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The Role Of Aggression In The Canterbury Tales

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Part of the reason why The Canterbury Tales as a collection is so memorable is because of its dramatic nature. Some tales create drama through their plots, others create drama through various interjections and responses, and some create drama through their build up. Specifically, in regards to “The Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale”, the drama stems from the Wife of Bath as a character, and not as much from the tale itself. As a character, it is obvious that the Wife of Bath is a fierce woman with an I-don’t-give-a-shit type of attitude. She does what she wants and knows how to get her way: “And have this tribulacioun withal upon his flessh, whyl that I am his wyf. I have the power duringe al my lyf upon his proper body, and nought he.” (Chaucer …show more content…
This concept is shown at the very beginning of the cartoon, when the Friar and the Summoner are arguing (BBC 0:35). Their fight is depicted as immaturity—not aggressiveness—and is quickly mocked by the host and broken up by the Wife of Bath (BBC 1:01). The Wife of Bath begins her tale afterwards, and visuals appear of an overly aggressive Queen threatening the knight (BBC 2:03). The knight’s rape scene is briefly shown prior to that (BBC 1:32), however when comparing the length of the actual rape scene to the scene of the Queen and the knight, the aggression stemming from the female character is emphasized over the aggression stemming from the male character. The Queen violently threatens the knight with an axe, swinging it around the knight to make him think he is about to be killed (BBC 2:03)—she even forcibly knocks off his helmet with her axe (BBC 2:06). The knight is much less aggressive when compared to the queen—he is shaking and begging for life (BBC 2:17)—which unfairly emanates the idea that the Queen is the one in the wrong. This theme of playing the knight off as a victim continues throughout the cartoon: when he is lost and searching for the correct answer, when he finds out he must marry the wife (BBC 4:39), how depressed he is from being hidden away with his wife when she is old and ugly, and so on. This depiction of the knight distressed, compared to the aggressiveness of both the Queen and his wife when she forces him to marry her, negatively and incorrectly shows the message that the Wife of Bath depicts in Chaucer’s collection. It paints the knight as the victim and the women in the tales as the ones at fault, which undermines the entire purpose of the Wife of Bath’s story and personal

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