Chaucer – The Wife of Bath

Write a substantial and fairly detailed essay. Be sure to identify any information you retrieve from online or printed sources and to clearly and correctly acknowledge and document those sources:

Is the Wife of Bath a positive or negative figure in The Canterbury Tales? Readers of Chaucer have seen her in wildly different ways, from a “gargoyle” representing a lifestyle that should terrify them to an anticipation of a feminist or “ liberated woman.” How does her idea of woman’s sovereignty in marriage contribute to your view of her? What doesn’t she mention in her prologue that one might expect her to, and which might relate her thematically to the pilgrims whom we we look at in Lesson 4? Is she a “feminist”?

Notes: Don’t feel as though you have to provide an answer for each question in the prompt. The paper is not intended to be an exam question, where your focus would be on providing answers. Rather, this is a literary analysis. You will be making an argument about your chosen text (The Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale or The Franklin’s Tale). Your primary goal should be to formulate a thesis that makes a clear, arguable statement about the text. You will support this thesis with reasons and evidence in the form of summary and direct quotation from the text.
Please do not use outside sources for this paper. While there are many fine — and many more not so fine — interpretations of these tales available to you, I am primarily intersted in your interpretation of the tales.
Don’t base your argument too much on your own personal response and opinion. Perhaps you find Allison to be unpleasant or offensive in her views; perhaps you think Chaucer is a sexist pig for his portrayal of women. You are certainly entitled to these opinions, and you can feel free to introduce them in your argument. But your opinion does not really belong in a literary argument unless you support it clearly with specific textual evidence.
You may submit a draft to SafeAssign. I will not be reviewing the draft. Instead, the draft will highlight material it considers to be unoriginal. SafeAssign does not distinguish between cited and uncited material, so it will highlight some of the quotations you use from Chaucer. it is up to you to determine whether or not you cited this material properly.

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