Theses Doctoral

Wifely Counsel and Civic Leadership in The Canterbury Tales

Rosebrock, Abby

This dissertation identifies wifely counsel as a major theme in The Canterbury Tales. My analysis of The Tale of Melibee, The Clerk's Tale, The Wife of Bath's Prologue, and The Wife of Bath's Tale reveals a pattern of women instructing, transforming, and collaborating with their husbands to accomplish important work for both the household and the public sphere. Wife-counselors in the Tales do not merely provide advice; in moments that modern critics too often overlook, these women also supersede their husbands in leadership roles to mediate conflicts and dispense justice. By reading the tales in my study as narratives of wifely counsel, I show how greater critical attention to plots and characters illuminates underexplored arguments about gender, marriage, and women as political agents in the Tales.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
English and Comparative Literature
Thesis Advisors
Crane, Susan
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
July 7, 2014