The Proto-Feminist In Chaucer's The Wife Of Bath

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Women have always been considered less to a certain degree compared to men. They were looked upon as not equal to men, rarely educated and had little status in society. In contrast to this mindset, the female characters in Chaucer’s “The Wife of Bath” are surprisingly characterized in a society where it was possible for women to have influential role. Many believe that Chaucer’s “The Wife and Bath” prologue and tale are considered sexist, but in this essay I will argue as to why it should be considered proto-feminist, laying the groundwork for feminism. In a time where women were portrayed as basically servants to men, a strong-willed trait in a female character was certainly not expected and it is one to be admired by, man or women. The…show more content…
In total, Alisoun has had five husbands and they all fall into two categories. The first category of husbands are rich, but also old and unable to fulfill her sexual demands. The other husbands were sexually pleasing but that made them harder to manipulate. Her last marriage was the one she was unhappy with because he beat her. In order to tame her fifth husband, Alisoun tore three pages from a book he was reading. After doing that he beat her again, but this time she pretended to be dead. He felt so guilty of what he did to her that he threw the book into the fire. This gave her the upper hand for the rest of their marriage. The wife shows happiness while speaking about her past life and seems content with all that took place. Much of the story she tells to the other pilgrims about her marriages describes her sexual passion. Her sexual desire represents the tactics she uses for gaining power and financial independence through the use of her body. Although the husbands seemed to be somewhat annoyed by the fact that she acted like the man in the relationships, she did not mind that at all. She was actually happy in the fact that she had the say…show more content…
The law demanded the knight to be beheaded, but the queen reasons with the king to let the knight be allowed to determine his own fate. The queen then gives the knight a year to discover what women most desire. When the year is almost over the knight explains his quest to an old woman. She promises him the answer if he will do what she demands for saving his life. He agrees and he returns to tell the queen that women most desire sovereignty over their husbands. Having said an answer that no woman in the court can contradict, the old women demands that she become the knight’s wife. In agony, the knight agrees to the old woman’s demand. She then sees that the knight is a good man and gives him the choice to pick between a beautiful but terrible wife or a horrendous-looking but great wife. The knight allows the old women to make her own decision, which gave her the opportunity to have sovereignty over her husband. She chose to be a beautiful wife as well as a great one simply because the decision was put into her hands and nobody else’s. In the tale we again see how women are portrayed as equal or perhaps greater to men. As the king was about to sentence the knight to death, the queen intervenes and changes the king’s mind. In doing so, we see that she has some authority and that her opinion does get taken into consideration. Another character whose role plays an important role in

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