Canterbury Tales Essay Anti Feminist Rhetoric In The Wife Of Bath

1241 words - 5 pages

Anti-Feminist Rhetoric in The Wife Of Bath

 
In Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales, The Wife of Bath is a strong woman who loudly states her opinions about the antifeminist sentiments popular at the time. Chaucer, however, frequently discredits her arguments by making them unfounded and generally compromising her character. This brings into question Chaucer's political intent with the Wife of Bath. Is he supportive of her views, or is he making a mockery of woman who challenge the patriarchal society and its restriction and mistrust of women? The Wife's comedic character, frequent misquoting of authorities, marital infidelity, and her (as well as Chaucer's) own antifeminist sentiments weaken the argument that Chaucer supported of the Wife's opinions.

Chaucer chooses to make a comedy of the Wife, putting into question the seriousness of her character. What opinion is the reader to make of a woman who rants about marriage and female domination when she is described as a clown prepared for battle in the General Prologue ? Her bright red stockings, bold scarlet face, shield-like hat and sharp spurs draw the picture of a silly, if not crazy, woman whose manner is larger than life. The Wife's comical 'larger than life' characteristics apply to her feminist beliefs as well. Equal coexistence is not enough; she says men "shall be bothe my dettour and my thral "-something likely unheard of when this piece was written. Much of what makes her comical is the plethora of sexual innuendoes dispersed throughout her dialogue. For instance, when she irrelevantly mentions in her tale the eager friars that have

replaced the fairies of old:

Wommen may go saufly up and down:

In every bussh or under every tree,

Ther is noon other incubus but he,

And he ne wol doon hem but dishonour.

Sexual innuendoes like this one also support the antifeminist view that woman are sexual objects and to be treated as such. Another example of the Wife's comedy is when she tells her soon-to-be fifth husband of a fictitious dream involving blood. She credits her mother with the idea, but it is ridiculous because after her fourth husband, she is clearly not a virgin. The Wife seems oblivious to this, which makes it all the more humorous and discredits her further.

Perhaps the most ruinous of the Wife's characteristics is her frequent misquoting of authorities. Assuming that the editors of The Norton Anthology are correct, and that Chaucer knew that the Wife's claims were incorrect, the frequency of her false authoritative references diminishes the credibility of her arguments. During her prologue, she uses the story of Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman at the well to question the Bible's view of remarriage. As Norton points out, Jesus is denouncing the woman's sixth lover, to whom she is not yet married. She misquotes the Bible again in her comment about white and barley bread . According to Norton, "it is actually John, not Mark, who mentions...

Find Another Essay On Canterbury Tales Essay - Anti-Feminist Rhetoric in The Wife Of Bath

Wife of Bath in Chaecer's Canterbury Tales

924 words - 4 pages In the Canterbury Tales written by Geoffrey Chaucer the story tells about men and women going on pilgrimages, among them the Wife of Bath in search of her 6th husband, who go on a journey to pay their respect to Sir Thomas á Becket. During the story the Wife of Bath strongly expresses herself as a very strong woman and knows what she expects with the men shes with. As well as this, with all her beauty and respect she was given in life the

Chaucer's Canterbury Tales: The Wife of Bath

1066 words - 4 pages century, authors and readers alike are still struggling with presenting a woman as both her own entity as well as an important role in a relationship. Both the concepts and the way they are presented within the Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale offer a unique view of women—one of power and authority, of sexuality and confidence, of wit and womanhood. Works Cited Chaucer, Geoffrey. The Canterbury Tales. New York: Penguin Books, 1951. Print.

Canterbury Tales - The Wife of Bath

1077 words - 4 pages Analysis of Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales": The Wife of Bath's Tale In reading Geoffrey Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales," I found that of the Wife of Bath, including her prologue, to be the most thought-provoking. The pilgrim who narrates this tale, Alison, is a gap-toothed, partially deaf seamstress and widow who has been married five times. She claims to have great experience in the ways of the heart, having a remedy for whatever might ail it

The Wife of Bath in The Canterbury Tales

541 words - 2 pages During the late Middle Ages, the majority of society deemed women as inferior to men. In Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales, the Wife of Bath represents a nontraditional role for women of that time. A woman's role customarily did not include a voice in society, religion, or government. The Wife of Bath's history includes five marriages, numerous lovers, and three trips to Jerusalem. The Wife of Bath's character steps outside tradition in

Wife Of Bath: Canterbury Tales

781 words - 3 pages Wife of Bath The Canterbury Tales are grouped in ways constitute debates or topical subjects or to achieve effects of contrast. On the way from London to Canterbury, the pilgrims told tales to pass the time.Chaucer found himself in the company of the pilgrims with the tales they told. This pilgrimage brought together a diverse group of people. Chaucer shows that there is more than one way to tell your story, and that style should be appropriate

The Wife of Bath from the Canterbury Tales

983 words - 4 pages well-entrenched ideologies and as well as some of the other Pilgrims. Throughout the Canterbury Tales the reader discovers new aspects about the Wife of Bath, and while she definitely isn’t a villain, Chaucer certainly doesn’t make her a very likeable character. At the time the Canterbury Tales women were experiencing an era of considerable standing in society. Many women owned property, public offices, and businesses. They also controlled land

Canterbury Tales Essay: Importance of the Tale of Wife of Bath

863 words - 3 pages Importance of the Tale of Wife of Bath   Some critiques of Wife of Bath make the claim that the Tale is an anti-climax after the robust presentation of the Prologue. Certainly, the prologue of Wife of Bath is robust. With its unstoppable vitality, strong language ("queynte" etc.) and homely, vigorous vocabulary (eg. the references to "barley-brede" and mice), it is the Wife's personality -- certainly an extremely robust one

Chaucer's Canterbury Tales Essay - The Wife of Bath and the Ideal Woman

2737 words - 11 pages description of her marriages makes her unique and memorable among the pilgrims in The Canterbury Tales, most of which are identified by conventional occupation. Chaucer has deliberately made the Wife a notable character by giving her life many unconventional twists. Her marriages are contradictory, and her personality is at odds with the medieval view of women Chaucer creates her in order to show that this woman, however rare and unique she is

Chaucer's Canterbury Tales - The Wife of Bath as Depicted in the General Prologue

1274 words - 5 pages The Wife of Bath Depicted in the General Prologue       At the first reading of the "General Prologue" to the Canterbury Tales, the Wife of Bath seems to be a fairly straightforward character.  However, the second time through, the ironies and insinuations surface and show the Wife's bold personality.  For example, she is rather opinionated.  The second line in the passage, "But she was somdel deef, and that was scathe," seems only to

Wife Of Bath: Feminist?

812 words - 3 pages The Wife of Bath is perhaps the most well developed character in the Canterbury Tales. She is a very loud and strongly opinionated character. She freely discusses many topics that were considered taboo for women at the time The Canterbury Tales were written. A great deal is learned about her past life in her prologue, which is unusual in its lengthiness. In her prologue, the Wife of Bath reveals that she has had five husbands, three who were old

Canterbury Tales Essay - Wife of Bath as an Attack on Married Life?

1320 words - 5 pages Canterbury Tales - Wife of Bath is Not an Attack on Women and Married Life Feminists have proposed that the Prologue of the Wife of Bath is merely an attack on women and married life. The Prologue is spoken by a woman with strong opinions on how married life should be conducted, but is written by a man. It is important to examine the purpose with which Chaucer wrote it. This is especially so as many of the pilgrims in The Canterbury Tales

Similar Essays

Chaucer's Canterbury Tales Wife Of Bath Feminist Or Anti Feminist?

1462 words - 6 pages seems to regard, or at least claim to regard, as the norm. As a result, the Wife of Bath's Prologue should not be dismissed simply as "merely an attack on women and married life"; there is much more ambiguity involved, and it would be inadvisable to ignore the fact that it is primarily a brilliant character-study of an individual rather than a didactical anti-feminist treatise in disguise. Work Cited Chaucer, Geoffrey. The Canterbury Tales. Norton Anthology of World Masterpieces. Ed Mack, Maynard et al. W. W. Norton and Co. New York, NY. 1992.

Chaucer's Canterbury Tales Essay Women In The Wife Of Bath

1544 words - 6 pages through women's empowerment, there are many aspects of "The Wife of Bath" that are anti-feminist in nature. The main character, Alison, or the wife of Bath, is representative of most of the feminist ideals in the work. She is strong, independent, and to be respected as a woman of great courage. Alison has suffered a great deal in her lifetime, indicative of life for women at this time. She has survived five husbands; some of whom beat her

Chaucer's Canterbury Tales Essay The Strong Wife Of Bath

1116 words - 4 pages autobiographical first person pronoun, his allusions to domineering and/or nagging wives are presented through the voices of his persona and of the pilgrim narrators of the Canterbury Tales, of whom the persona is one, all as likely to be fiction as to be fact. Chaucer remains inscrutable regarding his own marriage.   What, then, are we to make of the Bukton piece; of Alison of Bath and her anti-Pauline views on marital obligations; of the

Canterbury Tales: A Feminist Perspective Of Wife Of Bath

1133 words - 5 pages A Feminist Perspective of Wife of Bath Many literary critics throughout the years have labeled the Wife of Bath, the "gap-toothed (23)" character of The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer, a feminist. She is a strong-willed and dominant woman who gets what she wants when she wants it. However, this is not the definition of a feminist. A feminist is someone who believes that women and men are equal, while also is able to recognize and