Date of Award

8-8-2007

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A.

Degree Program

English

Department

English

Major Professor

Sturges, Robert; Marti, Kevin

Second Advisor

Shenk, Robert

Abstract

In the Middle Ages, marriage represented a shift in the balance of power for both men and women. Struggling to define what constitutes the ideal marriage in medieval society, the marriage group of Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales attempts to reconcile the ongoing battle for sovereignty between husband and wife. Existing hierarchies restricted women; therefore, marriage fittingly presented more obstacles for women. Chaucer creates the dynamic personalities of the Wife of Bath, the Clerk and the Merchant to debate marriage intelligently while citing their experiences within marriage in their prologues. The rhetorical device of ethos plays a significant role for the pilgrims. By first establishing their authority, each pilgrim sets out to provide his or her audience with a tale of marriage that is most correct. Chaucer's work as a social commentary becomes rhetorically complex with varying levels of ethos between Chaucer the author, his tale tellers and their characters.

Rights

The University of New Orleans and its agents retain the non-exclusive license to archive and make accessible this dissertation or thesis in whole or in part in all forms of media, now or hereafter known. The author retains all other ownership rights to the copyright of the thesis or dissertation.

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