Books and Movies Reviews

The Canterbury Tales

In Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, a group of pilgrims travels together to
Canterbury and along the way tell one another stories to pass the time.
Chaucer makes use of these stories and the people who tell them to comment
on the society of his time, suggesting certain things by his choice of
which pilgrim tells what kind of story.Some of the pilgrims are clerics,
and others are government workers or members of the public.They represent
a cross-section of the society of the day, as do many of the characters in
the stories they tell.One of the persistent images in these stories is an
image of women, which varies from the submissive to the more aggressive and
which is found in both the pilgrims and their stories.In “The Franklin’s
Tale,” ideas about women are expressed in the usual terms but in a
different way, combining different traditions to produce an image of women
and marriage as both an instance of male dominance combined with the
courtly love tradition which so infused much of the poetry of the time.
The image created of women is that they are decorative and virtuous,
and this is also an element in the courtly love tradition.The traditions
included by Chaucer in The Canterbury Tales are different and more
expansive, for the tales include a number of women from different classes.
These woman are lustier and more accessible, as a rule, with one of the
primary representatives being the Wife of Bath.Love in these stories is
an ongoing battle between the sexes, sometimes in the courtly love
tradition (as in “TheFranklin’s Tale” in which Dorigen and Arviragus are
obsessed with meeting the requirements of courtly love, or in the
description of the Squire in the Prologue, who also deliberately pursues
the traditions of courtly love).The Wife of Bath is a lusty woman who
also uses the courtly love tradition in her story, though she deliberately
toys with it as she te…

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