Compare And Contrast Atonement And The Miller's Tale

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Compare and contrast the ways that McEwan, Shakespeare and Chaucer present central female characters in Atonement, The Taming of the Shrew and The Miller’s Prologue and Tale.

Miller’s Tale
The Miller’s tale is one of 24 selected stories from Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales. The Tales are primarily written in verse, with the author telling tales through observation in which he creates an image of what English society was at the time. This is done through description of stock characters, with the narration being mostly in a pragmatic, satirical tone, but being discreet in doing so. The Canterbury Tales are highly insightful of medieval society, such as cultural rules and morals, relationships amongst genders and classes and social structure;
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Chaucer though, uses Alison as a depiction of medieval women who had no amount of rule over their lives, and most importantly were the property of a male authoritative figure, being the father or husband.
Ian McEwan’s novel Atonement is a book written in a third person perspective that focuses on various people in different chapters, however, the revelation later is that the book’s central character, Briony, in her later life is the author of the book. Briony has spent much of her life writing drafts of the book to atone for a crime she committed at a young age, which drastically changed the lives of all the people around her.
The narrative of the novel is driven by Briony’s wish to win back the love of her sister who, in reality, died back in 1940, with the only way she can bring back Cecilia and Robbie is by her imagination; creating a fictional life for both of them. This allows her and the readers to experience their hope and despair that Briony’s misconception of events initially
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Taming Of the Shrew
Unlike Chaucer’s The Miller’s Tale, there is not an evident underlining statement about the role and treatment of women in its period (to modern readers). Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew, is a humorous piece of romantic comedy, that much like all other of his other plays, still is highly educational and applicable due to its essential themes that even now are still relevant to modern life.
Intially, the story begins with Katarina, the central character, who is known by the title of “shrew”, which is used to signify her as a domineering and highly tempered woman toward others; being used by her family and other gentlemen. The personality that she demonstrates makes it that she will never marry, as no men would be able to “tame” her. The definition of a shrew is that of a tiny mouse creature, being both “venomous and ferocious” in Shakespeare’s time women who were labelled as shrews meant that they were short-tempered and disobedient, with the phrase being frequently given to prostitutes.

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