In reading Geoffrey Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales," I found that of the.
Wife of Bath, including her prologue, to be the most thought-provoking. The.
pilgrim who narrates this tale, Alison, is a gap-toothed, partially deaf.
seamstress and widow who has been married five times. She claims to have great.
experience in the ways of the heart, having a remedy for whatever might ail it.
Throughout her story, I was shocked, yet pleased to encounter details which were.
rather uncharacteristic of the women of Chaucer's time. It is these.
peculiarities of Alison's tale which I will examine, looking not only at the.
chivalric and religious influences of this medieval period, but also at how she.
would have been viewed in the context of this society and by Chaucer himself.
During the period in which Chaucer wrote, there was a dual concept of.
chivalry, one facet being based in reality and the other existing mainly in the.
imagination only. On the one hand, there was the medieval notion we are most.
familiar with today in which the knight was the consummate righteous man,.
willing to sacrifice self for the worthy cause of the afflicted and weak; on the.
other, we have the sad truth that the human knight rarely lived up to this.
ideal(Patterson 170). In a work by Muriel Bowden, Associate Professor of.
English at Hunter College, she explains that the knights of the Middle Ages were.
"merely mounted soldiers, . . . notorious" for their utter cruelty(18). The.
tale Bath's Wife weaves exposes that Chaucer was aware of both forms of the.
medieval soldier. Where as his knowledge that knights were often far from.
perfect is evidenced in the beginning of Alison's tale where the "lusty" soldier.
rapes a young maiden; King Arthur, whom the ladies of the country beseech to.
spare the life of the guilty horse soldier, offers us the typical conception of.
In addition to acknowledging this dichotomy of ideas about chivalry,.
Chaucer also brings into question the religious views of his time through this.