Chaucer and Sophocles Views on Gender Equality Essay

December 1, 2021 by Essay Writer


Chaucer and Sophocles are some of the new generation writers though their writings are based on a number of centuries ago. Their works, “The Canterbury Tales” and “The Three Theban plays,” respectively, are innovative piece of writings and are used as vehicles for serious history and story telling.

Their main agenda is to attempt to show their readers what it was like to be a woman in the United States, particularly during the Ancient Greek period and the Middle Ages. These authors shed light on women’s life, and therefore want the readers to understand a term that comes with many underlying meanings: gender equality. As the authors delve into this issue, they present the readers with a view that women also have the ability of a second thought.


The Status of Women during this Period

Beforehand, women were perceived as inferior and lived according to the rules stipulated to guide the family settings, making them lack a sense of identity in the society. The gender inequality has been addressed where the authors concentrate on the psychological mind of the women as well as their expressive aspects. The minds of the women are probed in an attempt to determine why they behaved as such. The authors attempt to compare their mindsets with that of their male counterparts.

Chaucer (1990) illustrates how the Wife of Bath commences her tale with a rape case. This depicts the presence of male dominance over women, since rape serves the purpose of gratifying male sexual urge and, at the same time, humiliating the women.

This incident in “The Canterbury Tales,” thus, brings to light the issues to do with gender dominion, with men dominating the women in the family setting. The women involved play a critical role in representing women’s voices. The writings further show that the women cannot fully entrust any ruling made by a male judge since he always treated women’s plea in contempt.

Sophocles (1984) illustrates the manner in which Antigone expresses her views, stating that the current ruler of Thebes, Creon, on grounds of carrying out family affairs, has humiliated her. And even as Antigone expresses displeasure over the manner in which the current king treats her, Creon, who is also her uncle, continues to defend his status, claiming that women cannot fully understand men’s point of view unless the men decide to disclose their thoughts.

His assertion, therefore, is a clear indication that women were marginalized within the family settings. Likewise, this incident brings to light the issue of gender inequality with a view of revealing the women’s position: failure to entrust state laws simply because men who have a total disregard for women in the society make them.

Authors’ Opinion on Women

The ideas presented by the Chaucer’s works try to portray the writer’s point of view: that the Wife of Bath, under all cost, pursues gender equality, and more so, dominating the male gender. This is evidenced by the fact that her speech is characterized by self promoting words, which portray a picture of aggressiveness that attempts to be equal with men and even rule over them. This is clearly portrayed when she quotes that she endeavors to make her husband a debtor as well as a slave (Chaucer 1990).

Likewise, the idea presented by the Sophocles works discloses that Antigone is ready to contest with Creon in as far as gender equality is concerned. This is confirmed by the fact that she believes in divine powers, which act as the final arbiter to her decisions, not the king’s laws (Sophocles, 1984). And as such, she went ahead and buried her brother, claiming that the king’s judgments are inconsequential in as far as family issues are concerned.

With this information at hand, it is clear that the authors are trying to portray that issues of gender dominion fostered the problems that women faced during this period. This stems from the fact that the women demanded to have their voices heard, but the men would not hear of it. The authors further reveal that women experiencing gender inequality always have a second thought.

How the Authors Expressed Themselves

The authors expressed their views in the best image and were considerate on the interests of all the women with regard to typical issues affecting them in the society.

This is evident in the “The Canterbury Tales” as the queen states that a judge cannot rule over the case of the loathly lady because he is biased against all women (Chaucer, 1990). This is also evident in “The Three Theban Plays,” as Antigone declares that she does not recognize state laws because they take less concern on the welfare of all the women in the society (Sophocles, 1984).

However, Chaucer ridicules the manner in which women behave, stating that even though the Wife of Bath portrays a burning desire for ruling over men, she finds herself using all the gender dominion acquired to provide men with all they long for (Chaucer, 1990).

And even though Sophocles shows empathy for Antigone, the author ridicules the manner in which she tries to attain women rights, stating that it is not worthwhile to take away her life because it does not, in any way, add value to her life and to the life of the loved ones in the family setting(Sophocles, 1984). Thus, this makes the authors negative in relation to how women finalized their pursuit of fighting for their rights.

The Period Most Favorable for Women

The Ancient Greek Society, according to Woelfel & Trulove (2002), marks a period when women were degraded and mistreated in marriage as well as in the political sphere. The marginalization of women in the family setting was evident from their childhood, and as such, girls were considered as women and given in marriage at a very tender age, putting them at risk of death during child delivery.

The elder women were also marginalized within marriage as evidenced by the fact that, besides acquiring inheritance from their brothers, they could not acquire any wealth during marriage, or any inheritance from their husbands, or even handle other jobs apart from the domestic duties. However, even though these women could inherit property from their brothers, such property was entirely controlled by their husband.

On the other hand, the Middle Ages period, according to Woelfel & Trulove (2002), is marked by an emergence of women’s voices in an effort to acquire equal opportunities with their male counterpart in marriage as well as in the political sphere. As such, women were given opportunities to work in industries, though they handled unskilled labor, which paid very low wages.

Additionally, women were in a position of gaining limited grounds in political as well as in religious sphere. But even though women could marry someone of their choice, their marriage was jeopardized by harsh working conditions, leading to death of many at an early age. The women, however, were entitled to inherit their husband’s property in case they were widowed.

Given the difference in status of women during the Ancient Greek period and the Middle Ages period, it is clear that the degree to which women were marginalized is lower in the Middle Ages than in the Ancient Greek period, because majority of women acquired limited freedom in the family setting as well as in the political sphere. Despite the unfavorable working conditions during the Middle Ages, the right of inheritance freed a number of them from economic hardships, unlike the Ancient Greek period when all women suffered.


Chaucer and Sophocles works focus on the position of women in the society with regard to their social standing in the family setting. The books express how women were treated in the past, the challenges they faced while fighting for their rights, as well as how they applied partiality while fighting for their rights.

Since then, the American women have an urge of protecting their gender and not being classified as weak anymore, as they perceive that doing so enhances their equality with men and gives them an obligation for their family and, indeed, their entire country.

And while the idea of gender equality is rational for the female gender, remember, too, that it creates a number of dilemmas and pressure, as women have to leave their babies behind without an adequate care in an effort to acquire equal opportunities with their male counterparts.


Chaucer, G. (1990). The Canterbury tales. Toronto: Bantam.

Sophocles, A. (1984). The three Theban plays. Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England: Penguin Books.

Woelfel, J. W., & Trulove, S. C. (2002). Patterns in Western civilization, Vol.1 (3rd ed.). Needham Heights, Mass: Ginn Press.

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