xJaayyy
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If anyone could read over a little practice question i've done/knows anyone who could give me any feedback would be appreciated (since I'm sitting the exam externally and therefore I have no teacher to give me feedback!) . This is the Pre 1900 comparison question which I done in timed conditions (so it's not flawless!). I also lost the question I used but it was on the women in the texts anyway. Any sort of feedback on what I did well/what I didn't do well would be epic!

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Women are central to the plot within both texts. Geoffrey Chaucer’s ‘The Merchants Tale’ depicts a fragile, malleable supporting character that is subject to patriarchal oppression within the 15th century. Whereas, Webster’s ‘The Duchess of Malfi’ challenges the stereotypical role of women within the Elizabethan era involving a charming, powerful lead female role. While both authors use the characterisation of women as a dramatic centre piece, their intentions differ. With Chaucer intentions being to mock and subdue femininity, Webster uses it to emphasise changing views of what it is to be female and therefore the perspectives on both the play and drama have different effects.



Within both texts we see different power dynamics between the female characters. Critic Lee explains that The Merchants Tale constantly refers to women as food and drink by a cynical husband. For instance, throughout the tale the noble knight Januarie constantly exerts his dominance over femininity. One of the prime ways he does this is describing his future wife as the “Fruit of my tresor”. Here Januarie is referring to women as “fruit” which has subtle hints of being pure and young, waiting to be consumed by him. Chaucer alludes to the story of Proserpine where she is abducted by Pluto purely for his consumption. This was a popular view within the 15th century as men viewed women as their property. We then go on to see the character of May as submissive and malleable which confirms Chaucer’s intentions as the tale progresses. Contrastingly, Webster uses the Duchess to challenge these stereotypical views of subservient females. This is depicted through the Duchess exclaiming “women are of most value passed through most jewellers hands”. Here the Duchess exerts her power by referring herself to a diamond which has connotations of preciousness and rarity. Unlike May, who we do not see speak throughout the whole of the play; the Duchess is portrayed to the audience as rebellious by placing herself on a pedestal in front of her male counterparts. However like Chaucer, Webster does also highlight the view amongst men which differentiates the two texts. This is seen through her brother, Ferdinand replying “*****s by that rationale are precious” which again shows woman like both May and the Duchess constantly under the view of men. While we see progression from the comparison of the female characters within both texts, there still is patriarchal oppression within both.



Through the roles of women in each text, they are both subject to marriage like most females within their societies. Kitterage suggests that The Merchants Tale is a contribution to a wider marriage debate within society which places wives at the centre of discussion. It’s worth including that within this debate, females are completely excluded and therefore we only have male opinions which would be fairly common within the time set. Januarie, who is described to be ignorant and blind by the merchant, takes an optimistic view on marriage throughout the tales. Although at the time he is not married he describes it as “Paradys” which has religious connotations for heaven and alludes to the Garden of Eden. He sees companionship with women as bliss and thinks it will complete his life. This could be used as satire by Chaucer and married pilgrims within the tales who are so adamant that marriage is quite the opposite. Unlike The Merchants Tale, we do get to see a female’s perspective on marriage. Within the ‘Dromgoole’ production, the Duchess is also portrayed just as optimistic as Januarie about marriage. This is expressed through her presence on stage. The audience can see that her body language is open as she prances around the stage talking about marriage. However, just as Kitterage suggests there is the opposite view to the wider debate. For instance, the character if Justinus who is described as wise and experienced by the Merchant suggests that Januaries future wife “she may be your purgatorie” which ironically ends up to be true at the end of the tale, and again confirms Chaucer’s ever so cynical views on marriage and women. Chaucer also translates this view into the wider spectrum of ‘The Canterbury Tales’. In the Wife of Bath, a woman has several husbands all of whom she has been horrible to. As the Duchess is a widow, views or her remarrying would be met with disgust (ironically, half of widows in the 17th century got re married anyway). But as she possesses power and authority within her state, it is penalised further. Brodwin states that the Duchess is unfortunate for holding a healthy desire in such a bleak and unfair society. The marriage debate continues to emphasise the misogyny within both societies.



The unconventional views on marriage in both texts lead to both females rebelling against society’s norms. The symbolisation in each text highlights both female characters as enablers. Smith states that within the Merchants Tale, the concepts of Courtly Love and Fabliau highlights corruption within the text. May (which Chaucer satirically portrays as malleable) moulds the key to the garden she is trapped in to allow her Courtly Love companion Damiyan have sex with her. This alludes to the Garden of Eden again as Damiyan is constantly referred to as a “Serpent” within the tale. The symbolisation of this shows Mays rebellion to her control subject to her forced husband Januarie. This act could be seen as hugely controversial and corruptive by the audience as it goes against the Medieval Church. Contemporary audiences would feel compassion for a blind Januarie who is being cheated on due to this. On the other hand, the symbol of the ring in The Duchess of Malfi similarly would be seen as corruptive to male counterparts. For instance, the notion of the Duchess proposing to Antonio would go against the severe views of a Roman Catholic Cardinal. However, a modern reader Smith outlines that the radiant spirit of the Duchess cannot be killed. This would highlight that modern readings of these texts show a progressive and feminist view of the Duchess’ rebellion and can even be argued to translate into the view of May also.



As Chaucer is a member of the newly rising bourgeoisie he pushes his views inside the character of Januarie. Both the author and character express that they are worried about their wealth due to their old age. As Januarie quotes “Al myn heritage, I yewe it” it emphasises his intentions of marriage to May as he uses her in order to have an heir to inherit all his wealth. This strongly confirms the patriarchal views of Chaucer who depicts women as no more than a means for man which again is ever so common in 15th century society. Contrastingly, Tennenhouse suggests that womanhood and sovereignty are incompatible. Her brothers are constantly on her watch as they are next in line for her wealth and unfortunately her death end of the Drama. Also May Is still subject under her husband Januarie which confirms the incompatibility of wealth and power in womanhood. Additionally, the social ranks of May and The Duchess are also an important part of each text. The Duchess goes against the teachings of the Great Chain of Being which states all places in society are set by god as she tells Antonio to “raise yourself” through accepting her proposal, the audience may view The Duchess as selfish just like Januarie as she’s using her husband for her own pursuits. Januarie also considers Mays “Smal degree” when contemplating whether to marry her, which goes against the concept of 15th century “estates”.



Both The Merchants Tale and The Duchess of Malfi ultimately help the reader establish different views of women in the society within their contexts. Chaucer continually pushes his patriarchal views on the characters of his tales, emphasising misogyny. Webster challenges societal views by the contrasting of his characters, where the male characters have traditional views, and the female character has progressive views.
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Pearlfection1
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It's pretty well written. I'll go through it with commentary in my next post- can't do thus from my phone so I'll do it from my laptop.
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Pearlfection1
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Women are central to the plot within both texts. Geoffrey Chaucer’s ‘The Merchants Tale’ depicts a fragile, malleable supporting character that is subject to patriarchal oppression within the 15th century. -Why? How? Under which laws/ adjustments of the 15th C. Whereas, Webster’s ‘The Duchess of Malfi’ challenges the stereotypical role of women within the Elizabethan era involving a charming, powerful lead female role.- There are many books which commonly have a stronger, more powerful lead in the Elizabethian era: so how have you come to this conclusion? Discuss what elizabethan norms she opposes and what this symbolises. While both authors use the characterisation of women as a dramatic centre piece, their intentions differ. - This is quite vague. You need to look deeper into how women are presented and the socio-cultural impact of thus. Drama and poetry were ways for social messages to be spread so what is being said here. With Chaucer intentions being to mock and subdue femininity,- which is shown by....? Webster uses it to emphasise changing views of what it is to be female- Changing from into? and therefore the perspectives on both the play and drama have different effects.- This is a vague introduction. You need to start with a clear thesis which will indicate where the essay is being led to. Currently, you are reiterating what is happening however for you to gain marks into the top band you need to look deeper into the meaning that Chaucher and Webster are showing, and refer to this in light of the period in which they are writing. As there is a heavy weighting of context on this question you could start using thus in your introduction to support your points.



Within both texts we see different power dynamics between the female characters. -Yes! That is what your entire introduction is telling us, hence what power dyamics do we see and how do these alterrnate accordingly!? Critic Lee explains that The Merchants Tale constantly refers to women as food and drink by a cynical husband. - This is vital to understanding the play because? For instance, throughout the tale the noble knight Januarie constantly exerts his dominance over femininity. One of the prime ways he does this is describing his future wife as the “Fruit of my tresor”. Here Januarie is referring to women as “fruit” which has subtle hints of being pure and young, waiting to be consumed by him. -Good! You're getting into a good esssay here which seems to be involving literary techniques clearly. Chaucer alludes to the story of Proserpine where she is abducted by Pluto purely for his consumption. - The intertextuality can have more than one interpretation. Look at this is in light of context and the impact thus may have. This was a popular view within the 15th century as men viewed women as their property. - You need to be more specific! Yes, we know that till 100 years ago women were mainly seen as the property of their male counterparts. However for the literature prospects, how is this influencial? Could it have a different meaning? How was Chaucer influenced by 15th C? The character of May is seen as submissive and malleable which confirms Chaucer’s intentions as the tale progresses.- What intentions? Contrastingly, Webster uses the Duchess to challenge these stereotypical views of subservient females. - Good use of comparison. This is depicted through the Duchess exclaiming “women are of most value passed through most jewellers hands”. Here the Duchess exerts her power by referring herself to a diamond which has connotations of preciousness and rarity. - Also, by showing women as diamonds, Webster could be symbolising how important they are to our day to day lives. How women should perhaps be treasured entirely!? Unlike May, who we do not see speak throughout the whole of the play; the Duchess is portrayed to the audience as rebellious by placing herself on a pedestal in front of her male counterparts. - Through thus Webster could be indicating that...? However like Chaucer, Webster does also highlight the view amongst men which differentiates the two texts.-This is too vague! This practically what your entire esssay is discussing so you need to go into details of what and how rather than telling us the obvious. This is seen through her brother, Ferdinand replying “*****s by that rationale are precious” which again shows women like both May and the Duchess constantly under the view of men.-Even in modern day, women are under the look of men, they are judged by men. So how is this important to the audience or readers understanding of the play? While we see progression from the comparison of the female characters within both texts, there still is patriarchal oppression within both.- Patriarchal oppression exists nowadays too! You seem to repeat the same again and again, you need to be speicfic as to what has changed between the 15th C and contemporary society and how this impacts our understanding of the play.


Your paragraph does seem to at points become very coherent, however you seem to lack the ability to come to a conscious matter within your paragraph. Try using one quote but various instances from the plays to support your understanding of the play. Additionally, you are telling us the same thing again: that women are oppressed by men- what does this indicate? Why is this important specifically in the context it is written in?





Through the roles of women in each text, they are both subject to marriage like most females within their societies. Kitterage suggests that The Merchants Tale is a contribution to a wider marriage debate within society which places wives at the centre of discussion. It’s worth including that within this debate, females are completely excluded and therefore we only have male opinions which would be fairly common within the time set. - Good start wiht a context driven point! Januarie, who is described to be ignorant and blind by the merchant, takes an optimistic view on marriage throughout the tales. Although at the time he is not married he describes it as “Paradys” which has religious connotations for heaven and alludes to the Garden of Eden.- Sum this up! You could easily discuss that Januarie may be the embodiment of the 15th C man, who is ignorant and blind yet aspires for marriage. This symbolises how important marriage is considered to the society and despite how limited a man may be he decides a woman's future. He sees companionship with women as bliss and thinks it will complete his life. This could be used as satire by Chaucer and married pilgrims within the tales who are so adamant that marriage is quite the opposite. -Through this Chaucer could be suggesting that... What social message could you gather?Unlike The Merchants Tale, we do get to see a female’s perspective on marriage. Within the ‘Dromle’ production, the Duchess is also portrayed just as optimistic as Januarie about marriage. This is expressed through her presence on stage. The audience can see that her body language is open as she prances around the stage talking about marriage. - Too vague! Look specificall, using examples to discuss Webster's representation of marriage and understanding of thus. However, just as Kitterage suggests there is the opposite view to the wider debate. For instance, the character if Justinus who is described as wise and experienced by the Merchant suggests that Januaries future wife “she may be your purgatorie” which ironically ends up to be true at the end of the tale, and again confirms Chaucer’s ever so cynical views on marriage and women.- We haven't had an explicit confirmation of this before. Chaucer also translates this view into the wider spectrum of ‘The Canterbury Tales’. In the Wife of Bath, a woman has several husbands all of whom she has been horrible to. As the Duchess is a widow, views or her remarrying would be met with disgust (ironically, half of widows in the 17th century got re married anyway). But as she possesses power and authority within her state, it is penalised further. Brodwin states that the Duchess is unfortunate for holding a healthy desire in such a bleak and unfair society. The marriage debate continues to emphasise the misogyny within both societies.


I've gotten the jist of what you are trying to get at in this essay however you are lacking coherency in the method of writing as you are being too vague!
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xJaayyy
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I've gotten the jist of what you are trying to get at in this essay however you are lacking coherency in the method of writing as you are being too vague![/QUOTE]

Thank you for your response!
How can I make my writing more coherent and avoid being less vauge in the exam? I tend to just spew everything out as i’m writing it under timed conditions.

Also what band do you think it’s currently in? I have till Thursday to sharpen essay skills! The minimum I need is a C grade but a B is the goal!

Plus do you have any sort of tips/tricks for essay writing in general that I seem to miss?
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Pearlfection1
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Are you doing OCR?
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Pearlfection1
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Also, I don't know if you've read through the essay. I have in this section detailed and commented on Dr tian parts. I don't think it is for some reason bold like I had made it.
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Pop,pop
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(Original post by Pearlfection1)
Also, I don't know if you've read through the essay. I have in this section detailed and commented on Dr tian parts. I don't think it is for some reason bold like I had made it.
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