Geoffrey Chaucer’s skills of observation give us some insight on what people thought women were like in the medieval times. The author has described some of his female characters as being honest, loyal, caring, and beautiful. Other female characters are controlling, promiscuous, and plotting. In Chaucer’s novel, the Canterbury Tales, there are four stories that describe two different stereotypical views on women.
The power struggle between man and woman has been tangible since the time of Adam and Eve. In Canterbury Tales, written by Geoffrey Chaucer, a plethora of characters share stories that reflect their personalities and lives. Several of these stories revolve around the female position and focuses on the role they play in society. Although women are usually seen as subordinate to the male, in Canterbury Tales, they are portrayed as independent human beings. The Wife of Bath embodies her independence through her dominance over her first three husbands in marriage. Additionally, Alison from “The Miller’s Tale” is representative of this strong female character, for her denial towards the males in her lives, manifests how independent she is.
In medieval literature, the role of women often represents many familiar traits and characteristics which present societies still preserve. Beauty, attractiveness, and grace almost completely exemplify the attributes of powerful women in both present and past narratives. European medieval prose often separates the characteristics of women into two distinct roles in society. Women can be portrayed as the greatest gift to mankind, revealing everything that is good, pure, and beautiful in a woman's life. On the other side of the coin, many women are compared to everything that is evil and harmful, creating a witch-like or temptress quality for the character. These two aspects of European culture and literature show that the power of
The Wife of Bath is perhaps the most fully realized character in the Canterbury Tales. Headstrong, boisterous and opinionated, she wages a perpetual struggle against the denigration of women and the taboos against female sexuality. She issues a number of rebuttals against strict religious claims for chastity and monogamy, using Biblical examples including Solomon to show that the Bible does not overtly condemn all expressions of sexuality, even outside of marriage. Those who use religious texts to argue for the submission of women are the most fervent targets of scorn for the Wife of Bath. She claims that the reason for the bias against women in these texts is due to the lack of experience and contact with women of those who write the text. It is this antipathy to intellectual arguments against femininity that causes her to tear the pages from Jankin's book.
In the 21st century, many women have been successful because of feminism. Women empowerment in our current time is a lot strong than in the Medieval period, but it is still weak. In “The Canterbury Tales” by Chaucer it represents strong feminist characters in, “The Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale”. The characters such as a Wife of Bath, an old hag, and also a Queen from “Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale,” play a feminist character in the male-dominated society during that time. Through these three characters, we see strong examples of feminism.
All through Canterbury Tales, women are dealt with as objects in everyday life. In the “Miller’s Tale,” an old man marries a younger, attractive women for her looks. In the “Wife of Bath’s Tale,” a virgin woman has her virginity and innocence taken from her by what is suppose to be a noble and honorable knight and when his punishment is later to marry an older, less attractive women, all respect for his newly wife vanishes. A woman’s level of recognition in Canterbury Tales are through her class in society, whether she is young and beautiful, or old and disgusting, and her degree of experience in life. Women are not desired for their intelligence, wisdom and capabilities which might of kept a relationship deceitful-free. The “Wife of
In the time period of the 14th century, many woman faced inequality. Women were not viewed to uphold the same quota as men. Most females were viewed as passive to males and were not able to make many demands in their relationships or make any contributions to their own survival or life. In the “Wife of Bath Tale”, written by Geoffrey Chaucer, Chaucer gives an insight into the struggles of a woman. Chaucer gives a voice for women who cannot speak for themselves. He creates a tale for the Wife of Bath that includes and questions the societal views of women. Written in the words of a woman, Chaucer undermines what it means to be a female in the fourteenth century who desires independence and
During the medieval times, women were not seen as they are today. Although in the world today there are still those who are full of misogyny, it was much more common and intense during this time period. Women during the middle ages had specific roles assigned to them in society. These roles depended on the type of women they were, whether it be a peasant, noble woman, or an evil temptress. These roles that women have served have shown up in numerous stories from the middle ages including: Beowulf, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and The Wife’s Lament.
The Wife of Bath's extraordinary prologue gives the reader a dose of what is sometimes missing in early male-written literature: glimpses of female subjectivity. Women in medieval literature are often silent and passive, to the extent that cuckolding is often seen as something one man (the adulterer) does to another (the husband). Eve Sedgwick argues in Between Men that in many literary representations, women are playing pieces or playing fields in struggles between male players. By default it seems, male writers cannot help but create shallow constructions of women; heroism occurs in male spheres of activity, while the wives and daughters make the background, and
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.
Many literary critics throughout the years have labeled the Wife of Bath, the "gap-toothed (23)" character of The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer, a feminist. She is a strong-willed and dominant woman who gets what she wants when she wants it. However, this is not the definition of a feminist. A feminist is someone who believes that women and men are equal, while also is able to recognize and appreciate the unique characteristics of both sexes. A feminist celebrates what it means to be a woman, and a feminist is definitely not what Chaucer meant his character to be interpreted as. If anything, the Wife of Bath could safely be called a sexist. She constantly emphasizes the negative
Women from the beginning of time have been determined to make their mark in the world of a "so-called" man 's world. Women believed they deserved the right to express their opinions about family matters as well as business affairs. The women in Beowulf and The Wife of Bath Tale have different issues, however they are for all the same reason: be heard by the power dominating sex. In the eighth century men were thought of as being superior to women. In the fourteenth century women played roles that made them feel superior over males. Both poems illustrate how women were used as symbols by powerful men to support their nobility. The opposing dynamics of the feeble women in Beowulf
Chaucer's "The Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale" is a medieval legend that paints a portrait of strong women finding love and themselves in the direst of situations. It is presented to the modern day reader as an early tale of feminism showcasing the ways a female character gains power within a repressive, patriarchal society. Underneath the simplistic plot of female empowerment lies an underbelly of anti-feminism. Sometimes this is presented blatantly to the reader, such as the case of Janekin's reading aloud from "The Book of Wikked Wives" (The Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale 691). However, there are many other instances of anti-feminism that may not scream so loudly to the reader. This
In the Middle Age literature, women are often presented or meant to come off as an unimportant character; which can also reflect on how the author wants the women character represent. Women are usually shunned, have no say or control in what they do; due to what men desire; like Ophelia and Gertrude did in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. But these female characters that I will discuss are women with power, control, and a voice. Majority of the female character’s appearances are made to represent wickedness, evil, or a seducer who challenges a man belief; and does not symbolize perfect women.
In Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, he introduces a character known as the Wife of Bath. It is her turn to tell the stories, and her tale begins discussing her past marriages in the prologue. Married five times, the Wife of Bath tells us about her own marital issues, and the way she was able to manipulate the gender roles to her own advantage. As interesting of a character as she is, I find Chaucer created the Wife of Bath to deliberately introduce the issues gender roles play in our society. I believe that the role the of the Wife of Bath in the tale was purposely written by Chaucer to twist the traditional gender roles of the time, satirizing how gender plays in society.