What basic contrast does she make between herself and men who have written about marriage and sexuality?
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Having had five husbands and feeling as if she knows how to control men, she is the opposite of the retiring woman who might be held on a pedestal and be viewed as nothing more than a pretty thing. She, with her red stockings, is a kind of walking advertisement for sex in all its glory. Her tale shows that she believes women are in charge.
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Below is an excerpt from Gradesaver's analysis;
The Wife, who claims to stand for “experience”, spends much of her prologue dealing with written “authority”, glossing the Bible in precisely the manner she criticizes the clerks for doing. The Wife is against text, but expert in text; against clerks, but particularly clerical; and, of course, venomous about anti-feminist literature, but also made up of anti-feminist literature. When the Wife throws Jankin’s book in the fire, she is in fact burning her own sources (Jerome, Theophrastus et. al) which constitutes a bizarre act of literary self-orphanage. It is as if she burns her own birth certificate.
The Wife decries the clerical tradition and the clerks who leave out the good deeds of woman, she herself as a text is another example of a lecherous, lying, manipulative woman. She falls into the anti-feminist tradition she represents. This is even before you mention that the Wife is being written, at the very least ventriloquised, by Geoffrey Chaucer, a clerk and a man. Is this Chaucer’s opinion of proto-feminism and a disavowal of the anti-feminist tradition? Or is Chaucer endorsing the anti-feminist tradition by giving it a mouthpiece which, in arguing against it, demonstrates all of its stereotypical arguments as fact?