Chaucer Essay Assignment

Please choose one of the following topics on which to write a substantial and fairly detailed essay. Be sure to identify any information you retrieve from online or printed sources and to clearly and correctly acknowledge and document those sources.
This essay will be submitted through the “Safe-Assignment” system. Please click on the first “Safe-Assignment” View/Complete link and follow the directions about how to submit your essay. (You essay must be in doc, .docx, .odt, .txt, .rtf, .pdf, or .html file format.) The Safe-Assignment system will check your essay to determine how much of it is indebted to secondary sources. I have enabled its “Draft” mode; this means that the system will check your essay against global and local databases and return the results to you so that you can make sure that any borrowings in your essay are correctly and specifically acknowledged. After you examine the Safe-Assign results and take care of any documentation problems that they reveal, you must submit the final version of the essay by clicking on the View/Complete link in the “Final” Safe-Assignment portal and following the directions that you will receive.
1. Is the Wife of Bath a positive or negative figure in The Canterbury Tales? Readers of Chaucer have seen her in wildly different ways, from a “gargoyle†representing a lifestyle that should terrify them to an anticipation of a feminist or “ liberated woman.†How does her idea of woman’s sovereignty in marriage contribute to your view of her? What doesn’t she mention in her prologue that one might expect her to, and which might relate her thematically to the pilgrims whom we we look at in Lesson 4? Is she a “feminist†? (50 points)
2. Kittredge, the critic who postulated the existence of a “marriage group,†thought that the Franklin’s conception of a marriage without an absolute authority—either the husband or the wife—was an ideal solution to the problem of marriage and a good conclusion to the debate. (In fact he thought the Franklin expressed Chaucer’s own opinion.) More recent readers of the tale are not so certain. Does the tale contain details that may undercut Kittredge’s position somewhat? What about the question of “truth†? Can we see Arveragus’s insistence on keeping the empty name of sovereignty in his marriage as, in a way, fostering an illusion? Does this come up again when he forbids Dorigen to ever tell anyone about the affair with Aurelius? What is Dorigen’s motivation in setting the task of the disappearing rocks for Aurelius? Is the use of an illusion an appropriate device in the tale? What do you think of Arveragus’s response to Dorigen’s predicament? Which of the three men was the most noble? (50 points)
Your essay will be due on Sunday, Oct. 6.

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