Anti-Feminism In The Wife Of Bath

The Exploration of Anti-Feminism in the Wife of Bath
The Wife of Bath, one of the most distinguished works of Chaucer in the Canterbury Tales, has evoked discussions among the feminist critiques for centuries now. Some believe that the Wife of Bath was an anti-conformist who challenged the tradition and restored the old anti-feminist mind-set of the medieval times. Others question her contribution and modernization brought to women’s status. Undoubtedly, this tale has also impeached Chaucer’s positioning towards women in the society. Was Chaucer an early feminist or just an innovative writer? Referred to the prologue and the development of the Wife of Bath as a character, many think that she was a feminist, however, there are other voices who
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The theme of her speech is all about sovereignty in marriage. Slade says that her language style is coercive and because she a talkative woman it takes away the poetic beauty (241). To Slade, The Wife of Bath is a woman who is preoccupied with sex. The way she addresses issues in life comes strictly from her own perception of what is valuable. Slade thinks that this trait makes her tell a typical medieval anti- woman story in a very personalized way. For this reason her story has nothing in common with fairy-tales. Her tone is more prevailing, aggressive and sexually oriented because she is trying to prove her point thinking that it is relevant to the world (242). Throughout the review, Slade touches upon the tale by emphasizing the ambiguity of The Wife of Bath’s character. At the beginning of the tale, she mentions friars and how often they are involved in relationships with women that at some point it has become surrealistic. She says, “For now the so-great charity and prayers/ Cities and towns and castles and high towers” (871-876). What seems to be merely a list of places is actually a way of pointing the extent of their shamelessness. These are all places where women can go without being threaten of disgrace. Slade notices that her tone to this phenomenon is not insurgent. She seems to be tolerant and not …show more content…
She is not a representative of feminist ideals for a couple reasons. First, she totally depends on her husbands for financial support. Second, she has little respect for her body as she is willing to share it with anyone regardless of them being short, tall, dark or fair. (CT. 624) If we compare the feminist view of women and Alison’s behaviour, there are a lot of contradictions. The Wife of Bath’s goals are to rule her husbands and profit from them, however the way she does it is simply through sexual gist. She does not employ other techniques to overcome their powers. We see nowhere The Wife of Bath using her logic and knowledge to contest her husband’s ideas. Even though she is old, she has not grown in the academic aspect. Her viewpoints throughout years have not changed, she has simply mastered all the negative virtues. Her idea of virginity is like a prize whom anyone can grab. The Wife of Bath comes up with a tale about a knight who commits a rape, however we do not hear her condemning this act. She rather uses this detail as a bridge to give voice to her idea that the answer to the queen’s question matched perfectly with her long practices of sovereignty over her husbands. Another interesting component that opposes her portrayal as a feminist is her marriage with Jankyn, her fifth husband. When she fails to overcome his psychological dominance over her, she gets involved in physical combat which is

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