Attitudes Towards Women in Fragment VII of Canterbury Tales

Attitudes Towards Women in Fragment VII of Canterbury Tales

Length: 1620 words (4.6 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓

Attitudes Towards Women in Fragment VII of Canterbury Tales


One of the most prominent themes in Fragment VII of the Canterbury Tales is the attitudes of the pilgrims towards women. There are two distinct sides in the dispute: that women are simply objects of lust that must never be trusted, and that women are highly respectable and loving.


The Shipman's Tale starts off this debate with his depiction of women, which was less than favorable. The woman who is depicted in this tale is the wife of a merchant. She is not treated well by her husband, but certainly is not trustworthy or honorable herself. She sells her body to the best friend of her husband for a measly 100 francs. Her faithfulness to her husband was worth only a few extravagant garments for her to wear. It is her greed for these material goods that drives her into cuckolding her unsuspecting husband. Her worldly desires are more important than her marriage, and in the end she is hardly punished at all. She does manage to keep her husband from finding out, by saying that the Monk was simply repaying his debt and she used the money to buy some clothes. So, she gets away with a crime that would have dealt her a far greater punishment. This outcome, while it certainly wasn't perfect for the wife, was much less than she deserved.


The Prioress steps in with the next tale, and takes a much different view. The Prioress herself is a very humble and well-mannered woman, as she is described in the General Prologue. She is also extremely compassionate towards all of God's creatures. Her tale is a tribute to the greatest woman of all, the Virgin Mary. While it is a tribute to the Virgin, the focus of the story is more on the little boy and his widowed mother. The mother is greatly distressed at her son's disappearance, and is eventually led by Jesus himself to the place where her son has been tossed. The idea that Jesus himself was consorting with this woman and answering her prayers makes a strong statement. Jesus certainly would not aid an evil person, so this widow must have been virtuous and humble.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Attitudes Towards Women in Fragment VII of Canterbury Tales." 23 Jan 2019

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Analyse British Attitudes Towards Race and Nationality Essays

- The British Empire at its height, encompassed vast amounts of territories; consequently, within the scope of land under British rule there was also a large range of races and nationalities. Attitudes towards these races and nationalities were as varied as the territories themselves. The expansion of this empire can be viewed as the prominent base factor that allowed the study of these new dominions, this catalysed and formed ideas on race and nationality during this period; other influencing factors such as; scientific research of the time and media representation of other cultures; through the medium of travel writing and journals ....   [tags: british empire, british attitudes, racism]

Research Papers
1692 words (4.8 pages)

Self-stigmatization Influencing Attitudes Towards Seeking Professional Psychological Help

- Why many people will see seeking professional psychological help as a last option. There are many people who could benefit from receiving professional services but not all of the people would willing to seek professional psychological help (Corrigan, 2004). Based on Corrigan (2004), the stigmatization has been shown to be a crucial barrier to people who are seeking professional psychological help. The aim of this study was to investigate the role of both self-stigmatization and perceived public stigmatization associated with attitudes towards seeking professional psychological help through two main analyses....   [tags: negative attitudes, personality traits]

Research Papers
1471 words (4.2 pages)

Essay about The Attitudes Towards Violence and Guns

- Youth violence has passed epidemic proportions. Many youth are seen in the emergency rooms due to violent behavior. Homicide is the second cause of death in adolescents and young adults. The Attitude Towards Guns and Violence addresses the fondness towards violence of youth today. It is a simple scale that covers four different areas. It has been tried in at least two different areas. Even though, it has limitations it alerts professionals of threats of possible violence and can be used to assure that interventions are in place to mold the attitude in a different direction....   [tags: Youth Violence, Preventing Homicide]

Research Papers
1210 words (3.5 pages)

Essay on Management Of And Attitudes Towards Training

- Question 1: Identify and discuss the problems with the management of and attitudes towards training in this organisation. Support your answer with relevant course concepts. Metraco Manufacturing P/Ltd have many problems in relation to their management of and attitudes towards training. The HR director at Metraco Manufacturing, Roger Mason is viewed as effective by upper levels peer, however his staff find his leadership ineffective (CS). The problems which have been identified includes employees believe the training has no value at the workplace, whilst other believe there is no need for it at all....   [tags: Management, Employment, Human resource management]

Research Papers
1844 words (5.3 pages)

Attitudes Towards People With Disabilities Essay

- Attitudes towards people with disabilities have changed drastically over the past decade. In the early 1900s, people with disabilities were viewed as ‘unable to be educated and parents were often advised to “put their children away and get on with their lives”’ ( Considering these were the original opinions on how people with disabilities should be treated in a society, this is where the core of everyone’s beliefs have been shaped from. Attitudes have changed for the reason that the media has been able to expose and create people to be more aware of this issue....   [tags: Disability, Mental disorder]

Research Papers
1324 words (3.8 pages)

Essay about Teacher Attitudes Towards Inclusion

- In summary, research indicates positive shift in attitudes toward inclusion and can be fostered by teacher education in a variety of aspects pertaining to inclusion including increased administrative support, co-teaching, support from special education teachers and paraprofessionals, adequate resources to meet the needs of a wide variety of learners, and time for making accommodations, modifications, and planning (DeSimone and Parmar, 2006; Daane et al., 2008; Elliot, 2008; Gurgur & Uzuner, 2010; Jung, 2007)....   [tags: education, teaching]

Research Papers
1279 words (3.7 pages)

Mysticism in D. H. Lawrence's A Fragment of Stained Glass Essay examples

- Mysticism in D. H. Lawrence's A Fragment of Stained Glass Mystical ideas about heaven, hell, angels, and the devil have been present in human lives for most of history. While some people simply take what is given to them without considering what else might be out there, others have faith in higher beings and need that support to survive. "A Fragment of Stained Glass" by D. H. Lawrence delves into the questionable beliefs of a mystical world outside our own material world. Lawrence develops these ideas by using a frame story that does not truly reveal itself to the reader until the end of the story....   [tags: Lawrence Fragment of Stained Glass Essays]

Research Papers
1592 words (4.5 pages)

Attitudes Towards Love in Poetry Essay

- Attitudes Towards Love in Poetry Love is an emotion that has been felt by people throughout time. It is extremely difficult to put any strong emotion into words, but through the pre-twentieth century ‘Love and Loss’ poetry we are able to see various different attitudes shown towards love and the way that love is conveyed through relationships. The poems referred to in this essay are “First Love” by John Clare, “How Do I Love Thee” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, “A Birthday” by Christina Rossetti, “A Woman to Her Lover” by Cristina Walsh and “My Last Duchess” by Robert Browning....   [tags: Love and Loss Poetry Poems Essays]

Research Papers
2650 words (7.6 pages)

Attitudes Towards Older People Essay

- Attitudes towards Older People Attitudes and treatment towards elderly people can be said to vary drastically across cultures. From Europe, Asia, the Middle East, the America's, Africa and Australia, the attitudes expressed by the community towards older people are very different when compared to one another. An `attitude' can be defined as `a mental view or disposition' (Wilkes & Krebs, 1987), or if the content is used in has a psychological basis ` the learned, relative stable tendency to respond to people, concepts, and events in an evaluative way' (Gerrig & Zimbardo, 2002)....   [tags: Psychology]

Research Papers
1177 words (3.4 pages)

Parental Attitudes Towards Chi Essay

- A person’s gender, age, place of birth, accent, manners, etc., are the matters people take into account when describing or evaluating an individual. Birth order appears to be one of these matters as well. Birth order, as used in this paper, indicates a child’s place in the family. Birth order has an advantage of being easier to check than other characteristics. This type of study makes it possible to ask a person about their siblings without offending or taking too much of their time. Some individuals tend to determine the birth order of others simply by observing their behavior....   [tags: essays research papers fc]

Free Essays
2463 words (7 pages)

Related Searches

And upon her finding of the little boy, the miracle of the Virgin Mary is presented. The boy, who had praised her and loved her throughout his short life, now sang because of the grain placed on his tongue by Mary herself. The story praises a woman who is unmatched in virtue by any mortal man, and shows a widowed mother to be humble and virtuous herself. Certainly a different view than was displayed in the Shipman's Tale.


The tales of Chaucer himself followed the Prioress' Tale. The first of which, the Tale of Sir Thopas, didn't take as strong stance on any attitude towards women as did the two tales that preceded it. It did, however, portray women to be objects of lust and affection which could put a man in grave danger. This is what the reader might expect from Chaucer, since he does place himself among some of the other rascals of the group in the General Prologue. The other rascals (the Reeve and Miller especially) had already told stories that depicted women as objects of male desire. Sir Thopas, the knight, left his hometown of Flanders because he had become bored with the local maidens. On his adventure, he dreamt of a beautiful Elf Queen, with whom he fell desperately in love. He searched the forest in search of her, and vowed to never stop until her found her. When he met the three-headed giant who stood in his way, he went back home to prepare to fight. He was ready to risk his life to gain the love of the Elf Queen. The Elf Queen in this story is an object of lust and desire, much like the merchant's wife in the Shipman's Tale. Since the story is cut short, though, the reader never gets a chance to see what this Queen is really like. All that is seen is that she has captured the heart of this young and noble knight, which has him risking his life in search of her.


After Chaucer's first sorry tale is cut short, he moves on to the Tale of Melibee. In this story some different attitudes towards woman are actually discussed verbally amongst the characters. Melibee talks of how all women are evil and none are good. But, his wife Prudence responds to that by saying that Jesus would never have been born to an evil woman, nor would he have appeared to a woman after his resurrection. So, not all women could be evil. This point is accepted by Melibee, as her point as been clearly made. Also, she points out women who have saved the lives of their husbands and who were truthful to them. As this argument continues, Prudence continues to sway Melibee to accept her argument. She does this with good intentions as well. She does not want her husband to go to war with these enemies of his which certainly could put them all in danger. By the end of the story, she has convinced him so thoroughly that he ignores the advice of his counsel, and follows her advice almost to the letter. He does, however, give his enemies a bit of a verbal chiding against her wishes. It is quite possible that he did this simply to maintain himself as the sovereign lord of his estate, and to show Prudence that she has not gained complete mastery over him. This story takes an opposite approach towards women than Chaucer did in the Tale of Sir Thopas. But, since Chaucer does portray himself in the tales as a dunce, it is possible that this character is simply to doltish to make up his mind and take a solid stance on the issue.


The Monk, who is the second most noble character of the group, follows with his tale. He is a religious man, but one who enjoys worldly goods, and certainly does not deprive himself of them. He hunts quite regularly, even though his religious order discourages it by old standards. He is described as handsome and well-built man. One might wonder if he also neglects to deprive himself of intimate relations with women.


The central theme in the Monk's Tale is tragedy. He does, however, get in little tidbits about his attitudes towards women. Much as Melibee was at the start of Chaucer's second tale, the Monk is quite distrustful of women. In his tale of Samson, he described how Samson had told his wife, Dalilah, that his strength was in his hair. She betrayed him and sold his secret to his enemies, who cut off his hair and threw him in a cave. After looking at this single example, the Monk concludes that men should keep their secrets to themselves, because wives can not be trusted. His view of woman is actually quite similar to the Shipman's. As stated, he believed they could not be trusted. Then he went on to tell of Zenobia, a great Persian conqueror. This woman married a Prince, but refused to sleep with him except when trying to conceive a child. While the wife of the merchant in the Shipman's Tale was sleeping with her husband's friends, Zenobia was refusing to lay with her own husband. Neither case would be looked upon approvingly by most of the pilgrims.


The Nun's Priest has the final say in the matter. The Priest is traveling with the Prioress, so before reading this tale one might think that he will be afraid to offend her. This story deals extensively on this issue, and has to main points which reveal the Priest's attitude towards women. Chauntecleer quotes a Latin phrase that he says means that women are the bliss of men. However, the phrase actually said that women are men's ruin. So why did Chauntecleer lie to Pertelote when he told her this false translation? Well, quite possibly because he didn't want to upset her any further, and because he was about to spend the whole morning having sex with her. If he had upset her further, she may have turned him away. Chauntecleer also began to compliment her looks along with changing the meaning of the Latin phrase because he loved her and he wanted to make love to her. So, this is in fact showing that women are the bliss of men, since Chauntecleer is going out of his way to please Pertelote.


By afternoon of the same day, the story takes quite a turn. Pertelote had criticized Chauntecleer for being so cowardly after his dream, and he flew down from his safe perch because of her insults. Because of this, his vision soon came true, and he was captured by the fox. If it had not been for Pertelote berating him because of his cowardice, he would have stayed in his perch in safety. Now, the true meaning of the Latin phrase is also shown as true, as Pertelote has caused the ruin of the great Chauntecleer. There is one substantial difference in this story, however. When Chauntecleer is taken away by the fox, Pertelote shrieks and is quite distressed, as the story emphasizes. She expresses genuine concern for Chauntecleer, unlike the wife in the Shipman's Tale and Dalilah in the Monk's Tale. So, the Nun's Priest's point on the matter is quite simple. Women are the bliss of men, but, whether intentionally or not, also bring about the ruin of the men they love.
Return to