Feminist Views In Chaucer's The Wife Of Bath

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Wommen desire to have sovereintee/ As wel over hir housbonde as hir love,/ And for to been in maiystrye him above./ This is youre moste desir . . . (1044-1047). These are wise words spoken by a man who has come to know the heart of a woman. This would be no surprise to a modern man, but these words are from a 14th century poet. The Wife of Bath establishes herself as one of the earliest feminists in literature as she espouses her views on marriage, sex, and violence toward women. The first evidence of her feminist views is seen in her discussion of marriage. In a time when the societal norm was to marry once and remain married until death, the Wife of Bath snubs her nose at conventionality. She marries who she wants, when she wants, how she wants, and for as long, or as short, as she wants. She is not held to any standard from her contemporaries and marries for her own reasons, usually that of monetary gain. It matters not to her that…show more content…
Much like marriage, sex and women are not considered equable. Society looks at woman during this period as slaves to their husbands needs, not individuals with needs or wants of their own. Woman are for the purpose of male enjoyment and procreation; whether a woman actually enjoys her sexual encounters is not typically a consideration. Woman who did enjoy the sexual act and/or engaged in such of their own volition were branded as whores or sluts. The Wife of Bath has no such issues with her own sexuality. She shows no remorse for enjoying the act or engaging in such with different partners. Her desires are something she embraces and brags about. She firmly believes that her sexual experience makes her a better person and a better woman. “I nil envye no virginitee:/ Lat hem be breed of pured whete seed/ And lat us wives hote barely breed” (48-50). She has more to bring to a marriage than a virgin; therefore, she has more value and

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