How The Image Of Women In The Canterbury Tales

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Chaucer intertwines two distinct plot devices, comparative physiognomy and distorted feminism, as a means to emphasize his efforts in his work, The Canterbury Tales, to brand medieval women as lustful and conniving. The Middle Ages in Europe were predominantly seen as a theocentric era, or a society in which the majority of civilians glorified God and were primarily focused on Him and His work. The biblical statement, “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them,” naturally, influenced humans to hold a high distinction of themselves and look upon anything else as inferior (Genesis 1:27). Thus, Chaucer’s utilization of physiognomy, the assessment of character and virtue from physical characteristics, in concomitance with animal behaviors and appearances, stresses his stance regarding the lasciviousness of the common medieval…show more content…
When the reader is first introduced to Alison, the carpenter’s wife, Chaucer characterizes her physical attributes by drawing specific comparisons to lowly farm animals, “the peasantry of the Animal Kingdom”. Not only does he illustrate her body as one of a weasel, but he also highlights her sexuality by acknowledging her as a “tender chicken, For any lord to lay upon his bed” (Chaucer 90). By evaluating Alison as a ready-to-eat chicken and drawing attention to her “loins, all gussetted and pleated”, Chaucer insinuates that Alison’s most prominent character trait is her sexuality (Chaucer 90). References to animal physiognomy in relationship to Alison’s nature immediately cloaks her in a shadow of inferiority; moreover, these said allusions refer to Alison’s sexual nature, further compromising

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