Date of Award

6-5-2007

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

English

Abstract

In 1986, Penn R Szittya finished his groundbreaking composition, The Antifraternal Tradition in Medieval Literature, thus becoming the leading antifraternal writer in Chaucerian scholarship. Prior to Szittya's novel, very few scholars concerned themselves with the nature of antifraternalism in the Canterbury Tales. Of the critics who wrote on the subject, many could be grouped into two categories, those who felt that the Tales were littered with antifraternalist ideas and those who disputed the presence of antifraternalism. Even today, after the wake of Szittya's Antifraternal Tradition, critics still fall into the same camps. To the best of my knowledge, none of these critics has dealt with all of Fragment III. They have chosen, rather, to deal only with The Friar's and The Summoner's Tales, failing to take into consideration who drives them into the feud-The Wife of Bath. Looking at Fragment III through an antifraternal lens brings a new aspect into the analysis of the Canterbury Tales. We no longer see, as Szittya states, "a convention of the pairing in the poetry of fraternal controversies," but a triplet embedded in religious controversy (197).

By focusing on The Wife of Bath as a Lollard and discussing how she is able to further the antifraternal debate between the Summoner and the Friar, we can begin to understand why each of these characters intrude upon the Wife's tale. The explanation that I give is that Alisoun, as a Lollard, gives a Lollard sermon on celibacy in hopes of drawing the Friar into rebuking her tale.

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