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Who is Eve in The Canterbury Tales?

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twinkytoesx | Student | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 15, 2007 at 12:17 AM via web

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Who is Eve in The Canterbury Tales?

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sagetrieb | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted October 30, 2007 at 10:12 AM (Answer #2)

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I do not believe Eve is a character in The Canterbury Tales, but references are made to her. The Second Nun refers to herself in her Prologue as the “ unworthy son of Eve.” According to Robert Sturges in Modern Language Studies(1983), this is a phrase from a prayer recited by Medieval nuns to the Virgin Mary. “Son” apparently refers to all children of Eve. The Second Nun uses this reference to Eve to claim female authority through Eve to the Virgin Mary. Although I have not located the line, I believe the Wife of Bah refers to Eve as well in complaining that women have been blamed by men for everything since the beginning of time. Beyond that, critics believe that the Wife of Bath as a character reflects the dichotomy of the version of women as the downfall of all men (Eve) on the one hand and the Virgin Mary (absolutely pure) on the other, allowing Chaucer to satirize both.

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