The Prologue And The Tale Essay Research
Only $13.90 / page
The Prologue And The Tale Essay, Research Paper
The relationship of the Prologue to the Narrative:
Truth and fiction
Within the imagined ( by Chaucer ) universe of the Canterbury pilgrims, we meet assorted
characters who present their & # 8220 ; ain & # 8221 ; fictions. In each instance, the narrative is in some manner a
contemplation of the Teller, and frailty versa. While Chaucer portrays the pilgrims ab initio in set
pieces in the General Prologue, we learn more approximately them as they tell their narratives, express
sentiments and trade abuses, as characters speak of themselves. The Wife & # 8217 ; s prologue is by
far the longest in the whole work ( two other pilgrims merely & # 8211 ; the Pardoner and the Canon & # 8217 ; s
Yeoman & # 8211 ; are given reasonably drawn-out prologues ) . She reveals herself, in the volume of what
she says, more to the full than any other pilgrim, but its baffled nature and deficiency of coherency
do her self-portrait less distinct than, state, the Pardoner & # 8217 ; s. Furthermore, her history
reveals a disagreement between what we suspect to be the instance, and what she wants her
listeners to believe of her. Her desire to exert sovereignty leads her to claim she has gained it
more to the full than warranted by the grounds she lets faux pas.
Where Chaucer allows most characters a individual gap ( in their narratives ) to show a position,
the Wife has two: foremost, her statement from existent, lived experience, so in the theoretical account instance in
her narrative. One presents obliging grounds, the other a clear narrative presentation –
autobiography and fiction together allow the Wife to province her instance more forcefully than
either alone could make.
The statement of the Prologue
The Wife & # 8217 ; s stated intent is to talk by and large of discord in matrimony. Her existent
preoccupation is with & # 8220 ; maistrie & # 8221 ; . The battle for this has been the cause of her suffering,
particularly in her 4th and 5th matrimonies. She depicts all five in footings of combat. The
effort to derive command may win or neglect, but division of sovereignty is non
The first three matrimonies are uneven lucifers: aged, affluent but lame work forces ( idea of
jointly as & # 8220 ; he & # 8221 ; ) are worn out by the sharp-tongued, lubricious and vibrant adult female
whose luck is non so much her face as her energy and sexual art. Her 4th
hubby is a more even fit for the now not-so-young Wife: her hubby is about her
age, has a kept woman and seems non to endure from the Wife & # 8217 ; s flirtings.
The ( unexplained ) decease of the 4th hubby leads to a lucifer that reverses the earlier
form, as the Wife, now good heeled, secures a adult male half her age to portion the matrimonial bed.
Jankin wields arms of cubic decimeter
gaining in his woman hater effusions. The Wife wins sovereignty
here, it seems, because she has more staying powers: Jankin, professing & # 8220 ; maistrie & # 8221 ; recognises her
illimitable declaration and shows a hitherto concealed desire for a quiet life. The Wife claims
that Jankin & # 8217 ; s giving led her to handle him good ; holding & # 8220 ; bought & # 8221 ; a immature hubby, her amour propre
requires that he cognize his topographic point, and her spoilage of him is a presentation of her superior
position. But she did non, in the earlier matrimonies, extend the same kindness to the hubbies
who had & # 8220 ; bought & # 8221 ; her.
The statement of the Tale
The Prologue relies on grounds from experience & # 8211 ; but this is peculiar, non cosmopolitan.
Puting the Tale in the fabulous aureate age of King Arthur, the Wife gives it a more
cosmopolitan application. The heathen puting expresses truths non taught by faith, but
revealed in the workings of human nature. The Arthurian universe is non what is but what was
or ought to be & # 8211 ; a better universe than the mundane one. That adult females might regenerate young person in
old age seems impossible, but giving adult females sovereignty obviously can be achieved & # 8211 ; the
ideal can in portion be realised. If this does non go on, hubbies who are & # 8220 ; angry nigardes of
dispence & # 8221 ; are to fault.
The properness or rightness of the Tale
( Scholars have suggested that Chaucer originally intended what is now the Shipman & # 8217 ; s Tale
to hold been spoken by the Wife. ) The narrative of the knight and the disgusting lady is
appropriate on several evidences, less so on others. It suits the Wife because it makes the
instance for adult females & # 8217 ; s sovereignty. It is besides suited to her in its relation: while some inside informations ( such
as the characters and puting ) are really unelaborated, other inside informations recall the Prologue, but are
out of topographic point in a romantic phantasy: these include the narrative of Midas & # 8217 ; s ears ( here the Wife
mixes mythologies ) and the aside on & # 8220 ; gentillesse & # 8221 ; in which the Wife quotes Dante ( non
born in the supposed clip of King Arthur ; the Wife of Bath herself might be expected to
quotation mark this authorization, but non the Fairy Wife of her Tale ) . Furthermore, the argument about
& # 8220 ; gentillesse & # 8221 ; is a distraction from the cardinal treatment of & # 8220 ; maistrie & # 8221 ; .
Chaucer doubtless sees that these failings are those of the Wife, as storyteller: before
this the Pilgrims have had many first-class illustrations of differing sorts, and many more will
follow. Part of the accomplishment and temper of the whole work lies in the exclusions that prove the
regulation & # 8211 ; one of the two narratives offered by Chaucer ( the pilgrim, purportedly describing the
others & # 8217 ; narratives ) is so boring he is obliged to give up and seek another.