The Wife Of Bath Essay

1063 Words Nov 27th, 2016 5 Pages
In Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales religious authority is challenged when the Wife of Bath appropriates male language in the form of a mock sermon to argue against the typical religious ideologies outlined by 14th century anti-feminist literature. The Wife of Bath challenges the Bible by using scripture and employing the genre of a mock sermon - a satirical form that uses scripture to add weight to an argument that has a didactic lesson - to advocate “a message opposite to the kind that preachers usually advocate” (Riddell). By choosing to speak within this genre, the Wife of Bath challenges the authority of Clerics - male, religious leader that hold high authority within a Church as they are the teachers of their religion’s practices - who argue that women should be submissive and silent, especially in church. In this essay, I will look at the Wife of Bath’s Prologue and how employing the genre of a mock sermon, using scriptural contradictions, and quoting her own experiences in a female-preacher role effectively challenges religious authority.
Opposing the Church and anti-feminist literatures’ idea of women, the Wife of Bath uses language to discredit their sexist claims in a satirical manner. The Wife of Bath is particular with her choices in language, and choosing to speak in the mock sermon genre is no coincidence. Employing the format of a mock sermon gives the Wife of Bath authority which she does not have otherwise: in this time period, religious speakers held the most…

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