Term Paper: Franklin's Tale as Early Women

Pages: 8 (2491 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Sports - Women  ·  Buy This Paper

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[. . .] While Griselde is beloved among the common people and although Walter also loves her, there is to be a test of whether this unusual union can last.

After Griselde has her first child, Walter takes the daughter away and threatens to kill her. Griselde, although heartbroken, agrees to remain obedient to her husband and doesn't put up a fight about the alleged baby killing. Walter sends the daughter away to be raised by others.

Then, after Griselde and Walter have a second child, a boy, Walter again says he is taking the child to be put to death and Griselde still hangs in there, never protesting the imminent death of her son. The boy, like his sister, is not killed by the father, but instead is raised by others.

Finally, Walter tells Griselde he is taking a new wife and banishes Griselde, naked, from their home. Griselde suffers great embarrassment and grief and though the people have sided with Griselde throughout this horrible treatment by Walter, they look kindly on the new wife, who appears to be a young version of Griselde.

Walter asks Griselde to make all the arrangements for the wedding and Griselde despite all the tragedy she believes has occurred, she still agrees to help him. In fact, when Griselde meets the young wife-to-be, she begs her husband to treat her more kindly. Because of Griselde's steadfastness, she is rewarded as Walter tells Griselde the truth about her children and that, in fact, the young wife is really her daughter.

While this is a ridiculous story of how a wife was supposed to believe and trust in her husband against all odds, it is difficult to believe that any woman of any day or age would allow her husband to kill her kids without saying a word. This is another image portrayed that the ideal woman was to be meek and mild and kind of heart even if it meant to endure terrible suffering at the hands of their husbands. (Where is the Wife of Bath when you need her?)

Even the Clerk finds this story hard to swallow, and says that basically all women should strive to be as steadfast as Griselde, but should not endure so much suffering. The interesting thing about Griselde is Chaucer gives her some qualities that bring her alive for the reader as compared with some of the other women in The Canterbury Tales.

For instance, Griselde comes right out and tells her husband that she has never had any joy from motherhood, only great, unimaginable pain. She is also depicted as more than kind when she takes the side of the new wife upon their meeting. This behavior seems to make her not only naive in her obedience but also a bit slow-witted and immature.

In the prologue to The Merchant's Tale, the narrator makes it clear the position the merchant takes with regard to women. He even says that a woman could outfox Satan if it came to a battle of wits.

In The Merchant's Tale, Jaunary, a 60-year-old bachelor decides to marry a young woman. As he grows more possessive of his young May, the wife becomes more and more bored with the elderly husband. Jan She gets bored with him and takes up a love affair with a younger man.

January's squire, Damian, tells May he loves her and wants to have sex with her. The old man and young May often use his prized gardens to have sex and one day Damian spies this. He climbs into the tree and waits for May to join him.

Pluto, while discussing how unfair women are to men, restores January's eyesight and what January sees before him is May and Damien having a romp. May convinces the old man that since his eyesight is so fresh, he must have been seeing things. January lives the rest of his days knowing that his wife is having sex with someone else, but becomes resigned to this. Here is a story where a man is deceived by his wife and submits to a life full of trickery while he endures until his life is over.

While January is a seemingly more interesting and compelling character than May is, he is far from a womens' liberation supporter. He is crude and even his attempts at sex are regarded as conquests as he ravages her even on their very first night together. It is apparent that May is regarded only as a sexual object for the old January, who holds for her only boredom and resentment on some level. After all, why does a man wait until he's ready to die in order to get married?

In light of January's behavior, it is not difficult to understand May's desire for a true love affair, one that is tender and one that brings her happiness. This tale is supposed to indicate that women can lie and cheat and feel no remorse whatsoever, however it backfires in view of how May is treated by January.

While it is true that many people can behave badly, lying, cheating and other forms of deception are equally rampant among men. However, this is something you rarely see in any of the writings of The Canterbury Tales. Why is it that these abhorrent qualities are given to the women? The Franklin's Tale, mercifully enough, attempts to even the score.

In conclusion, The Franklin's Tale is an attempt to convey the thought that women should not be thought of only as "second-class citizens," or as lying egomaniacs that think only of their looks and their power. The Franklin's Tale is intended to remark to society of the day that women are equal to men on many, if not all levels, particularly when it comes down to matters of honor, faith and loyalty.

Bibliography

The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer, selected, edited and translated by A. Kent Kieatt and Constance… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Franklin's Tale as Early Women.  (2002, November 27).  Retrieved March 19, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/franklin-tale-early-women/3232566

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"Franklin's Tale as Early Women."  Essaytown.com.  November 27, 2002.  Accessed March 19, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/franklin-tale-early-women/3232566.