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The Role of Women in The Canterbery Tales

The Role of Women in The Canterbery Tales

Chaucer, in his female pilgrimage thought of women as having an evil-like quality that they always tempt and take from men. They were depicted as untrustworthy, selfish and vain and often like caricatures not like real people at all. Through the faults of both men and women, Chaucer showed what is right and wrong and how one should live. Under the surface, however, lies a jaded look of women in the form that in his writings he seems to crate them as caricatures and show how they cause the downfall of men by sometimes appealing to their desires and other times their fears. Chaucer obviously had very opinionated views of the manners and behaviours of women and expressed it strongly in The Canterbury Tales. In his collection of tales, he portrayed two extremes in his prospect of women. The Wife of Bath represented the extravagant and lusty woman where as the Prioress represented the admirable and devoted followers of church. Chaucer delineated the two characters contrastingly in their appearances, general manners, education and most evidently in their behaviour towards men. Yet, in the midst of disparities, both tales left its readers with an unsolved enigma.

The Wife of Bath represents the “liberal” extreme in regards to female stereotypes of the Middle Ages. Unlike most women being anonymous during the Middle Ages, she has a mind of her own and voices herself. Furthermore, she thinks extremely highly of herself and enjoys showing off her Sunday clothes whenever the opportunity arises. She intimidates men and women alike due to the power she possesses. Because of her obnoxious attitude Chaucer makes her toothless, fat and large. Doubtlessly, she is very ugly, almost to the point of “not-presentable. This to me shows how Chaucer depicts what men don’t want. The Prioress, on the other hand, serves as a foil to the Wife of Bath. Chaucer describes her as “tender-hearted” who cannot bear the sight of pain or physical suffering. She will cry at the thought of a dog dying. It could represent that she has a frail soul with low tolerance for pain and suffering. The latter description carries over into the modern stereotypes about women as skittish and afraid members of society who need to be cared for.

Morality in Uncle Tom’s Cabin

Morality in Uncle Tom’s Cabin

One Work Cited Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin in order to help bring the plight of southern slave workers into the spotlight in the north, aiding in its abolitionist movement.

Harriet Beecher Stowe, in her work Uncle Tom’s Cabin, portrayed slaves as being the most morally correct beings, often times un-humanistically so, while also portraying many whites and slave-owners to be morally wrong in most situations. Stowe created a definite distinction between the morality of slaves and their sympathizers, and those opposed to the abolitionist movement.

The foremost example of the contrast between the slaves and those portrayed as being evil rested in the character of Uncle Tom. A devout Christian, Tom never lost sight of his convictions, staying true to his Christian beliefs until his death. Even when under the harshest conditions, Tom never lost faith, while praying to God and finding ways to keep his faith. After succumbing to the wrath of Simon Legree, Tom was viewed as a martyr by withstanding his doubts and staying firm in his beliefs, ending his own life, while saving those of two others.

The prime example of the group opposed to the idea of abolition was Simon Legree, a Louisiana cotton-plantation owner that brutally beat his slaves, who in nearly all situations, did not deserve the beatings issued. Legree believed in working his slaves until death, and then replacing them, in order to maximize his profit output, his primary goal.

Shelby’s decision to sell Tom and Eliza’…

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…was brutally whipped by Legree and his overseers for days and was left for dead. On his deathbed, George Shelby, son of Mr. Shelby, came to attempt to buy Tom’s freedom. While dying, Tom retained no ill wishes for anyone: not even Legree, hoping that he would find God, and looking forward to the eternal kingdom that awaited him.

Throughout Tom’s journey from the Shelby farm to his death on Legree’s farm, many of the slaves and sympathizers held incredibly high morality levels, while many of their non-supporters displayed acts of cruelty and hatred. There was often a deep contrast between these two classes, with both containing prime examples of what is morally wrong and right.

Work Cited:

Stowe, Harriet Beecher. Uncle Tom’s Cabin. New York: Penguin Books, 1981.

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