Essay about The Spectrum of Marriages in The Canterbury Tales

Essay about The Spectrum of Marriages in The Canterbury Tales

Length: 649 words (1.9 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

In The Canterbury Tales Chaucer portrays a wide spectrum of marriage from what can be traditionally seen as the worst to the best. Three of these tales, The Miller's, The Franklin's, and The Wife of Bath's, support this examination of what can constitute an ideal marriage.
First in the Miller's tale is exposed what can be interpreted as the worst type of marriage. In this fabliau Chaucer exposes the problems of an older man marrying a younger women and gives the impression that this situation should not be desired in a marriage, “He was jealous and kept her on a short leash, / for she was wild and young, and he was old” (lines 38-39). In this example the point is that if an old man marries a young beautiful women he will spend his life with the feeling of jealousy.
As the Miller's tale progresses this exposition of jealousy is shown to have a good cause. Because the wife is young and desirable she is seen as unable to resist the advances of an equally young scholar, “while her husband was at Osney / (these clerks are very subtle and sly) / and privily he grabbed her by the crotch” (line 87-89). The clerk forces himself upon Alison, “and said, Unless I have my will of you, / sweetheart, I'm sure to die for suppressed love” (lines 91-92). Alison being so young and inexperienced is unable to resist the urges of the clerk Nicholas, “and made her oath, by Saint Thomas a Becket, / that she would be his to command (lines 105-106).
Next, is what can be seen as the other extreme of the spectrum of marriage. That is the Wife of Bath's Tale. This tale favors the argument that the wife should have complete control in the marriage. An interesting thing about the Wife of Bath's tale is that her arguments, in the prologue, for having control...

... middle of paper ...

...lates her decision, “I know of no way to escape / except only death or else dishonor; / I must choose one of these two” (lines 629-631). Dorigen then tells her husband of her mistake, and is his nonjudgmental love he exclaims. “Is there nothing else, Dorigen, but this?” (line 741). He then explains to Dorigen that her honor is more important to him than anything else. This can definitely be seen as the middle spectrum of a marriage in that it exposes the crucial role that honesty plays in forging an equal relationship.
In these three examples of marriage from The Canterbury Tales, it is clear the Chaucer shows the full spectrum of the types of marriage, from the extreme end of the Miller's tale, to the equality of the Franklin's tale, to the other extreme which is the Wife of Bath's tale.

Works Cited

Chaucer, Geoffrey. The Canterbury Tales. Print. New York. 1984.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Immorality in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales Essay example

- Immorality and moral ambiguity are two concepts that will ruin any relationship. In Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, he specifically illustrates through his pilgrims’ stories some comical and realistic events that display immorality in the Middle Ages. There are several characters whose stories are focused on presenting the immorality within their tales. Like that of “The Miller’s Tale,” and “The Merchant’s Tale.” Chaucer utilizes these tales to display one specific immoral act, which is sexual sin or lust....   [tags: Literature]

Strong Essays
1648 words (4.7 pages)

The Canterbury Tales Essay

- In The Canterbury Tales, written by Geoffrey Chaucer, the stereotypes and roles in society are reexamined and made new through the characters in the book. Chaucer discusses different stereotypes and separates his characters from the social norm by giving them highly ironic and/or unusual characteristics. Specifically, in the stories of The Wife of Bath and The Miller’s Tale, Chaucer examines stereotypes of women and men and attempts to define their basic wants and needs. In the Miller’s Tale, the story tells of a carpenter and his wife, Allison and how she is pursued by multiple men....   [tags: The Canterbury Tales Essays]

Strong Essays
842 words (2.4 pages)

The Complex Character of the Merchant in The Canterbury Tales Essay

- Sometimes a character is not fully revealed right away in order to surprise and convey a specific purpose later on. Chaucer demonstrates this idea in The Canterbury Tales, specifically with the Merchant character. In the General Prologue, Chaucer portrays the Merchant as a respectable character; however, he hints aspects of the Merchants personality that question this respectable image. The Merchant’s entire personality is later revealed in his Prologue and Tale, as it is made evident of his cynical and pessimistic outlook, making him less respectful....   [tags: The Canterbury Tales]

Strong Essays
1396 words (4 pages)

The Canterbury Tales, by Geoffrey Chaucer Essay

- Geoffrey Chaucer wrote the Canterbury tales a collection of short tales in the 14th century. The compilation of stories are told by different characters within the narrative as part of a game proposed by the host. Each individual must tell two stories on their journey and two stories on their way back. Each story tells some aspects of English life during the time and often added satire like qualities to the English life. In particular Chaucer often tells stories with elements of the relationship between man and women....   [tags: The Canterbury Tales Essays]

Strong Essays
1576 words (4.5 pages)

The Canterbury Tales, by Geoffrey Chaucer Essay

- The Canterbury Tales is more than an amusing assortment of stories; it is an illustration of the society in which Geoffrey Chaucer lived. It portrays the culture and class system of the medieval ages in microcosm. Every strata of human life at the time were represented by the many characters whose tales are told. Each character’s basic human nature also plays a role in their stories, and each one has within them the strengths and weaknesses that make up all of humanity. Each character exemplifies their life and reputation through the stories they tell....   [tags: The Canterbury Tales Essays]

Strong Essays
1322 words (3.8 pages)

Sex in The Canterbury Tales Essays

- Geoffrey Chaucer uses sex as a manipulative instrument in The Canterbury Tales. Portraying sex as a power that women exert over men rather than the marital bond of “making love” makes evident Chaucer’s skewed views of love and marriage with underlying tones of misogyny. He expresses these views throughout the work, however, the theme of love and sex is most evident in the sub-stories of The Wife of Bath and The Miller’s Tale. Chaucer breaks the topic of sex into two basic parts: carnality and romanticism....   [tags: The Canterbury Tales Essays]

Strong Essays
940 words (2.7 pages)

Essay on Marriage and Sovereignty in Chaucer's Cantebury Tales

- Marriage and Sovereignty The Canterbury Tales was written during the Medieval Era when women were seen inferior to men. Women during this time were bound to loveless, arranged marriages as which was the Wife of Bath's case because she was married at the age of twelve. These marriages were arranged for the families to acquire social and political gain. Women during this era could not own property, and had no political rights. Their social standing solely depended on their husband or father's social status....   [tags: The Canterbury Tales Essays]

Strong Essays
944 words (2.7 pages)

Essay on Perceptions of Marriage in Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales

- Perceptions of Marriage in Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales       Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales demonstrate many different attitudes toward and perceptions of marriage.  Some of these ideas are very traditional, such as that discussed in the Franklin's Tale, and others are more liberal such as the marriages portrayed in the Miller's and the Wife of Bath's Tales.  While several of these tales are rather comical, they do indeed give us a representation of the attitudes toward marriage at that time in history....   [tags: Canterbury Tales Essays Chaucer Papers]

Free Essays
1430 words (4.1 pages)

Essay on The Canterbury Tales

- The Canterbury Tales The Canterbury Tales, a masterpiece of English Literature, written by Geoffrey Chaucer, is a collection, with frequent dramatic links, of 24 tales told to pass the time during a spring pilgrimage to the shrine of St. Thomas a Becket in Canterbury. The General Prologue introduces the pilgrims, 29 "sondry folk" gathered at the Tabard Inn in Southwark (outside of London). Chaucer decides to join them, taking some time to describe each pilgrim. According to the Norton Anthology, "the composition of none of the tales can be accurately dated; most of them were written during the last fourteen years of Chaucer's life, although a few were probably written earlier and inserted...   [tags: Chaucer Canterbury Tales Essays]

Strong Essays
969 words (2.8 pages)

The Monk and the Parson of The Canterbury Tales Essay

- The Monk and the Parson of The Canterbury Tales In the prologue, The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer is about the pilgrimage of many different characters to Canterbury. Chaucer writes about the characters' personalities and their place on the social ladder. The Monk and the Parson are examples of how Chaucer covered the spectrum of personalities. The Monk is self-centered, while the Parson cares for the sick and poor. In The Canterbury Tales, the Monk acts like he is part of the upper class of society....   [tags: Canterbury Tales Essays]

Free Essays
572 words (1.6 pages)