Power Behind Magical Women
A man by the name Paolo de Certaldo expressed the following “if the child be a girl she should be put to sew and not to read, for it is not good that a woman should know how to read, unless you wish her to become a nun” (Harris). This was not an uncommon sentiment from many of the earlier centuries. Women were looked on as child bearers and caregivers but not as the head of the household. Therefore, to have a female character in a story as powerfully magical or supernatural invites an added level of emotion and intrigue to that characters persona and to the written piece.
Many stories contain magical characters who add mystery and unstoppable mayhem to stories. Magic lies outside the laws of science and can take many forms, from traditional wizardry to natural and religious forces. Magical characters are sometimes users of magic and sometimes the product of magic. They may have super-human powers as the mother of Grendel has or magical powers and abilities as Morgan le Faye and others in our stories possess. These magical powers range from increased strength or intelligence to simple spell-casting ability. Magical characters can be useful in a story for getting the hero into and out of a crisis. Just as the hero is about to be killed in an impossible situation, the magical character can appear and save them. This happens with our character of the old woman in Wife of Baths Tale.
In Geoffrey Chaucer’s “The Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale” we have an old woman who is first introduced to us in the forest as our knight is searching for knowledge. The old woman appears sitting in a spot the knight had seen twenty-four dancing ladies, just moments before. As described by J.A. Burrow “this is enough, in a land ‘fulfid of fayerye’ to establish her true identity. The dominance of women in the fairy world evoked by the Wife of Bath is striking” (Burrow 111). After introductions, the old woman promises to save the knights life by...