Societal Standards In Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales

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During the time period in which The Canterbury Tales was written, around the fourteenth century, societal standards for men and women were much different compared to today’s society in the twenty first century. “The Wife of Bath Tale” specifically pushes these standards to the utmost degree. Women’s submissiveness and virginity were highly important during the medieval period. Though this is what was deemed socially acceptable in society, the Wife of Bath had other ideas as to what is acceptable. A prime example of the Wife’s personal social standards between men and women is the interactions between the old woman and the knight. The old woman not only manipulates the knight into marriage and asserts her control over the “relationship,” but also gives the Wife the opportunity to bestow her thoughts of how relationships should be to the reader.…show more content…
The knight had been given a years time by the Queen to find the answer to what women truly want. The old woman takes advantage of the knight’s predicament and manipulates him through his desperation to pledge his life to her if she can give the correct answer to the Queen. The old woman’s answer, although intriguing considering the time period, is correct. The answer to what women want is simply control over their husbands and lovers. The old woman’s answer alone rejects the idea of the courtly love model. Rather than the knight doing something chivalrous for the old woman in an attempt to gain her love, which would be normal in the courtly love model, the woman saved his life and forced him into a marriage he does not

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