Essay, Research Paper: Wife Of Bath By Chaucer And Feminism

Literature: Geoffrey Chaucer

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In the medieval period when women were viewed as property, held to sexual double
standards and considered to be little more than heir-makers, Chaucer wrote a
rather biting piece that draws attention to the inequalities in standards for
men and women that were supported by society. This might seem ironic coming from
a man in this period, but it is not so ironic when one looks at the Canturbury
Tales and acknowledges it as a fine work of satire. Chaucer attacks other
long-standing traditions such as corruption in the church (the tales of the
Monk, the Friar and the Pardoner). His critical look at the standards for women
especially enforced by the church add humor to the tale of the Wife of Bath in
the process of making a poignant political statement. Chucer prepares the reader
for the tale with his brief description of the wife in the Prologue. Here she is
a skilled cloth-maker and devoted Christian pilgrim who has made three trips to
Jerusalem asa well as several other shrines in different countries. The irony
comes in when Chaucer adds that she is a gap-toothed woman (a traditional sign
of a lecherous nature)in scarlett red leggings, who has been married five times
and, "of remedies of love she knew parchance" (Chaucer 92). This
picture does not coincide with the image of a hard working, devoted Christian
woman according to the doctrine of the church. Chaucer's physical description is
important because it makes the Wife of Bath more credible. She reeks of
experience.
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