The Clerk's Tale treats a large range of loosely feudal interrelationships, both on a social and private level. Initially, the central focus is on the lord, Walter, who consents to marry at the desire of his people (a sign of a good ruler is one who is concerned for the happiness of his subjects). He breaks with the strict traditions of his time and chooses a peasant girl for his bride, thus violating the social distinctions. He then violates humane standards by cruelly and needlessly testing his wife to prove her worthiness. What interests the Clerk as he tells his story of patient Griselda (judging from his asides to the pilgrims) is the contrast between Griselda's almost superhuman and determined patience contrasted with Walter's insufferable tests and his sad deficiency in that virtue of patience.
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