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Feminism in The Canterbury Tales

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Noah Lingwall

on 28 November 2012

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Transcript of Feminism in The Canterbury Tales

Noah Lingwall and Matti Thornton Feminism in "The Canterbury Tales FEMINISM: •Chaucer both exposes feminist stereotypes and repairs them. According to the Prestwick House, in this way, he’s a traditional feminist.

•Main areas of feminist criticism:

oDifferences between men and women

oWomen in positions of power and power dynamics between men and women

oThe female experience – What attributes or prejudices are specially assigned to women, both good and bad.
THE GENERAL PROLOGUE: •Chaucer introduces negative feminine traits of Prioress
oFeeds fine food to dogs instead of those in need (29-30).
oWears tons of fancy jewelry even though she’s supposed to be a modest nun (40-44).

•Wife of Bath – embodies female stereotypes of physical attractiveness, seduction.
oThe Wife of Bath is skilled at manipulating men (30-32).
oPossesses the hot humor – red. She wears red clothes (12) and has a red face (14).

•Absence of female characters – Only the Prioress and Wife of Bath

•Many men focused on physical side of women – the Friar (28) and the Squire (2). THE KNIGHT’S TALE: •Male dominance:
oTheseus conquers the Amazons, the strongest female race (8-14).
oArcita and Palamon fight over Emily, who has no say in the matter (289-300).
oEmily prays to Diana to remain a virgin (1455-1450). Feels hunted by men.

•Females causing trouble:
oCompany of women caused Theseus to take revenge against Creon, set events into motion (60-64).
o Fortuna, the female goddess of Fortune causes woe for brothers (394). THE MILLER’S TALE: •Male dominance:
o Nicholas convinces Allison to be adulterous (108-115).

•Females causing trouble:
oAllison “cuckolds” her husband (108-115) and cruelly rejects Absalom (540). THE WIFE OF BATH’S PROLOGUE AND TALE: •Female seduction:
oPrologue tells how the Wife of Bath used her husbands for sex and money (405-409).
oAlways tried to make fourth husband jealous (490-494).
o Meets fifth husband while fourth is dead (597-599).

•Male dominance:
oJenkin is a sexist and reads books dedicated to how bad women are (690-699). THE WIFE OF BATH'S PROLOGUE AND TALE CONTINUED •Female empowerment:
oShe strikes Jenkin (790-791) and makes him give up all his land and burn his sexist novels (811-814).
oThe old woman saves the young knight from execution with her advice (180-188).
oThe young knight is rewarded with beauty and loyalty when he recognizes the true beauty of the female (380-384).

•Female stereotypes:
oPoor judgment of females – The Wife of Bath loves her fifth husband the most, though he beat her (510- 518). THE PARDONER’S TALE:
•Male dominance: Lack of female characters. Prologue characterizes him as a lecher (20). THE NUN’S PRIESTS TALE: •Male dominance:
oChanticleer loves the most submissive hen, and controls seven other hens (45-52).
•Females causing trouble:
oChanticleer tells Pertelote that woman is man’s delight, but he really means that woman is man’s destruction (343-346).
o Pertelote convinces Chanticleer that his dream isn’t real, though it is (100-102).
o Sir John tells the group that listening to women will cause your downfall, and you can read other books to find out about it (435-440).
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