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Their views are similar, where they take a feminist perspective of the work by considering sexuality in textuality. They agree that the Wife and her characters are open to diverse, sometimes opposing analyses, but they differ in what the tale is all about from Chaucer’s perspective. Rigby argues that “The Wife of Bath’s Tale” is a joke on misogyny without necessarily questioning it because the Wife is the opposite of a moral woman; Carter believes too that Chaucer does not want to attack misogyny, and instead, he wants to play with gender reconfigurations; Thomas argues that sovereignty means self-control of one’s desires, something that the knight never learned, while Tigges interprets that the knight becomes aware, at the very least, that sovereignty means not treating women as sexual objects.
Stephen Rigby supports the view that “The Wife of Bath’s Tale” is not a defense of women against misogyny, but a satire on a woman’s depraved values and behaviors. Rigby uses Christine de Pizan’s views on women to evaluate the morality of the Wife. In the book, City of Ladies, de Pizan maintains that God made men and women to “serve Him in different ways” (29 qtd. in Rigby 138). She thinks that women are equal to men, but they must remain faithful to the traditional roles that they do best. Rigby states that “The Wife of Bath’s Tale” is far from teaching feminist ideals, because it merely toys with the idea of women’s sovereignty. A sovereign woman, however, is not as immoral as the Wife, whom Rigby describes as shallow and sexually wanton. Rigby explains that Chaucer’s account of the Wife’s fine clothing, predominantly her extreme head-dresses that were composed of delicately-textured covers and her wimple with a broad hat is meant to portray her as overdressed, where such way of dressing up was connected to dissolute women (Rigby 141). He depicts the tradition of priests, who rebuke fine clothing and ostentatious ...Show more
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Several scholars have explored various feminist readings of Geoffrey Chaucer’s “The Wife of Bath’s Tale” in The Canterbury Tales. On the one hand, a feminist interpretation views Alison and her female protagonist…
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