Female Agency in the Canterbury Tales and Telling Tales


abstract: My thesis, titled Female Agency in the Canterbury Tales and Telling Tales, compares Geoffrey Chaucer’s fourteenth century work and Patience Agbabi’s modern adaptation in regards to their portrayal of female agency. While each work contained a whole selection of tales, I focus on four tales, which were The Miller’s Tale, The Clerk’s Tale, The Physician’s Tale, and The Wife of Bath’s Tale. I also include relevant historical information to support and assist in the analysis of the literary texts, and secondary sources were also used supplementarily to enhance the analysis. I argue that female agency is irrationally believed to be dangerous, and the consequent attempts at protection manifest as limitations, which are themselves damaging. The paper is divided into two main sections, which are themselves separated into three smaller categories. The first of the two main sections concerns what actions and options are available to women influenced by a distinction of gender; this section is divided into female gender ideals, marriage, and occupation. The second of the two main sections addresses the entities or individuals enacting the limitations upon female agency, and its three subsections are society, men, and women. I ultimately conclude that not only is it irrational to believe that female agency is dangerous, but also that making gender-based judgment on the capacity of a group of people or an individual is inherently flawed. (abstract

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Last time updated on 08/04/2021

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