“The Wife of Bath’s Tale” by Geoffrey Chaucer and “The Flea” by John Donne

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In this paper I will compare the attack to marriage in the plants “The Wife of Bath’s Tale” by Geoffrey Chaucer and “The Flea” by John Donne ; in both instances it is a agency to an terminal: in the first the old adult female wants to acquire “the thing that most of all Women desire” and in the 2nd the lover seeks “How small which his lover ( 1000 ) deniest him ( me ) ” and uses an allusion to marriage to accomplish this.

In “The Wife of Bath’s Tale” the old adult female seems to inquire the knight a naive petition ; there is no intimation that what she will inquire of him is to get married her: “Swear me true that whatsoever I ask of you. you’ll do it if it lies whithin you might…” . After the knight returns to the queen. and the reply the old adult female gave the knight is the one the queen looked for. the old woman’s purpose becomes clear: “Before the tribunal I ask you. so. sir knight. To take me. as you married woman. ”

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The knight in daze attempts to decline. but as he has sworn “upon his ( my ) honor” he has no manner out of the trade he closed ; hence. they get married. As married twosomes are due in the dark of the nuptials. the twosome goes to bed to consummate the matrimony. Here is when we learn what the old woman’s program was.

As they lay in bed they old adult female is waiting for the knight to move as a newlywed hubby. but she so realizes that the knight’s purposes were non the 1s she hoped for: “You are so nauseating and so old as well… …It is no admiration that I toss and turn. ”

The married woman tells her hubby that he has two picks. and he is welcome to take what he best prefers. for she will make as he bids and ne’er complain. The knight thinks carefully. and weighs his options. and so realizes that this pick should non be his: “My love and lady. my beloved married woman. In your wise authorities I put my life… …I am content. whatever pleases you. ”

Now the old woman’s motivation is clear. and she got “the thing that most of all Women desire” “to have sovereignty… …above their hubbies. and to hold their manner in love” ; the pick is hers to make as she pleases. and what she wants is to delight him. so she gives her hubby everything he could hold wanted.

The determination she makes can be confounding since she denies herself the power she wanted after acquiring the pick. but the chief point is that even so she was able to take.

In “The Flea” the adult male is non looking for matrimony. he seeks merely to consummate it. The allusion to matrimony is used to sabotage the importance of the act that comes after the nuptials: the bedclothes.

The verse form starts with the comparing between both lovers being bitten by a flea. and the lover thinks that the act of being bitten by a flea is less than the ingestion of matrimony: “Yet this enjoys before it woo. And pampered crestless waves with one blood made of two. And this. alas. is more than we would make. ” The fact that they were bitten by the same flea means that they are every bit good as married.

The lover tries to convert his kept woman that what he wants is non iniquitous as she thinks since they are already married by the bite of the flea. so they may every bit good make what married twosomes do: “The flea is you and I. and this Our matrimony bed and matrimony temple is. ”

The adult female is non convinced by his words. and tries to kill the flea. but her lover attempts to convert her that this flea is them. and their love and matrimony. and if she kills the flea. non merely the flea will decease: “”Three wickednesss in killing three. ”

After the flea is killed by his lover. he finds a manner to turn around the state of affairs for his benefit. and tells her that the fact that flea is dead merely shows that nil is every bit of import as it seems ; hence. why should non them put together? She will lose every bit much as the flea lost which seemingly she thinks it is non a batch: “’Tis true ; so larn how false frights be: Just so much award. when thou yield’st to me. will waste…”

In this works the usage of matrimony although used for alternate intents is given different significance. In “The Wife of Bath’s Tale” . the old adult female wants “the thing that most of all Women desire” . and is willing to make anything to acquire it ; in “The Flea” the lover wants to put with his kept woman. and will state anything to convert her. even that they are “married” after being bitten by a flea.

The usage of the matrimony in both narratives is done otherwise since the old adult female lures the knight into get marrieding her. so that she can acquire what she want. and the lover tries to convert his kept woman they are already married in a sense. so that he will able to bed her.

One may good state however that in both instances matrimony is a agency of purchase. a tool to be best used as the writers see fit. in order to let their characters achieve their purposes ; whatever those purposes might be. In these sense matrimony gets a similar intervention in both narratives.

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“The Wife of Bath’s Tale” by Geoffrey Chaucer and “The Flea” by John Donne. (2017, Sep 08). Retrieved from


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