The Canterbury Tales is a collection of tales written by Geoffrey Chaucer published in 1475. The Canterbury Tales, as a whole, exhibit different social conventions of the Fourteenth Century and exploit them for being a kind of facade. The Clerk's Tale and The Franklin's Tale address the social convention of marriage with reference to the role of obedient women and conventional versus unconventional marriage. Furthermore, how obedience affects the quality and outcome of a marriage. Obedience will be defined as; "Compliance with an order, request, or law or submission to another's authority" (OED). This definition applies to the authoritative nature of the husbands' in both tales. The differing levels of obedience are portrayed through the Clerk's character of Griselda and the Franklin's character of Dorigen. Griselda is confined by the restrictive nature of a conventional marriage. The interpretation of Griselda's position by the end of the tale is ambiguous as a results of the term for intent "entente". Whereas, Dorigen's unconventional marriage allows for equality between partners, with questionable limits of obedience. Chaucer establishes a debate between these tales, which indicates that neither type of marriage is ideal, and the optimal marriage includes a balance of both practices. The comparison of both marriages is assisted by authors; John P McCall, Conor McCarthy, and Cathy Hume. In order to determine the significance of the opposing marriage types, it is important to understand the time period in which Chaucer lived.
The Fourteenth Century was a restrictive time based on the social conventions of social hierarchy, gender, and religion. Members of the First and Second Estate occupied the upper class, while the majority of the population were members of the Third Estate. The upper class were apart of the clergy and people of nobility. The upper class did not interact with the lower class due to their social divisions.