Treatment Of Women In Miller's Tale

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The women in the Canterbury Tales serve as Chaucer’s criticism against patriarchal authority. In the text, Chaucer places women with as the main character in the Miller’s Tale, while the Prioress and the Wife of the Bath given distinctive roles in the General Prologue, allowing these characters to give voice to the treatment endured by womenfolk and commenting on the absurdity of the ideals expected of women. In their depictions, Chaucer uses the shock factor to bring attention to the issues faced by women of the time, and to provoke thought regarding how females are viewed in a patriarchal society. Chaucer, interestingly, comments on the treatment of women using characters of similar names, “Alisoun” in the Miller’s Tale and “Alis”, the wife…show more content…
These women, the Prioress and the Wife of the Bath, like Alisoun, are presented in a seemingly good light, but a closer look suggests suspicion and judgement being passed on their persons. The Prioress, “hir smiling was ful simple and coy” (Chaucer 246). The addition of the word “coy” suggests a sort of cunning, and a flirtatious nature not usually associated with holiness. Her piousness is portrayed in an exaggerated manner, “She was so charitable and so pitous she would weepe if that she saw a mous caught in a trappe” (Chaucer, 247). Here, the role of the Prioress, as with other religious figures presented, may be a comment on the corruption of religion, but her status as a woman also suggests the type of oppression faced by women, seen as untrustworthy and coquettish, despite her religious presentation. Also, “a good Wif was ther of beside Bath”. She is portrayed in a similar fashion, “a worthy womman al hir live” (Chaucer, 254), yet “In felaweshipe wel coude she laughe and carpe: Of remedies of lobe she knew perchaunce, for she coude of that art the olde daunce” (Chaucer, 255). It seems at first that her many marriages is commendable, yet it is eventually given a hint of shame for her actions that are seen to be too liberal for a woman. Critics have noted that “the Wife of the Bath becomes one of the first truly liberated women in literature, a woman who boldly stands up for…show more content…
Despite the precautions he takes, John is eventually still taken for a fool, “Thus swived was the carpenters wif / For al his keeping and his jalousye” (Chaucer, 280), made fun of for having become a cuckolded. While humourous due to his foolish appearance, John also then becomes a symbol of the cuckolded husband, shamed for being unable to rein in his wife – viewed as his property. It notes how women are not seen as individuals, but as belonging to one male authority or another, father, husband or son. In addition, the other male characters do not fare much better. Nicholas, despite having his affections being returned, is unable to be open about their relationship, required to “waite wel and been privee” (Chaucer, 268). Here, patriarchal authority limits Alisoun’s actions, resulting, ironically, in a male being forced to be secretive because of Alisoun’s position entailed by this very patriarchal rule. Later, Nicholas also endures punishment for Alisoun’s lack of fidelity. The tale ends with these phrases, “And Absolon hath kist hir nether yë, And Nicholas is scalded in the toute: This tale is doon, and God save al the route” (Chaucer, 280). Without going into detail, Chaucer is able to bring up the absurdity of the series of events. Nicholas is injured, branded, as a result jealousy towards their tryst, while Absolon is humiliated for his persistent insistence on wooing

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