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Reading Response:The Wife of Bath, The Wife of Bath Prologue, and The General Prologue

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Introduction

Reading Response: The Wife of Bath, The Wife of Bath Prologue, and The General Prologue By Geoffrey Chaucer These selections from The Canterbury Tales best exemplify the ideals and traits of women (as portrayed by Chaucer). In, The Wife of Bath Prologue, the narrator brags of her sexual exploits as well as her prowess of controlling men. The narrator is quite forthright in her enjoyment of this manipulation; she comments on her technique of lying and predomination of men. The General Prologue further serves to display the daunting traits of women. The narrator makes several stabs at a woman's appearance; and the overall effect is one of distaste and inadequacy. The tale itself, The Wife of Bath, embodies the characteristics of the two previous selections; by fermenting a character that is both cynical towards men and symbolizes superficiality. The first selection, The General Prologue, offers the reader a glimpse into the theme and tone of the entire Tale. In this segment of the story, the author appropriates the fabliau genre. This style of composition relies on a bawdy, suggestive sense of comedy to communicate its message. ...read more.

Middle

The selection utilizes exemplum to properly impart this experience. This form is a short story which is embedded into a longer sermon to make a point. The selection is in fact a short story concerning a abhorrent woman, and reinforces the Tale (the sermon), by displaying the pitfalls of post-marriage affairs, and how imprudence is looked down upon. An excellent example of this theme is the inclusion of the wife's many different marriages. The author advertises multiple marriages as unhappy, and full of distrust and superficiality. The wife is constantly lying to her current husband, in a attempt to either garner money or a personal well-being. She accomplishes her sadistic desire for "well-being" by tormenting the husband with threats of infidelity and chastisement. She uses this is great effect to attain what she wants. The subjects of this selection goes further than the previous' mere observations, by displaying them in an uncouth manner. The reader sees the terrible consequences of multiple marriages and the insane women that populate them. The actual Tale, The Wife of Bath, displays a fairy tale transformation from ugliness to beauty. ...read more.

Conclusion

The hag transforms from a wretched troll-beast into a lovely damsel (the kind that the knight meets in corn fields). These transformations merely contribute to the air of superficiality throughout the tale. The knight changes his will and nature on the condition of his new "loyalty" to his new cleft-lipped sweetheart; he is merely bending his will to fit her own. The hatchet-faced enchantress' transformation is simply skin-deep; she is still a manipulative warlock underneath. The themes of the three different selections closely mirror each other to convey a similar tone. The tone is one of disdain and mistrust towards women. The General Prologue accomplishes this by way of chide remarks towards a woman. The Wife's Prologue displays the unfortunate consequences of multiple marriages, and the women that go along with them. Finally, the tale of the Wife of Bath culminates by showing a fantastical quest that culminates with a superficial and manipulating ending. Thus, the three readings are fairly similar in their message; which is that women want to domineer men, and will use any method to do so. The stories use different methods to convey this, but still end up at the same conclusion. IB English 2 October 19.2004 ...read more.

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