The Miller's Tale Analysis

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The magnitude of characters in Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales creates some very interesting relationships. An example of one of these relationships would be the connection between Alisoun of Oxenford and Alisoun of Bath and how these characters fit into the natural sex ideology. In some aspects, these women are very similar, but they also have significant differences. The natural ideology of sex is defined by Alfred David as, “being neither too obsessed with physical gratification and domination, nor too fixated on some goal apart from the pleasure of sex itself” (Zumdahl 2). Janet Zumdahl argues that the Wife of Bath’s Tale can be interpreted according to this ideology. Many argue that the Wife of Bath is a feminist, stating that her independence…show more content…
Alisoun is portrayed as sexually neutral because she enjoys sexual relations but does not go out of her way to get them (Zumdahl 5). Even though by being promiscuous Alisoun goes against the patriarchy and the church, the men are made out to be the sinners in this tale. According to David, the Carpenter is the deviant one by going after a much younger woman and trying to maintain complete control over her (Zumdahl 7). The natural sex ideology and the power dynamics of the time say that men have control over their wives; if it becomes out of balance, it breaks the philosophy. ”While Alisoun is evenly balanced, neither too concerned with power nor with excesses of physical pleasure, John has defied the natural and in so doing, he has given Alisoun power over him” (Zumdahl 7). By trying to keep Alisoun in a cage, the Carpenter becomes the weak partner. Also, Absolon ends up being punished because he does not conform to the natural roles of masculinity; instead he acts cowardly around Alisoun and is obsessed with vanity. By the way Absolon acts around Alisoun one can infer that he “would probably be too squeamish about the act itself, to really want sex with her” (Zumdahl 9). He seems to idealize courtly love, however, (ask for clarification pdf p11). Lastly, Nicholas gets branded because he is too…show more content…
It is obvious that the Wife of Bath is a controlling character, but it does not seem to be due to her ideal of gender equality. The claim that Chaucer is trying to get rid of the ideal of celibacy does not really have much to do with feminism as much as it does with the church. Alisoun does not really seem to care what people think of her and she even uses teachings of the church to justify her promiscuous and dominating actions (insert part from the book). The author also thinks that the Wife of Bath's actions are not going against the church, but how could it not? (Am I supposed to include passages in here?) The way the church, and society in general, functioned was completely dominated by the patriarchy. How could an independent, outspoken, lusty woman like the Wife of Bath not be contradicting that? Whether or not she is going against (better word?) the church, her motives do not seem to be about gender equality. An emphasized selling point that the Wife of Bath is a feminist is how she was never allowed to have children, however, this is not really emphasized in her tale or prologue. (double check) Is one just supposed to assume that because she is a woman she wants children? ___ says that it is a subconscious reaction to the biological yearning to bear children, but why would one be able to infer that? If Alisoun really wanted children why wouldn't she go after younger men

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