Dishonesty In The Canterbury Tales

1051 Words5 Pages
Men and women both have the capability to deceive each other; yet, in the fifteenth century, a patriarchal society would blame women the most when it comes to dishonesty. In “The Wife of Bath's Prologue” and the “The Wife of Bath’s Tale” of The Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer gives women the opportunity to defend their gender against the dominating male sex. Both texts describe the negative social views of women and how the Wife intends to correct them through her own gender perceptions plus the story of a young knight who learns the difference between truths and lies from a hideous, aging hag. Men should stop lying about women’s deception for both are equally capable; nonetheless, some lies are necessary for the truth to emerge, particularly,…show more content…
She attacks the stereotype that generalizes all women as people who lie to get married. Only a “scoundrel” will believe this is true, most especially, men themselves. The Wife implies that men are the ones lying if they cast the burden of pretense on women alone when they also put their best foot forward during courtship. Consequently, women believe in these facades that would prove to be false after marriage. Men should stop degrading women as liars because men and women are equally capable of lying or at least, hiding who they truly are while they woo women. Consequently, if the marriage fails, husbands should stop blaming their wives for being the cause, since the stability of their relationship depends on both, especially their virtues as spouses. The real scoundrel is the husband who holds his wife responsible for their failed marriage when he may be the most deceiving person in the marriage if he keeps mistresses on the side. Men, not women, are the greatest deceivers, if they lie to women before and after marrying…show more content…
Since the knight complains that he married an elderly, revolting woman, the latter underlines her virtues by asking him to choose between an “ugly and old” woman, but “a true, humble wife,” or a “young and fair” wife who will attract numerous suitors (Chaucer 1220-1225). The hag says that she may be physically unattractive; however, she is a good woman and wife, characteristics that make her worthy of love. Furthermore, while the hag earlier suggests that a young, beautiful woman may be prone to having lovers, she also questions this stereotype. After the knight gives her the right to decide whether she should be a hag or a beautiful young woman, she chooses to be “both fair and good” (Chaucer 1241). First, the passage implies that just because someone is beautiful, it does not necessarily mean she is an easy prey or immoral. The Wife of Bath celebrates all kinds of beauty, both inside and outside. Men should not judge both loveliness and ugliness because it takes time to know who women are deep inside. Second, deception in marriage can end if husbands trusted in their wives’ decisions. Since the knight gave the power to choose to his wife, he has also somewhat given up the power to deceive her in the future as he relies on her good judgment from now on. The hag reveals that dishonesty starts with the judgmental mind of a husband who sees himself
Open Document