Sex and Greed in Chaucers The Canturbury Tales

Sex and Greed in Chaucers The Canturbury Tales

“The Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale” are the two best among all the tales to highlight the feelings of people about their suppressed sexual life and the values they hold in their life. Chaucer especially made the reference of a woman with her prologue as he goes on describing her and the story she would narrate. He even goes on describing about her clothing in his General Prologue. She holds a unique position among the pilgrims but evidences suggest that though she was earlier assigned a different tale to tell as was told by Shipman yet fortunately for her she received her own tale to tell as her importance in the group increased.“The Wife of Bath” is a story foretold with the woman’s perspective and by the woman on the issues that were affecting her daily life. These issues were of marriage, sovereignty and virginity. Alison is described in the “Wife of bath” as a very strong and bold woman who can never accept defeat at any cost and attains whatever she wants to have. She believes this is how the things should be and wanted the men to obey her and not to be controlled and subjected by them. She treats marriage in economic terms and her body as commodity which is sold in exchange for wealth and money.In her own marriage, she feels threatened to be overpowered by her husband and believes that commodifying the sex in the marriage can only relieve women and exert her control over her husband. The story of her first three marriages is related to a language that creates a relationship between the sex and marriage. For her sex is a kind of payment for a marriage. In her defense of the male genitals she says, “set/ That man shall pay unto his wife his debt?/ Now wherewith should he ever make payment,/ Except he used his blessed instrument? (135-138)”. This thinking of hers is derived from the fourteenth-century idea of sex as a marital “debt” or, in other words, it becomes obligatory for the husband to pay his wife.

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