The Prioress vs. the Wife of Bath

2297 Words Dec 18th, 2006 10 Pages
In Geoffrey Chaucer's, The Canterbury Tales, Chaucer narrates the accounts of several pilgrims on their way to visit the shrine of St. Thomas Becket at the Cathedral in Canterbury. Through his narratives, Chaucer presents his audience with a broad representation of life and social class interaction in both the pilgrims and the characters in their tales. Chaucer brings to light various ideas, thoughts, and commentary in regards to medieval society. The two most significant characters who provide the greatest insight into contemporary medieval society are the Wife of Bath and the Prioress. Through both the Wife of Bath's Tale and the Prioress's Tale, Chaucer articulates his opinionated views of the etiquette and conduct of women in the …show more content…
Even though she has left her husbands somehow, she will always be tied to matrimony. Even though she is not married, she is still referred to as the "Wife of Bath." The Prioress's name "Eglantine" also can be connected to her natural beauty, as an Eglantine is a type of rose. Unlike the Wife of Bath, the Prioress has received a high education from the school of Stratford-at-the-Bow, where she learned to speak French fluently. The learning of French was seen as being highly cultured, so this also reaffirms her social status. Though she is very well-educated, Chaucer points out that she may not be the most informed, "For Frenssh of Parys was to hire unknowe. " This goes to show that even though she is very well-rounded, she lacks in her knowledge of what goes on perhaps in the world outside of the nunnery. Chaucer's description of her delicate table manners exemplifies her ladylike qualities as,
She leet no morsel from hir lippes falle,
Ne wette hir fyngres in hir sauce depe;
Wel koude she carie a morsel and wel kepe
That no drope ne filled upon hire brest.
In curteisie was set ful muchel hir lest.
Hir over-lippe wiped she so clene
That in hir coppe ther was no ferthyng sene
Of grece, wan she drunken hadde hir draughte.
Ful semely after hir mete she raughte.
The emphasis on her fine etiquette is also an example of her superior education to that of the Wife of Bath and elevated social standing. While the Wife of
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