The Wife of Bath challenges patriarchal power by demonstrating the relativity of authority and persuading others to regard the validity of experience. According to Cixous, “nearly the entire history of writing is confounded with the history of reason … it has been one with the phallocentric tradition” (879). In other w... ... middle of paper ... ...ptions of women and their roles as wives. Rather than opposing binary oppositions, she engages with them, using skilful language and exploiting her sex in order to disprove patriarchal thought. In particular, the Wife argues for experience over authority, demonstrating the biases that coincide with authoritative scripture and doctrine.
The Slipping Slope of Sovereignty Before the Middle Ages, women were societally submissive to male supremacy. As the Middle Ages progressed, one develops a sense that women sought a change in societal order. Upset that they are not able to share their beliefs due to their position, women began to become more vocal. In comparing two great poets Geoffrey Chaucer and William Shakespeare, one sees a connection in their most well known works. Chaucer's view on women, demonstrated by the “Wife of Bath’s Tale” and the Wife’s belief that all women desire sovereignty, is welcomed by William Shakespeare but not achievable by Hamlet’s female protagonists, Gertrude and Ophelia.
It is far from being a liberatory and enriching experience for all women. It has been very important to contest the point of patriarchy that happiness comes only through motherhood and attack this myth which denies women their range of possibilities and opportunities. Betty Friedan relates the true essence of motherhood in her book The Feminine Mystique : Motherliness is a way of life. It enables a women to express her total self with the tender feelings, the protective attitudes, the encompassing love of the motherly women (58) But patriarchy misuses it as an instrument to subordinate women as a whole. The experience of maternity has been channelled to serve male interests and to stabilize the patriarchal laws as the universal law for women.
The Wife of Bath, it is clear, lives up to few, if any, of the ideals held by medieval society, in particular the Church, concerning how women should behave. This essay, however, will aim to show how she in fact does live up to many of the stereotypes concerning women and thus reinforces, rather than challenges them. The Wife of Bath, in both her lengthy prologue and her tale, makes clear that she believes that the main aim and desire of women is to gain control and mastery over men: wommen desiren to have sovereyntee As wel over hir housbond as hir love, And for to been in maistrie hym above. (Pearsall 1999, 138, 1038) In her prologue, in which she gives accounts of her five marriages, the Wife gives many examples of how she achieves this mastery over her husbands. She aims constantly to gain points over her spouses and one of the ways in which she does this is by frequently falsely accusing them of misdemeanours, or making... ... middle of paper ... ... ideals.
However, the Wife of Bath, Alisoun, is a strong believer in female maistrie, control in the marriage. She believes in female supremacy over husbands in marriage, and does not feel they can be equal partners in the relationship. Through her prologue and tale the wife justifies the actions she and other women make in their marriages. She exemplifies such control in her prologue which summarizes her life, the Queen in her tale, and the Old hag in the tale. In each case the women in the relationship exercises control over her husband.
The Wife of Bath The Wife of Bath is the tale of an independent and headstrong woman. She strongly believes in the worth of every woman and that women should be dominant in their marriages. The Wife of Bath also directly speaks against strict religious claims for chastity and monogamy, using Biblical examples. These examples include Solomon to show that the Bible does not openly condemn all expressions of sexuality, even outside of marriage. The major characters of the Tale of the Wife of Bath are the old crone and Jankin (one of King Arthur's knights).
Before we move to the main argument, there is a question to be answered: what did it mean to be masculine or feminine in the Elizabethan era? Russ McDonald's The Bedford Companion to Shakespeare is an excellent source in making this distinction. According to McDonald, women were expected to concern themselves with marriage and motherhood only, and to submit themselves to their fathers and then their husbands in all ways. Considered "weaker vessels," women were not held to have either "strength or constancy of mind." Subordination, submission, and skill in caregiving were valued in women, and they we... ... middle of paper ... ...ligent, and sometimes vicious character, in her society it is not acceptable for her to be a strong, intelligent, vicious woman.
This action causes a big uproar because the villagers view this as stealing from her husband’s Church. Mary Dempster’s kindness and generosity of spirit are definitely viewed by them as major character flaws. Also, as noted by the Bookrags study guide, Mary’s refusal to take her husband’s fears and securities seriously and her positive attidude and faith that life will work out for the best are not looked upon favourably by the villagers. They believe she is too simple and silly to understand her husband’s fears. When breast-feeding her infant, Mary is not concerned about covering up.
By writing "The Wife of Bath" in a satirical way, Chaucer points out issues facing women regarding double standards, the validity of female desire, and the economic necessity of women to marry well while keeping the text humorous with some common female stereotypes regarding deception that have persisted into present day culture. In "The Wife of Bath" one of the first issues the speaker, Alison, addresses' is the idea of double standards. As she begins the prologue she lays the groundwork for her story by defending one's right to marry as often as they are able. While people often believe that it is immoral for a woman to marry more than once, Alison discusses the idea that she should be free to marry as many times as she wishes and that others should hold their judgment (Hieatt & Hieatt, 183, line 34). She claims that she has never heard the specific number of marriages allowed by the bible defined.
Beauty is seen as something that is “essential to women’s character and concerns” (a woman 's beauty puts down or power source). She writes that “beauty: is the only form of power that most women are encouraged to seek”. As for Woolf, she talks about a speculative latitude, and how Shakespeare’s sister lives on through all women. For example, we as a woman has been victims of discrimination because man believes we are weak. She added that these achievements would have been impossible for a woman in Shakespeare’s time.