Books and Movies Reviews

Chaucer and Rape

Though subject of great debate and pain in modern days, the occurrence of rape in medieval society, though most specifically in many of Geoffrey Chaucer's works such as “The Wife of Bath's Tale,” proves to hold very little interest in the minds of both historical inhabitants of the time as with it's readers.Though readers of literary texts during the medieval period consisted mainly of males who would not understand both the psychological along with the physical burden of the act of rape, it is still enticing to view how the concept was perceived by these readers.In presenting evidence for the reasons as well as the possible causes for rape having been taken in such an extremely casual manner, this paper willfirstly explain “The Wife of Bath's Tale” along with it's view of women. The intention of this paper is also to shed light on the historically factors as to why Chaucer might have been fixated with the topic of rape, since many of his other tales, such as “The Reeve's Tale” along with “The Miller's Tale,” also dealt rape in some form or fashion. In order to accomplish that task, a proper understanding of both the literal as well as the figurative definitions of “rape” should be thoroughly examined.
“The Wife of Bath's Tale” begins with a voluntary as well as extremely physical rape of a young woman by a knight near a river. The text reads,
“He saugh a mayde walkinge him biforn, of whiche mayde anon, maugree hir heed, by verray force he fate hir maydenheed; for which oppssioun was swich clamour…” (Line 886-889)
Although one would initially imagine that the main focus of tale would be primarily fixed on the undeserving victim, the tale instead centers on the lusty male who has inflicted pain onto the ill-fated woman. Even more confusing and equally disturbing is the fact that the raped woman is never again mentioned after her initial outcry for help during the horrible incident…


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