Comparing The Wife of Bath and The Canterbury Tales Essays

Comparing The Wife of Bath and The Canterbury Tales Essays

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Looking back through many historical time periods, people are able to observe the fact that women were generally discriminated against and oppressed in almost any society. However, these periods also came with women that defied the stereotype of their sex. They spoke out against this discrimination with a great amount of intelligence and strength with almost no fear of the harsh consequences that could be laid out by the men of their time. During the Medieval era, religion played a major role in the shaping of this pessimistic viewpoint about women. The common belief of the patriarchal-based society was that women were direct descendants of Eve from The Bible; therefore, they were responsible for the fall of mankind. All of Eve’s characteristics from the biblical story were believed to be the same traits of medieval women. Of course, this did not come without argument. Two medieval women worked to defy the female stereotype, the first being the fictional character called The Wife of Bath from Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales. The second woman, named Margery Kempe, was a real human being with the first English autobiography written about her called The Book of Margery Kempe. In these two texts, The Wife of Bath and Margery Kempe choose to act uniquely compared to other Christians in the medieval time period because of the way religion is interpreted by them. As a result, the women view themselves as having power and qualities that normal women of their society did not.
It is first important to understand the background of both The Wife of Bath and Margery Kempe’s stories. The Wife of Bath was a character created by Geoffrey Chaucer who is radically different from the nonfictional character of Margery Kempe. The Wife of Bat...


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...Christian values in her own way in order to justify her character’s actions, in addition to using religion as a way of explaining what she thinks of herself. On the other hand, Margery Kempe was a woman who took religion to a new level as a result of “supposedly” having very intense visions and experiences with Jesus Christ. The result was a woman who believed that she had more religious authority than an archbishop of the church and who possessed the strength to continue on her path, despite allegations of being psychotic.









Works Cited

Boardman, Phillip C. "Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1343-1400)." Enduring Legacies: Ancient and Medieval Cultures. 6th ed. Boston: Pearson Custom Pub., 2000. 430-54. Print.
Boardman, Phillip C. "Margery Kempe (c. 1373-1439)." Enduring Legacies: Ancient and Medieval Cultures. 6th ed. Boston: Pearson Custom Pub., 2000. 455-62. Print.

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