Women and Love In Chaucer Essay

Women and Love In Chaucer Essay

Length: 2000 words (5.7 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Term Papers

Open Document

Essay Preview

Women and Love In Chaucer


     Chaucer's opinion of women and his views on love are very prominently featured in his poetry. Focusing on women, one must first examine the popular views concerning women during Chaucer's time. Arlyn Diamond writes of Chaucer that, ". . . he accepts uneasily the medieval view of women as either better or worse than men, but never quite the same." (Green 3) This is evident in Chaucer's portrayal of women in such poems as "The Wife of Bath" and "The Clerk's Tale" which assault the reader with antithetical views of women. The Wife of Bath is one of the most memorable characters Chaucer ever created. She is considered, in view of Diamond's statement, to be better than the men in her life. Patient Griselda in "The Clerk's Tale" is a peasant woman, married to a nobleman, who tests her loyalty through a series of ordeals in which she is lead to believe her children to be murdered. In this tale Chaucer is exposing his reader to a woman who is beneath her husband, and is treated horribly by him. Chaucer frequently treats the women he writes about as objects, some prize to be won by the heroic man. This is evident in "The Knight's Tale," in which the two protagonists, Palamon and Arcite, war over the hand of Emily, who they have never met, but only gazed upon from a distance. Their devotion to her branches not from love, but the want of men to contain and control the women surrounding them. Now on to the subject of love. Chaucer writes in "The Knight's Tale" of a love based on physical beauty, where the two protagonists fall in love at first sight. This is a common device used in medieval literature to create conflict between characters. "The Book of the Duchess" focuses on the real love between the Black Knight, and the White Woman. This allows Chaucer to explore the nature of love in context.

     Chaucer's Wife of Bath is a domineering woman who demands the men in her life to be subservient. The reader gains from her prologue that she is concerned with sovereignty, which she views as the control or mastery in the relationship. She does not appear to truly love any of her husbands. The first three are older men whom she seems to marry for their money. They pass on quickly leaving her with wealth, standing, and the chance to find herself a more suitable man. Her fourth husband was a profligate, a man of loose morals, who keeps ...


... middle of paper ...


...t sight. The pointless death of Arcite only emphasizes the hollow nature of this love. Love in "The Book of the Duchess" is treated differently. When Arcite dies there is no real pain felt for his loss. This is not the case with the death of the Black Knight's lady. Chaucer spends about eight hundred lines allowing the knight to lament his lost love. In his poetry Chaucer tries to be sympathetic to the plight of women. He endeavors to discuss love honestly, accepting the contradictory types of love and giving them all equal opportunity to prove themselves. The problem, however, lies in the subjects, for no matter how long or intently you look at them, they will always be as complex and incomprehensible as they always were.


Works Cited


     Green, Richard Firth. "Chaucer's Victimized Women." Studies in the Age of Chaucer. Ed. Thomas J. Heffernan. Vol. 10. 1988. 3-21.

     Wynne-Davis, Marion., ed. The Tales of the Clerk and the Wife of Bath. By Geoffrey Chaucer. Routledge: New York, 1992.

     Edwards, Robert R. Stephen Spector. Ed. The Olde Daunce: Love, Friendship, Sex, and Marriage in the Medieval World. Albany: State University of New York Press. 1991 154-176.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Chaucer's Portrayal Of Women in Canterbury Tales Essay

- All through Canterbury Tales, women are dealt with as objects in everyday life. In the “Miller’s Tale,” an old man marries a younger, attractive women for her looks. In the “Wife of Bath’s Tale,” a virgin woman has her virginity and innocence taken from her by what is suppose to be a noble and honorable knight and when his punishment is later to marry an older, less attractive women, all respect for his newly wife vanishes. A woman’s level of recognition in Canterbury Tales are through her class in society, whether she is young and beautiful, or old and disgusting, and her degree of experience in life....   [tags: Women, Canterbury Tales, gender, Geoffrey Chaucer,]

Term Papers
902 words (2.6 pages)

Chaucer on the Web Essay

- Chaucer on the Web It has been only a few years since the Internet has become available to most of us. Since then, it has played an amazing role, and it changes our lives every day. We use the Internet to communicate with friends, to check news, and to find information. The Web contains a great amount of data about everything, and Geoffrey Chaucer is one popular subject. There are hundreds of sites dedicated to this great poet who was born in London between 1340 and 1345....   [tags: Geoffrey Chaucer Internet Essays]

Free Essays
762 words (2.2 pages)

Chaucer's View of Women Exposed in The Canterbury Tales Essay

- Often, the most memorable female characters are those who break out of the stereotypical “good wife” mold. When an author uses this technique effectively, the woman often carries the story. In Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, he portrays the Wife of Bath, Alison, as a woman who bucks the tradition of her times with her brashness and desire for control. Chaucer effectively presents a woman's point of view and evokes some sympathy for her. In the author's time, much of the literature was devoted to validating the frailties of women....   [tags: Geoffrey Chaucer, The Wife of Bath]

Term Papers
788 words (2.3 pages)

Chaucer's Wife of Bath Essay

- Chaucer's Wife of Bath Before beginning any discussion on Chaucer’s Wife of Bath, one must first recognize that, as critic Elaine Treharne writes, “Critical response to the Wife of Bath has been as diverse as it has been emotive” (2). Some critics love the Wife of Bath and her controversial prologue, proclaiming that she is a woman of strength and powerful words; others hate her and cover the eyes of younger girls, determined that Wife of Bath is instead a role model of what women should not be; and the rest remain a bit confused, simply excusing themselves and the Wife herself....   [tags: Chaucer Wife Bath Essays]

Term Papers
2469 words (7.1 pages)

Essay on The Squire in The Caterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer

- The Squire in The Caterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer In the General Prologue of The Canterbury Tales, the narrator, Geoffrey Chaucer, meets twenty nine pilgrims at the Southwark at the Tabard Inn. They are all going to Canterbury Cathedral to visit the shrine of Sir Thomas Becket. Chaucer decides to tag along, taking some time to describe each pilgrim. The author uses many metaphors, personal histories, and examples of how they would act in certain situations to fully describe the characters in the story....   [tags: Canterbury Tales Chaucer Essays]

Free Essays
586 words (1.7 pages)

The Significance of Women in Chaucer's The Cantebury Tales Essay

- The Significance of Women in Chaucer's The Cantebury Tales        In Geoffrey Chaucer's The Cantebury Tales, many stories are told leading to a wide range of topics.  One particular and significant topic Chaucer touches on many times is the role of women.  In stories such as The Millers Tale, The Knight's Tale, and the Wife of Bath's Tale the women of each story are portrayed extremely different.  Alisoun, Emelye, and the wife of Bath, each exemplify three dissimilar ways in which women love.  The way Chaucer describes each of these characters is dependent on the out come of each particular story.  Chaucer is careful with his word choice and figurative language with each woman, enabling t...   [tags: Canterbury Tales Essays]

Term Papers
3352 words (9.6 pages)

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

- 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....   [tags: European Literature Chaucer Essays Papers]

Term Papers
3022 words (8.6 pages)

Essay on Perceptions of Marriage in Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales

- Perceptions of Marriage in Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales       Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales demonstrate many different attitudes toward and perceptions of marriage.  Some of these ideas are very traditional, such as that discussed in the Franklin's Tale, and others are more liberal such as the marriages portrayed in the Miller's and the Wife of Bath's Tales.  While several of these tales are rather comical, they do indeed give us a representation of the attitudes toward marriage at that time in history....   [tags: Canterbury Tales Essays Chaucer Papers]

Free Essays
1430 words (4.1 pages)

Character Analysis of The Wife of Bath of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales Essay

- Character Analysis of The Wife of Bath of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales The Canterbury Tales is Geoffrey Chaucer's greatest and most memorable work. In The Canterbury Tales, Chaucer uses "a fictitious pilgrimage [to Canterbury] as a framing device for a number of stories" (Norton 79). In "The General Prologue" of The Canterbury Tales, Chaucer describes in detail the pilgrims he meets in the inn on their way to Canterbury. Chaucer is the author, but also a character and the narrator, and acts like a reporter to provide a detailed description of the pilgrims....   [tags: Chaucer The Wife of Bath]

Term Papers
1636 words (4.7 pages)

Essay on Chaucer's Women From Eve to Mary

- Chaucer's Women From Eve to Mary The Middle Ages was an interesting time to be a woman. For centuries the church generally disapproved of, with equal measure, women and sex. Women were not even thought of as human beings, and were seen as necessary only in what they could do for their men. When the men left for the Crusades women were given a larger role in the upkeep of their husbands’ houses and estates, and assumed a more public role in the community. This gave the women a greater feeling of independence, which they did not relinquish entirely when the men returned....   [tags: Middle Ages Women Sex Essays]

Term Papers
1256 words (3.6 pages)