Women in the Middle Ages

Topics: Middle Ages, Social class, The Canterbury Tales Pages: 4 (1271 words) Published: May 7, 2013
Women in the Middle Ages
In the middle ages, the typical woman would not have had the freedom to do what she wanted; she would have to obey the male members of her family. This included her husband, brothers, uncles and even her own sons (http://www.middle-ages.org.uk/). However, there were many women who did not fall under this category of typical women and would manipulate, control or disobey the men around them giving them more power. In "The Canterbury Tales" by Geoffrey Chaucer we have Emelye from "The Knight's Tale" (KT) who would be considered the typical women and Alison from "The Miller's Tale" (MT) who would not be. It is due to their personalities, their social classes and their actions or surroundings which causes their lives to turn out very differently.

Emelye and Alison have very different personalities, which is reflected by how they treat men. Palamon describes Emelye by the passage, "And fressher than the May with floures newe, for with the rose colour stroof hire hewe, I noot which was the fairer of hem two" (27, 1048-1055, KT). This reference along with other references strongly link Emelye to the month of May. This highlights her positive personality as well as purity because all good things in this tale occur in May, and it is considered to be a beautiful month. Also, when Emelye went to the Temple of Dianna (53-55, 2273-2366, KT) she asked if she could remain a virgin and when she was denied of this she asked for the one who loved her most to win her hand in marriage. This suggests a type of innocence to her as well as the kindness, care and compassion that she possesses towards the men around her. All these together demonstrate that she would not want to even attempt to control men and that she would be satisfied being a typical woman. On the opposite hand, we have Alison described by the passage, This carpenter hadde wedded newe a wyf

Which that he lovede more than his lyf;
Of eightetene yeer she was of age.
Jalous he was, and...
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