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ENGL 221- Week 3 Notes

by: Shelby Flippen

ENGL 221- Week 3 Notes ENGL 221

Marketplace > Towson University > Foreign Language > ENGL 221 > ENGL 221 Week 3 Notes
Shelby Flippen

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About this Document

These notes cover The Canterbury Tales: The Wife of Bath's Prologue (cont. from prior notes) and The Wife of Bath's Tale.
British Literature to 1798
K. Attie
Class Notes
The Canterbury Tales, The Wife of Bath's Prologue, The Wife of Bath's Tale, chaucer
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This 3 page Class Notes was uploaded by Shelby Flippen on Tuesday February 16, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to ENGL 221 at Towson University taught by K. Attie in Summer 2015. Since its upload, it has received 20 views. For similar materials see British Literature to 1798 in Foreign Language at Towson University.


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Date Created: 02/16/16
The Canterbury Tales  1 .     General Theme:  Protestant Reformation ideals ahead of his time (Martin Luther) The Wife of Bath’s Prologue (continued)  1 .     Connection Between Marriage and Economics Diversification (of markets, men) Back­up plans for the future ­    Thinks that a mouse stupidly only has one hole to go into “I holde a mouses herte nought worth a leek / That hath but oon hole for to sterte  to,” (578­79).  2 .     Men Are from Mars and Women Are from Venus?  Balance: She embodies Mars and Venus (Heart is from Mars and Bodily desires are  from Venus) ­ “In feeling, and myn herte is Marcien: / Venus me yaf my lust, my likerousnesse”  (616­17) and “My chamber of Venus . . . Martes merk upon my face” (624­25).  Possessed traditionally­perceived masculine traits  desire for Sovereignty ­ NOT a man in a woman’s body ­ Ambitious, competitive, un­ladylike and unapologetic desire for control and  th dominance (sex and otherwise), outgoing, etc.  3.  5    Husband  Background ­ Age difference (she’s 40 while he’s 20) because she likes younger men ­ Met him at her 4  husband’s funeral (which, of course, is fine because he was a  philanderer)   Power Balance Changes ­ Initially shares assets with him (due to irrational attraction to him) a. He has power and doesn’t care about her desires, so he controls her: doesn’t  like her roaming around, etc. (640) b. Justification: University student (who can read Latin) has auctoritee  ­ Shift beings in an argument: a. She rips a page from his sexist book (Valerie and Theofraste), strikes him, he  strikes her back, she lays there and pretends to wants a kiss (but hits him  again) b.   Reciprocity: He gives her back the assets and will neither hit her nor make  sexist comments. In return, she is loving and faithful. (With power, women  want to please their husbands) 4. Male Narrator for Female Voice  Proto­ Feminist? Transcends beyond misogynistic literary female stereotypes  (mostly)  ­ Respect: through allowing the Lady of Bath to tell her tale uninterrupted mostly ­ BUT Unclear whether or not this taints or brings greater respect to proto­feminist  ideals   Meta­textuality: (reading about reading)  ­ Valerie and Theofraste  5 .     So… Proto­Feminist?  Articulates double standards regarding gender ­ Sex without having children (similar to male behavior) ­ Claims that sexual desires come from the stars (or something unconscious­ as men sometimes do) “By vertu of my constellacioun; / That made me I coude nought withdrawe” (622­ 23).  Discredits entire sexist tradition  (694­716) ­ Since men wrote so much literature, of course they wrote bad things about women ­ When they grow older and cannot perform sexually, they become bitter and write  horribly sexist things (713­14)  Equitable Behavior (expresses rift in Estate Satire) ­ Does not judge people based on rank, race, or wealth; she only cares if she is  sexually attracted to them (629­32)  BUT it’s unclear if she embodies sexist tradition ­ Desire for complete dominance over men (as opposed to desire for equity) as  opposed to realistic and lasting balance and therefore lasting control The Wife of Bath’s Tale  1 .     Meta­Narrative There used to be fairies, but the friars ran the fairies away with their begging  (spontaneous alteration of story)  Ovidian tale of Midas: why women cannot keep secrets ­    Midas’ wife was sworn to remain silent about Midas’ long ears, but she tells the  swamp. The long reeds hear and the ass’ ears and whisper them with the wind  (979­87). ­    Chaucer explains that if the reader wants to hear the rest of the tale, they should  read Ovid (81). 2. Transfer of Authority  Power from King  Queen to grant judgement in the case of a knight raping a virgin ­ The Knightly quest: 1 year and 1 day to find what women want most and his life  will be spared 3. Continuation of Proto­Feminism?  Woman in Ovidian tale of Midas ­ Not an ordinary woman (therefore ordinary women can keep secrets)  ­ Fictional/mythical/unrealistic   4 .     Parallels between Prologue and Tale  Both the Lady of Bath and old woman force demands on others: ­ Old woman forces marriage on the knight  ­ Lady of Bath forces her desires on her husbands   Desire equity ­ Old woman explains that rank and physical appearance don’t matter a. Low rank: Nobility can be seen through virtuous living (not inherited) and  Jesus was poor, but great b. Ugliness: No one will cheat on her  Desire sovereignty and will please husband in return ­ Old woman asks the man to choose whether he wants an ugly, but faithful wife or  a beautiful, but unfaithful wife  he lets her choose  he receives a beautiful and  faithful wife ­ Lady of Bath receives all of her assets and is loyal in return.


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