I’ve started the Wife of Bath’s Prologue and I wanted to discuss the theme of Sexuality vs. Spirituality. As I read Lines 58 to Lines 125 I realized how much we take the sexual revolution of the 1960’s for granted and how these lines in particular challenged Catholicism and its concept of sex. Catholic doctrine sees marriage as the ultimate role of the female and that it is through childbirth and child rearing that we do what God created us to do. Marriage is a duty thus by extension so is sex. It is done for specific reasons which include galvanize the marriage and procreating. It should not be for your own enjoyment. The Wife of Bath challenges these concepts at a period where Catholicism was at its peak and where women were considered livestock to be sold into marriage. Marriages were affairs which involved the entire family but the Wife of Bath chose her spouses and for her marriage was a kind of liberation and she enjoyed the benefits of it. Today we choose our spouses, we decide the how, when and where of our lives as women but not so long ago our great-grandmothers, grandmothers and possibly mothers did not have that luxury. In fact some women in certain parts of the world continue to be subjugated and exploited. We have a contentious relationship with sexuality and for those of us who are religious the messages we receive from our spiritual leaders conflict with the liberties extended to us from pass victories. It is a victory to be free to choose what you will do with your body. Even though Chaucer was writing for a vastly different audience I can’t help but think about the Republican party and their policies on abortion and how relevant this is.
Professor Lisa Brundage