Pizan and Wife of Bath: Two views on Equality

Essay by gmboyneCollege, UndergraduateA+, February 2013

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Pizan and Wife of Bath: Two views on Equality

Christine de Pizan and the Wife of Bath are both women that go against the misogynistic views of their time. Both women show themselves as intelligent and clearly differ in opinion from writings by men such as Tertullian and St. John Chrysostom. With a deeper look at Christine's "Letter from the God of Love" and Chaucer's "The Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale" one can see that they differ from each other's opinions as well. In fact, the Wife of Bath is a woman that goes against Christine's idea of how women should act. Christine gives a variety of traits that honourable women should possess. The Wife of Bath's character diverges from these traits of honourable women provided by Christine; yet while the Wife of Bath may not conform to Christine's idea of an honourable woman, the Wife of Bath's defense for women focuses more on reforming women's position in society.

Christine's defense on the other hand, focuses on reforming society's image of women.

Christine de Pizan's "Letter from the God of Love" is a defense of women against the slanderous and misogynistic views of men, but she qualifies it as a defense of "…honourable women; [she is] not concerned with the worthless ones" (Pizan 1863). She describes honourable women as those who are loyal, humble, calm, and honest, among other things. This limit she creates excludes a number of women and leaves them subject to the misogynistic ideas that condemn women as deceitful and weak. Christine's description of an honourable woman is not one that could be applied to the Wife of Bath, as she is seen more as a woman who is proud, deceitful, and has a temper.

The Wife of Bath represents a great many...