Books and Movies Reviews

The Virtues of Wifely Sovereignty in Chaucer's The Wife of Bath's Tale" and "The Miller's Tale

Both a woman's desire for sovereignty in marriage, as well as the moral and logical correctness of female supremacy in matrimony are two themes that pervade and define Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales.The following essay will explore within "The Wife of Bath's Tale" and "the Miller's Tale" the notion of female sovereignty in marriage and its moral implications.
"The Wife of Bath's Tale" in most respects exemplifies the quintessential Arthurian Romance-it features as its protagonist a knight, it revolves around a specific quest that knight must undergo, and it features a milieu that alternates between a court of nobles and an enigmatic forest.Via its central characters; the rapist knight, the Queen of England, and the mysterious old wife, "The Wife of Bath's Tale" makes two fundamental assertions regarding a woman's sovereignty in marriage:first, that all women desire it, and second, that it is a necessary condition for a harmonious nuptial union.Not soon after the tale commences and the protagonist knight stands before the British high court in judgment after having heinously ravished a virgin maiden, the reader (or listener, as the tales were meant to be transmitted orally) encounters a prime example of a woman possessing sovereignty in marriage over her mate.The King of England has judiciously granted sovereignty to his queen, thus it is she who is eventually charged with deciding the condemned knight's fate:
"So long they prayed the king of his grace
Till he his life him granted in the place,
And gave him to the queen, all at her will
To choose whether she would him save or spill"
(Chaucer "The Wife of Bath's Tale).
Ultimately, the wise queen sends the knight on a quest he must complete to her satisfaction if his life is to be spared-he must journey abroad and return in a year's time with the ans…

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