Attitudes Toward Marriage in Chaucer's the Canterbury Tales

1477 WordsOct 8, 19996 Pages
Attitudes Toward Marriage in Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales demonstrate many different attitudes toward and perceptions of marriage. Some of these ideas are very traditional, such as that discussed in the Franklin's Tale, and others are more liberal such as the marriages portrayed in the Miller's and the Wife of Bath's Tales. While several of these tales are rather comical, they do indeed give us a representation of the attitudes toward marriage at that time in history. D.W. Robertson, Jr. calls marriage "the solution to the problem of love, the force which directs the will which is in turn the source of moral action" (Andrew, 88). Marriage in Chaucer's time meant a union between spirit and flesh and…show more content…
The Franklin suggests a marriage of equality, a marriage where the laws of courtesy rule (Huppe, 167). The knight in the Franklin's Tale promised his wife that he would never try to dominate her or show any form of jealousy, and at the same time he would obey any command she gave him (Lines 745-750): Of his free wil he swoor hire as a knight That nevere in al his lif he day ne night Ne sholde upon hime take no maistrye Again hir wil, ne kithe hire jalousye, But hire obeye and folwe hir wil in al, As any lovere to his lady shal-- Arveragus' and Dorigen's love and respect for each other is apparent at many times throughout the course of the tale. Dorigen reciprocates his vow to her in lines 753-760 of the Franklin's Tale: She thanked hym, and with ful greet humblesse She seyde, "Sire, sith of youre gentilesse Ye profre me to have so large a reyne, Ne wolde nevere God bitwixe us tweyne, As in my gilt, were outher werre or strif. Sire, I wol be your humble, trewe wyf, Have heer my trouthe, til that myn herte breste." Thus been they bothe in quiete and in reste. The Franklin goes on to describe the blissful happiness between Arveragus and Dorigen and goes as far as to say that married couples share a happiness that someone who isn't married couldn't appreciate or measure. This occurs in lines 803-5 of the Franklin's Tale: Who koude telle, but he hadde wedded be, The joye, the ese, and the prosperitee
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