The Canterbury Tales
Wykked Wyves Redux: Sex, Money and Marriage in Chaucer's 'The Shipman's Tale'
There is no doubt that immoral people can spring from all walks of life, Tall, short, rich, poor and everything in between – any of these can fall victim to the vices of the human spirit. When sex and money mix, a potentially dangerous (but exciting, at least for an outside observer) spectacle can occur. But what happens when that bomb just fizzles? Geoffrey Chaucer is certainly a master of depicting the profane and seedy side of human nature, but as he demonstrates through The Shipman’s Tale of The Canterbury Tales, sometimes a quiet murmur can pack just as hard of a punch as a big explosion. The Shipman’s Tale does not need a large confrontation or a public burning to make statements about the morality of human desires and the quest for them. Instead, a discussion between a married couple in bed as well as an interesting twist on a marriage vow culminates a story that has a lot to say about the nature of debt – monetary and otherwise – and the marriage of sex and money.
The Shipman’s Tale is a tale that is scant in plot but rife with details. The story of an unfaithful wife and her clueless husband both being duped by her lover is not new; in fact, speculation on Chaucer’s source material will be discussed later. However, it...
Join Now to View Premium Content
GradeSaver provides access to 883 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 6891 literature essays, 1859 sample college application essays, 279 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.
Already a member? Log in