Wives of the Canterbury Tales and the Tradition of the Valiant Woman of Proverbs 31:10-31

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This study examines Chaucer's use of the medieval literary topos which categorized women as either good or evil, and his use of the Song of the Valiant Woman, a pericope appended to the book of Proverbs. It surveys the tradition of Hebraic and Christian commentary on the valiant woman; the significance of the Proverbs epilogue in the works of other authors; analyzes Chaucer's six thematic images of the mulier fortis as mirrored and distorted in the wives' behavior; discusses the implications that his delineation of the ideal wives has on medieval and modern conceptions of women. It also provides a definition of feminine power that re-evaluates the question of maistrie within the tales and challenges the modern feminist attitude towards women's power.

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