13 January 2015
The Knight’s Tale / The Miller's Tale
The Knight’s Tale
The Miller’s Tale
, Chaucer makes very clear his views and beliefs about women's social status and their role in society. It is no secret that women in this period of time were considered to be inferior to men. Their roles in society included cooking, cleaning, and caring for children. Although there is evidence that Chaucer may also believe that these tasks should be reserved for women, he also shows evidence that he believes that women are self sufficient and can possibly hold positions of authority.
The Knight’s Tale,
Chaucer depicts women in two ways, first as a prize to be won, then secondly as a god and a figure of authority. When Theseus came across Arcite and Palamon quarreling after Palamon escapes from prison, rather than killing them as he originally planned, he decreed there to be a tournament between the two men and the winner would receive Emily, the sister of the Queen Hippolyta.
Immediately in this story, we have Chaucer depicting women (Emily), as a prize to be won or a trophy of sorts. In these times, marriage was not as sacred or as dedicated to love as we see it today, marriage was for creating bonds and mending the feuds between kingdoms.
Both Palamon and Arcite were thrilled of the news that they would be competing for Emily’s hand. When the men arrive to battle they are housed in elegance and entertained with a large scale feast. The day before the battle, Palamon goes to the temple of Venus and prays that she be merciful and he vows to be her servant.
Palamon prays not to win the battle but only that he may have Emily. He makes his sacrifice and the statue of Venus is motionless for a while and then shakes. He takes this as a sign that his prayer will be answered, though with some delay. An hour later,
Emily rises, goes to the temple of Diana, washes her body and prays that she may be allowed to remain a maiden for all of her life. Diana tells Emily that she must marry one of them although she may not reveal which. Finally, Arcite rises and goes to the temple of Mars. Arcite prays to the god of arms that he maybe victorious in the coming day’s battle. In this section of text we see a few different sides of Chaucer's view of women in this time period. As we did before we have Emily being portrayed as a prize to be bestowed upon the victor. Although now, we have Emily and the men praying to female deities and begging them for mercy and for help.
The Miller’s Tale, women are portrayed a bit differently. The woman in
, Alison, a young and beautiful young dame, is portrayed in a much more
“victorious” manner. Alison, a sneak and manipulative young woman who, along with her lover Nicholas, devises a plot to trick her husband. While