In The Clerks Tale and The Wife of Bath Tale from Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, characters are demanding, powerful and manipulating in order to gain obedience from others. From all of The Canterbury Tales, The Clerks Tale and The Wife of Baths Tale are the two most similar tales. These tales relate to each other in the terms of obedience and the treatment of women. The Wife of Bath Tale consists of one woman who has complete control over her husbands.
It evolves the idea that a woman is more powerful and controlling in a relationship. She intimidates her husbands to do things and treat her in a certain ways so that they would buy her material things and favors. The Clerks Tale supports almost the opposite idea about women. It mentions that the man has complete power in the relationship and the woman must obey everything that the husband says. Such is the case with Walter and Griselda. Walter is demanding and controlling over Griselda.
She does whatever he says and she lacks her own opinion. One difference between these tales however is that The Clerks Tale is a very unrealistic story, whereas The Wife of Baths Tale is a more practical story and would have the possibility of taking place. Between the two stories, the Wife of Bath and Walter are both characters who are the most demanding in order to gain obedience. Both characters demand love, a sign of obedience to them. Walter tells Griselda that the only way they will marry is if she promises to obey his commands.
He says you love me as I know and would obey, being my leige-man born and faithful to whatever pleases me I dare to say may succeed in also pleasing you(329). Walter demands her to love him and does not give her a choice. In addition, the Wife of Bath also shows some of the same signs of tyranny toward others. She takes reference from the Bible to defend her opinions on a husband obediently loving his wife. To justify her beliefs, the Wife of Bath says that thus the apostle Paul has told it me, and bade our husbands they should love us well.
Theres an command on which I like to dwell (262). Both Walter and the Wife of Bath are demanding to bring them happiness and satisfaction in therms of getting obedience. In addition to demanding love, both characters demand favors, a representation of their obedience. Walter gives Griselda jewels and rings for her to wear demanding the favor of her obedience to him, the marquis bade prepare brooches and rings, all for Griselda, lit with jewels, gold and lapis. (328). The Wife of Bath also demands the favor of her personal satisfaction from others.
She demands material treasures and sexual desires from her husbands. But as I had them eating from my hand and as they yielded me their gold and land, why then take trouble to provide them unless to profit my leisure (264). She is a very persuasive and controlling woman who seeks personal favors to symbolize obedience. She and Walter both share the quality of demanding favors to bring them happiness and satisfaction in the terms of obedience. Lastly, the two characters demand to test people to see the level of obedience that they will gain from them.
Walter tests Griselda by taking away her two children. He tests how much obedience she has to him. He longed to test her constancy and was in a way possessed with it. She responds by saying we are all yours and you may spare or kill what is your own. Do therefore as you will (335). She gives him complete control over her life and her children’s’ lives. This is the way that she shows obedience to him. In addition to her testing her husbands, the Wife of Bath also tests the Knight to see how much respect and loyalty he will give her.
She disguises herself as a way of testing the Knight to see if he would be obedient to her no matter how horrid and disgusting she was. For which he swore and played his honor to it, that the first thing I asked of him hed do it (286). By testing, these characters seek to find obedience from any form. They are both the type of characters who demand and seek things for their own personal pleasures and satisfactions. Between the Clerks Tale and The Wife of Baths Tale, both Walter and the Wife of Bath are the most powerful characters who seek obedience through this power.
Both characters are powerful in love. This power brings them obedience from others. Walter is a very powerful man to get love from his servants. In his eyes, this power shows obedience. Walter is commanding to his servants by saying that whomever I choose, you shall honor (325). The servants reply with pure obedience by professing that, we love you well sir are indeed rejoiced in all you do or ever will. (323). Walter is also powerful to get love from Griselda from being controlling and demanding. She promises to marry and submit herself to Walter(330).
Walter is always controlling over his servants and his wife. He tells Griselda that, I would have you understand as pleasing to your father and to me that I should marry you, and here’s my hand if, as I my conjecture you(330). Walter tries to prove to people like his wife and his servants that he is omni- powerful over everything and that he is the only one who has say over anyones life. Walter obviously decides what the servants do as well as what Griselda does. Griselda is shown as a very unassertive and non-confident women partly because of Walters treatment to her and the harsh demands faced on her.
The Wife of Bath is also very similar to Walter in the way in which she is also powerful and demanding in order to gain love. The Wife is powerful to her husbands so that they give her love and obedience. The Wife says that I will have a husband yet who shall be both my debtor and my slave(267). She is aggressive and controlling over all her husbands and intimidates them to do whatever she says. The Wife is also controlling and powerful to the Knight. After disguising herself and tricking the Knight, she demands that the Knight give her love and his hand.
She forces him to keep your word and take me forever wise for well you know that I have sued your life. If this be false, deny it on your sword (286). The Wife of Bath is forceful and intimidating in order to gain this obedience from her husbands and the Knight. Both Walter and her use their power and influence to get love from others. In addition, both characters are intimidating to to others to gain obedience from them. Walter is intimidating to Griselda so that she does what he says. Griselda is intimidated by Walter and must always do what he says.
She can not live with herself unless she gives all to Walter and obeys his every command. She putting down her vessel on the spot beside the cattle- stall, returned and came before him falling on her knees(329). He controls her to do everything and demands her to be obedient . Both Walter and the Wife of Bath are manipulating characters looking for obedience out of their manipulations. First of all, they manipulate others to receive love, a form of obedience to them. Walter manipulates Griselda so that she shows love and obedience to him.
Walter views Griselda’s love towards him as a sign of obedience. He has assayed her faith enough before and ever found her good, what was the need of heaping trial on her more and more? (333). Walter tests Griselda and manipulates her to the extreme. She does not bother to show her opinion and she goes along with whatever he says. Much as Walter manipulates, the Wife of Bath also manipulates to gain love. She manipulates her husbands to gain love and obedience from them. Through this love and obedience, she gains power and control.
She states, I let him think I was one enchanted and I told him I had dreamt the night away thinking of him and dreamt that as I lay he tried to kill me (274). The Wife of Bath seeks power from her husbands. To gain this power she uses her manipulative character. The Wife also manipulates the Knight to gain love and obedience from him. She tricks him into marrying her so that he gives her love. She gains power from this trickery forcing of marriage. Give me your hand she said and swear to do whatever I shall next require of go. If so to do should he within your might and you shall know the answer before the Knight (285).
Even though her way of gaining love and power is immoral, she still gets satisfaction through manipulating the Knight, and this is how she gains obedience. Both characters get satisfaction by gaining obedience from others through manipulation. In addition, Walter and the Wife of Bath manipulate so that they get favors from other people. These favors are a sign of obedience to them. Walter manipulates Griselda so that she does favors for him. He manipulates her by taking her children away and lying about it. By obeying him, she does him the favor of agreeing with whatever he said.
He also manipulates her into marring him, not giving her a choice. Similarly, the Wife yet again manipulates her husbands to receive favors from them. Whether these favors be sexually oriented or materialistic, she manipulates in order to get them. She says that, bed time above all was their misfortune that was the place to scold them and importune and bulk their fun (269). She manipulates her husband sexually to get the favor of love from him. Almost everyone who observes their manipulations including myself will say that their ways of manipulating are extremely immoral and wrong.