The General Prologue to the Canterbury Tales is a notable literary work by Geoffrey Chaucer. A complete discussion of this literary work is given, which will help you enhance your literary skills and prepare for the exam. Read the main text, key info, Summary, Themes, Characters, Literary Devices, Quotations, Notes, to various questions of The General Prologue to the Canterbury Tales.
Write on the Female Characters in the General Prologue To the Canterbury Tales.
Geoffrey Chaucer (1340–1400), in his “The General Prologue to the Canterbury Tales”, introduces various female characters. Each of them reveals something about the culture and society of medieval England. The female characters are depicted in the General Prologue to represent the contemporary scenario.
The Wife of Bath: The Wife of Bath is a middle-aged woman. She has married five times. She is known for her extensive travels and her sharp wit. She is a complex character who challenges traditional gender roles and expectations. Her tale deals with marriage and women’s place in society. She argues that women should have more agency and control in their relationships. Chaucer highly satirizes her for her tendency and appearance. Chaucer remarks about her,
“In company she liked to laugh and chat,
And knew the remedies for love’s mischances.”
The Prioress: The Prioress is a nun depicted as refined and virtuous. She speaks French, wears expensive clothing, and is concerned with manners. She also wears a brooch engraved ” Amor Vincit Omnia, ” meaning “Love Conquers All”. However, she is more interested in romantic love than religious devotion. The Prioress’s character highlights the tension between religious ideals and secular values in medieval society. Chaucer also criticizes her. Chaucer says about her,
“Her greatest oath was but by Saint Loy;
And she was known as Madame Eglentyne”
The Second Nun: The Second Nun is a young woman. She is pious and devoted to her religious duties and sings hymns. She performs her duties with great devotion and humility. Her character reflects the ideal of female piety and devotion highly valued in medieval society. Chaucer appreciates her.
The Miller’s Wife: The Miller’s Wife is not a character in the General Prologue but is mentioned briefly in the Miller’s Tale. She is young and beautiful. Again, she is also unfaithful to her husband. Her character reflects the negative stereotype of women as being sexually wanton and untrustworthy.
The Reeve’s Wife: The Reeve’s Wife is not a character in the General Prologue, but she is mentioned briefly by Chaucer. The Reeve’s Wife is a woman who is strong-willed and independent. She can manage her husband’s household and business affairs. Her character reflects that women could be capable managers, even in male-dominated fields.
Conclusion: The female characters in the “General Prologue” of “Canterbury Tales” provide a multifaceted portrayal of women in medieval England. Someone is highly appreciated, and someone is highly criticized.