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The Relationshipful Relationships In Chaucer's Canterbury Tales

Decent Essays
The saying “Opposites attract, and likes repel” have been around for a long time, but like other adages, it does not have a clear basis. In fact, the opposite of that statement is true with the support of Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and works of modern psychology. In Chaucer’s tales, the duality of marriage is evident. The ones that end with a successful relationship are the result of the partners’ similar external physical traits or internal thoughts, and the vice versa. While many factors account for a successful relationship, the most important is the similarity between the partners. First off, it is vital that each partner of a successful relationship holds equal power. In “The Wife of Baths’ Prologue”, the narrator…show more content…
In this tale, the difference in power reinforced Pertelote’s dismissive attitude. Shown in two of Chaucer’s tales is the idea that the inequality of power leads to an ineffective relationship. Therefore, it is evident that there needs to be a similarity of power held by each partner for a relationship to flourish. In addition to the similarity of power, there needs to be a similar mindset when it comes to goals for a successful relationship. Fletcher and Overall masterfully adds on to this topic in their article Intimate Relationships. They present the given matrix “a selfish frame of mind” (464) and the effective matrix, the “relationship or partner-serving orientation” (464). They explain that “the shift from [the given matrix] … to [the effective matrix] … are thought to be important in maintaining successful relationships.” (464). To simply put it, couples that have symbiotic goals tend to have a more fruitful relationship, and vice versa. One example would be in “The Merchant’s Tale”. The main characters, May and January, have vastly different goals from each other. This dictates that their marriage is doomed from the beginning. May, a young virgin, is looking for a boost in social status and a rich husband. She found this in January, who in return is looking for a wife to settle down
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