Beowulf’s Warriors & Chaucer’s Pilgrims
There are many contrasts and similarities if we look the portrayal of the warriors from Beowulf and the band of pilgrims from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. Both works are medieval in nature, but Beowulf’s warriors are within the realm of the elite of society, while Chaucer’s pilgrims are mainly low-born commoners albeit some of them with airs much higher than their station in life. However, in the tale of Beowulf and in Chaucer’s tales, we see in the characters both high and low aspects of human nature and character. For example, Wiglaf must berate his fellow warriors for cowardice upon the death of the heroic Beowulf. In “The Wife of Bath’s Tale” the Wife of Bath considers herself an expert on marriage success but is herself living with her fifth husband.
If we compare Beowulf’s warriors to Chaucer’s pilgrims, we see many contrasts. For example, the Wife of Bath argues against virginity in her opening remarks and she believes the best tip for a successful marriage is to let the wife have sovereignty over the husband in all aspects of married life, “I nil envye no virginitee:/Lat hem be breed of pured whete seed,/And lat us wives hote barly breed--/And yit with barly breed, Marke telle can,/Oure Lord Jesu refressehd many a man” (Chaucer 143). This character could not stand more in contrast to the women of Beowulf, who are expected to be virgins, remain loyal to their men equally amid victory or tragedy, and are considered the property of the man to whom they are betrothed and the property of their fathers before then. We see Hrothgar use his daughter as a pawn for political peace, “Hrothgar is to marry his daughter, Freawaru, to Ingeld the Heathobard in what Beowulf grimly foresees will be a vain effort to heal the tribal feud” (Beowulf 34).
There are some similarities between the two works as well. However, the similarities are only superficial