For the sake of analysis in this essay, two characters namely; the Wife of Bath and Tamora are selected. The Wife of Bath features in a Middle English Canterbury tales (Chaucer 106). The tale is an interrogation of the role of late Middle Ages Woman.
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The author of the tale has developed the woman character in the entire tale. The tale recounts the transformation of an old hag into a beautiful and admirable maid (Chaucer 108). The rhetorical argument articulated in the tale about women is that women desire to have authority over their husbands.
Material wealth has remained part of the huge medieval weapon of anti-feminism (Scala 50). Despite marriage and virginity being valued in the tale, widowed Allison marries several men in her life time. This proves how antifeminist traditions still have deep roots in the community. This can be evidenced from the observation of Allison that “For hadde God commanded maydenhede.
Thanne hadde he dampened wedding with the dede” (Chaucer 110–111). Allison disapproved Jerome’s view on marriage and virginity. According to Jerome, God’s command on marriage automatically outdoes virginity. Thus, God would have doomed marriage to maintain virginity (Scala 52). Jerome craftily adopts bible teachings to defend her promiscuous behavior.
Despite her using the bible as a source of her argument, she interprets some scriptures to fit her situation. For instance, Paul’s scriptures on marriage are misinterpreted (Chaucer 108–111). Allison approves and disapproves antifeminist beliefs in the tale at the same time.
Allison’s repetitive acts of remarrying are a good example of how she mocked the clerical teachings on the outcomes of widows’ remarriages (Scala 55). Allison has demonstrated how rich widows were equated or more valued more than the property of virginity.
For instance, Allison married four times in her lifetime. In addition, she managed to seduce her son-mate Jankyn (Scala 53). These evidences illustrate the above point. Therefore, although Allison epitomizes antifeminist beliefs, she at the same time attacks these beliefs by forcing readers to see men as the founders of the beliefs.
The Wife of Bath commences the tale by highlighting King Arthur’s golden age, which endangered and favored women at the same time (Scala 56). For instance, women were not allowed to travel without being accompanied by men according to the Wife of Bath’s.
She argues that women who traveled alone were exposing themselves to dangers of bumping into incubus (Scala 56). This depicts the extent to which the society was matriarchal. For instance, after Knight’s rape action, he is handed to Arthur’s queen by the king.
He is sent on a study mission by the queen. While there, women are the people who end up educating him. Finally, the queen challenges him into a situation where women’s inability to keep secrets, considered as a weakness by traditions, becomes the only way to save him (Scala 54).
Rebellion is created in the case of King Midas where the wife is digressed. Instead of the author adjourning the story, he has directed the reader to Ovid (Scala 55).
Ovid tells how Mida shares secrets with his barber and not his wife. For instance, his barber is aware of his ear issue, but his wife is not. This point shows how men are gossipers more than women. Gossiping is attributed to women in the society, but this point is disapproving this long held belief.
Titus Andronicus portrays Tamora as a wicked character (Andronicus 34). One major reason for this conclusion is because Tamora is opponent to the protagonist. This relationship inheres in her wickedness and not any of her values are admirable.
Tamora also associates herself with Aaron who is mad and because of her sour relationship with innocent Lavinia; she becomes much wicked (Andronicus 46). However, her first speech in the play portrays her motherly caring character, which later turns out to be barbaric, savagery, and lascivious.
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She depicts unkindness by telling her two sons to rape Lavinia. Tamora confesses that she does not know what pity means (Andronicus 78).
Tamora is used in the play to present the polarized image of a woman; determined by the play’s patriarchal mood. The character embodies the anxiety men have towards women (Brucher 71). Tamora is a strong and a willful female character unlike the female-dependent male characters in the play. Racism has been centralized in the play.
For instance, Tamora and Aaron are put at opposite ends of the racial crew in the play (Brucher 73-77). Tamora is defined at an extreme racial line. This depicts the moral barbarism and evils used to define women in the Roman norm.
The cruel character portrayed by Tamora later in the play can be attributed to the barbaric treatment subjected to the women in the Roman society. This could be the reason why Tamora is a kind character at the beginning of the play, but gets cruel and crueler as the play continues.
Andronicus, Titus. The New Cambridge Shakespeare. Ed. Alan Hughes. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994. Print.
Brucher, Richard. “Tragedy Laugh On: Comic Violence in Titus Andronicus.” Renaissance Drama 10 (1979): 71–92. Print.
Chaucer, Geoffrey. The Wife of Bath’s Prologue: the Riverside Chaucer. 3rd ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1987. Print.
Scala, Elizabeth. “The Women in Chaucer’s ‘Marriage Group.” Medieval Feminist Forum 45.1 (2009): 50–56. Print.