Chaucer's View of Women Exposed in The Canterbury Tales

778 Words 4 Pages
Often, the most memorable female characters are those who break out of the stereotypical “good wife” mold. When an author uses this technique effectively, the woman often carries the story. In Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, he portrays the Wife of Bath, Alison, as a woman who bucks the tradition of her times with her brashness and desire for control. Chaucer effectively presents a woman's point of view and evokes some sympathy for her.

In the author's time, much of the literature was devoted to validating the frailties of women. However, in this story, the Wife is a woman who has outlived four of five husbands for “of five housbodes scoleying” (P50) is she.
She holds not her tongue, and says exactly what she thinks, even if
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She states that “In wifhood wol I use myn instrument/As freely as my Makere hath it sent” (P155).
She displays her ruthless side when she makes her cheating husband, the fourth, think that she is cheating and revels in this victory by saying “in his own greece I made him frye” (P493). It is obvious that the Wife of Bath is no submissive woman who thinks what she is told to think. She is opinionated and blunt, qualities which present her views accordingly.

As she is not docile, the Wife must be something to the contrary, and of course she is, to a great degree. The Wife strives to gain complete mastery over her husbands. And gain mastery she does as “[she] hadde hem hoolly in myn hand/And sith that they hadde yiven me al hir land/What sholde I take keep hem for to plese/But it were for my profit and myn ese” (P217). The Wife's secret is simple, “For half so boldely can ther no man/Swere and lie as a woman can”
(P234). She does something to every husband to maintain her control. However,
Jankyn, her fifth husband, believes in everything that disparages women, which is exactly what Alison detests. She lashes out with all she has left: “[she] with [her] fist so took him on the cheeke/That in oure fir he fil bakward adown”
(P799). Her deceptive scheme is to pretend to die from the blow dealt by Jankyn.
“And with his fist he smoot [her] on the heed/That in the floor I lay
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