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'Literature is not the forum for moralising'. In light of this view, consider the ways the writers present morals in 'The Rivals' and 'The Wife of Bath'

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Introduction

Lara ?The Rivals? ? ?The Wife of Bath? ?Literature is not the forum for moralising.? Consider how writers present morals Troubled by contemporary attitudes to morality, Chaucer and Sheridan effectively present their respective characters as reflecting the conflicting morals in their societies. With marriages and justice in the Medieval era and 18th Century alike being based on feudalism and maintaining honour; Chaucer and Sheridan use their works as a medium to condemn contemporary morals. Furthermore, the use of deception in both ?The Wife of Bath? and ?The Rivals? allows Chaucer and Sheridan to convey to their audiences that their morals have been manipulated and distorted by society. For this reason, these writers indeed use their works as a means to evaluate and explore contemporary morals. Predominantly, Chaucer and Sheridan attack the immoral and flawed attitudes towards marriage. The Wife?s generalisation of her husbands in her Prologue, ?Alle were worthy men in hir degree? relates directly to common Medieval attitudes regarding marriage. ...read more.

Middle

Following this rebellion, punishments became so severe that illegal hunting often resulted in being hung, drawn and quartered. However, it is plausible that by allowing the Knight to escape the death penalty, Chaucer (via the Wife) is representing his lack of support for the arguably inefficient justice system. This is complimented by critic Stone, who stresses that the Wife is ?A kind of special representative of Chaucer?, showing how Chaucer expresses his views, in this case regarding the morality of the justice system, via the Wife. Likewise, the justice system in ?The Rivals? is portrayed as immoral and ineffective. In the 18th Century, many disputes were settled via duelling, predominantly among the upper class. However, duelling was used to maintain a gentleman?s honour rather than enforce justice; representing it?s immoral and flawed nature. Sheridan presents the corrupt duelling via Bob Acres, ?Your honour follows you to the grave!?, with the use of the exclamation mark reiterating how it was genuinely believed at the time that duelling was a just and unbiased means of administering justice. ...read more.

Conclusion

By Chaucer presenting the Wife as dishonest, he is effectively able to comply with these stereotypes of women, while contradicting them by equally depicting her as a headstrong character. Overall, the presentation of deception allows the writers to condemn contemporary morals, notably the chauvinistic views regarding women. In conclusion, it cannot be denied that ?The Rivals? and ?The Wife of Bath? are mediums by which Sheridan and Chaucer evaluate contemporary morals respectively. Although Medieval and Georgian societies were centred very much so around feudalism and financial profit, as conveyed by marriage arrangements and the justice system; the writers attempt to illustrate that immorality has overshadowed any opportunity for love or justice to exist. Additionally, the obvious deception among the characters, although arguably intended for comical purposes; rather reflects how morals have been ignored to such an extent that characters are even willing to conceal the truth from their loved ones. Therefore, instead of a ?forum for moralising?, ?The Rivals? and ?The Wife of Bath? appear more as a plea from Sheridan and Chaucer to lay wealth and honour to one side and allow love, justice and morality to ensue. ...read more.

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