Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index


  • Record Number: 2158
  • Author(s)/Creator(s): Beecher , Donald.
  • Contributor(s):
  • Title: The Silenced Knight: Questions of Power and Reciprocity in the "Wife of Bath's Tale"
  • Source: Chaucer Review 30, 4 ( 1996): Pages 359 - 378.
  • Description:
  • Article Type: Journal Article
  • Subject (See Also): Chaucer, Geoffrey, Poet- Canterbury Tales- Wife of Bath's Tale Hag (Literary Figure) Knight (Literary Figure) Literature- Verse Love in Literature Marriage in Literature Power in Literature Women in Literature
  • Geographic Area: British Isles
  • Century: 14
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  • Abstract: The hag's pillow lecture in the "Wife of Bath's Tale" is not male-dominated discourse, but by using the ovidian technique of contrast, it juxtaposes the Wife's lecherousness with "gentillesse." The knight's final choice to allow the hag to choose her own state is not a passive act. Analysis of his response in terms of speech-act theory supports the interpretation that she has silenced him. His choice also shows that he has reached a higher level of maturity. As comparison with "Sir Launfal" shows, the relationship between the hag and the knight follows a pattern similar to that of other romances, and like those romances, it underscores the power of the feminine. Furthermore, the marriage between the hag and the knight is based on mutual self-sacrifice: he submits in marriage to an ugly old woman, and she consents to marry a rapist. Thus, the pillow lecture does not silence women, but instead causes the knight to be silent and transforms him [Reproduced by permission of Peter G. Beidler and Martha A Kalnin Diede, editors of "The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography."].
  • Author's Affiliation: Carleton University, Ottawa
  • Conference Info: - , -
  • Year of Publication: 1996.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN/ISBN: 00092002
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