Essay, Research Paper: Canterbury Takes And Society

Literature: Geoffrey Chaucer

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The Canterbury Tales presents a picture of the society in which the author
lived. The pilgrim’s tales reflect the changing views held by society at that
time. The pilgrims must tell their tales to and from the shrine. The criteria to
choose the winner are that the tale be instructive and amusing, “Tales of best
sentence and most solas (38).” The tale that wins must teach a lesson and be
entertaining at the same time. The tale of “The Wife of Bath” would have won
the contest for these reasons. The tale is entertaining and there is a lesson to
be learned in the end. The tale told by the Wife of Bath is an entertaining
tale. The entertainment comes at the beginning of the tale. In Medieval Times,
the stories that were told about knights usually involved the knight having an
adventure or going on a quest. In the tale, the Knight is sent on a quest by the
queen to find the answer to her question of what women desire most. The Wife of
Bath describes the Knight’s quest for the answer to this question. It appears
that he has failed in his quest until he meets the lady in the woods. She gives
him the answer that he is seeking. The listener is pleased by this and the
listener is even more pleased by the request that the old woman has for the
Knight. This part of the tale would keep a listener listening to the speaker.
The listener would want to know what happens next. The lesson of the tale comes
in the latter stages of the story. The trust that exists between a married man
and woman is the lesson that is brought out in the tale. The Knight is very
upset about the appearance of the woman. She is not the person that he wants to
spend the rest of his life with. The woman says that if she were beautiful, he
would have to worry about other men trying to tempt her away from her husband.
But if she remains old and ugly, she will be faithful and he will never have to
worry that she will cheat on him. The old woman puts the choices to him in this
way. The Knight puts his trust in her. He wants her to do what will make her
happy. Trust is the lesson that comes forth in the second part of the tale. The
Tale of the Wife of Bath holds entertainment as well as educational value. The
Knight’s quest for the answer and the woman’s request of the Knight keep the
audience into the tale. The audience is also made aware of the lessons of the
story for married people. These characteristics would have helped the Wife of
Bath’s tale to win the contest.
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