The Canterbury Tales

Chaucer and Feminism College

The character of Alison, who tells the tale of The Wife of Bath in Canterbury Tales, is one of the most complex and outspoken narrators written by Geoffrey Chaucer. Her confident and sarcastic remarks are especially controversial given the social norms of the time. She is clearly a strong and independent woman, and Chaucer seems to paint her to overemphasize those qualities - sometimes a little too much. Chaucer’s depiction of Alison in The Wife of Bath prologue seems to reveal more about men in society than women, illustrating how startling it is for men to see a woman treat them how they have always been treating women.The character of Alison serves as a larger reflection on society’s views of marriage and virginity, and Chaucer uses her voice to question how a female is supposed to fit into these roles - or if they should at all. Lines 106-113 provide a detailed look into Alison’s views and attitude toward society, indicating Chaucer’s true motives.

Chaucer seems to separate Alison from God as much as possible, which is particularly evident in this specific passage. The words “perfection” and “perfectly” are referenced three times in just these ten lines, and all are tied with God, linking him as a perfect being. She claims...

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