Paper1Rough - Amy Sexton 10/02/08 English 215 Christopher...

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Amy Sexton 10/02/08 English 215 Christopher Manslanka Discussion Thursdays 9:55 Final Draft Paper 1 The Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale: Chaucer’s Rebuttal to Anti-Feminist Writings The oppression of women dates long back before the time of Geoffrey Chaucer’s writings and criticisms. It can be dated, at least, all the way back to the medieval era. “In their [The Medieval Church] conviction that the rational, intellectual, spiritual, and therefore, higher side of human nature predominated in men, whereas the irrational, material, earthly, and, therefore, lower side of human nature predominated in women, St. Paul and the early Church fathers exalted celibacy and virginity above marriage, although they were also obliged to concede the necessity and sanctity of matrimony.” (p253) Women were viewed as property, with low intelligence. Their primary role in society was to reproduce and maintian the household. Chaucer toyed with this notion of anti- feminism in The Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale . Geoffrey Chaucer’s formation of the individual character, the Wife of Bath, is significant to the entire Prologue. Chaucer critiques and challenges society’s view of women by portraying the Wife of Bath with dynamics of feminine and masculine characteristics. The Wife of Bath’s character rises
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above the stereotype of women and proves her own complex characteristics through a portion of her speech in lines 124 to 134. “Trusteth right wel, they were nat maad for nought.”(Line 124) The Wife of Bath is referring to the genitalia of women and men. The male and female genitalia were made for a specific and use; they were not created for nothing. For a woman, she speaks quite outright and direct. Most women of the era would dare not speak candidly; even to think in such a vulgar manner could illicit a one-way-ticket to eternal damnation. According to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), the word ‘nought’ may also refer to the phrase ‘in vain’; a woman of this era would never publically display vanity. Through this statement the Wife of Bath portrays her defiance to the rest of society. Her vulgarity may also be in reference to the task of reproduction and creation of life. Reproduction is deemed to be women’s primary contribution to society. This two-way mirror image shows both a
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This note was uploaded on 04/06/2009 for the course ENGLISH 215 taught by Professor Reames during the Spring '08 term at University of Wisconsin Colleges Online.

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Paper1Rough - Amy Sexton 10/02/08 English 215 Christopher...

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