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Wife of bath facilitation ppt

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Background and discussion questions for Chaucer's The Wife of Bath

Background and discussion questions for Chaucer's The Wife of Bath


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Transcript

  • 1. History vs. Herstory: Why Women Don’t Mind That Their Husbands Aren’t Really Listening Why Women Don’t Mind That Their Husbands Aren’t Really Listening
    • The Wife of Bath’s Prologue & Tale
  • 2. The Prologue
    • The “Wife” (Alisoun) tells the tale of her life and how she comes to have five husbands.
    • She is characterized by her fondness of extravagance as well as her manipulative nature.
      • Withholds sex to get her way
      • Is deeply satisfied by her husbands’ total submission
    • She decries the importance of virginity against the necessity of procreation.
  • 3. The Tale
    • Sir Gawain rapes a woman (a crime punishable by death)
    • Guinevere and the women of the court are left to decide his fate; they give him a year to answer the question of what women want more than anything else.
    • He ventures out, asking many women the question and receiving different answers at each turn
    • He finally meets a hag at the end of his year who promises to help him if he’ll grant her one request. He agrees.
  • 4. The Tale (continued)
    • The hag answers that all women want sovereignty over their husbands; Guinevere accepts this and Gawain is freed.
    • The hag requests that Gawain marries her.* Despite his protests, they are married.
    • In their marriage bed, he is presented with two options:
      • Her faithfulness at the cost of her remaining ugly or
      • Her beauty at the cost of her infidelity.
    • He ultimately lets her choose whatever she finds most pleasing and honorable. She becomes beautiful and remains faithful and they live happily ever after.
  • 5. Cultural Context
    • The lower side of human nature was considered to be predominant in women, so anti-feminist writings like this were common.
    • Virginity was exalted above marriage by most, but the greatest exception was the monk Jovinian
      • He wrote that marriage is a positive good rather than necessary evil
  • 6. What do the stereotypes presented in the character Alisoun (the wife) illustrate about the attitudes toward women at the time? How do those attitudes compare to those of our modern society?
  • 7. Stereotypes of Women: Then and Today
    • Role of misogyny in the narration
      • Wife acts as rejecting concept
      • Concept is still very much present in entire tale
    • Wife of Bath’s character highly sexualized
      • Physical descriptions from Prologue
      • Attitudes she expresses about nature of virginity
    • Fills temptress archetypeDominates older husbands with sexualityDemands money in return for pleasureMaterial vs Pleasure motivatedBoth operate independently but simultaneously in Wife of Bath’s character
      • Both operate independently but simultaneously in Wife of Bath’s character
    • Both operate independently but simultaneously in Wife of Bath’s character
      • Both operate independently but simultaneously in Wife of Bath’s character
  • 8. Why did Alisoun choose to tell the tale of the Knight and the Hag? How does it reflect herself? How does it reflect herself? “ Wommen desire to have sovereinetee As wel over hir housbonde as hir love, And for to been in maistrye him above.”
  • 9. Who are you calling a hag?
      • Hag is physical manifestation of the Wife’s attitude
    • Matches husbands’ level of surrender
      • Once she gains sovereignty, becomes a “good” and beautiful wife
    • As with 5th husband, he freely gave her sovereignty
    • He was her “worst” husband, became the best
    • Tells tale to present a moralLike fairy tales: fictional setting to present a real moralMakes her own, specific to her needs
      • Wife puts self in story as the HagDesire one thing above all else: dominion Acts disagreeably, is a “bad wife” at first, but transforms
    • Desire one thing above all else: dominion Acts disagreeably, is a “bad wife” at first, but transforms
      • Desire one thing above all else: dominion Acts disagreeably, is a “bad wife” at first, but transforms
  • 10. Alisoun misquotes the Bible but is not corrected by the churchmen to whom she is telling her story. What does this say about the attitudes of and toward churchmen then and now?
  • 11. What are they even talking about?
    • The Churchmen don’t know much about what they preach.
    • She spends time defending her behavior by misquoting and misinterpreting the Bible.
    • She uses the Bible as an equalizer to create a semblance of equality with her audience.
  • 12. The wife literally “takes a leaf out of her husband’s book.” How does this expression reflect her life and story figuratively?
  • 13. I see what you did there.
    • Roughly means “a person adopts another’s traits or actions for his or her own advantage.”
    • Alisoun takes a page out of her husband’s book of “wikked wives”
      • “Subdues” her husband by acting as a wicked wife would
    • She consistently defies traditional gender roles
      • Justified by citing Biblical anecdotes where her same actions are considered acceptable when men do them
  • 14. Alisoun’s view... if things were reversed if things were reversed “ Who painted the leon, tel me who?”
  • 15. Chaucer creates a woman, but discredits her views by identifying her power with evil. but discredits her views by identifying her power with evil.
    • Alisoun’s View:
    • Book of “wikked wives” (actions, without cause of reaction)
    • The bible is the weapon to subdue a woman
    • The amount of bad/evil women in the bible vs. men
    • Reader’s Perspective:
    • She states if men were written with more wickedness maybe the roles would be different (line 701)
    • Chaucer shows her character to be an example of the women they speak of in the bible & wicked wives book 
    • Thus discrediting her view
  • 16. What is Alisoun’s perspective on the institution of marriage (e.g. is marriage a necessary evil or expression of love)? Is it different than that of the tale as a whole? Has this dynamic changed in today’s society?
  • 17. What’s LOVE got to do with it? got to do with it?
    • First 3 husbands were wealthy, but much older than she
    • With having inherited a lot of wealth from the previous marriages she can now be more particular about her new partner.
      • Also gains the luxury of marrying solely for love
    • She claims to have married her 5th husband for Love, but she treats him the worst.
  • 18. Thanks!

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