.. hag offers her husband the choice: he can have her old and ugly and faithful or young, beautiful, and possible unchaste. He tells her to choose; he grants her the sovereignty. As mentioned above, the Wife of Bath desires what most women want and that is power over men. Chaucer portrays the Wife of Bath as a feminist.
Early in the tale, there is a quotation said by the Wife of Bath supporting the idea that she is feministic. “I don’t deny that I will have my husbands both my debtor and my slave, and as long as I am his wife he shall suffer in the flesh. I will have command over his body during all his life, not he.” In other words, she is saying that she will have total control over herself, her husband, and their household and very specifically, not just the husband. However, there are also situations where she seems to submit to her husband. “Nevertheless, since I know your pleasure I will satisfy your physical pleasure.” This was said by the Wife of Bath and supports the non-feministic view.
It is considered non-feministic because the woman is giving in to the man’s desire which goes against feministic beliefs. The Wife of Bath has a choice of not giving in to the man, but she decides to let the man have pleasure for his desire not hers, because from her past experience she knew how much men enjoy it when women are submissive. This quotation obviously goes against feministic beliefs, leaving an unanswered contradiction about the Wife of Bath. The character of the Prioress in the same light, certainly keeps one guessing. Is her tale the product of the simple mind, or of one poisoned by anti-Semitism?(theater, 11) The Prioress supposedly is pious, well-mannered, educated, powerful, and all loving.
Ironically, her prologue and tale contain strong elements of anti-Semitism. This is shown through her use of the Jew as the villain of her tale. However, there is no historical evidence of ritual murder of Christian children by Jews, but that would not have mattered to the pilgrims.(fordham, 3) Anti-Semitism, directed at a people thought to have both rejected and murdered Christ, was distressingly deep-seated. (icg, 2) This bigotry unfortunately was rampant at the time, and both the sentiments and their being expressed in the context of a religious story would not have seemed strange to Chaucer’s pilgrimage.(theather, 11) Nevertheless, on a less depressing note, her tale can tell us something of the medieval attitude towards simple piety and miracles, which also was quite prevalent.(icg,2) Personally, I think this is a story about a Christian miracle; I don’t think it is about he Jews at all. Besides, the Jews were expelled from England in 1290.(huntington, 7) The Jew only functions as a vehicle to point up the miracle. Yet, whether this tale is the product of the simple mind or anti-Semitism still remains an enigma.
This is here the only time when the Wife of Bath and the Prioress relate to each other. The Wife of Bath is seeming feministic yet there are also some situations in which she do as the men wish. The Prioress keeps one wondering. Most of the ecclesiastical characters in the Canterbury Tales are clearly either truly pious or, more often, blatantly avaricious and hypocritical.(chuckiii, 5) The Prioress seems to be a perfect lady or is she?? Chaucer portrays the tale of Wife of Bath as hypocritical but between the lines there is some helpful advice for many women in the world today. Chaucer, maybe is trying to educate women through her tale that there are times one should be a feminist and times one should not.
If a woman would be a feminist all her life, she probably wouldn’t get anywhere in her life or with any man. If a woman were not to have a feministic character anytime of her life, she would be overwhelmed by most men, of work or whatever the case may be.(icg,) However, with the tale of the Prioress, I don’t think Chaucer intended to get any message across. This portion of the Canterbury Tales seems like a beautiful sonnet. He seems to describe as if he was in love with her. When Chaucer describes other characters, he does not go into such great details of their actions.(vahid, 1) But with the Prioress, it seems like one can picture and see the her eating her elegantly.
(line 52). Chaucer may have lusted after a woman of the church is that he left us with the description of her brooch. This is what he wants us to see when we think of the prioress; a devotion to love.(vahid, 1) In conclusion, it is not only in the narration that women are thought of as having an depraved mind, that they always tempt and take from men, but in almost of the stories. They are depicted of deceitful, egotistic and vain throughout the collection of tales. Through the tales of the Wife of Bath and the Prioress, Chaucer represented the two extremes in his view of women. Wife of Bath represented the radical extreme where as the Prioress represented the woman as glorious and commendable.
These two characters constantly served as the foil against each other in appearances, general manners, education and most evidently in their behavior toward men. However, they stand in one common ground in which their tales left the readers in a quandary.!! Bibliography 1. World Wide Web. http://eee.uci.edu/ Vahid Berdjis 2. World Wide Web. http://icg.fas.harvard.edu/~chaucer/index.html. 3. World Wide Web. http://www.ford.ham.edu/halsall/source/g10-jews.ht ml 4.
World Wide Web. http://www.chuckiii.com/chi.bin/clickcount 5. World Wide Web. http://www.chuckiii.com/adspa/ads.cgi?advert=data3 6. World Wide Web. http://www.canterburytales.org/canterburyphp3?elf 7. World Wide Web. http://www.huntington.org/libarayDiv/Chuacerpitct. html 8. World Wide Web. http://www/icg.fst.harvard/edu/~chaucer 9. World Wide Web. http://www.catholicencyclopedia/~prioress 10. World Wide Web.
http://www/prioress.org/advent 11. World Wide Web. http://yahoo.com/theatercommentary/Prioresstale/pr ocovative/forum/anti-semitism?bin/html 12. World Wide Web. http://geocities.yahoo.com/addons/interact/mbe.htm l 13. World Wide Web. http://etext.virginia.edu/CT.html 14. World Wide Web. http://www.shef.ac.uk/uni/academic/I-Mis/.. 15.
World Wide Web. http://www/info.ox.ac.uk/department/humanites/cant erbury.html 16. World Wide Web. http://www.fordham.edu/halsall.source/in3/consjews .html 17. World Wide Web. http://www.medjugorje.org/lofficep.htm.