Hope you’ve all had a good weekend and got a lot done in class Friday.
Just a recap of the assignment that’s due tomorrow:
General Prologue: This is the “introduction” to your group and each of the characters on your pilgrimage. It’s written in third person and explains where your destination is and who each of you are. You each should have 8-10 lines about who you are (written in 3rd person narration) and that describes your physical attributes and place in society.
Prologue to your tale: This is where you talk about yourself/character in 1st person. You set up a societal problem or moral issue (“greed is bad” or “don’t be a glutton” for example) and discuss how that relates to your character. Use the seven deadly sins for inspiration if you’re stuck on this. this is also 8-10 lines in aabbccddeeff rhyme scheme.
Your tale: this is again in 3rd person and is a story that exemplifies (remember the word “exemplum”?) the issue you brought up in your character’s prologue. The pardoner uses the story about the three thieves to show how greed kills. The wife of bath uses the story do the knight to show that women want sovereignty. The cleric uses Walter and Griselda to warn about subservience without reason. What characters can you use to show your moral issue? One route to go would be to write an allegorical tale about a societal,problem, like we saw with the Dr. Seuss books. This should be around 20 lines or so, aabbccddeeff.
Email all your stuff to your group leader today to have them format it and then send it to me as a whole. Group leader: email me tonight even if you’re missing some work so I can print it all off tomorrow morning and have it ready for class.
Now that we know all about the Wife of Bath’s views on marriage, sex and social roles in the 1300s, it’s time to read the Wife of Bath’s tale. (Here’s a link if you don’t have your book.) I have two questions for you. Post your answers in the comments.
- Does this story have a happy ending? (Yes, this question is intentionally vague.)
- Is this a feminist story?
This is not a simple question. For example, is this a happy ending for the 1300s but not for today? Or vice versa? As always, use evidence from the text.
If you’re looking for more information, here’s what the introduction of the books says about Chaucer’s own ideas about love and marriage:
[In 1367] it was not in fashion to write poems to one’s wife. It could even be debated whether love could ever have a place in marriage; the typical situation in which a ‘courtly lover’ found himself was to be plunged in a secret, an illicit, and even adulterous passion for some seemingly unattainable and pedestalized lady. Before his mistress a lover was prostrate, wounded to death by her beauty, killed by her disdain, obliged to an illimitable constancy, marked out for her dangerous service. A smile from her was in theory a gracious reward for twenty years of painful adoration. All Chaucer’s heroes regard love when it comes upon them as the most beautiful of absolute disasters, an agony as much desired as bemoaned, ever to be pursued, never to be destroyed.
This was not in theory the attitude of a husband to his wife. It was for a husband to command, for a wife to obey…Chaucer thought that love and marriage were perhaps compatible after all, provided that the lover remained his wife’s ‘servant’ after marriage, in private at least. If we read the Wife of Bath’s Prologue we shall see that she thought little of wives that did not master their husbands. (12)
For tomorrow just make sure you’re ready to present your small section of the Wife of Bath’s prologue. You should be able to explain to a summary of your section — in other words, what she is talking about — and explain the allusions she makes in your section. Show us how these illusions illustrate the Wife of Bath’s views on marriage and sex. Don’t post anything tonight. We’ll do all of this in class tomorrow.
Nice work in class today, seniors. You’ve eliminated 35 pages of Chaucer from your homework!
All that’s left for you to do for Thursday is to look over the story of Job (pronounce the “o” like “oh”) (here’s the text for those of you don’t have it Walter Griselda Job) and read the end of the Tale, also known as Chaucer’s envoy. Keep in mind that the speaker here (line 1142 until the end) is Chaucer himself speaking, not the Clerk.
In the comments, address the following:
-What is the allegory in the Clerk’s Tale? In other words, how is Walter and Griselda’s story allegorical to the story of Job?
-What is radical about Chaucer’s envoy? Why is this a pretty major piece of writing about women from the 1300s?
We’ve met the Pardoner and he’s admitted his own hypocrisy and sketchiness to the group. After reading his tale (the sermon and exemplum), how can you connect the ideas we’ve discussed in class to this guy and his story.
Basically, think of it like this:
At the of his story the Pardoner goes back into “seller” mode. What’s ironic about the Pardoner telling this story, and how could this story work as Chaucer satirizing the church/society of the middle ages?
Tonight/Wednesday night, take a look at the article from the Worcester Phoenix (The strange case of Audrey Santo) and compare it to the ideas in the Pardoner’s Prologue. (If you don’t have your book with you here’s a link to his prologue.
In a comment on this post address the following questions:
- Read through the Pardoner’s Prologue (not the tale). Where do you see evidence of the time period/context influencing what the Pardoner tells the group on this pilgrimage? Do you see any examples of irony or even hypocrisy in his comments?
- Compare/contrast the Santo family and the Pardoner. Does the Latin phrase “Radix malorum est cupiditas” apply to both the Pardoner and the Santo family?
As always, cite evidence from the text: (Chaucer p.#), (Barry p.#)