Medieval Gender Roles

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In the male-dominated society of the Middle Ages, women were perceived of possessing no power over the opposite sex. Although the chivalric code held that women should be treated with idolatry and reverence, it also held that women could not be successful without the help of a man. In the plots of medieval works such as Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, “The Millers Tale,” and “The Wife of Bath’s Tale” it is indicated that women do indeed have the ability to exert their power and influence over a man if they choose to do so. Through the characters of Morgan le Fay, Lady Bertilak, The Wife of Bath, The Loathly Lady and Alison, one is able to interpret the complexity of women's roles during the Middle Ages. Women in medieval literature begin to…show more content…
In terms of gender, Lady Bertilak defies traditional gender roles when she attempted to seduce Gawain. Although Gawain shows courtly love and wishes not to disrespect Lady Bertilak as a host, he also shows physical attractions to her, “The faults and frailty of the flesh perverse/how its tenderness entices the foul taint of sin” (Burrow, lines 2435-2436). Lady Bertilak takes advantage of Gawain’s apparent attraction to ultimately control their interactions. Her three morning seductions go on to juxtapose with her husbands three hunting trips as she fulfills a hunter role in her attempts to seduce Gawain. Analyzing her motives as a hunter allow the reader to not see her as an adulterer, but rather a cunning and crafty game…show more content…
Alison, in lines 125-162, is women described as having great physical beauty. Because Nicholas is continually overwhelmed by Alison, we are shown just how much power the character of Alison has over Nicholas. This same notion is shown with Absolon, as she refuses him as well. In Alisoun’s highly praising song, “Now, deere lady, if thy wille be/I praye yow that ye wole rewe on me” (Chaucer, 253-254) it also becomes clear how fond Absolon is over Alison. Because Alison wishes to have nothing to do with neither Absolon nor Nicolas their fascinations put her in the definite position of power over two

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