You are not currently logged in.
Access JSTOR through your library or other institution:
If You Use a Screen ReaderThis content is available through Read Online (Free) program, which relies on page scans. Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Crocodilian Humor: A Discussion of Chaucer's Wife of Bath
David S. Reid
The Chaucer Review
Vol. 4, No. 2 (Fall, 1969), pp. 73-89
Published by: Penn State University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25093113
Page Count: 17
You can always find the topics here!Topics: Prologues, Humor, Marriage, Pantomime, Irony, Satire, Urbanity, Jokes, Farce, Narrators
Were these topics helpful?See something inaccurate? Let us know!
Select the topics that are inaccurate.
Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Preview not available
It is in terms of pantomime and farce we must understand the Wife. Critics have misunderstood her ingeniously because they have placed her in higher modes of fiction; hence the talk of her lifelike complexity or individuality. If she is complex, it is because she is a type figure and so epitomizes all women. If she is individual, the individuality is a disguise for the type. She is lifelike because she is a vulgar convention and has the liveliness of pantomime. Pantomime in the General Prologue takes the form of a masquerade of the world; in the Prologue to her Tale, of a farce of marriage and learning; in her Tale, of burlesque romance. This pantomime has no moral intention. It is parasitic on the conventions and so an inverted reflection of a clerical and courtly ethos. It is an imitation of a tricky, irreducible anti-reality, base, bourgeois, feminine, and confronts us as a "quaestio crocodiliana." To this our attitude, and also the narrator's and Chaucer's, can only be equivocal, and this ironic suspension of judgement expresses a creaturely and therefore genial involvement in the pantomime of the world.
The Chaucer Review © 1969 Penn State University Press