The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer

The Shipman's Tale Analysis

The Shipman’s Tale is short, but it addresses several issues raised in earlier tales: it’s a “trick” story, but one in which money, sex, women, and marriage are closely connected – much as they are in the Wife of Bath’s Prologue, which is assumed by some critics to have originally been written immediately after the Shipman’s Tale. The tale itself is one which the Wife of Bath might have told: it is the wife who makes out best, getting her loan repaid without having to tell her husband or anyone else where the money came from, convincing her husband to “pay” in return for sleeping with her, and getting some satisfying sex, which (as she tells the monk) she has been sorely lacking. The wife thus carries out the Wife of Bath’s argument that sex is an excellent bargaining tool by which wives can get what they want from husbands – and that if women’s bodies are so valuable to men, then women, not men, ought to be the ones who profit from them.

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