Representation of Female Gender Roles in the Wife of Bath’s Tale

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In Chaucer’s work, The Canterbury Tales (one of the greatest epic works of world literature) the gender questions are also moral questions. There is a theory created by Frederick Tupper in 1914 which means that the Canterbury Tales were designed as exemplification of sins and virtues, each tale drawing on one of the ’strict categories’ of traditional moral analysis. (Blamires) This is very interesting because we are in the Middle Ages where the religion was very important. I argue that this is a kind of ethical teaching and Christian morality at the same time. In this essay I will focus on the representation of gender roles, sexuality, hidden feminism, the importance of the marriage and the virginity in the Middle Ages. The ’Wife of Bath’s Prologue’ raises the question of marriage. The marriage and the role of wife have momentous status in the Middle Ages. It embodies many patriarchal values which creates a full medieval culture and society. Lee Patterson argues that some historicist readings of Wife of Bath see medieval marriage as a thoroughly inhumane system, ”organized by males to serve economic and political ends, with the woman treated as a useful, child bearing appendage to the land or goods being exchanged.” (Beidle 138) This reading means that the marriage is no more as important, sacred and precious as people think that was to be at that time. It destroys the society, decreases the intimacy and highlights the importance of property and wealth in the Middle Ages. The Wife speaks about her memories of the past. She expresses nostalgia with her words. She tells that she has five husbands, three of them were old but rich and the other two are younger. On the one hand, the three older husbands provided her strong financial... ... middle of paper ... ...ce Center. Web. 19 Apr. 2011. Shoeck, Taylor. ed. Chaucer Criticism. An Antalogy. Vol I. Notre Dame: Universitx of Notre Dame Press, 1960 Thiebaux, Marcelle. "Gender and Romance in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales." The Journal of English and Germanic Philology 95.2 (1996): 225+. Literature Resource Center. Web. 19 Apr. 2011. Williams, David. "Language Redeemed: 'The Wife of Bath's Tale,'." "The Canterbury Tales": A Literary Pilgrimage. Twayne Publishers, 1987. 53-100. Rpt. in Poetry for Students. Ed. Anne Marie Hacht. Vol. 14. Detroit: Gale Group, 2002. Literature Resource Center. Web. 19 Apr. 2011.

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