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Chaucer's View Of Women Exposed In The Canterbury Tales

737 words - 3 pages

Often, the most memorable female characters are those who break out of the stereotypical “good wife” mold. When an author uses this technique effectively, the woman often carries the story. In Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, he portrays the Wife of Bath, Alison, as a woman who bucks the tradition of her times with her brashness and desire for control. Chaucer effectively presents a woman's point of view and evokes some sympathy for her.

In the author's time, much of the literature was devoted to validating the
frailties of women. However, in this story, the Wife is a woman who has
outlived four of five husbands for “of five housbodes scoleying” (P50) is she.
She holds not her tongue, and says exactly what she thinks, even if she
contradicts others, even Jesus. For in the Bible it states that Jesus “Spak in
repreve of the Samaritan:/‘Thou hast yhad five housbondes,' quod he,/‘And that
ilke man that now hath thee/Is nat thyn housbonde'” (P16). Despite this quote
from the holy writ, the Wife states that ther are no other arguments “Eek wel I
woot he [Jesus] saide that myn housbonde/Sholde lete fader and moder and take
me,/But of no nombre mencion made he [Jesus]--/Of bigamye or of octagamye” (P30).
She maintains her position and dismisses the one contention in the Bible by
stating in relation to the above quote “Wat that he mente therby [she] can nat
sayn,/But that I axe why the fifthe man/Was noon housbonde to the Samaritan?/How
manye mighte she han in mariage?/Yit herde I nevere tellen in myn age/Upon this
nombre diffinicioun” (P20). A true account of her brashness is when she states
that sex organs are for pleasure as well as function. She states that “In
wifhood wol I use myn instrument/As freely as my Makere hath it sent” (P155).
She displays her ruthless side when she makes her cheating husband, the fourth,
think that she is cheating and revels in this victory by saying “in his own
greece I made him frye” (P493). It is obvious that the Wife of Bath is no
submissive woman who thinks what she is told to think. She is opinionated and
blunt, qualities which present her views accordingly.

As she is not docile, the Wife must be something to the contrary, and of course
...

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