Romance and Reality in The Canterbury Tales
By: Samantha Brownell
The Canterbury Tales, by Geoffrey Chaucer, is a novel written in Middle English. It is about a group of people that are on a pilgrimage and decide to have a story-telling contest. Romance and relationships are a common topic in the tales that are told. Some of the tales are told to make a point, but others are told to just send a message about relationships or life. In The Wife of Bath’s Tale and The Merchant’s Tale the idea of love and romance is shown to overcast the reality of situations, but in The Franklin’s Tale reality overcomes romance.
The Wife of Bath’s prologue and tale seem to have little romance. The idea of love and romance in both revolves around women and how they should dominate the marriage. The Wife of Bath first starts off by a long prologue about herself. She tells the audience how she has had five husbands and hints that is not counting the men she has fooled around with and did not marry. She tells the people all about how she dominated her marriages and could manipulate her husbands to get what she wanted. Her prologue shows that she has had little romance in her past life. “They loved me so well, by God above, that I didn’t prize their love! A wise woman will concentrate on getting that love which she doesn’t possess.” (The Wife of Bath’s Tale, 207-210). Her first three husbands were rich and old and they let her dominate the relationship; but she did not love them. The prologue shows the Wife of Bath truthfully. We see the real wife of bath and her opinions on life and how she lives it. The prologue is the Wife of Bath’s reality, but her tale is more what she wants out of life; Her romanticized wish for her life and relationships. She wants to live in a life where it is understood that women all want to be dominant and are dominant in marriage. The quest the knight goes on is to find out the queen’s answer to what women most desire. After a long quest the knight finds...