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Women in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales Essay

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The only two women most significant and described in great detail in The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer who provide the greatest insight into contemporary medieval society are the Wife of Bath and the Prioress. These two women appear similar in the General Prologue of the poem but, as we see through their tales, they are quite unique women and most importantly very different from one another. By examining both the Wife of Bath and the Prioress's tales, we are able to see the stark contrast between their social standards and behavior. However, in spite of the fact that these two ladies belong to two different social spheres, they surprisingly share some common characteristics.
The initial similarity between these two women lies in their appearance but as the poem continues on we see that their life experience and their manner and personality are different from one to another. Chaucer's description of the two characters clearly describes the Prioress as a better nun.
The Wife of Bath is the only woman, beside the Prioress and her companion Nun, on this pilgrimage.
Chaucer discussed each of the two generally in all aspects beginning with their outer physical look, behavior, beliefs etc. Despite the first impression that Chaucer's description makes the Wife of Bath and the Prioress contradicting as day and night, a deeper look to it makes one observe their intersecting minor characteristics. As weird it may sounds as true it is to some extend. The first thing we come across is their physical look. The Wife of Bath even gap-toothed or a bit deaf she is pictured to have a rich tasteful dressing with her gorgeous distinct gown and fine scarlet red stockings and soft, fresh, brand new leather shoes. This description tells us ...


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...rench of Paris was unknown to her. All of these characteristics show how the nun Prioress was focused on things that should not be important for a nun.
Among her minor things, the nun in the tale actions was cautious and splendid. Her manners were unique, and practiced with perfection. Her table manners were admirable: she never let a morsel fall from her lips, nor wet her fingers too deeply in the sauce: daintily she carried a morsel to her lips, taking care that no drop should fall on her breast: she took much pleasure in proper etiquette. Her manners and being educated gave her joy, something that is wrong for a nun. Having manners for her was like giving a candy to a little boy. Also the author describes with a lot of details her manners to show us how important her behavior was for herself, an a nun's behavior should be reflected on other people not on herself.


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