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Table of Contents
The Wife of Bath is another tale developed by Chaucer. The main character tries to establish her authority on her marriage. Since the age of twelve, she had been married five times. Chaucer states that the wife of Bath uses her experience on marriage to justify her actions. Despite the fact that the character is highly criticized for her actions, she plays a great role in making the tale more interesting (Pearsall, 364). Through the tale of The Wife of Bath, Chaucer is able to satirically reflect the dominance of men by women. During the Medieval Age, women were highly oppressed by their husband. They did not have any room for making their own decisions either. They were forced into marriage at a tender age, something that culminated in ignorance and continued dominance by men. Contrary to other characters in other tales, the Wife of Bath does not represent any social class but represents women in the Medieval Age under the power of their husbands.
Chaucer’s use of satire in describing various conditions in his Canterbury Tales was latgely adopted by future satirists. This is evident from the fact that various scholars have come up with narratives in which they tried to describe the condition of the people, especially those vested with authority (Rubin, 23). During the time of Chaucer, the rulers belonged to the aristocratic class who owned the means of production and highly oppressed their subjects who were mere peasants. This phenomenon is evident even in our contemporary system of governance wherbye those in authority use their power and influence to oppress the poor. As a result, the poor continue getting poorer while the rich continue getting richer. Bribery and corruption is the order of the day for most societies today (Thompson, 45). Corruption is evident in every societal structure from the lower class to the upper class. People vested with authority use their power to extract money from the public. Thus, various narratives and book were written by various scholars, such as Karl Max, criticizing the relationship between various societal classes.
Chaucer also brings the idea of the company. The company was made up of various societal pilgrims and was formed as a leveling concept by the peasantry class or the working class. This gave them a more cohesive power to form alliances in order to withstand the tyranny and power of the nobles. The pilgrims that formed the company included the church, villages and feudal manor system (Collette, 78). These groups represented the society and tried to negotiate for their wellfare. None of their members belonged to the noble class. The company was unified through their job, food as well as the kind of drinks provided by their hosts. The majority of these events were taken as stories that brought the members together. This is the same case in the modern society where people form unions to voice their views as a group, as well as fight for their rights.
Throughout The Canterbury Tales, Chaucer uses characters that represent certain segments of the members of the society. Most characters are developed in respect to their social class. For example, Knight is depicted as a noble man, from the upper class; Miller is depicted as a peasant from the middle class, while Pardoner is portrayed as a clergyman from the theocratic class. Thus, through his characterization, Chaucer expresses various societal vices, such as corruption, dishonest, immorality and love. Therefore, the characters reflect what is happening in their life, values and belief systems. Chaucer uses aspects of humor, love and death to describe his subject in their class structure. Moreover, he is able to vividly describe all the social classes that existed at the time.