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Christianity and astrology in chaucer s canterbury

Lately I have revisited her Prologue and Tale, her character, circumstances, and use of astrology alongside and of the commentary from the previous century. Her depiction and the story she tells seem to stand up well to contemporary feminist and neo-Marxist criticism, diverging from the moralizing tendency we see with older critics.

Yet she remains a disturbing character who defies ideology, Although his Middle English looks and would sound quite odd to us, I tend to look at Geoffrey Chaucer as an honorary contemporary.

Throughout this incomplete work, Chaucer displays a generous nature and encompassing vision of human life. Like Dante from his previous century, Geoffrey Chaucer lived when astrology was a routine part of astronomy, medicine, and psychology. Chaucer used astrological symbolism allegorically, to depict appearance and character, to depict the course of maladies and illnesses, and, in one passage, to note a terrible time to set sail for an arranged marriage.

  • As the conscientious reader nears completion of the canterbury tales, they have seen that chaucer has written about various types of belief systems such as physiognomy, alchemy, fairies and spells, and pagan mythology;
  • We learn that they retire at about 9pm, so I picked 10pm as the birth time;
  • Through her nonconformity to the expectations of her role as a wife, the audience is shown what proper behaviour in marriage should be like;
  • The Moon was rising in Cancer and in opposition to an extremely close Mars-Jupiter conjunction in Capricorn, right on the descendant and of course opposite the ascendant;
  • The unknown father is ruled by Venus in detriment in Scorpio with Saturn.

It is not coincidental that the Wife of Bath, a character from the middle classes who is not defined by her work, who discusses features of her natal chart. We learn that she has a hearing problem. She will tell us later how that came about. She has such skill in weaving and making clothes that she surpasses the Belgians and Dutch who were known for such things.

In fourteenth century England women had few ways to make their own living. She is well dressed, overdressed with kerchiefs wrapped around her, broad skirts and a good pair of new shoes; her red stockings red seem to match her ruddy complexion.

She also has a gap between her teeth, a sign of a strong sexual nature. She also seems to be good company to others on the journeys. In felawschipe wel coude she laughe and carpe [talk, chat].

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Of remedyes of love she knew per chaunce, For she coude of that art the old daunce. Where She Fits In Based on the curre nt consensus, the Wife of Bath is the sixth individual in the pilgrimage company to speak and tell a tale.

At this point needs to bring in a different point of view: Many other characters give short prologues before they launch into their tale, but the Wife of Bath far surpasses the others in length, taking over eight hundred lines of the Wife of Bath mostly talking about herself. Her Yet her depictions of battles of the genders seem true even to this day, yet there seems to be something shallow and saddening about this woman — and not from just living in less liberated times.

She first says that experience is the best authority, but then she cites scripture to promote the virtues of the married life, her robust sexual activity, and her hedonism. Robertson in a Preface to Chaucer 1962point out how the Wife of Bath misquotes, takes out of context, and distorts scripture to persuade others of the worthiness of her life choices p.

Robertson never asks why would she do this.

Chaucer’s Wife of Bath Needs a New Astrological Chart

In my view, Chaucer is showing us the only means by which her opinions would be taken seriously. Experience is not the best authority after all. Robertson thinks that her style is mostly bad rhetoric if not outright dishonesty. This would be reserved for the well-born or men pursuing ecclesiastical careers.

By her own admission she could not cite classical authority on men mistreating women christianity and astrology in chaucer s canterbury instead she grabs the misogynous book, cast a few of its pages into the fire, and in return received a blow on the head that would result in her deafness. Yet the woman prevailed and in the end and she forced him to destroy the book.

She hails him as an authority yet incorrectly cites his Almagest, a very difficult work of astronomy, unreadable to almost everybody but specialists. Aside from being incorrect, this seems an example of scholarly name-dropping to give her voice a patina of authority. All this contrasts with her common-sense approach without the scholarly pretensions.

This is exemplified by her response to St. In other words, it takes all types to make up a world. Taurus and Mars and Venus To spare the reader an overly long passage of Middle English, here are lines translated by Burton Raffel 2008 that speak of her astrological indicators. Venus gave me desire [my lust, my likerousnesse], and all the parts I needed, but it was Mars that made me daring [hardynesse]. My astral ascendant was Taurus, with Mars sharing The sky.

I followed the path my stars placed me in, I had no choice but to be what I have been. I never was good at holding back: And yet, remember, I wear Mars on my face And also in another private place. Curry quotes a traditional description of somebody with the first face first ten degrees of Taurus rising: Mars close to the Ascendant would certainly account for a mark somewhere on the head.

In my view, Curry takes it too far by asserting that Venus is also in Taurus and is afflicted by a conjunction with Mars. This would result in a character that is aggressive and disagreeable character and in the deforming marks on her face and on private parts. There is nothing in this text that tells us that Venus is conjunct Mars. In the General Prologue line 460. Chaucer depicts her appearance thus: The men on the pilgrimage seem to like her, and she did attract five different men to marry her!

Although christianity and astrology in chaucer s canterbury eagerly admits using sexuality to assert a power relationship between her and the men she married, she also wants to love and be loved for its own sake. To me this is a strong Venus but one not afflicted by a malefic. If we consider Venus, the ruler of her Taurus Ascendant, instead to be in good condition, we are left with a dialectic between Venus and Mars that works well to reveal her character and her conflicting attitudes toward life, especially men.

Astronomy and astrology

Because the reference is not a historical but literary work, a hypothetical chart seems appropriate to the occasion. As you can see Taurus is rising and Mars is conjunct the Christianity and astrology in chaucer s canterbury. What would give the Wife of Bath the nature of Venus, however, would be Venus in a strong sign and a strong house governing the Ascendant — like exalted in Pisces in the Eleventh from Taurus rising.

A Venus-like person, with a dignified Venus, would be fond of love and sex, music, art, social occasions and parties and luxury — the good things in earthly life.

These all seem true for her, but they are also corrupted by the strong influence of Mars on her personal style. At times, she christianity and astrology in chaucer s canterbury anything but charming but instead comes off as rough, coarse, and aggressive. She appears to have little sense that her power politics of the bedroom may be causing her partner unhappiness that will rebound on her, or that her seething anger violates her sense of herself as a loving person.

She notes, quite fairly, that if women wrote as much as clerics, then we would be reading much more about the wickedness of men. Then she gives us a little astrology. The signs of Mercury and Venus produce Two very different kinds of human youths, For Mercury favors wisdom, and loves all science, While Venus loves good parties, and huge expenses.

And simply because their marks are wholly opposed, One being down will drive the other up. Thus Venus rules when Pisces is climbing high, And Mercury lies flat, helpless, deprived.

And Venus falls when Mercury is rising. Where Venus is exalted Mercury is fallen Pisces and where Mercury is exalted Venus is fallen Virgogiving us a basic opposition of values of a Venus nature — sensual, loving finery — and those of a colder more cerebral Mercury nature like her young clerk husband.

She pivots into anger several times in the prologue and at the end of her story; you can see Mars intruding on her discourse that is trying to be the more like Mercury. She tends to distort facts to support her fixed point of view and she does so quite forcefully.

Her rambling but energetic presentation supports Mercury in her chart in a difficult sign in aspect to Mars. There are other factors to note in this chart. Jupiter in the Seventh, in trine to Venus, have given her five marriages that have placed her in a better and better financial position.

Now, although she has become older, she is confidently looking for Husband 6 — perhaps on this very pilgrimage to Canterbury. What might one make of Saturn at the Midheaven? The Wife of Bath is a powerful and assertive woman but also bitter.

Chaucer improves on a story from Boccaccio in a way that the older writer would have admired. Instead Chaucer has the Wife of Bath tell a romance sort of in a way that continues to demonstrate her character: Her telling this story is like an actor who becomes more himself or herself in a dramatic role, or like a storyteller who can tell about heroics he or she could never accomplish in real life.

Her story, so different in tone from her monologue, shows the Wife of Bath transcending her own limitations through her adventure in imagination — for a time. Five hundred years before Freud, Chaucer gives us her fantasy to help us understand her further.

Sun is the planet of sovereignty, mastery, governance. The matter is taken to the queen who also pronounces a death sentence — in a year. The knight has a year to inquire around what it is that women most want and if he gives the right answer his sentence will be commuted. For a year, he wanders the land and receives many answers, none of them satisfactory.

Finally, with time running out, he finds an old woman, ugly and old and impoverished, who will give him the answer, but then she gets her reward. You probably can guess or already know what happens next: She can be beautiful but cannot guarantee that she will ward off the advances of men, or she can appear as she does but be loving and faithful always. The knight, thus far presented as the shallowest of young men, makes the extraordinary move of offering her the choice. When he affirms to him that she may choose for herself, she promises both options, and when he looks upon her she has become young and beautiful, and they kiss and joyfully rock the bed and live with each other happily ever after.

After she threw some pages of his book on wicked wives into the fire, her husband punched her in the ear and she fell to the ground, unconscious. Jankin, fearing her dead and regretting his action, promises her the sovereignty.

  • Because the reference is not a historical but literary work, a hypothetical chart seems appropriate to the occasion;
  • The Knight responds by saying that the choice is hers, an answer which pleases her greatly;
  • I can well understand that noble text" [7] to bear fruit, not in children, but financially through marriage, land, and from inheritance when her husbands pass; [21] Chaucer's Wife chose to interpret the meaning of the statement by clarifying that she has no interest in childbearing as a means of showing fruitfulness, but the progression of her financial stability is her ideal way of proving success;
  • The signs of Mercury and Venus produce Two very different kinds of human youths, For Mercury favors wisdom, and loves all science, While Venus loves good parties, and huge expenses;
  • The matter is taken to the queen who also pronounces a death sentence — in a year.

She then strikes him back after which she takes from him the governance in their marriage — although she must keep this information from others. She responds by being good, faithful, and true henceforth and their marriage was happy.

The thematic resemblance between these two scenes further illustrates the element of personal fantasy in her telling of the story. It adds poignancy and maybe pathos to her story of her marriages.

It would be more difficult to find husband 6 since her appearance is perhaps closer to the old women than the beautiful young woman at the end of her story. If in the story the woman can have it both, be both wise and beautiful, the Wife of Bath cannot. Her attitude may be, for it ends with a curse. And olde and angry nygards of dispense, God sende hem soone verray pestilence! After this romantic tale that displays the Wife at her best, Chaucer engages us to remember the many disquieting things we have learned about her previously.

Her two stories of women taking sovereignty end with positive results, but one is in the fairy tale and in the other we only hear from her.