Important Female Roles: Don Juan Canto by Lord Byron and The Miller’s Tale by Geoffrey Chaucer

Important Female Roles: Don Juan Canto by Lord Byron and The Miller’s Tale by Geoffrey Chaucer

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In Don Juan Canto 1 by Lord Byron and The Miller’s Tale by Geoffrey Chaucer, women play cardinal roles in the development and advancement of the pieces. In the 17th and 18th century, women were still considered to be the masters of deceit by using their feminine wiles to entice men. In both of these pieces, women are the catalyst to the embarrassment and loss of livelihood that the main male characters face. As is seen in much of the literature of these times, women were typically the main reason for any misfortunates that the men faced because of their “natural” ability to tempt the ways of men. As it began with Adam and Eve, “when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.” (Genesis 3:6) The depiction of women as temptresses has been perpetuated ever since, and is upheld in literature such as these pieces.

Despite Don Juan’s namesake, the piece written by Lord Byron is ironic in that instead of Don Juan being the accoster of women, he is the one that is being pursued. Donna Julia is a woman that is in need of love because she had a married a man more than twenty years her senior, and whilst his personality was not unpleasant it was not pleasant either. Donna Julia quickly recognizes her feelings for Don Juan, and even though she is married, she decides to pursue him even though she knows that it is wrong. She manages to convince herself that her love surpasses her morals, and she is so far in her delusions that when her husband confronts her, she manages to turn the blame on him and leaves him a “foolish figure”(Byron 1282). He and Alfonso...


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...nage to escape their just dues and instead make the men involved in their schemes suffer. The depiction of women as temptresses and deceivers empowered by their feminine wiles is one that has been perpetuated for many years, and is further encouraged by Lord Byron and Geoffrey Chaucer’s portrayal of women in Don Juan and The Miller’s Tale in The Canterbury Tales.



Works Cited


Byron, Lord. "Don Juan." Trans. Array The Norton Anthology of English Literature: The Romantic Period. . 9th ed. New York: W.W Norton & Company Inc., 2012. 673-704. Print.

Chaucer, Geoffrey. "The Miller's Prologue and Tale." Trans. Array The Norton Anthology of English Literature: The Middle Ages. . 9th ed. New York: W.W Norton & Company Inc., 2012. 264-280. Print.

“Genesis Chapter 3.” King James Bible Online- Official King James
Version (KJV) Of The Bible. N.p. .n.d. Web. 12 Mar. 2014

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