In the sample excerpt, the student applies contemporary assumptions to a literary text. In addition, the student also makes assumptions about characters in the work, but doesn’t include the appropriate supporting evidence. Let’s read the excerpt.
Her philosophy is expressly what it is, an ideal. Her ideals about marriage are not the same as societal norms. She states, “ ‘Experience, . . . were right ynough to me / To speke of wo that is in marriage’ ” (Wife of Bath, ll 1-3). Since there is so much unhappiness, the “Wyf of Bathe” develops a different set of ideals and discusses and rationalizes each to fit “her” frame of thinking. For example, she criticizes the absurdity in counseling a woman to be a virgin and reasons that counseling is not a commandment, but rather it is the inherent right to one’s own judgment. It is her belief that it does not make sense for the church to proclaim and advocate virginity; “For hadde God commanded maydenhede, / Thanne hadde He dampned wedding with the dede” (ll 69070). In other words, if God set the law for everyone to remain a virgin, then there would be no marriage. . . . It this philosophy that sets her apart from others and she is rather “almost” admired than favored for her perceived truth.
Figure 66: Essay Excerpt on “The Wyf of Bathe”
The student makes many assumptions about the literary work, but doesn’t provide specific evidence or detailed explanations.
1) What are the societal norms regarding marriage within the context Chaucer provides?
2) What is the time period?
3) What is the purpose of God setting the law of marriage?
4) How does her philosophy set her apart from others? Who are the others?
5) How is she almost admired? What is her perceived truth?
1) Research the history, society, and time period before developing your analysis.
2) Stay within the boundaries of Chaucer’s work.
Based upon your individual research, rewrite the student’s analysis.
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