The Theme of Marriage Throughout Canterbury Tales Essay

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The Theme of Marriage Throughout Canterbury Tales

In 'The Miller's Tale' the sanctity of marriage is played upon heavily, as during Chaucer's time all marriages were respected in the eyes of the Church and contained a very religious theme. We also see how jealously in a marriage can bring about conflicting ideas and actions, which can often lead to one person taking the other for granted. The whole foundation of marriage is questioned in 'The Miller's Tale' as Chaucer reveals both the good and bad in a married couple.

Contrary to 'The Knight's Tale' which contains a story of courtly romance, of the ideal fantasy, 'The Miller's Tale' reveals to opposing side to marriage. Where as courtly
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Alisoun cannot see how morally blind she is being, she truly believes that swearing her love on something so important shows Nicholas her true feelings. However, from the readers point of view all it does is confirm how selfish Alisoun is and how she doesn't consider the feelings of her husband.

Alisoun is a young, pretty woman who has chosen to marry an older, richer man, although we can only guess as to why. It could be due to the fact that in this period of history the death rate of children was very high, due to poor living conditions and lack of medicine. Women were best to conceive their children when they were younger so that the baby stood a greater chance of survival. Thus an era of senex amans, literally 'old man lover' began. This meant that older men were marrying younger wives to ensure that an heir would be produced.

Consequently throughout the poem, we see that Chaucer uses the technique of mal marié, literally 'badly married' to show how much of a mismatch Alisoun and John really are. This term is based on the idea that the older man is sexually incompetent and cannot satisfy his younger wife, therefore virtually locking her away to prevent prying eyes from seeing her.

This combination has brought about great jealously on John's part, as he

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