Lanval, TheWife of Bath’s Tale, and The Wedding of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnel have much in common in the plots and the ideas they suggest. In the current paper, I will look at how satire is used in the works to disclose the problem of gender and chivalry.
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The gender problem is one of The Wife of Bath’s Tale book’s concerns. To my mind, the woman’s dominance over males that Alisoun propagates is depicted ironically in the text. The thing is that the author makes his character speak of the sexual dominance as the primary dominance of women over men. The author highlights the Wife’s dominance in the bedroom, she notes that “Unnethe myghte they the statut holde/In which that they were bounden unto me./Ye woot wel what I meene of this, Pardee!/As help me God, I laughe whan I thynke/How pitously a-nyght I made hem swynke!” (Chaucer 204).
The character’s husbands are consequently depicted as victims of her sexual appetite, the author sounds ironic in depicting the relationships between the woman, a master, and men, who satisfy her insatiable thirst for sex. The satirical depiction of women in terms of this problem encourages one to think of pros and cons of relationships between men and women based on the dominance of ones over others.
The whole work brings over the problem of control of one sex over another. There are a number of valid arguments that the Wife offers in defense of female dominance but the author is still satirical when he exposes the ways in which she strives to convince the audience of her righteousness. On the one hand, the woman argues that her husband should trust her to be faithful, on the other, she claims that her husband should not have anything against her relations with other men.
Further, there is an element of satire when the Wife considers the husbands’ supposed arguments against her ideas to destroy them at once. In general, while presenting her arguments in favor of female dominance the Wife does not sound logical at all, that makes the reader laugh at some of her arguments and the way they are revealed.
The Wife’s views on woman’s dominance influences the way the knight’s story is told. The principle of chivalry seems to be satirized here: the knight’s life is in the queen’s hands instead of his supreme lord.
I believe that the satire used throughout the text is good-natured, it evokes only positive emotions with the readers, through making the readers smile the author encourages them to think over some serious problems.
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In Lanval one can also find some satirical elements. For instance, contrary to traditional romances, it is not the knight who comes to his beloved and rescues her – the reverse of male and female roles takes place here. The author even “implements” palfrey, and not an ordinary horse, to depict this reverse of roles. As well as in the previous work under consideration the woman is described as having control over the man: “With her he went to Avalon”, “the young man was carried off there.” (Lanval) A powerful and heroic woman depicted by the author through satirical description of the knight seems to suggest the idea that even the laws of chivalry do not work when the knight is under the woman’s control.
As for the The Wedding of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnelle I consider it to be a story of fun where the same ideas of chivalry and gender are offered by the author as in the work I considered first. This poem seems to be entirely comical apart from the episode when Gawain is to go to bed with his bride. Constant repetition of a series of interlocking oaths and commitments encourages me as a modern reader to compare the duties people had before and at present day. I believe that the good-natured satire this poem is full of is rather effective in attracting the reader’s attention to the past and current problems of the society they live in.
Thus, by use of satire the authors of the works under analyses considered the problem of chivalry and gender through the unconventional perspectives. Satire helped the author encourage the readers to look at the problems at a different angle. The reader’s thinking over the stated problems through some perspective unknown before makes the works really unfading.
Chaucer, Geoffrey. The Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale (Selected Tales from Chaucer). Cambridge University Press, 1994.
“Lanval.” 2005. Web.