Gender Roles In The Wife Of Bath

1494 Words6 Pages
A careful analysis of Gregory Chaucer’s “The Wife of Bath” led to identifying and deconstructing the theme of gender roles within the poem. The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is used in order to help readers translate and make clear of passages that were originally unclear. In the process, the various definitions of words from different time periods made certain ideas within the poem open to other interpretations. Through a better understanding of the words incubus, ragery, deef and bigamye, “The Wife of Bath” reveals the distinction between man and woman. A man who once held supremacy is now seen as inferior by a woman who gains mastery over him. Chaucer does this purposefully as it not only says something about the characters but the culture as well.
Chaucer definitely used “The Wife of Bath” to challenge the notion of gender roles with the character of the Knight. The infatuation of a Knight being loyal and faithful to women was quickly devalued as Chaucer dismisses the commonly accepted view. He describes a Knight as “he sawgh a maide walking him biforne/by verray force be rafte hir maidenhood” (lines 892 & 89). Within this scene, Chaucer chooses vocabulary which re-emphasizes the notion of Knights breaking the moral codes to tend to their sexual nature. He writes “in every bussh or under every tree/ ther is noon other incubus but he,/ and he ne wol doon hem but dishonour (lines 895- 897). The word “incubus” (line 886) is used in this poem to describe “an evil spirit
Get Access