October 10, 2017
The Power of the Female
Throughout time, the roles of women in society have been stagnant and subject to difficult prejudice. This prejudice and assumed role of women has been in place since the beginning of time in nearly every civilization known to man. In the love poem Troilus and Criseyde By Geoffrey Chaucer, Chaucer resists the classic order of female portrayals, Femininities, beauty, and fate. His portrayals of Criseyde challenges the traditional description as a restrictive benchmark of feminine strength. An absent father and a deceased husband afford Criseyde some agency, but no longer can offer protection, leaving her at the mercy of men who traffic in women and whose desires often compete with one another. Even with her strength, femininities are constructed throughout the everyday life society, magnified in specific time period that Criseyde resides, and also brings in the more obvious characteristics of female charm. Along with this, Criseyde also experiences a more masculinized side. She shows independency within her relationship and her decisions to be in one or not. These various characteristics lead to the characters to fall into a path set by fate, while some allow those same characters to think for themselves and live their own lives.
Criseyde is portrayed as independent, self-confident, strong, and vulnerable. In book two lines 743-747 Criseyde, for the first time, acknowledges that she is beautiful, “It is no wonder that he should love me; so, God help me, though I wish not any man knew of my thought, I am one of the fairest and kindest women here, and so men say throughout this town. What wonder is it, though, that he takes delight in me?”. By acknowledging that she is beautiful, she shows that she is not someone who is lacking in self-confidence. It also shows that she is not very surprised to know that Troilus has fallen in love with her but rather it is something that might have been expected. Her independence is evident from the very fact that she is deliberating what her next step should be regarding Troilus. Criseyde also says to herself in this passage that she is an independent woman, “Since I am free, alas, shall I now love, and jeopardize my security and enslave my liberty?”(771-772). This quote demonstrates that she truly does love her freedom, and her ability to make her own choices. If she was not free she would have followed the advice of her uncle Pandarus: to be with and love Troilus. Instead she took her liberty and decides for herself whom to love. In conclusion, Criseyde’s independence allows her to find what she truly loves and not be held down by the wants of others.
In addition to her fierce independence, Criseyde is a woman who is exceptionally comfortable with her femininity. Although her version of femininity is far different from the social norm of women in her time period. Throughout the middle ages, mainly around the...