The Wife of Bath: A Pre-Victorian Viewpoint - Essay Example

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The phrase ‘cult of True Womanhood’ refers to an ideology that describes what it meant to be a True Woman beginning in the 1800s and extending into the 20th century. …
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The Wife of Bath: A Pre-Victorian Viewpoint
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Download file to see previous pages In addition to the basic language used, the story told by the Wife of Bath is of a decidedly feminine perspective, bringing out the female character as a figure capable of possessing power and control. Uncharacteristically, it is the queen who spares the knight’s life following the rape and sends him on his quest.
Throughout this narrative, it is the woman who has complete control over the man; the older she is, the more control she has. It is the woman who proposes marriage and the man who must comply, however unwillingly. Through this story, the Wife of Bath presents an unarguable feminine perspective that differs significantly from what we understand of women’s behavior and social roles prior to the modern age. The eventual answer that emerges to the queen’s question in the wife’s story is that “Women desire to have the sovereignity / And sit in rule and government above”. Through her appearance, her manner, her language and her choice of subject matter, the Wife of Bath emerges as a woman very different from the depictions of women provided in the majority of Middle English texts. She is intelligent and witty, free to make her own decisions and more than capable of looking after herself. In many respects, she provides one of the only glimpses of the ordinary woman of the pre-Victorian age and it is for this reason that her story is important for students of English to become familiar with her. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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