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Published: 14-09-2019

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Looking at the Wife of Bath From a Feminist Perspective

During the time Chaucer wrote the Canterbury Tales, guys viewed women as the lesser of the two sexes. In writing about the wife of Bath, Chaucer draws upon significantly of the antifeminist sentiment of the time to satirize the notion that ladies are much less than men. When Chaucer creates the character of Alison, he utilizes her as a foil to the ingrained roles that girls serve. Alison, the Wife of Bath, asserts her own views on marriage and the roles of women even though contradicting the customs that keep women oppressed. Even although she speaks of females dominating their guys, the impact Alison desires to obtain is the balancing of power between men and women.

Alison attempts to prove that her way is greater by attacking the shortcomings and double standards of the existing gender roles. She calls consideration to these disparities in clever techniques. The wife of Bath begins her initial point by saying the teachings of Christ have “taught [her] by that really precedent/That I ought not be married far more than once” (Chaucer 219). She continues:

I know that Abraham was a holy man,

And Jacob also, so far as I can inform

And they had a lot more than two wives, each of them,

And numerous yet another holy man as nicely. (220)

By way of recalling the lives of these holy males, Alison dispels the stigma of women who marry far more than once, by stating that even holy males can have much more than one particular wife.

The wife continues by explaining that her marriage to 5 husbands has offered her the encounter necessary to make these claims. She goes on, explaining, “Three were very good husbands, two of them have been negative/The 3 excellent ones have been very wealthy and old,” and “[t]hey’d offered [her] their land and property” (224). The old husbands are greatest due to the fact when they die their riches continue to make Alison comfortable, and via this custom, she shows that girls hold their own kind of energy. When she talks of her fifth and favored husband, Alison comes to the point of her tirade. The wife explains that her fifth husband is especially cruel in his assessment of wives by flaunting his education. He reads to Alison from a book about wicked wives, spawning a physical fight. The fight causes the husband to understand he should yield to her, causing their relationship to attain a level of mutual respect and kindness. The husband gave her “[n]ot only management of property and land,/But of his tongue, and also of his fist” (239). Consequently, not only has the wife conquered her husband and taken control of her life, but she has introduced the crux of her tale.

The tale begins with of Arthur’s knights raping a young maid, showing that even for the duration of the time of chivalry ladies are ruled by men. The wife then areas the knight’s fate in Guinevere’s hands which sends the knight on a quest to uncover what females really want. By putting the knight’s fate in the queen’s hands instead of the king’s, Alison reverses the gender roles by producing him reliant on a woman’s mercy. This act places the focus of the story on women’s wants, rather than men’s. The knight at some point finds his answer by promising himself to an old hag who tells him she knows the answer to his quest. The hag needs the knight to marry her, and he relents, providing over his youthful, masculine energy to her ancient, feminine wisdom. Alison has the hag reveal that “[w]omen wish to have dominion/Over their husbands, and their lovers too” (245). As soon as the knight receives his answer and marries the hag, she provides him a selection among her getting ugly and faithful or gorgeous and treacherous. The knight replies:

Pick for oneself whichever’s the most pleasant,

Most honourable to you, and me also.

All’s 1 to me decide on either of the two

What pleases you is great sufficient for me. (250)

This resignation proves to the hag her dominance over her husband the knight. With her new energy in hand, the hag offers the knight the best of each worlds and promises to be beautiful and faithful. By providing the knight happiness in reward for passing his energy to the ugly hag, Alison states the moral she desires to convey: if you trust your wife and allow her a say in your marriage, she will make you a pleased man.

Chaucer uses his feminist Alison to pass on information that he has learned from his personal marriage. The goal of this tale is to show that ladies think the only way to accomplish a content medium is to have the pendulum swing in their favor. Nevertheless, this is only necessary temporarily due to the fact following the males have relented to the powers of the ladies, the relationships turn into a lot more fair and balanced. Underneath the wife’s rhetoric and clever reasoning is a sensitive person who understands the value of a balance of energy in a relationship.
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