The Wife’s tale comes to an end as the old lady magically transforms into a fair maiden and the rapey knight’s wish comes true. In this arrangement as the hag puts it, “thannee have I gete of yow maistre,” (1237), reinforcing both the prologue and tale’s message of female authority. How do you interpret Chaucer’s use of the untraditional women as a protagonist? How would these values be received by both the clergy and state?
The use of the word flour and bran (Line 480-482) in relation to womanhood is displayed within the text. What does this mean and why do you think it is used as some sort of description of what has happened to the wife over time?
In the Wife of Bath’s Tale, Chaucer tells a traditional story of a knight sent on a quest for a year and a day to find what women desire the most in the world. However, there are several segments in this tale that differ drastically from the literary norms of the time. What are they? How do these differences in traditional storytelling affect the story’s message?
In the prologue of the Wife’s tale, our narrator tells of her experiences in multiple marriages. While she complains of her past husbands’ tendency to be possessive what trait of her fifth husband changes her traditional role as spouse? What impression do you take from her ensuing behavior (i.e reliability as a narrator, moral compass) as she describes her final husband? How does Chaucer offer an opportunity to scrutinize the institution of marriage by telling this story from the wife’s point of view?
What is the significance of the Wife of Bath using scripture to defend her scandalous views and actions to her fellow travelers? How accurate is the evidence she uses as her defense, and what do you think that says about what her character represents?
How did the marriages differentiate for the Wife of Bath’s fifth marriage compared to the first four? If she learned anything. What was the lesson?
Chaucer tells us a rather bawdy and low-minded tale in comparison to the Knight’s Tale or Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. How does he subvert our expectations and what are we supposed to learn from the Miller’s Tale, if anything at all?
John was pretty critical of Nicholas and of his studying astronomy. He even says at one point that “men sholde nat knowe of Goddes pryvetee” (346). However, John then goes on to fall for the trick that Nicholas pulls on him (all of which is based on Nicholas’ astronomical “discoveries”). Does John deserve what happens to him ultimately?
You’ll remember my appeal in class Tuesday for you to help the English Department hire a new Composition/Rhetoric specialist. So please, if you can, head over to the Student & Faculty Lounge (back of 26 Glebe Street, corner of Glebe and George Streets) on Wednesday, Friday and/or Monday between 2 and 3, to give our candidates a sense of what our students are like. We’ll have treats to make it even more worth your while!