William Shakespeare’s play entitled “Winter’s Tale” is a depiction of love, suffering, and triumph of the characters from different generations. The characters in this play are balance. There are men and women who justify their characterization all throughout the story. On the other way around, Geoffrey Chaucer’s novel entitled “The Canterbury Tales” is a depiction of identity and social morality. Chaucer discusses his character one by one through story-telling. It is not just a simple story because many characters evolve and exist based on the story or tale that each pilgrim will discuss.
Shakespeare and Chaucer discuss the importance of women into their story. Almost all forms of depiction towards women are described in these two novels. The purpose of this paper is to compare the female characters in these texts as they portray the wholeness of the society in both history and present generation. Chaucer’s novel discusses the different issues of women in the society. In each tale that the characters narrate, women exist in both positive and negative description.
As the tales go on, women are being depicted as sexual objects, bearer of child, mediator, source of power and authority, source of conflict, source of love, and depiction of weakness and sadness. Women in this play are discussed as a being behind man’s power and authority. However, as the story goes on, the other tales represent womanhood – as the source of strength, love, and mediator. The characters shows that women’s strength may be not through physical but can be obtain through emotional and mental perspective. These justifications in Chaucer’s novel also appear in Shakespeare’s play.
Women are source of argument, source of new life, source of faith and truth, depiction of feminism, womanhood, and motherhood. Shakespeare does not make his female characters suffer significantly from start to finish. That is why in the end of his narrative, his female characters obtain happiness, contentment, and love – whether dead or alive. Shakespeare’s point of his attack is somehow similar in regards to female characters. They both describe how women sacrifice, struggle, and live their lives despite of all shortcomings.
In their texts, both of these authors made a distinction between the depiction of man and woman in the society. Both of them describe women as sexual objects in the beginning of their narrative. In Shakespeare’s play, it depicts in the beginning of the story when Leontes starts to envy with Camilo and Hermione’s intimacy – thinking that he wants to have Hermione. In Chaucer’s play, it exists many times from different tales. One of the examples is the Miller’s Tale where there is a concept of changing partners and also discussing women as sexual partners.
However, even if this depiction is being described in the beginning, the concept of female character in both stories elevate to being the center of all actions, depiction of holiness, and pride of men. Therefore, the two texts show the process of understanding women’s character in the society. Chaucer shows that women win the battle against the traditional depiction of the society towards them. “This is to sayn, that whether he or thou / May with his hundred, as I spake of now. / sle his contrary, or out of listes drive, Him shall I yeven Emelie to wive, / to whom that fortune yeveth so fayr a grace (Chaucer 54). It can be seen that the speaker in this part of the novel shows how he desires to obtain Emelie to become a wife.
He will conquer everything just to prove his love for her. As we all know, this is a traditional depiction of man’s love towards a woman but women does not only describe as a source of love but also a grace that will give power and strength to men just to win their hearts. In the story of Shakespeare, he describes how women fight for their own justice to show men how they could be able to conquer their fears and live a good life better than what they already have. Our praises are our wages: you may ride’s / With one soft kiss a thousand furlongs ere / With spur we beat an acre – Hermione (Shakespeare). ” Hermione, the first woman in her generation, shows her fighting spirit as she describes her capability and strength as a woman not only for passion and love but also for recognizing her gender and status. Because of this, Shakespeare strengthens the idea of womanhood in his play with a sense of ideology and strength. As what Shakespeare has depicted in his play is also the same with Chaucer’s novel.
How that he wan Theodora to his wif, / for whome ful oft in gret peril he was, / ne had he ben hopen by the hors of bras (Chaucer 297). ” Chaucer describes the ability of women to seduce men to manipulate them. It is somehow immoral but to be able to elevate their status in the society, women tend to do this action. Besides, men accept this fact because they know that they will benefit from this situation through physical contact. In connection to Chaucer’s play, from justifying the reason of manipulation and control of women over men through mental and emotional attack, women become the center of all actions and behaviors of men.
However, the problem is that this situation is never accepted in the society. “As well as one so great and so forlorn / May hold together: on her frights and griefs, / Which never tender lady hath born greater, / She is something before her time deliver’d – Emilia (Shakespeare). ” Women are still perceived as the second highest being, next to men. Because of this, women still need to demonstrate more actions and struggle to at least make their status the same with men. This is what Shakespeare is trying to convey in his play.
In terms of writing techniques, Shakespeare’s play is like the other plays that he wrote. The different attack is Chaucer’s novel because it does not only speak from few characters but huge characters with different tales to share. However, even if Shakespeare has common writing form in this play, he made a significant attack in discussing the issues of gender and society. Same as Chaucer, he also attempts to create a notion of war of genders within his novel and he somehow made a success.
In conclusion to this, it can be said that both stories have their own perceptions and points of attacks. Chaucer discusses different context that gives difference to Shakespeare’s play but both of them speaks for the identity of women and also men in a traditional society. However, they focus more on the issue of womanhood and women status in the society. Though they do not want to take it directly, both authors want to transform the ideology of the society towards women – by giving them better opportunities because they have the strength and capability.