Chaucer's Views on Women: Griselda and the Wife of Bath's the Loathly Lady

Best Essays
Chaucer's Views on Women: Griselda and the Wife of Bath's the Loathly Lady

As a man fascinated with the role of women during the 14th Century, or most commonly known as the Middle Ages, Chaucer makes conclusive evaluations and remarks concerning how women were viewed during this time period. Determined to show that women were not weak and humble because of the male dominance surrounding them, Chaucer sets out to prove that women were a powerful and strong-willed gender. In order to defend this argument, the following characters and their tales will be examined: Griselda from the Clerk's Tale, and the Wife of Bath, narrator to the Wife of Bath's Tale. Using the role of gender within the genres of the Canterbury Tales, exploring each woman's participation in the outcomes of their tales, and comparing and contrasting these two heroines, we will find out how Chaucer broke the mold on medievalist attitudes toward women.

Chaucer introduces us to several types of women in the General Prologue of his famous work the Canterbury Tales. Among these women are women of rank and social status: the Prioress, the Nun, and the Wife of Bath. Although they are surrounded by various types of men, these women told tales that made men think twice about crossing their paths. As we read about these women in the prologue, we also get a sense of whom they are: they have money, authority, and an air about them that suggests that they are not just on the pilgrimage just to save their own souls (the Wife of Bath definitely shows this trait better than her religious counterparts.) However, it is not just the women who stand for their sisters; the Clerk jumps on the female bandwagon with a tale of his own.

Gender provides a way of reading aspects o...

... middle of paper ...

...n, Lesley. (1994). Feminist Readings in Middle English Literature: The Wife of Bath and All Her Sect. Routledge: London. (pgs 72-73, 196-203)

Hansen, Elaine Tuttle. (1992). Chaucer and the Fictions of Gender. University of California Press, Ltd: England. (pgs 188-208).

Mitchell, J. Allan. (2005). Chaucer's Clerk's Tale and the Question of Ethical Monstrosity. Studies in Philology. Chapel Hill: Winter 2005. Vol.102, Iss. 1; pg. 1, 26 pgs

Rigby, Stephen Henry. (2000). The Wife of Bath, Christine de Pizan, and the Medieval Case for Women. Chaucer Review, (pgs 133-165)

Stanbury, Sarah. (1997). Regimes of the Visual in Premodern England: Gaze, Body, and Chaucer's Clerk's Tale. New Literary History 28.2, (pgs 261-289)

Weisl, Angela Jane. (1995). Conquering the Reign of Femeny: Gender and Genre in Chaucer's Romance. D.S. Brewer: Cambridge, (pgs 2-3, 91-96)
Get Access