Misogynistic Gender Roles

1371 Words6 Pages
In What Women want: the Wife of Bath and the Modern Woman, Gwen Brewer discusses the revolutionary change occurring today in the lives of women. She compares these new gender advancements to The Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale when women were valued only for their maternal and sexual characteristics. The Wife of Bath serves as an example for women as she is able to break out of these misogynistic gender roles and do what she wants to do. In this article, Brewer proclaims the Wife of Bath as a feminist character, as can be seen in her appearance and actions.

The author begins her article by retelling the prologue and tale of the Wife of Bath. She observes that Chaucer’s selection of pilgrims is a microcosm of humanity, not only as in the 14th
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A closer examination reveals this monologue as less of a masterpiece and more of a long-winded diatribe. Alisoun’s soliloquy is full of contradictions and errors. For example, in her defense of the institution of marriage she acknowledges the divinity of the union, yet she also confesses to fornication with other men even while married. She claims that marriage is important because it raises stocks of virginity, but all of her 5 marriages are childless. She also edits the part of her references which does not fit her argument, as seen in her story of Solomon. Alisoun justifies her polyandry with Solomon of the bible, who also had multiple partners, but she fails to mention that Solomon’s carnal hunger led to him turning away from God. She even completely fabricates sources, as the quote she attributes to Ptolemy does not appear anywhere in Almagest. Towards the end when she talks about her fourth and fifth husbands, she begins to ramble and repeat herself; even losing her place several times (854). It seems like she enjoys rhetoric more than she does logic. However, these mistakes help build the Wife of Bath as a rounded and emotionally complex character, who experiences feelings of love and loss like everyone
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