Canterbury Tales Comparing Chaucer's The Clerks Tale And The Wife Of Bath Tale

2207 words - 9 pages

In "The Clerk's Tale" and "The Wife of Bath's Tale " from Geoffrey

Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales, characters are demanding, powerful and

manipulating in order to gain obedience from others. From all of The

Canterbury Tales, "The Clerks Tale" and "The Wife of Baths Tale" are the

two most similar tales. These tales relate to each other in the terms of

obedience and the treatment of women. "The Wife of Bath Tale" consists of

one woman who has complete control over her husbands. It evolves the idea

that a woman is more powerful and controlling in a relationship. She

intimidates her husbands to do things and treat her in a certain ways so

that they would buy her material things and favors. "The Clerks Tale"

supports almost the opposite idea about women. It mentions that the man

has complete power in the relationship and the woman must obey everything

that the husband says. Such is the case with Walter and Griselda. Walter

is demanding and controlling over Griselda. She does whatever he says and

she lacks her own opinion. One difference between these tales however is

that "The Clerks Tale" is a very unrealistic story, whereas "The Wife of

Baths Tale" is a more practical story and would have the possibility of

taking place.

Between the two stories, the Wife of Bath and Walter are both

characters who are the most demanding in order to gain obedience. Both

characters demand love, a sign of obedience to them. Walter tells Griselda

that the only way they will marry is if she promises to obey his commands.

He says "you love me as I know and would obey, being my leige-man born and

faithful to whatever pleases me I dare to say may succeed in also pleasing

you"(329). Walter demands her to love him and does not give her a choice.

In addition, the Wife of Bath also shows some of the same signs of

"tyranny" toward others. She takes reference from the Bible to defend her

opinions on a husband obediently loving his wife. To justify her beliefs,

the Wife of Bath says that "thus the apostle Paul has told it me, and bade

our husbands they should love us well. There¹s an command on which I like

to dwell" (262). Both Walter and the Wife of Bath are demanding to bring

them happiness and satisfaction in therms of getting obedience. In

addition to demanding love, both characters demand favors, a representation

of their obedience. Walter gives Griselda jewels and rings for her to wear

demanding the favor of her obedience to him, " the marquis bade prepare

brooches and rings, all for Griselda, lit with jewels, gold and lapis."

(328). The Wife of Bath also demands the favor of her personal

satisfaction from others. She demands material treasures and sexual

desires from her husbands. " But as I had them eating from my hand and as

they yielded me their gold...

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