Sex in The Canterbury Tales Essays

Sex in The Canterbury Tales Essays

Length: 940 words (2.7 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Better Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Geoffrey Chaucer uses sex as a manipulative instrument in The Canterbury Tales.
Portraying sex as a power that women exert over men rather than the marital bond of “making
love” makes evident Chaucer’s skewed views of love and marriage with underlying tones of misogyny. He expresses these views throughout the work, however, the theme of love and sex is most evident in the sub-stories of The Wife of Bath and The Miller’s Tale.
Chaucer breaks the topic of sex into two basic parts: carnality and romanticism. Although carnal love is a controversial topic, Chaucer dives into the subject by creating characters with ferocious appetites for sex and the means to accommodate their desires. Whereas, to address romanticism, he relies heavily on courtship and the introduction of relationships that are means of satisfying ones carnal desires or simply to accommodate one’s natural desire for power over others.
The Wife of Bath introduces sex as nothing but a carnal need and as a constant struggle to gain the “upper hand” as well as material items. Most of this tale’s roots are located in the prologue where the wife discusses her personal sexual exploits with her previous five husbands. Chaucer presents an internal conflict when the wife momentarily questions the moral implications that being married five times casts on her. Her conflict ends with the comparison of herself to men of the Bible, “A holy man was Abraham, I know, And Jacob, too, as far as they may go”, then telling of their circumstances as presented by the Bible, “Yet each with more than two wives come to dwell” (Chaucer). The wife presents her view on the roll of sex in relationships subtly at first in ways such as referring to male genitals as a “hanging purse”, indicating her u...

... middle of paper ...

...both a material object and a comedy, decreasing its seriousness and ultimately decreasing the repercussions for degrading the unspoken rules of it as an institution.

Works Cited

Aers, David. "Chaucer: Sex, Love and Marriage." Chaucer, Langland, and the Creative Imagination. Boston: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1980. 144-73. Print.
Bloom, Harold, and Blake Hobby, eds. Human Sexuality. New York: Bloom's Literary Criticism, 2009. Print.
Brewer, Derek B. "The Miller's Tale." N.d. Bloom's Literary Reference Online. Web. 15 Dec. 2013. .
Chaucer, Geoffrey. The Canterbury Tales. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Classiclit. Web. 16 Dec. 2013. .
Miller, Mark. Philosophical Chaucer: Sex, Love, and Agency in the Canterbury Tales. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2004. Print.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

The Canterbury Tales Essay

- In The Canterbury Tales, written by Geoffrey Chaucer, the stereotypes and roles in society are reexamined and made new through the characters in the book. Chaucer discusses different stereotypes and separates his characters from the social norm by giving them highly ironic and/or unusual characteristics. Specifically, in the stories of The Wife of Bath and The Miller’s Tale, Chaucer examines stereotypes of women and men and attempts to define their basic wants and needs. In the Miller’s Tale, the story tells of a carpenter and his wife, Allison and how she is pursued by multiple men....   [tags: The Canterbury Tales Essays]

Better Essays
842 words (2.4 pages)

The Canterbury Tales By Geoffrey Chaucer Essay

- ... Chaucer characterizes the individuals both directly and indirectly, giving the reader both the idea and the chance to figure out how each character lives and makes it through their life. Geoffrey Chaucer sets up the "General Prologue" with a basic rhyme scheme and phrase structure. He sets up his poem as a narrative story by introducing characters. The basic structure of the lines themselves run in a simple rhyming pattern. That rhyming pattern can be described as "aa bb cc dd ee..." and so on throughout the entire selection....   [tags: The Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer]

Better Essays
1175 words (3.4 pages)

The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer Essay

- The Canterbury Tales is a set of stories written by Geoffrey Chaucer in the fourteenth century. The stories were told by a group of pilgrims traveling to Canterbury Cathedral, in hopes to see a shrine of Saint Thomas Becket. To make time go by the host recommended each pilgrim tell a tale. The tale that each character gives, reveals that person’s background and life. Some pilgrims matched their stereotype of that time but most do not. The Prioress, Madame Eglentyne, and Wife of Bath, Allison, are two characters that do not fit their stereotype of the Middle Ages....   [tags: The Canterbury Tales Essays]

Better Essays
1118 words (3.2 pages)

The General Prologue Of The Canterbury Tales Essay

- ... The Friar represents the corrupt system that the church has overlooked. The Friar’s role in the church is to go around areas and forgive people 's sins for a small amount of money. The problem is that money does not go to the church. The money goes straight into The Friars pocket. Friars are supposed to be poor and are allowed to beg ,but their way of earning a living was through accepting money in exchange for forgiveness. Other than his occupation, The Friar was far from a righteous man who is just....   [tags: Monk, The Canterbury Tales, Religion, Faith]

Better Essays
1141 words (3.3 pages)

Essay Literary Analysis : The Canterbury Tales And The Decameron

- ... After searching and searching for the answer, the knight begins to lose hope. Luckily along the way, he sees an old women, and decides to ask her the question. The lady is willing to help him but wants a favor in return. Once, the knight gets back to the court, he explains that the answer to his quest was that all women want power and control over their husbands. Because that was the right answer, the knight was spared his life. However, the knight still had to return the favor of the old ugly women....   [tags: The Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer]

Better Essays
1126 words (3.2 pages)

Women in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales Essay

- The only two women most significant and described in great detail in The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer who provide the greatest insight into contemporary medieval society are the Wife of Bath and the Prioress. These two women appear similar in the General Prologue of the poem but, as we see through their tales, they are quite unique women and most importantly very different from one another. By examining both the Wife of Bath and the Prioress's tales, we are able to see the stark contrast between their social standards and behavior....   [tags: The Canterbury Tales Essays]

Better Essays
900 words (2.6 pages)

Essay on An Analysis of Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales

- An Analysis of Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer is a collection of stories that are recited by different pilgrims who are on their way to St. Thomas's tomb in Canterbury. On their way they decide to hold a contest that would judge the best tale out of the ones recited by the different characters. The tales help the characters pass the time and entertain themselves. The different characters are from different walks of life and have very different personalities....   [tags: The Canterbury Tales Essays]

Free Essays
1590 words (4.5 pages)

Chaucer's Canterbury Tales and Enrique Iglesias Essay examples

- The Canterbury Tales and Enrique Iglesias In Chaucer's epic poem, The Canterbury Tales, you get a real taste of different kinds of people of the Middle Ages. The Canterbury Tales are stories told by different characters to pass the time on the way to their destination. The character of the Squire, who is approximately twenty years old, and the son of a knight, is of average height, strong, agile, can read and write, and likes to impress the ladies by singing and dancing. Enrique Iglesias, a Latin Pop star, is much like the Squire in numerous ways....   [tags: Canterbury Tales Essays]

Free Essays
581 words (1.7 pages)

Essay about Summary and Analysis of The Shipman's Tale (The Canterbury Tales)

- Summary and Analysis of The Shipman's Tale (The Canterbury Tales) Introduction to the Shipman's Tale: The Host asks the priest to tell a tale, but the Shipman interrupts, insisting that he will tell the next tale. He says that he will not tell a tale of physics or law or philosophy, but rather a more modest story. The Shipman's Tale: A merchant at St. Denis foolishly took a desirable woman for a wife who drained his income by demanding clothes and other fine array to make her appear even more beautiful....   [tags: Canterbury Tales Analysis Essays]

Better Essays
944 words (2.7 pages)

The Canterbury Essay

- The Canterbury The Canterbury Tales begins with the introduction of each of the pilgrims making their journey to Canterbury to the shrine of Thomas a Becket. These pilgrims include a Knight, his son the Squire, the Knight's Yeoman, a Prioress, a Second Nun, a Monk, a Friar, a Merchant, a Clerk, a Man of Law, a Franklin, a Weaver, a Dyer, a Carpenter, a Tapestry-Maker, a Haberdasher, a Cook, a Shipman, a Physician, a Parson, a Miller, a Manciple, a Reeve, a Summoner, a Pardoner, the Wife of Bath, and Chaucer himself....   [tags: Canterbury Tales Literature Essays]

Better Essays
3507 words (10 pages)