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The Wife of Bath: Chaucers Discourse on the Interrelationships of the Genders - Research Paper Example

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The paper will attempt to address the primary question framed as follows: Is the Wife of Bath meant to contradict the misogynist ideas of her time, or to uphold them? The Wife of Bath presents the misogynist discourse on the nature of the relationships of men and women…
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The Wife of Bath: Chaucers Discourse on the Interrelationships of the Genders
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Download file to see previous pages The intention of this study is The Wife of Bath as a folk tale, the common element of the loathly lady personified by the narrator of this story. She is not a woman of desire, nor does she represent the ideals of romance, but her tale is told through her point of view on the relationship that evolves between a man and a woman. Some of the themes that are suggested in the story, according to Biedler and Biebel, are the importance of pleasure, the healing power of love, and the need for a code of conduct for husbands. The code of conduct for husbands is in line with the way in which those from the medieval period, at least in terms of literary context, defined the righteousness of their lives. Behaviors were defined by codes and lists of laws that were built upon social convention, aside from the legal system of laws. Who a person was could be seen through the code of behavior that was adopted. In looking at the prologue to The Wife of Bath, one sees a woman who is defining her life through reflections on her past. She sees through the lens of experience, rather than through the illusions that are created within a marriage during the time it is experienced. Having gone through a series of marriages, she has learned to navigate the tenets of social tradition in order to find herself in control of her own personage. Pearsall states that “Her prologue derives from the medieval convention of the allegorical ‘confession’ and employs the materials of traditional clerical anti-feminism”. ...
rologue derives from the medieval convention of the allegorical ‘confession’ and employs the materials of traditional clerical anti-feminism” (116). The discourse develops into a discussion about the fears that men have of women, that they live in a state of prejudice, spite and envy that is the underlying cause for their imposed dominance. The narrator, Allysin, discusses her marriages, first through her virginity, then through the sequential gains of her power and independence (Pearsall 116). Through discussing the way in which she has worked her husbands by exploiting their weaknesses and in seducing them from their holdings and placing them within her power, she is describing the very thing that men fear most; that women will take what they have earned through some ‘magical’ power they have to make a man want to hand everything over to them. While this is very modern way of addressing the fears of men, the way in which it is addressed through Chaucer exemplifies the fears as valid, thus upholding the beliefs of the medieval period. As stated, the narrator is an example of the loathly woman, thus her rise to power and independence is characterized as the affect of unethical and dishonest behavior. While she does nothing but make the best of her circumstances so that her marriages turn to advantage in the end, she is portrayed as someone who has not lived true to love, but you has turned her relationships into a matter of commerce. Through the tenets of chivalry and the codes of love, she is a betrayer and is revealed as such through the recitation of her ways with her husbands. She is not seen as an honorable nor intelligent woman, but one who is manipulative and conniving. Her wealth and independence was not won through honest handling of her life, but ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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