The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer has an outstanding collision of themes that are immaculately portrayed in the different tales by the pilgrims on their way to the Saint Thomas Becket’s Shrine. These range from radical themes on feminism and anti-feminism, religion, fables, fiction and fabliaux, sex and adultery, tellers as dramatic voices and words and language in a growing list of themes. In his collection, Chaucer joins the pilgrims as an evident narrator as he tries to fit into the shoes of his characters to attempt to voice their views on a variety of themes in the Medieval English.
/> The church to begin with is portrayed as a corrupt institution rife with hypocrisy. The very setting of a religious pilgrimage to Canterbury sets the pace for religion as a significant theme. The Monk, the Pardoner, the Summoner, the Miller, Parson, Prioress, and Friar are all clerical members who are put on the spotlight for their wayward tendencies to sin. The Prioress’s rosary encrusted with jewels seems to express more appreciation for romantic love than the devotion to Christ. The Monk on the other hand appears to be more appealed by nobility than service to Christ. Although they both reside in convents and monasteries, they are more aristocratic than Christian.
Chaucer is also able to express his views on feminism and marriage in the tale by The Wife of Baths who symbolized women in the Medieval Ages who were already aware of their significance in the feminism movement. He also explores the role of women in marriages as he tries to understand the dynamics of the male female union. The Wife of Bath’s Tale is as a result framed in the context of Arthurian romance whereby an unnamed knight at the round table becomes an unlikely hero. The tale is therefore in itself a proto-feminist with a moral lesson on domestic behavior.
Among other themes, sex and adultery is also a major concern for Chaucer as his tales (Miller’s, Reeve’s and the Wife of Bath’s) all appear to elicit the behavioral patterns of marriages whereby both wives and husbands in equal measure are portrayed as adulterous.