Dame Alice: the First Feminist Character in Western Literature

Topics: Middle Ages, Gender, Marriage Pages: 3 (1031 words) Published: November 3, 2008
Dame Alice: The First Feminist Character in Western Literature
During the Middle Ages, men are known to have more power than women, controlling them and taking advantage over them. Women do not have the same rights as men and they are treated differently. Men are superior while women are inferior. Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales changes the society of the Middle Age completely in The Wife of Bath. In The Wife of Bath, the main character of this tale, or the one telling this tale, is a woman, the Dame Alice. The Dame Alice tells her tale as if she has nothing to hide and she explains the role of women in her tale and she explains her tale, thus, becoming the first feminist character in Western Literature.

The Dame Alice has married five times already. She sees nothing wrong with remarrying and she thinks that it is normal. She points out that the wise King Solomon had more than one wife, so she did not see why she could not have more than one husband (Chaucer, p. 183). Just because he is a man, and she is a woman, does not mean she should get treated differently. She thinks that if King Solomon can marry more than once, then she should be able to too. She also uses other examples of good, holy men and how they marry more than once. She uses Jacob and Abraham, good, holy men from the bible, and she uses them as examples of men who married more than once and had more than one wife (p. 185). She does not see the difference, and if the difference is based on gender, then she does not care. She only knows how to make herself feel superior, the way a man does when in her position. This portrays what a feminist is, showing how the Dame Alice is a feminist. The Dame knows how to make a man question himself, and she knows how to make him give in to what she wants. She is a seductive, persuasive fox. She knows what it is that a man wants, and based on that, she uses it against him. She gives him two options to his liking, and he can either choose one or the other, not...
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