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Canterbury Tales – Comparing Chaucer’s The Clerks Tale and The Wife of Bath Tale

In “The Clerk’s Tale” and “The Wife of Bath’s 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 ple…

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…and the General Prologue. Ed. V.A. Kolve. New York: W. W. Norton

Contrast Between Good and Evil in Billy Bud

Contrast Between Good and Evil in Billy Bud

Since the beginning of time, there has always been a

tenacious struggle between good and evil. In a particular famous book, The

Bible, the continuous clash between good and evil remains evident

throughout the work. In Herman Melville’s novel, Billy Budd, symbolism,

characterization, and irony are put to use to develop the dramatic contrast

between good and evil.

Symbolism is used to directly contrast good and evil. The

night before Billy’s hanging, “through the rose-tan of his complexion no

pallor could have shown.” Billy portrays a very pure Christ-like

character before his demise. His white garb, and natural glowing of light

makes his death seem symbolic for good. Claggort “who’s brow was of the

sort phrenologically associated with more than average intellect”

symbolically manipulated Billy Budd as did the “wisdom of the serpent”

manipulate Adam. Evil always tries to antagonize what is good. Therefore,

Claggort was Billy’s antagonist throughout Billy Budd. Also symbolic to

the novel is the actual demise of both Claggort and Billy Budd. Claggort’s

death is very short and appropriate “to his navel grade.” In contrast,

Billy’s death occurs during the dawn where ” Billy ascended; and ascending

took the full rose of the dawn.” Claggort’s death completely contrasts

with the pure death of Billy Budd. Billy’s death is portrayed as good,

conquering, and symbolic, which directly …

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…y ‘got the last laugh’.

He is able to adulterate Billy’s purity and innocence in such a way that

even the newspapers consider Billy as ” the criminal [who] paid the penalty

for his crime” In the end Claggort is portrayed as this martyr who is

killed by this evil, and bad person, Billy Budd. This assumption is a

major mistake.

To develop the dramatic contrast between good and evil in

the novel, Billy Budd, Herman Melville uses symbolism, characterization,

and irony. Good and evil are a flip of a coin, and separated by a very

thin line. The innocent martyr, Billy crossed this line once in the novel,

to cause his downfall. After reading Billy Budd the reader ultimately

realizes good and evil with out a problem.

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