Dash out of the Hedge of Patriarchy: A Study of Feminism in The Canterbury Tales
Geoffrey Chaucer, crowned as the the founding father of English poetry, is a representative among the earliest humanist writers in England. The renowned critic Mathew Arnold regards him as the greatest poet in the English literature.1John Dryden views Chaucer as the source of humanism.2 Fang Zhong, an expert in the research of Chaucer, claims him the first poet in the new era.3 He has exerted far-reaching impact on the English literature and the linguistic history. Additionally, as the forefather of humanism in the Middle Ages, he has made great contribution to the advancement of humanism in England. American poet Henry Wadswoth Longfellow once sings a sonnet to eulogize Chaucer, stating: “He is the poet of the dawn.”4 His masterpiece, The Canterbury Tales, perpetuated as a monument in the English literature, is a classic which sings a trumpet for humanism and advocates rebellion to the stale feudal idea in the Middle Ages.
After the turbulence caused by the Black Death and the Peasants’ Revolt, the late medieval England of Chaucer (1342 -1400) saw the decay of the feudal system and the development of bourgeoisie. During this age of transition, Geoffrey Chaucer was born into a wealthy family of wine merchants in London. The great writer served in his lifetime in a great variety of occupations, working as courtier, soldier, ambassador and legislator. With broad and intimate acquaintance with people high and low in all walks of life, he knew well the whole social life and the miserable life of the innocent civilians of his time, which had its impact on his writing, especially evident in his masterwork The Canterbury Tales.
The most noticeable literary period in his life is the Italian period ranging from 1370s to 1386 which witnessed Chaucer’s transition from romantic writing to realistic writing. He wrote with London dialect to explore the real life of...