Essay about The Wife of Bath: Feminism in Chaucer's Work

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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 …show more content…
Chaucer handled speaking for women in a very distinct manner. Rather than speaking about her, he has the woman speak for herself. He does not attempt to have the Wife explain how she feels or justify herself. We might not be able to ascertain the purpose behind Chaucer creating such a character, but it does offer us a glimpse into Chaucer himself. As stated from the view of Patrick Jennings, a fellow student, "This character (The Wife of Bath) and her development lead me into the second facet of this post: Chaucer himself. His creation of the wife of Bath gives us a dual-image of Chaucer and his lively character. Every eccentric detail involved in the creation of this woman, mirrors the undeniable open-mindedness of Chaucer. There could be no wife without Chaucer. Her unconventional behavior was a direct result of his unique vision of the stereotypes and beliefs concerning women- and the way women felt about it- of that period." These changes in ideals of women have an effect on the surrounding men. The Wife of Bath demonstrates this point with the story of the rapist knight. His punishment for sinning against women is his submission to his older, ugly wife. Unbeknownst to him, the secret to his marital harmony and