Rhetoric Of Rape

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“The Wife of Bath’s Tale” begins with an unequivocal incident of sexual assault, yet how that assault and the question of consent are interpreted are complicated in light of Suzanne Edwards’ essay, “The Rhetoric of Rape.” Edwards’ essay provides a new historicist lens to provide a context in which the reader can perhaps reconcile the problematic nature of sexual assault that Chaucer inserts into the “loathly lady” narrative. The rhetoric employed by the law in regards to rape complicates Chaucer’s knight’s crime by creating an atmosphere of ambiguity that raises more questions than answers. The disconnect that occurs between the rapist and his victim seems quite abominable on the part of Chaucer and his narrator in that it is quickly forgiven

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