Chaucers View on Marriage

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In the Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer instituted his opinions on marriage. Even though he did not show one constant view on marriage through all of the tales, his different outlooks on balance of power and happy marriages are interesting to interpret. The Wife of Bath's Tale, the Clerk's Tale, and the Merchant's tale are the tales that clearly show all the sides of Chaucer's view on marriage. Each has it's own unique position on this subject and shows what Chaucer is trying to tell his readers through the Canterbury Tales.

The Wife of Bath's Tale is about a woman who married four men for their money and then a fifth one for love. Throughout the prologue she states that she loves having control over her husbands and usually just marries them for their money. She tricks them by seducing them with sex and then uses them to her fullest potential. Chaucer's implication on marriage in this tale is that only when the wife has complete control over her husband, will it be a successful one. Alison in the Wife of Bath's tale loved complete control and never wanted to be in a marriage unless she had this and it seems to prove one of Chaucer's views on marriage.

The Clerk's Tale is about a man, King Walter, who was known to be close to perfect, but his only flaw was that he wished not to marry. The people in town wished he would marry and he complied by marrying a woman named Griselde, but wanted to put her through a series of tests, such as killing two of her newly born children, to prove that she truly loved him. In the end, Griselde overcame his cruel tests after he asked to marry another and she replied with such an answer he was looking for. Chaucer's view on marriage in the Clerk's Tale is that men in the relationship should have the dominant power over their wife and that all wives must obey their husbands, but not all have to go through what Griselde necessarily had to deal with. Walter had complete control over Griselde and she never objected to it or said...
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