Laws Control the Lesser Man, Right Conduct Controls The Greater One – Mark Twain, An Essay On The Wife of Bath and Control Issues
Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, is a light-hearted entertaining story which many have argued, is poetry that is simply that with no secret undertones. Chaucer’s description of the church, with the personality traits of the traveling monk and priest and other minor characters show that there is in fact, a critique of the relationship with the church and it’s believers.
‘A good WIF was ther of biside BATHE,
But she was somdel deef, and that was scathe.’ (lines 445-446 General Prologue)
The Wife of Bath is a particular character that Chaucer uses to critique the control the church has over the congregation, specifically with the Wife’s attempt to keep control within her marriages. This quote shows a foreshadowing of her inability to hear after fighting to maintain control against Jenkin. With the Wife of Bath, the reader understands how Chaucer teases and ridicules the control the church has and how the church’s stronghold over the people is dangerous.
As Jenkin begins his relationship with the Wife of Bath, he begins to recite stories from a book about how justice occurs after wives decided to do evil deeds. As the Wife of Bath begins to succumb to listening and agreeing with these stories, Chaucer is playing with the concept that women in general are spoken to similarly with the reciting of the Bible to their own lives. This expresses the control the church has over people, particularly women, but in a way where it brainwashes and prevents people from acting the way they do naturally.
The Wife of Bath, herself, uses scripture in order for her to justify what she has done in the past and continues to do, with being multiple marriages.
“I woot wel Abraham was an holy man,
And Jacob eek, as fer as evere I kan,
And ech of hem hadde wives mo than than two,
And many other holy man also.” (lines 55-58...
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