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Abstract

In their article "The Practice of PR and the Canterbury Pilgrims" Jay Ruud and Stacey Jones argue that the concepts of relationship management discussed by public relations scholars can be applied to the study of literary characters, specifically here to Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, The Wife of Bath, and The Pardoner. Essentially, what PR scholars call the expression of communal relationship values in the Wife's performance is rewarded, while behaviors like the Pardoner's that focus merely on a zero-sum win-lose relationship are punished. The Pardoner is competitive in all phases of his performance, and consistently demonstrates a win-lose mentality in his relationships both in his preaching and in his tale of sterile competition. The Wife's Prologue demonstrates her own competitive relationship with her husbands, but her tale emphasizes the value of communal relationship between the "hag" and her knight. While the Wife may in fact be deliberately manipulative and concerned with her own "winning," she is also concerned with benefiting her audience as well, and thereby demonstrates a "win-win" strategy.

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