The Evolution Of Equality Essay Research Paper

The Evolution Of Equality Essay, Research Paper THE EVOLUTION OF EQUALITY Women in today’s society are almost always viewed as equals. Acheiving equality has been a tremendous strain on women, but times have

The Evolution Of Equality Essay, Research Paper


Women in today’s society are almost always viewed as equals.

Acheiving equality has been a tremendous strain on women, but times have

finally started to change. Looking back on English literature from the

thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, male domination is portrayed to its fullest

extent, and continued to be up until the nineteenth century. Not only were

women authors and writers almost non-existent, but the women portrayed in

literature were almost always weak, frail, devious, deceitful, and constantly

compared to children and the insane; the absolute lowest class of society. One

poet stands alone from the rest though. Geoffrey Chaucer managed to portray

a women in the thirteenth century as strong, powerful, and smart. The Wife

of Bath was written in a time where Chaucer took a very grave risk in writing

a poem which portrayed how women felt about the society in which they

lived. Chaucer contradicted the church, the bible, Jesus and man kind,

through the Wife of Bath. The wife of bath, herself, is a character on which

centuries of gratitude should be bestowed. She is the evolution of equality

and the diminishing of inferiority. The Wife of Bath reveals some of the

harsh amenities of life that were brought to her through her five husbands

and how she struggles to bring a balance of power to men and women. The

Wife of bath emphasizes her opinion of inequality by harshly criticizing

men, only to evoke her underlying message of an undying desire to force men

to see that she is not inferior to their kind, but only equal.

The bible, for many, is a world wide resources text. The bible outlines

morals, values, rules, and beliefs that are to be carried out for eternity. When

an issue in life contradicts the bible, huge steps are taken to correct this issue

and make it the way God stated that it should be. This came to be a great

advantage for the Wife of Bath in order to prove that the way women were

being treated was not what God wanted. For example, the Wife of Bath was

condemned for having more than one husband, but as she stated, the bible

has many prophets that had more than one wife and they were not


“I woot wel Abraham was an holy man,

And Jacob eek, as fer as evere I can,

And eech of hem hadde wives mo than two,

And many another holy man also.” (Chaucer, lines 61-64).

The wife also argued with confidence about Solomon, “Lo, here the wiese

King daun Salomon: / I trowe he hadde wives many oon…” (Chaucer, lines

35-36), proving that he had seven hundred wives, though this was okay

according to God. Chaucer developed the Wife of Bath to begin from the

start of the story with rage, fury, and persistence against the ever growing

dominance of men. The reason for this was because the Wife of Bath had the

proof in front of her that many of the characteristics of her life were scorned

upon, even though these characteristics had been done and overly expanded

upon throughout history, even before Christ. The Wife of Bath knew that if

her husband died, being a widow for the rest of her life was not right,

especially in the eyes of God, “God bad us for to wexe and multiplye…” (

Chaucer, line 28). Her marriages were not all good, yet the Wife of Bath

remained true, determined to at the very least prove to her husbands that she

also had power and this power needed to be respected if she was to respect


The Wife of Bath’s character can also be defended because of her

constant struggle for loyalty and respect,

“Sire olde cainard, is this thyn array?

Why is my neighebores wif so gay?

She is honoured overal ther she gooth:

I sitte at hoom; I have no thrifty cloth.

What doostou at my neighebores hous?

Is she so fair? Artou so amorous?

What roune ye with oure maide, benedicite?”

(Chaucer, lines 241-247)

In this quotation the Wife of Bath wants respect and she does not understand

why her husband is not loyal, especially when she is loyal to him. This

situation is a replica of events that happen today, in the twentieth century.

Women want respect, loyalty, and honesty, and the Wife of Bath plans on

achieving this, back in a time when it was never thought possible. Her voice

speaks and is eventually heard about five hundred years later. Women today

are constantly trying to maintain a balance of power that the Wife of Bath

had to struggle to create.

The relationship that is created between the knight and the hag also

illustrates the wife’s intention of proving that if a man becomes loving and

sensitive to a woman this does not mean that the male is being dominated.

The end result actually proves to be a relationship where two people are

happy and secure in their love and most importantly respect each others

power. With the knight unable to choose between having the hag ugly and

trustworthy or beautiful and lecherous, the decision was given to her to

choose. With this power given to the hag, the creation of happiness through

both choices was created, the exact point in which the Wife of Bath is trying

to accomplish. “For by my trouthe, I wol be to you bothe- / This is to sayn, ye

bothe fair and good…” ( Chaucer, lines 1246-47 ) .

“And she obeyed him in every thing

That might do him pleasance or liking

And thus they live unto hir lives ende

In parfit joye” ( Chaucer, lines 1261-64)

The point being that an equality of decision making, equality of truth and

respect, and equality of stature, can only lead to good things for both sexes in

the end.

The Wife of Baths goal, was never to achieve female dominance over

males. The goal was to achieve a female dominance up to the level of the

male, and to maintain that level forever. This goal became an extremely hard

struggle with the Wife’s fifth husband. He was particularly cruel in his

treatment of females, and he also portrayed the most severe dominance over

the Wife of Bath. The fifth husband managed to embellish his education, in

order to convey an overwhelming sense of power over the Wife of Bath. His

readings from the book of wicked wives, began a cycle of anger and

frustration in the Wife of Bath. Finally, a physical conflict erupted, that lead

to the husbands realization that he must yield to her. Once that occurred, the

Wife of Bath and her husband entered onto a new level; the level of respect

and equality,

“After that day we hadde nevere debbat.

God help me so, I was to him as kinde

As any wif from Denmark unto Inde,

And also trewe and so was he to me.”

(Chaucer, lines 828-831).

The Wife of Bath finally managed to achieve what she wanted through

all of her shrewish and persistent behavior: the realization of a relationship in

which the partners mutually respect each other and share the power.

Chaucer’s creation of a character so strong, so persistent, and so

knowledgeable as to the way women really should be treated, established a

set ideal of how all women should act towards inequality. The Wife of Bath

used many different strategies to prove her point, and her point was made.

The Wife of Bath is a character that was not created to diminish man, and

exfoliate on man’s faults, but she is a character created to show that men are

not perfect, nor are women. Also, when placed side by side men and women

are equal to each other in their faults and in their power.

The bible teaches many people about life and the way they should live.

This is why the Wife of Bath had the best proof that could have ever been

revealed. She knew that many of the characteristics about her life happened

in the time of Christ and no one was condemned for it, they were only

accepted. Being guilty and having the proof of innocence with no one to hear

your plea, can force one to take extreme measures in proving their point. This

is why the Wife of Bath was not a character that was created to emphasize

the faults that males carry within them, but in reality the Wife of Bath was a

major symbol of true justice in a sexist society.