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The Wife of Bath
The Wife of Bath: An Illusion of Reality When one thinks of marriage, the most common ideal is equality of control among man and woman. Chaucer incorporates two opposing viewpoints on marriage in The Canterbury Tales. The Wife of Bath^s tale, in which she says that one spouse, preferably the wife, must have mastery over the other. On the other hand, The Franklin^s tale disapproves of the Wife of Bath^s philosophy by saying that equality and trust are essential in holding a marriage together as expressed here: .... And to enhance the bliss of both of their lives. He freely gave his promise as a knight that he would never darken her delight by exercising his authority against her will or showing jealousy but would obey her in all with simple trust as any lover of a lady must... (427) Now, the question is, ^ Can the typical reader find the Wife of Bath a trustworthy person. David Parker, a literary critic, believes that The Wife of Bath ^Should not be fully trusted,^ due to the contradictory things she said about her relationships with her five husbands in her prologue. With the first three husbands, the Wife was happy because she was married to wealthy men, but was unhappy because they were old and could not fulfill her sexual desires. On the other hand, with her last two husbands, the Wife got her sexual desires fulfilled, but there^s a huge question mark about her mastery of her younger husbands. Her relationship with her fifth, and last husband, is a prime example of this contradiction. When John, her fifth husband, hit her it was apparent to the reader, and to me, that she wasn^t in the very blissful marriage as seen here ...Then like a maddened lion, with a yell he started up and smote me on the head and down I fell upon the floor for dead. And when he saw how motionless I lay he was aghast and would have flown away, but in the end, I started coming to.... (297) Here, it^s evident to me that the Wife was very submissive in this marriage and that her husband is the one who shows the mastery. What didn^t surprise me at the end of her prologue was the fact that everything was sweet and rosy and that nothing else could go wrong in the marriage: ... We had a mort of trouble and heavy weather but in the end made it up together. He gave me the bridle over to my hand. Gave me government of house and land, of tongue and fist, indeed of all he got. I made him burn the book on the spot. And when I^d mastered him, and out of deadlock and when he said, ^ My own and truest wife, Do as you please for the rest of your life, but guard your honor and my good

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