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Women's roles in the Canterbury Tales Essay

  • Submitted by: irfayghkh70
  • on January 4, 2009
  • Category: Arts and Music
  • Length: 1,642 words

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Below is an essay on "Women's roles in the Canterbury Tales" from Anti Essays, your source for research papers, essays, and term paper examples.

Throughout history, women have taken different roles in society. They have gone from doing things like being a war hero like Joan of Arc to being a powerful and influential politician like Condoleezza Rice. But in Medieval Times, there were three types of women that were socially accepted: the virgin, the wife, and the widow. In his frame narrative The Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer reflects the attitudes of these three types of women within the context of his different tales. He also demonstrates his society's social heirarchy for women. He only uses this, however, to emphasize his disagreement with the "natural order" of things. In his tales, Chaucer portrays the virgin to be pure and the object of all men's desire, the wife to be completely under a man's control, and the widow to be strong willed and independent, yet undesirable, showing the lack of power that women have in Medieval times.
In "The Knight's Tale" (KT), Chaucer represents Emily as the beautiful and fair virgin. He does this by comparing her to nature, which is a symbol of purity and innocence. "Young Emily, that fairer was of mein/Than is the lily on its stalk of green,/And fresher in her colouring that strove/With early roses in a May-time grove/--I know not which was fairer of the two--" (Chaucer KT 177-181) Chaucer's use of nature in describing Emily shows her as a virgin, attracting the two protagonists of "The Knight's Tale" to her at first sight. This sounds like a typical love triangle, but it is much more than that. The two protagonists mentioned before have never even met the woman that they yearn for and have only seen her from atop a very tall tower. Even without speaking a word to this beautiful woman, they fight with each other and have said things such as this; "Yet you would treacherously go about/To love my lady, whom I love and serve/ And shall, till death cut my heart's nerve." (KT, 284-287) Arcite says this to Palamon in "The Knight's Tale" after Palamon tells him that he...

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Women's roles in the Canterbury Tales. Anti Essays. Retrieved December 13, 2018, from the World Wide Web: http://cassandralynndesignllc.com/free-essays/Womens-Roles-Canterbury-Tales-239460.html