The Prologue And The Tale Essay Research

7 July 2017

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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.

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