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Antigone Vs. Canterbury Tales Comparative Analysis - Women's Roles In Society

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The Atypical Role of Women in Society

The traditional roles of women in society today have improved drastically when in comparison to those of historical periods of time. Although the way that women are currently viewed in society is a great deal more equal than the past, there will always be a tiny view in the back of our minds, whether we are aware of it or not, that classifies women as inferior to men, as well as authoritative figures in society. In Sophocles' play, Antigone, as well as in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, there is a common factor linking the two works; the idea of women's dominance over men.

In Sophocles' Antigone, the first instance of women defying men was very early on in the play. Antigone informs her sister,named Ismene, that the king is denying their brother a proper burial and anyone who refuses to comply with this order will be sentenced to death. Antigone tells her sister that she is determined to give their brother a proper burial despite the order against it. Ismene argues back with her reasoning that they cannot commit this act because they are only women and women are unable to stand up to men (A3). However, Antigone refuses to conform to the stereotype that women are in fact inferior, and continues to stand by her decision (A4).

Another example of Antigone's failure to conform to typical feminine attributes, is when Creon questions her about the burial and contrary to Creon's prediction, she confesses willingly (A7). Then Antigone courageously accepts her punishment of being put to death, failing to adhere to the king's expectation that she will submissively attempt to escape her sentence (A21).

Chaucer's Canterbury Tales exemplifies the common element between the two works of women's attempts at attaining dominance over male figures. The first example of The Wife of Bath portraying this characteristic is in her Prologue. She confesses to the fact that she has had 5 husbands and that she uses various techniques in which she can control them (CT 103, 108). First of all, during the Middle Ages, being a virgin was highly prized and on the contrary, marriage was seen as inferior (CT 105-106). Also, her actions in her attempts to gain some type of control over her



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