Stream-Of-Consciousness in Chaucer Essay

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Wife of Bath's Tale And Modern Stream-of-consciousness Writing

Dear Chaucer:

The Wife of Bath is one of the most memorable of all of your characters in the Canterbury Tales. The Wife is likeable not only because of her boisterous, honest, and sexually frank persona but also because of the way in which she tells her tale. The Wife's storytelling anticipates modern stream-of-consciousness style. The Wife's style underlines the fact that it is not only how a story is told but who tells it that is important.

The Wife begins her tale by relating her experience of marriage before setting up the plot of her story: "I have had five husbands at the church-door (for I have been wedded so often); and all were worthy men in their ranks." She defends her ability to hold forth on the subject of marriage because of her obvious experience and also makes a humorous aside about how she considers her much-married history to be godly because did not King Solomon have many wives? Her attitude makes her story all the more entertaining, as she jumps from subject to subject.
This reveals her free and easy attitude to religion that is in stark contrast to some of the other pilgrims.

The Wife admits she is fallible -- she is not cut out for chastity. She argues that Paul did say it was better to marry than to burn, even though chastity was considered a more perfect state. In her religious musings, the Wife lets us know that she is one of us, with many of the same excuses that people make for their own foibles.

The Wife's speech is conveyed in long, run-on sentences that frequently shift from past to present. This style enables the reader to understand her clever but wandering mind and how she rationalizes her colorful although somewhat improvident life. Of course, some people might protest that the Wife is actually speaking aloud, in contrast to the fact that a stream-of-consciousness is usually viewed as an interior monologue.….....

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