The Wife Of Bath's Tale Essay

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Messages in The Clerks Tale Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales is a collection of many stories with a single thread tying the narratives together. One of these tales, “The Clerks Tale” is interesting, in part for its ambiguity. Though The Wife of Bath has a very obvious moral at the end of her tale, give power over to your wives and you shall be rewarded with obedience, the Clerk’s moral is a little bit muddier. His tale is about a young woman who is incredibly faithful and obedient to her husband, and suffers greatly at his hand for it. I believe that this dichotomy comes from the fact that the tale is telling us one moral, while the clerk himself, is telling another. While the story is telling women to submit to their husbands, the clerk seems to be…show more content…
Ne suffreth nat that men yow doon offense, And sklendre wyves, fieble as in bataille, Beth egre as is a tygre yond in Ynde, 1200 Ay clappeth as a mille, I yow consaille. (The Clerks Tale 1195-1200) While the narrator is trying to convince women to submit to their husbands and behave like Griselda, the Clerk is telling a cautionary tale. He is trying to convince them that they should stay strong and not bow before their husbands. He tells the strong women to stay strong against their husbands and the slender weaker women to be like tigers. The narrator is trying to convince women to submit while the Clerk is trying to empower them. The moral of the story is hard to get at, it seems confused and muddy. But the reason the moral is so difficult, is because we have two different morals being told by two different narrators, they just happen to be using the same voice. In a sense, the story has two conflicting morals, because both narrators are given a chance to state their intent. As such it seems almost as if the Clerk is going back on what he had just said, but truly the clerk did not say it, the narrator did, he just said it through the

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