The Canterbury Tales is a collection of stories, told by different pilgrims on their way to Thomas Becket’s tomb during the Middle Ages. The stories range from high style Romance pieces to crude, bawdy pieces intended to insult and entertain. Geoffrey Chaucer, known as “The Father of English Literature”, intended these stories to provide him with an income for the rest of his life: 30 pilgrims with 4 tales each would have created 120 tales! Unfortunately, Chaucer’s life ended before The Tales did, and we are left with 24 intriguing narratives. The Canterbury Tales cover important topics like greed, lust, love, forgiveness, and revenge, all themes that we can still relate to in our modern world, making these Tales truly timeless.
Geoffrey Chaucer Canterbury Tales - Perspective The Wife of Bath's Prologue
The Wife of Bath, Alyson, has been married five times, and she explains how she has been in control of most of these marriages. She views herself as an expert on the woes of marriage.
She uses biblical examples, including King Solomon, to show that being married so many times is a positive thing. She’s even excited to meet her sixth husband.
She says that while the Apostle Paul preaches the importance of virginity, she smartly points out that someone needs to create more virgins. After all, God told Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply.
Alyson’s fifth marriage, to Jankyn, was for love and not money. She gives him everything, and he gives her nothing. He tries to control her, because his younger age makes him insecure.
Janekyn reads to Alyson every evening about wicked wives. She finally becomes so annoyed that she rips the book and punches Jankyn. He strikes her back, causing her to go deaf in one ear. She lures him to her, pretending to be dying, and hits him again.
This leads to a truce between the two, and Jankyn gives Alyson all of the power in their marriage. She also makes him burn the book. She gains the power back over her dignity and her marriage.