The Canterbury Tales

Power in An Ideal Husband and The Canterbury Tales 12th Grade

Both within ‘The Merchant’s Tale’ by Chaucer and ‘An Ideal Husband’ by Oscar Wilde, the theme of power is explored, with various characters attempting to increase their power often by corrupt or deceitful means. Although corruption is explored through a variety of characters, the male protagonists Januarie and Lord Chiltern both appear to be the most corrupt in their attempts to gain power however, as both authors create a society in which corruption is already rife, the corruption of these men is not so heavily criticized as they are perceived to be merely be reflections of contemporary society. Wilde particularly emphasizes the way in which characters are able to gain power for themselves through the depiction of characters such as Mabel Chiltern and Lord Goring, whereas Chaucer suggests that almost all people must engage in some level of corruption in order to gain the power they desire, perhaps because they are limited by the existing social structures of the time.

Wilde and Chaucer both demonstrate - through the characters of Lord Chiltern and Januarie respectively - the way in which the male desire for power inspires corrupt behavior. Wilde’s narrative is constructed around Lord Chilterns’ corrupt and ‘scandalous’...

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