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'Chaucer was a friend to all women' How much does the Franklin's tale back up this view?

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Introduction

'Chaucer was a friend to all women' How much does the Franklin's tale back up this view? In focusing upon the Chaucer's treatment of the female sex, there are three main areas to consider. The first is Dorigen's actions, and the second is the other characters treatment of her. The third is his general attitudes towards the sex and their position in society. Arveragus, the noble knight, during his first appearance in the tale, at the very beginning, behaves just the way we would expect a chivalrous, honourable knight to behave, and even exceeds this expectation. Before they are married, he plays the roles normally taken - he is at the lady's beck and call, and she is in control. However, unlike normal, when they are married, he refuses to reverse these positions. He, rarely in the time in which the tale was set, believes in equality in marriage, and says to Dorigen that he will never try and take control, or be jealous of her, as long as he lives: 'That nevere in al his lyf he, day ne night, ne sholde upon him take no maistrie Again hir wil, ne kith hire jalousie' However, he does, very soon, commit the act of leaving her to go to foreign lands, to fight. ...read more.

Middle

This is a deeply ironic statement, due to the later events, but the sentiment is true, and admirable. When he leaves, she pines for him, and wishes he could return safely, and never actual considers infidelity, except in jest, with Aurelius, which is where the trouble begins. Aurelius, a handsome young squire - 'Oon of the beste faringe man on live' - behaves considerably less honourably. At no point, up until the very end of the tale does he properly consider her feelings, and the depression he must be causing her be forcing her to uphold a promise made solely in jest. The dedication he puts into making the rocks to disappear for her is a sign of his passionate desire for her, but his lack of consideration for whether or not she truly wants to fulfil her trouthe shows that these are the acts of a selfish man. He almost redeems himself at the end, in the eyes of the reader, by releasing her from the binding of her promise, even though it leaves him in massive debt, with nothing to show for it. ...read more.

Conclusion

However, noticeably, every case she raises has had a situation far more serious than her own. Aurelius, while not considering her feelings, is not a dishonourable person, and would not force her into keeping her trouthe if she protested too heavily. Chaucer's general view of women in this tale does seem to be very complimentary. He tries to demonstrate that perhaps short-changed by their society's respect for promises made, and that men are too often viewed above women. Dorigen certainly seems to more considerate of her husband's feelings than he is of hers, often placing the demands of society, and of being a knight, above those of keeping his wife happy. Also, with Aurelius, she tries to be realistic, while still attempting not to bring him done to earth too painfully, whereas he continues, blissfully unaware of the harm and upset he is causing her. Chaucer's noble portrayal of the female sex only falters when it comes to Dorigen's failure to deal with her problem. However, for the time in which the tale was written, this is a remarkably forward thinking piece of literature, in a world where men were viewed as complete superiors to women, especially in marriage. D.Hendy, 12SMC ...read more.

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