Women In Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales

1288 WordsJul 13, 20186 Pages
Introduction Geoffrey Chaucer’s “The Canterbury Tales” is a collection of stories written between 1387 and 1400 about a group of thirty people who travel as pilgrims to Canterbury (England) and on their way, they tell stories to each other about their lives and experiences. The stories constitute a critique of English society at the time, and particularly of the Church, while women seem to be presented in a different way than they are in other contemporary works. The aim of this essay is to present the ways in which the portrayal of women is different, and trace their role within Chaucer’s masterpiece. In doing so, first some general characteristics of how women were viewed during the medieval period are presented, and then there is an…show more content…
The Portrayal of Woman in Chaucer Women’s portrayal in Chaucer’s literature to certain extent reflects the state in medieval society. One of the first details to be taken into consideration is the fact that in “Canterbury Tales” where the stories of twenty nine pilgrims are presented, there are only three women. However, although they are the minority they are an irreplaceable part of the work and have multiple roles: they are both storytellers themselves, but they are also parts of the stories told by the rest of the pilgrims. They appear to have multi-dimensional personalities, as on the one hand they are presented as passive and obedient women, in line with the medieval conceptions of women, but on the other hand they are also obscure and mischievous personalities who can impose their own will and interfere in other people’s lives. More precisely, three women appear as narrators who tell the Prioress’ Tale, the Second Nun’s Tale and the Wife of Bath’s Tale. Martin (1990) points out that the selection of these portraits of women was deliberate from Chaucer, in an effort to underline the two standards that women had to comply with: that of a pious person, and that of a wife. Up until this point it seems that the conventions and beliefs of Chaucer’s time prevail in his writing and is similar to other contemporary works. However, Martin takes it one step
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