Canterbury Tales Essay, Research Paper
Throughout an author’s literature, many times we find common themes; this is definitely true in Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. In the literary work, the reader can find common themes through many of the tales. In the Wife of Bath tale, The Miller’s tale, and the Pardoner’s tale, it is easy to see that one of the main themes through the book is that women are the downfall of men. Although this may not have been Chaucer’s personal feeling, he gives ample proof to prove this statement through his characters and their stories.
In the prologue and tale of The Wife of Bath, the reader begins to see the main theme in Chaucer’s work. In the wife of bath’s prologue, she tells a story about a night when she and one of her husbands spent a night at home. In her telling of the story, she begins to tell that nightly, her husband would read to her from a book full of misogynistic material. On this particular night, the Wife of Bath was subjected to more of this book, and the reader is told of how the book explains that women are men’s downfall. The book sights many examples; one being the story of Adam and eve. In this book the author states that eve was the one who led Adam into o temptation; therefore making her his downfall, or the thing that lead to his later catastrophic problems. The wife of bath further illustrates that women are men’s downfall as she continues her story. She explains to the other travelers that this book angered and enraged her so much on that particular night that she struck her husband. Causing him to retaliate and strike her back in a fit of rage. When the wife of bathe explains these facts to her fellow travelers, she shows the reader that she, a woman, caused the downfall of usually caring and loving husband’s character. The information given in the wife of bath section of the story is substantiated throughout the rest of the work.
The miller’s tale is another that supports the theme. The miller ‘s tale speaks of a man who is totally devoted to a beautiful and equally unfaithful wife. In the tale this beautiful woman is having an affair with a friend of her husband. In an attempt to get some time to be intimate with her lover, the woman and her lover orchestrate a plan to get the husband to go away. The woman and her lover tell her devoted and gullible husband that there will be a flood equaling that of Noah, and he must go to the roof, and make boats to save them. In a heartfelt attempt to save his wife, with whom he is totally in love, the husband goes to the roof and makes the boats as he was instructed; this action subsequently leads to his death. Again, the actions of an unfaithful wife lead to the unfortunate death of an innocently devoted man.
In a third tale, the reading audience is able to see why women are the downfall of men. In the tale of the Pardoner, a male traveler, the characters in his tale give examples as to why women are the downfall of men. The characters speak of the age-old example of Adam and eve. They explain how if it weren’t for eve, Adam would have avoided the predicaments he was placed in.
Even though Chaucer may not have believed it, one of the prominent themes in his literary work was the idea that women are the downfall of men. It is possible that Chaucer used his tales and book as mirrors of the times in which they were written; in that case, the fact that the theme is present in the book accounts for an obvious presence in society of the time.