THE WIFE OF BATH LITERARY CONTEXT

Jada Akuffo
Mind Map by Jada Akuffo, updated more than 1 year ago
Jada Akuffo
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Mind Map on THE WIFE OF BATH LITERARY CONTEXT, created by Jada Akuffo on 05/12/2015.

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THE WIFE OF BATH LITERARY CONTEXT
  1. Throughout his career his writings depended on his detailed knowledge of Latin, Italian and French literature.
    1. Troilus and Criseyde and The Knight’s Tale (among his most ambitious works) draw on and adapt Giovanni Boccaccio’s Italian verse romance Il Filostrato and his epic poem Teseida respectively.
      1. Boccaccio's 'The Decameron' - an undeniable influence (1341)
        1. Frame narrative -Ten narrators, who have withdrawn to the country to escape the plague in Florence, each tell ten tales.
        2. French Courtly Love
          1. Romaunt of the Rose - the narrator receives advice from the god of love on gaining his lady's favor. Her love being symbolized by a rose, he is unable to get to the rose. In the second fragment, the narrator is able to kiss the rose, but then the allegorical character Jealousy builds a fortress encircling it so that the narrator does not have access to it.
            1. 'Thou seyst men may nat kepe a castel wal,
 It may so longe assailled been overal'
              1. 'What wommen most desiren'
          2. Le Roman de la Rose - Guillaume de Lorris
            1. an immense allegorical poem about love. Most medieval writers read it - and Chaucer translated part of it. Jean’s continuation includes some misogynistic material, bolstered by references to St Jerome, which is a source of many of the remarks in Alysoun’s Prologue.
              1. The work's stated purpose is to both entertain and to teach others about the Art of Love. At various times in the poem, the "Rose" of the title is seen as the name of the lady, and as a symbol of female sexuality in general.
                1. 'For myn entente nys but for to pleye' but also aims to expose 'the wos in marriage'
                2. The female La vielle, also known as 'the bawd', who shows resemblance to the Wife. Like the Wife of Bath, La Vieille has been married numerous times, she knows the arts of manipulating men, and engages in a lengthy confessional revelation of her controlling techniques and avoiding the potential miseries of marriage.
                  1. Wife appears far less resentful and anti-penitential of her past experiences than La Vielle, whose arguments are undeniably anti-feminist
                    1. La Vielle 'Man's life is filled with miseries, Troubles, and ills, on every side, Induced by the insensate pride Of women'
                      1. Wife: Upon my yowthe, and on my jolitee...That I have had my world as in my tyme.
                  2. Other Canterbury Tales
                    1. The idea of an inner sequence of ‘Marriage Tales’ within Chaucer’s great narrative sequence was first popularized by G.L. Kittredge in 1912.
                      1. The Shipman’s Tale - a fabliau where a woman triumphantly deceives her husband – would seem ideal for the Wife, and most scholars think it originally intended to be hers.
                        1. The Merchant continues, speaking of his own woes in marriage and telling a tale about female deceptiveness and cunning.
                          1. The Franklin’s story, which winds up the so-called ‘Marriage Group’, and apparently ends the debate with a kind of synthesis, stresses mutuality in relationships in the ‘free spirit’ of chivalrous love: ‘Love wol nat ben constreyned by maistrye.’ During the course of the Tale the Franklin takes up and sophisticates a number of concepts familiar to the Wife: ‘maistrye’, ‘sovereynetee’, ‘trouthe’, ‘gentillesse’.
                            1. The Prioress, delicate, well- mannered, sensitive - rather finicky, perhaps, is an obvious counterpoint of Alysoun.
                          2. The 'Loathsome Lady' becoming beautiful
                            1. 'Florent' John Gower in his Confessio amantis. The differences between the two Tales are instructive. In Gower as in Chaucer the knight must answer a question about what women most desire - sovereignty again - and marry the old woman who gave him the life-saving answer.
                              1. As in most other ‘loathly lady’ tales, but not in Chaucer, the transformation is not dependent on the moral progress of the knight, who is, and remains an unrepentant killer: all that really matters is that he should prove his courtesy through demonstrative obedience. She offers him a choice of having her foul by day and fair by night or vice versa, not Chaucer’s more intriguing and surely more realist choice of on the one hand ‘foul’ and ‘trewe’, on the other fair and sought after by other men.
                                1. Chaucer’s fantasy gives the hag much more scope for her developing desires. She is not, like Gower’s Proserpina figure, forced to change nature as night shifts to day, but beautiful and ugly at will, and whenever she wants a change she can ring it. That, certainly, is very like the Wife of Bath!
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