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Women in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales

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  1. The idea of a Manichean description of women in the tales themselves
  2. The role and description of women among the pilgrims
  3. The paradox of writing: characters create characters and establish thus a kind of mise en abyme of Chaucer and his contemporaries' opinion about women

In The Canterbury Tales, women appear either as storytellers or as part of the tales themselves. We must therefore make a clear distinction between the women of the pilgrimage and the characters mentioned in the tales. The former are supposed to belong to the real life, if we agree to play the game proposed by Chaucer, whereas the latter obviously belong to myths and to the pilgrims' imagination. It does not mean that the women mentioned in the tales don't exist at all, but rather that they embody different aspects and characters of women in general. They may have existed, but that their story is somehow distorted by subjective narrators. In the same way, we know that there are neither pilgrimages, nor pilgrims whose Chaucer relates the stories, but we will play the game at first in order to make a clear distinction and to regard these "pilgrims" as more realistic and psychologically more complete than the women in the tales. However, to speak at length of these different aspects and the way women are described in The Canterbury Tales we must focus on the role of women in medieval times. We cannot speak of feminism at that time, as women were still regarded as the evil catalyst of human sin and had no predominant role in society. She is submitted to the authority of her husband; she has no power on the social stage and is not considered as being a citizen. On the contrary, some women are regarded as saints when they are virtuous and try to transmit their faith in Christianity. Women are indeed described from various points of view: seen as devils or saints by the pilgrims in their tales, more shaded by Chaucer in his description of the women pilgrims. Throughout the following study, we will try to answer the question that the subject of "Women in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales" raises, that is to say: What portrait is made of woman and by whom in The Canterbury Tales?

Tags: Comedy in the Canterbury tales, Humor and irony in the Canterbury tales, Role of women in Canterbury tales, Ambiguity in the Canterbury tales, Moral values in Canterbury tales

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