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Thursday, April 27, 2006

Journal for my Chaucer class (beginning):

Chaucer’s Objectification of Women and Power Struggles within Legend of Good Women

As is seen with all of the women depicted in Chaucer’s Legend of Good Women, the Legend of Lucrece portrays a woman who has many virtuous traits that are suggested that all good wives possess. Chaucer throughout this text highlights and emphasizes Lucrece’s virtuous nature and attributes this to what he states is “wifly chastity” (1737). Through his characterization of Lucrece in this way, it seems that Chaucer is suggesting that women’s responsibilities consist of being a good and virtuous wife as well as being beautiful. Chaucer’s depiction of women in such a manner undermines any power or authority that women may be allowed to possess.
Lucrese is described as “trewe,” and praised for her “stedefastness” as a wife (1686-7). Her beauty, virtue, compassion, honesty, and nobility are all described, not allowing any description for characteristics describing her thoughts or qualities that distinguish individuals. Lucrese is essentially objectified by the description in which Chaucer gives.
Interestingly, Tarquinius as king states that life is nothing more that an idol life and “no man dide there no more than his wif,” suggesting that although women are objectified in this text, men ultimately realize that in some ways they are enslaved by their affection and devotion to their wives. Although women are objectified almost solely by their appearance and chaste nature, they also hold a kind of power over men. As Tarquinius admits in the text by stating that his wife is essentially his life and that without her he has nothing. This suggests that women, even in this oppressing time period, did have some autonomy in relation to their husbands.

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