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Comparison between The Prioress and Wife of Bath

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The Canterbury Tales is exactly what its title states. It's a tale about a group of men and women, some devout Christians, some corrupted to the core, who depart on a pilgrimage to Canterbury, under the guidance of the Host of the Tabard Inn.In The General Prologue, Chaucer introduces each of the twenty-nine characters of The Canterbury Tales. Within this group, there are two women that draw particular attention. The first woman is a Prioress and second is the "Wife from beside Bath" who is partially deaf. The Prioress, being the head of a convent, is a religious woman and, apart from her accompanying nun, the wife of bath is the only other female pilgrim. Although these women might have similarities that are evident in the story, deeper down, the Wife of Bath and the Nun's Prioress are two completely different characters. The prioress and wife of bath belong to two different social classes. They represent two extremes of life, one that is totally religious and other totally worldly. The Prioress belongs to the withdrawn life of prayer and god, vowed to poverty and chastity and indifferent to the vanities of the world. ...read more.


She follows her feelings, which are unbridled and have taken her through five marriages and three pilgrimages. The Wife of Bath?s impulses are as overwhelmingly physical as the hips which set her firmly on her horse or as the ten-pound cover chiefs which she wears on Sundays. The references to her hips, legss?none of which the Prioress appears to possess?and the admission that the Wife is ?gap-toothed? emphasizes the physical nature of the woman. She has a passion for sovereignty and is always a potential record-breaker, in the number of marriages and love affairs. She knows the art and also the remedies of love. She boasts of no bad manners and has few social pretensions supposedly. However, the Prioress pays attentions on her appearance so much, that a nun usually has a simple outlook. However, for the Prioress, she wears green coral rosary which hung a lovely golden brooch, that opposed the expectation of simple lifestyle. "Her nose well-shaped; her eyes bright as glass; her mouth very small, and soft and red: and indeed she had a fine forehead." ...read more.


The Prioress is foolishly sentimental, "She was so charitable and pitous / She wolde wepe, if that she saugh a mous /Knaught in a trappe." But all her sentiments are for animals only, she don?t cares for men as ordered by the God and Charist, The Wife of Bath is more lively, she can sit with other men and can talk and laugh, she cares only for herself. ?Hir hosen weren of fyn scarlet reed, Ful streite yteyd, and shoes ful moyste and newe. Boold was hir face, and fair, and reed of hewe. She was a worthy womman al hir lyve: Housbondes at chirche dore she hadde five? (459-462). We can conclude that both women were "by no means under grown"; the Prioress having a "forehead... fair of spread" and the Wife of Bath with "large hips" and "a hat broad as is a buckler or a shield". Both represent their respective class finely. We can say that although the Prioress as well as the Wife of Bath both respects God, although the Wife does it on a much lesser degree but both are doing what they should not do and avoiding what they should do. ...read more.

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