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Women in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales

Uploaded by april333884 on Jan 12, 2002

Women throughout the ages have had diverse personalities, and their various behaviors are significantly depicted in Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. He tells of several women; two are among the travelers on the pilgrimage to Canterbury and the others are characters in numerous tales during the journey. The Wife of Bath, the old woman in the Wife of Bath’s Tale, and Griselda, a character in the Clerk’s Tale, each exemplify the divergent roles of women in the fourteenth century. These women are suitable examples of woman of the past, and on the contrast can also be examples of women of present-day because although lifestyles may modify to some extent, however general behaviors remain the same.

“Forceful and vivacious,” The Wife of Bath is an ideal illustration of an unrestrained and lewd woman of the fourteenth century (Moore 2000). She has been widowed five times and she is going on the pilgrimage to Canterbury to possibly find her next husband. The Wife is opposed to the concept of chastity and plainly states her personal ideas concerning that subject within the prologue of her tale...

Tell me to what conclusion or in aid
of what were generative organs made?
And for what profit were those creatures wrought?
Trust me, they cannot have been made for naught.


Her attire is pretentious; she wears vivid garments and ornate headdresses (Moore 2000.) As a result of her flamboyant vanity, The Wife would have been censured by priests and parsons. The Wife of Bath can practically be considered a sex symbol of her generation.

The Wife of Bath has even been compared to Madonna by Susan K. Hagan. Hagan writes, “What I find so amazing in these two self styled performances of confession and romance, separated as they are by 600 years and phenomenological existence is that both express their individuality in terms of sexual autonomy and control. Both The Wife of Bath and Madonna know how to “play the game.” The Wife of Bath wants the free dinner as much as anyone else. She postures, she pronounces, she plays out the challenge of Host, Pardoner, Friar, and Clerk alike.” Hagan adds to the comparison by stating, “Her [The Wife of Bath] opening number might be "Express Yourself," but her method is to vogue, to strike a pose, whether it be the reprobate feminine exegete, the insatiable Venusian, the shrewish wife, the jealous wife, or the loving wife” (Hagan 2001).

The Wife of Bath also...

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Uploaded by:   april333884

Date:   01/12/2002

Category:   Cantebury Tales

Length:   5 pages (1,150 words)

Views:   2102

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