Nov 30th / Last Friday both classes of our Year 13 English Literature students were taken to see a series of lectures on the Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale at the Conway Hall in London. Jasmin Urquhart tells us more …
Three academics from Oxford, Cambridge and Manchester presented their individual insights into Chaucer’s text. These concerned socio-economic issues such as the Wife’s place in society and how her gender influenced the opportunities available to her, the Tale’s central question of ‘what women most desire’ and how fairy-tale elements shaped the Tale’s narrative and final moral.
In our notes we accumulated theories about medieval life that could be incorporated into our essays, such as the idea of the “Three Estates”, in which people were expected to fight, work or pray, as well as several useful technical terms such as the Tale’s ‘decorum’ (appropriateness of style) and its high-status genre as a ‘romance’ (a tale about socially elevated people, often on the theme of love and with magical elements).
We left the trip with a far greater understanding of the text as a whole, and an ability to draw new conclusions regarding Chaucer’s intentions and the significance of his work to both medieval and modern audiences.