Feminism in Chaucer’s Wife of Bath Essay examples

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Women in the medieval times were cast into very distinct roles. There was a strict code of conduct that was followed. They were to be submissive to their husbands and follow their lead. A woman’s place was also in the home and the responsibilities of cooking, cleaning, sewing, etc. fell into their domain. Women who deviated from these cultural-set norms made for interesting characters. Chaucer’s use of women and their overstepping their boundaries and typical roles in society make them most memorable.

Most of the gender expectations stemmed from the Church and biblical history. There were many anti-feminist feelings due to Eve causing the fall of Man. Women were perceived to be responsible for most of the suffering to man, and
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The Wife of Bath is such a character; it is ironic that her title includes the word ‘wife’ when the word has a loyal, submissive ring to it given the context in which she was developed. Upon reading “Canterbury Tales”, it becomes quite obvious that she defies the common notion of what a medieval wife should be. Instead, the Wife of Bath represents ideas that are far ahead of her time. It is not that women in her time did not feel or secretly agree with her non-traditional thoughts, but most did not speak about it. Chaucer brought to life the first medieval feminist.

Chaucer’s character asserts the idea that it is not just women, men also were created for reproducing the human race.
This is evident in the following passage:
Glose whoso wol, and saye bothe up an down
That they were maked for purgacioun
Of urine, and oure bothe thinges smale
Was eek to knowe a female from a male,
And for noon other cause-saye ye no?
Th’ experience woot it is nought so. 125-130.

It is also important to note that Chaucer also has his character go against the traditional Christian concept of the Church and assert that sex can also be for pleasure, not just for the sole purpose of procreation. The Wife of Bath presented the notion that the stereotypes that locked men and women into distinct roles deserved to be challenged. Why not re-marry until you’re happy? Who says a woman cannot be in control of her husband? She ultimately challenged beliefs that

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