A Real Woman in the 14th Century

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In the 14th century Geoffrey Chaucer wrote “The Canterbury Tales” which included a progressive view of women's concerns in "The Wife of Bath." During a time when women were still considered chattel existing almost exclusively to produce, Chaucer brings out issues affecting women that were not commonly even given consideration. Writing in the first person, Chaucer is able to describe life from the viewpoint of a real woman. Through this specific style, Chaucer addresses some subject matter that would have been too candid for a female writer during his time period. By writing "The Wife of Bath" in a satirical way, Chaucer points out issues facing women regarding double standards, the validity of female desire, and the economic necessity of women to marry well while keeping the text funny with some common female stereotypes regarding deception that have persisted into present day culture. The character of the Wife of Bath in Chaucer's “The Wife of Bath's Prologue” is a strong woman who knows what she wants from life. She is ahead of her time, seeing that women who portrayed themselves the way she does were not necessarily looked positively upon. In this sense, I believe that the Wife of Bath is a feminist. When I use the word feminist I do not mean bra burning, men hating feminist types. I mean a woman who is in touch with herself. She is her own genre when it comes to feminism. She is comfortable with her sexuality and what she wants from life. Through Chaucer, she is viewed as a promiscuous however, she is actually in control of her sexual adventures. One of the first issues the speaker, Alison, addresses is the idea of double standards. As she begins the prologue she lays the groundwork for her story by defending ones right to marry as often as they are able. While people often believe that it is immoral for a woman to marry more than once, Alison discusses the idea that she should be free to marry as many times as she wishes and that others should hold their...
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