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Chapter 2: Feminine Mimicry and Masquerade

Crane, Susan

ROMANCES, in contrast to much medieval literature, abound in representations of women. This chapter argues that in their female characters romances work out both a version of femininity generated by masculine courtship and a critique of that version of femininity. Female characters, moreover, themselves stage this critique within the terms of their social construction. Dorigen confronted with Aurelius's suit, the abandoned falcon of the Squire's Tale, the Amazons of the Knight's Tale, and the Wife of Bath's shape-shifting fairy deploy the language and paradigms of conventional femininity to press against their positioning within it. Placing Chaucer's characters in the company of others from a variety of romances clarifies the strategies each woman uses to articulate and question her lot. In each case, respeaking and remanipulating familiar gender paradigms offers ways around them.

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Also Published In

Title
Gender and Romance in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales
Publisher
Princeton University Press

More About This Work

Academic Units
English and Comparative Literature
Published Here
December 8, 2009