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Chaucer's Treatment Of Women In The Canterbury Tales

Decent Essays
There are three women in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, the prioress, the wife of Bath and the prostitute in the Shipman’s Tale. The prioress and the wife of Bath are the only ones of the three that have a fully developed part of the overall work. They are equal to the male characterizations; the prostitute is only minor player. Women are rarely mentioned in the other pilgrim’s tales. The wife of Bath and the Prioress are examples of strong medieval women. As Chaucer depicts them, they are a departure from the typical sinful daughters of Eve with the exception of the prostitute. The wife Dame Alisoun, and the prioress are both pious, successful females but they are still under the domain of men. Chaucer’s women are still part of the patriarchal world of the late middle ages. Dame Alisoun has been under the control of men since she was a child first her father then later her husbands. The only time that she has been in control of her life is when widowed. She finally has the freedom that other women do not have. Her property is her own, her body is her own,…show more content…
Suzanne Edwards states the tale “refuses the ambiguities of the medieval regulation of sexual violence” there was no difference in a violent attack where a woman was raped by a stranger or acquaintance and the forced sex of her marital partner (3). However, there was a legal difference since a woman was the property of her husband; he could do whatever he wished to her short of murdering her.
Chaucer’s Wife of Bath gives the reader a glimpse into the world of medieval women and at the same time is a commentary on Chaucer’s view of deficiencies of his world. In the Knight’s Tale, the reader sees a resistance to the rights of women, typical of the medieval period and in the Wife’s Tale there is a peek at the beginning of the sovereignty of women of their own
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