Каминяр Дмитрий Генаддьевич: другие произведения.

The Prioress and the Wife of Bath of the Canterbury Tales

"Самиздат": [Регистрация] [Найти] [Рейтинги] [Обсуждения] [Новинки] [Обзоры] [Помощь|Техвопросы]
Конкурсы романов на Author.Today
Творчество как воздух: VK, Telegram
 Ваша оценка:

   Dmitri Kaminiar (student #995059083)
   Friday, October 26, 2007
   John Baird
   TA: Jacqueline Wylde


   In his "Canterbury Tales", Chaucer describes a multitude of characters, all of them parts of the social milieu of his day and age. Consequently, almost all of them are men, but two are women, the PRIORESS of an abbey and the WIFE of BATH. At first, in the general prologue, the two females could not seem to be more different than any other two characters differ from each other. The PRIORESS comes across as a woman of a noble birth and high status, complete with her own chaplain and several nuns as her suite. However, as the Tales unfold, the two women begin to show subtle similarities to each other in spirit, if not in body (or at least Chaucer shows them to us).
   The PRIORESS, Madame Eglantine, is a woman of a high status and probably noble birth, as she is one of Chaucer's second triad of characters, those of the religious orders of England, together with the MONK and the FRIAR, just after the KNIGHT (the nobleman) and his SQUIRE and vassal. Consequently, Chaucer describes her physical appearance as being supposedly pretty, even doll-like - "Hire nose tretys, hir eyen greye as glas, Hir mouth ful small, and therto small and reed" (General Prologue, 152-3). Then, however, Chaucer counters this initial impression of the PRIORESS by adding - "But sikerly she hadde a fair forheed; It was almoost a spanne brood, I trowe; For, hardily, she was not undergrowe" (154-5) - i.e. she had a wide forehead; and since "she was not undergrowe", i.e. small, she must be a very big, tall woman, not as doll-like as one may initially think, irregardless of her small mouth and fine clothes.
   But, if the PRIORESS is subtly described as a tall woman with a big face, she is still a refined, noble lady, unlike the WIFE of BATH, who is absolutely down to earth, even if somewhat exuberant. If the PRIORESS is a part of the second most important and power social triad of Chaucer's contemporaries, then the WIFE of BATH is in the fifth, much lower, and her triad consists (besides her) of the SHIPMAN, who is not averse to piracy, and the PHYSICIAN, who values gold above anything else. In other words, these two are very worldly men, contrasting sharply with the PARSON and the PLOUGHMAN his brother, who are very devout and care little for possessions. Moreover, the WIFE of BATH is very worldly herself: "She was a worthy womman al hir lyve: Housbondes at chirche dore she hadde fyve, Withouthen oother compaignye in youthe, - But therof nedeth nat to speke as nowthe" (461-4), tells Chaucer. This description shows her rather as a female counterpart to the MILLER, whose scandalous and licentious story showed that this is a man with rather basic appetites, a very secular and base-minded person. (Incidentally, the name of the WIFE of BATH'S friend is identical to the name of the lecherous carpenter's wife of the MILLER'S tale, and her own name is very similar as well.) Moreover, "Of remedies of love she knew per chaunce, For she koude of that art the olde daunce." (477-78)
   Put otherwise, the WIFE of BATH lived her life to the maximum, and despite its turbulent course she has, more-or-less enjoyed it, supposedly unlike the PRIORESS, who is presumed to live a secluded, cloistered life, away from the company of men. Yet, in the PRIORESS' clothing, there is evidence that brings her closer to the lusty WIFE of BATH: "An theron heng a brooch of gold ful sheene, On which ther was first write a crowned A, And after Amor vincit omnia," (161-2) Chaucer concludes his description of the PRIORESS in the prologue.
   Firstly, "Amor vincit omnia" means, "Love conquers all" in Latin - a very odd choice of a phrase for a supposedly chaste woman. Secondly, the PRIORESS' golden brooch is only a part of the PRIORESS' undoubtedly expensive wardrobe, as "Ful semyly hir wympul pynched was" (General Prologue, line 151), and "Ful fetys was hir cloke, as I was war" (157). In comparison, the clothing of the WIFE of BATH - "Hir coverchiefs ful fyne weren of ground;" (455) "Hir hosen weren of fyn scarlet reed, Ful streite yteyd, and shoes ful moyste and newe" (458-9) - is also quite fine and expensive, the only difference being in style, instead of quality, as one could expect the two women of such different social roots to have.
   Behavior-wise, however, Chaucer's manner of contrasts and subtle similarities between the two women seem to stop, though. Where the WIFE of BATH is outgoing and loquacious, the PRIORESS is quiet, and polite. However, there is one thing in which the two of them again are compared, and that is their devoutness. The PRIORESS is a woman of the church, her piety cannot be questioned - or can they? "Hir gretteste ooth was but by Seinte Loy;" (120) and "Ful weel she soong the service dyvyne," (122) Chaucer say rather off-handedly, before spending several lines upon the PRIORESS' table manners, which, when used to describe a person of a supposedly spiritual disposition certainly look rather out of place. And the WIFE of BATH is also a very devout person, or at least appears to be such - "In al the parisshe wif ne was ther noon That to the offrynge bifore hire sholde goon; And if ther dide, certeyn so wrooth was she, That she was out of alle charitee." (451-5) "And thries hadde she been at Jerusalem" (465) Chaucer later adds. Of course, all this religious fervor does not bar her from having five husbands (which some could consider four husbands too many) as well as many boyfriends before and during and after her marriages.
   Therefore, here are the two female pilgrims, the PRIORESS, and the WIFE of BATH. At first, they appear to be almost just as different as the KNIGHT and the MILLER. The PRIORESS looks like a woman of church, while the WIFE of BATH is undoubtedly a very secular, worldly person. However, as the audience looks between the lines, the people begin to realize that the two women are actually subtly similar - the former turns out to harbor very powerful secular qualities (and possibly ambitions) behind her religious clothing, while the latter too puts religious fervor at churches and pilgrimages over her quite secular desires. (And, of course, both of them are a sort of an inversion of the norm - the PRIORESS is a religious person who really is secular at heart, and the WIFE of BATH a female, with masculine traits.) Therefore, in the end, the two female characters become similar to each other.
   Black, Joseph, et al., eds. The Broadview Anthology of British Literature. The Medieval Period. The Canterbury Tales: General Prologue. 1st ed. 6 vols. Petersborough: Broadview Press, 2002.
 Ваша оценка:

Связаться с программистом сайта.

Новые книги авторов СИ, вышедшие из печати:
Э.Бланк "Пленница чужого мира" О.Копылова "Невеста звездного принца" А.Позин "Меч Тамерлана.Крестьянский сын,дворянская дочь"

Как попасть в этoт список
Сайт - "Художники" .. || .. Доска об'явлений "Книги"