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Canterbury Tales Essay – Anti-Feminist Rhetoric in The Wife Of Bath

Anti-Feminist Rhetoric in The Wife Of Bath

In Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, The Wife of Bath is a strong woman who loudly states her opinions about the antifeminist sentiments popular at the time. Chaucer, however, frequently discredits her arguments by making them unfounded and generally compromising her character. This brings into question Chaucer’s political intent with the Wife of Bath. Is he supportive of her views, or is he making a mockery of woman who challenge the patriarchal society and its restriction and mistrust of women? The Wife’s comedic character, frequent misquoting of authorities, marital infidelity, and her (as well as Chaucer’s) own antifeminist sentiments weaken the argument that Chaucer supported of the Wife’s opinions.

Chaucer chooses to make a comedy of the Wife, putting into question the seriousness of her character. What opinion is the reader to make of a woman who rants about marriage and female domination when she is described as a clown prepared for battle in the General Prologue ? Her bright red stockings, bold scarlet face, shield-like hat and sharp spurs draw the picture of a silly, if not crazy, woman whose manner is larger than life. The Wife’s comical ‘larger than life’ characteristics apply to her feminist beliefs as well. Equal coexistence is not enough; she says men “shall be bothe my dettour and my thral “-something likely unheard of when this piece was written. Much of what makes her comical is the plethora of sexual innuendoes dispersed throughout her dialogue. For instance, when she irrelevantly mentions in her tale the eager friars that have

replaced the fairies of old:

Wommen may go saufly up and down:

In every bussh or under every tree,

Ther is n…

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… easily state Chaucer’s support of the Wife’s opinions, it is important to note the disabling of her arguments and credibility, as it brings into serious question Chaucer’s intent with the Wife of Bath.


458-60, 471-75

Wife’s Prologue, 161

Wife’s Tale, 884

Wife’s Prologue, 585

M.H. Abrams, et al; ed., The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Sixth Edition, Volume I. W.W. Norton

Uses of Archetype, Foreshadow, and Symbolism in One Hundred Years of Solitude

Uses of Archetype, Foreshadow, and Symbolism in One Hundred Years of Solitude

Throughout all works of world literature, certain passages will have special significance to the plot progression of that novel. This key passage must provide insight upon the overall theme of that work through characterization, symbolism, and imagery. In Gabriel García Márquez’s novel One Hundred Years of Solitude, the passage selected for commentary uses the literary techniques of archetype, foreshadow, and symbolism to inform characterization. The concept of consanguineous love affairs is also reinforced in this passage along with the idea of the necessity of outside influence on a family. These concepts inform the characterization of all of the characters presented and provides insight on the cyclic nature of the Buendía family history.

From the beginning of the passage, García Márquez demonstrates that outside influences are beginning to impact the Buendía family lineage. The newborn son of Aureliano Segundo by Fernanda del Carpio, José Arcadio, is described as having “no mark of a Buendía.” This shows the family’s shift from repeated love affairs involving family members, such as that of the first José Arcadio and Rebeca. Also, the newborn’s lack of a mark eludes to Fernanda’s gaining power within the family; no mark of the traditional Buendía, Úrsula, is to be found. This idea is further suggested when Fernanda does not hesitate in naming him José Arcadio, despite Úrsula’s doubts. This shows Úrsula’s ability, having been the supreme matron of the Buendía family over…

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…ir respective names and dressed them in different colored clothing marked with each one’s initials, but when they began to go to school they decided to exchange clothing and bracelets and call each other by opposite names. The teacher, Melchor Escalona, used to knowing José Arcadio Segundo by his green shirt, went out of his mind when he discovered the latter was wearing Aureliano Segundo’s bracelet and that the other one said, nevertheless, that his name was Aureliano Segundo in spite of the fact that he was wearing the white shirt and the bracelet with José Arcadio Segundo’s name. From then on he was never sure who was who. Even when they grew up and life made them different, Úrsula still wondered if they themselves might not have made a mistake in some moment of their intricate game of confusion and had become changed forever.

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