales
The characters introduced in the General Prologue of The Canterbury Tales each represent a stereotype of a kind of person that Chaucer would have been familiar with in 14th Century England. Each character is unique, yet embodies many physical and behavioral traits that would have been common for someone in their profession. In preparing the reader for the tales, Chaucer first sets the mood by providing an overall idea of the type of character who is telling the tale, then allows that character to introduce themselves through a personal prologue and finally, the pilgrim tells their tale. Through providing the reader with insight about the physical and personal traits of the pilgrim and then allowing that person to come to life and tell an animated story, the reader is more prepared for the story as well as able to relate the physical description to the telling of the story.
Aspects of Our Existence in The Canterbury Tales
Through out the history of our own existence men and women alike have pondered and questioned whether there truly exists a force that controls all aspects of our existence. In order to answer these questions men have gone on spiritual quest for not only knowledge of god, but to shed light on our own lives. Men like Geoffrey Chaucer take us on a quest to dig deep within our souls to answer our own question. In Chaucer’s collection of tales entitled, The Canterbury Tales The tales deal with a group of pilgrims of all social classes in search for forgiveness to the shrine of Thomas a Becket. The pilgrims all seek knowledge they cannot have but still try and find that knowledge within each other by telling their tales of morality.
Lambdin, Laura C. and Robert T. Lambdin, ed. Chaucer's Pilgrims: An Historical Guide to the Pilgrims in the Canterbury Tales. London: Greenwood Press, 1996.
Geoffrey Chaucer’s “The Canterbury Tales” is a collection of stories written between 1387 and 1400 about a group of thirty people who travel as pilgrims to Canterbury (England) and on their way, they tell stories to each other about their lives and experiences. The stories constitute a critique of English society at the time, and particularly of the Church, while women seem to be presented in a different way than they are in other contemporary works.
The Wife of Bath is a complex character-she is different from the way she represents herself. Maybe not even what she herself thinks she is. On the surface, it seems as though she is a feminist, defending the rights and power of women over men. She also describes how she dominates her husband, playing on a fear that was common to men. From a point of view of a man during that time period, she seemed to illustrate all of the wrongs that men found in women. Such as a weak parody of what men, then saw as feminists. The Wife of Bath constantly emphasizes the negative implications of women throughout the ages. She describes women as greedy, controlling, and dishonest.