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Cantebury Tales - Relation of Wife of Bath to Contemporary Women

Uploaded by deubert on Mar 21, 2001

Hundreds of centuries before the fourteenth century, during it and yet still after, civilization, led by the educated theologians, politicians and whoever else made up the ruling class, women were looked at as the Devil’s ally – a sensual and deceitful creature who was a constant bearer of sin and the cause of most of man’s misfortune. Women then and now may look upon most of these “devilish” characteristics as desirable, strong-willed and feministic. Chaucer appears to support women and specifically these devilish feminists by creating two very strong-willed and successful women in the Wife of Bath and the old hag in the Wife’s tale. However, through all of the tough outer attributes, on the inside are the same classic and traditional damsels in distress that require a man just like the women of that time always had. Through the original strong qualities of the two women, Chaucer provides a hopeful example and model for women of now and then. Furthermore, by giving these women some stronger, domineering and “masculine” features Chaucer is terrifically satirizing the gender roles and stereotypes of the time. Along with all of these strong feminist messages also come out anti-feminism ideals about keeping women in a certain role, causing a lengthy and intelligent debate upon what Chaucer really meant. All of these reasons are why it is important to discuss and understand The Wife of Bath’s relation and influence on contemporary women.

Chaucer’s main target of his satirical wit and criticism throughout his Canterbury Tales is the Anglo-Saxon church and even though in this tale he focuses more on the gender debate his fiery scorn and contempt of the corrupt church and its disciples is embodied in the Wife’s prologues first three lines: “Experience, though no authority, Were in this world, were good enough for me, To speak of woe that is in all marriage;” Here Chaucer, through the eyes of a women, points out that there is far too much reliance on authority, meaning the opinions of older and perhaps ancient writers. This sort of authority was responsible for the horrible distortion of woman’s character and place in society and thus Chaucer felt his satirical and sarcastic attack about love in marriage was necessary. Chaucer does it through the Wife of Bath as a medium to reach the hopelessly ignorant women of the time should they hear of the tale.

The Wife of Bath...

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Uploaded by:   deubert

Date:   03/21/2001

Category:   Cantebury Tales

Length:   8 pages (1,701 words)

Views:   3649

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