The Medieval Male Feminist : Chaucer 's The Canterbury Tales Essay

The Medieval Male Feminist : Chaucer 's The Canterbury Tales Essay

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The Medieval Male Feminist


Set in medieval times, The Canterbury Tales by Gregory Chaucer tells the experiences of a group of pilgrims traveling. One pilgrim in particular, Wife of Bath, gives interesting insight into women’s life in this period. She fights to gain power in a society that limits women. Though the Canterbury Tales seems to be an anti feminist text, Chaucer’s use of a strong female character suggests he supports women gaining more rights. He addresses the unfair treatment of women in marriages and the lack of power that they have over their own bodies through the Wife of Bath.
Chaucer’s resilient and independent female character, Alice indicates that this story strives to empower women. This character stands up for what she wants even though society prohibits women from being vocal. Chaucer expresses the Wife of Bath’s audaciousness in his description of her, “Gat-toothed was she, smoothly for to saye. Upon a ambler esily she sat…Of remedies of love she knew parchaunce, For she coude of that art the olde daunce” (Chaucer 470-471, 478-479). Alice will not conform to standard ideas for women during this time period. She openly discusses sexuality and rides horses with ease. Reading this information about Alice displays that Chaucer puts the Wife of Bath character in his novel to demonstrate that when women show strength, they can receive what they desire. For example, in the Wife of Bath Tale the hag of lower status than the knight tells him that she will still be a loyal wife. Her confession causes the knight to no longer regrets their marriage. The Tale also mentions another issue of what women yearn for most: power. By touching on this topic confirms that Chaucer does care for women and how they feel, if not he...


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...ual standard, it seems more like Chaucer trying to understand the reasons why women face criticism for multiple husbands when the bible allows many spouses. The Wife of Bath focuses on this topic for a while in her story. Women face discrimination in all aspects of marriage, nevertheless Alice combats these troubles.
Chaucer discusses key inequalities women face: unfair treatment in marriage and a lack of power in society. Therefore, making his Canterbury Tales a medieval feminist text. Chaucer uplifts women by educating others about the injustices women face through a confident female character, Alice. She ends her abuse forever because of her keen intelligence. Also the Wife of Bath gains control over her body because she governs her husbands by not having sex. Chaucer successfully creates a feminist tale during at time when such stories would have been uncommon.

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