Beowulf And The Wife Of Bath's Tale Essay

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Beowulf and “The Wife of Bath’s Tale” are two narratives in which gender acts as an important theme within the individual communities that comprise their settings and characters, yet they use different tools to define the roles of men and women within a community. In other words, both stories paint a vivid picture of the role of women by suggesting that one gender ideally has more power over the other. However, the narratives vary in their expression of this view; Beowulf conveys its message through what is missing, while “The Wife of Bath’s Tale” incorporates satire and uses explicit narrative to relay a woman’s experience highly different from that of her contemporaries. Another easily discernable difference between the two narratives is…show more content…
In contrast to Beowulf, a woman serves as the story’s protagonist and narrator. However, her placement at the heart of the narrative does not prove that women played a significant role in that society. The wife in the tale is a figure in conflict with the patriarchal society surrounding her, making it plausible that her society sees women in a light diametrically opposite to the wife’s telling of her experiences. As she proudly confesses her sins, her actions seem to conflict directly with the values held by her patriarchal society. Her experiences, portrayed as her reality, appear to be far from what might be considered ideal, implying that if she is dominant and highly present in her reality (in contrast to the ideal), then the women in the ideal community of that time must be less dominant and less significant. Therefore, both Beowulf and “The Wife of Bath’s Tale” show that men and women were not equally valued in their time, and society was very much dominated by men. Beowulf creates this impression by excluding women, while “The Wife of Bath’s Tale” demonstrates this idea by putting a single woman at the center, using irony, and emphasizing her difference from other women more typical of her
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