Women in the Canterbury Tales Essay

2220 Words 9 Pages
Throughout the ages, the story of the original sin is used to explain the struggles of women and why they are inferior to man. Eve “took of [the forbidden tree’s] fruit and ate” (Genesis 3:6), and as punishment, God made it so “[her husband] shall rule over her” (3:16). As an important text during the lifetime of the characters who tell the collection of stories that compose the Canterbury Tales, most of the pilgrims were familiar with this scripture and believed that the Bible’s word was law. For that reason, the popular belief of the time was that women were inferior to their male counterparts. However, a couple of characters in the tales challenge this viewpoint and show that women were also capable of making their own choices. As the …show more content…
In one short vignette, he explains how Delilah, the wife of Sampson, was responsible for the downfall of her husband. From Hercules to Holofernes, the Monk continues on with more tragedies that feature women who instigated the defeat of their significant other. As Angela Jane Weisl notes in “‘Quiting’ Eve: Violence Against Women in the Canterbury Tales,” women were doomed to repeat “Eve’s walk down the primrose path to hell, usually bringing men with them in the process,” (115). Yet, the Monk chose not to include Eve in his telling of the Garden of Eden. Eve’s absence may imply that the Monk does not completely blame her for the original sin. Most of the pilgrims in his company would consider Eve to be the source of the problem, but the Monk reads a bit further into it. He sees that Eve was created from Adam, and therefore, the traits that she has are derived from him. “If Eve is made ‘lyk to himself,’ of Adam’s ‘bely-naked’ flesh, why is she instinctively deceitful, untrustworthy, and carnal?” (35) asks Elaine Tuttle Hansen referring to the Merchant’s Tale in her book Chaucer and the Fictions of Gender, and the Monk asks the same question. Eve is of the same matter as Adam, so Adam possesses the same characteristics that encouraged Eve to take a bite from the fruit. Because he focuses the blame of the sin on Adam as opposed to Eve, the Monk represents himself as a character who believes that too much blame is placed on women.

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