The Canterbury Tales Essay

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In the following essay excerpt, Williams examines how the Wife of Bath wields her own version of experience and authority in telling her tale.

Whatever may be the interpretation she places on the "Miller's Tale," the Wife of Bath must have enjoyed it thoroughly. Her own prologue and tale are similar exercises in turning everything upside down, but with the Wife of Bath, Chaucer seems to be exploring similar questions under a different theme, a theme that the Wife herself identifies as experience and authority as alternative means of understanding the truth. In his important study Chaucerian Fiction, Robert Burlin has shown the central importance of this theme in all of Chaucer's work, but nowhere is it as explicitly addressed as in the "Wife of Bath's Tale": "She was preserved illiterate, allowed only the puny weapon of her own 'experience' to contend with an armory of masculine 'auctoritee'...

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This section contains 3,268 words
(approx. 9 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Canterbury Tales Study Guide
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Poetry for Students
The Canterbury Tales from Poetry for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.