The Canterbury Tale's View On Marriage

Essay by daveycrocket274 April 2004

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Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales demonstrate many different attitudes toward and perceptions of marriage. Some of these ideas are very and others are more liberal. 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. The Nun's Priest's, Wife of Bath's, and The Franklin's Tales all have different aspects on the subject of marriage.

The Wife of Bath obviously has a rather carefree attitude toward marriage. "A woman wants the self-same sovereignty over her husband as over her lover (174)." She knows that the woes of marriage are not inflicted upon women; rather, women inflict these woes upon their husbands. Her perception is that if society were reorganized so that women's dominance was recognized, society would be much improved. "He must not be above her (174)." If the man were above the wife, he would have the power.

To the Wife of Bath, the woman should always be in control, therefore should be above him. The fact that the Wife of Bath had several former husbands must be viewed when considering her views on marriage. "She's had five husbands, all at the church door (18)." The Wife of Bath clearly rebels against male domination with regard to her first three husbands but still accepts the ways in which she survives economically. The Wife of Bath declares that a wife will achieve sovereignty in marriage, which is good for both wife and husband; as a woman's sovereignty provides for peace. Marriage for the Wife of Bath is much more than sexual pleasure; it provides her with a vast sense of power in the exercise of her sovereignty.

On the other hand, the Franklin's tale is one of courtly love and Gentleness. The Franklin suggests a marriage...