Attitudes Toward 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.
D.W. Robertson, Jr. calls marriage "the solution to the problem of love,
the force which directs the will which is in turn the source of moral action"
(Andrew, 88). Marriage in Chaucer's time meant a union between spirit and flesh
and was thus ...

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what she wants,
she takes Nicholas because she wants to, just as she ignores Absalon because she
wants to. Lines 3290-5 of the Miller's Tale show Alison's blatant disrespect for
her marriage to "Old John" and her planned deceit:

That she hir love hym graunted atte laste,
And swoor hir ooth, by seint Thomas of Kent
That she wol been at his comandement,
Whan that she may hir leyser wel espie.
"Myn housbonde is so ful of jalousie
That but ye wayte wel and been privee..."

On the contrary, Alison's husband loved her more than his own life,
although he felt foolish for marrying her since she was so young and skittish.
This led him to keep a close watch on her whenever possible. The Miller's main
point in his story is that if a man gets what he wants from God or from his wife,
he won't ask questions or become jealous; he is after his own sexual pleasure
and doesn't concern himself with how his wife uses her "privetee":

An housbonde shal nat been inquisityf
Of Goddes ...

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no drede,
Th'apostl, whan he speketh of maydenhede,
He seyde that precept therof hadde he noon:
Men may conseille a womman to been oon,
But conseillyng is no comandement.
He putte it in oure owene juggement.
For hadde God comanded maydenhede
Thanne hadde he dampned wedding with the dede;
And certes, if ther were no seed ysowe,
Virginitee, thanne whereof sholde it growe?

She later asks where virginity would come from if no one gave up their
virginity. Clearly, the Wife of Bath's Prologue is largely an argument in
defense of her multiple marriages than an attempt to prove her idea that "if
society was reorganized so that women's dominance was recognized. society ...

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PAPER DETAILS
Added: 1/9/2005 11:54:53 AM
Category: Book Reports
Type: Premium Paper
Words: 1438
Pages: 6

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